VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
[The following, author unknown, came from India, from a Christian Missionary. It is excellent.]
WHAT IS THE END OF LIFE?
THE END OF LIFE is not to do good, altho so many of us think so. It is not to win souls-- altho I once thought so. The end of life is--to do the will of God. That may be the line of doing good or winning souls, or it may not. For the individual, the answer to the question, "What is the end of my life?" is "To do the will of God, whatever that may be."
Spurgeon replied to an invitation to preach to an exceptionally large audience, "I have no ambition to preach to 10,000 people, but to do the will of God"-- and he declined. If we could have no ambition past the will of God, our lives would be successful. If we could say, "I have no ambition to go to the heathen; I have no ambition to win souls; my ambition is to do the will of God, whatever that may be," that would make all lives equally great or equally small, because the only great thing in a life is what of God's will there is in it. The maximum achievement of any man's life, after it is all over, is to have done the will of God.
No man or woman can have done any more with a life--no Luther, no Spurgeon, no Wesley, no Melanchthon can have done any more with their lives; and a dairymaid or a scavenger can do as much.
Therefore, the supreme principle upon which we have to run our lives is to adhere, through good report and ill, through temptation and prosperity and adversity, to the will of God, wherever that may lead us. It may take you to China, or you who are going to Africa may have to stay where you are; you who are going to be an evangelist may have to go into business; and you who are going into business may have to become an evangelist. But there is no happiness or success in any life till that principle is taken possession of. And the highest service is first, moment by moment, to be in the will of God. It may be to work or to wait; to stand fast or to lay still. 'Tis he, our blessed Lord, who will keep us in his will, if our eyes are fixed on him.
How can you build up a life on that principle? Let me give you an outline of a little Bible reading:--
The definition of an ideal life:
Acts 13:22--"A man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will."
The object of life:
Heb. 10:7--"I come to do thy will, O God."
The first thing you need after life, is food:
John 4:34--"My meat is to do the will of him that sent me."
The next thing you need after food is society:
Mark 3:35--"Whosoever shall do the will of my Father in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."
You want education:
Psa. 143:10--"Teach me to do thy will, O my God."
You want pleasure:
Psa. 40:8--"I delight to do thy will, O my God." A whole life can be built up on that vertebral column, and then, when all is over,
1 John 2:17--"He that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
THE SPREAD OF MOHAMMEDANISM.
If reports are to be believed Mohammedanism is spreading in Asia and Africa much more rapidly than is Christianity. This is credited to three reasons. (1) Its simplicity of doctrine, which makes it commendable to persons of low intellectual capacity-- [R2695 : page 276] Believe in Mohammed and obey his simple law and have an eternity of sensuous bliss. (2) Its permission of polygamy, common throughout those countries. (3) Its uniform requirement of total abstinence from intoxicants.
Recognizing the fact that Christianity makes few proselytes from Mohammedanism, and that the latter is growing rapidly in numbers and influence, the British Government has of late years been attempting to gain the confidence and support of her Mohammedan subjects, whose number is estimated at one hundred and fifty millions--fifty millions more than all denominations of Protestant Christians in the whole world.
Doubtless this change of attitude toward the very religion against which all the Crusades of medieval times were waged, tho due to political policy, is backed by the changed religious sentiment of our day;-- which under the lead of the higher critics has declared,--
"The hope of the race lies in a deeper study of the great, inspired writers of the past, such as Shakespeare, Homer, Dante and a few others, whose works have charmed the minds of people of culture. The Bible, also, though a little out-of-date, has been recognized, in the past, as a work of inspiration, and you may find it helpful to include it in your course of reading."
General sentiment, therefore, resolves itself into this,--Since our wise men tell us that the Bible is unreliable, and that the death of Christ Jesus no more redeemed the world than did the death of other reformers; and since they tell us that future happiness depends upon the cultivation of our mental and moral qualities, and that Shakespeare's and other writings are quite as good or better than the Bible for such culture, how do we know but what the Mohammedan's Bible--the Koran--is as good or better than our own, and they as right as we or more so? Therefore let us not any longer say with the Bible that there is no other name than that of Jesus given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved; but let us say, Get morality and education in the name of Mohammed or Jesus or Confucius or whomsoever you please.
Such would be the logical outcome of such teachings; and thereby we are reminded of our Lord's words respecting these times--"When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?"-- Luke 18:8.
WHAT GREAT BRITAIN IS DOING FOR MOHAMMEDANISM.
Shortly after the capture of Khartoum by General Lord Kitchener, and at his instance, a Mohammedan college was founded, known as Gordon College, and more recently another Mohammedan school was founded at Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa. This latter institution was opened with considerable ceremony under the auspices of the acting-governor, Major Nathan, and of it the New York Sun says editorially:--
"The ceremony began with a prayer in Arabic offered up by the Imaum of the mosque, Alfa Omaru, who afterward gave a short account of the efforts to promote education made by the Sierra Leone Moslems. He referred to the years 1839 and 1841, when the Mohammedan religion was considered as a danger to the colony, when Moslems were persecuted and their mosques pulled down by excited mobs. Thanks, however, to an enlightened policy, matters were set right, and for more than fifty years the Moslems have enjoyed full toleration and the protection of the British Government. In 1872 the festival of the Lesser Bairam had been attended by the governor, Sir John Pope Henessy, with a military escort, and in 1879 another governor, Sir Samuel Rowe, had entertained seven hundred Moslems at Government House on the occasion of the Bairam Festival of that year. In 1891 Governor Hay handed over a fine property with commodious buildings to the Moslem community for educational purposes, accompanied by a grant for the payment of the teachers. These successive events were important epochs in the history of Islamism in West Africa, and the Imaum looked forward to the day when the present elementary school would become the stepping-stone to a college."
In his reply Major Nathan cited examples of Mohammedans occupying official positions in India and in Egypt, and added that,--
"He wished them to perfect themselves in Arabic in order that they might know what real Mohammedanism is. When they understood the Koran, he said, they would see that their religion was one telling them how to live, and not a religion of charms and gewgaws. Knowing English, they would have the literature and wisdom of the white man open to them: and with Arabic, they would be able to read not only the Koran, but the 'Makamat' of El Hariri, known already to some of them, and the 'Alif Lailat wa Lailah,' the translation of which English people read with pleasure. In concluding, Major Nathan urged them not to rest content until they had in Sierra Leone a Moslem college whence wisdom and knowledge might go forth over the whole of West Africa."
The Sun believes that the importance of the incident can hardly be overestimated. It says:--
"The news of the official encouragement given to the Mohammedan religion and the culture of its sacred language, Arabic, will in a very short time spread from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, and the wisdom of the policy that dictated it will be justified by the resulting spread of British influence among the Moslem populations of North Africa. In all probability it will lead to a corresponding rivalry on the part of the French, whose hold on the Arabs of Algeria is none too strong, owing to mistakes in policy and the want of character of many of those appointed to office. [R2695 : page 277]
"The next century no doubt has many surprises in store; but whatever they may be, not the least strange will be the spectacle of the two Western nations that led in the crusades promoting, for political and territorial reasons, the creed they then tried to crush."
However peculiar all this may appear from the standpoint of nominal "Christendom," it is perfectly clear to all of the "royal priesthood." We see the fallacy of the claim that European kingdoms are Christ's kingdoms--that the Word of God never did recognize them as anything but "kingdoms of this world" ruled by "the prince of this world." We see that the nominal churches are not the one true Church of "saints," whose names are written in heaven. We see that the Crusades, Inquisitions, and all similar attacks upon human beings and their moral and religious liberties were never authorized by the Lord; but were wholly contrary to his Word and spirit. We see that it is perfectly proper and consistent for worldly people and governments (English, French, German or what not) to favor any system or all systems of education and religion that will in any degree counteract vice and immorality, and preserve peace.
True, we who have had the eyes of our understanding opened to see matters clearly from the Bible standpoint could do nothing against the truth and in favor of error--nothing to foster and encourage the error or even to apparently bid it Godspeed. But we are not in official positions where such questions could come to us: because we are "not of this world" even as our Redeemer was not (John 17:16), therefore the world disrespects us (John 17:14), and offers us no places of public influence. Fidelity to our Lord's principles thus saves his faithful from perplexities: they have died to worldly politics and its aims and duties and methods, and have been "translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son," and are thus members of the "holy nation" which has not yet come into power and ruling authority--waiting for their King to exalt or set them up in power and great glory at the time when his Kingdom shall be revealed to the world as the supplanter of all kingdoms of this world.
METHODISM AND HIGHER CRITICISM.
"The 'heresy' case of Professor Mitchell (see The Literary Digest, January 27), has been effectively disposed of for, at least, some years to come. By the recent General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Chicago it was referred to the bishops, who, apparently finding it as embarrassing a subject to handle as did the Conference, referred the matter of Dr. Mitchell's retention to the trustees of Boston University, by making him eligible to re-election for five years--until, conveniently, after the next meeting of the General Conference. The fact that the trustees of one of the leading Methodist theological seminaries have now unanimously re-elected Dr. Mitchell, who is one of the most prominent American exponents of the higher criticism, and has been accused of deviating widely from the traditional view as to the authorship of certain Old Testament books, is regarded as an event of significance. The largest Protestant denomination in America thus tacitly votes to retain an upholder of the higher criticism as official instructor of her young clerics."--Literary Digest.
PRESBYTERIANS BEING SIFTED.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church recently in session in St. Louis, in reply to overtures for a revision of its Westminster Confession of Faith, referred the matter to a committee, whose business it shall be to learn the opinion of the local Presbyters and to report to the Assembly of 1901. The Presbyterian weekly journals give the best clue to the results, for they are generally under the care of the leaders amongst the ministry, who generally "try to be on the winning side."
From the trend of comments by these journals (The Interior and The Herald and Presbyter alone seem to urge revision) we opine that the Confession will probably not be revised but reaffirmed. The result of this course would be to sift out the honest but deluded souls in pulpit and pew who for years have burdened their consciences (and in many instances hardened them) with slander against the divine character and deceit toward all mankind in professing the Westminster Confession. These have for years consoled [R2696 : page 277] themselves with the thought that (1) the Confession is a dead letter anyway, which today nobody believes, and (2) that it would soon be changed, "perhaps next year,--and my conscience can stand the strain that much longer." If now that Confession is reaffirmed by the denomination these will be thereby forced out to maintain even a vestige of peace with God and a good conscience toward God and man. The pity is that their consciences are not more tender and their hearts more loyal to God and his truth that they should act more promptly.
"The children of this world [the "tares"] are wiser in their generation than the children of light [the "wheat"], said our Lord. And so in this case undoubtedly the reaffirming of the Westminster Confession is the wisest course so far as the preservation of the "tare" organization is concerned. For tho, as above suggested, this will drive out some of the most conscientious, it will be found that they all told are but few. On the other hand were the Confession revised or repudiated it would mean to the rank and file of Presbyterianism, "We have lost our gods! We [R2696 : page 278] have admitted that we were all wrong in respect to our faith--blind men who for centuries have attempted to lead the confessedly blind world into truth, and now confess ourselves bewildered, yea totally blind as respects the divine plan!" Every Presbyterian would feel abashed at such a confession, and hence it is that such a revision of creed is improbable: and if it were seen to be inevitable many would transfer their "good names" and titles to other denominations before the funeral.
"THE PRESBYTERIAN" ARGUES AGAINST REVISION
"Too much has been said recently to weaken the force of our doctrinal statements. Many who never thought of calling them in question are wondering what they really teach."
The people would have little difficulty in deciding the meaning of that very explicit and carefully worded "Westminster Confession," were it not that the theologians having told them, "These be thy gods, O Presbyterians!" are fearful that the pews (more honest than the pulpits) shall discover how terribly homely, yea, devilish, are these gods which they have so long worshiped and served.
Continuing, The Presbyterian says, "Others who regard the false constructions put on them as the work of adversaries, now find that even Presbyterian ministers are declaring them legitimate inferences. Damage is being done by the outgivings of radical revisionists. The church is suffering, and will continue to suffer in name and in accomplishment, with years of revision agitation. Her interests would be far more advanced, in our judgment, by standing by the old standards of faith and by their reaffirmation by our Presbyteries and General Assembly."
What does this language mean in plain English? Is not the following construction a reasonable one?
For a long time now our ministers and religious editors have presented a solid front to the world, and by claiming that black in the creed is white they have succeeded in convincing Presbyterians, at least, that the black parts are at very most not darker than grey or mist and fog color. But now this discussion is in danger of disillusionizing the people. Already it is giving us great trouble and is likely to cause more disturbance and dissatisfaction, not only with our Diana, but also toward us, the well-paid and honored shrine-makers and servers. We are not thinking about the truth and its service, nor about the interests of the true Church, whose names are written in heaven; we are merely considering the interests of our sect, the Presbyterian Church, and how these matters will affect her interests and worldly prosperity. We feel provoked that Presbyterian ministers who have stifled their consciences for years should be so weak, so pusillanimous, as now to show the white feather and confess that they and we all have for years been hoodwinking and deceiving the Lord's flock who gave us liberally of their golden fleece to lead them into pastures of truth. As for us, we are committed to the prosperity of Presbyterianism--all of our name and title and earthly hopes are attached to it, and hence, false tho the Confession be to every instinct of justice and love, we must stick to it--sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish!
Does the foregoing seem to be an uncharitable paraphrase of the Presbyterian's position? Let those who so think read carefully the following extract from the Confession and decide then whether anything better or nobler than policy leads it to defend and call for a reaffirmation of those sentiments of a darker period. We have too much respect for the Presbyterian's brains to suppose that it does not comprehend the language, and too much respect for its heart to suppose that it at heart endorses the presentation as true and just: hence we can only conclude that its advocacy is insincere and for policy's sake. The policy, as already suggested, is worldly-wise and will serve to keep together a little longer one of the most respected of the human organizations falsely styled churches; but the end of all such is not far distant, as clearly shown in God's Word and pointed out in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., Chaps. 4 to 7, and VOL. IV., Chaps. 11 to 13.
The following is the referred to--
EXTRACT FROM THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.
"Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving Him thereto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
"As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, but THE ELECT ONLY. [R2696 : page 279]
"The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice."
DEFECTIVE EDUCATION OF MINISTERS.
Rev. D. S. Gregory, D.D., says:--
"In a ministerial body of say seven thousand there are perhaps several thousands of us that nobody will hear preach: many more that are heard by good people under stress of duty; and comparatively few that are heard gladly....
"The psychology of the average educator is fundamentally defective, and hence his pedagogics must be fatally false. He recognizes the existence of a cognitive faculty, the power of acquiring the simple elements or raw materials, so to speak, of knowledge, in perception external and internal; of a conservative faculty, or memory, the power of keeping knowledge so acquired for future use; of a comparative faculty, the power of thought for working up the knowledge acquired and conserved into conceptions, judgments, and reasonings. But just there his psychology of the intellect strikes a dead wall which it seems powerless to pass. He fails to recognize the existence of the supreme intellectual faculty, to which all the others are merely subordinates and for which alone they exist --the constructive or systemizing faculty. He does not find it in his text-books; it has been practically ignored in educational aims and methods...."
This is too highflown language for the majority of readers; we give its sense in few words thus,--The average minister learns at college to collect certain facts and theories, and to memorize them; but he never learns how to systemize what he has learned.
We reply that this is true; nevertheless, it is the bulwark of Churchianity; for had honest ministers or laymen attempted to systemize their theology (the errors so largely predominating) they would have found long ago that all their theories are as irrational as they are unscriptural. No theology but the old theology of the Bible--the divine plan of the ages-- can be systemised; and it is system and plan and order and beauty throughout, and thus bears the impressions of its divine Author, Jehovah.
EPISCOPAL HIGH CHURCH PERFORMANCES.
The Christian Commonwealth (London) describes a mass recently performed in St. Michael's Church, London, as follows:--
"The mass 'for the repose of the soul' of the deceased was celebrated, and at the funeral service in the church all the accessories of Vatican mummery were observed. Each of the congregation of ten received a little candle, which was lighted before the Gospel was read, and blown out after the reading. The people's candles were rekindled at the Sanctus, after incense-burning. After mass the celebrant left the chair, and at the sedilia changed his chasuble for [R2697 : page 279] a black cope with yellow orphreys and then headed a procession with a crucifix. The catafalque was sprinkled with holy water, and censed, while petitions were mumbled for the soul of the deceased. After the clergy were gone the people were invited to asperse the catafalque with the holy water."
The inundation of the city of Galveston, Texas, accompanied by great loss of life and property, has shocked the world. And no wonder; it was surely a great calamity that five thousand human beings should so suddenly be swept into death--the grave. Yet the real horror, affecting many minds in connection with this matter, is never even hinted at in the great headlines of the daily press announcements. What a shock it would give if these papers were edited in so-called orthodox style, thus:--
JESUS CAME TO 5000 GALVESTON PEOPLE.
OF THE NUMBER HE FOUND ONLY ABOUT 100 SAINTS
FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
THE REMAINDER, 4900,
HE BANISHED TO ETERNAL HOPELESS AGONY IN
TORMENT, PREPARED FOR THEM,
ACCORDING TO HIS FOREKNOWLEDGE AND
BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.
If our dear friends who profess to believe such blasphemous things respecting our Heavenly Father's plan would come out honestly and state their views thus plainly we should be glad of it. It would be a great service to the truth. It would act upon many as an emetic, and help them to get rid of the unhealthy mass of error which now sickens them and hinders their appetite for the true heavenly manna of the divine Word, which then would be to all the Lord's true people "sweeter than honey."
Tract No. 2, of the "Old Theology" series, treats this subject of "Calamities and Why God Permits Them." We recommend its liberal circulation at times like this when great calamities awaken thoughts respecting divine providences, etc. And we might here remark that we will not be surprised if the next fifteen years shall witness an increasingly large number of calamities. To our understanding there are physical changes necessary to the full introduction of Millennial conditions: these will probably come about gradually, and incidentally cause great trouble and losses. These we understand are so timed as to form a part of the great time of trouble with which our age is to end, which, however, the Lord designs shall prepare man as well as the earth for further, future blessings. "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."