This paper will be sent free to the interested of the Lord's poor, who will send a card yearly requesting it. "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 who have it – "Wherefore do you 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.
WE HAVE printed a second edition of the January TOWER in order to supply the many calls for sample copies for the friends of our readers. Many consider the article on the New Covenant, in that issue, specially good for new readers. We will supply free what you can use judiciously. Send in your orders.
UNWILLING to drop from our lists any who would desire the regular visits of the TOWER for the present year, we send the present issue to many who have not yet renewed their subscriptions either by payment or promise of future payment or by request to have it among those too poor to pay. Please attend to the matter at once, as we do not wish to push the paper upon any who do not desire it enough to ask for it, after the terms have been so arranged as to leave all without excuse. Otherwise do not blame us if you miss it hereafter.
THE CHURCH at Allegheny cordially invites such consecrated lovers of our Redeemer as can conveniently do so, to meet and celebrate with us the Lord's death by partaking of the Memorial Supper on the evening of April 3d next; also to participate in the four days of Special Bible Study which as usual will follow the memorial.
We give early notice of the date for the celebration of the Lord's Supper because all have not the conveniences for calculating the date, and because many who rely upon the TOWER for the information are so far away that they do not get the TOWER for about a month after they are mailed.
The date given is not the date of the beginning of the Jewish Passover feast-week, for it is not that which we celebrate. We celebrate the killing of the true Paschal Lamb – "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," and through whom we, as his Church of the First-born, are already by faith passed over from death unto life.
The killing of the lamb took place the day before the Passover feast-week began, and our Lord was crucified as its antitype on that day – the 14th day of the Hebrew month Nisan, which this year would correspond to April 4th. In the Jewish reckoning the day begins to count from the previous evening at six o'clock (April 3d), and since our Lord on that evening preceding the day of his crucifixion celebrated his own death, with his disciples, [R1183 : page 1] and left them a charge to "do this" in remembrance of him, we will celebrate it as usual on the anniversary, which, as above stated, will this year be April 3d, at a convenient hour after six o'clock P.M.
Our Presbyterian friends are still holding general public attention. The reports of the discussion, for and against the revision of their Confession of Faith, before the various Presbyteries, occupy prominent places in the daily papers, and the public scans the arguments on both sides with deep interest. These discussions are doing great good in the direction of waking up thought among Christian people of all denominations. It is thus kindling the fire which shall burn out the wood, hay and stubble of traditional errors from not only Presbyterianism but from all isms.
The discussions and votes of the various Presbyteries settle nothing, however. They are only preliminary: the question of revision or no revision can be decided only by the General Assembly, when it shall finally pass upon the question. The pity is that great men will tie themselves up to a doctrine and stick to it, though they believe it to be erroneous and God-dishonoring, until the majority of their sect agrees to let them confess and preach the Truth.
The New York Presbytery has developed some strong men and opened their lips; and they have said so much that they can never retrace their steps, and would be ashamed to remain in the denomination should the conclusion be a refusal to revise the creed. The vote of the New York Presbytery was almost unanimously in favor of revision, but it furnishes no criterion as to others, for only forty-eight out of a total of two hundred and eleven Presbyteries have yet voted on the question.
"The only permanent standard for any church of Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Any church that has its standard in human philosophy or inner consciousness will disintegrate by its own weight. Consequently, when the question of revision of our standards of faith came up, the only question I wished to consider and examine was, Are these standards in accordance with the Word of God?
"When I examined the foundation of our faith for the hundredth time, with especial reference to this occasion, I found one, and only one statement in the Confession which, to my mind, is clearly and diametrically opposed to the Word of God. The more I have examined it, the more I am convinced that this one in particular is contrary to the Word of God, pernicious to the church, and injurious to the highest and holiest interests of religion. That one phrase or declaration is the use [R1182 : page 1] of the verb, pass by, in the seventh section of the third chapter. When I say that only this one phrase contradicts scripture, I don't mean to say that I approve of all the others. Still, I can allow them but when I see a statement teaching a fatalistic doctrine, contrary to the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, my soul revolts at it. Here is the section:THE OBNOXIOUS SECTION.
"'The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.'
"Now what is meant by the phrase 'Pass by?' In the parable of the Good Samaritan the priest passed by the man who fell among thieves; the Levite also passed him by. Here it is said in our standard of belief that God treats his creatures as the priest and the Levite treated the traveler, and this in the face of statements declaring that he loves the whole world.
"Our creed, although in some respects the grandest ever penned, is confessedly imperfect, acknowledged to be so by those who are opposed to revision. Now this is the best time for revision, and for this reason, if for no other, I am in favor of the committee's report."
Rev. Dr. G. Wylie, a young man, made an appeal in behalf of the Confession as it is, in which he said it was in harmony with the creeds of other Protestant churches. He quoted the free will part of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Episcopal Church to show how Calvinistic it was. He said he didn't believe in putting new cloth into an old garment, in patching the seventeenth century creed with nineteenth century doctrine. As to infant damnation, he said:
Dr. Paxton did not favor revision. He thought that if the Creed should be revised the great body of people known as Presbyterians, losing the label of Calvin, would be like a dog which, being sent by express with a tag on his collar giving the name and address of his master, on the way ate his tag and lost his identity.
The Rev. Dr. Van Dyke began one of the most striking speeches of the entire discussion, with Dr. Paxton's parable of the dog which had "ate his tag" for his text. "The Westminster Confession as it now stands," he said, "affixes a tag to the human race, to this effect: 'Part is consigned to heaven and part to hell, and no man can find out to which part he belongs, nor would it make any difference if he could.' Now, if I were an expressman I would refuse to forward a tagless dog, so I refuse to believe this unintelligible, improbable dogma.
"We have voted for revision. Now, what is the revision to be? I am in favor of the committee's report because it eliminates reprobation from the Confession, and suggests the formation of a new Creed, more Scriptural than the Confession, as a basis of union with other reformed churches. But first, the elimination of reprobation should be done as soon as possible.
"Ante-natal damnation! No man ever died for that doctrine. Why, then, should any one clasp it to his bosom, and weep tears at the thought of losing it, as if it had been bathed in the blood of martyrs? Such a position is like that of the old woman who said: 'There's that blessed doctrine of universal depravity. What a comfort it is, if we only lived up to it.'
"The Heavenly Father spreads a feast for all; is it for us to say that he refuses to let the poor sinner eat of the crumbs which fall from his table? And for what reason? To satisfy our logic? It is but measuring the mind of the Almighty with the wisdom of the seventeenth century. The doctrine is unscriptural. As for the text about the potter – who ever heard of a potter making a vessel merely to destroy it? Reprobation is a 'horrible' doctrine. The adjective is not mine, but Calvin's, who pushed it to its logical conclusion, and taught the damnation of infants. I don't weep for the tears shed over the destruction of part of the Confession, but for the tears of the mothers who have been taught to believe that their harmless, new-born babes were torn from their breasts to be plunged into everlasting perdition; I would weep for the unhappy creatures in mad-houses, whose light of [R1182 : page 2] reason has been put out by the heresy of ante-natal perdition.
"I know not what others may do, but as for me, I intend to keep on disbelieving, ignoring, and denying the doctrine of reprobation. I intend to teach that there are no infants in hell, no limits to God's love; that there is salvation open to all mankind, and that no man is punished but for his own sin. Is that Calvinism? Before God, I don't know or care. It is Christianity."
Dr. Parkhurst said: "If we are going to retain the preterition idea in our Confession, then we must be true to it in our preaching as Presbyterian ministers, and on occasion declare it in all frankness. We shall be obliged to address our congregations somewhat after this manner: 'My friends, I am sorry to say it, but as a Calvinistic Presbyterian I am bound to say it, that Christ did not die for all. There is a certain amount of fatalism in the case. Some men are damned, and not only that, but congenitally damned; damned before they are born, hated of God even in the moment of conception.'
"The story of Jacob and Esau, as interpreted by the hyper-Calvinists, means all that, when you tell the whole thing out in flat-footed English. Now, if I concluded that that was a Scripture doctrine, and that salvation was not absolutely free to every creature, I would tear my Geneva gown to shreds and rip up my Bible into paper-rags before another Sabbath.
"This thing is in the air. It has come to stay and come to grow. It is futile to talk about repressing it. You may box up your reservoir, but the closer you box it the more destructive the outburst you are preparing for yourself, if, while you are boxing, the brooks are flowing down into it from off the hill-slopes."
The Rev. Dr. Vincent, Professor in the Union Theological Seminary, said: "God's Word is for all time; creeds for the age in which they are formulated. It is a mistake to call the Westminster divines giants; it implies degeneracy in us. The Scripture is better understood to-day than it was then. It is well to pay respect to Augustine, Calvin and the Westminster divines, but why should we take a rigid faith from their dead hands!
"Augustine, Calvin and some of the Westminster divines believed in infant damnation, and I heard it asserted 25 years ago by a Presbyterian minister, who subsequently went over to rationalism. If that horrible implication can be found in the Confession, where is the humanity of leaving it in that record of exploded belief and torment of weak hearts? The Confession does not give the heathen a ghost of a chance. The fair inference from it is that countless millions who never heard of Christ are damned for not believing in him. Why do we stand up so stoutly for Calvin? Was Calvin crucified for us, and in his name are we baptized?"
In conclusion, Dr. Vincent, after setting forth still more strongly his disbelief in the Confession, said the Church had already taken an irrevocable step; that it had cut loose from its position of six months ago and could not go back.
Dr. Hastings said, speaking for those favoring revision: "What we have said we mean, like honest men, without concealment or fear, and we shall stand by it whether the Presbytery stands by it or not."
While our friends are thus gagging over their unsavory mess (Isa. 28:8), how clear and beautiful is the doctrine of election when rightly understood.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I take the first opportunity to acknowledge your kind greetings and sentiments expressed in the January TOWER to the brethren that are "scattered abroad." For one I am thankful for this channel of communion between members of the body.
While I might wish that the TOWER may each succeeding month go to many new readers I still believe that the "special issues," in the form of "Dawn," are to be the real "gold" and "silver" sledge-hammers that the Lord will continue to use in battering down the walls of Babylon and building up the "city" which has foundations. I will, however, do all I can to increase the circulation of the monthly TOWER, but I am sure that some others will be more efficient in this line than myself.
Through grace I have been able to sell over 350 copies of Dawn here during the two weeks past, against many obstacles – sickness, prejudice, etc. I enclose P.O. order for $25 as an offering to the Master, which I trust he will accept through the Tract Fund.
Last night I met with a few of the sheep here who have, of late, been meeting once a week to study the Bible in connection with Dawn. Last evening we considered the chapter on "Ransom and Restitution," and all present were greatly blessed by the truths brought to light.
I do not sell as many of Vol. I. as I would if not selling Vol. II., but I think I sell a third or a half more books than if I were handling only one volume. I think the second volume is very strengthening to those who desire the truth, and I trust that others will appreciate it as the "night" and the "day" draw on. So in all I think it is as well to sell the two volumes together. In Coldwater, where I sold about 80 of Vol. I. two years ago, I sold over 150 this time by selling the two volumes.
At Quincy I sold about 75 books, and when I returned to deliver them after an absence of two days I found the people in a terrible state about "that book." The false shepherds had started an alarm and it found the ear of nearly all in Babylon at that place. But I delivered the most of my books, preaching a little as I went. The spirit of Antichrist is indeed working "that none should buy or sell in the marts except those that have the mark of the beast or the number of his name."
Have you noticed the articles from the pen of Editor Stead concerning the Pope and the Catholic Church? He suggests the need of a common head for the world to look to, to guide it in social and religious reforms, and of course thinks the Pope should be the one to fill this place. Surely all the world groaneth and waiteth for the manifestations of the sons of God and the true Head of the Church.
It is with much joy that I say "I long to meet you" at the Spring meeting. Like Brother Adamson, I had hardly expected (on account of the work) to be there, until a few months ago. I believe, however, that when the time comes I should have found it hard to stay away.
With much love and joy in the Truth, I remain yours in hope of witnessing unto the end the "good confession."
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – The ever-welcome TOWER came this morning. I have read the article, The New Covenant, and find the same harmony and consistency in its teaching as in all subjects treated in Dawn and TOWER in the past; link after link, making the great chain of truth, "so that the man of God may be complete; thoroughly fitted for every good work."
At the close of the article, Where Does the Money Come From, I can fully endorse your emphatic warning against all who profess to beg in Christ's name, and am glad you have written this warning in TOWER.
For many years past I have been disgusted with these pious beggars. How grand the sentiment, God says, My son, give me thy heart. And when we fully give our heart to God he asks nothing more. We have given all.
I rejoice, dear brother, at the great work God is doing, with a few of his sharpened arrows. Some have entirely departed from Babylon, some running for the great prize, to be joint-heirs with Christ, some rejoicing in prospect of restitution, many others beginning to see a little. But there is much yet to do. Babylon's walls are still strong, and her defenders defiant, and we on the outside are despised and scorned. Nevertheless we have no cause for discouragement, for God's children shall all be delivered from her chains of error.
I have proved what I had reason to expect, viz.: that in separating myself from worldly churches the small business that I have been engaged in here for a number of years is becoming so small, it looks as if I shall be compelled to close it out entirely, and look for some other means of sustaining life while it is God's will for me to remain here. But I am not looking backward, but forward, and have great reason to rejoice.
Yours in the Master's service,
TOWER PUBLISHING CO.: – I received a copy of the Dawn, Vol. I., yesterday. I went out this morning, got seventeen subscribers and the promise of several others. I don't think it will be any trouble for me to sell them. You may send me forty. I have to roll my baby around with me, which makes it very tiresome. I am highly pleased with the TOWER.
It is just about 12 months since I began to enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God, through reading Z.W.T. publications. The joy that has been mine since the opening of my heart to receive the Truth cannot be told. Praise the dear Lord! I am sure that I would not exchange a twelve months' experience of the Truth for 50 years' enjoyment of what was to be had in the nominal Church. Nay, any exchange would be impossible; for, who, having the use of his senses, would exchange a reality for a sham?
I think I ought to tell you of the great progress I have made in the knowledge of the will and purposes of God as revealed in his Word during the past year. It is a wonder to myself. Whereas it took me many years to get a smattering of scriptural knowledge, now I seem to be quite conversant with all our Father's plans. O how thankful I am to be delivered, not only from the bondage of sin, but also from that of error. And won't it be grand by and by to be delivered also from the bondage of corruption?
I do not readily get a hearing for the Truth. People were so prejudiced against me for leaving the church (?) that the whole neighborhood leaves me on one side. However, the Lord does give me opportunities sometimes. I must tell you that I have taken no statements in TOWER or Dawns for granted, but have made them my own by searching them out. Somehow, after seeing the general plan as shown in Vol. I., it has been so easy and natural to see and take the following truths as the Lord has given them to me.
That the Lord will continue to keep us steadfast in the faith is my earnest prayer, and that you and your dear wife may be kept faithful in the service of the truth. With deep love to you and to all of the Church with you, in which my wife joins, I am, dear brother, yours in the Lord,
TOWER PUB. CO., ALLEGHENY, PA. – Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Russell and Brethren, greeting: – Yes, we unite with you in heart and hand and voice and prayer that, from the condition in which the new year finds us, the light,
"The radiance from the cross,may shine more and more until perfect day; and that –
The depth of love revealing,"
"Still new beauties we may see
And still increasing light."
We now understand why we did not get a TOWER for December. Still we never had any other feeling in regard to it than perfect submission, for we knew all would be right when we received the light. I really expected to get Dawn Vol. III. in consequence, but now do not have any undue anxiety about it, am simply waiting in expectation.
I go on Saturdays and such days as I can get opportunity, to the brethren and others to whom I have sold Dawns, and have a talk with them of their progress in the reading of Dawn and receiving light. Some are able to receive in part; some stumble at some points. Some, only a very few as yet, have had the fog of traditions scattered from before their eyes and see the glorious truth the Bible teaches. The "Helping Hand" clears away the mists.
I am unable to say at present how many have come to a firm stand on truth pointed out by Dawn, but I can cheerfully say that the Lord's work is progressing in this regard slowly but surely. In due time "the righteous shall see it and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even he shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord."
Very humbly, yours,
DEAR BROTHER: – I have just received your very encouraging letter. May God give you grace and strength for the work he has called you to do. Having so much to do for the Lord, it is a great privilege to receive a personal letter, and though I may write at times, I do not expect you to answer, as the work for the general good of all must be done first. I may say that when I first read your TOWER, I used to give one-tenth of my income to the Lord, but through the light of the truth I was led to see myself obeying the Law whereas I am under grace. Praise God! So it is not the tenth now, it is all – a living sacrifice. The last order came to hand all right. Many thanks for same. May God bless you and Mrs. Russell, and all the brethren and sisters in Jesus. Yours in Jesus,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – After reading Dawn, Vol. II., the chapters on "The Times of the Gentiles," "The Jubilee Cycles," Israel's Double and the Time Chronology, I became convinced that we are indeed in the time of the harvest, while the chapter on the manner of our Lord's second coming and the harmony of present indications leaves no room for even a doubt. Then in place of marrying and settling down, as I undoubtedly would have done, I sold off my personal property, paid all my indebtedness except a mortgage on some land, to engage in this harvest work. As I have not as yet been able to sell the land, and it being mostly unimproved will not rent for enough to pay the interest on the mortgage and the taxes, I thought to spend about a week in the spring putting in enough of a crop to pay the expenses of the place till I can sell it. If I can sell it for even a good deal less than I thought it was worth two years ago, I would have a few hundred dollars left to use as an offering to the Lord. My neighbors thought me very foolish at the course I have taken, and when I began to hold up the truth I met with opposition, but our blessed Lord and Saviour suffered without the gates and we may go to him without the camp bearing his reproach. I esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. I will not be afraid of them, neither of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks.
Yours in the Lord,
"Anywhere that Jesus calls me,
Any work he gives to do,
Any trial or affliction
He may call me to pass through,
My glad heart has the assurance
He will help me bear and do.
"O, the blessedness of trusting,
And the full heart satisfied!
O, the holy joy of loving
Only Him, the Crucified!
Looking up with faith unwav'ring
To the wounds in his dear side.
"Peace abiding like a river;
Rest the world can never know;
Faith that sees the pitying Father
Wheresoe'er the feet may go; –
Love uprising, filling, sweet'ning
Every cup of pain and woe.
"All my soul is filled with blessing
While I sit at thy dear feet;
And a consciousness of serving
Makes the hallowed cross more sweet,
While I own thy full salvation
And the cleansing all complete.
"If the way be rough and thorny,
Thou did'st tread the same for me;
Shall the servant than the Master
More exempt from trial be?
If I may at last behold thee,
It will be enough for me."
The church can best appreciate her own position of special favor at this time by contrast with the actual condition of the rest of the world. And a little reflection upon the world's condition of superstition and ignorance should bring us, not only into a fuller appreciation of our own privileges, but also into sympathy and pity for the world in its present cheerless gloom and aimless gropings in the dark. The thought should never be lost sight of, that what we receive as special favor from God is not for selfish gratification, but for the universal blessing of all his creatures. And only such as have this benevolent disposition to bless, who look forward to the prize of our high calling with special delight because of its grand opportunities to lift up the fallen, to liberate the captives of sin and death, to recover sight to the blind, to fill the earth with the knowledge of the truth and to lead all mankind along the highway of holiness to everlasting life and to the true end of human existence, which is to glorify God in the completeness and grandeur of true manhood and to enjoy his favor forever, will be counted worthy to reign with Christ.
The principal religions of the world outside of Christianity are Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Mohammedanism. These with the various corrupt forms of Christianity sway the minds of almost the entire population of the earth. The exceptions are some savage and half-civilized tribes in central and southern Africa, the Esquimaux of the far north, some islands of the seas, and the Indian tribes of America, all of whom have crude ideas of their own, very generally remote from the truth and giving evidence of fearful forebodings or cheerless gloom in view of the uncertainties of future existence, or the conditions under which existence may be perpetuated beyond the tomb.
Brahmanism is the prevailing religion of Hindoostan, and its adherents are estimated to number from 120,000,000 to 150,000,000. Its age is uncertain, as its literature presents neither history, annals nor chronology, though it is probable that it existed some centuries before Christ, as its sacred books extend back from twenty to thirty centuries. Its theology is a chaotic mass of dreamy speculation having no well ordered system of thought. It is described as not a system, but a medley, and not a philosophy, but a dream. Its sacred books are the Vedas and the Institutes of Manu. From the former it appears that anciently the Brahmans were worshippers of the elements – light, fire, water, etc.
In theory their religion rests upon the Laws of Manu. This work sustains the laws of caste and the authority of the priesthood, represents Brahma as the supreme deity and self-sacrifice (self-inflicted torments) as the supreme duty. It presents elaborate, ritualistic and ceremonial rules of the most exacting character, and promulgates the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. Though Brahmanism has many gods, its one supreme god is Brahm; and according to its philosophy Brahm is the only being in the universe who actually exists: all else is illusory, not real. It is said that in order to put forth his energy Brahm took upon himself bodily form and became three gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and to these three were intrusted the arrangement and government of the universe after Brahm had relapsed into his proper state of unconscious sleep.
The highest future bliss to which the Brahmanist aspires is absorption into Brahm; and as his normal condition is presumed to be that of unconscious sleep, absorption into Brahm would signify nothing more than annihilation. However, before he reaches this consummation of his hopes, the Brahmanist expects to pass through a series of transmigrations, until deemed worthy of it. His desire is to so act in the present life as to rise a grade higher in the next birth. If he has been wicked he will be a step lower, or if very wicked he will be sent to one or other of the innumerable hells to expiate his guilt and to reappear on earth in mineral, vegetable or animal form before he rises again to the human. Or if counted worthy to advance upward he enjoys a heaven of carnal delights with one or other of the superior gods. His worthiness of future reward, however, is not made dependent upon actual virtue, but rather upon conformity to Brahman rites and ceremonies, the liberal support of the priesthood, etc. Prayers and painful penances take the place of true devotion, and even suicide is recommended as particularly meritorious; and as a consequence, it is said that numbers annually throw themselves over precipices, bury themselves alive in graves dug by their nearest kindred, or drown themselves in some of the sacred rivers. And voluntary widow-burning and infanticide were common until suppressed by the British government in 1830, though it is still practiced in some parts, and doubtless will be until the old superstition as to its merit has passed away. Some of the penances performed by zealous Brahmans have been of the most revolting character; as for instance, crawling for miles on hands and knees over sharp stones, holding up an arm above the head for months, cutting themselves, disfiguring themselves, etc.
All India is divided into four castes – the Brahmans or priestly class; a military class; a mercantile class; and a servile class; but the Brahman or priestly class is the favored and oppressive one. These live on alms and are supported liberally by kings and people, as the priesthood of the Church of Rome and others are. In fact so similar is the power of Brahmanism to bind its blind votaries to servile submission to the dictates of the Brahman or priestly class, that the system has been named the Romanism of India. [R1184 : page 3]
Buddhism. – The despotism of the Brahmans gave rise in the seventh century B.C. to Buddhism, which was a protest against the corrupt religion of that age. It has been called the Protestantism of India. Though born in Hindoostan, it now has little sway there; but it has full sway in Ceylon and the eastern peninsula. It claims nearly two-thirds of the population of China. It prevails also in Japan and north of the Himalayas, in Thibet, among the Mongolian population of Central Asia, and extends into Siberia and Swedish Lapland. Its adherents are estimated at from 300,000,000 to 400,000,000 – more than one third of the human race.
Its founder is said to have been a certain prince named Gotama, afterward called Buddha, though the legends concerning him partake so much of the character of fiction as to leave it somewhat uncertain whether such a person actually existed. However, the ideas ascribed to him are the foundation principles of Buddhism. The system assumes that existence is the cause of all evil, that ignorance is the ultimate cause of existence; and that, therefore, with the removal of ignorance, existence and all its attendant miseries would be cut off.
Buddhism is more properly termed a system of philosophy than of theology; for it has no god. It recognizes no being with greater supernatural power than man is supposed capable of attaining by virtue, austerity and wisdom. Disgusted with the many gods of Brahmanism and the priestcraft that imposed upon a superstitious people, Buddhism, at least in its early and purer form, taught that religious excellence consists only in wisdom and personal virtue. Buddhism renounces the many gods of Brahmanism, discards all idea and necessity for a priesthood, and does away with all caste. Instead of a god they set up an ideal character which they term Buddha, not for worship, but for the imitation of mankind. And though an image of Buddha adorns the center of the Buddhist temple, and before it offerings of fruit and flowers are placed, the ceremonies are not viewed by intelligent Buddhists as acts of worship, but as simply commemorative of a character worthy of remembrance and imitation; for Buddha, it was claimed, was nothing more than what any good man may become. The more ignorant, however, regard him as a deity.
Instead of believing the future of the soul to be dependent upon an infallible priestly class, it is believed to depend wholly upon the operation of inflexible law. And instead of the prayers and penances prescribed by Brahmanism, Buddhism counsels temperance, justice, honesty, truth, repentance and confession of sin and reformation of character, claiming that these principles alone are the conditions of virtue and true happiness. And in the absence of a knowledge of the true God it appeals to and glorifies human reason and conscience only.
The original idea of Buddhism was indeed a noble one. It was an effort to cast off the fetters of blind superstition, and a bold strike for individual liberty; and it gives evidence of a sincere desire for truth and righteousness and a struggle against great opposition to attain it. In the absence of a knowledge of God, it was an endeavor to follow the clearest light they possessed, viz., reason and conscience; though with the ignorant who failed to catch the true idea of the commemoration of Buddha's memory, the ceremonies have degenerated into a meaningless idolatry, of which the prayer-mill is a prominent feature in some countries. And though the system provides for no priests, a class of self-appointed mendicants corresponds somewhat to a priestly class, but its only clerical function is to read the Buddhist scriptures on stated occasions, or to run the prayer-mill for the people, for which they receive a small compensation.
Though Buddhism was almost a complete revolution of thought from Brahmanism, yet it carried with it the absurd doctrine of the transmigration of souls and of numerous heavens for the good according to merit, and about 136 hells situated inside the earth for the wicked, according to their deserts. And the gloomy end, whenever or however reached, is annihilation for good and bad alike. The highest incentive to virtue which the system presents is the speedy arrival at the end of existence; for misery, it is believed, is not merely a taint in existence, but the very essence of it.
Confucianism is also a philosophy rather than a religion, and having its beginning only a century later than Buddhism (the sixth century B.C.) it very closely resembles that system; and though Buddhism claims about two thirds of the population of China, Confucianism is the basis of the social and political life of that nation. Confucius (whose original name was Kong until Latinized by the Jesuit missionaries,) is described as a grave, sober, upright and thoughtful man, with high moral and intellectual attainments and aspirations.
Carefully trained by a widowed mother, he early developed these traits of character, and at her death, reviving an ancient custom, he spent three years in mourning for her, devoting his time and thought to the study of moral philosophy by reflection upon the principles of moral law, furnished by conscience and reason. After this he traveled extensively throughout the kingdom of China, preaching his doctrines, and though for a time he labored against great opposition and even persecution, as all reformers do, his reputation as a public reformer soon became very great, his followers being mainly persons of middle and mature age – grave, sober, thoughtful and respectable citizens, many of them occupying important public stations. His system has no god, no priesthood, no temple, and it regards the universe as a grand self-sustaining order. It rather doubts a future existence, yet conforms to certain ancient religious ceremonies on the presumption that some future good may accrue from so doing – "There may be some meaning in them," said Confucius, "and they may affect your welfare in a way you do not know of. As for the genii and spirits, sacrifice to them. I have nothing to tell regarding them, whether they exist or not; but their worship is part of an august and awful ceremonial which a wise man will not neglect nor despise." This ignorance of things unseen and future, yet fear or hope concerning them, is the foundation for many absurd superstitions among the Chinese, such as scaring away the devils with noisy demonstrations, and the disallowance of telegraph wires and railroads for fear of offending the spirits of the winds, etc.
It was the special endeavor of Confucius to direct the attention of men to the duties of social and political life. He said, "I teach you nothing but what you might learn yourselves, viz., the observance of three fundamental laws of relation, between sovereign and subject, father and child, husband and wife; and the five capital virtues, – universal charity, impartial [R1184 : page 4] justice, conformity to ceremonies and established usages, rectitude of heart and mind, and pure sincerity." This, in fact, is the whole doctrine of Confucianism in a nutshell. By the education of the masses according to these principles, he believed and taught that the elevation and happiness of men would be secured; and accordingly schools are established throughout the length and breadth of the Chinese empire. The writings of Confucius, which were designed to perpetuate his doctrines of moral philosophy and political economy, are read with great solemnity on the first and fifteenth of every month by a mandarin [a civil officer] in robes of ceremony. The veneration of Confucius by the Chinese amounts to worship among the masses, but like that of the Buddhists for Buddha, it is, strictly speaking, only commemorative of the memory of a good man. Throughout China there are temples erected to his memory, adorned with ancestral tablets, the center of which is that of Confucius. And to these offerings, etc., are presented.
Mohammedanism – dates from the seventh century A.D., fourteen centuries later than Buddhism and thirteen later than Confucianism. It prevails chiefly in Turkey, Africa, Asia, Persia and parts of India, and its adherents number from 130,000,000 to 150,000,000 of people. In the fifteenth century, having penetrated Europe, it became a formidable foe to Christianity. Its founder, Mohammed, accepted both the Old and New Testament Scriptures and claimed to be the Comforter promised by Christ. The Koran, however, he claimed as superior to the Bible, asserting that it is as old as God himself and that it was conveyed to the lowest heaven by Gabriel and thence to himself. The Koran is, therefore, the sacred and authoritative book among the followers of Mohammed.
Their religion partakes somewhat of the nature of both Judaism and Christianity. It presents one God and various ranks of angels. Mohammedans believe that Christ was a great prophet. They deny the idea of a trinity, believe in the resurrection of the dead, a final judgment, and a future state of rewards and punishments in heaven and hell. They teach that the dead have an intermediate conscious existence between death and resurrection, and that they dwell somewhere near the place where the dust of the body reposes. They are extreme believers in predestination. Friday is their sabbath; they must pray five times a day, fast and give alms, and must go to Mecca, their sacred city, once during life, either personally or by a substitute.
Nothing more praiseworthy can be said of Mohammed than that he was a great and successful fanatic and impostor, having nothing of the high-toned moral character which history ascribes to the founders of both Buddhism and Confucianism. His religion is a miserable hash of Christianity, Judaism and a former heathen idolatry and superstition; and its aggressive character was signalized by determined efforts to conquer the world with carnal weapons. In recent years it has made considerable progress in India in displacing Brahmanism.
Such is the religious condition of what is commonly known as the heathen world. [R1185 : page 4] Truly it has its lights and shadows. In the midst of the gloom of ignorance of God, and of human history, and of the true end of human existence, it is pleasing to note that some noble souls struggled after righteousness, sought earnestly for truth and zealously endeavored to lift up a standard of righteousness for the people. And when we consider the disabilities under which such labored, and the poor incentives which their lame reasonings discerned, we can only admire their true nobility of character in following the guidance of reason and conscience. And while we realize a blessed freedom from the superstitions which bound them, we dare not take to ourselves the credit of superior wisdom or virtue, but must ascribe all we have, over and above what they had, to the superior advantages of our favored circumstances under divine providence.
Glancing at the view of the world's condition presented in DAWN, Vol. I., page 16, we see that it is indeed a dark picture. Out of a population of 1,424,000,000, how small a proportion are even nominally Christian. And how corrupt and debasing, and how thoroughly anti-Christian are the great and powerful systems which claim the name of Christ, only the more thoroughly to impose upon the ignorance and credulity of mankind.
The great Roman and Greek Catholic churches, originally one, and only separated by the spirit of rivalry and strife to be greatest, hold sway over the minds of 274,000,000 of people, and to a great extent also over 116,000,000 more through their system of errors which still clings to Protestantism. The Catholic Church is the organized development of that great falling away from the doctrine of the Lord and the apostles, which began to be established about the third century. The eleventh century witnessed the separation of the eastern and western churches – the Greek and the Roman Catholic, each of which has since been torn by many dissensions and involved in many unsavory disputes and quarrels. But how do their doctrines compare with the heathen philosophies above named? They talk much of their zeal for the conversion of the "benighted heathen" nations, but to what would they convert them?
Let us see: Professing to know God and holding in their possession for centuries past the divine revelation, contrary to that revelation they misrepresent God as a character so abominable and detestable in unrivaled cruelty, malice, vindictiveness and hate, that the heathen mind turns away in horrified disgust, as every missionary to foreign lands will testify and as many leading missionaries have disconsolately reported to the home boards who sent them out. (See TOWERS of June and November, 1888.) The heathen have no faith in a god who could deliberately plan to eternally torment the creatures he has made and professes to love.
The central feature of Catholic doctrine is the mass, in which bread and wine are considered to be changed into the actual flesh and blood of Christ and sacrificed each time afresh, as an atonement for sins, by priests, as instead of the one continual sacrifice of Christ on Calvary for the sins of the world, which it sets aside as insufficient. And the power to forgive sins and absolve from guilt, thus presumably placed in the hands of a self-exalted and often corrupt priesthood, led to the doctrines of penance, auricular confession, indulgences, etc. When these had gained a firm and substantial basis, the whole body of nominal Christians were thereby plunged into an abyss of superstition and servile obedience to the machinations of a priesthood more tyrannical than the grossest forms of heathenism, and into an idolatry as debasing as any the world ever witnessed – a worship and adoration of angels, of the human mother of our Lord, and of fallible and often corrupt and abominable characters who were canonized as saints by the high-priests of Romanism. And its supposed meritorious prayers and tormenting penances, its debasing servility to a tyrannical priesthood of supposed absolute power over the present and future life, its monstrous system of indulgences and its abominable persecutions of truth and righteousness, mark the great Antichrist as the most desolating abomination that ever cursed the earth.
While all this is applicable with greatest force to the Church of Rome, the Greek Church has little indeed to boast of a more favorable character. And all who have come out from that great anti-Christian system, and stopped short of an entire cleansing from her pollutions, have much whereof to be ashamed. This is true, in varying measure, of every sect of what Romanists call the Protestant Sedition.
If the creeds and practices of nominal Christianity were a fair representation of the doctrines of Christ, many of the heathen philosophies would rank its equals, if not its superiors. And many honest skeptics, failing to discern the grains of wheat among the chaff and tares, and the pure seed of truth among the many counterfeit errors, have rejected the Way, the Truth and the Life whom they otherwise would have welcomed and shall yet know and accept. But, thank God, he has not left himself without a witness in the world. He has his grains of wheat, though they be "few" and unrecognized by the world and its historians. And while darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people, while the nations have for many long centuries forgotten God and almost erased his image from their hearts, God has always had a people, a few, who retained his memory and endeavored to follow his leading – in remote ages a few solitary patriarchs, then a small nation, then Jehovah's Anointed came and a faithful few of that small nation received him and formed the nucleus of the Christian Church; and all through the centuries of the Christian era such have been added to that nucleus as shall be saved in the first resurrection at the end of this age – in all a "little flock." But blessed and holy are all they that have part in the first resurrection.
This little flock of the true friends of God have during the Gospel age been "the light of the world" and "the salt of the earth." And though their light has not yet enlightened all, we rejoice to know that this body of Christ, with Jesus their Head, is the true light which in due time shall enlighten every man, the Sun of righteousness which shall arise with healing beams to enlighten and bless the world. (Matt. 13:43; Mal. 4:2.) Yes, ere long it shall be the "city set on a hill" – the "New Jerusalem" – "which cannot be hid." (Matt. 5:13,14.) And though its place during the Gospel age has been in the wilderness, though it has been unknown and unrecognized by the world as the church, (as a religious system,) and though, like their Lord, they have been despised and rejected of men, persecuted as heretics and esteemed the filth and offscouring of the earth, nevertheless, they have truly been, even under these unfavorable circumstances, the very salt of the earth, and their sufferings for righteousness sake have been sacrifices of sweet savor unto God.
The principles of truth and righteousness which they perseveringly held and patiently suffered for, often even unto death, and the divine revelation to which they pointed as the source of their faith and hope and the inspiration of their labors and endurance, was not without its effect. The seeds of truth have taken root in many lands and brought forth fruits to the praise of God and the honor of his name. And wherever it sprang up, it, like salt, has had its preservative influence for good, notwithstanding the false systems and their false doctrines and practices. Let all of that little flock, who yet remain, rejoice in the glorious prospect that ere long the whole church, complete and glorified, shall be given the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession, and the right and power to bless all the families of the earth; making plain the paths of righteousness, casting up a highway for the people and gathering out the stones; lifting up a standard for the people, inspiring all hearts with joyful hope, unstopping deaf ears and opening blind eyes, rewarding righteousness and correcting iniquity, and eventually wiping all tears from off all faces. And they shall come with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away, because ignorance and superstition and sin and death shall be no more.
I have never read 2 Thes. 2 without finding my thoughts led away to the Papal Apostasy; and still I believe the Holy Spirit refers, in this chapter, to Rome. But, as history, which some one has defined as a record of fulfilled prophecy given in detail, is said continually to repeat itself, I am now compelled by circumstances to believe that a special reference is made to "the falling away" of these last days, which, to my own mind, is far more startling, and is soon to become more vast in extent, and awful in result, than even was the relapse of the early Church into the follies of Romanism.
Numbers of men who are connected with Protestant churches, and who appear to the world as ministers of Christ, are rejecting the Scriptures with the greatest contempt, and branding the faith of those who build their hopes on the blood of Christ as "the religion of the shambles."
A very few years ago, of all the languishing "isms," Unitarianism appeared most sickly. To-day its adherents, open and secret, gathering in its own synagogues, or assembling in the churches of all denominations, are to be numbered by thousands. [R1186 : page 4]
I know this will seem incredible to many good folk; but if, the next time they receive a call from their popular minister, they will press home the question, "What think ye of Christ?" nor be content with a vaguely given answer – if they shall pointedly ask him whether the Scripture, as a whole, be the Word of God; and whether Christ's blood was shed as a propitiation for sin – some of these may possibly be startled to find that their own spiritual guide has been practically nothing more nor less than a Unitarian himself.
If ever there was a time when we should try the spirits to know whether they are of God, it is the present time. And this is a solemn duty we owe to God, ourselves and the Church; nor must the dread of being deemed uncharitable prevent us from discharging it. Toleration of error is injury to truth; charity dealt out to Antichrist is uncharitableness to Christ. We must not be deceived with high-sounding words; the emissaries of error deal largely in these, especially when speaking of "the exalted sentiments of Scripture," and the character of Christ. We must remember that either the Scriptures are the very Word of God, or they form a mass of misleading absurdities, self-contradictions, and glaring falsehoods; [R1186 : page 5] and the sacrifice of Christ must either have been for the sinner's salvation, or a useless parade of self-endurance. We have not here a matter of mere views and opinions, in which men who cannot agree may yet agree to differ. It is written that "In none other is there salvation; neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men wherein we must be saved." (R.V.) But what must be the fate of those who, while they profess to regard Him as a great teacher, and admire Him as a great pattern, refuse Him as the only Savior?
There is no more plainly expressed truth in the Word of God than, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." What, then, becomes of the sin of such as trample under foot the blood of Christ, and blasphemously make mention of it as savoring of the shambles? We constantly hear of men who are said to be good men, though "rather shaky" on the doctrine of the Atonement. But if "shaky" here, of what value to themselves or others is their soundness elsewhere? And yet when we question the right of such to minister in the Church of Christ, we are "uncharitable;" and most uncharitable, if we venture to expose their errors to the unwary souls they would fain beguile with their soul-destroying doctrine. Yet, if it is some one who confesses Him as Christ and Lord, and is contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, that may be the subject of conversation, no word shall be too severe for such a one, because of his narrow-mindedness. A significant fact; but happy those who go forth to Jesus, outside the camp, bearing his reproach!
One thing with regard to the present apostasy must be specially noted – that many of those who now deny the Lord that bought them were once ultra-evangelicals both in views and doctrine. What does it mean? What, but this – that they refused to use the light God gave them, and have been given over to judicial darkness? It was said by one of these men, but a few months since: "My present belief can neither give joy to me, nor allow me to administer cheer to any one else." Yet the poor man remained bound, as it were, in chains of darkness. His pulpit work had become most bitter bondage, yet, like blinded Samson at the mill, he felt compelled still to "grind on." "Where are we?" asked another whose name had become famous through all the English speaking world, of a friend of mine who was standing by his dying bed. "All, to me, seems dark," he added. Yet there appeared no disposition to return to the light from which he had wilfully wandered. Nay, and here is the danger that threatens so many – loving darkness rather than light, we may choose the darkness rather than the light, and God may set his seal on our choice.
Then, as Whittier sings: –
Forever round the mercy seat,
The guiding lights of love might burn;
But still, if habit-bound, the feet
Would lack the will to turn.
We are glad to recognize, here and there, a voice lifted in defense of this foundation truth of Christianity; but such defences of the faith once delivered to the saints are few; they are only isolated voices here and there. As the TOWER pointed out some years ago, as indicated by the sure word of prophecy, the whole nominal church is rapidly plunging into the ditch of Infidelity. And no matter, if for a time they retain some of the superstructure, when the foundation is repudiated all that is left of the building is inevitably doomed.
Yet the picture is not so dark as this writer presumes; for few indeed have been fully enlightened and "have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers [advantages] of the age to come." But if any such fall away, there remaineth for them no more an offering for sin; but a certain, fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries who knowingly trample under foot the precious blood of Christ, counting it a common thing, and who do despite unto the spirit of favor exercised through Christ. – Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31.
While so much is being said with regard to the wonderful results of revival efforts throughout the country, it is well to look on the other side of the picture, and see what the signs of the times indicate. In a recent number of the Congregationalist is an editorial, from which we make the following suggestive extracts, as showing the condition of religious interest in the sections referred to. Speaking especially of Vermont, the Congregationalist says: –
"It is found that about sixty-nine churches have died out altogether in that state, or been united to others. It is found that the membership of Congregational churches, there, has diminished by about 3000 in the last fifty years. It is found that, of those residents who live two miles or more from church, but about one third ever attend it. It is believed that of an entire population of 332,268, from 100,000 to 125,000, besides invalids and little children, never hear the gospel.
"'Trust in God, and keep your powder dry,' was the old Yankee war-cry that did the business for the enemy; but it won't be long, if things are allowed to go on as they are going, before we shall find that our powder is all so damp that its goodness is gone. Our strength will have flattened out into weakness. Our churches will be having only a name to live, while actually dead from removal, and rust, and general inefficiency. Barbarism will have been too much for them. We have no idea that Vermont is specially a sinner in these respects. It is indeed our impression that every New England state could, at least in some of its latitudes and longitudes, quite parallel her figures."
"We have been hopeful that the discouraging statements could be explained in such a way that there would be no ground for serious apprehension as to the future of evangelical religion. It is evident, however, that there is considerable alarm among those who are most interested."
Some years ago, says Dr. Clemence, a Christian lady came to me in great distress, and said: "Sir, I have such a burden on my heart. I am engaged in a boarding school where are many pupils, and I know I ought to tell them about the Savior's love, but I cannot. It seems as if a padlock were on my lips; I cannot speak of Christ, and it is a burden on me every day."
"Well now," said I, "do not tell another soul on earth what you have told me, but go and tell Jesus. Instead of asking help from man, go and cast the burden upon him. He lives to baptize you with every power you want. Just go and tell Jesus what you feel, and leave the whole matter with him."
I saw no more of her for some weeks; but the next time she came to see me, instead of the face looking as if she were weighed down with a burden, it was radiant with joy. I asked her: "How is it with you now?"
"O," she said, "I did as you told me. Instead of speaking to man about it, I flung the burden on Christ, and it is gone! I can speak for him now. My tongue is unloosed, and I can praise God."– Sel.
It is claimed by some that the sacrifice which the church is invited to make is a sacrifice of sinful practices and thoughts in which we formerly took delight, and that thus we are to follow in the Master's footprints as he set us an example.
This is a great mistake. Renouncing sin is in no sense a sacrifice, and in so doing we are not following our Lord's footprints; for he had no sins to renounce. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;" he was "the Lamb of God without spot or blemish;" he knew no sin; he was the "holy one," the "just one." We cannot begin, therefore, to follow in his footsteps until we have been first cleansed from our sins through faith in his blood as the price of our redemption. Then, through his merit imputed to us, we are holy (pure), and therefore, if we offer ourselves to God as sacrifices, we are acceptable as sharers together with our Lord in his sufferings for the sins of the world. This is clearly expressed in Paul's words to those already justified by faith in Christ – "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God."
Not only do the apostles thus present it, but the types which prefigured the sacrifice taught the same thing. The animal presented for the typical sacrifice must be the most choice of its kind – "without blemish." (Exod. 12:5; Lev. 9:3; Exod. 29:1; Lev. 1:3.) Had our Lord not been absolutely free from sin, he never could have redeemed us. It was because there was not one such spotless one among men, that no man could by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him. – Psa. 49:7.
Instead, therefore, of insulting God by offering our sins as a sacrifice upon his altar, and claiming therefor the exceeding great reward of exaltation to the divine nature, we should forsake our sins because [R1187 : page 5] they are sinful, because we have no right to them and should take no pleasure in them. We are not to claim a reward for simply doing our duty. When we simply pay a debt, do we expect the creditor to reward us handsomely for it? Do we not rather pay the creditor a reward (interest) for not compelling us to pay it sooner? What would he think, if the debtor should demand the reward, or interest? And what must our heavenly Father think of poor bankrupts who have not a farthing to pay their past indebtedness, and who are daily plunging deeper into debt and at best can only make a feeble effort to resist sin, coming to him with nothing to cancel the sins of the past and with mere promises of reformation which they cannot fulfill, and then claiming therefor the exceeding great reward of being made sharers and joint-heirs with his Son who never knew sin? Think you, would not such presumption justly merit deep abasement? especially, where the spotless robe of the imputed righteousness of Christ has been offered and recognized and spurned? Will such a one be accounted worthy to be the bride of the King's Son, or as meriting the divine favor in any way? Far from it. Well did the Psalmist put the prayer in our mouths – "Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me." – Psa. 19:13.
The sacrifice which we are privileged, not compelled, to make, is a sacrifice of things to which we have a right through Christ, and things which in themselves are lawful and right. As condemned sinners we had no rights; all our rights were forfeited and therefore we must die. But when our life was redeemed from destruction by the payment of our ransom price, and we gratefully accepted of the favor of life through faith in the precious blood of Christ, then, all the rights and privileges of perfect men are reckoned as restored to us. As believers these rights are now ours, though we have not yet come into actual possession of the things thus secured to us. And these rights are what we are now privileged to sacrifice; and if completely sacrificed, then we may be sure "it is the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom," and to make us joint-heirs with his Son in all his glory.
The sacrifice of all our rights implies the sacrifice of life itself as human beings, trusting to the power of God to raise us from death, not to human being, but to being in a higher nature, according to his promise. And what we cannot understand of the philosophy of so great a work we must simply trust to God's promise.
The actual experience of the great restitution, in which all the rest of mankind shall be so greatly blessed, shall never come to the body of Christ, since they sacrifice this purchased right for the privilege of sharing with Christ in the higher nature and glory. They give up all hope of that, and make no claims on God's bounty or favor for the life that now is. All that remains of our humanity is to be spent in the divine service – in active cooperation with the Lord's plan, sacrificing all earthly interests for that great cause, and expecting no reward of an earthly kind.
Such being the conditions on which we may obtain the exceeding great reward offered to us, how necessary that we should keep our eye fixed on the glory of the exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we may gain strength as new creatures, to keep the old nature, the human, continually subject to the will of God; that we carry out our covenant faithfully unto death, being daily crucified with Christ and sharers in his sufferings.
"Against slander there is no defense. It starts with a word, with a nod, with a shrug, with a look, with a smile. It is pestilence walking in darkness, spreading contagion far and wide, which the most wary traveler cannot avoid; it is the heart-searching dagger of the dark assassin; it is the poisoned arrow whose wounds are incurable; it is the mortal sting of the deadly adder, murder its employment, innocence its prey, and ruin its sport. The man who breaks into my dwelling, or meets me on the public road and robs me of my property, does me injury. He stops me on the way to wealth, strips me of my hard-earned savings, involves me in difficulty, and brings my family to penury and [R1188 : page 6] want. But he does me an injury that can be repaired. Industry and economy may again bring me into circumstances of ease and affluence. The man who, coming at the midnight hour, fires my dwelling, does me an injury – he burns my roof, my pillow, my raiment, my very shelter from the storm and tempests; but he does me an injury that can be repaired. The storm may indeed beat upon me, and chilling blasts assail me; but Charity will receive me into her dwelling, will give me food to eat and raiment to put on, will timely assist me, raising a new roof over the ashes of the old, and I shall again sit by my own fireside, and taste the sweets of friendship and of home. But the man who circulates false reports concerning my character, who exposes every act of my life which may be misrepresented to my disadvantage, who goes first to this, then to that individual, tells them he is very tender of my reputation, enjoins upon them the strictest secrecy, and then fills their ears with hearsays and rumors, and, what is worse, leaves them to dwell upon the hints and suggestions of his own busy imagination – the man who thus "filches from me my good name" does me an injury which neither industry, charity, nor time itself can repair.– Selected.
"The end of all things is at hand: be ye, therefore, sober, and watch unto prayer." – 1 Pet. 4:7.
Remembering that eighteen centuries have passed since Peter gave this counsel to the church, he might be considered as somewhat premature in regard to the proximity of the time of the end; but considering the great week which commenced with the creation of man and ends with his full restitution to the image and favor of God, each of whose days is a thousand years (2 Pet. 3:8), and that Peter was living in the fifth day of this great week, we see that from this standpoint his words were true. The end of the old order of things – the end of the dominion of evil, is to be in the close of the sixth day (the sixth thousand years), and thus was indeed at hand, as was also the second coming of the Lord and the setting up of his kingdom.
While this and all similar expressions, referring to their time as the last days, were thus true then, the apostle himself probably did not so understand it; for the significance of the time-prophecies was in all probability wisely hidden from their view, as it was from the prophets, since the length of a single one of these days would have seemed very long and consequently a cause of discouragement to them. But the spirit which inspired the words of the apostles and prophets could see that while from God's standpoint the end of all things was at hand in the fifth day of the week, and these words were, therefore, true in this sense when declared to the early church, would also be true from the human standpoint when fully understood by the church in the end of the age. How true it is, therefore, in our day, when we are made to see clearly that the year 1914 will be the full end of the Times of the Gentiles, and that the next twenty-four years, therefore, must bring about the full consummation.
In view of these things, how apt the Apostle's counsel to watchfulness and sobriety; for what a lamentable calamity it would be to any of the saints, who had thus far run well for the prize of their high calling, to become discouraged and falter and fail when so near the realization of their glorious hope. Let us, therefore, be sober; let us guard against the worldly spirit and its stupefying and intoxicating influence upon our spiritual life. Refuse the first draught of the wine of worldly-mindedness and you will not be tempted to take the second. If you take the first, it may revive the old appetite and thus quickly and suddenly precipitate your fall.
Therefore, watch unto prayer: pray for divine assistance, to resist even the slightest encroachment of the enemy, and bear in mind that to the watchful and prayerful is promised grace sufficient to overcome the world.
With this timely counsel the Apostle then proceeds to show us how to cultivate the spirit of Christ, saying: "Above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves; for charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins. Love is one of the first essentials of the Christian character, and while Christians must love all men as God loves them – not always for what they are, but for what they shall be when character shall have been developed and made perfect – yet they can love each other in a much higher sense, as those in whom the God-likeness is already developing and perfecting. If such cannot love each other whom they see, how can they love God whom they see not? Love [R1188 : page 6] to God may be rightly judged an empty profession, if it find no expression toward those possessing his spirit and likeness. Among these love should have glowing, fervent and constant expression. Love so fervent, considering the imperfections of the earthen vessel and yet the strivings of the spirit to overcome, can cover a multitude of sins – of short-comings and failures to measure up to our highest ideas of moral excellence. And while thus regarded of one another we are so regarded of God who also looketh upon the heart, and noting there the warm impulses of love toward him and his, excuses all our unwilful sins through the merit of our Redeemer. "Love," said the Apostle, "is the fulfilling of the law;" consequently, if we have pure and fervent love, and if we walk not after the flesh but after the spirit, the law is reckoned as fulfilled in us. (Rom. 13:10; 8:1.) Therefore, above all things have fervent love among yourselves; and let it be manifested in the use of "hospitality one toward another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift [the favors of life], even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
There is probably nothing better calculated to cement and knit together the body of Christ than Christian hospitality – the fellowshiping of members of the body of Christ and ministering to one another the temporal and spiritual favors. However humble those favors may be, they give evidence of the love that prompts the dispensing of them. Those who have much of this world's good things, who have a well ordered and comfortable home-life, have good opportunities for this kind of service; and while some of those in less favored circumstances might hesitate to show the hospitality they feel toward those more favored, such advances on the part of the latter class quickly show that the class distinctions based upon relative degrees of wealth or pedigree, etc., which obtain in the world, find no recognition in the body of Christ, where all are one. And those in humble circumstances will have no pride of rivalry, etc., to sustain, but in simplicity and love will delight to manifest the hospitality they feel toward both those in more and those in less favored circumstances – to minister to them both of their temporal and their spiritual good things according to their several needs, as good and faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Then let every member of the body be solicitous for his influence over every other member, taking heed that he place no stumbling block in his brother's way, but that in all things his course shall prove helpful to the saints. "If any man speak," says the apostle, "let him speak as the oracles of God." If we would teach the truth, let us first prove it and make sure that it is truth, and not present crude ideas and human imaginations to stumble the weaker brother. And likewise in dispensing religious reading matter, we should be similarly careful to speak by this agency also as the oracles of God. No tract or book or paper should be handed to another, which we cannot endorse. Thus we may speak as the oracles of God and minister of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever.
"Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." – Mark 8:38.
There is nothing in the world so beautiful to me as a little child, said one who fondly contemplated the sweet innocence and awakening mentality of a little grandson, very dear to her heart. The remark awakened a train of thought, and led to the consideration, Does God so view it? and is it really so? Let us see. The charm of childhood is its innocence, its purity as yet uncontaminated with actual sin, its awakening mental and moral powers, and the freshness and beauty of its new physical life. But viewing the matter from God's standpoint, we see there is something more beautiful still – that disciplined and ripened character, whether realized in young or middle life or in ripe old age, is of far greater value and comeliness in his sight. What! are the bent form, the faltering step and the whitened locks of age more beautiful than the freshness and vigor of youth? No; but under the rude blasts of the present imperfect conditions of human life, which ultimately wreck and ruin the physical structure, in some cases characters have been developed which far surpass in grandeur and beauty the innocence and simplicity of childhood. It is character that God most admires and loves; and if we take his standpoint, it is what we will most appreciate.
When God created Adam pure and innocent and in his own likeness – "very good" – doubtless he was worthy of love and admiration; but nevertheless, that he and his race might have the greater beauty of matured and disciplined character, and be worthy of still more love, God, for seven thousand years, submits them to the rude hand of discipline with the ultimate design of developing and perfecting character.
The primary significance of the word character is, to make sharp, to cut into furrows, to engrave. Youthful innocence presents its first symmetrical and beautiful tracings, while mature and ripened age, if rightly exercised by the discipline of years, approaches very nearly the grand and glorious finish. The tiny rose-bud has its beauty, but hope and faith look forward to the perfect, full-blown flower; and the bud must swell, develop and open out its close-shut leaves in full-blown loveliness, before its grandeur and refreshing fragrance can be realized. Just so it is with character; and, therefore, the most beautiful thing on earth, in God's estimation, is a tried, disciplined and well developed character. A character which has yielded to the influence of evil is not the development (engraving) of the beautiful tracings found to some extent in every individual in youthful innocence, but a blurring and effacing of those tracings and the substitution of the deformities of evil.
While the inner flower of character is developing, the outer leaves that infolded the bud may be withering and dying; but he who is intent on watching for the flower, and waiting for its inner glory and fragrance, has but little regard to the outer fading leaves which in its infancy was all that was to any extent visible. Just so may we regard the infirmities of age, the loss of youthful vigor and beauty, the silvered hair, the wrinkled brow, the bent form, the halting step and voice, and the trembling limbs, if the fragrance and beauty of the ripened character present their charms. In due time God, who greatly values it, will trim off the outer leaves and transplant it to a more congenial soil and clime, where it will bloom in eternal beauty.
Let those who would appreciate the developed character mark carefully the features visible even in the infantile tracings. [R1189 : page 6] Mark the baby's dignity – how sober and thoughtful and inquisitive and anxious to learn; note the first evidences of conscience, how he tries to balance the problems of right and wrong. Mark how he expects truth as a matter of course, and is surprised at falsehood and duplicity. See how love springs up and overflows the baby heart, and how benevolence tries to repay parental affection with smiles and loving caresses; yet each may have its evil counterpart as a possibility, but not as a part of the first tracings of character. These baby graces and charms are but the first tracings of character. Under careful discipline and training and favorable conditions these early traced features of character would develop uninterruptedly. But such conditions do not generally obtain in the present life, and as evil reigns, character is stunted, dwarfed, and the excrescences of evil appear, to disfigure and mar the creature and pervert its high and noble faculties to ignoble and base uses. But, on the other hand, view the rightly developed character of maturity. See how careful study of the principles of righteousness has dignified the thoughtful countenance; observe the easy, quiet grace with which errors are dropped and truth is gladly and thankfully embraced, because the desire for, and appreciation of, truth has been carefully cultivated. Mark how conscience, skilled in its judgment of right and wrong, and unflinchingly committed to the right, guides the actions with unwavering precision; how truth and equity, love and benevolence, rule and triumph over every temptation to evil. And with such a character, however inferior the physical form, even it is in a measure glorified. The open countenance accompanies the transparent virtues of the soul; quiet dignity and easy grace are the outward expressions of a soul at peace and in delightful communion with God. Studious care in the building of character is expressed in the thoughtful countenance; and the joys of hope and faith add a halo of glory, beautiful in the highest sense to every beholder. The perfume of such ripe and full-blown characters are blessings to those about them and precious foretastes of the wealth of blessing in store for the whole world when such shall have been exalted to their promised position and privilege of authority and power.
A strong character is one which by continued effort and overcoming of evil has become [R1189 : page 7] established in righteousness. Righteousness has become the uniform habit of life. Some characters develop and strengthen very early in life, some in middle life, and some later, though every added year will bring its added glory if properly used. And every one whose own character is developing with energy has a keen appreciation of such development in others. Thus it is that the body of Christ, every member of which is thus actively engaged in character building, is knit together in love. They see in each other that which actually calls forth their love, however unlovely they may appear to people of the world who look not upon the heart but merely upon the outward form and conditions and circumstances.
While every child of God is engaged to a greater or less extent in this work of character-building, some grow steadily stronger while others, through lack of consecrated effort, are weak and vacillating, measurably swayed by the influence of the world, the flesh or the devil, yet not entirely so, but still making some effort toward righteousness. Such characters are not willing to be closely identified with the body of Christ, but would follow "afar off." They are not quite willing to share the reproaches of Christ, and so keep at convenient distance. Such have not learned to view character from God's standpoint and to appreciate it and the truth which develops it. But such characters are weak and unworthy of their privileges. If we have taken the Lord's standpoint, which is the only standpoint of actual merit, we should learn to value the truth and those characters which have been and are being moulded and fashioned by it, above all other considerations, and not be in the least ashamed to be identified with it or them. Such strong characters God loves and honors, while he declares that he is ashamed of the weak, vacillating ones who follow him afar off. He says, "He that is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
There are many ways of showing ourselves ashamed of Christ. We are ashamed of Christ, if we are ashamed of any member of his body, however humble or poor or unlearned; if we are ashamed to be identified as their friends and companions. We are ashamed of Christ, if we are ashamed to be recognized by the world and nominal Christians as members of his despised body, which they do not recognize but which they reject and everywhere speak against. We are ashamed of Christ, if we are ashamed of his doctrines, either as a whole or in part.
To be ashamed of any of these is only to prove that such a character is weak and vacillating and far short of that full development which the Lord desires, and the possession of which, only, he will own and exalt as his bride and joint-heir. He would rightly be ashamed to take for his bride one so inferior to the true standard of moral excellence. Blessed is he, therefore, who overcomes these weaknesses, and who in humility and teachableness endeavors steadily to cultivate a harmonious and symmetrical character.
Soon Christ's appreciation of those strong, beautiful, symmetrical characters which have followed him closely in this evil time, from principle, and not for praise of men, will be expressed in their glorious exaltation as his bride and joint-heir.
Having received the spirit which is of God (1 Cor. 2:12) and no longer looking at present governments as from God – though realizing that he permits them – we know that they must pass away. – 1 John 2:16,17.
The great statesmen of the different eras have devoted their time and study to formulate some kind of government that will secure an equilibrium in human relations, and thereby remain permanent. We know from history that every effort in this direction has failed, and Scripture prophecy informs us that all present and future trials must meet the same fate, until the Lord has come and has established his government in righteousness. – Dan. 2:31-35; and Dan. 7.
In addition to understanding the plain Bible teachings on this important subject, it is also the privilege of the saints to fully comprehend the reason why all government of and by man in his fallen condition is "beastly" in its character, and must terminate in times of trouble; and also why our Lord's government will be everlasting. The base of action for every carnal man – and this includes all who are not really born from the spirit (John 3:3-8), – is pure self-interest. This principle is so fully understood and endorsed not only by the world, but also, in practice, by the nominal church, that the saying of "Every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost," has been given the position of an axiom. The same principle is recognized in the world's maxim, "If you don't look out for No. 1, no one else will." A moment's reflection will convince anyone that the more perfectly these propositions are carried into effect, the sooner and more complete must be the overturning of all government, and the consequent condition of thorough anarchy. While the world's great ones, both inside and outside of Babylon, are relying on education of the masses to open up an escape from this foreseen condition, we know from our Bibles that much of the knowledge current to-day is knowledge "falsely so-called," and that only a new mind, secured through a complete consecration of one's being to God (Rom. 12:2,1), will transform this motive of the depraved heart. In relying on a burnishing of the intellect only, by the means now in use, the world is leaning on a broken staff and must again be disappointed. Statistics prove that among people of American parentage in those parts of the United States where the public school system is best maintained, and illiteracy is at a minimum, there is a larger percentage of criminals than among the same class in those portions of the country where schools are poorly sustained and illiteracy reaches its maximum. The same fact is demonstrated in another way by comparing the percentage of criminals of American parentage in any given locality now, with those of the same class in the same locality twenty-five or thirty years ago. We copy an article from the St. Paul (Minnesota) Globe of Sunday, June 9th, 1889, which covers this ground fully, and shows that thinking men of the world are realizing the danger of cultivating the intellect, and leaving the heart free to follow out its own evil imaginations. (Matt. 15:18,19; Gal. 5:19-21.) We clip the following from the article referred to: – [R1190 : page 7]
"I now come to the fifth charge that is brought against our public schools, and I consider it the most terrible arraignment of the system I have ever seen, and the proofs the most crushing. Its strength lies entirely in the official figures of the United States census reports, as carefully tabulated by the late assistant attorney general of the United States. The figures have been verified and authenticated by those who were best able to judge, and their accuracy will not be disputed.
"Now keeping steadily in view this common standpoint, namely, that a people properly educated are more moral, virtuous, contented, happy and law-abiding than an ignorant people, let us suppose that we find somewhere, living side by side, two communities, one of which is made up almost entirely of educated people, while the other is largely composed of illiterate people; and let us further suppose that amongst those considered educated you find that in proportion to their population they have more criminals, paupers and insane, and their death list shows more suicides and more deaths from the criminal indulgence of the brutal passions than that of the illiterates, – what conclusion would you arrive at with reference to that kind of education?
"For such educated community, let us take the native-born white population of the six New England states, to-wit: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and for the unlettered community we will take the native-born whites of the six states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It will be observed that the states thus enumerated are either a part of the original thirteen, or such as have been carved out therefrom.
"Both of these communities started on their career of existence about the same time; both spoke the same language and had been accustomed to the same laws, manners and usages. There was one important particular, however, in which these two communities widely differed at the very start, as we shall presently see. More than two hundred years ago the principle was incorporated into the legislation of Massachusetts that the whole people must be educated to a certain degree at the public expense, irrespective of any social distinctions. Virginia, which may represent the Southern states named, had at that time no general free school system.
"Now we find that in 1860 Massachusetts and her five New England sisters had 2,665,945 native-born white inhabitants, and out of these only 8,543 adults who could not read or write, while Virginia, with her five sisters, numbered 3,181,969 native-born whites, of whom 262,802 adults could neither read nor write. So that in the six New England states the proportion of illiterate native whites was only one to every 312, while Virginia and her five sisters counted one illiterate to every twelve. But mark you! How stand the criminal lists? Massachusetts, etc., out of about 2½ millions, had on the first day of June, 1860, just 2,459 criminals in prison (i.e., one to every 1,084); while Virginia, etc., out of over 3 millions, had but 447 in prison (i.e., one to every 6,670); this being a disproportion between the two communities of more than six to one. A glance at the same table will show that the natives educated under the New England system had one pauper to every 178, while those without it had but one pauper to every 345.
"Of those who in one year had died by suicide, New England had one to every 13,285 of the entire population while Virginia and her five sisters had but one to 56,584, and of those who perished the victims of their criminal lusts, New England had one to every 84,737, while her southern neighbors had but one to every 128,729. From the census report of 1870 it appears that the New England states had one insane person to every 800 native-born inhabitants, while in the other states named one insane came to 1,682 native inhabitants.
"One very noticeable fact in this connection, as shown by the foregoing, is that the state of Massachusetts, which claims the honor of being the founder of the New England system of education, while she had by far the smallest proportion of illiterate persons, had at the same time much the largest proportion of criminals, viz., one to every 649 native white inhabitants.
"In their efforts to find some plausible explanation for the astounding growth of crime in their states, the advocates of state-governed schools have sometimes claimed that this difference is owing to a variety of local causes, entirely unconnected with and independent of difference in educational systems. But this is, in our opinion, entirely refuted by the fact that in the very same localities every material increase of expenditures for public school purposes has, without a single exception, been followed by a corresponding increase of crime.
"In 1850 the state of Massachusetts, for example, had a native white population of 827,430. At that date her public school pupils numbered 176,475, and she expended $5.70 for each pupil; and her criminal list showing was only one to every 1,267 native inhabitants. But coming down to 1880, we find the native white population numbering 1,320,897 and the public school pupils 316,630, and $14.83 per pupil being expended; and the convicts were one to every 638. Similar results show themselves in other states, as New York, Ohio, California, etc."
These facts, though they do not show what the writer intended to show, namely, that Catholic school training is superior to and more beneficial than public school training, for the higher proportion of criminals is to be traced to the corruption of the prevailing social system, getting worse and worse, which makes itself felt more in factory than rural districts, yet they forcibly demonstrate what God tells us in his Word, we may expect. (2 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:3-5.) It seems to us a truism that increase of knowledge among those whose hearts are depraved, and who are given over to self-seeking, will simply increase the means of lawlessness. As the lower classes, so-called, learn more and more what their rights as men are, in these days of the beginning of the "Restoration of all things, spoken of by all the holy prophets" (Acts 3:21), and as they get more understanding of the means in vogue at present to obtain and maintain desired ends, (which is the old law of Might,) they will begin to match lawlessness with lawlessness. This course of action can produce but one fruit, viz., practical anarchy. We, whose eyes are anointed (Rev. 3:18), must stand aloof, and take sides with neither the capitalistic forces that would strangle the rising giant of free thought, nor with that great army which is realizing more and more its full rights, and smarting under the injustice and oppression that would forbid it to come into possession of its privileges, and which, before long, will put force against force, thus endeavoring to gain right ends by wrong means. As we cannot approve of the course of either of these great classes, we will be misunderstood by both, and [R1190 : page 8] necessarily subjected to bad treatment from both. The weakness of the present boasted civilization is that it has heard Christ's teachings of love, meekness, forgiveness and righteousness (Matt. 5th, 6th and 7th chapters), and then gone and done them not. Hence, in the coming trouble, the house so carefully erected on the sands of selfishness must fall.
Let us briefly and in contrast look into God's "perfect law of love." If all men loved God supremely and "their neighbors as themselves," they would "walk humbly before God," and "look not every man at his own things, but also at the things of others." (Phil. 2:4.) Christ having paid the price and redeemed the race from the condemnation of Adam's sin (1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:22), and thus justified all to life (Rom. 5:18), all would receive the testimony of the ransom, and become reconciled to God, who would not impute their sins to them. (2 Cor. 5:19.) Then going about to build up others, as well as themselves, a state of equipoise would exist in the body politic, and a reign would be inaugurated that must, by its very nature, be co-extensive with man's life.
Nothing becomes more evident to us all, daily, than the fact that none of the fallen race is capable of self-government or self-guidance in any respect. The wisest and the oldest see continually how they have frequently mistaken and chosen evils, thinking them good. And much more so is this true of the young and inexperienced. There is but one remedy, but one safe course, therefore, for both old and young, viz.: "Commit thy way [course, plans, conduct, ideas] unto the Lord, and he will bring it to pass." In other words, all need to be converted; not in the ordinary sense but in the fullest sense converted (turned) to God, to submit every thought and act and plan to his superior wisdom and to obey his orders, whether the necessity or expediency of so doing is seen or not seen, at the time. The future will reveal the wisdom of the Lord's way – the very near future in most cases.
Unless the heart be converted and brought fully into loving captivity to the Lord, all the knowledge that can be gained will but increase the capacity for evil, – for gratifying selfish desires. But to the fully converted heart every item of experience and education brings length and breadth and nobility of character and leads on and on into the depth of the unsearchable riches of God in Christ – riches of wisdom, riches of grace, riches of experience and riches of love.
But what has the Church of Rome to answer to these statistics? She charges [R1191 : page 8] that for all this increase of crime in proportion to the increase of knowledge our public school system is to blame; because Roman Catholic errors are not taught there. And now she sets herself up as the great champion of true education – an education of the head and of the heart.
But what are the facts of history, known to all except the Roman Catholics, whose youths are supplied with falsified histories? The facts are that the Church of Rome never favored the education of the people. Her schools and colleges of the past were all and only for the few and they chiefly, almost exclusively, those preparing for clerical orders. We want to look over Catholic Italy, Catholic Spain, Catholic Portugal, Catholic Austria, Catholic Ireland, if we want to see what centuries of Roman Catholic education would do for the people. The curse of America to-day is this ignorant, foreign-born population and the unlovely papal ideas and manners which they introduce through their families to American soil.
A part of the truth not shown by the above statistics, but which is generally known, is that the most of the crimes are committed by Roman Catholics. Who does not know that about four out of every five murderers executed confess that they are members of the Roman Catholic Church? Beautiful Christians! Elegant examples of what the influence of the spirit of Rome produces, are they not? Yes, the spirit of Rome is a domineering spirit, a brow-beating spirit of tyranny and fear. It rules in the church; it rules in the monasteries and convents; it rules in the family. They are an unhappy people from childhood up. You can read it in their faces; – superstition, fear, and very often ignorance, leave traces which even years of after-refinement and broader ideas among the well-to-do scarcely obliterate. The loveless, domineering spirit extends to their secular affairs between brothers and sisters, and between parents and children; sourness and moroseness and brutishness are the results; and what wonder that, raised in such homes and under such influences, a bountiful crop of brawlers is produced to fill the police stations of all the large and small cities, and a bountiful crop of murderers for the gallows, and so miserable a showing as the above in the matter of statistics.
How ridiculous, then, for a Roman Catholic bishop to refer to these statistics. And yet thousands will be deceived by Rome now, as they have been in the past. Her present establishment of a great Roman Catholic College at Washington and the enlargement of parochial schools will deceive many who know not of the past or vainly think that this great Antichrist system has reformed; and who forget to notice that the pupils of their parochial schools constitute the majority of the criminals.
What is the remedy for the recognized evils? Is it the closing of public schools and the return of the masses to the deep ignorance and superstition of the "dark ages," of which Papacy boasts as her most prosperous era? No; that can never be done now. Even Papacy abandons that policy now. Does the remedy lie in the establishment by each sect of its own schools in which the various unpalatable facts of history will be carefully screened out and a false impression given instead of a true one? and where the catechism of each sect shall duly instruct the children of each in the misconceptions of God's character and plan prevalent among the founders of each sect – which generally is bad news of damnation and hate and vengeance instead of good tidings of great joy which a loving, gracious God has prepared for all people? Is this the remedy? Shall the few hours of each day of the few years of childhood be spent in the study of such monstrous concoctions as would both shock and bewilder an old head, instead of in learning the common branches of education? No, no! We see enough of that sort of education in the thousands of ignorant Hungarians, Italians, Irish and Germans, who are arriving duly educated according to the Roman Catholic standard; – able to repeat word for word a Catechism of 327 pages, but unable to read or write their own names. Shame upon the poor Romanists thus deluded; more shame upon others who see and know this all, but who for business and political reasons silently, and often openly, lend support to that system which has blighted Europe and now would similarly enslave the new world in the chains of her superstition. We have great sympathy for the poor deluded perverts of Rome, and we have a measure of sympathy even for some of her priesthood, who are evidently also deceived, but for the system of Antichrist as a system we have neither love nor sympathy, but hate it "with a perfect hatred" (Psa. 139:21,22); and because we love and adore and honor God with a perfect love. The two being opposites properly produce opposite sentiments.
The religious training of children should be left in the hands of the parents, where God placed the responsibility; and neither church nor state has the right, under the divine arrangement, to supplant the parent in this matter, nor to force into children along with (or instead of) common and useful education, principles and theories of religion. If Sunday schools are established for the instruction of the young in moral and doctrinal matters, and if the parents see fit to make use of the same, it is their privilege to do so. But surely this with the hours of family intercourse are quite sufficient.
Let the "clergy," if they will, deal with the stronger minds of the Sunday School workers and the parents, and let these in turn deal with the tender minds, instilling thereinto gentleness, meekness, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, love, respect for God, and for parents, and strive by precept and example to cultivate in the youth love of right and truth, and lofty principle, and the Bible story of salvation provided by the love of God through the Redeemer. This is the remedy, the only remedy for the godlessness which keeps pace with the increase of general intelligence. But this remedy cannot be applied either, because the parents and teachers and the so-called "clergy" of Christendom are unprepared to do their parts. False doctrines have so distorted their conceptions of right and truth and love, and power and authority have so displaced meekness and patience, that the majority do not know how to appreciate the fruits of the spirit of Christ and consequently cannot teach them to others. The result is that nothing will check the general increase of intelligence and nothing will hinder the increase of crime and lawlessness; but as God's word foreshows, the ignoring of his gracious plan of salvation and the substituting therefor of the terrible, false, God-dishonoring traditions of eternal torment, etc., in the past, while it did serve to blind and bind the ignorant and to build up the great system called "Christendom," in the end will work the destruction of the system, in the anarchy and confusion of the battle of the great day of God Almighty, – for particulars of which we must refer you to MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., which we hope to have ready by Spring.