"DAWN CIRCLES FOR BIBLE STUDY."
IN our issue of Sept. 15, we commended these as profitable for the upbuilding of the Church by establishing each one in the general features of the complete plan of the ages, whereby alone all Scripture can be rightly divided and appreciated. This method has four specially commendable features. (1) It brings into use and study the entire range of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, instead of confining the attention to a few verses of one chapter. It is a topical, instead of a verse and chapter, study of the Bible. (2) It leads the mind and heart to refreshment in that which we all have proved to be rich and nutritive food from the Master's storehouse, and away from vain speculations which neither satisfy nor strengthen the heart. (3) It accustoms each one to think for himself, and to study to arrange his conceptions of the truth in harmony with all the Scripture statements bearing thereon, and also to express to others the truth which he sees. (4) These are the objects of all teachings in the Church, as the Apostle states them--"For the edifying of the saints "for the work of ministry."
We notice, however, that a few, very few we are glad to say, have totally mistaken the suggestions made respecting this kind of meetings, and understood us to advise the abandonment of the Bible and instead that the MILLENNIAL DAWN be read. Nothing could be farther from our thought. As for the mere reading of the BIBLE or the DAWN, that can be better done privately, each for himself.
On the contrary, the suggestion is to make Bible studies general; and as the light has come to us all by studying God's orderly plan as set forth in DAWN, so it will continue to become more and more clear in all its minutiae as we continue to study it from the same standpoint. If the Plan of the Ages gives the only true outline of the divine plan, and if we have learned that outline thoroughly, let us use the same helping hand, observe the same divine plan and order, in continuing the study of the minutiae of God's plan of the ages.
It is for this purpose that we advise "Dawn Circles for Bible Study;" and as an illustration of the proposed method we offer the following as a sample analysis of the first paragraph of DAWN, VOL. I., viz.--
What constitutes the divine revelation?--2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16,17.
When and how did sin come into the world?--Rom. 5:12; etc.
Who is the "Sun of Righteousness"?--Mal. 4:1,2; Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3.
When will this "Sun" arise?--Acts 3:19-21; Col. 3:4.
What will its shining effect?--Mal. 4:1,2; Isa. 60:18,19; 25:7-9; Acts 3:23.
What will be its "healing," and how performed?-- Rom. 5:18,19.
Do sin and death, directly or indirectly cause present "weeping" and trouble? How?
Upon what sure ground can we hope for the "morning" and its "joy"?--Rom. 5:6-8; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:3,21; 2 Pet. 1:16,19; Prov. 4:18; Job 14:13-15; Psa. 49:14,15.
Will that "glorious day" be followed by a night?-- Rev. 21:21-25; Isa. 60:20,21.
Other Scriptures might be brought forward profitably, but all will see the necessity for not permitting too much latitude, and the leader of the class will exercise his best judgment in kindly reminding any who might be disposed [R1900 : page 277] to digress considerably. The class should contain several Bibles, and we recommend that all meetings be opened and closed with praise and prayer. The plan of some of having pencils and noting the references in the margins of their DAWNS is also commended. It will be of great help to all when endeavoring again to prove the truth to the skeptical.
A Bible-study more interesting or more profitable than the foregoing could scarcely be imagined. In this everyone can take part; all can thus be assured of the firm foundation upon which the good tidings of great joy rest; all can edify and build one another up in the most holy faith; the "meat in due season," now provided by the Lord for all who feast at his table, is thus with an open Bible before the entire class, and each one may pass to the others refreshing portions.
A class of three would find abundant and rich Bible food for an hour, suggested by this one paragraph; and a larger class of say a dozen would scarcely get through with it at one meeting. We commend to all the little companies of the Lord's flock these "Dawn Circle Bible Studies" for one meeting in each week. They will tend to make all proficient in the understanding of God's Word which is a prerequisite to the required "work of ministry," serving it to others. (Eph. 4:12). It is a much safer plan than to meet to speculate and try to make types out of every person and every thing mentioned in the Bible, a plan that has led many (into pride of skill in making something out of nothing and thence) into "outer darkness." And it will generally be found much more profitable than to take any chance subject, or to be without some previously appointed subject. Each lesson should be thought out by all and especially by the leader or "elder." However, each class ought to be willing to consider any Bible topic suggested by any attendant, and considered by a majority of the class to be a profitable topic. For this purpose the DAWN lessons could be temporarily discontinued or, preferably, extra meetings could be appointed.
[R1901 : page 277]
THE PLAN OF THE AGES.
A beautiful vision of glory has caught my enraptured gaze;
It is thrilling my heart with gladness, and filling my mouth with praise.
My soul had so longed for this vision; I knew it must come to view,
When Faith would behold God's goodness in the light which makes all things new.
And so I have searched for the treasure, believing I yet would find;
And that God in his infinite mercy would open my eyes, so blind,
To see the Truth in its grandeur, all fresh with the dews of grace,
And sparkling in the glory that beams from the holy place;
To know his love, passing knowledge in its length and depth and height,
With a breadth no man can measure, and a strength sin cannot blight.
The Lord hath his time appointed to fulfil our hearts' desires,
And there comes an hour in his "due time" when the weary watch expires.
So, standing upon my tower in the dawn of a better day,
And waiting there for the vision he promised should not delay,
I saw God's plan of the ages on tablets of truth made plain,
And the love wherewith he loved us, and his plan man's love to regain.
Oh, truly, the scene was blessed, transcending my noblest thought;
With my cup of joy overflowing, I cried, "What hath God wrought!"
In the past I had had some glimpses of what his great love might be;
But the scene had so many shadows it seemed a vast mystery.
The creeds of men, and false doctrines, had formed a veil o'er my eyes,
And the truth of God looked sombre when hidden 'mid such disguise;
But now it is joy and gladness, "glad tidings of great joy!"
And e'en if I had a thousand tongues I could each one employ
To tell it out to his people, and call to his saints beloved,
To come and gaze on the vision with the shadows all removed;
To trace with love's guiding finger, in the light of the holy oil,
God's plan for the world's redemption from sin and all its turmoil.
For, Oh, such a vision, surely, will quell all their doubts and fears;
And such a bright dawn of promise will banish night's falling tears.
Then come to the watch tower, pilgrims, come up to this height serene,
And gaze on this rapturous vision, and take in the blessed scene,
'Til the truth of God, so mighty, shall break every captive's chain,
And the bliss that was lost in Eden is restored to mankind again.
F. G. BURROUGHS.