The Bible Echo, vol. 17
March 24, 1902
“St. Petersburg” The Bible Echo, 17, 13 p. 97.
BY A. T. J.
St. Petersburg, “the window by which Russia looks,” is built in a swamp surrounded by desolate wastes. Cities usually develop gradually from thickly populated districts, become villages, towns, cities, through the necessities of the people and the openings for trade or manufacture. It was not so with St. Petersburg. She stands in the midst of a dreary wilderness that stretches for hundreds of miles to the north and east, while in the south lie the marshes and forests of the Valdai Heights. You travel for 400 miles in each of these three directions without finding a single city of any importance. BEST March 24, 1902, page 97.1
But Peter the Great wanted a harbour more certain and more regularly accessible than the frozen port of Archangel on the White Sea. It is to this that St. Petersburg owes its origin, and to his iron will that it was made the city that it is to-day. BEST March 24, 1902, page 97.2
It was in 1703 that Peter began the execution of his plan. He had at that time only partially conquered the district. For hundreds of weary miles he drove a whole army of serfs, and by them foundations were laid, and piles were driven in the swampy banks of the Neva before a building could be erected. And now its population of 1,000,000 places it fifth among the cities of Europe, and it is still growing rapidly. In its palaces and government offices it possesses some of the largest buildings in the world; while its principal street, Nevski Prospekt (Neva View), three miles long, it the grandest street in Europe. BEST March 24, 1902, page 97.3
But while the swampy ground was a difficulty in the erection of buildings that could be overcome at an enormous expense, it offered a condition detrimental to health that has never been overcome. The climate is very unhealthy. The frosts are accompanied by bitter winds, and in the winter, gales laden with moisture blow from the west and keep the city miserably damp. The summer, lasting for only five or six weeks, is very hot, and a fall in temperature of 35 degrees within a few hours is not uncommon. Chest diseases are very prevalent, and deaths from this cause average over 9,000 annually. Cholera, typhus, diphtheria, and scarlet fever are common. Peter himself though possessed of a vigorous constitution, worn out by his arduous labours and the severity of the climate, died in 1725 at the comparatively early age of fifty-three years. BEST March 24, 1902, page 97.4
St. Petersburg stands a monument to the qualities of this man, but he has an even great monument in the empire itself. Russia did not amount to much when he ascended the throne. He added six provinces to her dominions. She had a disorderly, inefficient militia; he left her with a regular army well trained in European tactics: she had no port worth anything; he left her with an outlet in two seas: she had not fleet; he learned how to build one, and built it. He worked with his own hands in the dockyards of Zaandham and Debtford. He took back with him from England the most ingenious men that he could procure, to enable him to carry out his projects. BEST March 24, 1902, page 97.5
But his determination to improve the kingdom was the only thing that was allowed to influence his life. Natural affection was crushed when it came between him and his object. During his absence on a European tour, his son Alexis did all he could to undo his father’s work of reform and progress. Upon Peter’s return, Alexis was sentenced to death, and in recent years it has been ... tained that the unfortunate victim was killed by repeated inflictions of torture. BEST March 24, 1902, page 97.6
From such a character, great in its genius, but terrible in its cruelty, it is a relief to turn to the contemplation of such a character as that of Paul—intense mental energy, indomitable perseverance, a complete sacrifice of himself to the carrying out of his plans, and with it all the spirit of gentleness that he received from Christ—the tender but powerful influence of divine love. And without this last no man is really entitled to the epithet, “Great.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 98.1
“His Life’s Crisis.—No. 2” The Bible Echo, 17, 13 p. 100.
(Founded on Fact)
A. T. J.
The morning dawned—Harry’s first Sabbath. He had not yet learned that the Sabbath is a delight. It came to him as a crushing, compelling force. He saw some of the members of his church pass the window, and his heart sank as he contrasted the friendly smile and salutation with which they always greeted him, with the coldness and reserve that he knew would meet him when it became known that he had begun to keep what was contemptuously spoken of as the “Jewish Sabbath.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.1
He was not able to keep his convictions secret. True, he did not have any duties to perform on Saturday, but he had been in the habit of helping the head teacher dig his garden in the morning, and as he had been very regular in this matter he realised that his absence would be sure to cause remark. He shut himself up in his room and proceeded to study his Bible. He reviewed the argument in “Field’s Handbook of Christian Theology” on the change of the Sabbath, and saw how unsatisfactory it was. Yet it seemed to him that to observe the seventh day was to go backward instead of forward. Then he remembered that Christ was the “One Lawgiver” who had spoken from Sinai. This he had learned from “Field’s Handbook,” pages 81 and 82. And therefore it was his Saviour who had spoken the fourth commandment, and therefore the Sabbath must be the Lord’s day. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.2
A little of the beauty and the “delight” of the Sabbath was thus revealed to him. It was beginning to appear less of a burden. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.3
There was a knock at the front door. The mistress of the house answered the knock, then came and put her head in at Harry’s door. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.4
“Mr. Hart wants to see you,” said she, looking very stern. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.5
Harry was at the door in a moment. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.6
“I called to see if you would like to study with me, to-day,” said Mr. Hart. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.7
That took away much of the feeling of loneliness. For two or three hours Harry sat in Mr. Hart’s lodgings, while Mr. Hart opened to him the Scriptures. When he went back to dinner there was a note waiting for him, requesting his attendance at the head teacher’s residence. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.8
Harry went in fear and trembling. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.9
“I suppose, sir,” said Harry, when the teacher came to the door, “that you wonder why I did not come to dig in the garden this morning.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.10
“Oh, no,” he answered kindly. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.11
“The fact is, sir,” said Harry, “I have learned that the seventh day is the Sabbath, and I believe there is no authority in Scripture for Sunday observance; so, of course, I could not do any work to-day.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.12
“Indeed!” said the head teacher, “that is a very serious step to take. Just come in, and I will see what my authorities have to say on the matter.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.13
So Harry followed him into his library. Several works were consulted, but “Smith’s Ecclesiastical History” was the one that was most to the point. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.14
After reading its argument for the change of day, the head teacher said, “I will admit, Mr. Irvine, that that is very unsatisfactory.” He closed the book. “But study about this matter, get advice upon it, pray about it, before you finally decide; for it will seriously injure your prospects if you decide to keep Saturday for the Sabbath.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.15
And Harry went back to his lodgings to study and to pray. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.16
The sun set, and brought Harry Irvine’s first Sabbath to a close—a Sabbath that had been too much filled with perplexities and harassing thoughts to be a real day of rest. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.17
After tea Harry heard a voice at the door asking the master of the house, “Is Mr. Irvine in?” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.18
Harry recognised it at once as the voice of his minister. “Now for it!” he said to himself as he went to the door. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.19
“Mr. Irvine,” said the minister, “at the local preachers’ meeting held yesterday it was voted that you be given work in this circuit as a local preacher. I came to see if that is in accordance with your wish.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.20
“Yes, sir,” said Harry, “it was the dearest wish of my soul. But I fear I cannot take I now. Last night I learned that the seventh day is the Sabbath.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.21
“Yes, I heard about it,” said the minister. “Your chief came to me and told me of the trouble you are in. Don’t think of this as a breach of confidence on his part, for he loves you as he would if you were his own son.” He placed his hand affectionately on Harry’s shoulder. “Young man,” said he very earnestly, “look after the good of your soul, and don’t bother your head about that old Jewish Sabbath.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.22
And with this advice the minister left him. BEST March 24, 1902, page 100.23
(To be Continued.)
“The Scapegoat” The Bible Echo, 17, 13 p. 101.
A. T. J.
The service that was established in the wilderness by Moses was only a picture. In itself it was nothing. “It is not possible,” says the writer of Hebrews, “that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.1
This picture was produced under the direction of God Himself. To Moses He said, “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mnount.” And in Hebrews 8:5 (20th Cent.) we read, “These priests, it is true, are engaged in a service which is only a sketch and shadow of the heavenly realities.” So whatever we see in that picture is a representation of something real in the heavenly service. BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.2
The most important feature in this ceremonial was the Day of Atonement. On that day two goats were brought (see Leviticus 16), and lots were cast upon them, “one lot for the Lord, and the other for the scapegoat” (Heb. Azazel). The first was slain for a sin-offering, his blood was brought in within the vail and sprinkled on the mercy-seat; the other, laden with the sins of the nation, was led away into a land not inhabited, where it was let go. The first is a fitting picture of Christ, “who His own self bare our sins in His body on the tree”—bore them while dying—and whose blood is ministered in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of His people. But what of the other, the scapegoat? That could not represent Jesus too, for lots were cast to separate from the scapegoat the one that was to represent Him. And no part of His work could be pictured by a goat being led into an uninhabited land and let go there. BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.3
And where, in the plan of God as revealed in His word, can we find anything pictured by this “land not inhabited”? In the fourth chapter of Jeremiah a powerful picture of war and destruction is presented. In the twenty-fifth verse he says, “I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heaven were fled.” This was what was revealed to Jeremiah as the condition that would exist after the cities of the earth are broken down “at the presence of the Lord,” that is, at the second coming of Christ. Here we have in reality that which, in the picture, is called “a land not inhabited.” BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.4
In Revelation 20 we have other features of this time presented. The fifth verse gives its duration as one thousand years, and tells that the wicked are dead all that time. The fourth verse tells of the faithful in Christ, who are in heaven (Revelation 19:1). The third verse uses “the bottomless pit” as a figure for the desolate, uninhabited earth. And who is it that is let go in this “land not inhabited”? The previous verse tells us. It is “that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan.” True, he is represented as being bound, but only in that “he should deceive the nations no more.” From this he is bound by the circumstance of their being dead. The angel lays hold of him, but that he is free to move, that he is “let go” in the bottomless pit, is shown by the statement that he is shut up and a seal set upon him. BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.5
Satan, then, answers to the scapegoat in the picture. This is further proved by the fact that the word in the original, Azazel, is a name of the devil. (See Kitto’s Biblical Cyclopedia, or any similar work.) BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.6
Jesus bore all your sins on Calvary, He bore the penalty of every sin; and if you confess them He takes them from you and you have nothing more to do with them forever. But Satan has had his part in them, and those that he has led you to commit will be visited upon him during that thousand years when he wanders up and down in the wreck that his rebellion has produced. But we must confess our sins; otherwise they will remain with us. We must give them to Christ, and leave the final disposing of them to Him. He “gave Himself for our sins.” Let us make the exchange, part with the sins, let Him do as He pleases with them, and receive Him forever. BEST March 24, 1902, page 101.7