VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
REV. Lyman Abbott, D.D., the now widely known "Unbeliever," was engaged by the "Hicksite Quakers," of Philadelphia, to deliver a lecture, and the Y.M.C.A. hall was secured for the purpose. The Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. concluded from all that he could learn that Dr. Abbott is an "Unbeliever," and that his use of the hall would not be in the interest of Christianity and the objects of the Y.M.C.A. and cancelled the engagement. We quite endorse his judgment, altho we well know that such a view of matters will be considered narrow by all "unbelievers." If Satan presented himself in human form, well dressed, as a liberal lecturer on "Higher Criticism," well fortified with "cunningly devised fables," he would find numerous defenders and plenty of willing hearers with "itching ears;" but if our Lord or the Apostles Paul or Peter presented themselves as exponents and defenders of the Law and the Prophets, and especially of the cross of Christ as the center of the Gospel and the power of God and the wisdom of God, they would find few attentive listeners. How we see fulfilling the word of the Lord by the mouth of the Apostle,--"The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own desires shall they gather to themselves teachers,--having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."--2 Tim. 4:3,4.
The same question is causing a disturbance among "Christian Endeavorers." The next convention of this society is to be held in San Francisco, Cal., in July, and as it has been discovered that a prominent Evolutionist and higher critic otherwise known as "modern unbelievers," has been assigned a prominent place in connection with the appointments for public addresses, it is concluded that himself and others of like unbelief will endeavor to use the opportunity to make a good impression for their cause upon these "Young People." A religious press controversy has sprung up, and considerable heat has been developed on both sides.
This question must yet "shake" Christendom thoroughly; and no doubt we will surprise many when we declare that, in our understanding of the Word, the vast majority will be sifted out as "unbelievers"-- so much so that to many it will appear that "the old fogy believers in miracles, and in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures," have been shaken out;--because the masses will accept the Evolution-and-unbelief theory.
As usual the adversary will endeavor to becloud the real question by sophistical statements. It will be claimed that the Evolutionary or "unbelievers" theory is the true, the moral, the logical, the enlightened view; and no doubt some will even claim that it is the Scriptural view. Those left, faithful to the Bible, will be the theologically "hard" and "tough" and "unreasonable," covered all over with barnacles of human error concerning election, foreordination, predestination and eternal torment, and their false beliefs will not only injure their influence, but will tend to further discredit the Bible, which, more than ever, will be charged with the inconsistencies of every misbelief. And these in turn, realizing the effort to overthrow their faith in the Bible as the Word of God, will not only hold it the faster but also hold the tighter all the human falsehoods and inconsistencies attached to their faith in the name of the Bible, during the "dark ages." Nor can we hope that many of these will get free from these shackles of error until the fall of Babylon (Rev. 18:1-4) opens their eyes to the true situation. [R2135 : page 112]
However various the forms which the question may take, it will nevertheless still be--for the cross or against the cross; soldiers of the cross or enemies of the cross of Christ,--believers in the ransom or deniers of the ransom. All the so-called "higher critics," or "unbelievers" in the Bible, are of logical necessity believers in Evolution; and all believers in Evolution are of logical necessity deniers of the fact that a ransom was given for sinners by our Lord, for they claim that none was necessary. Denying original sin by a fall, and denying a ransom from the condition and penalties of a fall, they are denying the very center of the gospel-- the cross,--that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he rose for our justification. Hence also they deny justification by faith and through the precious blood. (Rom. 5:1,9.) Hence, by whatever name such "unbelievers" are known, as deniers of the very essence of Christianity they are not Christians, --not believers in Christ in the only way in which belief in him is genuine according to God's Word. Instead, they are "the enemies of the cross of Christ."-- Phil. 3:18.
"In the cross of Christ we glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime."
The "Hicksite" branch of the Quakers, for which Dr. Abbott is to speak, utterly repudiates the doctrine of Christ's vicarious atonement--the ransom. This is in keeping with our observations above.
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France has begun the manufacture of a new quick-firing gun--the "Casnet." It is claimed that it will throw a shrapnel shell, loaded with 300 bullets, five times a minute, a distance of about four miles. Other "Christian nations" must similarly prepare to do murder wholesale, and Germany has already begun work on a somewhat similar weapon. The time for turning all this energy to useful arts of peace is not yet, but it is near, thank God.
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The Cretan war question is only a part of the Turkish question; and our remarks on the latter in our View of Nov. 1, '96, apply in general to all with which Turkey is related. We do not expect "a general European war which will destroy present civilization" --that destruction is not due yet; but we do expect, now or soon, such a reorganization of Turkey's affairs as will open Palestine and permit the return of the Jews as settlers--forbidden by Turkey since 1891.
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The Armeblatt, an Austrian military journal, describes a new murder-weapon (for use upon fellow beings of other "Christian (?) nations" and against savages, but not, we may presume, to be used against the Turks, so long as they can pay the interest on their bonds). What an amount of human ingenuity now employed on instruments for murder will be changed to new channels--to bless the already "groaning creation," when the Prince of Peace shall take control and cause wars to cease unto the ends of the earth!-- Psa. 46:6-10.
Here is a description of this weapon of destruction:--
"An engine of 16 horse power actuates a four-wheeled rubber-tired cycle, carrying two rapid-fire guns. These two guns, mounted on pivots, one in front, the other in the rear, can each describe a semicircle, the motion being effected automatically.
"The discharge is controlled by the motor mechanism itself, and can take place as well when the cycle is in motion as when it is at rest. The number of shots fired per minute can be varied from 50 to 700. The cycle carries 500 projectiles for each gun.
"The attendant, seated on the cycle between the two guns, has only to train them and then start his engine. He is protected in front and behind by shields, fixed to the guns.
"The cycle as a whole is also protected against bullets, and even against small artillery projectiles. Besides, the mechanism of discharge, acting automatically, keeps on working, even after the attendant is disabled.
"On a good, smooth road this cycle can go at a speed of forty-five miles an hour, so that it could distance any other kind of artillery. We can hardly imagine the effect that fifty or a hundred of such cycles would produce when all in action at once."
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The Glasgow Herald (Scotland) gives a lengthy and detailed account of the Meeting of the Glasgow Presbytery on March 2, at which the terms of union with the United Presbyterian Church were discussed. We note the growing sentiment favorable to a partial union with the civil government; based upon the erroneous assumption that the kingdoms of this world have become Christ's Kingdom, and that he is the King. Oh! how changed the world's affairs will be when Immanuel's reign has really been inaugurated: "When the Kingdom is the Lord's and he is the governor among the nations." "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is done in heaven" is still the prayer of those who know the King's Word. [R2136 : page 112]
The following utterance of Dr. Ross Taylor was approved by the Presbytery: Both churches agree that--
"The great principle of national religion, the principle, namely, that as Christ was King of Nations, all nations were bound to own him and to have regard to his authority in the making of their laws and in the shaping of their procedure, and not only so, but that all were bound--nations and rulers--to recognize the Church of Christ and to promote its interests in every way consistent with its spirit and enactments. That was the position which they maintained with regard to [R2136 : page 113] national religion, and that, he was glad to say, was a position in which their United Presbyterian friends in the conference which had been held thoroughly agreed with them. They were at one on the points as to the duty of nations and rulers to recognize the Church of Christ and to promote its interests in every way consistent with ITS SPIRIT AND ENACTMENTS."
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The spirit of federation is growing rapidly in Great Britain, as the following from the London Daily Chronicle (March 6) shows:--
"On Monday night the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress will receive at the Guildhall probably as many as 3,000 delegates and representatives of the National Council of Evangelical Free Churches which meets in the City Temple, and in the Memorial Hall on the following three days of next week. This is not simply the first meeting in London of the National Council. Practically it is its first formal meeting. Originating in Nov. '92 as a 'Free Church Congress,' with a lamentably meagre attendance, the movement as a whole illustrates how tremendous may be the development of a very simple proposal.
"Thomas Law, organizing secretary, was able to report an enormous growth in the number of local Non-conformist councils and county federations, the influence of which it is the object of the National Council to focus upon the religious, social and perhaps even the political life of England. Since last year the associations have increased with still wilder impetuosity, not merely scores but hundreds of them having been surprised into useful existence, in almost an incredible way. On Tuesday morning this National Council will assemble with the commanding authority of delegates to the number of 1,200, and 'personal members' probably exceeding that number, representing over 10,000 English evangelical congregations. The churches represented include the Congregationalists, all the Baptist communities, all the Methodist 'Societies,' the Presbyterian Church of England, the Free Episcopal Churches, even the Society of Friends, and a host of minor religious bodies--Unitarians, however, being excluded as not conforming to the strict interpretation of the constitution."
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The Pope, whose representatives have for some time past been specially blessing the Spanish war ships as they left for Cuba, found that Spain did not get victory as a result of his blessings, and now changes his course and poses before the world as the advocate of peace and liberty--sending a letter to the Queen of Spain urging peace and very liberal laws for Cuba and Porto Rico.
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The following extracts from a recent speech by Lord Salisbury, premier of Great Britain, shows a clearer view of general affairs than most people get. It shows the wisdom of the confusion of the world's language for the period of the reign of sin and death; and that present tendencies toward one language might work eventual ill, were it not that the Kingdom is near at hand. The London Spectator says:--
"He remarked on the singularly rapid spread of the English race and the English language over the surface of our planet, and expressed the belief that what is said in that language will before long be intelligible, and not only intelligible, but actually understood, over almost all the world. And he insisted that this might turn out to be either a great blessing or a great curse, according to the spirit in which those who mold the convictions of the English-speaking races choose to guide the formation of those convictions. It is, in fact, a sort of reversal of the effect which the confusion of tongues,--which is said to have fallen upon the different families of the human race in the vain attempt to build a tower intended to scale the heavens,-- was supposed to have produced. In Lord Salisbury's view the difficulty which different races have found in mastering each other's language has not been by any means an unmixed evil. It has served as a kind of non-conducting medium to limit the mischief which irresponsible and mischievous talk so often produces. St. James has told us that 'the tongue can no man tame.' But what no man can tame may yet to some extent be deprived of its poisonous influence through the difficulty it finds in penetrating the speech of another people of a quite different race. For example, we Englishmen have no doubt missed the point of perhaps nine-tenths of the French witticisms produced at our expense, while the French have missed the point of even a greater number of foolishly contemptuous phrases in which Englishmen have poured forth their ill-advised conviction of their own immense superiority to Frenchmen. Had this non-conducting medium never existed, can it be doubted that the irritation of France against England and of England against France would often have been far greater than it has been? ...Let English become something like a universal language, and we shall soon find that the velocity with which either clever or ignorant ill-nature propagates its mischievous influence over the world will be indefinitely increased. With the electric telegraph working in a speech universally understood, words of hasty wrath will have a far more deadly effect than they have now, and we may find ourselves at war before we have had time either to define our purposes or explain our meaning. In short, as Lord Salisbury truly said, the universal currency of the English tongue will produce either a good or a bad effect, just in proportion to the wisdom or the folly, the self-control or the license, of the English-speaking races....But if Englishmen learn to scream, and Americans to bluster, and public opinion to discharge itself violently in muddy geysers of boiling passion in every separate Colony and State, then the universal spread of English may prove a great calamity and some day issue in a great catastrophe."