ZWT - 1902 - R2929 thru R3124 / R3040 (209) - July 15, 1902
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VOL. XXIII. JULY 15, 1902. No. 14.
Views from the Watch Tower........................211
Higher Criticism in Scotland..................211
The Negro Not a Beast.............................213
Miscegenation not Scripturally
How Shall we account for
Obligations Toward Fellow-Men--
In the Decalogue............................217
Poem--"These Many Years"..........................220
Worshipping the Golden Calf.......................220
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FAVORABLE METHODS OF SERVICE.
The chiefest service we could commend, open to all who are unencumbered and in active use of their faculties, is the colporteur work. It is an honorable form of ministering the truth from house to house, as the apostles served. It is a service which the Lord seems to have blessed as much or more than any other for gathering the "wheat." It is apparent at once to all that to sell such books as the DAWNS at 25 cents each, cannot be for money-making: that it is merely another way of preaching the truth. No other religious books are sold at any such price. Indeed few subscription books sell for less than two to three dollars each. Any who can serve in this work are invited to write to us for "Hints to Colporteurs."
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MORE VOLUNTEER AMMUNITION.
The friends are displaying great energy this year in the distribution of literature near Christian meeting places. We bid you all God-speed in this very effective preaching of the Gospel. Our first order for the special issues of our journal used this year was for 1,000,000 copies. Over one half of this quantity has already gone out to fill large requisitions and nearly 200,000 are on back orders waiting for the papers as fast as the printers can supply them. We hope to get caught up very soon now, and request that those who have sent us small orders for mail shipment exercise just a little more patience. "Let patience have her perfect work." We have just issued 400,000 more of these issues, so as to be ready for your later orders.
Meantime let those who have not been engaged in this branch of the service enquire of themselves whether or not they can afford to miss so grand an opportunity for showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Do you know of and are you using a better method of preaching the truth? "He that reapeth receiveth wages [joy and peace and blessing in the present life even] and gathereth fruit unto everlasting life."
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE "HIGHER CRITICISM" IN SCOTLAND.
SCATHING PRESS COMMENTS.
A SCOTTISH READER of Zion's Watch Tower writes:--The month of May annually witnesses the great ecclesiastical meetings known as the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland. This year the Assemblies of the Established Church and of the Free Church (the latter consisting of those who did not enter the union between the former Free Church and the former United Presbyterian Church, now called in union the United Free Church) met in Edinburgh, the historic capital of the country, while the Assembly of the United Free Church was held in Glasgow. To readers of Dawn the principal interest in the voluminous discussions, extending over some ten days, will be in respect to the question of the "Higher Criticism" in connection with which there was a great debate in the U.F. Assembly at Glasgow on Friday, 23rd May. The matter arose in this way: Certain memorialists had called attention to the teachings of Professor George Adam Smith (one of the Professors of the Church) in a volume of lectures recently published by him, in which, they contended, views are set forth wholly subversive of the divine authority and authenticity of the Scriptures. The memorial had been remitted to the College Committee for consideration, and this committee, after deliberating, resolved unanimously to recommend that the Assembly should not take any action against Professor Smith. When this recommendation came before the Assembly for disposal extraordinary interest was taken in the proceedings, and the large St. Andrew's Hall was crowded all day. Rev. Dr. Kidd, Glasgow, submitted the report. Principal Rainy moved that the Assembly adopt the recommendation of the report to the effect "that it was not the duty of the Church to institute any process against Professor Smith in connection with his lectures recently published; but at the same time declared that they were not to be held as accepting or authorizing the critical theories therein set forth." The motion also called upon ministers and professors to take care that reverence for Holy Scripture should be conspicuously manifest in their writings.
In a long speech in support of the motion, Principal Rainy contended that the present was not a fitting time to enter into the large question that had been raised, and that a Committee of the Church could not satisfactorily deal with the matter. Neither he nor those associated with him had any desire to make things uncomfortable for Professor Smith. The Bible would live triumphantly through all facts established as facts, and all the consequences following from them. Professor Orr seconded. Dr. John Smith, Edinburgh, moved a long amendment, setting forth that the recommendation of the College Committee did not deal with the most serious matter raised by the memorialists, and that, in view of the manifest danger to the peace and prosperity of the
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Church arising directly from the intrusion of this critical controversy in its present form, the Assembly appoint a large and representative Committee to take account of the whole situation with a view to arriving at such conclusions as shall dispel anxiety and clear the testimony of the Church before the world. Dr. John McEwan, Edinburgh, seconded. Dr. Wells moved that the Assembly resolve to appoint a Committee to confer with Dr. George Adam Smith in the hope that the perplexities be removed. Lord Overtoun seconded. Considerable discussion followed. Professor George Adam Smith addressed the House, complaining that he had been misrepresented. Amid loud applause he declared-- "From the bottom of my heart I believe in the Bible as the revelation of God to sinful man--a thing which found me long before I found it." On a division, Dr. Smith's amendment was defeated by that of Dr. Wells; and on a further division, the report of the College Committee was approved by 534 to 263 given for Dr. Wells' amendment. This decision, together
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with the whole attitude in which the Churches stand towards the Higher Criticism in view of their creeds and standards, such as the "Confession of Faith," has been extensively commented upon by the press of the country. There have, of course, been various opinions expressed; but the following extracts will be found as instructive and suggestive of the real state of matters in Scotland as they are undoubtedly plain and incisive in terms. They are both from the Edinburgh Evening News, an ably edited and influential daily of the Scottish capital. The first extract, a leading article, deals with the general question:--
Some of the influential among the clergy are getting alarmed about the Higher Criticism. This feeling found expression yesterday in the Established Church Assembly. Speaking on the indifference of the masses, Dr. Mair attributed it largely to the Higher Criticism. His words are worth reproduction: "The lapsing class cared nothing at all about creeds, but they did care about their squabbling. They said, 'When you have made up your own minds then we may hear you.' The prime cause was the change in the way of regarding Scripture that had arisen largely from scientific naturalism and from the Higher Criticism acting upon an age which worshiped progress and seemed to think that the newest was always best. He condemned reckless unscientific criticism, which only and always did mischief, and it was remarkable that these things percolated down into the lowest classes even. Had the Churches changed in their way of regarding the Word of God?" Dr. Mair has hit the nail on the head. Why should the working classes attend church? In the days of orthodoxy, when the Bible was believed to be an authoritative revelation, preacher and hearer held definite relations to each other. Sheltered behind a "Thus saith the Lord," the preacher could unfold before his hearers, after the style of Jonathan Edwards, a scheme of Redemption, which in essence was a philosophy of history. Man's creation, his fall, the progressive upward movements under supernatural guidance, as exhibited in the call of Abraham, the selection of the children of Israel, the wilderness legislation, sacrificial and ritualistic, typical of the New Testament revelation--these things formed the staple of orthodox preaching, and gave to human life an organic unity. To the anxious inquirer, with his "What must I do to be saved?" the old divines had a ready and intelligent answer. They could point him to the Cross upon which the Second Person in the Trinity died as an expiation for human guilt. If questioned as to the authority for all this, the orthodox divine could appeal to the Bible as an inspired and infallible record. He could show the organic unity between the Old and New Testaments, and without difficulty could prove from the wilderness legislation and prophetic predictions the transcendent greatness of Christ and the sacrificial nature of his death. What has the Higher Critic to say to the anxious inquirer with his cry, "What must I do to be saved?" The Higher Critic can no longer point to Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity, as the Saviour of sinners. According to the "Encyclopedia Biblica," there was nothing specially supernatural about Christ. The miraculous birth is explained away or ignored, the miracles are attributed to misunderstandings or exaggerations, the supernatural, in short, is reduced to a minimum. Then Professor George Adam Smith has torn to tatters the old Redemption drama, which charmed the heart of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Knox, Luther, and our own Candlish and Cunningham. According to the Higher Critics, there was no fall, no call of Abraham, no special legislation in the wilderness, no sacrificial symbols of the great sacrifice on Calvary, no predictions of Christ. In a word, the Bible is a collection of mythical stories, from which a preacher may extract a few grains of ethical teaching just as a skillful moralist may extract a few grains of ethical teaching from "Aesop's Fables." The working classes are not fools. They will not attend church to listen to men who themselves are living in a mental fog, men who, if they were honest, would prefer breaking stones on the highway to saturating their souls with hypocrisy for the sake of the loaves and fishes.
[We are quoting the above not endorsing it all. The editor would be very interested in seeing Bible proofs about the "Trinity." He is sure that neither the thought, nor the word Trinity is Scriptural. It is such careless use of the Bible that has given Higher Critics the foothold they have obtained.]
The second--also a leading article--appeared on the day following the decision in the Professor Smith case:--
There is no use mincing matters. The Protestant Church is an organized hypocrisy, and its leaders arrant humbugs. It is actually come to this that if the author of the "Age of Reason" were alive today he would not be spoken of derisively as Tom Paine, the infidel, but the Rev. Thomas Paine, D.D., Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis, U.F. College, Glasgow. He would have no difficulty in preaching from a Protestant pulpit. That means that while professing to pin its faith on the Bible as an authoritative, supernatural revelation, the Protestant Church is now willing to tolerate in its pulpits and its professorial chairs men who hold the views of the famous Paine. What were the conclusions reached by Paine? Pretty much the conclusions reached by the Higher Critics who today fill the highest positions in Protestant Churches. In order to justify this assertion it will be necessary to examine the views of the Higher Critics in detail. Let us begin with the first book in the Bible, Genesis. What do the Higher Critics say about that book? For answer let us turn to the article on Genesis by Professor G. F. Moore in the second volume of the "Encyclopedia Biblica." According to Professor Moore, Genesis was written about the eighth century B.C. Consequently, Moses could not be the author. As to its historical value, the Professor shows what he thinks of it by talking of "the legends of Abraham, and especially of Isaac." In a similar strain writes Professor Adam Smith, whose case was before the U.F. Assembly yesterday. Paine in his book gives ground also for believing that Genesis could not be the work
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of Moses, and that it was a collection of traditions, stories and fables. Thus both the theological professors and Paine reach substantially the same conclusion. The close agreement between the Higher Critics of today and Paine is still further seen in the article on Historical Literature, also by Professor Moore, who remarks that "the stories of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Israel, and his sons, are told with a wealth of circumstance and a vividness of color which show that we have entered the realm of pure legend." Let us turn to the article "Elijah," and what do we find? At the opening of the article we find the author, the Rev. W. E. Addis, Manchester, writing as follows: "We shall be better able to appreciate his (Elijah's) position when we have examined the legendary narratives in which his history is enshrined." It is the same with Elisha. Mr. Addis here also complains of the difficulty of reaching historic fact on account of the legendary nature of the Biblical account. This is very much the position of Professor Smith. Here, too, is substantial agreement with Paine, who, instead of using the word "legendary," uses the word "romancing." Take a crucial instance, the famous prediction in Isaiah about the Messiah. Here is what Professor Smith says: "Isaiah meant no more than that some one should be born whose character and hopes should be proof that God was with his people. Whether the promised unborn was an individual or a future generation of Israel it is difficult to make out; but probably the latter is what Isaiah intends." Professor Smith further knocks the feet from the famous prediction by stating that the word "virgin" should be really translated "marriageable woman." That is rather a severe blow at the incarnation as detailed by Matthew. The notable feature is that this is precisely the theory of Paine, who, if alive today, instead of being persecuted as a base infidel, would be drawing a handsome salary as a professor of theology in the U.F. Church. Dr. Rainy justifies this kind of tomfoolery on the plea that the question about the authenticity of the Bible is under grave discussion, and that we had better wait for light. That is to say, the Church is no longer the witness of God upon earth, but a huge debating society, in which large salaries are paid to those who set themselves to destroy the creed to which they have subscribed. The proceedings of yesterday confirm us in our old opinion, that the Church has become a colossal sham, and the clergy a band of sleek-faced Jesuitical trimmers, whose moral obliquity is only equalled by their intellectual dishonesty.
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THE NEGRO NOT A BEAST.
A BROTHER sends us with the following questions, a book now having an extensive sale in the South, and calculated to stir up strife with its teaching that the negro is not human, but a beast. Our answers review the statements of said book.
(1) Question.--Are there any grounds for the belief of some that the negro is one of the lower animals, in the Scriptures called a "beast" and created, like the other beasts, prior to the creation of Adam, who was the first that was called a man?
Answer.--Of course whoever advances such a theory must at least fancy that he has proofs to support it, and frequently the wish to find such proofs misleads the judgment and causes the individual to accept as proofs, matters which would not be proofs if regarded in an unprejudiced manner. In our opinion there are no such proofs, but strong testimony of the Scriptures to the contrary. Science has proven that somehow the Creator has fixed boundaries and limitations which hinder the different species from intermingling. Even where the species closely resemble each other in many respects, as for instance, the horse and donkey, the dog and the cat, a cross-breed with powers of propagation cannot be secured. This law, which it is well known obtains throughout the animal kingdom, should in all reason be applicable to mankind; and hence, if whites and negroes were of different species they could not, by commingling, produce offspring capable of propagation. Briefly stated, this is the scientific side of the question, which cannot be set aside by any amount of sophistry or theorizing. It will stand as a fact after the theorizing is dead. From the Scriptural standpoint the answer is equally specific. Note the Apostle's words, "God that made the world and all things therein...hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth,"--`Acts 17:24-28`.
MISCEGENATION NOT SCRIPTURALLY A CRIME.
(2) Question.--Those who take the view I mention, claim that Cain's sin consisted in marrying a negress, and that it was for this reason that God would not accept his sacrifice. It claims also that the crime of all nations, leading to their degeneracy and divine disfavor, has in every instance been the commingling of the white "man" and the black "beast"; and that the different colored races, yellow, red, brown, are the result of these admixtures, and that hence heathendom prevails amongst the various colored races, while Christianity prevails amongst the whites. What answer would you make to this proposition?
Answer.--The proposition is wholly illogical. It is not true that divine favor has gone with the whites exclusively, and against the blacks and other colored races; civilizing the whites and barbarizing the others. If civilization and barbarity are to be the tests entirely, we have only to take in a wide scope of history to see the fallacy of the view presented. Eighteen centuries ago the white peoples of Europe, with their straight silky hair, were savages, idolaters, barbarians--far more degraded than were the millions of India and the millions of China at the same time. This disproves this theory at a glance.
Furthermore, the Children of Israel, who for eighteen centuries before that had been the favored people of God, and respecting whom it was written, "You only have I known (recognized) of all the families of the earth," are not a fair skinned and straight and silky haired people. Their hair is quite
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kinky, and their skin is quite swarthy, altho they also are a part of the Caucasian race. Furthermore, we notice in the case of that nation that whereas they were subjects of divine favor for eighteen hundred years, and then became objects of divine disfavor for a similar period, it was not because of their having intermarried with blacks, but for a very different reason --because of their rejection of Messiah. This proves that alienation from God which constitutes the heathen "strangers, aliens and foreigners," was not because of intermarriage with the blacks.
If those who favor this theory should persist in saying that all who are strangers from God and from the commonwealth of Israel, were rejected and utterly cast off because of impurity of blood through negro admixture, let us reflect further that these Gentile nations include our own forefathers, the barbarians of Europe. And let us further reflect that however cast off they were, and from whatever reason they were cast off, their debt, their penalty, was paid by the great ransom sacrifice which our Lord Jesus gave-- not for the Jews only, but for the Gentiles also, by which we, who were once aliens and strangers and foreigners, have been brought nigh to God, and granted the privilege of becoming his sons.
But the entire argument is fallacious. Their conjecture respecting Cain's transgression is trumped up based upon a slight imperfection in the translation of our common version Bibles, which read, "If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire and thou shalt rule over him." (`Gen. 4:7`.) This latter statement is still further twisted out of shape to prove the point by making it read, "Unto thee shall her desire be, and thou shalt rule over her," and making the "her" apply to the negress, whom Cain is supposed to have accepted as a wife. On the contrary, the Scriptural account shows that Cain had no wife at the time of this injunction. It was subsequent to this that Cain went and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden, and knew his wife, and she conceived. (`Verses 16,17`.) Cain's wife was undoubtedly one of his sisters, for such was the custom of early times, nor was it necessary to bar by law intermarriage between blood relations. The necessity for this at the present time lies in the fact that the race has greatly degenerated, and that the idiosyncrasies of one family need to be offset by different peculiarities of another--and sound advice is that all mating should be between those of dissimilar temperaments. In the present run-down mental and physical condition of the human family in-breeding tends to produce insanity and physical degeneracy, while interbreeding gives better results, by scattering and offsetting the weaknesses of each tribe or family.
There is nothing said respecting any sin on Cain's part up to the time he became jealous of his brother, and his murderer. He did entirely right to bring to the Lord the offering which he did bring of the fruits of the ground; nor was the Lord displeased with this. The fact that Abel's offering was accepted while Cain's was rejected, should have been understood by him as indicating the kind of sacrifice which would be best pleasing to the Lord, and straightway he should have procured and presented animal sacrifices: then, undoubtedly, his would have been as truly acceptable as Abel's. The Lord from the very first wished to teach his creatures that the only reconciliation for sin would be through the shedding of blood; thus he foreshadowed to them the great sacrifice for sin--the blood of Christ. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission."
Cain should, therefore, have congratulated his brother Abel, and have been thankful for this clear manifestation of what kind of a sacrifice would be pleasing to his Creator; but instead we are told that he was wroth, angry. It was for this anger that the Lord reproved him as the context clearly shows. The Lord said to Cain in substance: Why are you angry? Do you wish to bring me a sacrifice? Are you angry because I have shown you the kind of sacrifice which I wished to receive? Are you jealous because this manifestation of my wishes came to you through your brother? Evidently you are in a wrong condition. If you would do the acceptable thing, would you not be accepted as well as Abel, and your sacrifice as well as his? And if now that you know what would please me you do not do so, would it not prove that sin lies at the door, that your heart is not right? Then follows the twisted statement which we here give from Leeser's translation--"If thou doest not well (now that you know what my will is) sin lieth at the door, and unto thee is its desire, but thou canst rule over it;"--you can get the victory over this wrong attitude of mind if you but so desire. But instead of getting the victory over his jealousy, Cain permitted it to grow; and getting into an altercation with his brother the envious, murderous feelings of his heart gave vent to the blow which made him the first murderer.
The Scriptural evidences are wholly against the theory mentioned in the question. Take, for instance, the fact that Moses married a negress, and had children by her. According to the theory we are criticising this would have been an unpardonable sin in God's sight, a carnal union between a man and a beast. According to this theory Moses would have been rejected utterly from divine favor. But what do we find? Quite to the contrary. It was after this marriage that God chose Moses to be his representative and the leader of his people out of Egyptian bondage. Moreover, it was when Moses' brother Aaron and his sister Miriam, especially the latter, upbraided him for his marriage to a negress, that the Lord defended him in the matter, and smote Miriam with the plague of leprosy as a punishment for her improper conduct and language respecting this subject. (See the account, `Num. 12`.) Zipporah was an Ethiopian, described in the Hebrew text as a Cushite. Ebed melech, also an Ethiopian, was one of King Zedekiah's household, and be it noted that he was both thoughtful and zealous for the Lord's prophet, Jeremiah, and was the commander of the thirty men who delivered him from prison (`Jer. 38:7-12`.) Hence the argument of those who claim that the negro is devoid of organizing intelligence or ability, except as he may have an admixture of white blood, is shown to be fallacious.
We have already quoted from the Apostle Paul that all nations are mentioned as of one blood; and this again borne out by his statement that those who
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accept Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, are "all one in Christ Jesus." --`Gal. 3:28`; `Col. 3:11`.
The Ethiopian eunuch to whom Philip was sent with the messages of salvation was unquestionably a black man--"Can the Ethiopian change his skin?" (`Jer. 13:23`; `Acts 8:27`.) We find no suggestion on Philip's part that this Ethiopian was not a man, but a beast; but quite to the contrary, he was ready to preach the Gospel to him and to accept him as a brother in Christ upon his confession of faith.
The Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon in the height of his glory is presumed to have been a negress: the present Emperor of Abyssinia claims to be a descendant of Solomon by this Queen--he is a black man, and an able warrior and general, as the Italian army, attempting to invade his country a few years ago, learned to its cost--its serious defeat. Solomon is presumed, by some, to have referred to the Queen of Sheba in his Songs or `Canticles 1:5,6`.
HOW SHALL WE ACCOUNT FOR RACIAL DIFFERENCES?
(3) Question.--If the foregoing is not the solution of the racial distinctions amongst men, what would you suggest as a reasonable explanation?
Answer.--From the Scriptural standpoint we must and do recognize all of the human family as one race, of which father Adam was the original head; a later head being Noah. Accepting as we do the Bible narrative of the flood (and it is confirmed by similar, though less explicit, narratives amongst all ancient peoples) we need not go back of Noah and his family in seeking a cause for the differences. Taking Mt. Ararat as the central joint from which post-diluvian humanity spread itself over the earth, we may reasonably suppose that his three sons and their posterity went in different directions, the one northward, the other southward, and the third eastward. There is a general concensus of opinion that it was Ham who went southward, and whose posterity afterward peopled Africa; that it was Shem who remained near the Mediterranean and became the millions of Armenia, Persia, Assyria, Egypt and India; and that Japheth went northward and eastward, and that his posterity is represented in the Turks, Russians, Chinese, etc.
In attempting to account for the wide differences between whites and blacks, and the lesser differences between these and the yellow, brown, and red, we are treading upon uncertain ground,--as all ground must be in which our imperfect knowledge and imperfect reasoning powers have not inspired direction from the Lord's Word. Hence it should be understood at the outstart that all that we or others can do is to guess on this subject--respecting the differences in shape of head, color of skin, shape of eyes, peculiarities of hair, the nose, lips, etc. Undoubtedly, the climate and the soil have much to do with these differences, just as they have much to do with changes in vegetation. For instance, the apple which reaches so great a degree of perfection in a cold climate, if transferred, even gradually, to a warm one will do poorly, and if it does not die out entirely will at least undergo a transformation, in harmony with the change of soil and climate. The same is noticeable in the quince, the plum and the grape, the orange, etc. Is there more difference between the different races of human species than between the different kinds of grapes--some sweet, some sour; some larger, some smaller; some round, some oblong, some pear-shaped; some white, some green, some reddish, some purple; some with solid meat, some half full of juice, some with seeds and some without? Yet it is not questioned that all grapes are of one family.
Again, consider the dog species. Some are sleek and some are rough; some are very woolly and some are without hair; some white, some brown, some tan; some large, some small, etc. Does any one dispute that all dogs are of one species? Appropriately we find that locality and climate and the kind of food subsisted upon had much to do with these differences. True, we see dogs in various countries of different breeds, now, yet we recognize each breed as having had originally a distinctive home: as for instance, the St. Bernard of the Alps, the Spitz of the Artic regions, the Scotch terrier, the Collie and the Newfoundland --each had its own place, and was developed under peculiar conditions, which for the time kept it separate from others. We are to remember that for long centuries neither dogs nor their masters roamed the world over as at present, but were content with their own home country, which, with its peculiar conditions, and customs, gradually fixed certain characteristics of thought, manner, language and outer appearance. As a consequence, an experienced eye will know a Scotchman fresh from his native heath as quickly as he would recognize his dog. And the same with other peoples.
When we find that Europe, which was settled much more recently by its present inhabitants, has in so short a time divided itself into so many different nations, and when we remember that Europeans have stirred and commingled with each other far more than the peoples of other parts of the earth, it helps us to see how gradually, through many centuries, other peoples have undergone still greater changes.
In considering this matter we are not to forget the strong pre-natal influence of the mother's mind upon her offspring,--co-operating with the influences of climate and soil. To illustrate: Suppose a missionary and his wife removed to China; not only would the influence of the climate and soil be manifested upon themselves, but the same would be still more manifested in their children. Whoever will give careful attention to this matter will notice that each succeeding child born in that foreign country will have increasingly more resemblance to the Chinese-- the hair, the skin, the shape of the eyes, and in general all features will bear closer resemblance with each succeeding child. We can readily suppose that if so much change occurs in a few years, ten or twenty centuries under similar conditions would turn any white people into regular Chinese, even supposing there were no intermarrying. The mother, while carrying her unborn child, has continually before her the Chinese type of countenance--eyes, hair, color, etc., and the continual impress of these upon her mind could not fail, according to the law of our being, to influence her offspring in the manner noted.
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Indeed a traveler, a scientist, has lately reported to the civilized world that he found in China a district where there were ruins of a very ancient Hebrew temple, and tablets in Hebrew. The people of the district informed him that they had a tradition that their fathers once spoke and understood the language of the tablets (Hebrew), had emigrated thither many centuries before, adopting the Chinese customs and language and, gradually, their appearance also.
The effect would be similar in India. Undoubtedly the stronger contrast between the white and the black would require a longer time to be brought about; but we should expect that neither of these extremes fairly represented the original, if we may judge of Adam, Noah and Abraham by the only nation whose ancestors can be traced unblemished back to these heads of the race,--the Jews. We may suppose that they were neither as white as some of us, nor as black as the negro, but of a swarthy, tawny color. If this be true, the extreme whiteness of some peoples is not to be considered the original standard, but a deflection on the one side, as the negro and others are deflections on the other side. We are not to forget, either, that Africa is inhabited by various tribes or nations of negroes--some more and some less degraded than the average. Those brought to America as slaves were of various tribes;--from among whom we doubt not the Lord is making choice of some for the prospective "Royal Priesthood."
While it is true that the white race exhibits some qualities of superiority over any other, we are to remember that there are wide differences in the same Caucasian (Semitic and Aryan) family; and also we should remember that some of the qualities which have given this branch of the human family its preeminence in the world are not such as can be pointed to as in all respects admirable. Indeed we can not but wonder whether if the Gospel had been sent into Asia instead of into Europe it might not have found amongst the people of India a soil much more naturally adapted to the development of the peaceable fruits of righteousness. However, that the Gospel was divinely directed into Europe is most manifest (`Acts 16:6,9`), and sooner or later we shall see the full meaning of this divine providence. Perhaps the Lord intends to show that as typical Israel was a stiff-necked generation, so also spiritual Israel will be taken from amongst similar classes; and all the more show forth the power of the truth, by taking the elect Church chiefly from amongst the most quarrelsome, aggressive, selfish and dominating of humanity, and transforming these through the power of the truth into exemplifications of patience, humility, love and peace. The secret of the greater intelligence and aptitude of the Caucasian undoubtedly in great measure is to be attributed to the commingling of blood amongst its various branches; and this was evidently forced in large measure by circumstances under divine control. It remains to be proven that the similar commingling of the various tribes of Chinese for several centuries would not equally brighten their intellects; and the same with the peoples of India and Africa.
NOAH'S CHARACTER AND HIS "CURSE" UPON HAM.
(4) Question.--Those who hold that the negro is a beast deny that he is the offspring of Noah's sons, and claim that the curse of Noah was not upon Ham, but upon one of Ham's sons, Canaan. They belittle Noah's curse, by saying that it was the senseless babbling
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of a drunken sot. What say you on this point?
Answer.--Those who use such language evidently are not familiar with the subject sufficiently to discuss it at all. The word "curse" is used by Noah after the same manner that God is said to have cursed the earth, and cursed mankind; from which curse man was redeemed by our Lord. The word "curse" here is used in the sense of penalty, retribution, and not in the sense of an imprecation or a profane denunciation. God declared man to be under the sentence of his divine law,--a death-sentence "curse" or penalty. Noah declared, prophetically, that Ham's characteristics which had led him to unseemly conduct disrespectful to his father, would be found cropping out later, inherited by his son,--and prophetically he foretold that this degeneracy would mark the posterity of Canaan, degrading him, making him servile. We are not able to determine to a certainty that the sons of Ham and Canaan are the negroes; but we consider that general view as probable as any other.
Respecting Noah: It is a great mistake to charge him with being a drunken sot, and thus slanderously to set forth in a disreputable light one whom the Lord esteemed. (See `Ezek. 14:14,20`.) The fact is that the conditions after the flood were so different from those which preceded it that Noah was probably ignorant of the fact that the changed atmospheric conditions produced a ferment in the grape juice, giving to the liquor alcoholic and intoxicating qualities. We have not the space here to consider the wonderful change in climate, etc., which occurred at the time of the flood; but everything connected with the narrative supports our conclusion that Noah drank of the fruit of his vineyard in ignorance of its stupefying qualities. See our issue of Nov. 15, 1899.
OTHER INCONSISTENCIES IN THE ARGUMENTS REVIEWED.
(5) Question.--When Jude says, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core" (`Jude 11`), has it any bearing on this negro question?
Answer.--It has no bearing upon this question in the interest of the theory which we are opposing; but it has decided force in opposition to it. The Apostle Jude (Thaddeus--`Matt. 10:3`) mentions Cain, Balaam, and Core. The sin of Cain was hatred of his brother--murder; the error of Balaam was love of reward, so that he was willing to do evil to obtain it; the gainsaying of Core was his rebellion against divinely instituted arrangements. The Lord's people are to note all of these wrong courses and to avoid them all.
We trust that we have answered the questions satisfactorily, and have thoroughly disproven the theory under examination. We will, however, notice a few other points made in the pamphlet: for instance, the negro is blamed with being peaceable and submissive, and his white brother is credited with being of a higher order, because he is unsubmissive and warlike.
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Is it not a fact that in these particulars, if true, the colored man resembles Abel, and the white man Cain?--that the colored man resembles Jesus, and the white man Nero?--that the colored man resembles Moses, and the white man Pharaoh? If the negro is more peaceable by nature, he is that much by nature nearer to the standard which the Christian, as a new creature, is to copy. But we dispute the proposition entirely.
It is argued further that in `Jonah 3:8`, the word "beast" refers to the negro because it says that both "man and beast" were commanded to wear sackcloth as the sign of humiliation before God, and that it would be inappropriate for cattle and sheep. But this argument loses any little force it at first seemed to have, when we read in the preceding verse that "herds and flocks" were to participate in this fast before God.
The argument drawn from `Exodus 19:13`, that the beasts referred to had hands is easily answered by showing that the Hebrews used the word hand for beasts as well as for man. The Hebrew word rendered hand in the citation is yad; and the same word is used in `I Sam. 17:37`, where it is rendered "paw"--"The paw of the lion and the paw of the bear."
The writer makes a point of the use of the word "beast" in contradiction to the word "cattle." But if we refer to Young's Concordance under the head of "beast" we find the word behemah, which, while the general word for cattle, is rendered beast more frequently than cattle. The distinctive word for beast, not rendered cattle, is (Hebrew) chai, and its signification is "living creature." Chai is used in `Ps. 104:20`, and the description of `verses 21,22`, shows that it refers, not to man-eating negroes, but to lions, and such wild beasts. The lack of candor on the part of the author of the pamphlet criticized, is shown by the fact that in one place he accuses the negro of being too peaceable, while in another place, to suit his theory, he makes of him the man-eating wild beast of the Old Testament.
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OBLIGATIONS TOWARD FELLOW-MEN--IN THE DECALOGUE.
--`EX. 20:12-17`.--JULY 20.--
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."--`Mat. 19:9`.
AS THE FIRST four commands of the Decalogue note man's first obligation and responsibility to his Creator, so the remaining six mark out his responsibilities toward his fellow-creatures. We can, undoubtedly, gain some valuable lessons in the study of these commands given to Israel at Mount Sinai, constituting the basis of the Law Covenant: nevertheless, it is proper, especially in view of the gross misunderstanding prevalent upon the subject, that in considering these commands Christians should remember that they were not given to them, but to the Jews; that as we have a New Covenant so we have a new law as the basis of that Covenant, as well as a new Mediator. Old things have passed away and all things have become new to the new creature in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile. The profitable lessons we may learn through the study of these commands given to others, are of the same kind as the lessons we learn in studying the various types and ceremonies of that Jewish Covenant, which the Apostle assures us were but shadows of good things coming after them. (`Heb. 10:1`.) We have the good things, the spiritual things, the higher things; nevertheless, we learned to appreciate these higher things the more by noticing their types and shadows and by contrasting them with the higher things. For instance, altho we study the things written in the law concerning the typical day of atonement, and its sacrificial ceremonies, etc., we do not do so with a view to repeating those sacrifices of bulls and of goats which can never take away sin; but with a view to seeing the more clearly the full force and meaning of the better sacrifices, the anti-typical, which do take away the sin of the world. So with the Ten Commandments. God would not address these to any member of the house of sons, adopted into his family and begotten of his spirit, because they would be inappropriate to such, and really be a denial on God's part that they had become sons or that they had his spirit; for "If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his," and certainly the man begotten of the holy spirit, possessed of the mind of Christ, would no more need to be told that he should do no murder, that he should not steal, etc., than that he should not take God's name profanely. None of these things would anyone begotten of the spirit of God be disposed to do; and, hence, it would not have been appropriate in God to have made that Jewish Law the basis of the Covenant into which he has invited the Church to enter, as children, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, if so be that they suffer with him.
The first of these commandments taught the Jew the sacredness of the family relationship--that the children should honor the parents, which implies that the parents should not only so instruct their children, but that, so far as possible, they should strive to live before them such lives as would reasonably call forth such respect, obedience, honor. A promise of long life is attached to this commandment. We may esteem on general principles that children obedient to their parents would be the more inclined to be obedient to the laws of their country and to the laws of their Creator, and that such obedience would be favorable to old age. But we are not certain that there was not more than this intended. The words, "That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee," would seem to connect this promise with Israel's possession of the land of promise. And if we have reasoned logically that obedience to parents would lead to obedience to God, we may reason reversely that Israel's disobedience to God which resulted in their various captivities, taking them out of the land of promise, and finally in their
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complete banishment from that land, means that this lesson of obedience to parents was not well learned, and that this reward of continuing in their own land was therefore taken from them.
If we would seek a higher meaning for this commandment, under the law of love, its first meaning to the Lord's people would be that they should honor their Father in heaven, and the Abrahamic Covenant under which they have been begotten to the new nature. (`Gal. 4:22-31`); and such honor to God and such respect for their covenant with him are certainly the terms upon which they may hope for a share in the heavenly Canaan with its eternal life. And in proportion as God's people reverence him and honor him in word and in deed the influence of such lives upon their children should be weighty, and should call forth their respect. They should seek to rule their own homes in love, remembering, nevertheless, the Lord's admonition, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household." They need not be surprised if, despite their every effort to do good and properly to inculcate duty, the influences of the world and its false views of matters, should make their homes very different from what they would prefer.
"Thou shalt do no murder"--the Revised Version rendering--is much to be preferred to the Common Version, "Thou shalt not kill." Murder is always wrong; killing is sometimes right, sometimes duty. The life of the lower animals was given to man according to his necessities (`Gen. 9:3`), but we deprecate that which is misnamed sport--the destruction of birds and beasts and fishes wantonly--for no good purpose, but merely to gratify a savage desire to take life. That this command was not intended to prohibit the taking of human life under certain circumstances is evident from the fact that the same law made provision for the killing of murderers.
To the Church, the new creatures in Christ, a still higher law governs on this subject. Our law of Love, the New Command, covers it completely. He who loves his neighbor will surely not murder him. But our Teacher gave a still higher thought respecting this feature of the law, and the way in which we, his followers, should view it, when he declared that for one brother to have hatred toward another was to have the murder spirit--the spirit which, under certain conditions, might lead to murder. According to this definition the person who angrily wishes that another were dead commits murder in his heart. On the contrary, the spirit of love wishes well to the neighbor --yea, even tho he be an enemy, desires that he may come into harmony with the Lord, and ultimately attain life everlasting, and so desires these things as to seek by word and act to render him any assistance possible.
The third of these commands, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," was greatly magnified by our Lord's declaration to the effect that evil desires, tho not accomplished for lack of opportunity, were as really violations of this commandment as tho the act had been committed. How the magnifying glass of the Law of Love enlarges and intensifies the words, the acts, the thoughts, of life! There is in this a lesson of purity of thought which should be profitable to all the Lord's people; for altho we are not in the flesh but in the spirit, as new creatures, and in our trial or judgment, nevertheless, the new mind deals with and operates through the mortal body, and must continually strive to bring it into the fullest subjection possible. Hence, it is valuable for us to know just how the Lord esteems such matters, that we may put the greater guard upon the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts. We may be sure that it was not of accident that the Apostle wrote respecting the wisdom from above, "first pure." Our own purity, in the sense of our justification by faith, comes before we can have any standing or relationship with the Lord or be begotten into his family; and this same purity which is made the foundation of the new life, and given to us reckonedly, must be appreciated by us and lived up to as closely as possible. And the clearer view we get as to what constitutes impurity in the Lord's sight, the better will we be able so to regulate and govern our mortal bodies, our acts, our words, our very thoughts, as to bring them into as close conformity to the will of God as possible.
Another thought in connection with this command, is given to us as new creatures. We have been betrothed to our Lord, and to him as our Bridegroom we owe full allegiance--whether we regard this from the standpoint of the Church as a whole, or from the standpoint of each individual united with the Lord. From this standpoint, as the Lord's betrothed we are to be uncontaminated, unadulterated--separate from the world. "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world;" "I have chosen you out of the world."
The fourth of these commands, "Thou shalt not steal," is of much greater depth and breadth than many are inclined to suppose. In the light of the New Covenant and its law of love, stealing may properly be understood to apply to the defrauding of a neighbor, friend or enemy, in any manner--depriving him of his rights or liberties as well as of his money or property. It would apply also to the stealing of a good name from another, as Shakespeare has pointed out. This command would be infracted, in the light of the Law of Love, by any transaction in which a neighbor would be worsted in a bargain, provided anything had been secreted or any deception calculated to warp his judgment in the making of the bargain had been practiced. From this standpoint there is a great deal of "respectable" stealing done today;-- not only by misrepresentation of the goods by shopkeepers and by untruthful advertisements, but also amongst dealers of stock exchanges who, directly or indirectly, throw out wrong information to mislead, and by others in fraudulent organizations whose financial standing, etc., is often grossly misrepresented to enable the organizers to steal from those who become the purchasers of the stock at more than its real value.
The Law of Love is very difficult to apply to business under present conditions; but it always insists upon absolute fairness and truthfulness in respect to all statements made. It is not incumbent upon us, however, after making known the facts in any matter,
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to either directly or indirectly force upon others our opinions or judgment in respect to the value of the facts explained. We may safely allow other men to use their judgment, while we use ours, when we have told them frankly the truth in regard to any matter.
The fifth of these commands, altho it does not directly prohibit false statements, does necessarily prohibit any statement which would mislead a neighbor to his injury, and herein we see a superior wisdom in the light of this command. I might make a declaration that at a certain hour I will do a certain thing. I am at full liberty to change my mind and not to do that thing, provided my conduct in this shall not injure my neighbor in any sense or degree. To whatever extent our testimony on any subject would be inclined to lead friends or neighbors or anyone to take any course which would be injurious to themselves or others, and which they would not otherwise have taken, to that extent we are bound under the Law of Love. We may do all the good we please to a neighbor, but we may do him no injury. This is the spirit of the Apostle's injunction that we say, "If the Lord will" we will do thus and so. We are to consider the Lord's will in all we undertake, and his will in brief, is that we honor him and do good, not evil to fellow men.
False witness applies to the telling of lies, but it goes deeper than this and applies to any misrepresentation, whether it be by direct statement or indirectly by such a statement as would permit a wrong inference to be drawn. Indeed, amongst refined people this subterfuge, by which they palliate their consciences, and at the same time gratify their spiteful hearts, is very common. One may even bear false witness by the nod of his head, by the shrugging of his shoulder, or by silence--if a misstatement be made in such a connection that silence might be understood to mean consent. If a Jew, a member of the house of servants under Moses, the Mediator of the Law Covenant, was required to be particular upon this point, how much more particular should all be who essay to be members of the house of sons, under the New Covenant and the New Mediator! Does not the New Covenant Law of Love go still deeper on this point? It surely does. It prohibits in specific terms, not only the speaking of untruths in respect to a neighbor, but the speaking of anything concerning him that would be to his discredit, even tho it were true--unless under certain circumstances which Love could fully endorse--if the testimony were required by a court of law, or if the testimony were necessary for the protection of another from injury. And even in such cases as little of derogatory truth as possible should be uttered, and it only in love. The Apostle's word on this subject is, "Speak evil of no man."
There is no point, or feature, of the entire Law of Love, as it bears upon our relationship to fellow-creatures, that needs more of our attention than this point. It seems difficult for Christians to learn thoroughly the Master's lessons, that, if they have anything unpleasant to say respecting a brother or sister, any criticism of the private life or affairs to offer, it should be offered to him or her alone and not to others.
Perhaps on no other score does the Adversary succeed so well in doing mischief amongst the Lord's people--in planting roots of bitterness, producing misunderstanding, anger, malice, hatred, strife and other works of the devil. Let us permit love to do her perfect work in this relationship to our fellows.
A difference is to be observed in respect to criticisms of doctrines publicly uttered. The criticism of an error should be as publicly made as the error was publicly set forth, if it be of importance. The thing then to determine would be our liberties and responsibilities, and we might have neither. But if we possessed both our criticisms should be only in love, not in boastfulness but in humility; desiring only to serve the truth and the brethren. Humility will suggest, too, that we be sure we are right before proceeding to criticize. Even then some points of truth can generally be approved while the points of error are being criticized.
The sixth of these commandments, and the last of the whole, deals with covetousness. As the last it stands in an important place, and when fully appreciated
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is seen to have a bearing upon all the other commandments. Covetousness implies discontent. It, therefore, generally lies at the bottom of slander, false witness, theft, adultery, murder, and disobedience to parents. Indeed, in some respects we may suppose that it lies at the bottom of any disloyalty to God also. Was it not covetousness on the part of Satan which first led him to disloyalty and sin?
In becoming new creatures in Christ we are supposed to eradicate from our hearts everything that could in any sense of the word develop into covetousness --by the consecration of our wills, our hearts, to the Lord, by the acceptance of his will as instead of our own. From this standpoint, as the Apostle declares, "Godliness with contentment [absence of covetousness] is great gain." Indeed, viewed from the proper standpoint of the new creature, we have nothing to covet, because in becoming the Lord's we have become joint-heirs with our Redeemer to all the riches of divine grace, so that the Apostle could say, "All things are yours...and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
But let us as new creatures, remember that covetousness can come into a heart otherwise pure, and defile the whole, as we see illustrated in the case of Satan, so that of all the things which we need to guard against most carefully this is one of the chief. All the graces of the spirit are opposed to covetousness --meekness, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love, all forbid that we should covet the things of our brethren or the things of the world. Rather, thankfulness should so fill our hearts--gratitude for the manifold mercies and blessings already received, that there will be no room for a covetous thought. True, the Apostle, in our Common Version, is made to say, "Covert earnestly the best gifts" (`I Cor. 12:31`), but it would be a great mistake to suppose that the Apostle taught that the Lord's people were to covet positions of influence in the Church. We are indeed to desire
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to have, to enjoy and to use in the Lord's service, as many talents and gifts as possible, but we find the very reverse of the Apostle's thought and teaching that we should covet the honors or possessions of one another. This seems to be a danger point with many, and when we remember that it has proven to be the wreck-rock for many, it behooves us to be extremely careful to covet merely the Lord's favor and the gifts and talents by which we can best serve one another and not ourselves.
THESE MANY YEARS.
"These many years! What lessons they unfold
Of grace and guidance through the wilderness,
From the same God that Israel of old
In the Shekinah glory did possess.
How faithful he, through all my griefs and fears
And constant murmurings, these many years!
"God of the Covenant! From first to last,
From when I stood within that sprinkled door
And o'er my guilt the avenging angel passed,
Thy better angel has gone on before;
And naught but goodness all the way appears,
Unmerited and free, these many years!
"Thy presence wrought a pathway through the sea;
Thy presence made the bitter water sweet;
And daily have thy hands prepared for me
Sweet, precious morsels--lying at my feet.
'Twas but to stoop and taste the grace that cheers,
And start refreshed, through all these many years!
"What time I thirsted and earth's streams were dry,
What time I wandered and my hope was gone,
Thy hand has brought a pure and full supply,
And, by a loving pressure, lured me on.
How oft that hand hath wiped away my tears
And written 'Pardoned!' all these many years!
"And what of discipline thy love ordained
Fell ever gently on this heart of mine;
Around its briers was my spirit trained
To bring forth fruits of righteousness divine;
Wisdom in every check, and love appears
In every stroke throughout these many years!
"Lord, what I might have been my spirit knows--
Rebellious, petulant, and apt to stray:
Lord, what I am, in spite of flesh and foes,
I owe to grace that kept me in the way.
Thine be the glory! Merit disappears
As back I look upon these many years.
"Thine be the glory! Thou shalt have the praise
For all thy dealings, to my latest breath;
A daily Ebenezer will I raise,
And sing Salvation through the vale of death--
To where the palm, the golden harp appears,
There to rehearse thy love through endless years."
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WORSHIPPING THE GOLDEN CALF.
--`EX. 32:1-6, 30-35`.--JULY 27.--
"Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."--`Ex. 20:3`.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS became the foundation, or basis, of the Law Covenant between God and Israel--Moses being the Mediator. These commandments were written on parchment, and added to them were about seventy enactments, or explanations in accord with them, based upon them, and these all, recorded in `Exodus 20-23`, constituted what was termed the Book of the Covenant. After the people had assented to the Law and the Covenant based upon it, Moses killed an animal, which represented himself, the Mediator of that Covenant, and he sprinkled the blood of the animal upon the Book of the Covenant, which represented the Lord and his faithfulness to all of his promises; and he sprinkled of the blood also upon the people--probably not upon the two millions, but upon representatives of the whole, the heads or chiefs of the tribes. Thus in type, or symbol, Moses stood pledged to God on behalf of the people, and to the people on behalf of God that the provisions on both sides should be carried out.
It was after this solemn and significant ceremony, that by the Lord's direction Moses went up into the mountain as the people's representative--for communion with the Lord, and to receive from him the Decalogue written on tables of stone, which the Jews traditionally claim were of sapphire. His mission lasted forty days.
This absence of their leader, in whom they reposed great confidence, might have resulted in great blessing to the Israelites had they been in a proper condition of heart. Altho, under the circumstances, forty days--nearly six weeks--would seem to be quite a considerable absence, without communication, it might have had the effect of impressing upon the minds of the people the fact that, after all, not Moses but God was their leader, and that he had merely used Moses thus far as his servant, and that if anything had befallen this servant the Lord, who had begun the good work of their deliverance, in fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was abundantly able to provide them another leader, and that nothing could have happened to Moses aside from divine foreknowledge and ability to prevent. This would have been a great lesson of faith and patience, beneficial to them for the remainder of life. But, instead, they had "an evil heart of unbelief," which quickly forgot the Lord's deliverance from the Egyptians, his leading through the Red Sea, the destruction of the hosts of Pharaoh in pursuit of them, the Covenant promise which he had just executed with them, and the manna which they were gathering daily; all these mercies of God were evidently underestimated--not fully and rightly appreciated, and their measurable unthankfulness and ingratitude became the basis of their fall into sin and idolatry, in gross violation of the covenant they had just made.
Ingratitude toward God would naturally mean ingratitude toward the servant whom he had used for their deliverance; hence the disrespectful language in which they referred to their great deliverer as "this
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Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt"--the man who was to lead us into the land of promise, and who now has gotten lost himself in the mountain. The wide difference between the character and disposition of Moses and that of the majority of the Israelites is shown by the fact that at this very time, while they were thus speaking lightly of him, Moses was importuning the Lord for them. The Lord made known to Moses in the mountain that Israel had gotten into serious sin, and by way of testing his fidelity as their appointed mediator, whose blood had typically sprinkled the people and thus pledged itself on their behalf, the Lord proposed to him the blotting out of the entire nation of Israel, and the taking of Moses as the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the head of a new nation. But faithfully Moses had plead for those whom he represented. He thus showed himself a worthy type of the great Mediator of the New Covenant, Christ Jesus our Lord, who has made mediation for the sins of the people--reconciliation through his blood.
The conduct of the Israelites in this matter shows up the weaknesses of the fallen human nature. They wanted to worship, and they desired to gratify this natural inclination in connection with fallen tendencies. They would worship God, but they would have an outward emblem or sign representing him-- additionally, no doubt, they craved some gratification of lewdness and licentiousness, which were marked elements of the idolatrous worship of Egypt, with which for a long time they had been in contact. They appealed to Aaron, Moses' brother, as second in command of the host--telling him of their religious sentiments, their desires for worship, their need of some external sign or representation of God, and that this was the more necessary in view of the long absence of Moses and the possibility that he would never return to the leadership, and that the people must have something upon which to center their attention, either a living man representing God, or an idol, an image, representing him, etc., etc. The weakness of Aaron, in contrast with the strength of his brother Moses, is very markedly shown in this incident, and clearly exemplifies the wisdom of God in the choice of Moses to be the leader of the people, even tho at the outset the latter in meekness ignored his own abilities and suggested to the Lord his brother Aaron for the leader.
Whether Aaron really entered into the spirit of the people, and concluded with the leaders who appealed to him that it would be the wisest thing to make the image, or whether he did it as an expedient to hold the people in check until Moses' return, by conceding the demands which he really did not approve, we are unable to determine. It is possible that his course in calling for the earrings, etc., was first of all with a view to dissuading the people from the course suggested, by making it cost them considerable sacrifice in the way of their personal adornments. It may be, too, that he trusted that during the time necessary to the engraving of the moulds, the melting of the jewels, and the moulding of the calf, Moses would appear and re-assume the leadership and command the people. However, whatever were his thoughts and motives, he displayed a weakness of character far from commendable, one
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which should teach all who providentially come into places of influence and power amongst God's people, that there is but one right way to do; namely, not to participate in sin--not to become a participator in wrong, but meekly yet firmly to stand up for principle, for righteousness, at any cost--leaving the results with the Lord without fear, knowing that he is the real Leader of the people, and that attempts to compromise with wrong would be at the expense of divine approval, and therefore too costly to be considered for a moment.
The golden calf having been made, the next thing in order, of course, would be an altar for sacrificing to it, which accordingly was made, and then the program of a "feast to Jehovah." This shows that the idolatry here started was not different from the kind practiced today in Christian churches, where images, pictures, crucifixes, etc., are worshiped. Those who use these assure us that they do not worship the crucifixes, statues, etc., but merely use these as symbols or emblems of the Lord, and that their worship is to him. So evidently the Israelites were not worshiping the golden calf as being their god, but as merely to represent God; for the program which drew them together to the worship distinctly specified that it was a feast unto Jehovah--altho Jehovah did not acknowledge their feast nor accept the worship connected therewith, because it was in violation of the principles and regulations which he had enjoined.
Full of religious fervor, the people arose early on the morning of the feast, offering to the Lord burnt offerings which he could not accept, and peace offerings under conditions upon which he could not be at peace. The burnt offerings were entirely consumed, but the peace offerings were eaten by the people, and constituted their feast. The day was given up to revelry; they sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play--dances and supposedly lewd conduct, after the manner of heathen,--professedly to the honor of God. It was at this juncture, at the close of the forty days, that Moses reappeared in their midst, and soon caused consternation by his proper and emphatic denunciation of the proceedings and of all who were instrumental in their inauguration. As he came down from the mountain he heard the shouts of the people, but discerned that they did not indicate either victory or dispute in warfare, but rather that they were voices of singing and revelry, and as he came in sight of the golden calf and the idolatrous worship, and realized how quickly and grossly the people had violated the divine command on the subject, he dashed the tables of the Law upon the rocks and broke them in fragments-- symbolically thus intimating an illustration of the failure of Israel to keep the Law, and ultimately the complete failure of the Law Covenant, as we know it did fail in respect to Israel in general at our Lord's first advent.
The revelers were disquieted by the appearance of the great commander and his indignant rebuke of
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their irreligious fervor. Aaron came in for his share of this, but promptly acknowledged his error, pleading as an excuse the demands of the people, his own weakness in the matter being too evident to require pleading. The one man stood up against a nation of two millions of people, denounced their sin, announced himself as being on the side of the Lord and thoroughly opposed to such infractions of his Law, and called upon such of the people as were on the Lord's side to desist from sin and come to his side in opposition to it. Altho overmastered and cowed in the presence of their God-appointed leader, the chief men of all the tribes except one seem to have resented Moses' reproofs. That one tribe was the tribe of Levi, typical of the household of faith from which the royal priesthood is now being selected. This tribe, altho to some extent led astray with the rest, and to some extent leaders, through Aaron, in the wrong course, was at heart on the Lord's side; and when the rebuke came and the Lord's will and way were clearly set before them through the Mediator, they promptly came to the side of the Lord on the question. The leaders of the other tribes were not ready to admit that their course was a wrong one, not willing to submit themselves promptly, and the result was the destruction of about three thousand of the leaders in the wrong way, and the full return of the remainder of Israel into harmony with the Lord and with acknowledgement of their transgression. On the next day after this punishment of the leaders Moses more fully explained to the people the enormity of their sin, and went up again into the mountain, for them, as their representative, to make an atonement for them with the Lord.
This incident well illustrates the general tendency, more or less, of fallen man to substitute something of his own creation, either as instead of the Lord or in addition to the Lord, as an object of worship. The worship of the golden calf symbolizes or pictures in a general and very forceful way the worship of the mammon of wealth, of earthly riches, honor, influence, etc. At our Lord's first advent he found Israel nominally worshiping Jehovah, nominally very zealous of his worship, but really worshipers of mammon, worshipers of riches and honor of men, of dignities and titles, of place and position. The Pharisees, who were confessedly as well as professedly the most religious class of Jews at that time, the holiness people, our Lord accused of "covetousness-- which is idolatry"--and in the Emphatic Diaglott translation this statement, "for they were covetous," is rendered, "for they were money-lovers." (`Luke 16:14`; `Col. 3:5`.) It was to the whole nation in general, and to the Pharisees in particular, that our Lord declared, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon"--thus implying that they were worshipers of the Mammon of wealth in its various forms. Referring to one form of Mammon he again said to them, "How can ye believe who receive honor one of another, and seek not that honor which cometh from God only?" He referred to another form of mammon-worship, and the prevalent but erroneous thought that it was compatible with the worship of God, when he said, "Ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers," and he denounced such religion and mammon-worship as hypocrisy. The antitypical Mediator, who fulfilled the Law on behalf of true Israelites, and who declared that, so far as that people were concerned, the tables of the Law and the Covenant based upon them were broken,--dashed to pieces,--fully explained that their difficulty consisted in worshiping the golden calf, worshiping mammon, bowing down to the opinions of men, traditions of the elders; their love of the praise of men and titles, and honor of man, and their love of wealth, had to do largely with their reprehensible course in the sight of the Lord and their inharmony with their Mediator when he appeared. As Moses, the typical mediator, called for those who were on the Lord's side to come to him, so Christ called for all the "Israelites indeed," the household of faith, the Royal Priesthood, to come to him; and as there was in the type a destruction of the leaders of the remainder, so there came a time of trouble upon the remainder of the house of Israel which resulted in the complete overthrow of their national polity, the destruction of their city, etc. And as the typical mediator then went up into the mountain to make reconciliation for their sins, so Christ as the High Priest ascended to make atonement for the sins of the people.
We may draw another lesson still closer to ourselves and in full harmony with the foregoing. We may remember that natural Israel and the first advent of our Lord were patterns of spiritual Israel and the second advent of Christ; that as he came to his own professed Israelites, yet found them unready to receive him, so at his second coming professed spiritual Israel, styled Christendom, will be equally unready to receive him; and that as he found only a remnant of the whole of natural Israel ready for the higher plane of the Gospel age, so in the end of this age he will find only a little flock in all ready for the higher plane of the Kingdom--ready for the change to glory, honor, immortality and joint-heirship with himself and participation in the Kingdom work. As this class was the stone of stumbling and rock of offense to literal Israel, that was but the foreshadowing of how the same class would be a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to spiritual Israel; as it is written, "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and rock of offense, to both the house of Israel." As the natural Israelites stumbled because they and their leaders were outwardly loyal to the Lord and his purposes, yet really were selfish and self-willed, and therefore not ready to receive him and to fall in line with his reproofs and corrections in righteousness, so likewise it will be with the leaders and the masses of nominal spiritual Israel at the second advent of the Lord; so that now, as with Israel, only a remnant will be found, only the Levites--on the side of the Lord; and the time of trouble which came upon natural Israel for its overthrow was typical of the great overthrow and great time of trouble, "such as was not since there was a nation," about to come on nominal Christendom for its complete overthrow as a social financial, political and religious institution. But following this trouble the antitype of Moses will have the full command, and will, indeed, lead the people through the wilderness, and altho during the Millennial age of their leading they will experience
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chastisements for their wrong-doing, these chastisements will be corrective rather than destructive, to the intent that they may learn well the lesson of our Golden Text, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
We have seen that one of the principal difficulties in the way of Israel at the first advent was the fact that they were mammon worshipers. Is this also illustrative of the condition of nominal spiritual Israel at the present time? Is it, or is it not, true that nominal Israel of to-day blends the worship of God and the worship of Mammon? Is it, or is it not, true that while nominally worshiping Jehovah the vast majority are bowing down to the golden calf of wealth, honor of men, dignity, titles, etc., etc.? We fear that it is only too true that there never was a time when money, influence, power, and honors of men were more exalted or worshiped or more striven for than at present. We are not making wholesale condemnations, nor suggesting that no excuse or allowance should be made in this matter. On the contrary, we would claim that it is true of many to-day, as it was true of Aaron, that they are led, yea, almost forced, into the positions which they occupy in respect to the worship of Mammon, in respect to their obedience and servility to the popular sentiment--to the general craze for the worship of the golden calf; the worship of great human institutions; the worship of wealth; the worship of titles and influence, and the tendency to be identified with these and in some measure to share in the glory, both by contributing to and by participation in their revels.
It is nearly nineteen centuries since the New Covenant was sealed with the precious blood of our Mediator, and he left his people and ascended up on high,-- going up into the mountain, into the presence of God. His absence was longer protracted than had been expected, and meantime many of those who had trusted in him and waited for him and expected his coming again to lead his people into the land of promise, have ceased to expect him, and are claiming that he will not come again to lead and deliver them--are claiming that it is necessary that other leaders should take charge and deliver the people. The heads of the various parties in conference have decided, not that Mammon shall be to them instead of God, but that Mammon shall be the representative of God, to lead the people to success; that Mammon shall convert and civilize the world; that Mammon shall bring in for the groaning creation, in a natural way, the various blessings craved, and cause the earth to blossom as the rose. Meantime the leader whom God had appointed to bring the deliverance returns, is present. He is justly wroth and indignant at present conditions. He has set up his standard of truth and righteousness, and is even now standing at the gate of the camp, and is calling, as did Moses in the type, "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me! And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves unto him." (`Exod. 32:26`.) Let all who are truly the Lord's, however much they may have been entangled with the popular fallacies of our day, with its love of money and titles, its selfishness, love of honor of men, etc., --let all of the true-hearted be prompt to take their places on the Lord's side. Shortly the great time of trouble is to begin, which will mean the complete overthrow of all who uphold the worship of Mammon, however much they claim that it is really the worship and service of Jehovah.
Moses as a Mediator showed himself grandly as a man, and beautifully typified the faithfulness of our Lord and Redeemer. How pathetic is Moses' plea-- "If thou wilt forgive their sins--." He left the sentence incomplete, as tho it were beyond thinking that God could permit such an infraction of the Covenant he had just made. But Moses proceeds and expresses to the Lord his willingness, his preference, that if Israel's sin cannot be forgiven he also may be blotted out of the book of life. We exclaim, Noble man! Pure patriot! And we take to ourselves a lesson of unselfish devotion to others. But when we look from Moses the type, to Jesus the antitype we see the same lesson brought out in a still more pronounced form. The Mediator of the New Covenant realizing that it is impossible for God to forgive sin, to blot out sin, gave his own life as the redemption price for sinners. He actually did what Moses proffered to do and meant, for he gave not merely a prospect of life and a temporary existence such as Moses possessed, but he gave his all, with his rights to eternal life as a man, on our behalf. But tho the Father was pleased with his devotion--indeed, had foreseen it, and had made this arrangement for the cancelation of man's guilt and sentence of death, yet he purposed that the great Mediator of the Covenant, through whose blood-- death--it was sealed, should not suffer everlasting extinction, but that on the contrary he would reward him for his nobility and devotion, both to men and to God's Law, by raising him from the dead to a still higher plane of life--to glory, honor and immortality. --`Phil. 2:5-11`.
And as the Lord said to Moses, "Go now; and lead the people unto the place" designated, so he has appointed that our Mediator who has actually given his life for us and has received the new life with superior power and glory, should be the leader and the commander of the people, and bring whosoever of them wills back into full accord with God, back to the Edenic conditions, the land of promise. But as the Lord said to Moses in respect to the people and their sin, so it will be with mankind; viz., "Their sins shall be visited upon them." They will receive stripes or chastisements in proportion as they participated willingly or knowingly in a course of sin. So it will be during the Millennial age; altho the Lord will forgive the original sin, and remit its penalty of death, nevertheless, to whatever extent men have sinned wilfully, on their own account, against light and knowledge and opportunity, in that same proportion they are personally responsible, and will be obliged to suffer stripes of chastisements even while being brought by the Redeemer back from the plane of death to the plane of perfection, harmony with God and everlasting life. And those who will not profit by the lessons, who will not obey that great Teacher and Leader, the antitype of Moses, shall be "cut off from amongst the people," as the Lord has declared.--`Acts 3:23`.