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.
TERMS: – FIFTY CENTS A YEAR, POSTAGE FREE. Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
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.
These were mentioned in last TOWER for the first time, and we already have more orders than will be supplied by the first lot of fifteen thousand. Those who have ordered, among whom are several brethren in business who can use quantities, express themselves as highly pleased with the plan. It is both a cheap and an unobtrusive way, of preaching the good tidings of great joy to many.
The appearance of these envelopes has been generally approved as neat, and we expect you will all want them. It is written of this time: "His lightnings enlightened the earth;" and these as one of the agencies of the truth, the light, have their mission to perform. How like the lightning they will be, as borne on "Fast Mail" trains they rush hither and thither over the entire civilized world, unobtrusively putting before the eyes of intelligent business people and friends and their families, pointed Scripture texts which set forth our hopes; calling their attention also to the DAWN. Those who might refuse to hear you, or whom you could not approach in conversation or in any other manner on these themes, will be led by their curiosity to listen to your representative – to hear this preacher's message.
We repeat the price, postage prepaid by us: One hundred 35 cts., three hundred $1.00, one thousand $3.00. Those who order two thousand for $6.00 (or more at same rate) can have their business card printed on the corner without extra charge. Order only in quantities here specified, (Do not therefore order 50 cts. worth, nor 150, nor 200, nor 500,) as we get them put up in packages thus and cannot spare the time to prepare special quantities. For this reason also we charge one cent each for quantities less than one hundred.
This was our first proposition – the hope first expressed – that before 1888 fifty thousand copies of DAWN would be in the hands of the people. Three months yet remain of this year and we want to suggest what is possible through still further faithfulness of the harvesters. It is possible to have twenty-five or fifty thousand more out by Jan'y 1st. 1888. How? – By the Colporteurs who are selling DAWN continuing their present averages, or increasing them as the cool weather will permit; by more of the brethren and sisters entering this branch of the "harvest" work; and by all others of the readers of the TOWER doing what they CAN.
What can the others do? They can each sell from four to twenty copies, or can use that number for loaning, though to sell is better, because people are almost sure to use what they pay even a small price for. So then, God knows and we know the possibilities; and as the New Years' TOWER comes to you, all will see how faithful the servants have been as a whole. Some we are sure can do no more than they are now doing, though some others we fear are "slothful servants." But the "View" in the September TOWER has seemed to awaken and quicken many previously asleep, or overcharged with the affairs of this world, for which we thank God.
The following extracts from a paper in the North American Review by Wong Chin Foo, a Chinaman, and evidently a graduate of one of our New England colleges, gives his reasons for preferring the religion of his fathers to Christianity. True Christianity and its teachings he of course does not comprehend and against it his pointed sarcasm has no power; but against much, very much, nay, against the generality of what is called Christian it strikes a sharp blow which should have some good effect in stimulating thought on the part of many who feel that their religion only must be an unreasonable matter. And yet we know that this educated heathen man voices the sentiment of thousands of sensible thinkers, who, merely because they have less moral courage than he, do not express themselves. How much need there is, then, to "Lift up a standard for the people" – the truth – and how energetic all should be who have been entrusted with the honor of being standard bearers in this time "when the enemy shall come in like a flood."
The main element of all religion is the moral code controlling and regulating the relations and acts of individuals toward "God, neighbor, and self;" and this intelligent "heathenism" was taught thousands of years before Christianity existed or Jewry borrowed it. Heathenism has not lost or lessened it since. Born and raised a heathen, I learned and practised its moral and religious code; and acting thereupon I was useful to myself and many others. My conscience was clear, and my hopes as to future life were undimmed by distracting doubt. But, when about seventeen, I was transferred to the midst of your showy Christian civilization, and at this impressible period of life Christianity presented itself to me at first under its most alluring aspects; kind Christian friends became particularly solicitous for my material and religious welfare, and I was only too willing to know the truth. But before qualifying for this high mission, the Christian doctrine I would teach had to be learned, and here on the threshold I was bewildered by the multiplicity of Christian sects, each one claiming a monopoly of the only and narrow road to heaven.
I looked into Presbyterianism only to retreat shudderingly from a belief in a merciless God who had long foreordained most of the helpless human race to an eternal hell. To preach such a doctrine to intelligent heathen would only raise in their minds doubts of my sanity, if they did not believe I was lying. Then I dipped into Baptist doctrines, but found so many sects therein of different "shells," warring over the merits of cold-water initiation and the method and time of using it, that I became disgusted with such trivialities; and the question of close communion or not, only impressed me that some were very stingy and exclusive with their bit of bread and wine, and others a little less so. Methodism struck me as a thunder-and-lightning religion – all profession and noise. You struck it, or it struck you, like a spasm, – and so you "experienced" religion. The Congregationalists deterred me with their starchiness and self-conscious true-goodness, and their desire only for high-toned affiliates. Unitarianism seemed all doubt, doubting even itself. A number of other Protestant sects based on some novelty or eccentricity – like Quakerism – I found not worth a serious study by the non-Christian. But on one point this mass of Protestant dissension cordially agreed, and that was in a united hatred of Catholicism, the older form of Christianity. And Catholicism returned with interest this animosity. It haughtily declared itself the only true Church, outside of which there was no salvation – for Protestants especially; that its chief prelate was the personal representative of God on earth; and that he was infallible. Here was religious unity, power, and authority with a vengeance. But, in chorus, my solicitous Protestant friends beseeched me not to touch Catholicism, declaring it was worse than heathenism – in which I agreed; but the same line of argument also convinced me that Protestantism stood in the same category. In fact, the more I studied Christianity in its various phases, and listened to the animadversions of one sect upon another, the more it all seemed to me "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals."
[The following portion shows the great evil of calling things what they are not – of calling civilized nations Christian nations and calling the worldly, unbelievers and the unconsecrated Christians, because they outwardly respect religion and draw nigh to God with their lips while their hearts are far from him.]
"Call us heathen, if you will, the Chinese are still superior in social administration and social order. Among 400,000,000 of Chinese there are fewer murders and robberies in a year than there are in New York state. True, China supports a luxurious monarch whose every whim must be gratified; yet, withal, its people are the most lightly taxed in the world, having nothing to pay but from tilled soil, rice and salt; and yet she has not a single dollar of national debt....
Christians are continually fussing about religion; they build great churches and make long prayers, and yet there is more wickedness in the neighborhood of a single church district of one thousand people in New York than among one million heathen, churchless and unsermonized. Christian talk is long and loud about how to be good and to act charitably. It is all charity, and no fraternity – "there, dog, take your crust and be thankful!" And is it, therefore, any wonder there is more heart-breaking and suicides in the single state of New York in a year than in all China?
The difference between the heathen and the Christian is that the heathen does good for the sake of doing good. With the Christian, what little good he does he does it for immediate honor and for future reward; he lends to the Lord and wants compound interest. In fact, the Christian is the worthy heir of his religious ancestors. The heathen does much and says little about it; the Christian does little good, but when he does he wants it in the papers and on his tombstone. Love men for the good they do you is a practical Christian idea, not for the good you should do them as a matter of human duty. So Christians love the heathen; yes, the heathen's possessions; and in proportion to these the Christian's love grows in intensity. When the English wanted the Chinamen's gold and trade, they said they wanted "to open China for their missionaries." And opium was the chief, in fact only, missionary they looked after, when they forced the ports open. And this infamous Christian introduction among Chinamen has done more injury, social and moral, in China, than all the humanitarian agencies of Christianity could remedy in 200 years. And on you, Christians, and on your greed of gold, we lay the burden of the crime resulting; of tens of millions of honest, useful men and women sent thereby to premature death after a short, miserable life, besides the physical and moral prostration it entails even where it does not prematurely kill! And this great national curse was thrust on us at the point of Christian bayonets. And you wonder why we are heathen? The only positive point Christians have impressed on heathenism is that they would sacrifice religion, honor, principle, as they do life, for – gold. And they sanctimoniously tell the poor heathen: 'You must save your soul by believing as we do!'...
We heathen are a God-fearing race. Aye, we believe the whole universe-creation – whatever exists and has existed – is of God and in God, that, figuratively, the thunder is His voice and the lightning His mighty hands; that everything we do and contemplate doing is seen and known by him; that he has created this and other [R978 : page 2] worlds to effectuate beneficent, not merciless designs, and that all that He has done is for the steady, progressive benefit of the creatures whom He endowed with life and sensibility, and to whom as a consequence He owes and gives paternal care, and will give paternal compensation and justice; yet His voice will threaten and His mighty hand chastise those who deliberately disobey His sacred laws and their duty to their fellow-men.
'Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you,' or 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' is the great divine law which Christians and heathen alike hold, but which the Christians ignore. This is what keeps me the heathen I am! And I earnestly invite the Christians of America to Confucius.
What can the nominal Christian Church answer to this charge and arraignment of heathenism? Nothing; they themselves have counted in under the name Christian, millions of the unregenerate, wholly opposed to the true principles of the doctrine taught by the Founder of Christianity and his apostles. They have with pride acknowledged all the civilized nations of earth as Christian nations, even going so far as to speak of them as Christendom (Christ's Kingdom); and hence to be consistent they must bear the Chinaman's reproach as against Christianity, for the nefarious acts of these kingdoms which the Scriptures declare to be beastly and subject to the machinations of the devil, the prince of the power of the air who now worketh in the children of disobedience, but is to be dethroned, bound, and finally destroyed by the true kingdom [R979 : page 2] of Christ, when he shall take his great power and reign.
How pointed, too, are the thrusts of this heathen man: He agrees with Paul who says – While one saith I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Peter, etc., are ye not carnal? So the Chinaman wants to know whether the various sectarian claims – I am of Wesley, I of Luther, I of the Pope, I of Calvin, Knox, etc., etc., does not imply gross carnality among Christians to-day.
And how well merited are this heathen's strictures upon what has come to be the fundamental doctrine of "Christendom?" – that all but a small handful of humanity are on their way through a world of sorrow, pain, disappointment and tears, to a place of untold and everlasting agony, prepared for them by a God of love, whose unerring wisdom saw this to be their fate and portion before they were born.
Oh! what blasphemy upon the wisdom, love, justice and power of our Creator. What a terrible misrepresentation of his gracious plans. It is creditable indeed to the fairness and justice of the heathen world, that they spurn such – bad tidings of great misery, to all people. It is a shame, a disgrace to the intelligence of the civilized world to-day, that such an unreasonable, cruel misrepresentation of God and his plan finds credence among them, and has their millions for its support and spread. Even if the real plan of God were not seen by them, the civilized mind like that of its heathen brother, should be able to recognize such a hideous distortion, and should regard the teachers of such things, as would the heathen – "as insane, if not liars."
But the fact is that the majority of the intelligent people of "Christendom" do not believe in this doctrine, that God's chief work is to create men by the billion for eternal torment. The trouble is that they are not honest, not righteous, not upright. They are willing to sail under false colors, from selfish motives. They are lovers of self more than lovers of God, and hence are willing to join in this blasphemy of his character and plan. They, like Baalam, love the reward of unrighteousness, and hence practise deceit to get that reward. Verily, they have their reward!
Oh! for more noble men and women whom Satan cannot rule by either fear or favor. Honesty is a pre-requisite to growth in grace and knowledge; for "Light [truth] is sown for the RIGHTEOUS and gladness [such as comes from confidence, inspired by the true plan of God] for the UPRIGHT in heart." Since the truth is only for the upright, the honest, is it any wonder that so many morally dishonest people of intelligence fail to find the truth? How can they believe who seek honor one from another and seek not (exclusively) that honor which cometh from God only?
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I am thankful for many things! I am grateful for the September TOWER! I am so glad for Brother Hickey's excellent (anniversary) letter, so comforting to you and all the dear saints. I like the Sabbath article and yet believe that because it robs religionists of the Sabbath they love so much and regard so little, that it tends greatly to make your prediction of hindrance to our free teaching of truth, brought out in the View – a fact.
I was at Kent part of Friday and Saturday delivering DAWNS previously sold. A large proportion of them are in good hands. Although the necessity and glory of the work I do in selling DAWN is a compensation, yet I can scarcely tell you how much your letters are to me. You mention that some of mine are timely, and my words and deeds helpful to encourage some, especially you and Sister Russell, and that knowledge is a great joy and encouragement to me. How often Brother Tackabury must, now that he is himself helpless, look back joyfully upon the record of his faithfulness.
I suppose TOWER readers who consider DAWN selling to be preaching the Word, if they hear that for the last two weeks I fell below 200 names per week, will be surprised. The chief reason is that the main industry here has been suspended for several months; and it is natural that when house after house pleaded poverty, the colporteur should make his talks longer, even to debating the matter of the book sale with the people. I am more than ever convinced of the folly of this course. Our strength should be taxed less and not more at each house when sales are slow. And the able colporteur who is always sure to make his canvass interesting is the party who must guard most against delay from this cause. We should be sure not to stay so long that our greeting at parting will be less cordial than when we introduced ourselves.
But to-day in another section I made my old record of 50 names, so that a few days in this neighborhood will be apt to raise me to 500 names for 2½ weeks work. I made no long talks to-day, having learned by my late experience that lesson, I was forward to teach to others, and had not learned thoroughly myself, viz., Do not preach, nor debate, nor indulge in long talks of any kind while selling DAWN – be brief and to the point.
In close affection, and fellowship, joined by Mrs. A.
BROTHER RUSSELL: – Mr. Tackabury has regained strength to quite an extent, being able to walk about the house and sit up most of the day. His lungs show great power of resistance to the advance of the disease, much to the surprise of all, but he is scarcely more than a skeleton. He wishes me to remember him to you and Sister Russell with much love.
We feasted on the contents of the last TOWER. Mr. T. said he thought it one of the best he had ever read. We find many things in the Bible that we would like to hear you talk about. Almost every reading reveals something new, something that throws light on the grand plan which God has designed for a lost world's recovery. How it all increases our love and gratitude to our heavenly Father!
Write us whenever you can spare time from your numerous duties.
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL, MY DEAR SISTER: – I received a number of April TOWERS and have a good many loaned out. I do hope and pray the Lord will hear and answer my prayer, that the eyes of their understanding may be opened that they may behold God's wondrous plan of Salvation. I received a very interesting letter last week from a lady whom I have never seen and know only through the glad tidings preached in MILLENNIAL DAWN. I think it will interest you and Brother Russell, so I enclose it. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others still more, is my daily prayer.
With love and respect to Brother Russell and yourself, I remain your humble Sister in Christ,
[We publish the letter referred to, that it may encourage all to further efforts. – ED.]
DEAR MRS. M.: – You will doubtless be surprised at receiving a letter from a stranger, but I want to let you know that you have been instrumental in bringing to me such joy, peace, and rest, as I had not thought it possible to possess in this life. Our mutual friend, Mrs. L., gave me MILLENNIAL DAWN and several copies of ZION'S WATCH TOWER to read. As soon as I had looked them over, I saw that I had received them in answer to my prayer for a better understanding of God's Word, if so be I should use that knowledge aright. That book proved to be the key for which I had long been searching. And Oh! the rich treasures of God's boundless love and mercy to this sin-stricken world, it opened up to my view. No wonder, Paul could say, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I shall esteem it a blessed privilege to preach this gospel to every one with whom I come in contact. I have already been able to interest several, though I have only had it a few days myself. In looking over the letters of the "Little Flock" to Brother Russell, I noticed that there seemed to be a great scarcity of "this world's goods" among them, and I thought, what a poor little flock it is, to be sure, – and it made me feel rather sad for a moment, thinking of the multitudes of truth-hungry ones needing food. Then I remembered the multitude of hungry ones that were following Jesus. How he satisfied their hunger with the seven loaves and a few small fishes, which he blessed and brake and gave to his disciples to be distributed among them. And I knew that that was intended for a lesson for us now. We are to give him what loaves and fishes we possess, and it shall be sufficient to feed the hungry multitude who are now following him; and not only that, but we will have more for ourselves than we had in the beginning; for "they took up of the fragments seven baskets full." Then let us go forward in the full assurance of faith, knowing in whom we have put our trust. All the honor and riches of this world seem now as "filthy rags" compared to that which I see by faith "beyond the vail." Now I know what it means to "be dead to this world." May the Father give me strength to never "look back," for I know full well that the flesh is weak. I am a farmer's wife, and do my own work, so of course my time is pretty well occupied with the necessary duties of this life. But this I know, If we make the best use we can of the opportunities given us, it is all God requires of us. If our heart is really in any work, we can and will find many opportunities for engaging in it; for instance, while my hands are busy with household work, my mind is devising ways and means for spreading the truth, or studying the meaning of some text of Scripture, for it nearly all has a new meaning to me, since I have the key.
I hope the knowledge that you have been the means of helping me to see the truth, will encourage you to persevere. I shall be pleased to hear from you if convenient. Sincerely yours,
MY DEAR MRS. RUSSELL: – Many thanks for your kind letter, and for the copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN and the WATCH TOWERS. It is such a comfort to know that Jesus calls us his "friends" and is making known to us "all things that he heard from his Father." (John 15:15.) In the far away days of my youth, and the not so far away days of my orthodoxy I, thought I knew it all, but now I see how blindly I read my Bible. And how I thank God for having compassion on me, and touching my eyes, and giving me sight. May I follow Him as did those of old whose eyes were opened.
I am giving away and lending my copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN and my papers, and any time you can send me extra copies of the WATCH TOWER I can use them to advantage. I expect to see a good many missionaries from other parts of the country during the summer, as this is a health resort, and I shall scatter my TOWERS, and lend MILLENNIAL DAWNS. The last bound copy I gave away before taking the wrapper off.
Wishing you abundant success in your efforts to spread "the everlasting gospel," the "good tidings which shall be to all the people." I remain Yours in Christ,
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have probed the mystery of selling MILL. DAWN and find that I can sell it with some success. Day before yesterday I went to a village of several hundred inhabitants, and in about three hours worked about one third of the place and took twenty orders. Tomorrow I am going back to finish. I am not certain but that I may put the greater portion of my time, the next year, to this work, if my affairs will permit. If I could turn my whole attention to it, I believe I could sell six or seven thousand in the next twelve months. However I am pleased to do what I can, be it much or little, feeling that every book I sell is a footprint in the sands of time to guide some discouraged, disheartened fellow-mortal to the fount of truth at no far distant day. I wish I could flood the world with it. I am surprised at myself in this work; it seems that I am particularly adapted to it.
A week from next Sunday I go to Miamisburg or near it to preach. Bro. Van Hook filled my pulpit last Sunday morning. Yours in faith and service,
This Sabbath afternoon finds me at leisure to write you a few lines. I am quietly leaving my hold go on secular business and as quietly laying it on the Lord's business, and within the next six months I expect to be able to turn my attention largely to canvassing. The harvest is a big one, and the laborers are few. I think the Lord will have us go on until every country, where the Bible is read, will be canvassed for MILL. DAWN. I have only canvassed our little town, and have taken 40 orders. I am confident I can make a living for my family at it, and therefore I shall drift into it as fast as circumstances permit. Of course the world thinks me foolish, but that is just what I think of the world; so no difference as to that, I am free.
I do not talk much in canvassing, only explain how much the Chart of the Ages facilitates Bible reading; speak of the book in a general way, showing its qualities of workmanship, leading them to expect it to be a tolerable high priced book, and then tell them the price of it a quarter; some have actually taken a long breath on hearing the price, and have me repeat it, for fear they misunderstood me.
It sells; it is bound to; but Oh! what a commotion it will create! how it will dig into their former belief! What a struggle! and how many of them will wish they had never seen it; and yet how they will return to it again and again, until, at last, the conflict over, how they will rejoice in their freedom! Lord haste the day when all shall know.
"He leadeth me!"
And so I need not seek my own wild way
Across the desert wide;
He knoweth where the soft, green pastures lie,
Where the still waters glide,
And how to reach the coolness of their rest,
Beneath the calm hillside.
"He leadeth me!"
And though it be by rugged, weary ways,
Where thorns spring sharp and sore,
No pathway can seem strange or desolate
When Jesus "goes before."
His gentle shepherding my solace is
And gladness yet in store.
"He leadeth me!"
I shall not take one needless step through all,
In wind, or heat, or cold;
And all day long he sees the peaceful end,
Through trials manifold.
Up the far hillside, like some sweet surprise,
Waiteth the quiet fold.
While the world and its spirit are quite contrary to Christ and the Spirit of Christ, and might therefore without impropriety be termed anti-Christ (against Christ), yet this term as used in Scripture is never applied to the world, but always to professed Christians who have turned aside from the truth, and who, by becoming advocates of error, are in Christ's name opposing him, his followers, and his doctrines.
We are well aware that many regard it in a contrary light, – considering the term antichrist as belonging to worldly opponents of all who profess Christ in any manner – infidels, heathens, Mohammedans, etc. That this view is incorrect we can prove readily by citing here every text in the Bible containing the word antichrist, and pointing to some statement in the context which unmistakably fixes it upon some professing to be Christ's followers. This is an important point, as it overthrows completely a wide-spread belief, and opens our eyes to look for antichrist in a quarter in which many may not have thought to look hitherto. In fact, the prefix anti, signifies more than against, it contains the double thought of instead and against.
The word antichrist occurs five times, 1 Jno. 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 Jno. 7. The class meant is easily discerned from the general tenor of John's epistles and from the following pointed statements: "They went out from us, but they were not of us." They are [really] of the world [though professing otherwise], therefore speak they of [or according to the spirit of] the world, and the world heareth them." (1 Jno. 2:19; 4:5.) Other scriptures mention and describe the same class, but by different names. Paul in 2 Thes. 2:3, following the same vein of thought as in Rom. 6:6, personifies the system of error which he saw would arise, and speaks of it as the "Body of Sin," counterfeiting and opposing the "Body of Christ," naming it here as an organized body, "The man of Sin." He makes no reference to a sinful individual; for there are and have been in the past, and were in and before Paul's day, horribly depraved creatures of the human race, than whom worse could scarcely be conceived of; and the Apostle was not passing all these by to speak of some individual pre-eminently vile and vicious. No, he sees and tells us of a system of evil and error, the embodiment of evil, the opponent and counterfeit of the Body of Christ, – the antichrist Body. But only those who have learned that the true church is the "Body of Christ" can appreciate how the counterfeit nominal system, the "Man of Sin," is the antichrist. But we refer to this merely to note the fact that the Apostle Paul mentions that this "Man of Sin" system arises in the church, and professes to be in and of the true temple – the Church of the living God (Compare 2 Thes. 2:4 with 1 Cor. 3:16,17; Eph. 2:21.) and not of the world. He declares this to be an apostasy, a falling away from the truth.
But it is not our purpose here to discuss antichrist: this we have done heretofore and may again, but now we simply call attention to one point of antichrist's erroneous teaching which is very injurious as a source of many other errors. This point of error is particularly pointed out to us by John, the Apostle who specially represented us who are alive and remain unto the parousia (presence) of our Lord (John 21:22.); and he tells us that it is common to every theory and class claiming to be Christ's followers and soldiers of the cross, who are really opponents to and counterfeits of the true body of Christ. Remember that the individuals in these great counterfeit systems, and bound by their errors, are not all of them, and do not all properly belong to them, and hence it is, that by the truths now being uncovered and presented to such, as "meat in due season," God is calling his people out of those systems to which they do not really belong, saying "Babylon is fallen! Come out of her, my people."
But what, you inquire, is this one notable point of error upon which all antichrist systems agree, and which blinds many to other truths, and opens the way to errors? Surely, we answer, it is a point long and deeply covered under hoary traditions which are esteemed venerable and sacred. The adversary buried this first and deepest, realizing the necessity for keeping the truth out of sight and of arousing prejudice against it. This being the case, prepare yourselves to find it a test which you would never have thought of had the Apostle not pointed it out, but which, once clearly seen, proves to-day, to be an oracle in the light of which every system of doctrine may be quickly tried, whether it be of the spirit of truth or of the spirit of error, the spirit of antichrist.
The passage to which we refer is found in 1 John 4:3, which in the oldest and the most correct, the Sinaitic MS. reads thus:
"Every spirit [theory, doctrine] that confesseth not that Jesus the Lord is come in flesh, is not of God: and this is the spirit [theory] of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it cometh; and even now already is it in the world."
Ah! you say, that is not a test, for all Christians and all theories, even the worldly, confess that. Not so, we answer; you do not get the depth of the Apostle's statement; your view of his words would make them and him foolish indeed. The world does not confess Jesus to be "Lord;" so that shuts the world out; and as we examine closely we will find few of the professed Christian systems ready to confess that Jesus, our Lord, came in flesh. To do so, would contradict their creeds old and new. it is the general view, that the real man is not flesh, but a spirit being which lives for a while in a body or house of flesh; hence by such the flesh is no more recognized as the person, than the garments put on and off. Moreover it is claimed by many, that in our Lord Jesus' case, he was really and truly the Father, Jehovah, who thus for a time appeared in flesh, but that he himself was not flesh; that he appeared to be tried and tempted in all points, but was not really tried at all; that he appeared to suffer and die, but did not actually suffer, nor did he really die for our sins, but merely dropped the flesh as a garment remaining really alive as before, for, they say, God is immortal and cannot die, and their claim is that in leaving the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, he did not become flesh or "come in flesh," but still remained a spirit being and came into a flesh body and only appeared like men, like the seed of Abraham, though all the while really was the almighty immortal Jehovah. They say that it was the God Christ Jesus who appeared to or pretended to die for our sins, and contradict the Apostle's statement that it was "the man Christ Jesus" who gave himself a ransom, a corresponding price [Greek, antilutron] for all. (1 Tim. 2:6.) Yet we see some go to a further extreme and hear them sing –
"Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When God the mighty Maker died
For man the creature's sin."
But in this poetic slip only a few can recognize the inconsistency. Some even going so far as to deny God's immortality, claim that it required the death of a God to atone for the sin of man, not seeing that this is contrary to scripture which demands not a God's life for the life of a man, but a perfect man's life, as a ransom or substitute for the forfeited life of the first perfect man – a corresponding price.
Still others, anxious apparently to get away from the straightforward, simple doctrine of ransom, figure the dying out of their way by saying that the real, spiritual Christ died to sin, and let his flesh body die as an example of how we should do the same. They do not stop to account for the uselessness of such an example, to those who cannot avoid dying.
But all these, with their various shades of difference, stand firmly, shoulder to shoulder, on the one point mentioned by the Apostle – they deny that Jesus the Lord "came in flesh" or "was made flesh," as the same writer elsewhere states it. (John 1:14.) That his body was flesh and bones cannot be denied directly, hence their claim that the spirit being came into the flesh, but was always separate and distinct, and not flesh. But this does not fit: the Apostle does not say into [Greek eis] flesh, but "in [Greek en] flesh" and "was made flesh" [Greek sarx egeneto – literally, "became flesh."] (Jno. 1:14). So we see that the test of believing that Jesus the Lord came in flesh, i.e. became flesh, would draw the line outside of so called "Orthodox" doctrines. The theory of Universalists and Unitarians, as generally held, is likewise opposed to Jesus being "made flesh," for they generally claim that our Lord had no existence before, and that he was born after the ordinary manner of men: these, then, make no confession which would imply a pre-existence of our Lord in order to be made flesh or to come in flesh. Swedenborgians, Spiritists, etc., etc., all come in on the same side of the question – all deny that the Lord Jesus was "made flesh," "came in flesh" – became flesh.
Next notice that all these are not only without Scriptural sanction for their theories, but are positively and directly contradicted by the Apostles. We need not again quote the many passages in which our Lord and the Apostles declare that the Father and the Son are not the same person, etc., but notice the fact that the death, even the death of the cross, was the death of the real person, and not a pretended death of a body, while the real person or being slipped out alive and watched the proceedings. Every text touching on the subject, in both the [R981 : page 3] Old and the New Testaments, treats it in the most positive manner, declaring that our Lord made his soul (his being, himself,) an offering for sin (Isa. 53:10), that he poured out his soul (being, existence) unto death. (Isa. 53:12.) They declare that his soul was in hades (the state or condition of death) three days and not left there longer; that he died, that he was dead, and that on the third day he was raised to life by the Father's power. Our Lord himself said that he came into the world to give his psukee (being, existence,) a ransom, a price, for all [for the psukee, the being, or existence, of all men]. Speaking of what he gave for the life of the world, he represents himself in a parable as giving all that he had to purchase the field (the world) with its treasure – all those whom he will bring back into harmony with God, chief and a first fruit, forever pre-eminent, being his Bride.
The Apostle Peter declares that he was our price, that he redeemed us, purchased us back out of death. Paul assures us not only that we were "bought with a price," (1 Cor. 6:20,) but in 1 Tim. 2:6, he tells us all about the purchase, saying "There is one God [not three] and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." It was something that this man did that mediated between the race of sinners and God, something that no one of them could do for another because all were sinners, and as such, each one himself condemned to death. As a spirit being, as our Lord was before being "made flesh," he could not have mediated between God and men, because under God's arrangement a ransom, a CORRESPONDING price for the first sinner who precipitated the trouble, was the only way out of the difficulty. Neither an angel nor an arch-angel could give what he did not possess. They could not give a human nature in exchange for that which Adam had forfeited, for they had not human, but angelic, spiritual nature. So then, our Lord also a spirit being, with the Father in glory and honor before coming into the world, could not give the price of our redemption. In order to be able to give the price he must become flesh, must be a man: not imperfect and sinful as the fallen race has become, but perfect and sinless as the original of our race was before he sinned. Hence he "came in flesh" – "was made flesh" – "became flesh," in order, as the Apostle expresses it (1 Cor. 15:21), that "as by man came death, by man also should come the resurrection of the dead." He became flesh (holy, undefiled) in order to pay the price or penalty against us, – death. The Apostle urges (Phil. 2:7,8) that though the obedience implied in becoming a man, in being made flesh, was great, yet the trial was severer still when our Lord found himself man and learned that the divine plan by which he was to prove his entire submission to the Father's will would lead him to death as and for the sinner – even the ignominious death of the cross. But he was obedient even to the full, and died for us as our ransom: Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, giving him station, dignity and authority far above angels, and far above the glory and honor which he had with the Father before the world was created.
What our Lord gave is clearly stated by Paul; for continuing the above quoted testimony, that "There is one God and one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus," he tells us how he mediated, what he gave for us. He says – "Who gave himself a [R981 : page 4] ransom for all." This settles the matter that our Lord was flesh, a human being, and a perfect one at that, for as usual with Paul he expresses himself in unequivocal terms. He uses the Greek word antilutron which signifies a corresponding price, where in English we have the word ransom.
Now consider well the import of this, and you will see that it contradicts every antichrist system; for Paul shows that before sin entered the world there was no death, (Rom. 5:12) hence the one (Adam) who first sinned was a perfect human being, and if our Lord gave a corresponding price, he must have been a perfect human being when he gave himself for Adam and all who shared in Adam's sin and penalty.
John recognized the tendency or spirit of antichrist in his day. Though the system had not organized, some were already going out from them because not of them, denying Jesus "in flesh," claiming, with the heathen, an impersonation, that the real one was inside the seen one, and preparing themselves by this error to deny their Lord, their Master, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all. To-day, after centuries of triumph over the words of our Lord and of the Apostles, and over reason and common sense, this doctrine or spirit of antichrist known as that of the Trinity, is so firmly intrenched in the hearts of many, that they prefer to deny the Master's words – "The Father is greater than I," and the Bible teaching that Christ came in flesh and gave himself a ransom – prefer to deny anything rather than this theory of antichrist, which twists and disjoints every truth of Scripture, so long as it is held.
Note then the test of every spirit or doctrine, the test which will prove whether or not any faith is well founded, surely founded on the ROCK, the true and only basis of faith, of which the Apostle declares "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ." This test is given in few words, as we have seen, and can be easily and quickly applied to every doctrine or spirit with which you may come in contact. If it will not stand this God-given test you may be sure it is error and at once set it aside. If it agrees with this test you have proved it to be on the right foundation, and you may go on proving all its details. This test, 1 Jno. 4:3, in the oldest and most exact Greek MS., the Sinaitic reads: –
"Every spirit [theory, doctrine,] that confesseth not that Jesus the Lord is come in flesh [become flesh] is not of God: and this is the spirit [theory,] of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it cometh; and even now already is it in the world."
Remember that many good people, many of God's children, have been blinded by the errors and sophistries of Satan, and while not anti or opposed to Christ at heart, have been beguiled by the great deceiver's falsities, promulgated even in the Apostle's days and fully headed up and brought to a climax in Papacy and only partially gotten rid of by the Reformation. Now, in the "harvest" of this age, God causes the light to shine more clearly, for the reason that he is making the truth his "sickle" by which he will separate wheat from tares completely and finally. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand – that you be not among the thousands to fall in this time of trial. – Psa. 91:7,11,12.
1. It resides in the very idea of the church that there must be growth in divine knowledge until her ultimate unity and perfection are attained. To this end there must be room for the free operation of the Spirit of God in unfolding the truth. This requires opportunity for reverent investigation and discussion. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2. Because of confessed obscurity in the whole of the church's teaching concerning the last things. Our wisest teachers admit that the Reformed Theology left many of these problems unsolved, and that a fuller investigation of them is a duty put upon the church in these last days by the Spirit and Providence of God.
3. Because a new era of investigation at points even more essential than this is coming upon the Presbyterian Church, which it is both unwise and impossible to resist. Whatever evils may result from this spirit of free inquiry, the evils of its suppression would be far greater.
4. Because a wide diversity already exists between the views of future punishment current among us, and as presented from our pulpits, and the statements of our Standards that both before and after the resurrection, "the wicked are to be punished with most grievous and unspeakable torments, without intermission, with the devil and his angels in hell-fire forever." If fidelity to these statements is to be the test by which our right to remain in the church is to be determined, then we ask our brethren to honestly ask before God whether they are so free from sin in this respect as to have the right to cast a first stone at us.
5. Because we honestly believe that we have taken up this line of testimony in obedience to the Spirit of God, and from motives of sincere love for the whole church, which needs this larger, better view of God's great plan of grace before it can be unified; and specially in the interest of the Presbyterian Church to whose welfare we have devoted a life-long ministry, and which greatly needs relief from the incubus of monstrous views of God's sovereign justice which obscure her own constant testimony to His fatherhood and grace.
Full of love for blinded brethren, this brother earnestly desires to carry the entire Presbyterian Church into the light, and so desires of it toleration, that is, permission to stay in its company and to anoint all their eyes as his own have been anointed – with the truth. What this brother desires to do for those with whom he spent so long a bondage, we desire to do for all the sects into which the great adversary has seduced God's children.
But we see what he evidently has not yet seen, viz: That the light which ultimately shall be to every creature, can as yet reach and be appreciated only by a "little flock," the true church, which is the body of Christ.
If the Presbyterian Church were the real, true Church whose names are all written in heaven, this brother's expectations of opening their eyes would be justifiable. But he should be able to see that this is not the case; none of the sectarian systems, great or small, are the Church which is Christ's body; though members of his "body," members of the heaven-recorded Church are probably still in bondage in every sect.
It is because these sect-systems are not the true Church, and because we have reached the "harvest" time of separation, that the Lord gives present light, and meat in due season, and calls on all of his people to "come out" into the light, the truth, the liberty proper for children of God.
God not only saw our day and knew how it would be, but he had it written in his Word for our learning; and it is not written that the tares growing with the wheat may be changed into wheat, but that the two classes may be separated.
Our Brother evidently is in heart free already from the shackles of the Presbyterian Creed; but he should be entirely free. Why help to uphold in any degree slavery to a creed and get others under it who have not the moral strength to free themselves even in heart? Why stay in a human organization of any sort, where our company is not desired, except at the cost of stifling our convictions of right and truth? Why not, on the contrary, obey actually as well as mentally the Lord's command to separate, to "Come out" of all the Babylon bondage and confusion, and thus not only make straight paths for our own feet, but thus make foot-prints which may encourage and guide some weaker brother or sister out of the bondage of sects, into the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free to follow unhindered and untrammeled his word and example?
The brother is asking liberties and privileges granted only in the true Church where the spirit of the Lord is, and where the liberty of his Word is granted. Hence, one of two things is sure to happen – the brother will either abate his energy on the side of truth and liberty, (which we hope he will never do, but rather increase it,) or else he will get out of the sect and into closer fellowship with the true Head of the Church and with the "true Church which is his body." Like others, the Presbyterian sect never agreed to grant toleration, and never has shown any.
When a man joins that Church, it is on the same principle that people join other human organizations, partnerships, societies, etc., viz.: They agree to submit to the rules and by-laws as they are. And when this brother took upon him his Ordination Vows as a minister of the Presbyterian Church, though he was already a minister (servant) in the true Church and anointed, as all the members of that body are, with the Holy Spirit of the truth, he BOUND himself in the presence of witnesses that so long as he was a member and minister of Presbyterianism he would "not teach or inculcate anything opposed to the doctrines" of that organization; to which doctrines he there subscribed as representing his faith.
We are well aware that many, after changing their faith, still continue to hold membership and office in these organizations; and some, in violation of their vows, do teach and inculcate doctrines opposed to the doctrines of the sects to which they are pledged. But is this right? They generally excuse themselves by the claim that the denomination claims to uphold and believe the truths taught in the Bible, while they are sure they now have more truth and Bible support than the sect. But is this a sufficient ground of excuse for such a course? Is it doing by them as we would have them do by us if our places were changed? We think not.
The very spirit and intent of the ordination vow was to bind, to compel a man by his solemn pledge, not to use his office or influence inside the organization, against it as it stands – to compel any who might come to differ on any point, to first get out of the ministry of their sect, cease from professing the faith he no longer holds, before he could attack it.
To us it seems that a contract is not less binding on a saint, than on a worldling; and such a contract as Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics and others impose upon their ministers, should certainly be considered as binding as a note, or a bond, in the business world; and business honor would insist on a full compliance with both the letter and spirit of the contract – that when the faith changes, the minister or member should step down and out, before uttering a word of contrary teaching.
In the case of Baptists, Disciples, and a few other denominations, the case differs a little, since some of these claim to have no creed or standard but the Bible. In such a case a minister or member is at liberty to teach all he finds in the Bible, and if interfered with, may, if he choose, insist on a trial of his case by the Bible. But with these, other means than a trial are generally resorted to, such as social ostracism, money pressure, etc., until a saint is glad to escape from so many "tares" to get a better chance for worship and study, "one [saint] with another," or where this is impossible, in private Scripture study alone.
But in the case of Presbyterians, Methodists, etc., they guard themselves, and do not even claim to accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. They candidly and openly state, in so many words, just what they want all members and ministers to subscribe to as their faith; and when any are tried for heresy by these, the Bible is not brought forward at all, but (properly according to their organization or contract) "the standards" of their organization. The Bible is the standard, not in name merely, but indeed, to the true Church; but with the sects, each has its own "Standards," "Creed," dogmas, etc., to which, on joining, members subscribe; and surely their trial should be according to their contract, which they agreed to be bound by, and to which they are therefore responsible.
Any contract made with fellow-men is binding; and to violate it, even in the interest of truth, would be wrong. We must not do evil that good may result, but do right, and leave all results to God, who promises in due time to cause the righteousness of his saints to shine forth as the noon-day. If, therefore, a Christian finds himself bound to a creed and sect, he should at once look up the Faith he professed in joining them – the faith he agreed neither to add to, nor to diminish, so long as he remained one of them; he should see whether it fully and clearly expresses his present faith. If it does not, he should at once withdraw; for by any other course he violates his contract with his fellow-men. To refrain from teaching the truth fully and clearly, after God has brought us to a knowledge of it, would prove us unworthy of a place in the "body of Christ," would prove that we are not overcomers, and not worthy of a place among the Royal Priesthood, the true sanctuary, the Ambassadors for God before the world.
We would like to impress upon every reader that to teach or to believe anything different from a Confession of Faith to which by membership you profess to hold, is a wrong to God, to the sect whose name is borne, to yourself, and to the true members of the body of Christ. Whatever the difference between your faith and the Creed of the sect to which you are attached, to that extent exactly your course is wrong, dishonest, unsaintly, and hence ungodly; because, to that extent you are misrepresenting God's Word and plan, and hence displeasing him; to that extent you are misrepresenting the sect, and hence offending and wronging them, even if they would tolerate you; to that extent you are dishonoring yourself as a child of God, one of the children of [R982 : page 5] the light – the truth, – not only by the shackles of your denominational slavery, which are galling to all whom the Son makes free indeed, but by reason also of the deception and misrepresentation practiced daily, in outwardly, to saints and sinners, professing by the Creed you uphold, doctrines which you detest and which sometimes and under some circumstances you would deny as unscriptural and as misrepresentations of God's character and plans, and also misrepresentations of your honest belief. To the same extent also you injure the true body of Christ, especially the "babes in Christ," for you not only do not give the moral weight of your presence, and influence, and talent, and means, to further the cause of true liberty among the saints, and true union on true principles, but you give to the opposition the weight of your influence, means, talents and presence, and constitute one of the numbers whose support and names are bids to the world for its respect and alliance. Not only do you serve Babylon's purpose as a decoy for others, but possibly the weight of your influence keeps many of the "babes" and weaker brethren in bondage, not only hindering their development, but keeping their influence, and talents, and means away from the free fellow-members in the same [R983 : page 5] true body and adding these advantages to the false systems, the nominal church, to help perpetuate and draw others into the errors and bondage which galls you, and which misrepresents you even more than you misrepresent it.
Thus you become a false beacon-light to the poor world seeking the peace and joy of Christ, luring them into doctrines which, if honestly accepted and firmly held by them, will blind them and ensnare them, and prevent the peace, and light, and joy, and love of the real gospel. It was looking thus at the influence of sects in the time of the first advent, that our Lord said to the zealous Pharisees, "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, he is two-fold more the child of hell [destruction] than he was before." So now, it is far better to let the world alone, than to get them into sects which will only blind them to the truth and misrepresent to them God's character and plan. Far better; because when the light of the now dawning Sun of Righteousness reaches them, it will have far more influence upon them where they are, in and of the world, than if converted by the spirit of error into tares, in imitation of real wheat.
But when you come to examine the Creed to which you subscribed, Pastors generally say, "Oh, never mind! It matters little anyhow." And if you insist on seeing and pondering its professions, promises, and covenants, they will often unblushingly assure you that neither they, the pastors, nor a majority of the membership, believe all to which you and they subscribed; and that they never did believe or teach such and such portions. And they will try in every way to hold you in their sects (especially if you have money or influence – which few of the little flock have, – Jas. 2:5,) because naturally a professed field of wheat would not like to lose all its wheat and have only tares left.
Such Pastors may even resort to the specious misleading argument that you joined merely the local company of which he is the pastor; and claim that his faith is the measure by which the members of this local organization are to be judged, and not the written confession of faith, and the written Covenant to which you assented and subscribed. But both of these arguments are wrong; all local organizations (except such as have what is known as Congregational government) are parts of systems, so that in joining the Episcopal Methodists, for instance, your covenant is not merely with the local organization, but with the M.E. Church as a system; and the Pastor's faith, or his violation of his covenant with the organization, is no more an excuse for you, than the fact that other men violate business covenants would be an excuse for your doing so. Custom and numbers can never make wrong right. The fact is, a large majority of the membership of all denominations are really covenant breakers, whether they have given the matter sufficient thought to realize it or not. They either do not know or do not care what is the Creed to which they have subscribed, or else, knowing it, they believe it only in part, if at all; and yet by subscribing to it all, they act out an untruth before the world, before one another and before their families. The demoralizing influence of this double dealing is unmistakable in toughening and searing the conscience, tending to make such both unworthy of the truth and unable to readily accept it, as they get into the habit of thinking of others as being as insincere as themselves in their teachings and professions.
Duty seems plain from this standpoint: However others may violate covenants, and misrepresent themselves, the truth and the systems to which they are joined, the consecrated have no choice, as to their course of action. Not any of their influence, time, or money, must go to sustain error. All of it must be enlisted on the side of the truth, which is ever opposing error, even as light opposes darkness. As children of the light, we can have no fellowship with any of the unfruitful works of darkness, but must rather reprove them.
Should all do so, should all honestly withdraw from sects and creeds which do not truly and fully represent their faith, the result would be the immediate disruption of all these great sectarian systems, which now ensnare the consciences of many of God's children, and dress up and fondle "the children of this world" in imitation of the children of God. Many of the "tares" would come out honestly and say that they believe little or nothing, and would get back to their place in the world from which they were never really converted by the truth.
The saints would be entirely free and unhindered to grow up to the fullest measure of grace, knowledge and love. Others in various stages of childhood, and even the "babes in Christ," would be blessed too. At first they would make hundreds of new combinations of thought, only to be broken continually as they would grow up into Christ in all things, until finally they would reach the position of the early Church, and stand where we now do, recognizing no bondage, attempting to bind none, and refusing to be bound by any other than that faith which no man can ignore and yet be in Christ at all, viz., that the Bible is God's revelation of his plan, and the only guide for faith, and that as a race we were sinners, but were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Planted on this foundation, all God's children may grow from babes which feed at first only on the "milk" up to strong men who feed upon the "meat in due season" from the same storehouse.
This union of heart and mind upon the rock, without other limitations, gives room for the exercise of every grace and gift of the spirit in the Church, each member of which is a minister, in proportion to his ability to minister to the needs of "the body." And it leaves room, too, for the Head to exalt or debase, to honor or to chasten, according to faithfulness, each member in "the body" – each minister, or servant.
But all will not thus act out conscientiously; all cannot do so; all have not the strength: and so long as they are fed on the present diet of worldliness, pride, sectarian rivalry, deceit (as in professing doctrines not believed), etc., with a very little skimmed "milk of the Word," they cannot get the strength to come out boldly and oppose the majority, the strong, proud children of this world, who grow strong on the diet refused by the "meek."
Hence our Lord pictures over and over again, especially in the Revelation, the complete fall of these systems in order to the liberating of the "great company" of the true wheat class. But we who see, and who have strength, and who by valiant energy for the truth could help others, shall we for fear, or any other motive, draw back and lend our influence in any degree to these systems, which in the name of God and of truth, are misrepresenting God and truth, and blinding and enslaving God's children? Can we expect our Master's approval and the overcomer's crown, unless we do overcome? I tell you, nay. And unless such come out of Babylon, they will be reckoned as partakers of her sins, and receive of her plagues, shortly to be poured out. As our Lord expressed it (Matt. 24:51.) they will have "their portion with the hypocrites" in the time of perplexity, disintegration, and confusion just at hand, though they are not hypocrites, but disobedient servants.
The June number of Z.W.T., under head of "Come out of Her!" contains in the "Reply" an error, in my opinion, of great harm.
(1.) Briefly – God, at the beginning of the present age, and while selecting his "little flock," made use of apparent human means – an association of believers, who at Antioch were first called Christians. These associations, called Churches, were specially blessed, and several have special mention.
(3.) I believe that the church rightly perpetuated itself – under Divine guidance – by regular means, and that the pedigree of the "Clergy" of the Church is as well authenticated to-day, as was that of the Levitical in its day: that this is not accident, but the result of the Divine interposition, and therefore is to some good end.
(4.) Further, that the Churches each had its own territory in which it was the supreme or only visible means of identification of the membership or legitimacy of the little flock. Concurrent jurisdiction would not be an exception so long as they agreed. The original Churches mentioned in the New Testament have here in the United States of America, certain legitimate descendants, that can be readily identified – THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH. I came out of that district of Babylon known as Congregational. [R984 : page 5]
(5.) Granted that at this day many of the membership of The Church [Protestant Episcopal] are proud of their age; that they look with reverence at its honors and worldly trappings; and that the "little flock" may not get its rightful food, and may even be ministered to by "wolves" – this does not alter the fact of the Divine appointment of the institution.
(7.) Simple ordering out, does not improve the matter. The little flock must be organized – and until you, MR. RUSSELL, have something better to offer them, modesty should indicate a different course. Very Truly Yours.
The above, from a Brother in Christ who has not long been a reader of the TOWER, but who has been greatly blessed by the reading of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I. as previous letters show, is well stated; and as its answer may be of interest to many of our readers, we give it space. We have numbered the paragraphs so as to simplify our answer, the numbers of which correspond or relate to the above.
(1.) Our brother has well chosen his terms, calling the early churches "associations," rather than "organizations;" for they were merely associations, not bound and fettered by creeds and traditions, as the organizations or systems of to-day are. These associations bound themselves only with love and truth, and were just such as we have to-day, and generally small, their usual meeting places being private dwellings or rented upper rooms. (Philemon 2; Acts 20:8; 28:30,31; 1:13; Mark 14:15.) In no respect did those early associations or gatherings resemble those of Babylon, "mother" or daughters, to-day. Neither in size, in worldly place and honors, in forms and ceremonies, in display of dress, in choirs, nor in a titled and salaried "Clergy," was there any resemblance whatever. The "first love" and "first works" are gone long since, except among the few outside of Babylon. Yes, the early "associations" were blessed of God; and all of like spirit, even though only twos or threes, who have since associated in the name of the real Head and Master, and under ruling of His Word alone, have also been blessed.
(2.) We cannot admit that those early associations, good as they were, have been the means of bringing down the truth to this day. On the contrary, they had nothing to do with it: they gradually lost their first love and first works, and their liberties, and became subject to ambitious leaders and teachers, finally drifting into that great system of error so conspicuous in Revelation, called "Babylon," "The Mother of harlots." "The Mystery of Iniquity." On the contrary, the Lord himself, through his Word written by his inspired Apostles and Prophets, has been the means of handing down the truth. What came from Babylon's streams has been foul with errors and traditions of men, – the more direct the more foul – and the only draughts of pure water have been given to the church by messengers whom God has from time to time raised up, who dipped directly from the fountain – the Word of God. These have in nearly every instance been raised up outside of organized Babylon among the associating believers; or if inside and faithful, God drove them out. Such were Huss, Wyckliffe, Zwingli, Melancthon, Luther and others.
(3.) We are well aware that about the third century, the "Mystery of Iniquity" whose spirit was already working in Paul's day, began to rise in influence and power, and triumphed over the more slowly developing "Mystery of God" (the little flock). We know that this great, grand, powerful, organized, false church persecuted the dissenters, who protested against her errors, until she was intoxicated with her success, (Rev. 17:6.) and deceived all nations, and gained their support. This continued until her worldliness and devilishness became apparent to all except the blind, and forced the less corrupt of [R984 : page 6] nations and individuals to leave her bosom, protesting against her open errors and crimes. Such a seceding and protesting branch, split off and took root in England and still flourishes, with fewer of the vices, but many of the errors of organization and tradition inherited and still injuriously retained – The Protestant Episcopal Church of England.
We are aware, too, that the "Mystery of Iniquity" has a "clergy" upon which she confers certain powers and honors; but we do not know of any such class with such powers in the early associations. The only ones recognized as having special authority were the Apostles, whose teaching the true church has always had, and consequently never needed popes claiming to be "Successor of St. Peter" in authority. The Apostle Peter needed no successors, and in his epistles opposes these would-be successors and their errors.
This self-authorized and self-organized clergy, called by each other, and ordained by each other, do slightly resemble the Levitical priesthood; but our Lord was not of that priesthood, nor was he called nor ordained like unto either these or those. [See "The Melchisedec Priesthood" in June TOWER.] Instead, therefore, of considering this system of Clergy a divine arrangement, we consider it the reverse, a delusion and snare of the devil, by which the simplicity which is of Christ has been destroyed, and the development of the saints in that great system has been greatly hindered. Our Lord recognized no separate "clergy" class, but said, "All ye are brethren;" (Matt. 23:8) and all the brethren were to exhort one another and stir up each other's pure minds in remembrance; all the brethren were to seek ability to prophesy (teach publicly), and all were surely to be living epistles of God ready at all times to give a reason to every inquirer, of the hope that was in them. (1 Thes. 4:1; 1 Cor. 14:1,31,39; 2 Cor. 3:2; 1 Pet. 3:15.) And these instructions the early Christians followed, and all preached. – Acts 8:4; 11:19.
"With the fifth century the church strove more and more to perfect her outward temporal form as Roman Catholic, a theocratic institution. The conception of the church as a community of the saints is now lost. The priestly order are the rulers, the laity are the ruled – the clergy, as ecclesia representativa hold unconditional preferment, and form a hierarchy. The prominent peculiarity of the mediaeval church is its purely clerical character. The rigid distinction between the secular order and the spiritual, is marked by the external appearance. Clerical dignity and power are signified by a peculiar costume which varies with the rank of the office."*
"This much is certain, that in the time of the Apostles, about the middle and even towards the close of the first century, there was no external union of all the churches, no ecclesiastical establishment, no visible headship with an ecclesiastical centre. Of 'the Church' in the later sense of the word, there was yet no conception. There was one holy mystical body of Christ – one great Church organism, hidden however from the world, having Christ for its soul, and by His Word and Spirit assured of future perfection and glory. And still, there were many local communions, made up of those who were believers, having a nucleus of true disciples [saints] but exposed to worldly influences, and soon embracing a mixture of genuine believers with nominal members and backsliders. These separate churches [congregations] were not connected by any external bond, but only by the instinct of brotherly love, and the tendency to mutual fellowship."
"This change in the mode of administering the government of the Church, resulting from peculiar circumstances, may have been introduced as a salutary expedient, without implying any departure from the purity of the Christian spirit. When, however, the doctrine is (as it gradually gained currency in the third century) that the bishops are by divine right the head of the Church and invested with the government of the same; that they are the successors of the Apostles and by this succession inherit Apostolical authority; that they are to be the medium, through which, in consequence of that ordination which they have received merely in an outward manner, the Holy Ghost in all time to come must be transmitted to the Church – when this becomes the doctrine of the Church, we certainly must perceive in these assumptions a great corruption of the Christian system. It is a carnal perversion of the true idea of the Christian Church."
Notwithstanding the errors of many well-meaning men in forging, out of their ideas of faith and forms, chains and fetters, which have greatly hindered many of their no less honest and able successors in the Christian pathway, it is still a fact that the church ("whose names are written in heaven," "the sanctified in Christ Jesus") has been perpetuated by God, begotten of him by the spirit of truth, through the word of truth (James 1:18), and neither created nor perpetuated by the hands of bishops. [R985 : page 6]
(4.) Whenever and wherever Christians are, as fast as they become known to each other they will be drawn together by love and common interest in their one mission, unless, as to-day, kept separate from one another by doctrinal errors and party spirit – contrary to the spirit of Christ. And each such association or gathering, assembled in the name, not of popes, bishops, apostles, synods, or presbyteries, but in the name of their only head, Christ Jesus, is a Church, whatever its size, in the original use of the Greek word ecclesia. But such a Church of believers is not the true Church, and may contain few or none of the final members of the true glorious body of Christ. The true Church is not yet fully organized, and will not be until this age ends. During this age we are all probationers, who for the time are reckoned members of the true Church pending our present trial and testing, which must prove whether as "overcomers" we shall be worthy of membership in that glorious Church which is to be fully organized and fitted for the great work of the Millennial age.
Failing to see that the great work of the Church for the world is future, the Church in the fifth century, seeking to accomplish that work of the next age in the present age, saw that organization was essential to that work, and organized under antichrist a system or "clergy" which is neither more nor less than a counterfeit of the true Church of overcomers, the glorious Royal Priesthood, the Kingdom of God under the whole heaven, which Christ is to organize shortly and place in control. From this serious error, the Reformation movement of the sixteenth century only partially freed a few. Seeing the statements of Scripture, that the Church was to rule and judge the world, and losing sight of the "ages to come," all predictions were crowded into the present age, and the Scriptures were wrested so as to make the prophecies of Christ's Millennial reign applicable to their popes who represented him as his vice-gerents. And the promises made to the overcoming saints, they applied to the "clergy" who thus constituted a hierarchy claiming to be Christ's spiritual kingdom, the Royal Priesthood. Carrying out further their self-deception, they thereafter recognized only this hierarchy or clergy as THE CHURCH, and the common believers, who in the Apostles' days constituted the church, were styled the laity, or children of the church.
It should be remembered, too, that about the same time, the church, having mistaken its proper present mission, viz.: the selecting of the church, the body of Christ, to be in due time joint-heirs with him, and having gotten the idea that they were now, in this age, enjoying the reign, strove to do the new, kingdom work, viz.: to convert the world and rule it. They therefore baptized the heathen professors of Christianity, who really knew nothing of Christ, and endeavored to teach them morality, which they made impressive upon them by forms, ceremonies and rituals. And to keep all power in their own hands, as well as because these savages were unprepared to do so, the right or authority to teach was claimed as the exclusive prerogative of the church. And so say we, that the church and its members alone may teach; only we object to their definition of true church – "the clergy" – and claim the Apostolic definition – all consecrated believers in and followers of Christ. All such are brethren; all such are God's ambassadors; all such are ministers (servants) of Christ, head and body, each according to his talents. As yet there are no "children of the church," and there will be none until the church is exalted and glorified. The Church complete – head and body – is to be the "Everlasting Father," or life-giver, and all the restored millions will be the "children of the resurrection."
From these erroneous ideas regarding the church, Protestants escaped in part only. They still organize, and still recognize the terms "clergy" and "laity," and vest the power and privileges of ministry chiefly in the former; and many of them still hold the Episcopal or hierarchal form of church rulership; and though under this the "clergy" rules as a superior and independent order, yet generally the "laity" is recognized as being part of the church, and not merely "children of the church." They have reformed this much at least over the great apostasy, of which the Church of Rome is the only full representative to-day.
The mistake started with the supposition that when the church obtained influence with the Roman Empire, it was being "set up" in power by God, to rule the world. It was really set up by Satan, as clearly shown in the book of Revelations, to deceive the nations, and if possible the very elect. How well his plan succeeded, let all judge.
The Reformers partially discovered this error among the many others they had received for hundreds of years, through the teaching of those they had, as taught, long revered as specially authorized exponents of the truth and successors of the Apostles, divinely inspired by the laying on of the holy (?) hands of the claimed Apostolic succession, communicating the holy spirit. Luther distinctly pointed out that all consecrated children of God are prospectively members of the "Royal Priesthood," of which Christ Jesus alone is the head or High Priest, and consequently that all have the same authority now to offer up their lives and talents in the service of God, of his truth and his children – every man according to his several ability or talents, carrying out the example and teachings of the Lord and the Apostles, who in no age have had successors. They remain with us ever, represented by their words and examples.
So then we can say truly that legitimate children of God, begotten not of pride and formalism, nor in any sense of the will of the flesh, but begotten of God by His Word of truth, are to be found to-day and can be readily identified, not by titles or gowns, but as the early church of priests was identified – by their love for the truth (John 13:35.) and by their sacrificing for it and for all those who love and serve the truth. (Gal. 6:17; 1 Cor. 9:12; Col. 1:24.)
(5.) If we grant this claim of our correspondent, it destroys his entire argument; for, to say that God established the "clergy" and, by the laying on of hands of the Apostolic succession, specially commissioned them, and them only, to feed the flock, and then to admit that some of these specially consecrated ones are "wolves," is to charge God either with giving them a bad spirit, or else with selecting and placing over the true flock false and improper teachers. We prefer to explain the prominence of these "wolves" in control of sheep, in the light of the inspired explanation of the Apostle Paul, who said: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, [to influence and authority as teachers,] speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them [and their systems]. Therefore watch" [beware of these].
Then the Apostle tells what God's means of keeping them would be if they were faithful – not a sacred order of "clergy" puffed up with pride and adorned with worldly titles, not wolves in sheep's clothing, but he explains: "Now brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of his grace, WHICH IS ABLE to build you up, and to give you an inheritance [not present, but future] among all them which are sanctified" [the true Church, the true Priesthood]. – Acts 20:29-32.
Furthermore, if our brother admits under this head (5.) that "many" of the membership of the Episcopal Church are proud and worldly, does this not prove that they are not members of the true Church, who are the "blessed, the meek?" And since such are members of the Protestant Episcopal Church (and others of the sort are in all sects), does it not prove that none of these professed churches are the true Church, but only human organizations fashioned somewhat to correspond to the true Church of the future?
And if the "little flock" are those in Babylon without the holy hands, and the "wolves" are those who have the holy (?) Apostolic (?) blessing, and if the true sheep get some food, notwithstanding the efforts of the "wolves" to withhold it, and if they live somewhat consecrated lives even in spite of the unfavorable surroundings of "pride and worldly trappings" – would they not be much better off, and much better able to perform their sacrifices to God as Priests under Christ our High Priest, by getting free and separate from all those hindrances? [R985 : page 7] Common sense says, that the true would make much more rapid progress if rid of those hindrances, and merely associating in spiritual things with the truly consecrated.
(6.) One weakness of that great and good man, John Wesley, of which all his followers (who know of it) are ashamed, and because of which Episcopalians in his day despised him, was his course in staying himself in the Protestant Episcopal Church to the day of his death, while founding another Church which the Protestant Episcopal Church condemns as a sect, and would not recognize in her pulpits. Thus from your stand-point John Wesley stands condemned by his conduct: either for not leaving the Episcopal Church if it was wrong, or for organizing another if it was the true.
Mr. Wesley, though free from many of the errors of the Apostacy, which for centuries had blinded and deluded the church as well as the world, still clung to the error that the "clergy" is a sacred class, specially authorized and appointed of God to baptize and to administer the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper, though no such limitation can be found in the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. It is only for the "Royal Priesthood," and they are as capable of dispensing it [R986 : page 7] to each other as of partaking of it. Wesley's followers for years were sent for baptism and the Supper to Episcopalian ministers. As they became numerous in America, and especially after the Revolutionary War, when many of the Episcopalian ministers as British sympathizers fled the country, it was found that something must be done, or Methodism would come to naught. Wesley appealed for years to the Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church to lay holy (?) apostolic (?) hands on some of his followers if not on himself, to make a bishop for the new associations, which up to that time much resembled the early church, not even taking a sectarian name though called Methodists in derision by their opposers, the Episcopalians and Presbyterians. Mr. Wesley well knew that according to the laws of Episcopacy he could not ordain a minister – that only a bishop had that authority, and he saw that if he could only get one bishop ordained in harmony with him and his new Church, all would then be smooth, and as many ministers could be authorized as might be needed; but his appeal was in vain.
Finally as a last resort, Mr. Wesley with two others – T. Creighton and R. Whatcoat – ministers (not bishops) of the Church of England, determined to do the best they could to hold to the form of Episcopacy, and attach it to the new Church, so they met and ordained Thomas Coke a bishop. They well knew that they were violating the rules and principles of Episcopacy and that under those rules ten thousand of the "inferior clergy," or ordinary ministers could not make a bishop, but they did the best they could and made the best imitation bishop they knew how, and this started the great Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America. On Mr. Coke's arrival a general conference was held at Baltimore, and sixty ministers who had long been preaching Christ were authorized to baptize and to officiate at the Lord's supper. These were ministers not in the sense of titled and honored "clergymen," but in the true and early sense of the word ministers, namely servants – servants of God and his people.
Let us not be misunderstood; we mean no disrespect to Methodists in showing that Methodism has only the form of Apostolic succession and ordination; on the contrary it is our claim that they needed not even the form. Each of those sixty ministers (servants) of God had just as much authority before Mr. Coke authorized them, as afterward. They needed no such human authority, but had it direct from the Head of the Church in the Bible, and were only hindered from seeing it by the long standing customs and superstitions coming down from Rome. Every child of God is authorized to preach, everywhere, Jesus and the resurrection, and to immerse any believer; and every believer is invited to partake of the emblems of his Lord's body and blood in remembrance of him, without asking liberty or requiring the assistance of any other member of the body.
We have referred to this in answer to proposition six (6.) above, to show that the feature of Mr. Wesley's course commended by our brother, was the worst failure Wesley made. Notice for instance, When he believed that divine authority lodged in the Episcopal Bishops as the representatives of the Apostles, was he not wrong in organizing a church contrary to their will, and in opposition to their authority? – if they had any authority, which we deny.
Our brother is right in saying (6.) that the reform of the Episcopal Church has "never been done." It itself was a reform on a previous system, and hence its title Protestant. It protested and rebelled against the Church of Rome. It did not and could not reform the Church of Rome, for the same reason that it cannot be reformed from within, viz.: because all these systems are so carefully and thoroughly organized that a sufficient number of those who have the holy spirit of Reform could never get into the places of power and control.
Besides, from another standpoint our brother's argument is unsound. If we concede that our Lord and the Apostles authorized and organized the Protestant Episcopal Church (which we do not), still it would not follow that it must triumph, and must be reformed, and that from within. The Jewish Church surely was organized and authorized by God, yet it was not reformed but cast off, and only the Israelites indeed gathered out into the Gospel favor. Our Lord declared the reason that he did not attempt to reform Judaism, and why that was not his "starting point;" and his wisdom is shown by the failure of modern reformers to reform present institutions from within. He says: – Men do not put a patch of new cloth on an old worn out garment, neither do men put new wine into old wine-skins, for they are not strong enough to hold it and the result would be a waste of the wine. Our Lord thus illustrates his reason for not trying more to put the Gospel into the Jewish institutions. New vessels and agencies were preferred by the Lord when opening up the Gospel age.
Even so now, he again chooses new vessels for the opening work of the Millennial age, and for the same reason. He even shows us clearly that the closing of the Gospel age was foreshadowed by the closing of the Jewish age. Now as then great nominal Israel is to stumble in her blindness and be cast off from all special favor; and only the remnant, the faithful few, the Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile, are to be accepted into the higher favor of Millennial glory with Christ.
(7.) The brother errs here; it is not we, but Christ, who calls his people out of Babylon. We merely call their attention to his words and show that they are reasonable. It was the Lord himself who said – Let wheat and tares grow together until the HARVEST, and who now in the harvest himself thrusts in the sickle of truth to separate these as he did in the "harvest" of the Jewish age. (Matt. 13:30.) His work then, as now, was a separating work, a gathering of the Israelites indeed into harmony with himself, and the separation from them of the great mass whom he never recognized as his kingdom or joint-heirs. Mark that Babylon had long been in existence as an abomination, and had even become a mother of other harlots and abominable systems (all of which bear her name – Babylon) and had been drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus (Rev. 18.), and yet it is not until the time of her complete overthrow that the message is sent by the Lord who is about to destroy her utterly (not reform her), saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4.) We are not ashamed to be the Lord's mouthpieces in this timely but unpopular message: and what timely truth has not been unpopular?
But some may object that the Lord and the Apostles did not call believers out of the Jewish synagogues, but "went into the synagogues" and taught the people there. (Luke 4:15,44; Matt. 4:23; Acts 9:20; 13:5.) Ah yes! The Lord and the Apostles could go into the synagogues, and could teach the people there, for a time, but as they shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God, they soon found little and finally no opportunity to teach the people in the synagogues. (Matt. 10:17; Mark 13:9; John 16:2; Luke 4:28-29; John 9:34.) But could the Lord or the Apostles get into the pulpits of any of the various divisions of Babylon and teach the people? We all know that they could not. In the Protestant Episcopal Church for them to preach from the pulpit and altar would be considered defiling, and they would need to be cleansed and possibly re-consecrated. To get into such office and privilege of teaching the people, they would require the holy Apostolic blessing from three bishops, or at least from one. And none could be found who would dare install either the lowly, untitled Nazarene, or the tent-maker of Tarsus, or any who humbly follow in their footprints.
The system of Babylon is much more thorough than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. Law and custom has so hedged the sheep about, that only the regular shepherds have access to them to feed them. And the "Clergy" has so exalted its office and power, that it can and does keep out all whom God could or does use in feeding to the sheep "meat in due season." Hence the Master, the great Shepherd who bought the sheep, needs now to call his sheep "out," because they cannot be rightly fed while in these man-made systems, as our Brother admits in proposition (5) five.
But this Brother and many others err in supposing that we or the Lord are calling the "little flock" into confusion and beyond the bounds of all authority. Not so; while the nominal human institutions have continually had trouble about their organizations, and have been continually trying to get rightly organized, as the names "Protestant," "Reformed," "United," etc., etc., indicate, the true Church has had no such trouble, but has had a temporary organization all the time. God has this organization under his charge. "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and their "names are written in heaven," and such only who prove unfaithful are ever blotted out. No "wolves" are of that organization and its teachers are the Lord and the Apostles only. They teach by the Word, using the various members of the "body of Christ" in building up and strengthening one another through that Word. All are led of the spirit, and all are priests ministering and sacrificing daily.
Oh no! We want none to come out of this organization, this true tabernacle, in every lively stone of which, God through his spirit operates. Thus seen, we have something much better than the Babylon confusion with its attempted, but only [R987 : page 7] slightly successful reforms, to offer to the saints, the "little flock"; but we have nothing whatever to offer to the proud, worldly-minded masses of Babylon now. Their imitation churches will all fall, being "cages" of unclean birds. (Compare Rev. 18:2 and Matt. 13:4,19.) We can only promise them something much better than their present systems and Kingdoms, – after the "little flock," the true Gospel Church, is glorified. Then they will be taught better than the "many wolves," and the machinations of the devil blinding them, will now permit. They will come to a knowledge of the Lord and can then worship him in spirit and in truth, and not as now, draw nigh with their lips, while their hearts are far from him.
"Love not the world, neither the things of the world" [the World's churches, etc.] says the Master, and so we urge. As saints, seek not the favor of men, but of God only, and learn of him. Hear his voice and come out of Babylon into the sunlight of truth, into the green pastures where the good Shepherd leads. He declares, "My sheep hear my voice and they follow [obey] me!"
A French traveler in the East has discovered, according to The Wiener Tagblatt, the ultimate aim of the Czar's policy. He would be glad enough to obtain Constantinople, but the real object of his ambition is to become "the Pope of Jerusalem." The war of 1054, the French observer remarks, had its germ in the quarrels over the Holy Places in Palestine, and was a continuation of the conflict between East and West which the crusades left still unsettled. "Every step of the Russians towards Constantinople," says he, "is a step toward Jerusalem. It is of great significance that the Emperor Alexander III. confides much more upon the power of religious enthusiasm than either of his predecessors did." He wishes to procure a more officious and ostentatious consecration of his religious authority, and to have his position emphasized as the supreme Protector of the Eastern Churches and the Orthodox Faith, and so rally all the Greek-Oriental Churches and peoples around the person and office of the Czar as the Constantine and Justinian of the modern world. This bold project has been long in preparation, is never lost sight of in any diplomatic movement, and no sacrifice of money is thought too great to secure this end. "Numbers of settlements of Eastern monks, of apparently harmless and unpretending character, have been and are being founded, and Russia finds the money for the purchase of the land. Aid and counsel are always to be had from the Russian authorities. The European powers restrict their attention too one-sidedly to the movements on the Bosphorus, and ignore the extraordinary but quiet movements in the Holy Land." Two of the Vienna papers – The Politische Correspondenz and The Wiener Tageblatt [R987 : page 8] – appear to put some faith in the Frenchman's observations and predictions. The latter has no doubt that the Czar would hold a coronation on the site of the Holy Sepulchre of the world's Redeemer, to be the highest possible consecration of his authority. "Many imagine that Alexander III. reckons much upon being crowned Emperor of Asia in Samarkand; but to have the crown of Asia set upon his head in the mother city of Christendom corresponds much more to his character and to the thoughts which he cherishes in the stillness of Gatschina."– Pall Mall Gazette.
"In all defences I have seen, of the old dogma of eternal, endless torment, I think there is not one, even of those that claim to prove the doctrine from the Scriptures, in which there is not at least ten times as much of argument to show that the inspired Word must be so understood, as there is of solid quotation from the Word itself. Where so much pounding with the hammer of human reason is required to shape God's Word into conformity to a traditional or preconceived theory, or to weld something upon that Word to supply a supposed deficiency, are we not justified in challenging the right of such a doctrine to demand our acceptance?
Let the explicit declaration of the Westminster Confession and Catechism be written on one side; on the other side place all the Scripture references or proof texts, with any other passages, that bear on this subject. Now is there any one in his right mind who will look carefully at the language on both sides, and then affirm that these form an equation? or that they can be made equal without adding, subtracting or transposing? And dare any Christian claim authority thus to tamper with God's Word?"
Another says: – "Until the Church realizes that there is something worse even than being 'agitated;' until it is forced into a position where crying 'peace, peace,' when there is no peace, will be impossible, the real questions at issue will be held in the background, and as at Andover, the decision will be not upon the merits of the truth at stake, but upon the conformity of one's teaching to the artificial standards, conventionally interpreted."
"Another great barrier to the reunion of Christendom is subscription to elaborate creeds. This is the great sin of the Lutheran and Reformed churches. Every one of these churches has separated subscribers from non-subscribers and occasioned the organization of dissenting churches. Lutherans, Calvinists and Arminians, and sections of the same, have been separated into different ecclesiastical organizations. These doctrinal divisions have done more than anything else to weaken Protestantism and stay its progress in Europe....These differences cannot be solved by conquest, but only by some higher knowledge and better adjustment of the problems involved through an advance in theological conception and definition. The question now forces itself upon earnest men whether these differences justify ecclesiastical separation, and whether they may not be left to battle their own way to success or defeat without the help of ecclesiastical fences and traditional prejudices....
Progress is possible only by research, discussion, conflict. The more conflict the better. Battle for the truth is infinitely better than stagnation in error. Every error should be slain as soon as possible. If it be our error we should be most anxious to get rid of it. Error is our greatest foe. Truth is the most precious possession. There can be no unity save in the truth, and no perfect unity save in the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let us unite in the truth already gained, and agree to contend in Christian love and chivalry for the truth that has not yet been sufficiently determined, having faith that in due time the Divine Spirit will make all things clear to us."
This is the law of the church's progress and growth. When a Christian, or a church, becomes convinced that it has nothing more to learn, there follows stagnation and decay. And yet what else than this is the prevalent assumption that all Bible truth is locked up in our Confession of Faith, and that it is a heresy and crime to think beyond it? No greater mistake was ever made by Reformed churches than this quenching of the Spirit in the body of Christ, by the denial to its members of the liberty of progressing beyond the limits of their creeds. Confessions are good for purposes of instruction, but not to bind the conscience. Enforced creeds should content themselves with stating only the great facts and primary beliefs of Christianity, as they are given in the language of Scripture, such as "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." "I believe that He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures." Human formulas, founded upon these facts, and explanatory of them, should always be held open to amendment, as God may bestow increasing light until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the perfect knowledge of the Son of God.– Words of Reconciliation.
The Scotch Episcopal Church, or as it is called The Episcopal Church in Scotland, is the Sacerdotal and Ritualistic portion of the Episcopal Churches in Scotland. Within its communion the most rampant Ritualism is in full practice, and it varies little from the practices and doctrines of the Church of Rome. It stands wholly on its own account, without any connection or affiliation with the other churches.
Another portion of Episcopal Churches which may be called the Church of England in Scotland, maintaining purity of Evangelical doctrine and church administration, are in connection with the Church of England, under Bishop E. H. Beckles D.D. (the late Bishop of Sierra Leone), put into that position to keep the protestants from leaving the church's communion.
In the year 1873, ten thousand English Protestant churchmen, with Bishop Gregg [R988 : page 8] broke off from the church (not however in the way of schism) and formed a Reformed Church of England, and in January of 1880 the St. John's Episcopal Church, Dundee, Scotland, decided by the unanimous wish of the incumbent church-wardens, trustees, vestry, and congregation to place the church under the jurisdiction of the bishops of the Reformed Church of England, and this has had its effects upon other similarly circumstanced churches objecting to Sacerdotalism and Ritualism, thus forming the third Protestant Episcopal Scotch Church.– The Christian Family Annual.
We are Old-Fashioned, Evangelical and Protestant church people. We love the "old paths." We are not schismatics; but as the Church of England once rejected Romish error and separated therefrom, so now we reject those same errors which are destroying the spiritual fabric of the Church of England.
We bear a relation to the Church of England similar to that which the Church of England bears to the Church of Rome. The reasons which the Church of England had for her separation from Rome three centuries ago, are our reasons for our separation from the Church of England to-day.
Our mission is to complete the work of the Reformation which was then so nobly begun.– Ref. Church of Eng. Record.
The biographer of Mr. Leigh Richmond one day submitted to him the following question: "What is the Scriptural and right way to preach to the Jews?" "I know of no scriptural way," he replied, "of preaching to men, otherwise than as sinners; and why the Jews, whose sins are of so aggravated a nature, should be dealt with in a different way, I do not see. I would address the Jew as I would address any other man, that is, as a sinner; and till he is convinced of his sin, he will never believe in a Saviour. 'Christ Crucified' is declared to be, 'To the Greeks foolishness, and to the Jews a stumbling block; but to them that believe, the power of God and the wisdom of God.' No man will ever feel the power of God, whether he be Jew or Gentile, till he learn it at the foot of the cross."
GENTLEMEN: – The MILLENNIAL DAWN was handed me, by Captain A. C. Bowman, with a request for me to read it. The grip of tradition was upon me, and I had settled down to the current idea that
"There is no death! what seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life Elysian,
Whose portal we call death."
I therefore commenced reading the volume, with a certain amount of prejudice; but ere I had finished the first chapter I perceived the pure, straightforward character of the writer and determined to give him that attention, his manifest honesty warranted. I resolved to note my objections as they occurred, and watch if his theory met and disposed of them, ere conclusions were formed. As I advanced the mist of tradition vanished, and the sunlight of God's purposes began to shine through the rifts of the dark, melancholy clouds with which tradition has obscured our understanding of the Bible. By the time my first reading was finished, I had become so interested, that I commenced a second reading, with my Bible at my side; so that every citation, and its connections, was examined and referenced. As I advanced my objections grew beautifully less, then smaller still. I was perfectly astonished, as I traced the Millennial promise from its first faint glimmer into the glorious sunlight of God's immaculate word.
Since I have read the first volume, I have felt more at ease and more hopeful than I ever did before. A new light falls upon the Bible that dispels the darkness of mystery. I can now think of God as the center of love. I now feel that I can (as far an humble mortal is capable) comprehend Him. I no longer regard the Bible as dry and irksome, but can feel its wondrous utility. I never felt this or knew it before – it is a new light, a Helping Hand for which I feel a thankfulness.
I want to have all the facts of the first volume fully established in my mind, and for that purpose, I propose to give it a diligent third reading. I want to get at the very corner stone of its ideas. I want removed from my shoulders entirely the traditional weights that I feel have hanged about me for years.
I have talked much about the MILLENNIAL DAWN with persons of intelligence, since I began its reading. Some priest-ridden persons reject it, but I find its ideas a joy to many. I traveled for fifteen miles across my county, a few days since, with a gentleman, and shortly after joining him I remarked, I have been lately reading the MILLENNIAL DAWN, the most wonderful book of our day. I gave him its outline and he eagerly continued the conversation through our three hours ride. The next day I luckily had another friend to make a part of the return ride with. I mentioned the book as before, and the gentleman soon became interested, and we discussed it up to our parting. He then invited me to go to his community and lecture upon the subject, which I promised to do, when I thoroughly investigated the whole subject. I thank you a thousand times for having placed this book in my hands and will be glad to have the second volume on any terms.