We scarcely realize the great revolution of thought now in progress on every subject, on every hand and among all classes. Everything is apparently tending toward unwholesome liberalism and reckless freedom of thought and action. Many whose fears are aroused quiet them by supposing that the present must be only the ordinary course, that it has always been so; or as Peter (2 Pet. 3:4) expressed their sentiments prophetically, they say, "All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." Only those taking heed to the sure word of prophecy are aware that these things are caused by the parousia of the Son of Man, and are evidences that we are in the "harvest," or end of this age. Others do not realize that every age has its close or "harvest." They remember not that the ark and the flood were the end of a former epoch, and that present and approaching events are as much out of the usual rut of this epoch, as the closing events of that "world" were out of the usual order of that time.
Only those enlightened by the "lamp" of truth, God's Word, can really see the great revolution now in progress and appreciate its immediate and its future results. It is perhaps a blessing for those who cannot see the future grand outworkings of the impending trouble, that they cannot yet see the immediate terrible confusion which the present revolution of thought is rapidly leading to. We can therefore scarcely estimate the amount of good we are doing to the worldly in bringing to their attention the great Millennial reign and times of restitution of all things, which the impending time of trouble serves to introduce, and for which it prepares the way, by leveling classes and overthrowing monopolistic systems, secular and religious, built upon evil principles, errors, in whole or in part. Even if the truth is not now received by all whose attention is called to it, it will be remembered and afterward give comfort, help and light in a dark hour to many who now oppose it.
The more of liberty and truth any system contains, the sooner and the sharper will be the conflict between that truth and liberty and the errors and superstitions held in conjunction. The conflict may at times seem to leave error the victor, but in the end it shall fall. Meantime the conflict serves to judge or test the people, and by causing them to take sides, it accomplishes a sifting and separating work, preparing some for more and some for less stripes and plagues in this day when every evil and wrong shall be uprooted and consumed, root and branch. "The fire of that day shall try every man's work, of what sort it is," is a statement which will prove true of all the world, as well as especially of all in the church. None among us, for instance, need try to be neutral on the great question which is testing us nowthe Ransom. You must come to it, and be for or against it sooner or later. [R949 : page 1] We well know that as they get awake the vast majority will forsake this, the foundation of the gospel of Christ, for it is written"a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand." It has not yet reached this condition, but it is rapidly approaching it, as all must see who keep watch of the so-called liberal utterances of "leading ministers."
Those who discard the long-cherished dogma of the eternal torture of those who die out of Christ, generally do so under the false impression that the Bible teaches the doctrine; hence in rejecting it, they are also rejecting the Bible which they suppose teaches it. Thus they are cutting loose from all anchorage, to be driven about by the changing winds of their own vain imaginings, unguided by the divine chart and compass, whose marks under false instructions they misunderstood, and which now they have ceased to respect and use. Thus they fall an easy prey to the shifting lights of science, falsely so-called, rejecting the ransom and the entire plan of God as revealed, and land on the barren shores of skepticism, saying, If there is a God, I believe he is too loving to punish his creatures, or to require an atonement for sin, a ransom for the sinner. In their effort to be more charitable than God, they not only promise that all shall be everlastingly saved and that the second death is to be a blessing, but apologize for the first death, promising full amends for that injustice which they claim has been done to man. Professing themselves to be wise, they have become so foolish as to charge the great Creator with injustice. But these, with other errors, shall not proceed much further, for the folly of their argument shall be manifested to all in the great time of trouble just before us. It will then be manifested fully that God is not so loving as to be unjust, or to in anywise clear the guilty; for every man shall receive a just recompense of reward for his deedsthough eternal torment is not that just recompense.
Another classwho, as they begin to think, will see that either the doctrine of a ransom, a corresponding price for all, is an error, or else that eternal torment is not the penalty for sin, (because Christ did not suffer eternal torment for us)will find their attachment to the tradition of eternal torment so strong, and their knowledge of the ransom so slight, that they will speedily reject the ransom and hold to eternal torment, when they find them in conflict. Undoubtedly the statement that a thousand to one will stumble and fall over this truth, is what we should expect. How important, then, is our present work to the real children of God in all branches of the nominal church, showing them the fact, the value, and the grand results, of the ransomhow it is in harmony with the just penalty pronounced against sindeathand the grand exhibition, in one act, of God's justice and love; how that one act maintained his justice and the dignity and unchangeableness of his law, while at the same time it provided the way for mercy to the condemned. For as many as you can really cause to see the ransom for all, in its true light, and the restitution based upon it, you do an incalculable service, in preparing and helping them to stand and not fall in the day of trial now beginning. It is our confidence that all those who are real servants of God, Israelites indeed, will be "sealed in their foreheads" (Rev. 7:3), i.e., they will obtain an intellectual comprehension of this truth, sufficient to sustain them before the conflict becomes general.
This being our expectation, we are less surprised than some of you at the wide circulation which MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., is having. It has a mission not only to seek and separate the saints, but also to fortify those who fear God's name, small and great; and it may serve to counsel and prepare many of the poor Godless world. As a sharp threshing instrument of the Lord in the hands of his faithful children, it is already showing large results.
As an illustration of the workings of error in its effort to combat unfolding truths, we give here some utterances of a prominent "orthodox" minister of this cityRev. W. R. Mackeyregarding a future probation for the heathen. He claimed there could be no possible object in giving the heathen a future probation, because, he asserts, they have all had a knowledge of Christ,even those who [R949 : page 2] lived and died long before Jesus came into the world, had, he claims, a saving knowledge of Christ. In explanation of this seemingly insane statement, he said, as reported in the Pittsburgh Times:
"The real Christ (that is the incarnation of God's character,) has been in the heart of every man in every time and land who has loved truth and helped his fellow men. Every heathen who has so lived, goes to heaven, because he belongs to heaven and can't go anywhere else. He has not known Christ as he came in Galilee, but he has known and loved the real Christ, though he never heard his human name."
This serves to illustrate the fact that men professedly the servants of Christ and the truth, are so prejudiced against the Bible and its teaching of "a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6), and so prejudiced in favor of their own theories, that when the two come in conflict, they do not hesitate to make a cipher of the man Christ Jesus and his work of redemption, in order to support their own ideas. No one would think it worth while to ask this man, who represents one of the leading denominations, whether he believes that men were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. We all know that his answer, to fit his theory expressed above, would be, No, the blood of the historic Christ was nothing; it is contrary to advanced thought to suppose that the actual death of the historic Christ did any good, except as an extreme example which none should follow, but which all should admire.
We fancy that we hear him continue (much in the strain of one of our Exchanges), to explain away the teaching of Jesus and the apostles relative to the value of the precious blood wherewith our Lord bought us, made reconciliation for iniquity and passed over our sins, bearing their penalty on our behalf,saying, The blood of Christ which is of any value is the blood or life of the Christ principle: the vital principle of righteousness is the cleansing power which makes us acceptable with Godif there is a God other than the God principle of Good.
Alas! Where do men land when they throw overboard the God-given compass and attempt to steer by their own wisdom? And ten-fold is the responsibility of such a one who presumes to be a teacher of others, leading astray the sheep from the true shepherd whom he claims to represent. By and by some now following their teaching, will awake to the fact that the shepherds whom they liberally paid, led them away from the fold.
The unreasonableness and unscripturalness of this minister's teachings, it is needless to point out to our readers; for all who have learned of the fact and philosophy of the ransom, and of the atonement of which it was the basis, can see clearly that it was not the Christ principle, but "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," and that it is this fact that is "to be testified in due time" to all, and not a "Christ principle" born in the heart of every man.
How nonsensical is this last claim, how opposed to the Bible teaching, and to every experience and observation of thinking people, to talk about the Christ principle being in men in every time, and to argue therefrom that all have such an innate knowledge of Christ as to be a sufficient ground for deciding their everlasting future! Does not the experience and observation of every sane man prove, that the Bible is correct in the statement that, There is none righteous, no not one, and that all are born in sin and shapen in iniquity, because of inherited weaknesses and imperfections started and caused by Adam's disobedience when on trial as our representative?
Had the apostle Paul interviewed this gentleman, he would probably have talked to him much as he wrote to the Romans (10:14), "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? How shall they hear without a preacher?" No wonder people are coming to believe that a curse and blindness attends the laying on of the "holy" (?) hands of the Apostolic succession" (?), rather than any special blessing or ability to discern and teach the truth. As a further illustration of this teacher's ability as an expounder of the Word of God, we note the fact that this is the same gentleman who a year before drew upon him the encomiums of the liberalist press for his skillful manipulation of the miracles of the Bible, showing that there was little or nothing miraculous about them. Especially did he attack and to his own satisfaction overturn the story of Balaam's speaking ass, declaring that the jaw bone of an ass is so formed that it is impossible that it could have spoken. Poor man, he probably knew not that the Scriptures are so interwoven that it is not so easy to get rid of even so small a miracle. He should remember that our Lord (Rev. 2:14) and Jude (11) refer to Balaam's mission at that time; and that Peter (2 Pet. 2:15,16), referring to the same, adds, "The dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet."
But let no one mistake our object in calling attention to such teachings: We accord to this gentleman or Mr. Ingersol the same rights, to think and teach as they please, that under the laws of this land we claim and exercise ourselves. We are merely using this as one illustration among many, of the tendency of our day. We note, too, the fact that though the Episcopal Church covers with the mantle of her approval this teacher and his unscriptural doctrines, she would be arrayed against any who would present the Bible doctrine of ransom and restitution, as her church papers have denounced DAWN. What a commentary, too, upon the membership of the church over which this gentleman presides as teacher, that they [R950 : page 2] are so ignorant of the Bible that they did not know, or so indifferent and asleep that they did not notice and protest against such "another gospel." What wonder if we question whether there be any "men" in Christ, in that and similar congregations? Probably there are some "babes in Christ" among them, who for the time spent ought to be teachers, but have need of milk, have need to be yet taught the first principles of the gospel of Christ. But alas! how poor their chance of getting even one drop of "the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby" to become able to use strong meat in due time, while such a man, devoid of even the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, is their teacher and shepherd.