VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
NOT MERELY A REWORDING, BUT A NEW CREED.
AS MANY PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERSwill, undoubtedly, claim that their new creed is precisely the old one except that it is worded in more modern language,--that they never did believe in "non-elect infants" and never professed to so believe, etc., etc., it is well that we now record the utterances of some of these brethren who having so long felt uneasy about professing untruths and vowing to teach them to others, are now overjoyed by the relief of the new confession. We give extracts below from Rev. Donehoo's first sermon after the adoption of the new creed (evidently the gentleman's own report) from the "Pittsburg Post," May 26.
REJOICES OVER THE CREED REVISION.
The pastor of the West End Presbyterian Church yesterday morning delivered a sermon on the following text: II Thess. 1:8. "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.'
"The time was when it was regarded as the very essence of orthodoxy to believe that religious discovery had reached its utmost limit with the deliverances of the Westminster divines, and that further investigation into the realms of truth exposed the audacious investigator to the charge of disloyalty to the standards, and made a man unworthy of the confidence or even fellowship of his more orthodox brethren. This is not ancient history, but sober facts occurring within a score of years and closing on last Thursday with the practically unanimous adoption of the committee report on creed revision in our General Assembly in New York city. The highest court of our church, composed of men who argued and voted against such a thing, gulped down revision with a relish which seemed to indicate that it was not such an unpleasant dose, after all.
"It is in no spirit of triumph over a prostrate foe that I allude to these things, but simply because I cannot repress my joy that the mists have cleared away, and that a brighter day has dawned upon the church. It is to me an especial cause for rejoicing that I can stand up in the pulpit and offer salvation without any mental reservation, and without any stipulation that the one to whom the offer is extended must first of all be one of that select number who had been chosen from all eternity to be the object of God's sovereign compassion simply for 'His mere good pleasure.'...
"I am glad besides that the ambiguous declaration about 'elect infants dying in infancy' being saved--(as though it was possible for any other than infants to die in infancy)--while a very painful silence is allowed to hang around the fate of other babes that breathe and gasp, and die ere they had made acquaintance with joy or sorrow, sin or goodness--is now to be explained as teaching, what a formidable party in the Westminster Assembly opposed with such persistence that they forced the Assembly to place this ambiguous statement in the Confession (that they believed in the damnation of unelect infants) that God's election embraces all that die in infancy in His purposes of grace. I am glad of that. ...
"Henceforth may we not hope that men will preach God, not as He would be if they could have had their way about it, and not acting as they would have done if they had been in His place, but, as He has revealed Himself in His Word and providence, a God of infinite mercy and love, who is not willing that any should perish, but who would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth?"
Rev. L. P. Crawford, of Pasadena, Cal., says in the California press:--
"When I was ordained there were three things that I would not subscribe to. To these three points I said 'No.' The first was this, in Chapter III:
"'By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death!'
"I said: 'I can't go it--I'll have to be made over.' [R3032 : page 196]
"Dr. Adams asked me: 'Is there anything else, young man?'
"'Yes, sir, there is,' I said. 'If where it speaks of elect infants, it is to be implied that there are infants that are not elect, then I don't believe it.'
"'Anything else, young brother?' asked Dr. Adams, and I remember it as well as if it was yesterday.
"'Yes,' I said. 'If it is meant that I am to be held responsible for Adam's sins, in the sense that I can be punishable for them, then I don't believe it.'
"'Well, my dear brother,' said Dr. Adams, 'There are a good many of us in the same fix;' and they licensed me.
"Now, these three points that I refused to subscribe to are the principal ones taken up in the revision."
We are glad that the General Assembly has given these brave men their liberty at last; tho we confess we would have admired them still more if they had been courageous enough to have promptly and vigorously obeyed the voices of their consciences; --if they had refused to lend one mite of [R3033 : page 196] their time or influence to God-dishonoring and conscience-searing confessions for the sake of human endorsement. We cannot suppose either that God was pleased to have Drs. Adams and Crawford privately and secretly confess their disbelief to each other while practicing deceit toward the other hundreds of thousands of Presbyterians;-- many of whom, unlearned "laity," trusted their public profession too confidingly, and looked not beyond them to the Lamp of God's Word.
But if the boldest are not to be too much praised what shall we say of those who have seemed to have no consciences, or whose reasoning faculties are so dull that even in the light of this twentieth century they are such "blind guides" that the old Confession is still good enough for them? We say that only very young or bewildered or stupid sheep will any longer accept the ipse dixit of such Shepherds. We advise that their every expression be scrutinized in the light of God's Word, as more likely to be false than true. We bring no railing accusation against any of them, but merely state facts and their own confessions. As we understand the Word, the Lord will rebuke them shortly, in the approaching great time of trouble. But, alas for the poor blind sheep who are following them into that ditch!
"CALAMITIES--WHY GOD PERMITS THEM."
The Chicago Tribune has kept record of the calamities of the year and makes the following report:--
"Nature has not been so busy with her forces of devastation for many years past as she has been during the first five months of the present year. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have destroyed 48,450 lives, storms 704, tornadoes 416, cyclones 220, floods 333, avalanches 228, tidal waves 103, snow-slides 39 and waterspouts 12, a total of 50,505 lives destroyed by nature's elemental disturbances. If to this were added the lives lost by agencies over which man has more or less control, such as fires, mine disasters, explosions, railroad accidents, and vessel wrecks, it would be increased to over 60,000, and this takes no account of individual lives lost in this country, which would bring the grand total up to about 100,000 lives lost in the short period of five months."
The Boston Watchman (Baptist) says of the divine permission of calamities:
"This problem baffles the author of the Book of Job, and all the discoveries of science and the light of the Christian revelation do not resolve the thick darkness that settles about it. When trouble comes for which we can see no moral antecedent and no good result, the irrepressible cry bursts from every human heart, 'Why?' And there is no answer but the answer of Job: 'Tho he slay me, yet will I trust in him.'
"From our point of view the events of life are often wholly irreconcilable with our faith in the divine goodness. And yet we do not lose our faith. We believe that God is working out for us and for the race purposes of goodness that we cannot understand. That, it seems to us, is the Christian attitude toward this problem. Christianity does not resolve it, while it makes many other solutions of it untenable. But Christianity, in its revelation of the Father, inspires a confidence in Him that is not shaken by our inability to understand His way."
The Truth Seeker says:--
"It was the Lisbon earthquake which shook Voltaire's faith in a God who governs, who pervades all places and ages, and who has established a direct relation between himself and mankind. He was compelled to ask, What was my God doing? Why did the Universal Father crush to shapelessness thousands of his poor children, even at the moment when they were upon their knees returning thanks to him?"
In view of the fact that the world is now in transition--from "the present evil world" to the "new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness,"-- from the reign of sin and death under "the Prince of darkness" to the Millennial reign of the great Life Giver--it will not surprise us at all if the next twelve years shall prove to be full of horrors. The conditions now prevailing in the earth are not such as will be appropriate during the Millennium, and the changes will mean great disturbances of celestial and terrestrial affairs pertaining to our earth. These will naturally occasion great suffering and loss of life unless divine power be miraculously interposed for humanity's protection; and we see no reason to expect such interposition. On the contrary, we understand the Scriptures to teach that the divine plan is so timed that these physical disturbances will constitute a part of the great chastisement which the Lord designs shall break the proud hearts of men preparatory to his offer to all of the Balm of Gilead--restitution.-- Acts 3:19-21.
One effect of these calamities will surely be the overthrow of the faith of many,--of all who are merely nominal believers, whose faith led them to no love for the Lord and to no study of his Word and to no self-consecration to good works. Of these, as the Prophet has declared:--
"A thousand shall fall at thy side
Ten thousand at thy right hand."--Psa. 91:7.
Of this time and its peculiar work not only in the convulsions of nature, but also in its social, financial and religious convulsions, the Lord's Word declares: "Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do [R3033 : page 197] honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among this people;...for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." "None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise [the taught of God] shall understand."--Isa. 29:13,14; Dan. 12:4,9,10.
We are now in the little season appointed of the Lord for the sealing of his servants in their foreheads--intellectually. It behooves us therefore to give heed to the sealing of our own heads and hearts by availing ourselves of the assistances which the Lord now provides. Failure to do this and the giving of heart and time to the world or pleasure and self means disrespect to the great Teacher, and love of the present world rather than of that which is to come; and the reward of such a course is--to be left in darkness with the world. (I Cor. 4:2; Matt. 25:30.) Another duty of the hour, that will be appreciated only by the faithful, is the gathering together unto the Lord (out of sectarianism and darkness) of the Lord's jewels, the elect whose eyes of understanding have not yet been opened to present truth. These calamities, which will overthrow the faith of some, will stir up the truly consecrated to a closer investigation of the divine Word and plan, and thus prove helps not hindrances, even as all things work together for good to them that love God.
Now is the time to be on the alert to render assistance to this class of our "brethren" still asleep and in darkness but now awakening and needing sympathizing hearts and helping hands. Our late issue of the tract "Calamities--Why God Permits Them," may prove a help, an entering wedge to something more elaborate--to some volume of Millennial Dawn. Order these to use as sample copies, freely.