VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER extends to its readers, one and all--Best Wishes for the Year 1895. It may, and no doubt will, have its storms, its difficulties, its trials: such experiences our Lord advises us are necessary to the development in us of character. What the effect of the trial will be lies with each of us to decide for himself. We may permit them to discourage us so that we would give up the race for the prize set before us in the gospel; or we may grow stronger and more Christ-like as the result of those experiences. Which will it be with us?
It may be a year of profitable progress in the knowledge and service of our Lord and Redeemer, and of helpfulness to the fellow-members of his body, or it may be marked by increasing confusion and uncertainty--darkness --concerning things once clearly seen and greatly rejoiced in and a time of confusing the minds and stumbling the faith of others.
Which course do we choose, and with what degree of positiveness do we make our choice, at this, the beginning of this new year? Much of our comfort, joy and peace and usefulness in the Lord's service depends on our decision. It was so last year: it was one of increase or else one of decrease in spiritual knowledge, strength and usefulness. It is so with every year,--yes, with every week and every day.
Of course no one will decide to go into darkness and away from the Lord and the Truth. The test is a more crucial one than that. The question is will we take and keep the path that leads nearer and nearer to the Lord, and be permitted more and more fellowship with him, a fuller and fuller knowledge of the minutiae of the great plan of the ages which he is out-working, and a greater share in that work with the great Chief-Reaper, or will we allow self-interest or self-conceit or ambition or spiritual sloth or the cares of this life to turn us aside from the path of full consecration which our Master trod and in which we have pledged ourselves to follow, in his footsteps.
The right path is still the "narrow path" of self-abasement and self-denial--the path of meekness and humility: and it will require as much effort and grace to walk it this year as last, or possibly more; for the more we grow in grace and knowledge, the stronger will be the temptations to be boastful, puffed up, heady, high-minded; and the higher we climb in faith and hope and love and activity in the Lord's service, the more the great Adversary will oppose our progress, and the more his emissaries will slander, backbite, and generally seek to injure us. "Beware of dogs."--Phil. 3:2.
But this is only one side of the matter; for, while the more exposed to Satan's attacks and to severer tests of our hope, faith and love, as we go onward in our narrow way, we will have increasing spiritual joys, peace beyond compare, and will be enabled to rejoice even in trials and tribulations, knowing that these are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. We will be enabled to endure, as seeing him that is invisible, as being upheld and led by his hand. We will have the promise of his presence in every trouble, and that he will never leave us nor forsake us; and that all things (even the seeming evils of life) he is able and willing to over-rule for our highest good;--because we love God and his way and his plan more than self and self's ways--because we are called according to his purpose and have accepted the call, are in sympathy with its object and are seeking so far as in us lies to walk worthy of the Lord and his high calling, and thus to make our calling and election sure.
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Beloved, let us each and all silently pledge ourselves afresh, to the Lord, that, by his grace assisting, this year, 1895, shall be started aright, in humility and with loving zeal for Him and his people and his truth: and that, his grace still assisting us, the year to its very close shall be one of onward and upward effort and progress in the knowledge and likeness (graces) and services of our Redeemer-King.
THE SOCIAL VIEW.
E. V. Debbs, President of the American Railway Union, has been found guilty of Contempt of Court in connection with the railroad strike and attendant rioting in and near Chicago last summer. His sentence is, Imprisonment for six months. Seven other officers of the same union shared the sentence to the extent of three months.
Our remarks are regardless entirely of the justice of the case, when we say that the effect will be to help widen the breach between Labor and Capital. Labor will surely conclude that it should have liberty to accomplish its ends, even though blood should flow, business be prostrated and all other men inconvenienced. And they will, of course, regard the Judge who gave the sentence as a tool of Capital, and the laws under which he acted and ruled as made in the interest of railroads, even though it could be shown that the laws existed before railroads were dreamed of. As respect for law and its representatives dies, anarchistic ideas will flourish; for however fallen and degraded men are, they have respect for justice. This idea, therefore, that they are subjects of unjust laws and unjust decisions, is at the foundation of the growing unrest amongst the masses. They will even admit the injustice of their own course in interfering with the rights of others; but they will claim that they are merely fighting injustice with injustice.
The fact is that machinery, invention and general intelligence have brought in new conditions to which the laws of the past, however reasonable in their day, are no longer adapted; and it is a fear and despair for the future that is goading many unwillingly to violation of laws which they admit contain wisdom and justice, but which are inadequate to the relief of present conditions.
Capital fears, but, unwilling to lose increment, hopes. It vainly hopes that labor has been taught a lesson to right their wrongs, or fancied disadvantages, by some other means than stopping commerce and destroying property. It does not stop to arrange matters, and to fix a proper relief, a safety-valve. It says, Let Labor look out for itself. It will watch its own interests: it keeps us busy to mind our own business. It does not wisely foresee that it will require much less to drive the majority to despair and to bring an explosion today than at any previous time when the masses were less intelligent, their wants fewer and their contentment greater.
Thus all things are moving onward toward the grand catastrophe pointed out in the Scriptures as the close of this dispensation and the preparation for the next and better one under our prince Immanuel.
The coal mines at Monthieux, France, once operated by a stock company which experienced much trouble in dealing with its workmen, were finally turned over to its workmen free of charge. After a struggle the mine has [R1752 : page 4] gotten to a paying basis, and now requires additional hands. The additional men were not granted a share in the mine, but were hired as wage-workers, and are surprised that their fellows so soon learned to be capitalists. Riots ensued and the laboring capitalists were forced to apply to the police for aid. So says the Hanoverische Courier.
Alas! how differently people can reason under different circumstances. And so long as selfishness rules the heart, it will be so. The only remedy for unbalanced minds on all such subjects is the writing in the heart of the divine law of Love. This will bring "the spirit of a sound mind," and enable those who possess it to think soberly and reasonably, and to look not every man upon his own interest, but also upon the interests of others.
THE RELIGIOUS VIEW.
The Catholic journals are in great glee over the fact that a Roman Catholic priest was recently invited by Dr. Briggs and the faculty in general of Union Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) to preach before its students and professors. The Catholic Mirror assures its readers:
"Nothing could be more gratifying to Father Doyle than the reception he was accorded at the theological seminary. Professors and students received him with true brotherly warmth. He was accompanied by Father O'Callaghan (who recently had the distinction of preaching before Harvard University students) and Father O'Keefe. This line of light along our religious horizon is a most comforting sign."
Dr. Briggs, in introducing the speaker, said some things very pleasant to Catholic ears, and hoped that the reunion between Catholics and Protestants was not far distant.
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Religious and secular journals, Catholic and Protestant, are discussing the possibility of reunion, and the Protestant Episcopal Church, it is thought, will be invited from Rome ere long, and many think it will readily accept the invitation. We do not share this opinion. To us the Scriptures indicate that the Church of England will unite with the other Protestant churches, or they with her, and that federated together they will fraternize, but not unite, with Papacy.
The thirty-first article of the Anglican confession avers:--
"Wherefore the sacrifices of masses, in which it was commonly said that the priest did offer up Christ, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits."
Even aside from the Scriptures we should reason that very many intelligent Protestants could never accept all of Rome's doctrines. And Rome dare not change them; for her chief claim is infallibility.
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The New Theology has broken out afresh amongst the Baptist. Its leader is Rev. A. H. Strong, D.D., president [R1752 : page 5] of Rochester Theological Seminary. Of course he has peculiar ideas, which are "original," if not patented. His views have a strong coloring of Buddhism and Theosophy. Indeed, the Doctor announces himself as a Monist, and he does not scruple to claim that literature, theology and philosophy all evince the overwhelming drift of modern thought toward the views which he has himself finally espoused as the true theology. He declares:--
"It is not too much to say that the Monistic philosophy, in its various forms, holds at present undisputed sway in our American Universities. Harvard and Yale, Brown and Cornell, Princeton and Rochester, Toronto and Ann Arbor, Boston and Chicago, are all teaching it.
"It is of great importance, both to the preacher and to the Christian, to hold the right attitude toward the ruling idea of our time. This universal tendency toward Monism --is it a wave of unbelief, set agoing by an evil intelligence, in order to overwhelm and swamp the religion of Christ? Or is it a mighty movement of the Spirit of God, giving to thoughtful men, all unconsciously to themselves, a deeper understanding of truth, and preparing the way for the reconciliation of diverse creeds and parties by disclosing their hidden ground of unity?
"I confess that I have come to believe the latter alternative to be possibly, and even probably, the correct one; and I am inclined to welcome the new philosophy as a most valuable helper in interpreting the Word and works of God. Monism is, without much doubt, the philosophy of the future, and the only question would seem to be whether it shall be an ethical and Christian, or a nonethical and anti-Christian, Monism.
"If we refuse to recognize this new movement of thought, and to capture it for Christ, we may find that materialism and pantheism perversely launch their craft upon the tide and compel it to further their progress. Let us tentatively accept the monistic principle, and give to it a certain Christian interpretation. Let us not be found fighting against God. Let us use the new light that is given us, as a means of penetrating more deeply into the meaning of Scripture. Let us see in this forward march of thought a sign that Christ and his Kingdom are conquering and to conquer."
How remarkable that a man of learning, nay, that nearly all the men of learning, are being duped by Satan either into spiritism or into theosophic-monism, its sister error. It calls to our minds the words of the Lord that, If it were possible they would deceive the very elect; the Apostle's words, "Who shall be able to stand?" and the Prophet's words, "Who may abide the day of his coming? for he shall be as a refiner's fire and as fuller's soap." The fully consecrated only will stand; and they, not because of their own superior wisdom, but because, being humble minded and wise toward God, they seek that wisdom which cometh from above--the Word of God.
Dr. Strong, like Dr. Briggs and all "new theology" people, speaks respectfully of the Bible while he criticizes it, and thereby will do far more harm than if he openly denied its teachings, as he does in fact. They know very well that the Bible is opposed to their theories, but they also know that an open attack upon it would be as unpopular as Mr. Ingersoll's course.
The new Chicago University, under Baptist patronage, was known to be far advanced toward agnosticism; but they had regarded the Rochester institution, of which Dr. Strong is the head, as very staunch. This deflection will carry with it hundreds of Baptist ministers and thousands of Baptist church members; for there are always many so anxious to be considered wide-awake and advanced that they will strive to be in the front rank of any thing headed by a notable man, and which they think likely to become popular.
Thus the "harvest sifting" progresses--in all denominations. The falling of these "stars," while it will influence the majority, will awaken the true children of God to greater thought and freedom and study. Thus the sickle of truth is separating "wheat" from "tares."
As usual, the denial of the ransom is one of the first steps in the new departure. Dr. Strong remarks concerning the atonement, that the sufferings of Christ for sin began away back at the time when Adam sinned. Hence he cannot have faith in the ransom taught in the Scriptures --"a corresponding price"--the death of the man Christ Jesus for, and to secure the release from the death sentence of Adam and all in Adam when he was condemned. The Scripture teaching is that our Redeemer was made flesh, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.--Heb. 2:9.
THE DECADENCE OF RELIGIOUS FAITH IN GERMANY.
While we have frequently called attention to the fact that Protestantism is no longer a protest against the great Papal counterfeit of true Christianity, it is worthy of note that Germany, the home of Luther and the Great Reformation of the sixteenth century, is fast sinking into open and avowed infidelity.
Many theological Professors in the schools of Germany have not only themselves become unbelievers, but through their writings have scattered wide the seeds of error and skepticism; and it is largely from these writings that many of the so-called "higher critics" of this and other lands draw their arguments against the accuracy and authority of the sacred Scriptures.
It is said by Mr. Cooper, a liberal German, that "Critics in search of a reputation are unable to find a book of the New Testament on whose authority they can make an original assault." The statement is current that the number of persons in Germany who disclaim all religion is fourteen times as great as it was in 1871.
A gentleman who has recently been traveling in Germany, in correspondence with the Lutheran Observer, says, that in Berlin, out of a population of 1,600,000, there are less than 60,000 church sittings in the entire city. In Wittenberg, the home of Luther, a city of 16,000 inhabitants, "for decades only one church has been open, and about four hundred people attend there." In Hamburg it is said that out of a population of 400,000 only 5,000 attend public worship. Dr. Stocker, the German Court preacher, published in his own journal the following:--
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"With few exceptions the academically educated German is alienated from the Christian faith. The amount of ancient culture and scientific knowledge which he must take in during the gymnasial time, without a sufficient counterbalance in the world of Christian and national thought leads the German mind, if it be not restrained by special influences, to free thinking and indifference. The discontented condition of our whole public life has its chief cause [R1753 : page 6] in this. Even upon our national relations, such false culture confuses and ungermanizes. In the Church it has wrought irreparable devastation."
Professor Scott, of the Chicago Theological Seminary, who has had extensive opportunity for observation in Germany, in a recent address said:--
"Germany is probably sinking in immorality and crime more rapidly than any other nation in Europe. In some of the cities half the births are illegitimate. In ten years saloons have increased by fifty per cent, and the people are fast becoming sodden with their immoderate beer-drinking."
While such is the religious situation in the land of the Reformation, the social and political conditions are consequently such as to awaken fearful forebodings of an ultimate reign of terror, such as France witnessed a century ago. To such an extent are socialistic and anarchistic sentiments prevailing, that the aid of Papacy, from whose tyranny they fled in the days of Luther, is now being courted in view of the greater evils of impending anarchy. Surely this is the time of "distress of nations."