VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE Episcopal Convention has closed its session without electing one of its Bishops a "Primus" or chief; so that question lies over for three years more.
The tendency, however, among the "clergy" of all denominations, is toward the episcopal form of church government, and away from the congregational form. And each step in this direction is favorable to the federation of all with the Episcopal church.
The Lutherans are moving for at least one bishop, believing that in this form of government lies much of the success of Episcopaleans, Methodist-Episcopals and Roman Catholics. At their recent Conference at Lancaster, Pa., the subject of bishops was freely discussed. The "clergy" said that the "laity" favored the movement; and the only question amongst the "clergy" seemed to be whether or not they should send to Sweden for a bishop. It was not claimed that the Lutherans had an apostolic succession of bishops any more than have the Methodists; but it was claimed that long usage would carry additional respect and reverence for the office.
"Rev. Dr. John Kohler said the church wanted a historical succession. He thought a proper authority could not sustain the establishment of an indefinite supervision, but if the episcopate be established the history of the past would be a good authority back of the movement."
The Baptists are gravitating more and more toward denominational organization; and, failing to see the Lord's method for supervising the Church, they also are moving toward a hierarchy with bishops. These are not proposed under these names, but suggested to be (1) A "Permanent Council" and (2) "Pastor at Large." These matters, recommended by a committee, are set forth in several columns of the leading Baptist journal, The Examiner. Apparently, by the time the Protestant Federation is ready to form, the Baptist churches will be a denomination also and ready to be received as a member of the alliance.
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We recently called attention to the fact that the young people's societies amongst the United Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Baptists were intended in a quiet way to offset the Y.P. Christian Endeavor Society which, starting amongst Congregationalists, had proved so popular and unsectarian a movement. Now it appears that our Presbyterian friends are disturbed on this subject also, fearing that their young people will become too independent, and, learning to vote for themselves, may learn also to think for themselves. A committee appointed to consider the subject met in Pittsburg during the past month. It appears that young people's societies have already been formed in several of the churches hereabouts, and the name Westminster is favorably considered. No definite action as to a denominational society has yet been taken, but the committee will report to the next General Assembly.
Objection is made that Christian Endeavor societies are too "interdenominational," and not calculated to promote sectarian "loyalty." The hope was expressed that if the General Assembly were to offer some suggestions the C.E. Society might accept them rather than risk so important a deflection. It is doubtful, however, if it is not too late to fight the Y.P.S.C.E. It is as likely to split some churches as to split the ranks of the Christian Endeavorers. Young Presbyterians are about as independent as the old ones.
After all, though, the liberty and activity of the C.E. may yet prove a snare to many of them. Not having the great divine plan before their minds, they are open to many assaults from which they were previously protected by the [R1897 : page 272] bondage of superstition and the errors of their denominations. Now is the time to let these Young People have the truth, before they fall into the traps of Theosophy, Christian Science, Spiritism, no-ransom evolutionism, the infidelity of Higher Criticism and Good Citizenship moralism.
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As an evidence of the so-called gospel that is being preached, we notice the following among "Summary of Principal Sermons" in the N.O. Times-Democrat:
Rev. F. F. Passmore, Denver, Col., subject, Preachers. He said in substance, "Our great preachers to-day are preaching for big salaries, fine mansions and sumptuous living, and they are getting them."
Rev. Dr. Lloyd, Christian Church, Nashville, Tenn., subject, Ignorance. He in substance said: "The greatest tyrant oppressing the masses to-day is King Ignorance. A people rushing at such a rate of progress as we are going to-day need to keep informed, to think some for themselves. They should read the newspapers."
How to vote is also considered by many preachers to be a part of the gospel to-day. As an illustration, on Sunday evening, Oct. 20, the Cornell Memorial Methodist Church had a political meeting presided over by Mayor Strong, to whom it was surrendered by the pastor after an opening prayer. The Mayor, the report says, "was greeted with loud applause." The N.Y. Sun says, "He told the [R1898 : page 272] congregation that 'a better ticket to vote for than the fusion ticket' could not be selected; and he complimented 'the clergy of New York' for being 'willing to devote an evening,' that is, to open their churches on Sunday evening, for political meetings in its behalf. 'This is the third church,' he continued, 'that I have been invited to attend to-night to talk about whom we should vote for, and I suppose next Sunday there will be many more churches open for the same purpose.'
"Commissioner Roosevelt then entered the pulpit and was received with enthusiastic applause. He made a rattling speech in his best vein, hitting out against his critics without mercy; and his many spirited sallies provoked frequent applause and much merriment." The session closed by singing the Doxology.
In the same great city recently another great preacher's gospel was an advocacy of the German Sunday. He (Rev. Heber Newton--Episcopalean) explained that the Germans have services at 9.30 Sunday morning which are well attended; at 11 o'clock the children's session has its turn till noon. In the afternoon the whole population in families visit the beer gardens and chat pleasantly and drink beer and listen to the strains of sweet music. Rev. Newton pleads for saloons to be permitted to be open on Sunday afternoons that the American Christians might similarly have the (spiritual?) refreshment of music and beer.
How strange that those various preachers and their intelligent congregations should consider that they preach and hear "the Gospel of the Son of God." Ah! they think that the old, old story is worn out and has lost its charm; they consider the crowds and the applause of men and the big salaries,--and these they must have.
The trouble is that in both the pulpits and pews the "tares" outnumber the "wheat," the sanctified in Christ Jesus. The gospel, because it acts only upon the heart, controls only the "wheat." The preponderating "tare" element needs constantly to be rubbing up the outside, because inwardly they are full of the spirit of the world --pride, ambition, selfishness, envy. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."--Rev. 18:4.
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A speculative craze has recently spread over Europe. South African gold fields are reported to be very rich; and on the strength of this report numerous share-companies have been started. The purchasers of these shares are chiefly of the "middle classes" who by economy have saved a little money, and who now hope by these investments to have a comfortable income for the remainder of life. Beginning with England, this wave has spread all over Europe.
Prudent, far-sighted men see that the "promoters" who organize these companies and boom them to fabulous prices will make immense fortunes (many have done so already), and that the people who invest their hard-earned hoardings at the boom prices will lose their little alls; and they so advise them, but to no purpose;--the whole world is racing for wealth.
The boom may last a year or two, but it must sooner or later collapse in a panic. The fluctuations in the value of these shares in one day recently was $500,000,000. When the crash comes and these investors lose all it will tend to make them, the "middle class," sour, gloomy and dejected; and thus it will push many of them into the ranks of the socialistic and anarchistic, hopeless "lower classes." Thus we see another factor preparing for the bringing forward of the great crash of the "time of trouble."
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The threatened dismemberment of Turkey is exciting great interest the world over. It seems imminent; and our "Second Adventist" friends have long held the theory that Turkey is the False Prophet of Rev. 19:20, and that its overthrow means "the end of the world." As our readers are aware, we take a totally different view of these things, believing that Turkey has nothing whatever to do with the symbolic False Prophet referred to. Should dismemberment be determined on it will be done very cautiously; for all Europe dreads war as never before. But if war should occur, it would by no means be even a part of the final "trouble such as was not since there was a nation." If this were the year 1905, instead of 1895, the matter would have a totally different aspect. How blessed in the midst of so many rumors of wars and commotions and trials of life to have the peace of God which passeth all understanding keep our hearts! Our Master's words were, "My peace [R1898 : page 273] I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
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We have already called attention to the Jew-haters, the anti-Semitic party of Austria. It grows more bitter and more strong daily. This party has by recent elections gained a large majority in the Municipal Council of Vienna, on the proposition that the Jews be persecuted--by being refused public office and contracts, that present contracts held by them shall be cancelled and that their children be separated from others in the public schools: and these are only beginnings of persecutions. This Council elected a rabid "Jew-hater" for mayor, charged with executing these measures. The Emperor, contrary to custom, exercised his power and set aside the choice and ordered a new election. The Council re-elected the same man by way of showing their determination; whereupon the Emperor's representative declared the Council dissolved. Great excitement results, and the Jews, who represent one-tenth of the population and one-third of the wealth, are sorely perplexed.
Yes, we are in "the time of Jacob's trouble;" and we shall not be surprised if bitterness against the race shall reach such intensity as to expel them from Austria, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal--possibly from England. The Lord has promised to gather the "remnant of Israel" that they shall come back to their own land "with weeping and with supplication."--Jer. 31:8-10.