VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
FALLEN FROM GRACE VERSUS COLLAPSED.
MORE evident does it become, daily, that our Lord's declaration, "Babylon is fallen!" does not signify the outward collapse of "Churchianity;" but that nominal "Christendom" has fallen from divine favor;--just as the fall of national Judaism from divine favor, at the rejection and crucifixion of Messiah at his first presence, meant not the collapse at the moment of that religio-political system. The collapse of Judaism came after it had been fallen from divine favor for 37 years, viz., in A.D. 69-70; and during that interim God's true people, "Israelites indeed," were called out by the voice of the Gospel Dispensation. And just so now, the collapse of nominal Christianity, "Christendom" or "Babylon," is not to be expected until A.D. 1914, tho fallen from favor since 1878. The collapse will be sudden and awful when it does come: and while only the few realize the fallen-from-grace condition of Babylon in the present, none will be ignorant of her collapse when it comes. But to know then will be too late so far as the little flock of overcomers is concerned;--they are all called now, during the interim, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues"--punishment.--Rev. 18:2,4.
The collapse of Babylon is graphically described by the Revelator as like the casting of a great millstone into the sea, saying, "Thus [suddenly], with violence shall that great city, Babylon, be thrown down and be found no more at all." Her sudden destruction is described as a great conflagration, and the declaration is made that it is because "the hour of her judgment [krisis]" will have come, that she will thus suffer overthrow or "plagues." "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day [prophetic time is a day for a year], death and mourning and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." Whoever are worthy the name, "my people," will hear and obey the Lord's voice and come out of Babylon and "receive not of her plagues;" because their obedience in fleeing out as soon as they see Babylon's real condition will prove that they were never in real accord with her sins. Those who remain after seeing Babylon and her blasphemous doctrines in the light now shining are reckoned as endorsing the blasphemies and deserving the "plagues" most thoroughly --as much or more than the "tare" class of Babylonians, because they have greater light.
Many err in not fleeing promptly when first they realize the true condition of affairs. Some say,--I will use my office or influence in Babylon, and then obey the Lord after I have gathered some of the "wheat." They forget that obedience is better than all else in divine estimation--better even than sacrifice. Are they wiser than God that they may even for a month advantageously or safely ignore his Word? Later on they find that even the "tare" class consider them as having for a time at least "dissembled" and misrepresented their own faith as well as misrepresented the faith of the denomination which they had agreed to uphold. Their influence which at first might have been powerful for the truth becomes vitiated by reason of their neglect to obey God's voice--by their attempt to guide themselves and to lean to their own understanding.
Others say, I am free from Babylon in spirit, God knows! Altho my name is still on the denominational rolls, I take no interest in her affairs--my sympathies are all with the truth, and I rarely attend other meetings. But is this right--to be half out and half in [R2553 : page 4] Babylon? Is this the obedience required of an "overcomer" and pleasing and acceptable to God? Surely not. He publicly entered into a covenant with the denomination when he joined it, and he should faithfully live up to all the conditions of that covenant until he as publicly renounces or cancels his membership.
Others say, I merely retain my membership in the church and sing in the choir, etc., for the sake of peace in my family: otherwise I would speedily withdraw. But is this "overcoming," or being overcome? The latter, surely: it is a balancing of regard for God and his Word, with regard for husband or wife or children or friends and their wishes. Thus the Lord tests us, whether we love houses, lands, reputation, friends, husband, wife or children, more than him! We should be prompt to obey and thus to show that to us God's will is superior to every other consideration.
Additionally, we once said to a dear brother who made such a remark as the above: Brother, excuse the illustration, but it may help you to see your position on this question in its true light if I tell you of a matter which, seems to me, aptly illustrates your position in a way you have not thus far thought of it. It is this: In Chicago, at one of the great butchering establishments (perhaps at all) they have a trained bullock whose duty it is to decoy the cattle that are ready for slaughter. The bewildered cattle are naturally fearful of harm and would be difficult to drive to the butchering spot, but with the decoy bull they are easily led. He gallops up to the herd tossing his head and tail as a friendly greeting and then, wheeling around, he becomes their leader and gallops off along the narrow passage where they can go only single file. He knows well his business, and when near the killing place he steps aside into a little space provided for him alone, while the herd push one another along to their slaughter. Now, dear brother (we remarked), you and others in the nominal churches, who know better and who merely sing, or preach, or hold some petty "office," or merely help to count another one on the reports of Babylon's prosperity or to give another dollar to her millions, are like the decoy bull--using your knowledge and influence to the injury and bondage of others who, seeking the right way of true liberty and life, are looking to you for counsel and being misled by your example. The brother in question at once thankfully acknowledged the force of the illustration, and requested that some of the free "Withdrawal Letters" and tracts to accompany them be sent him for his use in getting free and setting a worthy example to others.
THE FEDERATION OF BABYLON.
"Christendom" was united in the dark ages, and the results were terrible, every way. The more truth and reformation came in, the more did "Christendom" split up. Had the reform continued, and had the light of truth shined still more clearly, the result would have been that split after split would have occurred, until each individual Christian would have stood free, and all denominationalism would have perished. This would be the ideal condition; for all the unions of the past and present are unscriptural and tend to impede the Christian's progress. They are mechanical unions, and not heart unions: they are the [R2554 : page 4] work of Satan, and not God's workmanship: they tend to prevent heart-union and foster errors, which otherwise would quickly die. Not until enlightened by the spirit of God's Word are any prepared to exercise the liberty wherewith Christ makes free indeed, and to come out from all false Christian unions or sectarian communions into that broad place which recognizes one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one Church, whose names are written in heaven. And only such are prepared for proper union on the same basis as that of the primitive church of Apostolic times.
When, therefore, we from time to time in these columns allude to the growing evidences of a federative union among all the great denominations of Christendom, and when we point out that the Scriptures indicate such a union, let no one suppose that either we or the Scriptures approve of such a union, or consider that its influence will be favorable to either the truth or the "saints." Quite to the contrary, the influence will be baneful: whatever is encouraging or helpful to Babylon is proportionately injurious to the true Church. The various sects of Christendom realize that many of the doctrinal errors, which have heretofore bound their votaries helplessly and mechanically, will no longer hold as firmly as before, and they are supplanting these with new bonds of later device: viz., love of respectability and pride in denominational name and prosperity--a party spirit. And instead of the discredited doctrines (which can no longer be unfurled as standards, but which must be carried along tightly closed) they are raising the standard of moral and political reform, the banner of a new crusade.
No one can say that their crusade is an evil of itself; and only the few who are spiritually minded (the true Church) in and out of their sects can so much as see that moral and political reform is a worldly work and not the commission of the Church which is anointed to preach, not such reforms, but the cross of Christ and complete regeneration of heart.
Those who are looking for a union in Christendom in which denominational names and denominational lines will be obliterated, are looking for what they will never see until the great collapse comes, and the entire "Christendom" system, social, religious, political [R2554 : page 5] and financial goes down in the great anarchous trouble with which the present age will close. The union which will be cemented will be largely one of common sentiment and cooperation in moral and political reforms. And this federative union, as already pointed out, began in 1846 in the organization of the Evangelical Alliance. We are looking yearly for its final knot to be tied in some manner that will include with other Protestant denominations the Episcopal Church, and a working agreement with Papacy.
Thus the "Image of the Beast" (Rev. 13) will receive life--vigor, energy--be made active. And that activity which will seem to promise great things for Babylon, and which will actively suppress liberty and be exerted powerfully against the spread of the truths now published by us, will be but the lifting up of the great millstone preparatory to its being violently and quickly destroyed, for it will soon be evident that such a new union of church and state (wholly different from that of the past) will be a union of the classes against the masses: and it will be the rising of the masses in revolution that will, as God's agency, hurl the Babylon system to utter destruction.
THE TIME OF OPPORTUNITY IS SHORT.
The more clearly we see present conditions and foresee those approaching, the more it should stimulate our zeal to be and to do while we have the opportunity --for a dark night approaches, wherein no man can work. Whoever desires to lay up treasures in heaven, by voluntarily sacrificing time, money, influence and other earthly considerations for the service of the Lord by service of the "brethren," should bestir himself, lest the harvest pass, and the summer of opportunity end, and he find that he has failed to offer his sacrifice which he presented to God theoretically when he was baptized into Christ's death. And whoever, having become nominally a member of the "royal priesthood," does not offer any sacrifice during this Gospel Day of sacrifice forfeits his place as a member of that priesthood--his name will surely be blotted out and the crown, apportioned to him on the strength of his covenant to sacrifice, will be set over to another who will appreciate and use the privilege of self-denial, self-sacrifice, suffering with Christ.
THE PROSPECTS FOR 1900.
It is our opinion that the year just beginning will be a very prosperous year for the truth. This is not merely "a wish, father to the thought," nor is it because the "Good Hopes" already sent in seem to give promise of funds for a wider spread of the truth; for, as an offset, we have noticed that our paper (the chief item of cost in our publications) will cost us nearly double what it did last year--in other words, a dollar will do only about sixty cents worth as compared to last year. No; but we have felt for several months past that Churchianity has reached and is at a crisis, where a cleaveage is sure to take place,--which will separate from her some true saints who hitherto have been perplexed respecting the Lord's will, but who will now gradually become convinced that "Babylon" is no longer his mouthpiece, but already spewed out of his mouth (Rev. 3:16), and that her evolutionary teachings are not of him but in radical opposition to his Word and plan.
We have confidence that God's time is ripe for present truth to be more widely made known among his people as a part of the gospel which is either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. We have confidence, too, that all the money and all the colaborers necessary will be forthcoming, and we are arranging plans accordingly. Those who cooperate will share the service and the blessings attendant; those who do not use their privileges will but mar their own blessings, but shall not hinder the work that is due to be done. "The Lord will provide!" Indeed, we expect that each year now will note rapid spread of the truth until "the door is shut;"--until the work is interfered with forcibly by outside influences. Then we shall understand that our work is done--that the "elect" have all been sealed, and that nought remains but to "stand" and assist others to stand. Indeed, this, as we all know, is a most important part of the present; for, while others are being reached with the truth, those already blessed are being assaulted by the Adversary, so that all may be tested and only the faithful be able to stand.--See Eph. 6:10-18.
TO HIM THAT HATH USED SHALL MORE BE GIVEN.
The "Volunteer" spirit is growing. Those who have served thus have been blessed and are more anxious for the conquest than they were for the first. They look abroad and see thousands blinded by the god of this world enlisting to kill and be killed, and they read the reports of the killed, wounded and prisoners, and the hardships endured, and the taxes to be borne; and then they say: How small is the service, how slight the hardship and suffering and self-denial our gracious King is willing to accept as "reasonable service" from us who have consecrated to him our all --even unto death--and to whom he has already given such rich rewards as well as promised us a share in his Millennial Kingdom. We are resolved that neither cares of this life, nor pride, nor self-ease shall hinder us from engaging in this battle against darkness and the influences of the Prince of Darkness. On the contrary, we will be yet more vigilant, yet more enthusiastic [R2554 : page 6] in planting the Truth, the standard of our King, where it can be seen by many now ignorantly fighting against him and it.
Let none think of the "Volunteers" as illiterate "hand-bill-distributers." Quite to the contrary, these "ministers of the truth" who are reaching larger numbers and exerting a greater influence than if they occupied the chief pulpits of the land, are far above the average of those whom they serve--both in secular and in Biblical intelligence. One is a stove-manufacturer and dealer; several are storekeepers, one owning and successfully managing five stores; some are college graduates, architects and civil engineers; some are clerks holding remunerative positions of trust--one of the latter, besides doing diligent "Volunteer" work, economized rigidly his living expenses and accumulated five hundred dollars during last year, which he sent to our Society to assist in publishing more "good-tidings-amunition." Several are the chosen leaders of meetings in their various localities; several are stenographers (male and female); at least two are artists, one of these of distinction as a portrait painter; others are house-wives; others are mechanics, who, after a week of toil, find recreation and heart-refreshment by spending part of each Sunday as messengers (angels) of the Lord to carry to their "brethren" yet in Babylon the true gospel message,--"good-tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people" through "him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood."
Plenty of worldly business can command such servants because of the pay offered; but no other religious work has ever called for and gotten volunteers of this class, nor for a work of this kind, whose only pay in the present time is the divine blessing "a hundred fold more in this present time with persecution, --and in the world to come eternal life"--"glory, honor and immortality." No other gospel was ever worthy of so intelligent a class of servants: but as respects this gospel its most honorable servants feel that all that they have and are, are offerings far too insignificant to testify to God their new-found appreciation of his glorious character and plan. They feel impelled to pay their vows unto the Lord, to keep their covenant [R2555 : page 6] of self-sacrifice even unto death, because they have the genuine faith in the Lord's promises, which works by love and purifies the heart from pride and selfishness.
A FRESH CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS.
In the world's warfare defeat leads to fresh calls for soldiers: with us success calls for more "Volunteers" and more success and more blessing, "riches of grace" (with possibly more persecution and slander) and by and by "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." There is more, much more work to be done, and we are desirous that many more of the Lord's consecrated people should share the heart-cheer and character-strengthening which this service affords.
Here is the very opportunity for which you have prayed--an opportunity for serving the truth, and the Lord and the "brethren." You wished and prayed for the needful talents to present these good tidings, and you hoped and prayed for opportunities and for means: and now, behold! the Lord has provided you all these in this "Volunteer" work. Notice that it is a "reasonable service" as no other is; because--
(1) It is not an unreasonable misrepresentation of God's character and plan and methods with drum and tambourine, and singing of hymns to concert-hall tunes, misnamed divine worship and service.
(2) It is not the unreasonable misrepresentation of the divine character and plan as preached in one-half the 200,000 pulpits of "Christendom" which blasphemes God's character and misrepresents his plan by declaring that only the saints of the present time will ever be saved--far less than one out of every thousand of the world's population;* and that the great mass, both of the living and the dead, will spend an eternity in torment indescribable.
(3) It is not the unreasonable misrepresentation of God's character and plan presented in the other half of the pulpits of "Christendom"--which, ashamed of their "hell fire and damnation creeds," hypocritically acknowledge them, while actually they deny them and preach "another gospel" of Evolution and Higher Criticism, which makes void the Word and plan of God, and repudiates the cross of Christ and all necessity for his atoning sacrifice.
(4) It is a "reasonable service" because it appeals only to reason and Scripture, as no other gospel message on earth or known among men appeals to these, and to no other authorities and standards. And it does this, too, in a most reasonable manner: not like some by making false professions and taking vows in order to get into pulpits and into college-professorships, and under good salaries, to capture the sects ("creeping into houses and leading captive silly women"), but by kindly proffering without money and without price the priceless jewel of consistent truth which from our own experience we know will bless every true recipient. Nor has the Lord given us cause for shame respecting the form in which our messages are delivered--they are neat, creditable to the most refined who engage in the service. And in turn "the adornment of a meek and quiet spirit" which the Lord's faithful take to this humble service (laying down their lives for the brethren)
*One in a thousand of the world's population would be 1,600,000. That many saints would be a power for good. [R2555 : page 7] is one of the strongest sermons or epistles of Christ-likeness that can be presented to those we may hope to interest, and it already has spoken loudly to those who at first were too prejudiced to read.
(5) Could there be a more blessed or a more reasonable service than this? Nay, verily! We can fancy, indeed, that the heavenly angels look down upon our privileges and opportunities and fondly desire that in divine providence it might have been their privilege to join with us in this most reasonable, most honorable and most blessed service.
THE PLAN OF CAMPAIGN FOR 1900.
Confident of the reenlistment of the veterans of 1899, we have prepared for them a new campaign which we believe they will heartily enjoy. We will get ready for Spring campaign hundreds of thousands of pamphlets which we believe you will enjoy using. We will call for Volunteers and reenlistments about March, so please be ready.
Meantime most of the "volunteers" have plenty of work for the suitable weather between now and spring; and the spirit of the Lord--the spirit of love for the Lord, love for the truth and love for the "brethren" --is constantly constraining fresh volunteers for places not yet served with the booklet, "Bible vs. Evolution," and we are printing and will continue to print, plenty of these to supply the demand.
The new booklets will be supplied only for the
fields where the other distribution has been made.
This free offer for this special work will not affect the
regular selling prices of the booklets;--they are not
free for any other kind of service, tho all are supplied
at very low rates. We hope that we may have many
and prompt responses to this call for Gideon's Band,
armed with the Jubilee trumpet to give the joyful
sound, and with lights in their vessels,--ready and
willing to break the vessels, to let the light shine out
while they cause the joyful sound of the real good
tidings to sound throughout the land.--See
Judges Chap. VII.
OUR ELIMS.--TO MY BELOVED PASTOR.
Our way winds upward on the rocky steep,
And narrow is the path our feet must tread;
We still press on through shade or noontide heat--
Pilgrims to Canaan through a desert led.
The way is rough, and weary grow our feet,
Yet faint we not--the goal is fair and sweet.
Yet, as we onward urge our weary way,
Sometimes a sigh escapes, a tear will fall;
Our load grows heavy, and the glaring day
And heat and wayside dust our hearts appal.
Yet our Leader loves us well and notes our sigh,
His help is sure, His presence ever nigh.
We lift our eyes, and lo! a shelving rock
And sparkling spring and waving palms are near;
With glad and quickened feet and eager joy,
We haste to this fair Elim-grove of cheer.
We loose our sandals by the brooklet sweet
And in its waters bathe our weary feet.
And as we take again our onward way,
We pluck fair blossoms, delicate and rare,
We breathe their perfume sweet throughout the day,
The rugged path has grown most strangely fair;
And thus our Father in His tender love,
Doth bless us and His loving-kindness prove.
And thus, dear friend, as you go on your way,
Walking this path our loving Master trod,
With patient, trusting heart from day to day,
Keeping the road that leads to "Home" and God,
May these blest "Elims" often cheer your heart,
That you may ever choose the "better part!"
May blossoms, too, along your path be found,
Blossoms of love, and true and kindly deed,
Most fair and sweet--fragrant with tender thoughts,
And loving gratitude--your earthly meed.
And may I hope, dear friend, my gift may be
One of these wayside blossoms sweet to thee?
With much Christian love, "A happy Christmas and New Year."
ALICE G. JAMES,--Illinois, Dec. 25th, 1899.