VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE RELIGIOUS VIEW.
ONE of the sensations of the world during the past few months has been the disclosures made before the LEXOW COMMITTEE of investigation, showing that the government of the city of New York has for years been in league with gamblers, the keepers of immoral houses, and thieves; and that probably millions of dollars were paid within the past fifteen years to the "Tammany" democracy by merchants and others for special police protection, and by thieves and others as blackmail to save them from justice.
The public, irrespective of party, rejoices to be relieved of such polluting parasites, and its thanks and commendations go out in large measure to the Rev. Dr. Parkhurst (Presbyterian), whose energy and perseverance had very much to do with the present exposure.
The public has an eye to utility, and sees in this a new field of usefulness for ministers. The public sees no value in faith, but great value in works. It virtually says,-- "Ministers are useful in their way: they help to keep up the moral tone of society by Sunday orations, visit the sick, and offer consolations to the bereaved at funerals; and why not keep their eyes on our office-holders and be ready and active in every reform? Would not this be a most practical way of enforcing Christian principles respecting honesty, etc., and a way that would make the Churches and their ministers more popular?"
Ministers will at first disdain such a course, but as it will appear more and more that it would please and interest the public, and as purely religious interest will be seen to be failing, we may be sure that ambition will lead out one minister after another into this new field--political, moral and religious combined--until it will be once more considered quite the proper thing (as in the days of Calvin and Zwingli), and Church and State will be practically one, although still theoretically two. Keep watch along this line: you will see it gradually draw nearer until the federative Union of all Protestant denominations shall have been accomplished--then matters will move forward rapidly.
Reliable accounts of the atrocious attack recently made by Turkish soldiers (Mohammedans) on several villages of Armenian Catholics in Turkey show that the spirit of savagery still exists in the breasts of fallen men as much as it did during the so-called "dark ages." Men, women and children were shot, stabbed and cut to pieces, their houses were set on fire and the occupants driven back with swords and bayonets when they attempted to escape. The descriptions almost equal the history of massacres of Waldenses, Huguenots, etc., by the papists.
THE BIBLE DANGEROUS TO AUTOCRACY.
In southern Russia, especially in the Polish provinces, there resides a class of very simple-hearted Christians, who are too enlightened from a Scriptural standpoint to have fellowship in the forms, ceremonies and image worship of either the Greek or Roman Catholic Churches. Since no other Christian churches or worship are tolerated in Russia, these have no preachers or preaching services. They have for years, however, held prayer-meetings at which some times one of their number would have a Bible and read therefrom to their general edification. These meetings usually last one hour (we are under the impression that a law hinders a longer session), and the people have been nick-named "Stundists," from the German word meaning an hour.
Some years ago one of our brethren (now interested in the present truth) was arrested and compelled to leave the country, because as a Bible Society's agent he was quietly circulating the Bible amongst these poor people. They are [R1756 : page 16] brought to our attention now by the decree of the Russian [R1757 : page 16] government, published in the Official Messenger, Dec. 5, '94, prohibiting the "Stundists" from holding their prayer meetings and declaring them to be a religious sect most dangerous to the Church and State. Yes! the Bible in its purity and simplicity is always dangerous to the prosperity of superstition and tyranny--and however meek and law-abiding its adherents may be, they must be suppressed, so far as priest craft can control the governmental arm.
How long will it be after the coming federative union of all Protestant denominations and their entente cordiale with the Papacy, before they will feel that ZION'S WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN are "dangerous" to their welfare, because they hold up to the common people the word of God in its simplicity? We are expecting that time to come, but not for at least ten years in Great Britain and in this land where liberty has made and will yet make its bravest struggle. Meantime, let all who love the truth serve it diligently. "Labor while it is called to-day; for the night cometh wherein no man can work."
The Guardian, Bombay, India, says on this subject:
"The same spirit of intolerance is spreading toward all who love and worship God according to the holy Scriptures in that country. The British and Foreign Bible Societies' depot in Kiev has been closed by the order of the Governor-General, Count Ignatieff. A further step has been taken by an order, which is published in several Russian papers, forbidding the colportage of Bibles carried on in the provinces which stand under this Governor.
"It is alleged, as the ground of this prohibition, that the Societies' workers have been guilty of spreading the doctrines of 'Stundism.' What has led to such a charge is difficult to see, as the colporteurs are in almost all cases loyal members of the Russian Church, and have received stringent injunctions to avoid implications with all forbidden movements. In the district of Saraisk, in a certain village, the chief of the rural gendarmerie had observed that several peasants were in the habit of meeting in the cottage of one of their number, where they read the Gospels, prayed, and sang hymns. Suspecting these persons to be 'Stundists,' the officer raided the place and arrested ten peasants who were assembled in religious conclave. Before the local magistrates the accused declared that they were faithful Orthodox believers, but that, as the Scriptures were never read or expounded to them by the priests, they claimed the right to do this for themselves. The Court held that the case came within the rescript with regard to the "Stundists," and each of the accused peasants was fined fifty rubles (about $37), or, in default, ten weeks' imprisonment."
STILL LATER ADVICES.
The clergy of the Greek Catholic Church of Southern Russia recently met at Kiev to discuss the present position and prospects of the "Stundists." Its report has just been presented to Governor-General Ignatieff. It states that in their opinion Stundism is no longer able to attract great masses of the people from the Greek or "Orthodox" Church. They thank the Governor-General for the help of the secular arm in combating heresy and state that the measures most effective were the following: (1) Forbidding the meeting together of the heretics for prayer. (2) Forbidding the colportage of the British Bible Society. (3) The ordinance by which children baptized into the "Orthodox" or Greek Church can be removed from the guardianship of either parent becoming connected with the Stundists. (4) Forbidding Stundists from membership or other association in societies of artisans. (5) The enactment preventing Stundists from purchasing land.
Truly these Stundists must be our "brethren;" for their only crimes (?) seem to be love for the Lord, a desire to worship him in the spirit of the truth, and a desire to be separate from the Greek quarter of "that great city" Babylon. Give them your sympathy and prayers. Should the Lord open the door for it these people would doubtless be found hungry and thirsty for the truth, and we should take pleasure in doing what we could to serve it to them. But there is little hope now, since even the Bible Society's representatives have been excluded. The "night" has already come to them. Let us the more diligently labor for others upon whom such restrictions have not yet come.
ENCOURAGING A MILITARY SPIRIT.
It is well known that Roman Catholics have for years encouraged the military spirit amongst their young and middle-aged men, who are known as "Hibernian Rifles," and other names, and are regularly drilled and equipped. The American Protective Association freely charges that the basement of nearly every Catholic church is an arsenal, well stocked with rifles and general ammunitions of war, ready for a conflict which they hold will be incited by papists to get possession of the government. But we pass by this view, which if it ever was Rome's policy we believe has been abandoned, at least for the present, in favor of more cunning as well as more peaceable methods of gaining the same desired end; and we now call attention to the fact that the military spirit not only permeates all the colleges of the land (to many of which the U.S. Government regularly supplies free professors of military tactics), but is being adopted by enterprising Protestant Sunday School Superintendents in the larger cities all over our land. Summer picnics and Christmas treats and S.S. papers and books are growing stale, and something new must be devised to fix the religious interest of the rising generation and hold them in the Sunday School,--which will also insure the presence of female scholars.
We do not charge the promoters of this new enterprise with any really bad motives: they are certainly free from Jesuitical schemes. But what a commentary it is upon the spiritual condition of the various denominations of Christendom, that they are not only blind and cannot see afar off and have [almost] forgotten that they were purged from their old sins (2 Pet. 1:9), but they are so very blind that they do not see that the spirit they are cultivating is the very reverse of the spirit of Christ, who is called "the Prince [R1757 : page 17] of Peace," and who declared, "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword," and said, My Kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight, but now because ye are not of the world [and under my teachings are opposed to wars, fightings, etc., and are children of the "God of peace"], therefore the world [which is of the other spirit] hateth you.--Matt. 26:52; John 18:36; 15:19.
As we look out from our office window we see three companies of boys, ranging in years from ten to twenty, in blue uniforms and with imitation (wooden) guns and swords drilling in front of the First Presbyterian Church; and picking up the daily paper we note that the same is going on everywhere, and that within the past few days the Secretary of War, by influential request, loaned a lot of regular military repeating rifles to a company of the larger Christian (?) soldier boys of one of the New York Church Sunday Schools, and that they gave "a very creditable exhibition," which drew to them general attention and applause for their skill.
Our thoughts run on into the future in line with what God's Word shows us is "coming upon the world," and we wonder how any can be so blind as not to see that
"All things are onward moving"in perfect accord with what God has prophetically outlined.
Truly the morning cometh, when the nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isa. 2:4.) But that time lies beyond a dark intervening "night," and for that night all the world is preparing, consciously or unconsciously. This, too, is pointed out by the Prophet, who cries the Lord's message to this Laodicean phase of Christendom, saying,--
"Proclaim ye this among the nations, Prepare war, wake up the mighty men;...let them come up--all the men of war. Beat your plow-shares into swords, and your pruningknives into spears: let the weak say, 'I am a hero.' Assemble hastily together, and come, all ye nations from every side, and gather yourselves together: Thither, O Jehovah, cause thy mighty ones to come down!
"Let the nations awake, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat [God's pleading judgment]; for there will I sit to judge all the nations from every side.... Multitudes, multitudes, are in the valley of decision [trial, crisis], for near is the Day of Jehovah in the valley of decision. Sun and moon [Gospel and Law] are obscured and the brilliancy of the stars [teachers, especially the apostles --Rev. 12:1] is obscured. And the Lord will roar out of Zion [the elect Church], and from Jerusalem [Israel in restoration] will send forth his voice; and the heavens [nominal church] and the earth [society] shall quake: but the Lord shall be a refuge for his people, and a strong hold for the sons of Israel."--Joel 3:9-16.
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE.
"There are ministers of the Gospel who are losing golden opportunities for usefulness, because they have not been called to fill a conspicuous pastorate. Their light, they are quite sure, was intended for a lighthouse on some oft traveled sea, and they cannot come down to the humble destiny and duty of a village lamp."--N.Y. Observer.
This same fault can be found nearer home. How many of God's children, readers of the WATCH TOWER, are praying to God to open to them some great work to do in his name and for the spread of his truth, and are neglecting opportunities God has already given them in their homes and in their neighborhoods, etc. The Lord loves most the humble who take hold of the most important work they [R1758 : page 17] see to do and do it with their might, and when he wants a servant for an important place in his service, he gives the opening to these humble ones. Their humility permits him to honor them without injuring them, and thus permits them more and more to honor him.
Of all religionists "Protestants" seem the most inconsistent. Evangelist Moody continues to charge Protestants a good stiff price for reviving them, but shows his love for papists by donating $500 to help build a Roman Catholic church, and by prohibiting the sale upon his school premises of a newspaper containing an anti-Romanist article.
The World's Parliament of Religions clearly showed that many professed ministers of Christ were not only ready to ignore the faith, but even the name of Christ--to draw men after them.
Recently a Baptist church edifice was dedicated, and all the denominations of the town were represented at the ceremony by their ministers except the Roman Catholic. For his consistency and honesty the priest was roundly denounced. His reply was to the effect that he recognized a wide difference between the teachings of his church and that of the one to be honored by the dedicatory services, and that he wished to be consistent and honest in his conduct as well as in his professions.
A Jewish synagogue was dedicated in Cleveland, and Protestant ministers vied with each other at the service to show that faith in Christ means nothing. This is not Christian love, or "love of the brethren," so highly commended by the Apostle as one of the evidences that we "have passed from death unto life." It is worldly love-- the result either of ignorance or of disloyalty to Christ. It is the kind of love mentioned in the Scriptures thus: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Far better, far more consistent, is the Jewish view of the matter, expressed by the Jewish Exponent, as follows:
"The participation of Christian divines in the services at Jewish houses of worship, a notable instance of which-- at the dedication of a synagogue in Cleveland--has attracted attention, is accepted as a welcome evidence of good-will and mutual toleration, if it has no under or deeper significance.
"It must be confessed, however, that the expression of this sentiment in this way does not seem specially appropriate. For men to ignore broad lines of demarkation, and to announce a harmony where none exists, can only lead to eventual discord. We prefer that Christians and Jews shall remain distinct in the domain of religion, mutually [R1758 : page 18] respecting each other's convictions, but agreeing to disagree on this one subject. On all others they can join hands, or at least the lines of cleavage will be other than between Jews and Christians.
On occasions of large and general importance, even of religious significance, it may not be unmeet for Jews and Christians to join where no sectarian question is at issue. On other occasions it is better to follow the Mosaic injunction not to remove the landmarks."
Not a great while ago a conference of Christians and Jews was held in the First M.E. church of Chicago, in which ministers of several denominations took prominent part, notably Revs. W. E. Blackstone, C. A. Blanchard, D. C. Marquis, E. P. Goodwin. The meetings were opened and closed with devotional "exercises"--singing, prayer, etc., and the name of Christ was entirely ignored;--even the benediction was Moses' blessing, written off and read for the occasion.
The Chicago Tribune criticized the matter and interviewed both Jews and Christians on the subject. The Jewish Rabbi said:--
"It was undoubtedly the intention on the part of those who arranged the affair to have all reference to Christ and the Trinity omitted from the devotional exercises. As such it was a great concession on their part, and I think an unfortunate one. More than that, it was the most inconsistent in those who believe that prayer should be offered in the name of Christ. It seems to me that the whole thing was unfortunate.
"I do not wish to be understood as questioning the honest intent of the promoters of the conference. I was of the impression that it was a scheme to convert us and wrote Mr. Blackstone that were such the case he had better not waste his efforts. He assured me that such was not the case and I am now convinced to that effect. I am quite certain it did no good and I hope it did no harm. I was amused at one thing. Mr. Blackstone asked me if I thought the conference would draw a crowd. I replied that it certainly would, as anything in the nature of a show was certain to draw well in Chicago. He replied that he intended to take from it the character of a show by having devotional exercises. I was much surprised at that, wondering all the while how Jews and Christians could possibly worship together. You see, I did not think they would eliminate Christ. It was done, I suppose, to give the conference a solemn character. This end, however, was not fully attained, as I was often interrupted during my address by applause."
THE SOCIAL VIEW.
In England, the special representatives of the lower classes in Parliament are yearly becoming more numerous, and correspondingly the demand is urged, that members of Parliament shall receive a salary of L.300 ($1500) per year, and that all Election expenses be paid by the government. The demand will become a law--though perhaps at first modified so as to apply only to those who will declare themselves as needing such assistance. Hitherto, no salaries have been paid; so that all except men of means have been practically barred out.
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In Germany, the various parties of socialistic tendency are becoming very strong. Recently, when cheers for the Emperor were proposed in the Reichstag (the German Congress), some of its members refused to join. The government representative attempted to make an example by punishing the disloyalty, but was greatly surprised that the Reichstag, by a vote of nearly two to one, refused to punish.
The government (that is, the Emperor, through his representative) is about to introduce a new bill, giving the Emperor more power and limiting the scope of the Reichstag's powers. This, of course, will be opposed by all liberals and socialists and the government expects to be forced to make concessions to the Church of Rome, in order to secure the votes of the Roman Catholic members, who are thoroughly under the control of the papacy, and can be relied upon to vote for anything that will promote its interests. The newspapers representing the Catholic party are very strong in their opposition to the new measures for restricting the Reichstag's powers; but those familiar with their methods assert that this is only to secure the larger price--the greater concessions to Papacy--for their votes, when the time for voting arrives.
The London Daily Chronicle gives the following account:--
"Yesterday we predicted that the coming session of the German Reichstag would be a very stormy one, but we little thought that its first sitting would be marked by a 'scene of tumult almost unequalled in the history of the Imperial Parliament.' The Socialists refused to join in a cheer for the Emperor, at the instance of the President-- refused even to rise from their seats. This was indeed a very ominous inauguration of the parliamentary sittings in the new Reichshaus. Indeed, it will take rank as a kind of historical landmark.
"Substitute 'King' for 'Emperor,' and it may be said that a precisely similar scene occurred yesterday in the Belgian Chamber of Deputies, when a Socialist Deputy protested against all royal grants. The reply of the Premier was to call upon the House to give three cheers for the King. This was goading the Socialists into a further demonstration, and they retaliated by crying, 'Long live the People! Down with the Capitalists!'"
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In the French Chamber of Deputies (the French Congress) a socialist member recently introduced a bill granting a small city the right to establish a drug store to be operated in the interest of the citizens. This was intended to be an entering wedge for communistic principles in all kinds of business and in every city of France. The measure was voted down by a large majority; but its advocate declared that revolution would yet accomplish what was peaceably refused.
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Greater precautions than ever before are now being taken against assassins in and about the President's mansion in Washington. Twenty-four policemen, divided into three watches, guard it day and night. Within the past month a sentry box has been placed in the middle of the roadway and about fifty feet in front of the mansion. Under an order recently issued no one is allowed to cross the [R1758 : page 19] White House porch while a member of the President's family is entering or leaving it.
The N.Y. Sun asks, "What new danger threatens the inmates of the mansion, that it should be more closely guarded than at any time in its history, even during the civil war?" We answer, in the words of our Lord's prophecy, that they hear "the sea and the waves roaring," threatening, and their "hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking forward to those things coming."
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The years 1893 and 1894 proved very unsatisfactory to Labor Organizations in the United States. Their strikes were failures in almost every instance. The loss of their reserve funds by the societies, as well as the loss of wages [R1759 : page 19] by the individuals, has greatly dispirited them all. But although wages are falling so are prices of goods--which never before were so cheap. If Capital would content itself with a lower rate of interest and smaller proportionate returns from business investments and thus share the general reduction the great "time of trouble" might, for the present at least, be averted.
But we know that the Scriptural forecast is correct, and we need expect no abandonment by Capital of the time honored principle of selfishness, which for centuries has controlled all classes; namely, "Secure for yourself all you can legally get possession of." Acting upon this principle, firms and corporations and trusts will say, We did not make as much money last year as the year previous and cannot pay as large a dividend: we must pinch a little more off each employee's wages, for we do not want our business and its profits to get behind what they have been.
Because of their present impoverished condition, and in view of the failure of so many of their strikes recently, wage-workers will feel forced to submit, and will submit. But as they witness the extravagant use by their employers of the money thus pinched from their wages, hard and revengeful thoughts will arise within the hearts of all except those who have made the Lord their refuge and habitation, and who are waiting patiently for the establishment of God's promised Kingdom of Righteousness.--James 5:7.
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The movement against Anarchists and Socialists in France, and the new legislation pending against them in the German Congress, are supplemented by a recent Government decree in Italy, by which every Socialist club, society or union has been dissolved and their papers and archives confiscated. The decree and its execution came suddenly and unexpectedly. It is said that papers of importance were seized by the police.
Such repressive measures may or may not prolong the lives of the governments adopting them; but will they not make the explosion and wreck, when they do come, all the more terrible? Holding down the lever of the safety-valve of a steam generator may stop the noise of the escaping steam temporarily, but every engineer knows that would be bad practice. Instead he would reduce his fire; so the wiser plan would be to reduce the causes of social unrest.
But the Lord's time has come for the great change which will demolish totally the present social structure, that upon its ruins he may establish his Kingdom so long promised and for which his saints have so long prayed, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven." Therefore, as is declared in the Scriptures, "The wisdom of their wise [states-]men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [business-]men shall not be manifested." --Isa. 29:14.
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Although the American Federation of Labor at its recent meeting in Denver voted down by a strong majority resolutions favoring Socialism, this should not be understood as signifying opposition to everything Socialistic: they are opposed to the general theory of Socialists as being, at least at present, impractical. They still favor community ownership or at least regulation of railroads, telegraphs, telephones, etc., indispensable to human progress and comfort. Their newly elected President, John McBride, is a man of moderation who favors peaceful methods rather than riot.
These things show what we have heretofore called attention to--that the majority of American workmen are not disposed to be Anarchists; that when anarchy does come, it will be years hence (probably not before 1911)-- and then as a result of despair at being unable to secure equity by other methods.
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The Pope has recently, after two years' consideration of the subject, put under his ban three secret societies;-- Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows and Sons of Temperance. No Roman Catholic may hereafter belong to these orders. Similar restrictions have long since applied to the Masonic order.
The Pope wishes so to draw the line that his faithful will be forced into orders whose regulations will not hinder the full knowledge of the priests of all their affairs through the Confessional. The developed Christian will find membership in the Order of the "Royal Priesthood" quite sufficient. In it he will find use for all the hours not due to his family and himself. In it he will find the best of earthly fellowship, and with its Head the perfection of fellowship.
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ALL THIS BE THY PORTION.
NEW mercies, new blessings, new light on thy way;
New courage, new hope and new strength for each day;
New notes of thanksgiving, new chords of delight,
New praise in the morning, new songs in the night;
New wine in thy chalice, new altars to raise;
New fruits for thy Master, new garments of praise;
New gifts from his treasures, new smiles from his face;
New streams from the fountain of Infinite Grace;
New stars for thy crown, new tokens of love;
New gleams of the glory that waits thee above;
New light of his countenance, full and unpriced--
All this be the glory of thy new life in Christ. --Selected.