VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
FEDERATION OF PROTESTANTS.
IN our last we called attention to the federation of the various Protestant denominations in Great Britain, aside from the Church of England. The New York Independent noticed the matter as follows:--
"We gave account last week of the meeting of the Free Church Council in London, and we asked why such a confederation of the Protestant Churches in this country could not be inaugurated. The subject is well worth further and frequent consideration. That meeting represented the Wesleyans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, indeed all the free Churches of Great Britain with two million communicants. It was the most representative meeting of English Christians held for over three centuries; for the members of the combined Free Churches of Great Britain slightly outnumber the communicants of the Established Church. Separated hitherto, they now are confederated. They are one. They no longer suffer under the reproach of a divided Church. They have declared that they believe that the Church of Jesus Christ should be one, and they have made it not merely spiritually, but visibly one, so far as lies in their power. Why should British Christians be more progressive than we in America? Yet, somehow, an old and compact country like Great Britain does work out some problems faster than we do. They are in advance of us in giving popular postal service, postal banks and postal telegraphs; and here we find them far in advance of us in this great popular Christian movement which brings believers into public and confessed fellowship in Christ."
FEDERATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE'S SOCIETIES.
Since (1) it is a settled fact that the Young People of the various denominations will not be encouraged by their denominational "Elders" to unite as Christian Endeavorers, and that such a union is feared, especially by Methodists and Presbyterians, as tending to break down and remove all denominational barriers; and since (2) denominational federation comes slower than was hoped for, it is now proposed to establish a Young People's Christian Federation. This will partially satisfy those who are clamoring for Christian Union without denominational restrictions; it will also fix things where they are, and make it "irregular" and "a breach of etiquette" to criticize, or attempt to supplant, any of the allied or federated Societies; and it will pave the way for the desired denominational federation, which we know from the Scriptures is rapidly approaching, and will be of injury to pure, primitive Christianity, and lead quickly to Church and State alliance and to the collapse of the present social order.
Asked, some time ago, how soon such a federation might be expected to take shape, we suggested that the opening of the twentieth century would be a likely date, as it is growingly the spirit of our times to start large undertakings on prominent and propitious days and years. We are therefore surprised to find the prime-movers in this federation naming a date so far in advance as the new century. This federation we should expect sooner, and the Church federation by 1900, A.D. We quote the views of people prominent in these Young People's Societies.
H. K. Carroll, LL.D., who suggests this federation, and that the congress for the purpose be called for the year 1900, gives as their total membership 4,414,776. We quote from his article in the Independent the following expression:--
"As immediate union of all these bodies is out of the question, why should there not be an Alliance or Federation of them? They have no creeds that stand in the way of closer relations. There is no question of polity to keep them asunder. They have the same [R2143 : page 128] object, similar pledges, and practice methods which do not vary widely. Such a Federation could in no way injuriously affect the denominational loyalty or usefulness of any society. Neither would it interfere with denominational control and denominational development."
Bishop W. X. Ninde, of the M.E. Church, president of the Epworth Board of Control, endorses Dr. Carroll's suggestion, as follows:--
"While organic union seems impossible, certainly for the time, there are no Christians in the land who feel a stronger yearning for a union of sympathy and cooperation in Christian work than do the young people represented in the Epworth League. We are fully committed to the general plan of a Federation or Alliance of Young People's societies. Our Board of Control, at its recent session in New York, emphatically reaffirmed its wish for the closest spiritual unity with all Christian young people, and its readiness to make or receive overtures for joining hands in all practical methods of Christian work."
Mr. J. W. Baer, general Secretary of the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor, says:--
"The committee will welcome suggestions, and may its efforts be blessed in binding all the young people of evangelical churches into a closer spiritual fellowship that shall in no way interfere with denominational control. There is no reason why everything that is worth having in the way of denominational control of young people's societies should not be maintained without sacrificing anything that is worth having of interdenominational fellowship."
J. T. Beckley, D.D., one of the trustees of the same society, says:--
"Federation is the next step forward in the Young People's movement. It is logical and providential. The uprising of the young people is the most significant fact in the history of modern Christendom--the twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of the Acts. Its import is far-reaching. It is a splendid apologetic. When the enemy was claiming that Christianity was decadent and the Bible was a last year's almanac, this army of consecrated disciples, numbered by millions, came to the front."
Rev. J. A. Duff, of the Young People's Christian Union of the United Presbyterian Church, says:--
"There is a growing conviction in the minds of many that Christianity as represented by the Protestant churches--each one working in its own way without reference to the success of the whole--does not present a united front against either idolatry or the spirit of the world. While not ready for union, many are ready for such a movement as will combine the efforts [R2144 : page 128] of all and direct against the things that ought not to be."
Rev. J. P. Landis, D.D., president of the Young People's Christian Union, United Brethren, says:--
"As far, therefore, as I have a right to speak for our Young People's Christian Union, I say, by all means let there be a meeting called of all the young people's organizations; and as 1900 seems to be a specially appropriate time, let it be then. We shall vote for a Federation."
It is worthy of note that all these gentlemen feel sure that the proposed federation could do no harm to any denominational interests. Evidently they are not aware that their chief concern is for the preservation of their several denominations. The Lord's plan is very unpopular, because it denounces sectarianism where it does not ignore it entirely.
THE NEXT STEP PREPARING.
Comparatively few realize the motive which lies back of the movements of leaders towards the federation of religious systems. Neglecting to observe the testimony of God's Word, that the mission of this age is the selection of the Church of overcomers to be, with Christ their Lord, the "Royal Priesthood," to bless and rule and teach the world during Christ's Millennial Kingdom, they have, to the contrary, concocted the theory that the conversion and ruling of the world is the Church's mission during the present age. After eighteen centuries they find that in this zenith of their efforts nearly two hundred beings are born for every one that is even nominally converted; and probably five or ten thousand for every one that becomes a fully consecrated "overcomer" or "saint." They reflect that at this rate it will be many centuries yet before they could hope to bring about conditions by which God's will would be done on earth as in heaven.
Wishing to encourage each other, and to impress the world, they want union or federation or something which will "make a fair show in the flesh;" and they begin to feel just as Papacy did fifteen centuries ago, --that God wants them to take control of the world in his name and rule it, and enforce religion by civil law. They forget that this same erroneous view, put into execution by Papacy, not only led it to establish the great antichristian counterfeit of God's Kingdom, but also led to the persecution, in most terrible forms, of those who stood faithful to the Word of God.
The new movement contemplates a participation in politics as a means of getting control of the world for the Lord; and Christian Citizenship Leagues are being formed. The following is their statement of their object clipped from the Christian Citizen.
"Not until the Kingship of Jesus is established over our land and the world, and his teachings are made the rule in all public affairs, will the Christian Citizenship League have achieved its purpose to prepare the way of the Lord. And then it shall be found that not only has the way for his coming been prepared, but that he has indeed and in truth come."
Thus they not only claim that our Lord's second coming cannot take place until they thus prepare his way, but finally they intimate that this success will [R2144 : page 129] make his personal coming unnecessary. They will act as his vice-gerent in establishing righteousness, and can equally be his representative after the important work of conquest is accomplished.
Very true! If they can do all the hard work of conquering the world and the devil, they will deserve the glory and honor. It is clear, however, that present arrangements, multiplied ten-fold, could never bring to earth the heavenly conditions promised in our Lord's petition. The rightful King must take unto himself his great power and begin his reign, and bind Satan, and liberate the "groaning creation" before peace on earth and good will toward men and glory to God in the highest can be looked for.
CHURCH AND STATE.
Evangelist B. F. Mills is advancing along the line above pointed out. He is quoted as saying in a recent discourse:--
"It is a mistake to consider the Church as a society for worship or benevolence instead of an agency for transforming the world. It is the business of the Church to see that the State conducts its affairs in a Christian fashion."
The editor of the (Syracuse, N.Y.) Herald criticizes this utterance very wisely, as follows:--
"Then if the majority in the State were Jews, would it be the business of the Jews to see that the State 'conducted its affairs' in Jewish fashion? Or if a majority were not Christians, would it be the business of the majority to see that the State was conducted in a way not Christian? This is a government by majority, but in order to protect as much as possible the minority against the intolerance and persecution which invariably come with majority rule Constitutions are established as the fundamental law of the State under which the rights of the minority to freedom of speech, freedom of printing and freedom of worship are made sure. The genius of our government is the complete separation of church and state, yet here is a minister of a denomination which knows the meaning of persecution for nonconformity to the ideas of the majority as to what constitutes Christianity, advocating religious domination--which means denominational domination in its logic--in the State.
"Mr. Mills will have difficulty in finding authority in the New Testament for his doctrine that it is the business of the Church to supervise the State: It was the fear that the mission of Jesus Christ was to institute a sorely needed revolution in Judea that led chiefly to the persecution and death of the Founder of Christianity.
"Against this charge made by the orthodox Jews he protested. 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, means that he would not have the Church see to it that the State was dominated by it. The words and example of Paul were always in direct refutation of the doctrine enunciated by Mr. Mills. Both knew that the moment the church became political that moment it would begin to lose in spiritual power, and the history of nineteen centuries has proved the scientific soundness of their position. The Church cannot have an influence upon the State in the way suggested by Mr. Mills without becoming political.
"It is the business of the church to call men to repentance, to preach the gospel--the 'glad tidings of great joy'--to work for the spiritual regeneration of mankind through regeneration of the individual. In this business it has employment for all its energies and talents, and thus employing itself it is a more powerful influence for righteousness in the State and righteousness of the State as a governing corporation than it can possibly be in attempting directly to dictate politics to the State and to be the State. The government of the United States and of the State of New York are as much the governments of the non-Christian as of the Christian; of the Jew as of the Gentile; of the Pantheist as of the Trinitarian; of the Agnostic and Deist as of the strictest of the sect of special creationists who believe in divine direction of the affairs of mankind. It is the business of the Christian church not more than of the Jewish church to see to it that the State is dominated by ethical principles, by morality, righteousness, justice and mercy; and it can do this best by following the example of Christ and Paul, not that of Constantine."
"WHAT IS WRONG?"
In the Christian Endeavorer Rev. C. S. Bullard propounds the question, "What is wrong?" and proceeds to answer it as follows:--
"Every pulpit in the land guarded by law--nearly one hundred thousand men of learning and ability set for the bringing to the attention of other men the life and death message of God--and yet--
"Multiply the twelve apostles by eight thousand and how soon they would turn the world up-side-down! What is wrong?
"Think of England--the brightest part of Europe. Eighty thousand criminals; one hundred and sixty thousand drunkards; one hundred thousand prostitutes; nearly ten hundred thousand paupers, and a drink bill of one hundred and thirty-six million pounds sterling! Is that the best the gospel of Jesus Christ can do for England?
"Look upon our own land--over seventy-three million population and about twenty million enrolled members in all branches of the church! Seven million young men, of whom but five per cent. are enrolled as members of the church. These, as a fraction of one of the million, attend church somewhat regularly, another million attend occasionally, but five million never attend. Think of arresting over one and a half million of men and women annually--fifty millions in a generation! Crime increases four and a half times faster than the population. What is wrong?
"Here we stand upon the threshold of the twentieth century with the record of forty million people habitually absenting themselves from the house of God! We have perfect machinery and a seemingly large amount of zeal--we are doing everything we can think of to reach the ungodly--we have tried spinning-wheels and grab-bags, theatricals and tableaux, broom drills and donkey socials. We have fiddled to them [R2144 : page 130] and fed them with ice cream and cake, and tickled them with funny stories, yet 'Ichabod' seems to be written upon everything we do. What is wrong?
"Is there a power that can change these things? What is needed? Paul cries, 'The gospel is the power of God.' O, that is what is needed--power! POWER! Power in the Church and through the church IN POLITICS, TO REGENERATE SOCIETY. The only thing that can [R2145 : page 130] correct the things that need correction is the 'gospel.' Let us apply the gospel in liberal doses!"
Yes, indeed, power is needed to bring order and righteousness to all the troublesome questions now perplexing the world,--Labor, Capital, Finance, Socialism, Trusts, True Religion, Sectarianism and Superstition, all need power, a mighty power, and a wise and good power, to take hold of them to put down the wrong and to lift up the right. But will the church by going into earthly politics be this power? Never! She holds no such commission. On the contrary, if saints could be put into office, it is very doubtful if they could continue to be "saints" under such unfavorable conditions, attempting to rule the world before the time appointed and without their "Head."
Yes, men in every station of life are beginning to see that the world needs a "strong government" to hold it in check; and the more general the enlightenment of the masses the greater this need--to control the avarice and discontent and to cause the bounties of divine providence to minister blessings and happiness to every creature. No earthly power can do this: our Lord's promised Kingdom--the fifth universal empire of the earth (Dan. 2:44; 7:22,27), and it only, can meet the conditions. It was in full view of this necessity, and to meet it, that a second advent of our Lord was promised;--not as a man and for suffering of death, but as the Lord of all, in power and great glory, a spirit being--as invisible to men as is the present "prince of this world," Satan, and still more powerful. While the many make ready "Christian Crusades" in politics, and "Boy's Brigades" for future assistance, the true "soldiers of the cross" will fight the good fight of faith against their own weaknesses, while praying to their Lord, "Thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
ENFORCING THE DECALOGUE IN KANSAS.
The following bill has been introduced in the Legislature of the State of Kansas by Representative Walters. It calls for the enforcement of the Ten Commandments given to Israel at Mt. Sinai:--
"An Act to give statutory force to the Ten Commandments:
"Whereas, The men of the present generation have become doubters and scoffers; and,
"Whereas, They have strayed from the religion of their fathers; and,
"Whereas, They no longer live in the fear of God; and,
"Whereas, Having no fear of punishment beyond the grave, they wantonly violate the law given to the world from Mt. Sinai; therefore,
"Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:--
"Section I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
"Section 2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image," etc. [Each one of the commandments constituting a separate section of the Act.]
"Section II. Any man who shall violate any of the provisions of this Act shall be punished as follows:--
"For violating Section I, $1,000 fine; for violating Section 2, $1,000 fine and one year in the penitentiary; for violating Section 3 or Section 4, $500 fine; for violating Section 5, $500 and six months in the penitentiary; for violating Section 6, hanged by the neck until dead; for violating Section 7, penitentiary for life; for violating Section 8, fine or imprisonment, in the discretion of the court; for violating Section 9, imprisonment, in the discretion of the court; for violating Section 10, fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
"Section 12. This Act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the statute book.
"This proposed measure only contemplates in part, and on a small scale, what is proposed in the "Christian Amendment" to the constitution, which has progressed far beyond the possibilities of a joke. That amendment says that 'the revealed will of Jesus Christ' shall be 'the supreme authority in civil affairs' in every State in the Union. The revealed will of Christ includes the law of ten commandments. The 'Christian Amendment' would do for every State what Mr. Walters' measure proposes to do for the State of Kansas.
"It is proposed that the Kansas legislature shall enact, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' As the speaking party in this enactment would be the legislature, the law would be that the legislature must be the god of everybody in the State. And the god who speaks the law having been determined in the first section of the Act, the same god would be meant by the phrase 'the Lord thy God' in succeeding sections. Thus by the third section it would become blasphemy to speak lightly of the Kansas legislature, and in the fourth section this assembly would put forth the stupendous claim of having created the heavens and the earth!
"Absurd as such claims would be, they are no more than what is really involved in every instance of religious legislation. For religion being the performance of those duties which an individual owes to his God, only God can rightfully command such duties; and when such duties are commanded by any party, that party by that very act assumes to be God....
"Another point that must not be overlooked is raised by the query as to what will constitute a violation of this Act. Jesus Christ said that hatred in the heart was a violation of the commandment which says, 'Thou shalt not kill,' which is Section 6 in Mr. Walters' [R2145 : page 131] bill. (See Matt. 5:21,22.) No doubt it will be acknowledged that there is no higher authority upon the subject than this. The courts will therefore be obliged to take cognizance of hatred as a violation of Section 6 of this State law, of lust as a violation of Section 7, etc., and inflict the penalties specified in the Act. The enlargement of the State prisons and penitentiaries which the punishment of such persons, together with all who were covetous, would demand, it would be needless to try to specify. The penal institutions would simply have to be made large enough to take in the entire population of the State."
We heartily concur in the Sentinel's comments, but must point out an inconsistency. The Sentinel is an able representative of "Seventh-Day-Adventism;" and the back-bone of that institution is the Law given at Mt. Sinai, referred to above. That Law is held out continually as the criterion for all "Seventh-Day Adventists;" and it is claimed that all who do not keep that law will fail to obtain eternal life. Why then should the Sentinel, above all other journals, object to the enforcement of that Law?
Ah! despite its theory, that the Law is in force upon Christians as it was upon the Jews, the Sentinel cannot help seeing that no member of the fallen race can keep that Law. Hence its comment that, if it be enforced, "the entire population of the State" (including Seventh-Day Adventists) will be found guilty of violating it. The essence of the gospel is that our Lord Jesus, having kept the Law perfectly, gave his life a ransom price (not to break or destroy the Law, but) to justify believers, not by the Law, but by faith.
"THY WONDERS ARE A MIGHTY DEEP!"
As a marvel, the telegraph, by which an energy can be communicated at a distance, prepared the way for the still greater marvel, the telephone, by which sounds and tones can be communicated long distances. Next came the Roentgen or X-ray, by which rays of light can be passed through a plank, a tree, or a human being. Now, finally--no, not finally, for we know not what may await us in the future still more marvelous --the latest wonder is a method of telegraphy without wires or any other connections. Progress has been made in this direction for some time past, and some success was attained by W. H. Preece, head of the British government telegraph system. But now complete success has been reached by a young Italian, named Marconi, whose device has been patented and is now being put into practical operation along the British coast, for communicating from shore stations to light-ships, from half a mile to twenty miles distant.
Experiments show that the electric influence is exerted through or by peculiar vibrations upon the air (250,000,000 per second) which affect a "receiver" and produce a record similar to a telegram by wire. It is expected that an instrument of large size would communicate all around the world simultaneously, wherever "receivers" were placed for recording the messages. These wave currents pass through brick, stone and iron walls as readily as through open air. Astounding as it may seem, the only fear expressed is that "in using the instruments on an iron clad [war vessel] the waves [of ether] might explode the [powder] magazine of the ship."
After six thousand years of human pride and boasting, God is now saying to mankind, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the people, I will be exalted in the earth."--Psa. 46:10.
What now will so-called Rationalists say to their former boast that they believe only what is tangible? And what about certain Christian (Second Adventists and others) who on rationalistic grounds claim that there could be no such thing as a spirit body, invisible to human sight, and accordingly dispute that our Lord, after his resurrection, came into the upper room while "the doors were shut" and claim, contrary to the inspired record, that he opened the doors and came in unnoticed. [R2146 : page 131]
By and by the world will have such evidences of invisible things in nature, that faith in spiritual things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of the natural man to conceive, will be an easy matter.
Meantime the infidels of the world are rapidly becoming "Spiritualists"--deceived by the fallen angels from whom God's people are protected by the instructions of the Holy Scriptures.