No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
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This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
NEW POSTAL RULINGS require that our lists shall be composed of bona fide [actual] subscribers. We are obliged to be more strict than formerly, and all who wish to continue receiving the TOWER must send at least a request for it. All too poor to pay 50 cts. will be paid for out of the Tract Fund, supplied by those more able.
Charles H. Spurgeon, the notable Baptist minister of London, has left Babylon; he has withdrawn from the Baptist Association and now stands a free man, untrammeled by human organizations, free to believe and to teach whatever he may find in God's Word, without either permission or hindrance from others.
We know not what has led Brother Spurgeon into this liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. We know not how much truth he has imbibed, but feel sure that this indicates some increase of the knowledge of the truth; for it is written "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Soon we doubt not the knowledge or truth which led Mr. Spurgeon to this step, will manifest itself in his preaching. May he, now that he is free, make rapid strides from grace to grace and from knowledge to knowledge.
This, which seems to us a grand step, of course seems correspondingly bad to others, and evil motives are attributed by those who worship sectarian organization rather than the great Head of the Church, and who obey men rather than God, and sectarian conferences, creeds, etc., rather than the Word of God. All sectarianism should fall, and each consecrated follower of Christ should be free to grow in grace, knowledge and love, and to co-operate with each other, not to bind one another's conscience but to assist each other in the study of the one guide and rule of faith and practice – the Bible.
To-day, then, Mr. Spurgeon stands with us, in and of no sect, responsible to no man nor set of men, but to God and his Word only. We welcome Brother Spurgeon to the ranks of the free. He now stands with us on the only proper platform for Christian union – Christ only and the liberty which he grants to each.
A Brother who for years has been a missionary, a minister in the M.E. Church in Africa, writes that the truth has made him free, and ten of his congregation also. They are all subscribers to the TOWER. He has resigned the ministry of Methodism and is now preaching under the higher commission of Christ and the apostles, in the Bible. We sent on Thanksgiving day a box of fifty more Dawns, besides Concordance, Diaglott, etc. May his labors be greatly blessed of the Lord.
You will all be glad to know of the firmness and promptness of the Brother whose questions were answered in the October TOWER. The courage and success of one soldier of the cross, should and does encourage others. His brief letter, [which reminds us of Caesar's famous short letter, "veni vidi, vici," I came, I saw, I conquered] is as follows: –
Just a moment to say that I have written to my Rector at Janesville announcing the severing of my connection with the Church. It was a hard and painful step, and it seems as though everything opposes me in it – old relations and pleasant ones, my family and even my business seem to unite to keep me in Babylon. But the step has been taken, the letter is gone. Hastily, but very truly yours,
I write to thank you for your published letter in answer to Mr. Wm. Wright's on "Coming out of Babylon." (I only commenced receiving the TOWER in July.) You will understand my interest when I tell you, that on the 26th day of September last, I asked that my name be taken from the Baptist Church list, because I realized that its teachings were not in harmony with the inspired Word, which I was led to study after afflictions came upon me and I was led to see that I could not in all good conscience stand before my Saviour and the church at the same time. It cost me something, for in its fold were some of my dearest earthly friends and it might mean a sacrifice of them; but I decided like Mary to choose the better part. I have seen so much that was ungodly passed by with a wink, that I came to feel like just Lot in Sodom, and I do rejoice that the Lord has led me out. I feel happy and contented with my name among the "little flock." I desire to use and be used for the honor and glory of the Master, and believe there is a work for me somewhere, in some humble way, and that I shall be and am now being fitted for it. Will you and Mrs. Russell pray specially for me? A humble servant,
November witnessed at Chicago the execution of four avowed and defiant anarchists. There were found at their funeral thousands who considered them heroes and martyrs, who denounced their execution as "legalized but atrocious murder," and their conviction by all the courts as tyranny, as a victory of the ruling class over the laboring class, and swore over the graves of their adored comrades that they would yet "avenge this foul murder."
Even a lawyer, a man whom we might expect would appreciate law and order, was present at that funeral, and comforted the Godless company [for avowed anarchists are almost always avowed atheists] as follows, as reported in the Press dispatches: –
He told his hearers that they had come to do honor to the soldiers and martyrs to truth. They had lost their lives in her service and they were numbered with those that in all history had died for the same cause. They were kind hearted and tender, manly, noble men. They loved humanity. They worshiped God by striving their utmost to benefit their fellow men, and it was in this strife that they offered up their lives. They were not standing there by the bodies of felons. There was nothing disgraceful about their death. They died for liberty, for the sacred right of untrammeled speech, for humanity, and his hearers should be proud that they had been their friends. – Times, Nov. 14, 1887.
And other thousands actuated some by fear of the results of the already made threats of anarchists, and some by a conscientious timidity, begotten of a false idea of God's provisions for these men, – fearful of putting them into God's hands, fearful lest He would not give them "a just recompense" for their evil deeds, fearful that He would plunge them into everlasting torment, – signed lengthy petitions to the Governor of Illinois for the commutation of the death penalty.
Since this matter has excited such general attention, particularly since other similar cases will come forward again, and because the church should as far as possible hold correct ideas on this as well as other subjects, we rehearse the matter as it appears to our View in the TOWER.
The riot at the Chicago hay-market meeting May 4th, 1886, was precipitated by the throwing of a death-dealing bomb among the police, present upon the occasion to preserve peace and order. The murderers of those properly appointed representatives of the majority of Chicago's citizens, were sought, and though it could not be ascertained positively whose hands had lighted and thrown the bomb or by whom it and other similar bombs found were made, it was proved that it was thrown from the wagon in which the leaders of the meeting stood, and that the men convicted and hanged were those leaders, who for months previous, at meetings, and through circulars and papers, and at this very hay-market meeting, had urged their followers to acts of riot, violence and murder, had advocated the use of just such bombs, and had given in detail particulars as to how such could be made, and what would make them most deadly.
A brave court and jury impartially selected from among their neighbors (with great difficulty because of natural timidity inspired by loud threats, secretly uttered, that any man brave enough to stand up for the law and order and bring in a true verdict in accordance with the law and the facts, would be assassinated), after hearing all the evidence and all the arguments which the able counsel for the anarchists could present in their favor, brought in its sworn verdict, that according to their honest conviction, the law and evidence proved these men guilty of murder – of premeditated murder – and that the death penalty provided in the law, should be inflicted. Appeals to the Supreme Courts of the state, and of the United States, confirmed the truthfulness and righteousness of that verdict.
It is a credit to Chicago that her citizens refrained from lynching those enemies of her laws and liberties: that cool deliberation and true manliness prevailed, and that the condemned had every possible opportunity to be legally cleared. It is no less a credit to them that, after making the best laws they knew how to make for the government of such cases, and for the protection of the people against the devilish piracy of a comparatively small number of lawless, godless, heaven and earth defying enemies of all order, all peace and all righteousness, they had men of sufficient moral courage to execute those laws.
But we must say a word on behalf of members of the trades unions which took part in the funeral parade, and thereby gave their assent to the principles of anarchy and to the terrible lawless deeds for which those men suffered. They are duped by blatant leaders, whose specious arguments are as follows: –
These men are, say they, martyrs in a grand cause, the cause of liberty, free speech, and elevation of the laboring classes; it was not proved that any one of them threw the bomb; hence instead of regarding them as felons, convicts, murderers, every working man should recognize in them the champions of his rights, of which FREE SPEECH is chief.
There is a specious deception about all this, which some do not quickly detect. Take the last sentence. Which is the ruling class in this land of freedom, where the majority rules and the ballot-box determines who shall represent that majority in the execution of its own laws? Just so surely as the majority of the people in this land are laborers – some laboring with the [R990 : page 2] plow, some with the pick, some with machinery, and some with their pens, just so surely the working class is the ruling class, and the windy orator should have expressed himself rather that it was a victory of the practical working class over work-talkers who labor not at all, but seek to cover themselves with glory and pose as ultra freemen when in reality they are a small minority, who, conscious that they can never convince a majority of the people that anarchy [lawlessness and destruction] is better than thrift and true liberty (liberty to do right and to permit each other to do the same), seek to overturn the freedom of the land which welcomed them to enjoy the blessing of her blood-bought liberties, when they fled as convicts and outlaws from the lands that gave them birth.
As to freedom, can it not be carried too far? Did not these "martyrs for freedom" (?) carry it too far – farther than the working class, the ruling class, is prepared to permit? Freedom to murder whom you please, or to burn whose house you please, is too much freedom to grant to any one until we are sure that the grace of God has so thoroughly refined the heart that this freedom would never be used.
Freedom of speech should be permitted; it is one of the strong bulwarks of liberty, which every true man should love and appreciate. There should be full freedom to criticize public officers and laws, to show their injustice or inefficiency if it can be shown, and thus to move the majority, the ruling and working class, to effect any change which can be shown to be for the benefit of the majority. But no well balanced mind, properly informed of the institutions of this land, could possibly urge that it is a proper use of the word FREEDOM which would permit men in the name of the liberty, guaranteed to all under the Constitution, to set at nought the will of the majority and the laws they have made, and publicly threaten the life and property of the masses, and of their servants and representatives appointed to enforce those laws. The true meaning of freedom is untrammeled liberty to do anything that is right. Does any one claim that murder is right? Yes, anarchists claim that. They claim that by any means, and at any cost of life and happiness to others, their theories should be carried out. They know that they constitute a hopeless minority. They have no hope of ever convincing a majority that their theory is desirable: hence they argue We must use force – We must force the majority to obey the minority. And strangely enough they call that a battle for LIBERTY. Despotism, we should call it, the bondage of the majority, of nine-tenths of society, of the working class, to the vicious class, who could not if they would, rule as well as the better educated despotic classes of the old world.
As to the sentence of death executed upon these men, we believe that society (i.e. the majority) did perfectly right in putting out of their midst those misguided and injurious members, who even if they did not throw the bomb, were the real perpetrators of the crime, having undoubtedly incited others to do that which perhaps they themselves were too cowardly to do. If it could be shown conclusively that another threw the fatal bomb, we could not excuse them on any ground but cowardice. No pity for the fearless men who represented the people, nor pity for their wives and babes, hindered those anarchists from each throwing bombs by [R991 : page 2] the dozen; their words over and over again prove this; only their cowardice prevented. Nothing else hindered that we can think of. So then, if a poor ignorant deluded wretch could to-day be found whose ignorant mind and courage they had talked up to the point of action, we, and we believe the people (the ruling working class) would say, More guilty far and more worthy of death were the cowardly talkers than the duped one who obeyed them – their tool.
But, is society (the people) justified in taking the life of such enemies of its life and peace? We answer, yes; far more so than they generally think. In taking away the life of such as these, it merely hastens (for the good of the whole) the death penalty under which the whole world rests. [Only believers have even reckonedly escaped that condemnation which came upon all through Adam's disobedience.] Society does not do more than this; it has no right to torture him. Neither can it go beyond the present life to interfere in any degree with that future resurrection life, which our Lord's ransom has made secure to every man. These men who have so misused the present brief spark of life, were no doubt deluded egotists who vainly supposed they knew far better than the people what is advantageous and beneficial for all, and in the next age (the Millenium) when they get their share of the ransom which our Lord gave for all, they will be enabled to see clearly, under the Great Teacher's instructions, the ways of righteousness, wisdom and peace, and some of them we may hope will be converted by that knowledge into servants of God and supporters of divine law and order.
The Law of God given to Israel directed and commanded them to visit capital punishment in such serious cases. Some, however, will perhaps remark – The TOWER's teaching is that the Law was for the Jewish nation, and that we are under the law of love during the Gospel age. Very true, we answer, and in our reference to "society", "the people", "the masses", etc., we had no reference to the little minority, the virgin of Christ, the church, the sanctified in Christ Jesus. These are "not of the world." In our consideration of the world, the people, and what they are justified in doing, viz., making laws, electing executors of those laws, prosecuting wars in defence of liberties etc., trying and executing anarchists, and all such business, we exempt and except the church (real) entirely and always, as the Lord and the apostles did. As consecrated new creatures, representatives of Christ our Lord in the world, we have nothing to do with such things, but are to leave those things to the world, while we follow the Master and exemplify his teachings, which are totally unsuited to the world under the evil conditions of the present. And not the least embarrassing feature of our case is that we must be misunderstood by many of our neighbors, who know us not, even as they knew not our Master and his course. – 1 John 3:1.
"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." – Prov. 16:18.
The real danger to society at present is not from an uprising of a small handful of anarchists to overthrow law and order, but to the surprise of many let us say, the real danger now, is from friends of the law and order. The success of the law and its servants in properly and deliberately putting down these enemies of the law, will tend toward haughty austerity on the part of many, who feeling, that a large majority favor the law, will be less conciliatory in their dealing, less cautious and considerate of the feelings and equitable rights of others, and more disposed to invoke the arm of the law to their aid whenever possible.
It will be conceded that all the wealthy and all those mechanics and artisans in "comfortable circumstances," are on the side of law and order, and with them are the masses of meagerly educated peace-loving laborers, whose well balanced minds grasp the fact that the educated and skilled artisan and capitalistic energy are necessities, without which they would sink back from present comfort, and advantages, and opportunities of advancement, into the comfortless barbarism of our ancestors. The present victory at Chicago, is the victory of all these over their common enemy, anarchism. But so surely as the feeling of strength shall harden the hearts of the capitalists or employing element of this class, and make them less considerate of the other members of the same class – employees – so surely will the majority of these laborers be gradually driven into opposition, not only to their employers, but also to all laws which do not favor their own selfish interests.
In order that laws shall be respected by the majority, they must be based, not on selfishness, but on justice. And as from time to time, under changing circumstances and increasing knowledge, laws are found to be unjust toward any, all should submit to justice, and such laws should be changed. But as already pointed out in chapter XV. of Millennial Dawn, selfishness will rule on both sides, and will divide the at present law abiding masses of the people and result in the very anarchy now seemingly throttled.
While admitting that labor strikes are generally evils, which oftenest bring loss rather than gain to those who engage in them, and to others dependent upon them, and while admitting that selfishness and injustice often lie at the bottom of trades-unions, we are ready to admit that sometimes they may be necessary, to obtain justice.*
The employing class, blinded partially by selfishness so that they are unable to see the necessity and justice of self-protection by organization, on the part of the employed class, associates in mind and in private conversation (though not often publicly) all trades-unionists with anarchists; and they think of the victory over anarchism at Chicago, as a victory over trades-unionists in general. They think they see in the very general failure of strikes during this year, and finally the hanging of the anarchists, evidence of the power of capital over all opposition, and many now claim that the "heroic treatment" of crushing out opposition, strikes, etc., is the only sure, and the best plan, and that the holding of conferences, attempts to arbitrate or conciliate etc., only stimulate the employed to ask more and unreasonable things. (And this last point is too true.)
The splitting of labor organizations into factions, and contentions between these now imminent, threatens two dangerous results: First, the effect will be to strengthen the hand of capitalists, permitting selfishness to have the greater control of their consciences and conduct, making them sometimes haughty and inconsiderate of the interests and rights of others: Secondly, the effect upon laborers, artisans, etc., will be to discourage them from present hopes of legally, at the ballot-box, by united effort, obtaining such changes of laws as changing circumstances, conditions, inventions, etc., may dictate to be just. The result of this despair will be bad. It will change many of these, at present law-upholding people, into law-opposers – anarchists. Thus we see the danger of the present moment, from an opposite quarter to that from which it is generally looked for.
In proof of what we here predict, we cite a few instances which have come under our own observation here in Pittsburg, which surely we are justified in considering as samples of the general sentiment of the land.
(1) On the day of the execution of the anarchists a prominent banker remarked to the writer, that he was glad to see law and order vindicated. To this we assented, but when he proceeded to class as part and parcel of the same victory the political defeat at the polls of the "United Labor Party" in New York, we had to differ. So positive were the gentleman's expressions that discussion on that subject seemed to be useless, and only calculated to make him regard any who might differ with him as anarchists also.
(2) The Sunday following the execution of the anarchists at Chicago, witnessed a conflict between various political and labor societies, and the police and military authorities in the city of London, England, occasioned by the prohibition of a public meeting, which according to custom the labor societies attempted to hold, and which they evidently thought they had a right to hold under the existing English laws. Without discussing the merits of this case we wish merely to note that in referring to it some of the journals of this city gave evidence that their views on the subject of labor organizations and anarchism are warped in the manner indicated above. They declared that Chicago had given London a practical lesson in how to deal with anarchists, and that the firmness of the police and military at London showed that they were equal to any emergency. And we doubt not these journals voiced the sentiments of their owners and of a very large class of readers. Others would read in the telegraphic column, that many of those who attempted to hold the London meetings were there as labor organizations, who carried banners claiming that they were almost starving, and wanted not charity, but work, whereby to honestly provide for their families; [R992 : page 2] and urging upon the government to enact some laws or start some public works, whereby they might be kept from starvation, without being compelled by necessity to violate law and order, by confiscating a part of the surplusage of the luxurious aristocracy, to obtain life's necessities for those in need.* As the [R992 : page 8] comfortable American mechanic and laborer reads this, and the editorial comment on it which speaks of artisans as anarchists, he against his will is forced to conclude that in the opinion of his fellow citizens, as voiced by the Press, all wage-workers are counted as anarchists. This is what the executed anarchists tried to instill into them, viz.: that all physical laborers are of one brotherhood, and all mental laborers of another; and that the former should all be anarchists and oppose the latter. They resisted the imputations and doctrines of anarchy only to find that many of their law-abiding fellow citizens more comfortably fixed in life, are in array against them, and name and treat them as anarchists. They are not slow to feel an angry resentment rising within them against those who would perforce classify and name them with anarchists, and they quickly draw the inference, that should business here become depressed as it is in England, and should they desire to use lawfully their right of free speech, to make known their necessities, they too would be dispersed by force, publicly branded "anarchists," and ultimately forced – by necessity perhaps – to aid the anarchy of which at first they were unjustly accused.
(3) Another illustration of the haughtiness which the triumph of law over the anarchists has called forth, is reported in the secular journals of this city from the pulpit. It but illustrates the spirit which has always been at the bottom of intolerance and persecution – that "might makes right." It was under this same spirit that thousands of lives were sacrificed in the past, and illustrates how willingly the speaker would, if he could, not only be a pope to decide what men must think, but how he would forcibly silence, excommunicate, and anathematize, all who would not harmonize with his ideas. Rev. N. Woodside, of the First Reformed Presbyterian church, of Pittsburg, was the speaker, and his subject was "Protection from Ecclesiastical Anarchists."
"Ecclesiastical anarchists should not be allowed to come in and change the existing order and laws of the Church. They have undertaken to authoritatively preach the Gospel without being ordained. In this they are impeaching the wisdom of Jesus Christ. They administer the sacrament in direct opposition to divine law. The speaker did not care who these expressions hit."
"I want you to stand out against all this anarchy. We must publish the names of these Church anarchists through the newspapers so that all the world may know them – these men who go about from church to church ingratiating themselves into the good graces of leading members and destroying the good order of the Church."
We know not to whom this gentleman referred, nor does it matter; it is the principle that we are discussing. Seeing the arm of the law successful against the anarchists, he greatly desires to use the same, or any other power against those who dare to think for themselves, or to read the Bible without his glasses or his permission. To begin this persecution, and lay a foundation for some further steps, when action may be more possible, he brands those he hopes yet to destroy or silence for ever, as anarchists.
We are not personally acquainted with the gentleman, but from his use of the word we doubt if he appreciates the meaning of the word anarchists, or understands upon what grounds the political anarchists were condemned and executed. The anarchists were executed, not because they held different views on political economy, from the majority – that is not a crime in this age – nor because they expressed their views, – which all have a perfect right to do in this age and land – but they were executed because they went beyond these rights, and threatened and took the lives of others. So, if the lives of members of Mr. Woodside's church have been threatened or taken, or if their property has been destroyed or menaced, let the guilty persons be treated as felons and anarchists, and let them upon similar conviction, be dealt with according to law.
But this is not the trouble; no, we understand the gentleman perfectly. Thank God we have not met many with such sentiments, but we read of them in history. The gentleman has merely adopted a new name for his enemies, those whom he regards as heretics, stigmatizing them as "ecclesiastical anarchists," that thereby he may draw upon them some of the deserved reproach which attaches to that name in the estimation of all order-loving people, and thus to awaken an uncharitable, unchristian, persecuting spirit.
The same heart and tongue if in the place of influence a few centuries ago, instead of saying "These ecclesiastical anarchists must be suppressed," would have worded it, "Burn the heretics!" – "Establish an Inquisition!"
Using the gentleman's newly applied name "ecclesiastical anarchist," as the synonym for "heretic," let us remind him of a little scrap of church history, which, if he ever knew, he has evidently forgotten, viz: – that when his forerunners started to think for themselves and left the "Covenanters," calling themselves "Reformed Presbyterians," they were counted "ecclesiastical anarchists" (heretics); and were also accused of "destroying the good order of the church." To go back still further, we find that the "Covenanters" also began, by a few men thinking and teaching contrary to the teachings of the Episcopal Church from which it broke off, and these too were counted "ecclesiastical anarchists" (heretics) by those whom they left. Going further still into the past (and that not three and a-half centuries ago), the Episcopal Church, or Church of England, broke off from the Roman Catholic Church, and all its members were cursed as (heretics) "ecclesiastical anarchists."
Each of these in turn, has been told by those they left, that they were "in direct opposition to the divine law," and that they were "destroying the good order of the church" etc. And the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches from which they came out, to this day declare that no one can "authoritatively preach the gospel without being ordained" by them. Thus we see that Mr. Woodside is an "ecclesiastical anarchist" of the very sort his words condemn. Scraps of history are very useful as antidotes for pulpit-rabies.
Thus we have shown evidence from the Press, the Pulpit and the Bank, that the danger is not from present real anarchists, but rather that over-confidence, pride and tyranny on the part of some will ultimately force the issue and compel anarchism. As for the ecclesiastical intolerance we have long ago pointed out the probability of an offensive and defensive combination of all the large denominations of Christendom for the suppression of "growth in grace and knowledge" beyond their lines – somewhat on the order of the present "Evangelical Alliance." Our study of the Scriptures which are "able to make us wise," prepares us for the time and events Mr. Woodside longs for, when, by an ecclesiastical combination, all small companies of independent thinkers will be "suppressed." In the Scriptures we read the fact that the great ones in politics, finances and ecclesiastical affairs, will consolidate their power for a time, but the haughty, proud and unjust shall fall, and terrible will be the fall.
The events of our day show that these things are drawing nigh, and though we pen these words of warning, we have no hope of altering the course which God has foretold, but will be satisfied, if we shall help the few, the little flock scattered abroad, to discern the times and be on the Lord's side, the side of right; and prepare them to endure hardness as good soldiers of our Master, who indeed peaceable as a lamb, was also considered an "ecclesiastical anarchist" by the Chief Priests and "orthodox" religionists of his day. He too whom God had anointed with his spirit also, to preach the gospel, was demanded of the Pharisees, "Who gave thee this authority?" (Matt. 21:23.) The Apostles' authority also was questioned by the same class, and they were cast into prison for daring to preach without permission of the Chief Priests. – Acts 5:17,18,26-28,41,42. Should the time of persecution ever again come, let all continue to preach as did the early church, asking no other authority than the command of the Lord. Acts 11:19. All the spirit anointed are members of the "Royal Priesthood." "Ye should show forth the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet. 1:9) and "ought to be teachers." – Heb. 5:12.
But it is not needful here, to go to the Scriptures to prove that all who have the Spirit of Christ, are not only authorized and commanded by him, the true head of the Church, to preach, but having the spirit of the gospel within them, they cannot refrain from declaring the gracious goodness of God and his glorious plan of salvation.
Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thy erring children, lost and lone.
O lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet;
O feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Thy hungering ones with manna sweet.
O strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the Rock, and strong in Thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers in the troubled sea.
O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
O give thine own sweet rest to me,
That I may speak with soothing power
A word in season, as from Thee,
To weary ones in needful hour.
O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart o'erflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where;
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.
"The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all, which they chose.... And they bear children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown." – Gen. 6:2,4.
The Scriptures not only point us to the future age and call the spiritual government of Christ which shall then exist a "new heavens," and earthly society and institutions under it a "new earth;" but the present spiritual rulership [under Satan, "the prince of this world"] and earthly institutions under it are termed "The present evil world," dispensation or epoch. Moreover, we are informed that the present dominion of evil has not lasted forever, but that it was preceded by a still different dispensation or epoch spoken of as "the world that was before the flood," which also had a heavens or spiritual ruling power, and an earth, or condition of men subject to that spiritual dominion.
The three worlds mentioned by Peter (2 Pet. 3:6,7,13) designate these three great epochs of time, in each of which, God's plan with reference to men has a distinct and separate outline, yet each is but a part of the one great plan which, when complete, will exhibit the divine wisdom, though considered separately these parts would fail to show their deep design.
Since that first "world" (heavens and earth," or that order of things,) passed away at the time of the flood, it follows that it must have been a different order from the present, and hence the prince of this present evil world was not the prince of that which preceded this – of the world or dispensation before the flood.
Several scriptures seem to throw light on God's dealings during that first dispensation, and we think give a further and clearer insight into his plan and purpose as a whole. The thought suggested by these is, that the first world (the dispensation before the flood) was under the supervision and special ministration of the angels; that these were man's governors and overseers commissioned to communicate God's will and to rule over the fallen and degenerating race, which, because of sin, needed this government.
That angels were the rulers of that epoch is not only indicated by all references to that period, but may be reasonably inferred from the Apostle's remark when contrasting the present dispensation with the past and the future. He endeavors to show both the righteousness and the enduring character of the future rulership of the world, saying, "The world to come hath He not put in subjection to the angels." No, it is put under the control of Jesus and his joint-heirs, and hence it shall not only be more righteous than the present rule of Satan, but it shall be more successful than was the previous rule by the angels. – See Heb. 2:2,5.
In their original estate all the angels seemed to possess the ability to appear in earthly forms – Satan appeared to Eve as a serpent; other angels frequently appeared as men, thus performing their ministry, appearing or disappearing, as the work demanded.
It was at this time it seems, that the fall of some of the angels occurred. It is a common supposition, though we think without foundation, that the fall of Satan's angels occurred before man's creation. We are told that Satan was a murderer [man killer] from the beginning. (Jno. 8:44.) Certainly not the beginning of his own existence, for every creation coming from God's hand is perfect, nor can we think any other beginning referred to than man's beginning, in Eden. But so far as we are informed he was alone then and had no followers or angels.
The ambition of Satan to become a ruler seems to have developed as he beheld the first human pair with their procreative powers. He probably reasoned that if he could obtain the control of this man he should have the dominion over all his offspring, and be in power and influence above others, a rival of Jehovah; and his growing ambition said, "I will be like the Most High." – Isa. 14:14.
Measurably successful, Satan gained a great influence over the race, but not complete, for in competition with him was the great company of angels, who, as guardians, instructed and ruled mankind for a time in harmony with the will of God. But presently came a great degeneracy among those rulers of men. Man's corruption was contagious, and some of the angels left their own habitation, or condition as spiritual beings, keeping not their first or original estate. They misused the powers which they possessed of assuming a human form, and became of a reprobate and licentious mind, copying after degenerate man, and started a new race of men in the world, as the above text (Gen. 6:2,4,) affirms.
Some have endeavored to apply this scripture to two classes of men – one class more righteous than the other, called "sons of God," but such a position is untenable, for it is not a sin for one man to take for a wife, another man's daughter. Marriage among men is never condemned as sinful in the Scriptures. Again, if it were merely a union of two classes of the same race, why should the offspring be "GIANTS," and specially "MEN OF RENOWN?" If the righteous and the wicked marry to-day, are their children therefore giants or more renowned men?
Through the deterioration of several hundred years, mankind had lost much of its original vigor and perfection of mind and body, but with the angels it was different. Their powers were still perfect and unimpaired, hence it is clear that their children would partake of that vitality and much more resemble the first perfect man than those around them, among whom they would be giants both in physical and mental strength.
Those angels which kept not their first condition, but sought the level of sinful men, and left their own habitation, or spiritual condition, God placed in age-lasting chains. That is, God restrained or limited their powers, taking from them the power and privilege of appearing in an earthly form, human or other. Hence, though we know that they thus did appear before the flood, there is not one instance recorded in which they have been able to free themselves from this restraint or chain since. On the contrary, the angels who left not their first estate are not so restrained, and have appeared frequently as men, as a flame of fire and as a pillar of cloud, etc., as recorded in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
Having become depraved in their tastes and being given over to a reprobate mind, and being debarred from all association with God and his works and his plans, these fallen angels have no longer any pleasure in things on the spiritual plane, but crave association with depraved mankind and a participation with him in sin. How wise and kind the Almighty hand which has restrained their power and influence over men, by preventing their personal intercourse. Now, they may indeed enter and act through any who invite their companionship, but no more can they do. Thus far shalt thou go, saith the Almighty, but no farther.
Some of this class, possessed by devils, Jesus and his disciples met in their ministry. Out of one he cast a legion of devils, (Mark 5:1-15). Anxious in some manner to become associated with humanity, yet unable to assume human form because restrained, when they found a man willing to have such company, a legion crowded into him, thereby making him a maniac. Even when they perceived that Jesus would release the man from their possession, they in despair requested as a favor that they might be permitted to inhabit and use the bodies of a herd of swine near by. But the swine were crazed thereby, and madly rushed into the sea.
Jude (vs. 6,7,) gives conclusive evidence on the subject, and clearly shows the nature of the sin for which the fallen angels were condemned and restrained, when, after mentioning the angels who sinned, he says, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah...IN LIKE MANNER giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh."
That God deprecates any mixture or blending of human and spiritual natures, and designs that each should keep its own original or first estate, we need scarcely remark is clearly taught here. (See also, Lev. 18:23, and 20:15,16.) And that our race as it exists to-day, coming through Noah, is purely Adamic stock, and contains no mixture, is shown by the expression – "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation," – i.e., not contaminated in the manner before described. – Gen. 6:9.
Glancing back, then, we see the first epoch under angelic control, and the result, man's continued degradation, and degrading influence upon some of the angels. The angels were utterly unable to accomplish the great work of man's recovery. Doubtless they were anxious to do it, for they sang and shouted for joy at his creation. And God let them try it, and it was doubtless part of their trial and discipline, but sadly they failed. Some joined the ranks of evil and the rest stood by and witnessed the terrible course of sin. Later we find them still interested and desiring to look into the plan which God has since been working out, and ever ready to do his bidding in our service. (1 Peter 1:12.) Thus was proven both to men and angels the futility of angelic power to save men, though they thus showed interest.
In the beginning of "this present evil world," notwithstanding Noah's endeavor to serve God and to teach his posterity to follow his example, and the exhibition of God's anger at the deluge, the tendency was still downward, and soon the wickedness of Sodom brought its destruction. Mankind was bent on an evil course, and God permitted them to take it. Then the ministration of angels, except to the few of God's children, was withdrawn.
In this second dispensation God permits the world to select and obey the prince of its own choosing, to feel his galling yoke and to realize the real character of evil, while He is selecting from among them a little flock, whose desire to do the will of God has led them to sacrifice the human interests and present things, to share as joint-heirs with Christ the glories and honors of the new ruling power (new heavens). And when the prince of this world is cast out, and he whose right it is shall take his power and reign, then in him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
God has now demonstrated to all his creatures that his plan is the only one which could accomplish the great work; and his plan has, ever since the fall, been gradually and quietly developing, and in due time will bear abundant fruit unto eternal life. It selects and tests first of all the "little flock," the Royal Priesthood and then reaches out to lift up and restore all who will accept the favor upon God's conditions.
"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring US to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened [in] spirit. By which also, [in addition to this work done for us] he preached to the spirits in prison; which sometime [before] were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." – 1 Pet. 3:18-20. See Diaglott, foot note.
A satisfactory interpretation of this Scripture has long been sought, and but few have found a solution perfectly consistent and satisfying even to themselves. But in view of the truth gleaned from the suggestions of the preceding article, the above statements of the apostle Peter become luminous.
If its advocates would consider it, they would find that their interpretation favors a view of future probation for the antediluvians, a thing which they strenuously oppose. For if Christ preached to them it must have been for some purpose, and surely it was not to merely mock and deride them; and consequently he must have preached a message of hope – a part of his blessed "good tidings of great joy." And if there is a future probation for the antediluvians, why not accept our position as correct – that in Christ "all the families of the earth shall be blessed?"
This is the objection which consistency would urge against this view, from the standpoint of those who hold it. But if we view it from the Scriptural standpoint, and with the correct idea of death, we must reason that if Jesus was really dead during those three days, as the Apostles declare, then he could do no preaching; for "the dead know not anything," (Eccl. 9:5), and "there is no work, nor device, [R993 : page 4] nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave." (Eccl. 9:10.) Secondly, If Jesus had been an exception to the rule, and could have preached, the antediluvians could not have heard, for certainly they have no wisdom, nor knowledge, in the grave. Hence this view is found generally unsatisfactory and out of harmony with the Scriptures.
The second view, and the one which seemed most reasonable to us until the considerations of the preceding article threw light upon this scripture also, is to refer the preaching to that which Noah did under the direction of the Spirit of God to the antediluvians, who at this time were imprisoned in death. The objection to this view is, that the preaching was not to men, nor to the spirits of men, but to spirits, spirit beings; and the preaching was not done by Noah, nor by the Spirit of God, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It seems very clear therefore, that the spirits are those spirit beings who were disobedient during the days of Noah, and whom God therefore imprisoned or restrained in some of their former liberties and privileges, even "those angels who kept not their own principality, but left their own habitation [or normal condition] he has kept in perpetual chains, [restraints,] under thick darkness, for the judgment of the great day." Jude 6. – Diaglott.
This interpretation seems to meet all the circumstances of the case thus far. Now we inquire, In what way could Jesus preach to these during the time he was dead? We answer that it is not so stated. It was by the facts that he preached, as we sometimes say that "actions speak louder than words." It was by his sufferings, death and resurrection that the preaching was done. Thus, as Jesus went from step to step in his work, his course was preaching a good sermon to those angels who once had been placed in control of man, and had themselves fallen instead of lifting up mankind. In Jesus they saw exemplified obedience even unto death, and its reward – resurrection – to spiritual being of the divine nature. Such was the great text, and the lesson from it is stated by the Apostle in verse 22, viz., that Jesus was now highly exalted and given a name [title] above every name, that he was "gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God [the position of highest favor]; ANGELS and authorities and powers being made subject to him." They knew Jesus before he left the glory of the heavenly condition and became a man. They knew the object of his self-sacrifice as a man. They saw him obedient even unto death, and then that his high exaltation came as a reward (Phil. 2:9). They must have felt keenly their loss through disobedience, being cut off from communion with God, restrained as unworthy of former liberty and communion with the purer minded of mankind, and their own future an unsolved mystery. We can but imagine that sorrow and chagrin filled their hearts as they contrasted their course of disobedience and its results, with Jesus' obedient course and its grand results. We can fancy them saying, Would that we had realized before, as fully as we now do, the wide contrast between the results of obedience and disobedience. Would that we might have another trial: with our increased knowledge, our course would be very different.
A clear distinction should be borne in mind, as between Satan and these angels. Satan evidently sinned against great light, so that infinite wisdom finds no place to do more for him. His was not a temptation to sin from bad example in others, as was the case with the "angels who sinned" in the days of Noah, being led in to evil by their contact with fallen man; for Satan is the father of lies and was a sinner prior to man's fall, and was man's tempter. With reference to Satan nothing is stated in Scripture to indicate a future trial; but, to the contrary, it is expressly stated that he is to be "destroyed." Heb. 2:14; Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:10.
Here we start the inquiry: Is it possible that there may be probation for these spirits in prison who were formerly disobedient in the day of Noah, being led into sin through man's bad example? We answer that God's loving care over and for man, while we were yet sinners, and his impartiality, would lead us to hope that he might as well have some provision for the spirits imprisoned alive, as for mankind imprisoned in death. Though because of the different penalties upon the two classes the means of recovery may not necessarily be the same in all particulars: for instance, these angels not being condemned to death, need not be redeemed from death.
If those angels which sinned are to have a future trial – during the day or age of judgment [or trial], which is expressly stated, it follows that there is hope for them. If then, under the able instruction and assistance of the glorified church, they forsake sin and lay hold upon righteousness, they shall be accounted worthy of everlasting life and happiness.
Since we find no Scripture statement contradictory of this, no statement telling of their destruction, we have reasonable ground of hope for them, and may search further for Scripture statements favoring that hope?
We find but two statements apparently contradictory; The first reads: "Art thou come to destroy us?" (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; Matt. 8:29). This shows that these imprisoned spirits had in mind destruction as their final doom, but it no more proves that their suppositions were correct, than the fact that the so-called "Orthodox" believe that nine-tenths of humanity will be everlastingly tormented, proves that to be so. The fact is we find Satan, who taught men to thus blaspheme God's character through misrepresentations of his plans, was the master and chief over these cast-down spirits; and evidently he had misrepresented Jehovah's plans to the imprisoned spirits as he has to men. He is the father of lies.
The second text (Matt. 25:41), mentions "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." This cannot be used as an argument against a hope for a probation for the imprisoned spirits, for though by force of circumstances and restraint from any other service, they are now Satan's angels – messengers or servants – yet they may not always be such, if an opportunity were granted for them to return to God's service and be angels of God. This passage relates to the "lake of fire," or destruction, into which, at the close of the Millennial age, all are to be cast, who are out of harmony with God. Satan will be of those cast into that everlasting destruction, and with him all who do unrighteousness or have pleasure therein – all of whom, spirits or men, are reckoned to be on his side, his angels or messengers – evil doers, shall be cut off from life. To cut off such and such only, was God's plan from the beginning. The wilfully wicked and not the merely ignorant, misled, blinded or deceived are meant when it is said, "All the wicked will God destroy."
The above considerations naturally suggest the inquiry, Will those "spirits in prison," "those angels which kept not their first estate," and who received such a powerful lesson from the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, ever have an opportunity to profit by those lessons? will they ever have a chance to repent of their sin, to leave Satan's service, and return to loyalty to God?
If at first we thought the Scriptures were silent on the subject, we have found that to be a mistake, and when God speaks we may reasonably conclude there is something profitable for us to learn. Hence let us give ear that we may learn whatever our Father deems expedient to communicate.
Jude (verse 6) informs us that those angels which committed fornication and went after strange flesh "also" "in like manner" to the Sodomites (verse 7), God is keeping under restraint, (their penalty or punishment) "unto the judgment of the great day." The "great day" is the Millennial Day, and mankind is also waiting for this judgment [krisis – trial]. Peter's testimony is in harmony (2 Pet. 2:4). And Paul settles the matter that these fallen and now imprisoned spirit beings will have a trial as well as mankind, under the reign of Christ – the Church, the kingdom of God in exalted power. Speaking of the propriety of our deciding earthly difficulties, he says, "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?...Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" (1 Cor. 6:1-4). The Greek word here rendered judge, is krino, of the same root as krisis, rendered judgment in Jude 7, and signifies, to govern, to test, as to mete out to each individual blessings or stripes, according to the merit of their course when brought fully into the light of truth, and under all the blessings of the reign of Christ. Thus it is seen that it will be part of the work of the Christ to rule over and direct both human and angelic sinners – "to judge the world" of fallen men, now restrained in death, from which they have been redeemed – and also fallen spirits, restrained alive until this judgment or trial of the Great Millennial Day, when the saints under the headship of Jesus shall try their cause also, giving everlasting life and favor to those who shall then prove themselves worthy of it, and everlasting destruction to those unworthy.
Besides, we find frequent references to a work Christ is to do in subjecting heavenly or spiritual, as well as human powers, when the church which is his body has been selected and the work of judging and blessing commences. For instance, we read (Eph. 1:10), "In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish [under God's dominion and law] all things in Christ [the disordered things] that are in heaven [spiritual] and on earth [human], in him." – Douay translation. Again, "In him it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace by the blood of his cross, both as to the things on earth, and the things in heaven" – earthly and spiritual transgressors – Col. 1:20 Douay.
In Eph. 3:8-10, it is shown that the length and breadth of God's redemptive plan, has been hidden by God until the Gospel Age, when the Apostles were commissioned to declare to men, the conditions upon which they might become sharers with Jesus in the execution of God's loving plans, and the intent is, ultimately to have all the heavenly or spiritual beings know, through the instrumentality of the Church, the boundless wealth that is in God's great gift – His Son – and the different methods and steps his wisdom marked out for all his creatures. We quote the passage from the Diaglott translation: –
"To me, the very lowest of the saints, was this favor given – To announce among nations the glad tidings – the BOUNDLESS WEALTH of the Anointed One: even to enlighten all as to what is the [method of] administration [or operation] of that secret [plan] which has been concealed from the ages, by that God who created all things; in order that now [henceforth] may be made known to the governments and the authorities in the heavenlies, through [the instrumentality of] the congregation [church] the much diversified wisdom of God, according to the plan of the ages," "which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It would appear, then, that God's bountiful plan and diversified wisdom contains something of interest to the angels, and if of interest to any, of special interest to those confined or restrained, and awaiting a trial in the judgment of the great day. They see the saints and seek to look into things revealed by the spirit and Word to these, but in no other way can they learn of their future, or of what provision has been made for them in the boundless wealth and diversified wisdom of God, because it is to be "made known," "through the church."
These condemned angels have been learning much since the first text and sermon – the lesson of Jesus' obedience and exaltation (1 Pet. 3:18-20 and 1 Tim. 3:16); for we read that "we are made a spectacle to both angels and to men." (1 Cor. 4:9 – Diaglott.) The spectacle and lesson is both to men and angels for the reason that both men and angels will shortly be judged by the church, and blessed by it, if found obedient and worthy of life. When the testimony in due time is given, all things, both in heaven (the spiritual condition) and on earth (the human) shall bow to Jehovah's Anointed and confess him their Lord and Ruler; and those who refuse his righteous authority, shall be cut off as unworthy of life. – Isa. 45:23. Rom. 14:11. Matt. 25. Acts 3:33.
The angels that sinned in the days of Noah, have had a bitter experience since, no doubt death would have been preferable in many respects. Cut off from association with good angels and placed in the companionship of each other and Satan, without God and having no hope, they must have had a terrible experience, with sin's demoralizing effects, while their observation of mankind dying on account of sin, would lead them to surmise that such might ultimately be their portion. Surely, many of them will be prepared for a return to their former estate and its privileges and blessings, on whatever terms a just God may prescribe.
We cannot forget, too, their respectful conduct toward our Lord and his apostles, and the message they delivered; far more respectful indeed than that of the strictest sect of the Jewish church. While the latter scoffed and said, "Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph?" (John 6:42) the former exclaimed "Thou art the Son of God," (Mark 3:11.) While the former said, "Thou hast a devil and art mad," the latter said, "I know thee who thou art, the HOLY ONE of God." – Mark 1:24.
While they respected the true, they opposed the false, saying to some who pretended to exercise power – "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? And [R993 : page 5] the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them and overcame them." – Acts 19:15.
The Jews and Gentiles beat and stoned the messengers of God when they came among them with the glad tidings of salvation, but some of these fallen angels seemed desirous of spreading the glad tidings. One followed the Apostles, saying: "These men are the servants of the most high God which show unto us the way of salvation." – Acts 16:17.
But an important question now arises. The Scriptures show us that our hope centres in the fact that a ransom price was given for our sins, but what is the basis of hope for these fallen angels? On what ground can they have a trial and hope of future everlasting life? Did our Lord die for them?
We are not so informed: The ransom-sacrifice was human, a ransom for men. "Verily," says Paul, "he took not on him the nature of angels," etc. (Heb. 2:16.) Furthermore, they were not under condemnation of death, and hence have never lost their life in any measure, and would need no ransom from death, when they were not in, nor condemned to it. It was because the sentence of DEATH had passed upon men that a ransom was necessary in order that we might regain life. Those angels which kept not their first estate, were condemned, not to death, but to restraint and confinement, until a day of trial, when God will judge both men and angels in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained. (Acts 17:31.) They are therefore undergoing their penalty as truly as man is suffering his, though they be very different in kind – "according to the much diversified wisdom of God."
And yet they had a great interest in our Lord's sacrifice; for though they were not being redeemed, bought by the precious blood, as was man, and did not need to be, not being under condemnation to death, yet their hope centered in the power which he should gain through his exaltation to the divine nature, in consequence of his obedience even unto death, to judge and restore them in due time.
Again, if we have a correct view of the matter, that these angels had been tempted and seduced by evil in men, which had become very great (Gen. 6:5) then we see how the reconciliation accomplished by the blood of the cross for man would apply to and cancel both direct and indirect guilt, which resulted from the one man's disobedience. So that now, in the words of the Apostle, "It pleased the Father...having made peace [propitiation – satisfaction] by the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, whether things [out of harmony] in earth, or things in heaven." – Col. 1:20.
God's wisdom, love, and justice decide on what is best, and that decision is his will or law. But strictly speaking, only so much of God's will as he expresses to his creatures is law to them. Hence while his laws never conflict, they may be more or less fully expressed on one occasion than on another.
All of God's intelligent creatures are under instruction, being taught those laws which his infinite love, wisdom and justice have enacted for the well-being of all. Though created perfect, each in his plane of being, yet they all lack that scope of knowledge and wisdom which belongs in full measure only to the divine nature. They all lack experience: hence in giving them instruction in the wisdom and propriety of his laws, it has pleased Jehovah to make an illustration which would manifest and practically exemplify his own character and prove to his creatures the wisdom and righteousness of his laws.
It is evident, that the spirit of his law is not to take advantage of some transgressive slip, occasioned by lack of experience on the part of his creatures, but that he intends it to apply to the thoughts and intents of the hearts. That this is the real intent of God, we shall see illustrated by his dealings with those who have from lack of knowledge become sinners.
His law in full, as we now see it in the light of His Word, is, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" that no being shall be permitted to live, who, when fully informed of God's righteous will, and enabled to obey it, shall not conform thereto; that all such shall be cut off from life. But this is as it may be seen NOW. Once it was not so clearly expressed, nor so clearly seen.
To exemplify this law fully, God caused man to be used as an illustration before this extreme penalty was placed upon the angels. So, God placed on man the full extreme penalty of his law – death, knowing that through inexperience he would violate that law and come under its penalty. But God proposed to make an illustration to all his creatures of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its sure consequences, while at the same time his love and wisdom so marked out the plan, that mankind, the illustration, might not suffer loss, but be fully recovered from the penalty, and be blessed by being everlastingly guarded against sin, by the lessons learned.
Nor should we forget that God's dealing with man was perfectly just. He had a perfect right to demand perfect obedience from a perfect creature; and the fact that he has not required it at first of the angels, was a favor toward them, permitting them to acquire by observation of mankind, a knowledge of sin and its dire results, before being placed liable to its extreme penalty; even as toward man he has displayed his favor also, though in a different manner – through a ransom, and Savior, and restitution, and future trial for life, more favorable than the first, because of the knowledge of sin and its effects, meanwhile acquired by experience. This was a masterly stroke of wise economy on God's part; for had the death penalty been pronounced on the angels who sinned, a redeemer of their own kind would have been necessary for their recovery; and not only one, but many; for they were not representatively, but individually on trial. By the method chosen the grand result is accomplished through the instrumentality of the one sacrifice and the benefits which flow therefrom. Let us briefly
Before man was created, the justice, wisdom, love, and power of God held conference on the subject, and devised the plan which has since been developing. The plan was suggested by wisdom and concurred in by the other attributes, the arrangement and execution of it being left in Wisdom's hands.
Wisdom designed to have the largest returns of experience and benefit to man, and the most valuable illustration of God's character to all his creatures, on every plane of being. Accordingly Wisdom said, Let the man come under the control of Justice, Love, and Power, separately, that the force and operation of each may be the more forcibly illustrated. Let Justice first have complete control, let the man be dealt with by the strict law, "Thou shalt not" – . "In the day that thou dost...dying thou shalt die." And so it was.
The lesson under Justice has been long and severe, but the lesson must be thorough, so that it shall never need repeating. Men and angels must learn that Justice is relentless, irrevocable and unalterable. Then, too, before it could be realized that the remedy for man lay only in Jehovah and nowhere else, an opportunity was offered for the trial of other methods for his recovery. First, the angels were given rulership, (during the age before the flood), and made a miserable failure; for while man became more and more corrupt himself, his evil influence led to the fall of some of those who attempted his assistance – "those angels which kept not their first estate."
With the Deluge that order of affairs passed away. Then, under the law, given to one selected nation, another and a different opportunity was offered, to prove to man that even if God should cancel all enmity, or resentment, and receive the world into covenant relations, yet they would require a Restorer so that they could continue in harmony with God, even after being brought back. Hence sacrifices and offerings for sin were instituted, and God treated that nation as though original sin and guilt had been removed, and then placed them under law to prove to them, to us and to all, their inability (as degenerate creatures) to keep his law without a restitution to perfection – to his likeness.
Meanwhile Love stood ready to manifest itself at the moment Wisdom should give the word. Love would have done so at once, but for two reasons: First, it could not oppose or interfere with the action of Justice in condemning man and delivering him over for the execution of the prescribed penalty. Secondly; Though Love might have acknowledged Justice and approved its action by promptly providing a ransom (an equivalent price), Wisdom objected and did not permit this course at that time, because it saw best to make the lesson complete and thorough.
Hence for over four thousand years Love was not permitted to manifest itself, and might only speak in shadowy sacrifices and ceremonies, and more or less obscure promises. But finally, when the right time had come, "in due time," "in the fullness of time," Wisdom gave the word, and Love began to manifest itself for man's relief. The first act was to produce a perfect and sinless man to be a suitable "ransom for all," and it must be one not under the Adamic curse, who would lay down his life for the race, and whose sacrifice would meet all the requirements of justice, and therefore be acceptable as a ransom and propitiation for our sins. And Love's great exhibition was seen in the gift of the grandest, and greatest, and first of all God's creation, who became a man to redeem men: and "they called his name Jesus" when he became a man.
Ah! says one who judges by his own habits and feelings, Now comes Love's victory over Justice. We shall see that God is more loving than severe. But not so; God is not more loving than severely just: he is perfect in both respects. It will be indeed a victory for Love, but not over Justice. It will be much grander than that. It will prove a victory for both Justice and Love; for it will be gained by Love's paying the price demanded by Justice – a RANSOM, "an equivalent price."
Thus did the love of God magnify the justice and law of God, and "make it honorable," by acknowledging its claims in the payment of the very penalty demanded – man's death. – Rom. 5:19.
We need scarcely say, that the love of God so long veiled from sight, was manifested in the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer and Saviour. The record is: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins." "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might LIVE through him." – 1 Jno. 4:9,10.
When Love had RANSOMED man, and was ready to reveal itself by restoring mankind to perfection and harmony with God, Wisdom postponed it on the ground that a further development of the plan would ultimately enhance Love's glory, and perfect the work: that an interlude [the Gospel age] must occur in which should be selected some from among the redeemed; some sharers in Christ's sufferings and reproach, who should be counted worthy to share his glory, and to be his associates in the execution of Love's triumph in "the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets."
Now, we are living in the day when Power begins to act, not in opposition to Justice, but in harmony with Wisdom, Justice, and Love, in crushing out sin and evil, and in legally removing the penalty of sin and the dominion of evil, cancelled through the ransom, paid by Jesus. Oh, blessed day! The Lamb that was slain and who redeemed us by his blood is now invested with Power to restore and bless all whom he bought, and he is now about taking unto himself his great power, and shall reign until he hath put all enemies in subjection. – Rev. 20:6; and 1 Cor. 15:25.
Thus, God has chosen the plan which most fully and grandly exemplifies his unalterable justice, and exhibits the exceeding riches of his grace – his love; and in the restoration of man from destruction from death, to life and perfection, will God's power be illustrated far more forcibly than even in man's creation. And as [R993 : page 6] men and angels come to recognize the full fruition of God's plan in the ages to come, will they not with one consent exclaim with our brother Paul, as he caught a glimpse of it: "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind [plan] of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?...Because out of him, and through him, and for him are all things. To him be the glory for ever." – Rom. 11:34-36.
"The much-diversified wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10. Diaglott) pursued one course with reference to men, and another with reference to the angels, not delivering them over to justice under the extreme penalty of the law, but pronouncing a lesser penalty until they should learn of evil and its consequences from the "spectacle" furnished them in mankind.
But the result of wisdom's course in either case is the same. The angels being perfect, and having had an example of the extreme penalty of the law, will be able and doubtless glad to conform to God's law when again offered the opportunity. Man, who experienced the extreme penalty of the law, when restored, will be able to appreciate forever good and evil, and to rightly choose that which is good. While both will then be liable to the extreme penalty – death – neither need come under it, because of perfection and knowledge. They will then, as God does, love righteousness because it is good and hate unrighteousness because it is wrong.
Though the experience of angels might at first appear less severe than man's, yet when it is remembered that man's dying experience was limited to an average of three-score years and ten, while the angels who sinned experienced over four thousand years of living restraint under Satan's rule, it will generally be conceded that their experience was not less severe than man's.
In view of the great work to be accomplished, how necessary is the elevation of the Christ (head and body) to the DIVINE nature, since his mission is to govern, direct, and bring to perfection "whosoever will," both of spiritual and human beings. And does not the selection of this class, made different both from angels and men – of the divine nature – illustrate yet further the much diversified wisdom of God, whereby he is able to work all things according to the counsel of his own will?
Roman Catholicism seems to adapt itself to every circumstance. It is black in one place, and white in another, and grey in another, just as the civilization of the people will permit. In thoroughly ignorant Catholic countries, as Cuba, Spain and Mexico, it openly sells indulgences for sin covering almost every crime conceivable, and in many instances these are printed and for sale at regularly graded prices. These are some of the black spots, and the shaded influence of priest-craft has kept those nations over which it has obtained control, far behind other nations in progress and civilization, though at one time they had superior advantages. In civilized lands where it comes in conflict and comparison with liberty and general intelligence, Romanism wears a garment of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15); and repudiating indulgences by that name, she has a more refined way of collecting the same revenue. Here she demands more priestly prayers and masses for some sins than others, and can thus run up the bill of charges for forgiveness as well as in the case of the printed indulgences of other lands.
Long has Rome realized that intelligence is her foe; and hence in priest-ridden countries such as we have named, the population is ignorant in the extreme; as for illustration, the Catholic districts of Ireland, and in Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc. In none of these countries where Romanism has had a strong foothold for centuries, has she shown any disposition or energy to educate the masses of the people. But in civilized lands where Protestants predominate, the Church of Rome is full of zeal for the education of the masses. She conceals the real cause of her animosity to the public school system of this country, which thus far she has failed to overthrow, by establishing parochial schools for the children of Roman Catholics, claiming that a secular education from which religious instruction is excluded, is a serious evil, and that therefore they cannot send their children to the public schools.
By religious instruction they evidently do not mean, such as comes from the good example of moral teachers; for such most of the public schools have. Nor do they mean the simple lesson of reverence for God; for they objected to the reading of a chapter from the Bible, though the Bibles used by Catholics and Protestants are practically alike. And they object too, to the repetition of the Lord's Prayer by the school: hence we must conclude that when they say that the children should have a religious training, they mean by that, a course of instruction in Catholic doctrines, and histories specially prepared to deceive relative to the past and present attitude of the Church of Rome. They do not wish to have the rising generations instructed in the plain facts of reliable history, which reveals the true character of the Church of Rome, the dawn of the Reformation, etc. These facts, if they must be alluded to, must first receive the gloss of Catholic writers.
We mention these matters that it may be seen as a very peculiar change of front, that recently in one of the public school wards of Pittsburg, a Roman Catholic Priest, of St. Malachi's Church, was elected and installed as Principal. What a strange procedure! How well the symbol "leopard", applied to that system in holy writ, illustrates its spotted or varied character. – Rev. 13:2.
It was not strange that a ward in which Roman Catholics predominate should prefer a Catholic to a Protestant for Principal, all other conditions, education, etc., being equal, but it was strange, that a man should be thought capable as a school Principal whose time may well be supposed to be urgently needed in pastoral services over a large flock of deluded and ignorant sheep and goats, for whose ignorance and that of their parents for centuries past, the Church of Rome is directly chargeable.
But the most strange fact of all is, that this gentleman would accept the position; and that the church he represents, should permit his course, after so long and so bitterly crying out against these very schools as her enemies, and as institutions of the devil. This priest is too well educated to be ignorant of the objections all along urged by his church against the public schools. He must also have been aware, before accepting the office of Principal, that he would have no power either to introduce Roman Catholic instruction, or even to change the text-books and routine of studies. So then, these "wicked" "infidel" public schools which Roman Catholics have so often cursed, are really unchanged by the election of a priest for Principal, yet as soon as the priest was installed, Catholic children were ordered to attend them. This was merely another evidence of the "leopard," or scheming [spotted] policy of Roman Catholicism. The next stealthy step, designed no doubt, was to get the entire control of each school into the hands of local boards, and then change text-books, exercises, studies, etc., to suit themselves.
But the scheme miscarried for the present, by reason of the failure of the nuns selected by this Principal to be the new teachers under him, to pass the rigid examination to which public school teachers are subjected here. Rather than carry on the schools without the nuns as teachers, the priest resigned the Principalship and started the Catholic schools as before. The plan is not considered dead, but merely sleeping until a more convenient season, when preparations will be more complete. We might as well add that we favor purely secular schools, from which all religious teaching and worship would be excluded. Less than thirty hours each week, and that for but a few years, is spent in the school room, and surely priests, nuns and others, have plenty of time to pour into childhood's ears their confusing mixtures of truths and errors, without intruding upon these few precious hours, or upon each other's sectarian prejudices.
The Church of Rome is assiduously endeavoring to make herself popular and to commend herself to liberty lovers, trusting that they will forget the past and present of her despotic rule of ignorance and superstition in other lands. It is for this reason that she now appears to favor free schools, whereas the fifteen centuries of the past emphasize the fact that she is the bitterest enemy of everything which even looks toward liberty of conscience. She lays her clammy hand caressingly and patronizingly upon America's free institutions, that at an unsuspected moment she may throttle them and use them to her own unchanged purposes and schemes. She therefore for the moment changes her policy to suit the circumstances and seeks to pose before the public as the champion of true Christian liberty, even going so far as to put the Bible (which once she condemned and prohibited, except for the "clergy") into the hands of the people. This she did at the last Plenary Council in Baltimore, in Oct. '86. Could we see in these changes real reform, we would rejoice, but since it is ever Rome's boast that she is infallible and never changes, we are forced to believe that she is really the same as ever, and that merely her policy is now changing for purposes of expediency.
"What Father Walker says (i.e., that he would as soon administer the sacraments to a dog as to Catholics who send their children to the public schools) is only what has been said over and over again by the bishops in their pastorals all over the world, and we heartily indorse it." – N.Y. Tablet.
"No Bible shall be held or read except by priests. No Bible shall be sold without a license, except upon the pains and penalties of that mortal sin that is neither to be forgiven in this world nor in the next." – Council of Trent.
"Moreover we confirm and renew the decrees delivered in former times by apostolic authority, against the publication, distribution, reading and possession of books of the Holy Scriptures translated into the vulgar tongue." – Pope Gregory XVI.
Rome has no new love for the Bible, which she has learned to fear, as the "Sword of the Spirit," from whose wound in the hands of the early Protestants, she has not yet fully recovered. (Rev. 13:3.) But she has learned that that sword is comparatively harmless when there are so few brave defenders of "the faith once delivered to the saints," to wield it. She has learned that even the "two-edged sword" of God's Word, when sheathed in the scabbard of human tradition, is not to be feared even in the hands of the masses. She has seen the children of those early Protestors – Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc., sheath this Sword of the Spirit to smite with merely the scabbards of human tradition, and though they bear it continually, that thus they appear more like soldiers of the cross, though in fact they are not. And this appearance is another element of power Rome desires, and therefore she adds this to her policy. She thinks that in the same way, she can handle the Bible as safely as do the Protestants.
If all the Protestant sects can with a show of liberty put the Bible into the hands of their followers, and yet make [R995 : page 6] void the Scriptures through their traditions, cannot she as safely as Protestants use the Bible and appear to study it, without permitting its truths to destroy her false system, traditions, and doctrinal errors? This is the reason why Papacy has finally concluded to appear as liberal as Protestantism. And so, the Bible may now be read by Catholics, and the Church of Rome thus quietly makes another move representing herself as the friend of the Bible and of freedom. This is necessary for her hold upon her subjects here, who are used to the air of freedom, and could not be trampled upon as in Roman Catholic countries, for instance Spain, where recently an American citizen was assaulted by a priest in the streets of Madrid, because he would not remove his hat and salute one of the numerous Catholic processions. It is the same in Mexico, and in the Central and South American countries, where all who will not manifest reverence for those processions are obliged to dodge into by-streets, to avoid being mobbed for their exercise of that slightest of liberties.
The Church of Rome is seeking to favorably impress the worldly irreligious classes – which includes most of the wealthy, that in the troublous times already begun, she may pose before them as the only Church capable of controlling the people. She desires thus to turn present and coming labor troubles to her own advantage. Already she requests donations from large manufacturing firms, and gets them, as we have learned from their own lips, on the ground that she has more influence with the ignorant classes than any other power and can best conserve the interests of the wealthy.
By and by, as Romanism rises in apparent love of liberty and progress, under the growing feeling that so many sects of so-called Christians is a weakness, and under the pressure of the growing desire of religionists, and the apparent necessity in the minds of capitalists and kings for a STRONG RELIGIOUS POWER to hold the [R994 : page 7] people down to the old laws and customs of the past, favorable to those now in power financially and socially, the aspirations of the Church of Rome will again begin to be realized; and she will begin to gather to her fold the wealthy and the conservative, convincing them that her influence is necessary to the preservation of their interests, financial and political, just as she long ago conquered Italy and then all Europe, on the same terms.
And this is sound logic; it certainly appeals to business men as such. No other power on earth can and will, so successfully and so long, resist the spirit and rule of the new incoming dispensation of justice, equal rights, fullest liberty of conscience, and the general diffusion of truth and righteousness as the Church of Rome. Whether she will seek to stand entirely alone or whether she will affiliate to some extent with leading Protestant systems, is at present difficult to determine. It seems however from the views given in Revelation that she will stand separate, and yet be allied in interest with Protestants.
Already we see tokens of the growing popularity of Romanism, and a desire for one strong church, among men of influence. At the recent celebration of the Constitutional Centennial in Philadelphia, the "cradle of liberty," a representative of this old and implacable foe of liberty took the most prominent religious part: Cardinal Gibbon, who, as previously announced, offered prayer and pronounced a benediction in his official robes, was the FIRST dignitary called upon by the President of the United States, upon his arrival; and they were afterward as representatives of the CHURCH and the NATION publicly introduced upon the platform, "amid the deafening applause of the immense throng present, which lasted unusually long."
Let us not be misunderstood. We do not claim that the President had not the right to visit the Cardinal; for though his office gives him no privileges not enjoyed by all citizens, neither does it rob him of any liberties possessed by others. He had a right to visit whom and when he pleased, but we merely note this as one of the straws which indicate the tendencies of our times. Mr. Cleveland's courtesy to the Cardinal does not indicate that Mr. Cleveland is at heart a Romanist, but merely that he was shrewd enough to remember the political influence of the large class of voters represented by the Cardinal.
Nor should we be understood as believing that choice should have been made of a minister from some other sect, or without official robes, instead of Cardinal Gibbon, to offer the Centennial prayer. On the contrary, we hold that the mixing of religion and politics is wholly wrong. The church and its sacred services should be kept entirely separate from the world and its political trickery, and misrule. The Master said: Ye are not of the world. If ye were of the world the world would love his own; but I have chosen you out of [to be separate from] the world; therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19.) The world does not love God, nor his faithful children; for their ways and teachings reprove the world. – John 15:22.
The idea of opening political Conventions with prayer, and appointing Chaplains to offer regular prayers in Congress, and before Legislative Assemblies, is farcical and hypocritical in the extreme. The politicians, "children of this age," do not want God's will done, and do not really consult God's will. No one will gainsay the statement, that if there be any really consecrated children of God, any real saints in politics, they are surely but few. The majority are unbelievers, though profiting by Mr. Ingersol's experience, in losing office, they do not parade their unbelief.
Under the instructions first given by Papacy, and never fully escaped from by Protestants, the world has been taught to hypocritically ape Christianity – Kings, Queens, Emperors, etc., each claims to reign by Divine appointment, because Papacy authorized such rulers, under the claim that she represented God, and that her appointment or recognition of a ruler, was a divine recognition. If the kingdoms of this world call themselves Christian Kingdoms (Kingdoms authorized and governed by Christ), it is but natural that they should carry out that deception – that they should formally acknowledge God in their official acts, especially if thereby they can strengthen their governments, and the more firmly hold the people under them. Hence no matter how wicked and selfish the wars in which they engage, no matter whose rights and liberties they seek to subvert, chaplains are always sent along to pray with the men who go forth to murder others, and to steal from them their God-given rights, to give to the soldiers and sailors the idea that they are engaged in a Christian warfare, waged for righteousness' sake by a Christian nation.
Politicians generally abominate such hypocritical shams, and continue them, not for their influence upon God, but for their influence upon the people. It is time that true Christians should know that such Pharisaical worship with lips while the heart is far from him, is an abomination to the Lord.
Calling earthly and often sensual and devilish people and governments by the name Christian, has already worked great mischief, and made that holy name Christian, almost a synonym for hypocrisy and double-dealing. However, the poor world does not see the delusion under which it labors, and the Church of Rome, with a master policy, stands ready now to take advantage of the situation and to hold up before politicians and financiers her strong, powerful system, as the one best suited to the present and prospective emergency.
Statesmen and financiers are looking with anxiety "after those things coming upon the earth" [society] as they see that a great shaking, a great storm is brewing in the heavens [among the ruling powers, civil and ecclesiastical]; "for the powers of the heavens shall be [and are being] shaken." Statesmen fear the result of the breaking up of the ecclesiastical control: they see what the masses do not see – that with the removal of religious bigotry and superstition, will come a reaction which will lead to an excess of freedom for a time – to lawlessness and anarchy. It is this "fear," as she sees this tendency, that is leading Protestant Prussia (so called) to strengthen her relations with the Church of Rome – the strongest power in the ecclesiastical heavens, and the one which will withstand the shaking longest. The same influence is at work in Italy and in every nation, tending to strengthen the hands of Papacy for the moment, as the power most able and most willing to assist in any scheme which seems to forward her own influence, and increase her own power.
Protestants generally, having dropped the original ground of protest – the right of individual private judgment in the understanding of the Scriptures – and having adopted church governments copied largely after that of Papacy, are not far from even being good Catholics now. Since Papacy now advocates the use of the Bible in the same manner that Protestants do – granting liberty to read but not to believe it, except where it agrees with the Confession of Faith handed with it – what is now to prevent harmony if not union, between Catholics and (so called) Protestants? Nothing but the pictures and images, and the worship of the Virgin Mary, and doubtless these can be explained out of the way to many ere long.
Recall now a fact to which we have heretofore directed attention – that not long since many Episcopalians were moving for a change of name, preferring the name Catholic, and that they entertained a motion looking to the offer of what is termed the right of Apostolic benediction and succession, to other Protestants. Remember also the trend of thought among Presbyterian and Methodist ministers as represented by the words of Bishop Foster, of the M.E. Church, and Rev. E. [R996 : page 7] R. Donehoo, Presbyterian, of this city, which we here repeat. Mr. Donehoo said in a discourse before his congregation: "Wince as you will, you must admit that this [the Catholic Church] is the Mother Church. She possesses an unbroken history extending back to the times of the Apostles. For every fragment of religious truth which we prize, we are indebted to her as the depository. If she has no claims to being the true church, then are we bastards and not sons....Talk about missionaries to labor amongst Romanists! I would as soon think of sending missionaries amongst Methodists and Episcopalians and United Presbyterians and Lutherans, for the purpose of converting them into Presbyterians."
And Bishop Foster before the M.E. Conference, Nov. '86, addressing twelve bishops and forty lay delegates together with a large audience, said, and that without creating a ripple of opposition, "The popular idea is that the Church of Rome is antichrist. I don't agree with the popular belief. I regard that wonderful institution as a GREAT CHRISTIAN CAMP."
We do not expect a complete union between Catholics and Protestants, but a fraternization by which the majority of Protestants (measurably consolidated) will stand shoulder to shoulder in aim and profession with the Church of Rome, embracing generally the capitalists, kings and great ones of earth, while the true liberty lovers and saints will be shaken out. But great Babylon shall never recover her former power and prestige. Only for a little moment shall she seem to succeed and be able to say – I sit a queen and shall see no sorrow; for "Strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Rev. 18:8.) The true Christ and his Kingdom shall supplant anti-christ and the Kingdoms of this world, falsely called Christendom.
The Lord shall smite the nations and slay anti-christ with the truth – the sword which proceedeth out of his mouth. It is TRUTH, on various subjects, which is now stirring up the masses of the people to demand their natural rights and liberties. [Often, too, they ignorantly make unreasonable demands.] And many who mentally recognize their rights, through fear and selfishness will not acknowledge them, but often oppose them. Nevertheless, in this battle, truth and right shall come off victorious, though at great cost to all engaged. God will judge the hypocritical Christian Kingdoms of the earth by their professions, and with what measure they have measured out justice and consideration to the people, with that same measure shall their judgment be measured to them in this day of the judgment of the nations. They all shall fall, as tried in the balances they are found wanting; but with some the fall will be intensified to a dashing to pieces.
While the gathering of Babylon as tares for the burning is progressing thus, the true wheat must also be gathering – and they are being gathered, not into a sect, nor into one place, but into harmony and oneness with the Lord, and with one another as members of his body. And so the Prophet was caused to write concerning the peculiar people, the royal priesthood, the holy nation," saying: –
"Gather yourselves together, yea gather together, O nation not desired [despised by the world because of your faithfulness to God and the truth]. Before the decree bring forth [its results] for the day will pass [quickly, as when] chaff [burneth]; before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you, Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have obeyed his commands; seek righteousness [the right, the truth,] seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger....Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language [unmixed with falsity and error as now] and they shall all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent." (Zeph. 2:1-3 and 3:8,9.) Thus we have the two gatherings, the one for favor and blessing, the other for national destruction. To what standard and with what class am I being gathered? each should ask himself. See the right and seek it meekly – the time is short. [R993 : page 7]
To illustrate the growing sentiment unfavorable to growth in knowledge of the truth, and the desire to have some pope or something like a Vatican Council to positively pronounce the doctrines held by various large sects, as all truth, and the whole truth – neither to be added to nor diminished, (just what Papacy claims to be able to decide,) we quote some of the remarks made at a meeting of the "American Board of Foreign Missions" at Springfield, Mass., Oct. 5, 1887, as reported in the daily Press.
"During the debate a returned missionary from Turkey said, 'The effect on the missionary field would be terrible, if men were sent there with loose ideas of Bible interpretation'. Dr. Eddy, of Detroit, said: 'Don't send out any more creeds, for the Lord's sake! We could wish there were a Vatican Council in Boston to SETTLE all difficult questions.'" "It was decided not to call Councils to deal with difficult cases," and "the present" was characterized as "a period of THEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL."
How significant are these wishes, so publicly expressed, in such prominent official bodies of Protestantism, and by their leading men, for a strong statement of doctrines and defining of heresies which would authorize and appear to justify the silencing of all independent thought in the study of God's word, as thoroughly as Papacy ever did, even though a higher civilization might not permit the terrible tortures and vile indignities of the Inquisition, once heaped upon those whom the truth makes free by the "Mother." The desire is for the power and authority to bind upon men in the name of God and the Bible, doctrines of devils; such as the doctrine of the everlasting torture of [R993 : page 8] the great majority of God's creatures – of all who are not believing saints. Many do not and cannot believe the "good tidings of great joy" because it has been covered and made to appear bad tidings of great misery to all people, by the preaching of human traditions, largely obtained by Protestants from what Luther termed "the dunghill of Roman decretals."
Protestants see that divisions are contrary to the Bible, but they do not see where the fault lies. They vainly suppose that the fault is a lack of organization – that they should have a stronger organization with a more rigidly fixed creed, like Rome has. This is their great mistake; in this they are ignorantly striving against God. Instead of having too little organization and an insufficient creed, they already are too much organized and have creeds a hundred fold too strong already; especially since they lack the support of the Bible or reason.
The various degrees of growth in knowledge, cause men to have various stages of belief; and God intended that the organization should be very loose, and so arranged for the early church through the Apostles, so that in the Church of believers all might be able to stand, who believe in our Lord's ransom-sacrifice for their sins, and who are consecrated to his service. This simple creed would keep out none who have a right to be among the redeemed sheep, but would afford room for growth in grace and knowledge built upon this foundation, to all grades of mental endowment, so that while there might be wide differences as to attainments in the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of knowledge, each would still recognize the other as a member of the one Church which Christ purchased with his own precious blood. This Church which is the only, the ONE CHURCH recognized by God, includes all the truly consecrated believers in Christ as our Redeemer, wherever they may be. Alas! many of them, starved and lean, are in Babylon's narrow streets (sects) instead of being outside in the liberty of the green pastures of God's Word. He is now calling to such saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues." He is now gathering together such in heart-union with himself and each other. He is sealing them in their foreheads, giving them an intellectual appreciation of himself and his plan. The Master saith "My sheep hear [obey] my voice and follow me," and by this we may be able to recognize them.
Brother Weber, who lives near the border between Md. and W.Va., thinks the plan started by the Penna. sister last month a good one to follow, and sends in forty dollars to pay for Arp slips for free distribution in these two small states. See plan in last TOWER, and let brethren and sisters in these states send in plenty of orders. We have printed and on the press, over one hundred thousand already, and are ready to make it a million, with your co-operation. Brethren here are preaching thus to the various churches every Sunday.
Our supply of 200 was ordered several times over. We have none but clean now, but plenty of them, paper bound 25 cts. Those who wish them for loaning or giving away, are welcome to the ten cents each, allowed by the tract fund to colporteurs as "expense money," if they will ask for it.
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This work is at once a Greek and Hebrew Lexicon giving the meaning of the original terms in English, and also a Concordance giving each word of Scripture and the words which they translate. The value of the work is becoming more apparent daily, as theorists attempt to palm off a private interpretation under a guise of "a better definition of the original."
In this superb volume every word is arranged under its own Hebrew and Greek original, exhibiting 311,000 references and 30,000 various readings. Its size is large quarto, 1094 pages. Price to our subscribers, $2.50; usual price, $5.00. If sent my mail, the postage should be added, viz.: 56c., and 10c. additional if you wish it "registered." It cannot be sent to EUROPE. This is the latest revision. – "THE AUTHOR'S EDITION."
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