VOL. XIX. MAY 15, 1898. No. 10.
Views from the Watch Tower........................147
Ex-President Harrison's Words, etc............148
The Truth in Foreign Fields...................149
Reform among Roman Catholics, etc.............150
Poem: Grow in Love as well as in
The Christian's Warfare...........................153
None but Fighters Wanted in the
A Fight of Faith..................................158
Jesus before Pilate--"Consider Him"...............159
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POEMS AND HYMNS OF DAWN.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
RETRIBUTION seems to be a law more easily discerned in national than in individual affairs. "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after" (`1 Tim. 5:24`); but, since nations will have no resurrection as nations, it is but justice that the reaping as well as the sowing should always come in "this present evil world [age]."
When God foretold to Abraham Israel's bondage and oppression in Egypt, he added, "And also that nation whom they shall serve, I will judge." (`Gen. 15:14`.) And only from this standpoint of retribution can we properly
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understand "the plagues of Egypt." And in this we seem to have an illustration of a general law whose operation can only be clearly discerned through the glass of history which takes in the sweep of centuries --the Law of Retribution.
A noteworthy illustration just before our eyes is Spain--the derelict nation. Once a queen amongst the nations with more possessions than they all, she to-day is the pauper nation of Europe, whose promises to pay her debts are not one-half as good as those of despised Turkey; while her poor, illiterate peasants and artisans are rioting for bread. She discovered "the new world" and planted her colonies upon it and held the title to more than one-half of it--from Washington and Oregon to Florida, in the United States, to Mexico, Central America and nearly all of South America; yet piece by piece she has lost it all except a few islands, and these will probably be lost to her within a few days.
What was Spain's crime? Her crime was practically the same as that of every other nation that has fallen;--the same that is briefly charged by inspiration against Sodom: "Pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness--neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." (`Ezek. 16:49`.) Spain's prosperity developed pride--instead of gratitude to God, and realization of increased responsibility as a Steward. Pride begat arrogance, injustice, misrule and tyranny, and led to the despoiling of all who came under her power, for the accumulation of riches in the hands of her favored ones at home. This led her foreign subjects to hate her and to rebel against her unjust rapacity by which their lives and substance were drained. Her pride and avarice spent her wealth and the blood of her young men in seeking to perpetuate the oppressions by which she sucked to herself the wealth of her victims. Thus by war after war she has lost victim after victim, as well as her accumulated wealth, until to-day without national purse or national credit she retains nothing but her national pride--which cannot die because it is an integral element of the spirit of the Evil One.
Yet Spain is one of Papacy's oldest, most loyal and devoted daughters. Has she not been such for centuries? While la belle France can boast of her loyalty as manifested in the massacre of the Huguenots, can not Spain boast that she persecuted Protestant heretics more zealously than any other nation, not even excepting France and Austria? Can she not claim that the "Holy Inquisition" was of her own invention? Yes; and is it not a part of a just retribution that, as France suffered a century ago in expiation of her national sins, so Spain should now suffer for hers? and Austria for hers?
Not only Christians who refused to worship the Man of Sin suffered at the hands of Spain, but the natural Israelites also. Spain was their bitterest foe who first persecuted them and expelled them. The histories of Holland, the Netherlands, Mexico and Peru all
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tell the tale that the spirit which centuries of Papal inculcation developed was an evil spirit, a devilish spirit; the very reverse of the spirit of Christ. And the fact that two-thirds of Spain's population are unable to read or write (according to their own published statements --which their pride would not lead them to overstate) is also properly chargeable to the blinding influences of Antichrist.
Draper some forty years ago, dealing with Spain's crimes in Mexico, Peru and Central America, wrote in his--
"INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT OF EUROPE."
"It was one unspeakable outrage, one unutterable ruin, without discrimination of age or sex. Those who died not under the lash in a tropical sun died in the darkness of the mine. From sequestered sand banks, where the red flamingo fishes in the gray of the morning; from fever-stricken mangrove thickets and the gloom of impenetrable forests; from hiding places in the clefts of rocks and the solitude of invisible caves; from the eternal snows of the Andes, where there was no witness but the all-seeing sun, there went up to God a cry of human despair. By millions upon millions, whole races and nations were remorselessly cut off.
"The bishop of Chiapa [Roman Catholic] affirms that more than 15,000,000 were exterminated in his time. From Mexico and Peru a civilization that might have instructed Europe was crushed out. Is it for nothing that Spain has been made a hideous skeleton among living nations, a warning spectacle to the world? Had not her punishment overtaken her, men would have surely said, 'There is no retribution; there is no God.' It has been her evil destiny to ruin two civilizations, oriental and occidental, and to be ruined thereby herself. With circumstances of dreadful barbarity she expelled the Moors, who had become children of her soil by as long a residence as the Normans have had in England, from William the Conqueror to our time. In America she destroyed races more civilized than herself. Expulsion and emigration have deprived her of her best blood, her great cities have sunk into insignificance and towns that once had more than a million of inhabitants can now only show a few scanty thousands."
The Poet Byron, long ago, wrote:--
"Ye who would more of Spain and Spaniards know,
Go read whate'er is writ in bloodiest strife,
Whate'er keen vengeance urged on foreign foe
Can act, is acting there against man's life.
From flashing scimetar to secret knife,
War moldeth there each weapon to his need,
So he may guard the sister and the wife,
So he may make each cursed oppressor bleed,
So may such foes deserve the most remorseless deed!"
The inspired words: "God resisteth the proud but showeth his favor to the humble," and "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall," are evidently as true of nations, as of individuals, tho specially applied to Christians. And while the Lord's people cannot take vengeance, nor join in the strife, nor even permit vengeful thoughts to find lodgment in their hearts; while they must on the contrary feel pity for the poor, ignorant, proud, sin-ruled and blinded people, and must long for the time to come when they as well as other peoples shall be blessed with a knowledge of the truth, and with all the gracious helps which the Millennial Kingdom will bring; nevertheless, it is our duty to take note of the various manifestations of divine vengeance,--the recompenses of Justice; and to sympathize with these and thus learn to apply our hearts unto wisdom;--the wisdom which cometh from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated and full of mercy and good works.
EX-PRESIDENT HARRISON'S WORDS.
Referring to the present unsought and undesired war he recently said:--
"We do not say that we have God's commission to deliver the oppressed the world around. To the distant Armenians we could send only the succor of a faith that overcomes death and the alleviations which the nurse and the commissary can give. But the oppressed Cubans and their starving women and children are knocking at our doors: their cries penetrate our slumbers. They are closely within what we have defined to be the sphere of American influence. We have said: 'Look to us, not to Europe,' and we cannot shrink from the responsibility and the dangers of this old and settled American policy.
"We have, as a nation, towards Cuba, the same high commission which every brave-hearted man has to strike down the ruffian who in his presence beats a woman or child and will not desist. For what, if not for this, does God make a man or a nation strong?"
While the people of the United States have favored war from a purely humanitarian standpoint, and not from a desire for combat nor for the acquisition of territory, yet we can see clearly that the success of the right, in which we rejoice, will have its dangers, which will be proportionate with the quickness and the brilliancy of the victories.
Pride has a controlling influence in the hearts of the world in general--except the "saints," and even in these it is not wholly eradicated. True, the pride which grows under the greater light of a higher civilization and religious freedom is less rank than the Spanish article and more amenable to reason; yet success in the present war will develop this evil plant wonderfully: so that people who resisted the present war to the last notch and then yielded only for the sake of justice and humanity will, if the navy meets with great success, feel much more than before like brushing with other navies "to demonstrate American superiority." So there is no knowing to what the intoxication of success may lead.
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One result seems clear now--that Cuba will not be given her independence, as was the wish of the majority of the people at the outbreak of the war. By the time the war is ended and order restored in Cuba, Sugar Trust and Tobacco Trust and various wealthy citizens and officials will have purchased large holdings of property in Cuba; and some sort of a United States protectorate or control will be deemed essential. Indeed, it is doubtful if the poor people who constitute the vast majority of its population are capable of establishing a safe and stable government there.
The duty of God's people, if they speak at all on the subject of the war, is found in the Apostle's words: "Let your moderation be known unto all men." God's people must not only cultivate the spirit of love, peace and good will toward all men, but their words should be along the same lines--not stirring up strife and anger and malice. We all must be "peace-makers" if we would be blessed as sons of God.
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"EAT HER FLESH AND BURN HER WITH FIRE."
Roman Catholic sympathy is strongly with Spain; because she is the most intensely papal kingdom of earth. Their argument is that Spain owns Cuba and has a right, therefore, to drain its wealth to her treasury and to murder all of its population, if they defend themselves and resist her tax-pillaging. They blind themselves to the fact that Cuba belongs to the people of Cuba, and that no nation can claim the slightest right of justice to govern a colony or to take any revenues therefrom except as a reasonable, just recompense is made in the way of protection of their personal liberties by good government. While Great Britain's rule is by no means perfect, it at least recognizes and makes an attempt to follow these lines of justice: and as a result her colonies regard her as a mother and protector, rather than as whipped slaves regard a merciless master.
But there is another side to this question. One century ago France passed through her terrible revolution, one result of which was the confiscation of the immense wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, accumulated during centuries. Later, Italy passed through a similar but lesser revolution and similarly degraded papal power and influence and confiscated much of Papacy's property. Now it looks as though the time were at hand for Spain to do the same--and later perhaps Austria.
Telegraphic reports say that the newspaper organ of the Vatican already mistrusts the Spaniards and advises those having such matters in charge to "take measures with all speed, whereby the title to that property and the usufruct of it would be secured,--by its timely transfer to trustworthy private individuals." The reason assigned is that further reverses in the war will lead to the closing of the convents and monasteries and their confiscation and the sale of the Church's estates for uses of the government.
Roman Catholics have been blind and unreasoning for a long time; but they are waking up. They begin to see that the prayer of the pope and the clergy for their success means a curse, and that heavenly blessings pronounced upon their naval vessels presage disastrous defeat. The ignorant two-thirds of that nation which can neither read nor write can reason so simple a problem as this,--that the so-called infallible "Lord God the Pope" has little wisdom and little power in respect to earthly affairs: and correspondingly they will lose confidence in his ability to unlock Purgatory and Heaven to Catholics and to lock up Protestant "heretics" in Hell.
"God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform;" and we shall not be surprised to see a revolution in Spain which will roll back from that people and from other peoples several centuries' growth of superstition. The whole world is witness that all of earth's governments are "beastly"--none of them more than base counterfeits of the Kingdom of God, yet their prosperity is proportionate to their recognition of the liberty wherewith Christ makes free--proportionate to the liberty of God's Word--proportionate to the numbers of the "salt of the earth," God's holy ones, the elect Church, and their freedom.
We sympathize with the thousands of poor people in Italy and Spain who are rioting for bread, occasioning a greater number of deaths and wounds than the Spanish-American war thus far; we sympathize with the poor of France not quite so badly off; we sympathize with the politically troubled masses of Austro-Hungary in the trouble threatening them. But we fully believe that these lessons and experiences are needful to mankind. It is a blessed thing to have a God who is too wise to err, too just to be unkind. It is a blessing to know through his Word of the rich provisions of his grace for his elect Church, and for all the families of the earth through her. And it is a blessed thing to have faith in God not only as respects our own personal affairs, but also as respects the affairs of nations. And it is profitable for us to trace his providences so far as we may be able--trusting him where we cannot trace him.
THE TRUTH IN FOREIGN FIELDS.
As we write, we bid Goodbye to a dear brother who starts for his native land, Hungary, to tell the good tidings to his countrymen. A professor for years in the schools of his native land, he is well educated in
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Latin and German as well as Hungarian, and we trust that he may be used of the Lord to find and to seal some of the elect.
He was a Roman Catholic, but his studies soon led him out of that into Agnosticism, and he became an ardent advocate of Darwinism and thought that the sum of knowledge. But the deeper he drank of the Pierian spring the more he saw that science so-called is chiefly conjecture, hypothesis, guess-work; until he concluded with the Brahmins and Theosophists that the sum of learning and of thought is so unsatisfactory that the most happifying condition would be that finally conscious existence would cease.
Next he became interested in a kind of Social uplift for his people, and started an agricultural colony in Canada. It was while so engaged that he obtained through one of the colonists MILLENNIAL DAWN in German. He read at first skeptically, noting his objections on the margins of the pages. But soon he found a consistency and order in the divine plan which withstood the attacks of logic in a manner that nothing else ever did. He read the volumes a second time, and was obliged to erase his criticisms one after another as he became more and more enlightened by the truth. After reading some portions for a fourth and fifth time he is so full of the truth and its spirit that he is ready to lay down his life if need be in its service.
Because he foresaw its approaching trouble, he left Hungary that he might seek peace and personal safety. Now all the more convinced from the "more sure word of prophecy" that the trouble impends, he courageously returns to do what he can for God's people there--to seal them in their foreheads with present truth before the great time of trouble breaks. Let us all join our petitions that the divine blessing may go with him and attend and use his efforts.
While we write, a shipment of DAWNS and tracts of nearly six hundred pounds goes to China, to a brother, a missionary there, who has recently become interested in the harvest message and who believes that he sees opportunities for some of the elect to be sealed in that far off land. While all this is encouraging, it has also a sad feature: for each one who now comes fully into the light of present truth implies that some other one once sealed and accepted of the Lord has failed to keep his covenant and is being rejected, and his crown apportioned and his place in the race for the Kingdom given to another. Let us each remember the Master's words, "Take heed, let no man take thy crown."--See `Rev. 3:11`; MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., pages 225 and 363.
REFORM MOVEMENT AMONGST ROMAN CATHOLICS.
Although Roman Catholicism never parades its difficulties, but seeks to quietly but forcibly crush and extinguish any movement among its priests or people toward liberty, nevertheless sufficient leaks out to prove that such movements are general;--in Poland, in France, in Italy and amongst recently arrived foreigners in these United States.
We called attention some time ago to the movement amongst the Polish Catholics of Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland, O., and recently we learn of similar movements in Chicago, Ill., and near McKeesport, Pa. In the latter place the leader sought counsel of the Baptists, Methodists and other Protestant sects, and was much surprised to find that there is really so little difference between the beliefs, etc., of these and the Roman Catholic theories, doctrines and methods. He exclaimed--All Catholics! But when Brother Williams met him and explained to him the plan of the ages it seemed to appeal to him directly, and we are informed that he has already begun teaching the truth to his fellow dissenters (about forty in number) in the Slavic language. Near Chicago our very earnest Brother Oleszynski, himself a Polander converted from Romanism, is also doing a good work; he has interested and continues to weekly instruct a class of about fifteen, a number of whom were recently baptized in symbol of full consecration to the Lord, even unto death.
A Protestant missionary laboring in Poland has recently been reached by "present truth" through Sister Giesecke, who, as the representative of our Society, is doing a good work in Germany. He bids fair to be a chosen instrument of God for handing the "meat in due season" to some in Poland.
Brother Adolph Weber is doing an efficient work amongst the French in Switzerland and France. His heart is in the work and the Lord is blessing him, and through him blessings are reaching others. He reports increasing interest in and demand for French tracts and DAWN, VOL. I., which he translated and our Society published there under his supervision. Let us, when at the throne of grace, remember not only the Home Missions (in which all of us have the privilege of sharing), but let us remember also these laborers in foreign fields.
Is it not very evident that so far from its being a favor or compliment to the Lord that we should believe and receive and confess him and his Word, it is a compliment or favor on his part that we have the opportunity? "Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear; for verily I say unto you many prophets and righteous persons [of the past] have desired to see and understand these things [present truth] and have not seen and heard them." Whoever thinks himself safe in slacking his race for the great prize, because in comparing himself with other formal and
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nominal Christians he feels himself their equal or their superior, should remember also that the self-satisfied feeling of the Pharisees, the professed holiness people of the Jewish "harvest," was rebuked by our Lord, when he said, "Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father [and hence could not miss inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven promised to the children of Abraham]; for I say unto you that God is able out of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."
So now, the fact that we have been favored with the knowledge of the truth does not insure that we will be heirs of the Kingdom. God no doubt knows of thousands of honest-hearted people, now steeped in gross ignorance and superstition, who would promptly respond with their whole hearts if the veil of ignorance were lifted so that the light of present truth could shine into their hearts. We firmly believe, not only that the crowns are limited in number, but that (as shown in DAWN, VOL. III.) we are living in the time when they are all apportioned, and hence that it is only as some "draw back" from the fulfilment of their covenant of self sacrifice that the opportunity of "striving" and "running" for a crown can be offered. Hence the force of our Lord's words, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Only our own conduct can forfeit our title to a crown after it has once been reckonedly set apart for us.
Let us each therefore beware lest he lose his own title to a crown: let each guard against the slightest diminution of the Lord's spirit in his own heart and life--the spirit of love. Loss of this spirit means (1) a loss of love toward God which will manifest itself in decrease of zeal and energy in his service and in a loss of fellowship with him in the study of his Word and in prayer. On the contrary these should continually increase with our growing knowledge. (2) It means a loss of interest in the Brethren of Christ--the "members of his body;"--less desire for their company and their fellowship, and an inclination to weigh and estimate their worth according to earthly scales of wealth and education and social qualities, rather than according to the divine balances--which judge them by their honesty of purpose and loyalty to God and his Word, and their efforts to bring every word and act of life into strict conformity thereto. (3) Faith in the Lord's providence will dim, and the inclination will more and more be to think and speak and act according to human judgment regardless of the Word.
Whoever may upon examination find any of these symptoms of spiritual disease should lose no time in taking the medicine made and provided by the Great Physician.
As an indication of a revolt against Rome in France we quote as follows from The Christian World:--
"The movement for reform in French Catholicism, which has already been noticed in these columns, continues to develop remarkable features. The first number of Le Chretien Francais, the organ of the party, contains a confession of faith by a priest, M. Philippot, in response to a demand from his bishop, before whom he had been accused of heresy. M. Philippot, it may be said, has since left the Church. In his confession, after recounting his ardent faith in what we might term the great evangelical verities, M. Philippot continues:--
"'The Roman Church is not the universal Church; it is only the most important part of it. The apostles and first missionaries established churches that were independent of each other, united solely by love and the faith of Jesus Christ. The Papacy is a human institution, and to-day as then, all the churches are equal before the gospel. To refuse the name of Christians to 250 millions of human beings who believe in Jesus Christ is a blasphemy. Salvation is found in all the churches if the life is placed in harmony with the teachings of Christ; and damnation in all of them if the life is contrary to Christ.'
"In the Paris L'Eclair an article appeared some time ago describing the attitude of the new party amongst the priests:--
"'According to them the old Roman dogma is rotten. It lives only by intrigue and compromise. A return is necessary, say these Neo-Catholics, to the first age, to the Apostolic teaching. Christ did not institute any visible Church. The apostles did not found a Church, but churches independent of each other. Sacerdotal pride has usurped the place of Christ. True Christianity can only triumph by the vanquishment of sacerdotalism.'
"M. Bourrier, an ex-cure of Marseilles, who has just entered the French Reformed Church, at a conference of Protestant pastors, in which he was asked whether he came to them 'willingly, gladly, and without arriere-pensee,' made the following candid and noble reply, which touched all hearts:--
"'I am thankful for the cordial welcome which the French Reformed Church has extended to me and for the hospitality it promises. But I am and always shall be an exile. Like all exiles, my gaze will be ceaselessly turned towards the fatherland, and my dearest desire will be for the day when I shall be able to return to the Catholic Church; for the day when it will be sufficiently evangelized to recognize in me a son worthy of her, and to respect the liberty of my conscience.'
"It is pleasant to find that the French Protestants recognize perfectly the sincerity and straightforwardness
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of this attitude. They do not desire to make proselytes, but rather to see the real truth of the gospel spreading amongst their Catholic neighbors. In an address to French Catholics, M. Philippot asks them whether they understand that 'Your priests, those who have charge of your souls and who form the minds of your children, are condemned by Papal absolution to choose between two alternatives--either to preach a lie or to ruin their career.'
"It is evident that French Catholicism is at the beginning of a movement of most portentous import, not only to France, but to the whole Catholic world."
LEOPARD-LIKE SPOTTED.--`REV. 13:2`.
Papacy is the most crafty and guileful institution on earth. Chameleon-like it adapts itself to its surroundings. In Mexico and South America it flourishes at the expense of the ignorance and superstitions of the poor benighted ones who purchase indulgences for past sins before starting on a fresh debauch, and whose profitable ignorance they make no attempt to remove. In the United States they build and maintain colleges and parochial schools and pose as the sincere friends of education to gain a standing and attract wealth and public funds. They offer no explanation of the fact that almost all the ignorant and degraded of our population are from countries and families where Romish superstition has ruled for centuries and where practically no effort is made to remove it.
A notable illustration of the spottedness of Papacy is found in the fact that while the Bishops and priests in Spain are violent agitators against the United States as a Protestant nation--promising prayers for and blessings upon the Spanish soldiers and ships that would destroy the Protestants, yet when a priest in New York State voiced the same sentiment, he was promptly relieved of his congregation. Yet he merely said that American Catholics could not fight against Spain; --because with all its pride and cruelty and ignorance and superstition, it is most solidly Roman Catholic. Rome knows that she must hold her freer American "children" with a light and chiefly American tether.
Again, Archbishop Keane recently consented to serve as one of the Vice-Presidents of a Salvation Army meeting, to welcome "General Booth" to the city of St. Louis. In his letter of acceptance he wished the army "godspeed."
It is needless to say that this was done merely for effect--to deceive the Protestants;--it does not deceive the Roman Catholics who well know the Jesuit law that, "The end justifies the means." And they would consider commendable any deception of word or act that would serve the ends of the Roman Church. Contrast this with the treatment the "Salvation Army" or any other Protestants would receive in any city of Spanish America, where no form of Protestantism is tolerated, and where it is no uncommon thing for a Protestant to be chased and stoned for not uncovering his head and falling on his knees and in the dusty streets in veneration of the "host" when it is carried through the streets by the papal clergy.
Romanists are in no danger of being deceived by Archbishop Keane's course, because they are thoroughly informed by their Catechism, that all Protestants are "heretics." We quote from the Deharbe's Catechism of The Catholic Publication Society, New York, as follows (page 145):--
"Everyone is obliged, under pain of eternal damnation, to become a member of the Catholic Church, to believe her doctrine, to use her means of grace, and to submit to her authority." "Whoever is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall for this very reason, that he is at the same time separated from the Unity of Christ, not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." "Hence, the Catholic Church is justly called the only saving Church. To despise her is the same as to despise Christ; viz., his doctrine, his means of grace, his powers; to separate from her is the same as to separate from Christ, and to forfeit eternal salvation."
A slight provision is made for "heretics" who are such from ignorance. These it saves from eternal torments and merely puts into Purgatory where, however, these will suffer long, because not benefitting by the "indulgences," "Masses," "Prayers," "holy water," "Extreme Unction," etc., as all Catholics are benefitted, however wicked.
ROMANISM STEADILY PROGRESSING IN GREAT BRITAIN.
Last summer a petition signed by 40,000 English and Welsh Episcopaleans was presented to Lord Salisbury, complaining that the Premier's appointments of
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bishops in the Church of England favored men of Romish tendency--ritualists. The petition was in pamphlet form and set forth that out of thirty-three nominations thirty have been ritualists.
Now it is proposed to elevate the Roman Cardinal Vaughan to a seat in the House of Lords--as a Lord Bishop.
All this is, of course, none of our business, but it shows the tendency of our day, and is preparing the way for the rolling together of the heaven--Protestant and Roman Catholic--in the near future.--`Matt. 24:29`; `Rev. 6:14`; `Isa. 34:4`; DAWN, VOL. IV., Chap. 12.
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GROW IN LOVE, AS WELL AS IN KNOWLEDGE.
"Knowledge puffeth up, but Love edifieth."--`1 Cor. 8:1`.
How blest this day the prophets were foretelling,
When truth should speak and knowledge be increased;
The signs are all about, our faith compelling,
That days of waiting for the Lord have ceased.
The saints are in their foreheads sealed,
The hidden mystery revealed.
Knowing what other ages did not see,
How full of humble love our hearts should be!
The mystery and knowledge understanding,
We still need love--"the bond of perfectness."
Tho tongues of men or angels now commanding,
They teach and speak not with effectiveness
Unless pure love to God dictates
And all the being permeates.
Without this love, God says, all words shall pass
Like tinkling cymbals or like sounding brass.
While, by God's will, in knowledge we keep growing,
Keep in the love of God which death defies;
Knowledge puffs up except the love be glowing,--
In humbleness of mind love edifies.
Love is long-suffering and kind,
Love seeketh not her own to find.
The mind through all God's Word this truth descries:
Mere knowledge puffeth up; Love edifies.
--F. I. PARMENTER.
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THE CHRISTIAN'S WARFARE.
"Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life."--`1 Tim. 6:12`.
WHILE the followers of Christ are to be peacemakers, and are instructed accordingly to "follow peace with all men," nevertheless, they are the greatest warriors the world has ever known, on the principle that "he that ruleth his own spirit is greater than he that taketh a city." But, there are good fights and bad fights. A good fight is one which is in the interest of that which is good, that which is true, noble, pure, godly--a battle for righteousness; every other contest is a bad fight, for an unworthy cause.
But who are these fighters, referred to in our text, whom the Apostle Paul calls upon to fight a good fight? Does he call upon all men? or upon sinners? or upon merely nominal Christians? We answer, No; he addressed only the brigade of the "King's Own"-- the body of Christ, the consecrated Church. The Apostle addresses these as the mouthpiece of our Captain of salvation, Christ Jesus, and it would be wholly out of order for a general or captain to issue orders to those who had not joined his army, and did not recognize his authority. Hence it is evident that the world in general is not addressed, and that nominal Christians who have never made a covenant with the Lord are not addressed. "The Lord knoweth them that are his." It is to these that the instructions come respecting the fight that is now on--that has been in progress since the Captain of our salvation began the war nearly nineteen centuries ago.
For whom do we fight--for God--for Christ? No, we answer. We fight for ourselves. A great mistake is made on this point by many who seem to imagine that fighting the good fight of faith is doing something for God, and deserves his thanks and reward. The Almighty God does not need that we should fight for him. He is omnipotent, abundantly able to take care of himself and his cause; he needs not our puny efforts. The claim that we are fighting for God would be as inconsistent as for the Cubans to say that they are fighting for the United States. It is the United States that is fighting for the relief of the Cubans. So it is God who is fighting for us, and assisting and encouraging us to fight the good fight of faith, on our own behalf. It is well that this feature of the case should be clearly discerned.
Against whom do we fight? We answer, our battle is not against our fellow creatures nor with carnal weapons; indeed, we can have large sympathy for even our most relentless foes, who, to the extent that modern civilization will permit, are ready and willing to despitefully use and persecute us, and to say all manner of evil against us falsely. We can readily see that they are blinded in considerable measure, either by their own prejudice and passion, or by the great Adversary's delusive false doctrines, superstitions, etc.; hence our warfare is not directed against these, and as we have opportunity we are to seek to do them good, "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." (`2 Tim. 2:25`.) Hence also, when dealing with these, so far from battling with them and resisting evil with evil, our Captain has commanded that we return good for evil, gentleness for rudeness, kindness for discourtesy; and that we seek to do good to those who speak evil of us and persecute us, that thus the eyes of their understanding may be opened, and that they may discern that there is such a thing as the spirit of love, generosity, kindness, whereas they suppose all to be actuated by the same malevolent spirit of selfishness, which controls themselves.
Our fight is to be against Sin--the great taskmaster, which captured our race in the person of father Adam, and has held it as slaves from then till now--paying regularly for six thousand years the terrible penalty of death, with all its concomitants of
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sickness, pain, sorrow and trouble. Yes, this is our enemy.
Indirectly, Satan is our enemy, because he it was through whose influence father Adam first became the slave of Sin; and Satan has still pursued the same course, and is even now endeavoring to bring us back again under the dominion of Sin, and to hold us there. We are not to forget, however, that our battle is not directly with Satan, nor are we to bring against him "a railing accusation" (`Jude 9`); rather, we are to say, with Michael, "the Lord rebuke thee;" and we are to await the Lord's time and the Lord's way for rebuking Satan. Nevertheless, we are to resist Satan; that is we are to resist his influence and deceptions and endeavors to mislead us into error and into sin.
The Lord instructs us that "We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and with spiritual wickedness in exalted positions." (`Eph. 6:12`.) Satan, as the great master or general of Sin, has largely to do with all the various influences with which we must battle. It is his cunning, his "wiles," that supervise the battle against us, and since he is a spirit being, and therefore much more intelligent than ourselves, the contest would be a very unequal one, if we were without an equally powerful spirit leader. But we are not thus left helpless to battle against superior wisdom and cunning. Our chief Captain, the Lord Jesus, has conquered sin, and has been glorified, and he is on our part, so that with the Apostle, we can confidently say, "Greater is he that is on our part than all they that be against us" --Satan and his cohorts of evil spirits, and his deluded earthly agents and servants.
The Apostle seems to sum up the agencies through which our great captor Sin seeks to hold us his slaves, or if we have gotten free to regain his influence over us, as three--the world, the flesh, the devil. We have seen the powerful influence of the devil, as the great chief general of Sin. We next notice in what sense the world is our opponent, and in what sense we are to battle against it. We have just seen that we do not battle with carnal weapons, nor do we in any sense of the word battle or contest with our fellow-creatures, seeing that they are blinded by the adversary, and really little, if any, accountable for their course; our battle is not to be with these. It is with "the spirit of the world," its influence, that we are to do battle: it is to be fought against and resisted--the world's disposition, the mind of the world, the motives which actuate the world, the ambitions of the world, the pride of life and the deceitfulness of riches--these things, these wrong views of matters as seen from the worldly standpoint, we are to resist, to fight against;--and it is a daily battle.
Finally, our battle is with the flesh--our own flesh. Ever since sin captured our race, in the person of father Adam, its slavery has been conducive to mental, moral and physical degradation. Its only tendency is towards evil, and that continually, and only as we get rid of the blinding influences, and perverted tastes and desires, ambitions and hopes and loves which sin cultivates--only in that proportion do we get to see matters in their true light, and to have even a faint glimpse of our own degraded condition. But our great Captain, who is also "the chief priest of our profession," redeemed us from this slavery to sin, with his own precious blood. He had compassion upon us, and when we realized our deplorable condition, and accepted his aid he sets us free from the yoke of Sin's slavery.
But we still have the motions of sin in our bodies, --the tendencies toward sin, which have become almost second nature to us, through the long period of nearly six thousand years of slavery. So that while we are now free, and with the mind are serving the law of Christ, and are accepted into his army as soldiers of the cross, to battle for righteousness and truth and goodness and purity, we nevertheless find our new selves harassed by the old perverted tastes and inclinations of our own flesh, toward the service of the old taskmaster. Not the least of our fightings, therefore, as new creatures in Christ Jesus, is against these perverted tendencies of our flesh, and the battle with these is a daily battle. With the Apostle Paul, one of the great soldiers in our war, we should be able to say, "I keep my body [my flesh and its desires] under [in subjection to my new will, my new self] lest after having preached to others I myself should be a castaway." --`1 Cor. 9:27`.
From the time that we enlist under the banner of our Captain, that is, from the time that we make a full consecration to him, to fight the good fight, and to lay down our lives in his service--from that moment on he, under the terms of the New Covenant, reckons our flesh as dead: because our minds are renewed-- alive toward God with a newness of life, and hence those
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motions of sin which we are seeking to bring into absolute subjection to the will of God in Christ, are not recognized by the Lord as the will or motions of the new creature, enlisted in his service, but merely recognized as a part of the general enemy, Sin, pursuing after and battling with us, which we are pledged to resist and to war against, and which he promises grace and help to overcome.
It is these enemies in our own flesh which cause us the greatest difficulties. It is these that Satan appeals to: these he seeks to encourage in their warfare against the new spirit of our minds; it is through
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these that the spirit of the world gains closest approach to us, and seeks to capture us, and lead us back as slaves of Sin. So to speak, the "new creature in Christ is beset, surrounded on every hand with enemies, seeking our disaster and reenslavement. We must battle--battle for ourselves, battle for our own liberty, battle for victory over our own weaknesses, battle against the spirit of the world, battle against delusions and snares of the adversary, by which he would seek to make the evil things appear good, and right to appear undesirable. No wonder, then, that the Christian soldier is urged to be continually watchful; no wonder that he is urged to "put on the whole armor of God;" no wonder that he is cautioned in respect to his various and wily foes, and especially against those of his own flesh.
Thanks be to God for the great Captain of our salvation. Thanks be to God for the great armory of his Word, from which we obtain the helmet of salvation, the intellectual knowledge to protect us from the delusions of our own perverted sense and ignorance, and from the wiles of the adversary. Thanks be to God also for the breastplate of righteousness, the merit of Christ and his great sacrifice, compensating for our imperfections, and covering our vitals, and securing thereby our life--eternal life. Thanks be to God also for the shield of faith, of trust, of confidence in him who has bought us, in realization that he who has begun the good work in us is able and willing also to complete it; for the realization that since God so loved us while we were yet the slaves of Sin, and redeemed us from his bondage with the precious blood of Christ, much more does he now love us and much more is he prepared to aid us now that we have, by his grace, become free from sin, and become the servant of righteousness. Thanks be to God also for the sandals, the preparation to endure hardness patiently, which the truth gives, protecting us for the walks of life from the sharp animosities of the world in our pilgrim journey. Thanks be to God also for the sword of the spirit, the Word of his truth, as a defense by which we can resist the adversary, and come off conquerors through him who loved us and bought us.
BENEFACTORS ALSO--FIGHTING FOR OTHERS.
We have seen that our fighting is on our own behalf, and on behalf of each other. We are fighting to the death in self-defense, to maintain our own liberty, and that of each other. As the Apostle says, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood [death], fighting against Sin"--we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." And we might add that, while the King does not need our fighting on his behalf, nevertheless we sometimes have great pleasure and profit in defending the honor of his name and the majesty of his righteous government from the assaults of those who wickedly or blindly misrepresent the same. But there is another feature of our warfare aside from all these. To observe this feature with clearness and distinctness, we must take an elevated position and note the entire trend of the conflict now in progress for over eighteen centuries, and the great object which the King himself has declared shall be the result of this battle. It is this:--
Not only we, but the whole world were "sold under Sin" by father Adam--the whole world, as well as we, are slaves of Sin. Not only so, but our great Redeemer who bought us with his precious blood gave it as the propitiation price also "for the sins of the whole world." Thus he bought the right, not only to release us (his Church, his army) but the right also to release from the power of Sin, the great taskmaster, all the slaves of Sin. And altho he has not been prosecuting the work of releasing all the slaves at the present time, but has been confining his work to the releasing of a few, a little flock, who are now of his army, nevertheless he informs us that this present election of the little flock is merely with the intention of using these as his associates and joint-heirs in his Kingdom which he will establish at the time he is ready to take his great power and reign, for the utter overthrow of Sin, and the complete release of all from its bondage.
The Apostle Paul, one of the lieutenants under our great Captain, speaks of this coming deliverance of the world, saying, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now [under the relentless slavery of Sin, and its yoke of death], waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. Because the creature itself also [the world of mankind, or as many of them as will accept the liberty] shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption [the bondage of death, with all its incidentals of pain, sorrow and trouble] into the glorious liberty of the children of God [the perfection of life, and all the glorious privileges which belong to the perfect sons of God on every plane --the divine, the angelic, and the human]."-- `Rom. 8:19,21,22`.
We see then, that the poor world, groaning in its slavery, has been waiting for this grand event of which the Apostle spoke, saying, "Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." The interim between the redemption and the deliverance is only a little while, from the standpoint of divine reckoning, in which a thousand years are as one day; but as yesterday, as a watch in the night. From this standpoint, the nearly nineteen centuries for the selection of the King's Own are but "a little while"--less than two days "with the Lord,"--and soon will be past.
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Then, glorified with their Master and Captain, they will be liberators with him of the world of mankind, from the yoke of sin and the prison of death. (This period of two days (2000 years) seems to be hinted also in the type of Rebecca's call to be the bride of the typical Isaac, where only two days are mentioned.--`Gen. 24`.)
What a glorious prospect, what a benevolent ambition is thus set before us in the Gospel, in respect to the future work of all who are now called to be the sons of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, and good soldiers in his cause,--the cause of righteousness and truth. O, how anxious we are that we shall be "overcomers," that we may inherit these blessed privileges --secure this great boon of association with our Redeemer in his work of blessing all the families of the earth.
It was respecting this great work of delivering the world from the slavery of Sin, from the weaknesses and imperfections of the fallen nature, and from the prisonhouse of the tomb, that our Master referred, when quoting the prophecy relative to himself, which says, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor [meek, he hath sent me] to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives [of Sin], and recovering of sight to the blind [whose minds the God of this world hath blinded], and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." (`Isa. 61:1`; `Luke 4:18`.) The little work that was done by our Lord at his first advent, in the way of healing the naturally blind and sick and lame, and setting at liberty a few from the prison of death, was merely a foretaste of the greater and grander work which is to be accomplished by him and his glorified soldiers of the cross, at his second advent.
If the physical and temporary releases from sickness and death at our Lord's first advent were grand blessings, how much more grand and how much more blessed will be the "greater works than these," which we, as his glorified Church, in association with him, shall be privileged to perform during the Millennial age. How much greater is the work of opening the eyes of the understanding than of opening the physical eyes; how much greater the work of healing the lameness of character than of healing the lameness physical; how much grander the giving of an ear to hear the truth and to understand and to appreciate it, than the opening of the natural ear, to natural sounds; how much greater the work of loosing the tongue of the world, to speak forth the praises of him who has delivered them, than of merely loosing the tongue of the dumb to speak of natural things; how much more stupendous the work of giving eternal life to as many of the world of mankind as will accept it under the terms of the New Covenant than was the work of giving for a few years the lives of Lazarus and the son of the widow of Nain, and the daughter of Jairus. O, we praise the Lord for this glorious prospect of being associated with him in these "greater works" of the future, and we see it all comprehended in his statement that "the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth." All the deaf ears of understanding shall be unstopped; they shall hear, in the sense that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth. And the Master's assurance is, further, that they who hear properly, obediently, shall live--not "live at this poor dying rate," of the present time, but live in the grandly superlative sense of life--in perfection of being, with the power of life eternal, lifted completely out of sin and out of death, back to the fulness and perfection of life which God gave originally, and which was lost in Eden.
NONE BUT FIGHTERS WANTED IN THE LORD'S ARMY.
In the armies of the earth the chances are that many of the soldiers will never see a battle, that the majority of them will never lose a drop of blood; but
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in our army all this is reversed. All men know at the time of enlistment that they are sure to see service, and that not only in one battle, but in many battles; and that, altho there may be times of special fightings without and within, there never will be a time when there will be such a cessation of hostilities as that we may consider our enemies utterly routed, and ourselves at liberty to retire for repose. Furthermore, we are distinctly informed at the time of enlistment that there is no discharge in this warfare. We may desert, however, and indeed are at liberty to do so, since none are held in bondage in this army.
All who desire to go back to the service of sin, have full opportunity at any time and in any place. Our Captain wants those, and those only, who serve the truth with the spirit of truth; with a desire for the service; with a love for it; all others are in the wrong ranks. The end of our service, we were informed at the time of enlistment, would be the end of the war; and further we were informed that the end of the war, so far as we were concerned, would mean faithfulness until death. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Only by death can we finish our course, and only by faithfulness to the last can we be acceptable as amongst the conquerors--the overcomers.
There are many other battles than ours in progress; and many different army corps fighting on every hand; but ours is different from them all. We may be interested in some of these battles more than in others.
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Some of them may appeal to us much more closely than others, as being along lines considerably in harmony with the "good fight" which we are waging, and to that extent we may heartily sympathize with them; but we can do no more than this: because our covenant, our engagement, our battle, is the most important of all, and to it we have covenanted our every moment and our every talent. For instance, we may sympathize with those who are fighting against alcohol, and in favor of temperance; we may sympathize with others who are fighting for a general social uplift for the civilized world; we may sympathize with those who are laying down their lives for a social uplift in heathen lands, as missionaries; we may sympathize with those who are risking their lives in the cause of liberty from oppression, as in the war in Cuba.
But while our sympathies must always be on the side of everything which is making toward righteousness, goodness, truth, purity--everything either closely or remotely related to our cause of righteousness, we cannot turn aside to render aid to these other warfares. Ours is the most important, ours is the battle which the Lord God Almighty has planned, and which the Lord Jesus, as his Captain General, is carrying forward and will soon bring to glorious success; and which will secure better results, better conditions, than the various battlers for temperance and order and liberty have ever dreamed of.
But we are to beware of certain deceptions which our great Adversary brings forward, by which he would seduce us and get us into the wrong army: appearing as an angel of light, as a servant of righteousness, as a fighter in the Lord's cause. He has organized numerous false army corps, into which he endeavors to attract all who learn something of the liberty of Christ and desire to become soldiers of the cross. In order to make the matter more seductive and deceptive, the Adversary carefully guards against any intimation of his relationship with these. Indeed, he puts forward as leaders and under-officers in these various armies as many of the soldiers of the cross as he can get into a thoroughly deluded condition, in order that these armies may be the more attractive to those who are seeking the Lord's service. These armies are not as select as the Lord's army, and they offer very many inducements to soldiers, and attract very many who are really servants of the adversary; because they promise great rewards and little or no fighting, and a generally pleasant social camp life. These conditions of enlistment seem so much more favorable than those which the Lord holds out, and on the whole these army corps are so large, so fine and so attractive, that many soldiers of the cross make the mistake of enlisting under wrong banners.
The banner of the King's Own is emblazoned with a cross and a crown, and on the reverse side the names of the King and the Captain, and the law of this army, briefly comprehended in one word, "Love." The other deceptive corps, which are not the King's Own, but which contain many who deludedly think that they are in the King's battalion, have various banners, with various names; and their soldiers are generally enlisted under false conceptions of the object of the warfare, as well as respecting the results of it. They are advised that by joining this army they will get to heaven and escape a hell of eternal torment. And the results of the warfare are represented in one of two lights--either that the whole number who will get to heaven will be very small, and the whole number who will go to eternal torment immensely large; or that few of the intelligent will get to heaven, and the majority of the intelligent go to eternal torment, while many of the ignorant and savages will go to heaven, and few of them to eternal torment.
Under these untrue representations these armies are immense in numbers, containing many who have comparatively little interest in righteousness or in the King's cause, but great interest in endeavoring to escape the awful reward which is represented as attaching to a neglect to enlist in these armies. And, be it noted, that these various armies are greatly in accord with each other: while maintaining a certain amount of rivalry, they nevertheless maintain a large degree of fellowship; because their hopes and aims are practically one. But for similar reasons they are greatly out of harmony with the King's Own. Its hopes, its aims, its methods, its banner, and everything pertaining to it, differ so radically from theirs that they cannot fellowship the soldiers of our army, and in order to keep the best of their soldiers from deserting and going to it, they are prone to say all manner of evil against the Lord's army, falsely; to misrepresent its hopes, aims, ambitions and efforts, even calling it the devil's army.
It is not difficult to recognize these large numerous armies, organized under the supervision of the great Adversary. Their names are prominent upon their banners in every direction; and their soldiers are taught that the chief battling is to battle for their respective armies and their claims and names. The banner over one of these is Presbyterianism, over another Methodism, over another Roman Catholicism, over another Lutheranism, etc., etc. The Lord's army is a "little flock," while these armies boast their millions. The Lord's statement respecting his army is that "not many great, not many wise, not many learned, hath he chosen, but the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs of the Kingdom." These other armies all boast to the contrary, of how much wealth they have
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accumulated; of how wise they are; of how learned; of how rich their people; of how influential in the world's affairs. There is so wide a difference along all these lines, that it is remarkable that any who desire to find the "King's Own" should be deceived. Yet, the King himself acknowledges, that some of those who are truly his, and who desire to be found in his army are in these counterfeit armies, which he calls "Babylon." He therefore calls to them, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
Nor is it sufficient that we should have the right spirit of loyalty to righteousness, and opposition to sin, in ourselves and everywhere: it is proper that our warfare against sin should be carried on in a systematic and intelligent manner. To this end it behooves every soldier of the cross to remember that he is not the director of the fight, not the commander, but is to fight strictly according to the directions of the Captain. Many, getting the idea that they are simply to fight against Sin, battle wildly and at random, and accomplish little. The Apostle spoke against this sort of thing, when he said, "So fight I; not as one that beateth the air." Beating the air, either with our fists or with our tongues, our words, is of very little avail. Our energies are to be directed of the Lord along the lines which he has marked out, and not along the lines of our own unwisdom and choice. It is one of the Apostle's admonitions to us that we should be "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." We should hear the Lord's direction as to the place to put in our best efforts for the fight, and according to his direction this can best be done, not in fighting others, not in stirring up strife, not in words of anger and passion, but in fighting such a disposition in ourselves, in conquering our natural tendencies, in mortifying the flesh, with its affections and its desires, and its combativeness, and in cultivating in our own hearts the "meek and quiet spirit which in the sight of God is of great value."-- `1 Pet. 3:4`.
We are to fight the good fight in the putting away and utterly routing from our own hearts and dispositions "all anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, bitterness --all works of the flesh and of the devil--"perfecting holiness in the reverence of the Lord;" and to help all our fellow-soldiers to do the same. And we are to lift high the royal banner of our Lord, bearing his name and his law, and not a banner of our own, or of some other men's device. And we are to help to lift up this standard of the Lord in the sight of all those who are sincerely desiring to be his, and who through mistake have gotten into the wrong army corps. We are to be valiant in seeking to release them from the delusions of the great enemy, who is thus seeking to reensnare them and to deprive them of the liberty wherewith Christ made them free; and to bring them under a yoke of sectarian bondage, as being next best, for his purposes, to the yoke of sin and gross superstition.
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Thus doing we are not beating the air; we are not merely hammering pulpit tops nor shouting ourselves hoarse on street corners to no avail; but, like the Apostle, we are seeking to be crafty, that we may thus bring the truth to the attention of those whom our crafty enemy, Satan, seeks to ensnare. Our craftiness will be with a view to their liberty, while his craftiness is with a view to their enslavement. It is along this line that our Master has counseled his soldiers, "Be ye wise as serpents, harmless as doves."
A FIGHT OF FAITH.
Our text calls this good fight a fight of faith, and very properly; it is a fight of faith in every respect.
(1) It is a fight under an unseen leader, and against an unseen foe: only by the eye of faith do we recognize the Captain of our salvation, and only by his Word do we recognize the wily leader who opposes us.
(2) Sin is recognized by our moral sense; likewise righteousness. By faith we accept the Word of God, and under the instructions of that Word we learn that certain courses of thought and word and deed are right in his sight, according to his standard, and that other courses of thought, word and action are therefore wrong; henceforth we accept these conclusions by faith in the Word,--the revelation which God has given us.
(3) We fight for a liberty and a glory of the verity of which we have no knowledge, except as we accept it by faith.
(4) God hath promised exceeding great and precious things to them that love him--that so love him as to lay down their lives in his service. We see the crown of life and we see the Lord of glory, and with the eye of faith, and not otherwise.
(5) The things that are seen with the natural eye, are seeking to influence us to the contrary of our course, seeking to influence us not to lay down our lives, not to cultivate the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, love; but on the contrary, to cultivate the spirit of selfishness, ambition, pride and greed, the spirit of the world. Only, therefore, as we are able to have the faith which God inspires shall we be able to fight the good fight.
In this view of matters we see how important an item faith is. If we have it not, we can never come off conquerors. And faith means some knowledge upon which faith may rest, some promises out of which faith may be constructed. These we have in the great and wonderful divine revelation. It follows, therefore,
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that it is not enough for us to enlist in the Lord's army; but it is needful that we should go to his armory --the Word--and there painstakingly put on the whole armor which he has provided. And whoever does not follow this course is not following the course directed of the Captain, and will be sure to fail in the battle. We are not, however, to think of the armor as being all that is necessary. True, the doctrinal truths respecting the various features of the divine plan and the divine will concerning us are necessary, are absolutely essential to our victory: but the putting on of the armor is not all, and does not secure victory. It is necessary that with the armor on we should fight, along the lines which we have just examined, even unto death. Let us, therefore, not make either the mistake of attempting to fight without the armor, nor the equally serious mistake of putting on the armor and neglecting to fight.
Our Captain in encouraging us to have faith in him, and in his promises of succor, assuring us that he will not leave us nor forsake us; that he will be with us in six troubles, and in the seventh he will not forsake us; and that he is abundantly able and willing to make all things work together for good to them that love God--the called ones according to his purpose. He declares, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." Beloved, let us make sure of these things:--
(1) That we have enlisted--that we have fully consecrated ourselves to obey the Captain of our salvation.
(2) That we are seeking to obey his instructions, and to put on the armor which he has supplied.
(3) That we are fighting--resisting unto blood, striving against sin in all its various forms.
(4) That we are so loyal to the Lord and to all that are his, wherever they may be, that we are willing and ready "to lay down our lives for the brethren"-- to assist them, to encourage them, to help them, in little acts of service as well as in larger matters.
(5) That we remember that there can be no victory except as we keep the faith--our trust in the Lord as our Redeemer, in his care over us, and in his willingness to help us, and in his ability to help. Thus, and thus only, shall we come off conquerors and more than conquerors through him who loved us and who bought us with his own precious blood; to whom, with God our Father, be praise and thanksgiving everlasting.
"Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord!"--`1 Cor. 15:57`.
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JESUS BEFORE PILATE--"CONSIDER HIM."
--JUNE 5.--`MATT. 27:11-26`.--
"Jesus came into the world to save sinners."--`1 Tim. 1:15`.
AFTER the Lord's arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was brought before the high priests, Annas and Caiaphas, for examination, and it was probably at this same house of the high priest that the Jewish Sanhedrin met, and the trial before it took place, as described in `Matt. 26:59-66`. It was probably about one o'clock in the morning that our Lord was brought in as a prisoner, and the examination and trial are supposed to have lasted until about half past five in the morning; a little later, probably between six and eight o'clock of that same day, he was brought before Pilate, the representative of the Roman Government. The chief priests and leading Jews of the Sanhedrin had been anxious for some time to apprehend our Lord, and he had walked in Galilee and no longer walked in Jewry (the Province of Judea) because the Jews sought to kill him. True, they had reasoned among themselves--"not upon a feast day, because of the people;" but our Lord had eluded them, and returned only at the time of the Feast of the Passover, knowing that it was at this time that his "hour was come, that he should depart out of the world," and that it must be at the time of the Passover, to fulfil the types and prophecies of the law. Finally, exasperated by the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the ass, and his driving the money-changers out of the Temple, they had seized upon the proposition of Judas for his betrayal at night, his capture when the multitudes were at home, his trial at an untimely season at night, his condemnation by the Jewish Court, and, rushing the matter through, the securing of Pilate's endorsement of the death sentence, which was essential.
In the trial before the Sanhedrin, which was the chief or Supreme Court of the Jews, and was composed of seventy of their prominent men, it was necessary that a form, at least, of justice should be followed; hence witnesses were sought, to prove something against our Lord which would show him worthy of death. But finding no such witnesses, they ultimately secured two who were willing to bear false witness, who falsified by slightly perverting our Lord's statements--the wish to bear witness against him and to secure the favor of the chief priests probably helping them to distorted views of our Lord's words.
It was because the Sanhedrin had no power to put to death without the consent of the Roman governor that they brought Jesus before Pilate, and they brought him bound, as indicating that they had already determined that he was a vicious character and had found him duly guilty, and that the endorsement of their verdict and order of execution were the only proper steps for Pilate to take.
In the trial before the Sanhedrin no charges of treason or sedition were made, because such would have been out of order: the Jews holding their right to
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freedom from the Roman yoke, treason to Rome would have been loyalty to Judaism; besides, this was the very thing for which they had been waiting for centuries--a deliverer, and a great one; hence, the charge before the Sanhedrin was blasphemy. But before Pilate the charge of blasphemy would have had no weight, himself being probably an unbeliever in Jehovah and the Jewish religion and customs. Hence, the charge before Pilate was treason to Caesar; the high priests and Sanhedrin hypocritically taking the position that they were loyal defenders of the Roman power. But Pilate evidently saw through their subterfuge. His experience with human nature taught him at a glance not only that the prisoner before him was a remarkable man, but also that he was not of the kind to make a dangerous enemy to the empire.
Pilate's question to our Lord was evidently one of curiosity full of irony, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" If he expected any wild or blatant assertion of power and dominion, might and greatness, or any appeal to his compassion or pity or fear, he was disappointed. The Master merely answered in the brief and simple
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words, "Thou sayest." He made no response to the various charges and calumnies which the Jewish elders and priests heaped upon him--"not one word." He knew that his hour was come; he knew that the cup of bitterness and ignominy which he was draining to the dregs was permitted of the Father; his will was entirely submitted to the Father's will; he had no desire to clear himself, nor to avoid or resist the death sentence sought. Pilate was amazed that anyone should be so indifferent to the preservation of his own life; but altho astonished that our Lord made no effort to resist his enemies and preserve his life, Pilate clearly saw that the charges were base fabrications, unworthy of consideration; and hence he informed the accusers that, as it was the season when he usually set at liberty a prisoner, they could reckon Jesus as having been justly accused, justly sentenced, and then set at liberty. But the accusers were enraged at the thought of their plans miscarrying, and fearful that even yet their prey might escape them, and cried out and incited the people against such a decree.
The Roman governor, like others of his day and since, was susceptible to fear, and especially if inspired by dreams; and a message from his wife, cautioning him to do nothing against Jesus and telling of her troubled dreams on his account, determined Pilate that he would set Jesus at liberty. Accordingly, he gave his decision that the one who should be released to them would be either Jesus or a very noted robber, named Barabbas. By naming Barabbas as the alternative choice to Jesus he evidently thought that, because Barabbas was so undesirable a person to have at liberty, the Jews would finally conclude that of the two they would prefer to have Jesus at liberty rather than Barabbas. But Pilate was mistaken: the hatred inspired by religious fanaticism is the deepest, wickedest and most conscienceless of all, and Barabbas was promptly accepted,--which left Pilate committed on that point, and left Jesus under the implied sentence.
The governor was still further perplexed. In attempting to get out of a dilemma he had unwittingly gotten himself into a worse fix, and he inquired what would be their will, then, respecting Jesus. Their blood-curdling cry, "Crucify him" astonished Pilate, and he answered, "[No!] for what evil hath he done?" But seeing that the case hung in the balance, the bloodthirsty accusers cried with greater vehemence, "Crucify him, crucify him," creating a tumult, and thus endeavoring to impress upon Pilate the danger of a general insurrection, unless their demands were complied with.
Poor Pilate! He stood as a representative and mouthpiece for the Roman empire, and was required to preserve order at any cost. He yielded to the demands, but indicated his own separateness from the sentence by his words, and by the symbolic act of washing his hands with water, in their presence, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person; look to yourselves [that you are likewise free from blood-guiltiness]." Thus laying the responsibility upon them, he evidently still had hope of their change of mind. It was probably with this same thought in mind, or probably because the law required that everyone worthy of crucifixion should first be scourged, that our dear Redeemer was scourged before being delivered to be crucified.
Promptly the defiant cry, "His blood be upon us and upon our children," rang out through the courts of Pilate's tribunal, and reverberated in the courts of heaven, and was recorded as a prophecy of divine judgment against them. Alas! poor Jews; with what judgment you judged, you have been judged. And altho the true followers of the Nazarene have never injured you, his nominal friends have often brought vengeance upon you at the hands of Pilate's successors. You cried, "We have no king but Caesar," and were taken at your word by the Almighty. Oh, poor Jew, there is no way to escape your self-pronounced curse of his blood, except by accepting his blood, freely offered to you as to all mankind as the blood of sacrifice, the blood of atonement which sanctifieth (maketh holy to God) all to whom it is applied by faith. It is the "blood [seal] of the New Covenant."
The narrative of our dear Redeemer's shame, endured so patiently on our behalf, is most touching, and perhaps the relation of it and the reading of it have brought more hearts to repentance than almost anything else. Nor does it lose its power with those who have already accepted our Lord and the redemption which his blood effected: it mellows our hearts every time we consider him who endured such great contradiction of sinners against himself, when we remember that it was unmerited by him, and that it was a part of his sacrifice on our behalf. The Apostle points one of his most forcible lessons with this subject, urging that all of the Lord's followers should consider the meekness, patience and sufferings of Christ, endured most unjustly, lest we should be weary or faint in our minds, when enduring comparatively light afflictions, while seeking to walk in his footsteps. (`Heb. 12:3`.) Again, the Apostle refers to this, in connection with the other sufferings of Christ, saying that he who was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich; that he suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; and that as he laid down his life on our behalf, a willing sacrifice, "we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren."