WHILE peace conferences are being held and while disarmaments are being considered, preparation for war goes steadily on. Germany is fortifying her islands nearest to Great Britain, and is now demanding that Holland shall likewise fortify her seacoast. The apparent motive behind this interest in Holland's fortification is that Germany proposes at no distant day to make Holland a part of the German Empire, and would like to have it fortified in advance. This would bring Germany within a few hours' sail of British ports. The British believe that it is the intention that they shall be invaded and conquered and made a German Province. Undoubtedly both Holland and Belgium would be parts of Germany today were it not for Great Britain, which protects these nations as a barrier between her and Germany's army. A panicky feeling prevails in Great Britain. We make an extract from the Naval and Military Record, the writer being a secretary of the National Service League. We quote as follows:
"We want a million men with six months' training now, and after that another million in reserve, and these must be intact when all our regulars have left our shores. Without them we can neither fight by land nor sea. It is evident to all but to our ill-informed and apathetic people, that our supremacy at sea is slipping from our grasp, and our rivals feverishly prepare to dictate terms when we are least expecting war.
"We must be prepared to send 500,000 of our finest manhood and maintain that force abroad if we would save our interests and keep our friends in Europe. By 1915 Germany will have her ports and naval arsenals, her wharves and jetties and her fleet and transports ready, and when ready she may strike like lightning. Then, not far from Waterloo, must come the clash of nations fighting for their very life.
"Round Holland and Belgium the nets are drawing closer every day. We already harbor a million of the enemy within the gate. Our politicians mostly lie, or dare not speak the truth. Disaster stares us in the face. At the outbreak of war our food supplies will fail, and prices will be far beyond the pockets of the poor. Employment, then, will cease, and starving millions will demand surrender."
"For the fourth year in succession the Wesleyan Methodist Church reports a decrease in membership, running into thousands each year. Thousands of 'pious persons' are on the books, some paying to the support of the church, and some not. In course of time many of these paper members, having no living interest in the church, drift away, and are then classed amongst those who have 'ceased to meet,' though they never have met in their lives.
"Many others are still retained on the books long after the 'ceased-to-meet' period, the explanation often being given that the minister will not take the responsibility of 'unchurching' them. A time at length comes when the thing has grown to be such a palpable farce that something must be done. Besides, chapels and churches are assessed in their payments on the numbers on the class books, and grumblings begin to be heard from those who have to find the wherewithal. A drastic pruning then takes place, and decreases are reported. Those who maintain that numbers mean nothing pooh-pooh the returns. 'Things are just as they were,' they say; 'but honesty for the moment has prevailed.'
"There is truth in this view of things, but not the whole truth. The plain fact is that the numbers reported are never wholly reliable. There are thousands of others on the class books whom the ministers know right well are not genuine members, but whom they are afraid to strike off because of the trouble their action might bring on them at the conferences. No church likes to see its membership declining, and any tendency that way is keenly questioned. Only recently the writer sat in a meeting called for the purpose of 'pruning' where many worthless names were allowed to pass muster through that unwholesome fear. Some little time ago the writer was shown two membership tickets written by the minister for two people who had been dead a considerable time, and another for a person who had removed from the neighborhood.
"It is maintained by many loyal Methodists that a true and faithful record of membership would prove that the Wesleyan Methodist Church is far more seriously declining than the returns to be discussed in the conferences show.
"The causes of the decline are not far to seek. The old Methodism of John Wesley is rapidly vanishing, or, where it still lingers, is tabooed by the upper circles of the church. Not only that, but scores of the very men who are paid to maintain it are constantly declaring that the Methodism of John Wesley has had its day, and that it is not respectable enough for the age in which we live.
"The preaching in the Methodist pulpits is another cause of the decline. There may be more scholarly men in the pulpits than formerly, but the impassioned note in the preaching common amongst the early Methodists, has almost clean gone out of the sermon. And this is acknowledged by many ministers themselves, but, in explanation, they will tell you that we are living today in a time of changing creeds, and that the most careful language has to be employed in dealing with certain great themes. The truth, however, is that scores of ministers hardly know what they believe, and, therefore, it is not likely that they can grow impassioned over something of which they have only a very hazy idea.
"I do not know whether they are right or not. I am a layman, and not an expert in theology, but the men in the pulpit who have thrown over the old views of the atonement, the resurrection and other great tenets which Methodists used to believe with all their strength cannot expect to fill churches with the dry husks which they offer their congregations instead."London Dispatch.
Reports in Great Britain show that Baptists, Congregationalists and the various Methodist denominations there are declining in numbers and prestige. The cause of this is not far to see. Gradually the common people are losing their sectarian spirit. Those once told directly or by implication that the members of their sect [R4698 : page 324] alone would escape eternal torment and attain heavenly bliss have outgrown such teachings. As a result all now teach that one denomination is practically as good as another in the Lord's sight and equally sure of heaven. And the general sympathy and mental breadth of all Christians have increased to the degree that preachers are expected at funeral services to make the heavenly portals broad for allthe white and black, ring-streaked and speckled sheep of every kind and name and to have a large corner for those who have made no profession, but have lived ungodly lives to the very end. For the latter the hope is expressed that they may have said a prayer before drawing their last breath.
By common consent neither people of civilized lands nor people of heathen lands are now going to the hell of torment which our fathers proclaimed and believed. The only ones being roasted there are such as went at least more than thirty years or more ago.
As a result Christianity and Church fellowship and saintliness stand for nothing. Christianity has become merely another name for decency and civilization. All doctrines are abandoned as merely speculations. Churches are becoming merely social clubs in which form and ceremony mark the quality. Consequently the masses are inclined to attend worship, either to hear an entertaining lecture or to hear beautiful music by a trained and well-paid choir or for a ceremonial religion with plenty of show and movement. This accounts for the growing unpopularity of those sects which once stood for the highest standards of earnestness and Christian zeal and liberty, non-conformity and simplicity.
The Methodist Church in the United States is very different from all the various smaller Methodist bodies of Great Britain. The Episcopal feature in it constitutes its clergy a great hierarchy with a vast influence. It is a masterpiece of organization in which the smallest teacher or lay preacher is attached to the one above him, in order to hold his own position. And the ordinary minister is attached to his presiding Elder. And the presiding Elders are attached to their Bishops. Its management, its system, its watch-care over every interest is second only to that of papacythe masterpiece of all the organizations of the world.
The Methodist Census again shows a decrease in membership, this time of 2,267, as compared with last year's decrease of 1,444; the total reduction in the past four years amounting to the startling total of 9,869. The fact that this falling-off represents but two per cent. of the entire body is of comparatively little moment in the face of the grave fact that, in spite of the huge and continued effort, instead of proportionate progress there has been a steady decline. The outlook is even more serious, for there is, as might be expected, a decline in the sources from which the members are chiefly drawn; thus, when the numbers "On trial for Membership" and of the "Junior Society Classes" are taken into account, "the total loss in all grades of membership for the four years is 23,996."London Christian.
The figures presented to the annual meeting of the Baptist Union this week, showing a decrease of Church membership by 1,553, while there is an increase of some 38 places of worship, are causing a good deal of heart-searching among the leaders of Nonconformity. There was also a decrease in the previous year. It is curious that while the facilities for worship increase, the number of adherents or recognized members decreases year by year.Darlington (Eng.) Times.
"I am not afraid of the blatant infidelity of Tom Paine or of Voltaire or of Robert Ingersoll, but I am afraid of the infidelity that masquerades in clerical clothes and in the sanctuary. I believe that that infidel, Rev. Lyman Abbott, has done more evil than any other of his class in America," said the preacher.
"The reason why the working men are rejecting the Bible and are no longer in fear of its warnings against sin, why the Ten Commandments are discounted and the church and the ministry are not respected as they once were, is because men like Lyman Abbott have so instilled doubt into the public mind as to the reliability of the Bible as the Word of God that the average person has lost faith in its commanding authority."
We quite thoroughly agree that the infidelity of the colleges and seminaries and pulpits of today is much more injurious than that of Paine and Voltaire. But Brother Morrison in the quotation above discloses the fact that he does not understand the situation. The real fault lies back of his criticismin the creeds of the dark ages which defamed the Divine character and, by foolish interpretations of the Bible, overthrew the faith of some of the noblest specimens of our raceturning them into Higher Critics.
The real fault, therefore, lies in the doctrine of eternal torment, which is still held forth in all the Church [R4698 : page 325] creeds and outwardly, at least, endorsed by the Rev. Morrison and thousands of others of all denominations of Christendom. These false doctrines are turning the hearts of honest and logical ministers and other thinkers away from God, who has so long been misrepresented to them, and away from the Bible, which they have so long misunderstood. It is useless longer to ask intelligent people to worship a God described to them as worse than themselves, or to accept as the Divine Plan such an unwise, unjust, unloving one as they represent the Divine Program to be.
Recently (July 18) twelve clergymen and twelve laymen of the Episcopal Church incorporated in the State of New York under the name of Christian Unity Foundation. It was announced that this is the official start of a movement which began in St. Thomas Episcopal Church, New York, last February. Bishop Courtenay was announced as the first President. The organization starts with a gift of $10,000 for individual expenses and is ready to receive further contributions. Its object purports to be the bringing about of a union of all the Christians of the worldProtestant, Roman Catholic and Greek.
The new organization differs from the one organized three years ago, styled The Federal Council, which, without disturbing present organizations, speaks for Federation. The new movement provides for one great religious body in which all names and divisions would be removed. Mr. Rockefeller and everybody else is prophesying a united Christendom. They believe such a union or fusion necessary. Our opinion, based upon the prophetic Scriptures, is well-known to our readers. As long ago as 1880, in these columns, we pointed out, when others did not expect it, that such a Federation is sure to be accomplished and that, according to the Scriptures, the effect will be baneful, injurious in the extreme. Nevertheless we still see that while outwardly injurious to the highest interests of the "sanctified in Christ Jesus," it will not really injure this class. On the contrary it will provide the very oppositions and restraints and persecutions which, under Divine supervision, will work out blessings for the elect and separate them more completely than ever as wheat from the chaff of nominal Christendom.
"In your patience possess ye your souls," declares the Master. We are living in a momentous time. Much is accomplished in one year. What may we expect by October, 1914, the date of the termination of Gentile times? Let us not speculate, but let us keep awake and mark the stately steppings of our present Lord amongst the affairs of mankindleading onward to the inauguration of the glorious Kingdom of the Son of God, and, through it, to the blessing of Israel and all the nations of the earth.
Under the symbolism of the rolling together of the heavens as a scroll the Bible pictures the end of this age, its time of trouble, and how, as a result, the extremes of the ecclesiastical heavens, Catholic and Protestant, will be drawn together. A scroll does not always roll equally from both ends. If one end be fastened the other end will do all the rolling. Thus far Roman Catholicism has made little advance toward fellowship with Protestantism, but the latter is daily rolling a little nearer to Catholicism. Notice, as an instance, the great Eucharistic Congress at Montreal, Canada, the first of the kind to be held in America. One hundred and twenty-five bishops were in attendance and thousands of visitors from all parts of the world.
Cardinal Vannutelli, the special Legate or Representative of the Pope, enroute to the Congress, stopped in England, in spite of the legal statute which forbids the entrance into Great Britain of Papal Legates. The newspapers note that he is the first Catholic of this rank to enter the Island of Great Britain in three hundred years. Evidently the Law on the subject is a dead letter. Catholics and Protestants have both made an advance since that Law was made.
The Government's representative in Canada, Judge Girourd, welcomed the Cardinal Legate in the words, "The administration of the Dominion of Canada presents its homage to his excellency and bids him welcome."
At the Congress, Father Vaughan of London, one of the leading delegates, attacked Protestantism, declaring that Protestantism is dying out; that soon there will be nothing left of it; that Protestants, if they wish to conserve their religion, should labor for the abolition of race suicide.
In the Atlanta Weekly Journal, Bishop Warren A. Candler says, "Nothing is more schismatic than the effort to impose conditions of Christian fellowship upon others which the holy Scriptures do not impose." Not only should Methodists, Episcopalians and Catholics heed these true words, but all denominations of Christ should heed. All should remember that there is but one "Church of the Living God, whose names are written in heaven," and that it has but one Lord, one faith and one baptism, and one God and Father over all. All such, recognizing the Scriptures as the message of God through Jesus, the Apostles and prophets, should judge themselves and fellow-members, not by fanciful standards of the dark ages, but by the Word of the Living God which liveth and abideth forever, and according to which, the Master tells us, we, and, in time, the world also shall be judged.
Of course, the Lord's consecrated people recognize that they have no earthly life to preservethat it is consecrated to death in the service of the Lord and of his cause. From this standpoint the best and cheapest policy is a full consecration of baptism into Christ's death and the Lord's receipt, the earnest of our inheritance, the begetting of the holy Spirit. Such are assured by the Scriptures that they will from time to time receive dividends in slander, evil-speaking and persecutions, generally from "false brethren." But even these experiences are guaranteed to work out for the insured special blessings, and to constitute assurances of Divine favor continued with them.
But our particular thought at this time is to answer the queries of some respecting the insurance of their earthly lives in the interests of those dependent upon them for temporal support. So far as the Editor is concerned, he carries no life insurance of any kind and desires none. Nevertheless all are not situated alike. To our understanding a father, having dependent wife and childrenif the latter be of tender years and unable to make their own livinghas some responsibility for them; according to the Apostle's statement, "He that provideth not for his own is worse than an unbeliever." It may, indeed, be argued that this, in the Apostle's day, could not have applied to life insurancethat at most it could have meant that a man should pay his just debts, keep his family in reasonable comfort, and, if possible, lay [R4699 : page 326] aside for them some small provision in the way of a cottage, or what not, that would stand between them and immediate want, in event of his death. But in case he could not do this, he might now be able to discharge his duty toward them through the medium of life insurance.
True, we have said, and still say, that we believe the time is near when insurance companies, with all the other arrangements of our present civilization, will be overwhelmed in the great time of trouble foretold by the Prophet Daniel (12:1). It is equally true that we anticipate that that climax of trouble is not farther away than 1915. Our thought is, further, that the so-called mutual insurance companies will fail sooner than those styled "old line" insurance companies, which have the backing of vast accumulations of money and the support of the more wealthy. The mutual companies will fail, first, because, as times get hard, many will be unable to pay their assessments and drop out and thus make the assessments larger for those who remain in. And, as the pinch continues, these also will withdraw and the mutual companies will fail. We are not writing as the agent or emissary of any insurance company; hence we mention no names, but merely offer a suggestion for the benefit of our readers who feel that they have an obligation toward their families to the amount of $1,000 or more. All the "old line" companies have a variety of policies, some of them more, and some of them less favorable. And the agents who solicit insurance get larger commissions from the more expensive kind of policies, hence are not so likely to introduce the kind which we are about to recommend and which may be obtained from any first-class insurance company and is the lowest-priced insurance granted by any of them. We describe it as follows:
It is known as a "Five-Year-Term Policy." It expires at the end of five years, but that should be no objection to us. It is convertible at any time within four years to a longer term policy. These policies grant full immediate benefit and, so far as the insurance feature is concerned, are as good as any other higher-priced policy for the time mentioned. As for the cost:
The Roman Catholic Church evidently finds its revenues diminishing, as its people become less fearful of the terrors of Purgatory. It has devised a new scheme whereby to provide for its faithful both earthly and Purgatorial Insurance.
The new scheme is an insurance company along ordinary lines, but Catholics only are expected to patronize it. The religious feature of the arrangement is that the insurance premiums are to go to the Catholic Church treasury and to be credited to the insured as instead of direct payments. This is a long-headed scheme. Perhaps it would work well with the various Protestant denominations. Why not?
In Revelation we read of the drying up of the Euphrates River, that the way of the Kings of the East may be prepared. (Rev. 16:12.) This is symbolical, of course. It calls our attention back to the typical Babylon and her fall before Cyrus. Babylon was built upon the River Euphrates, which ran through the midst of the city. Her wall was impregnable, but Cyrus' army turned aside the river into a new channel, leaving the old channel dry and enabling him to march his army under the Babylonian gates, which otherwise served as the city's defense.
We are to expect a parallel to this in connection with mystical BabylonChristendom. In the symbolical language of Revelation, waters symbolize people; hence the turning aside of the "waters" would represent the alienation of the people and the alienation of the people would be indicated by their withholding of financial support.
Gifts of money to ecclesiastical institutions represent love or fear. The increasing light of modern times has not only decreased love for the creeds of the "dark ages," but it has also decreased fear for their threatenings. As a result neither love nor fear is operating as strongly today as once it did in the minds of the masses. What wonder if the result would be the drying up of the Euphrates and the ultimate collapse of mystic Babylon! The matter is under the control of the antitypical Cyrus, of whom it is written, "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed (typical), to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places." (Isa. 45:1-3.) Thus saith Jehovah, "That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers; that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." (Isa. 44:27,28.) As the typical Cyrus encouraged and gave liberty to the Jews to return from Babylonian captivity, so the antitypical, our present Lord, will see to the drying up of the Euphrates and also to Israel's opportunity and encouragement to return to the land of Abraham.
"I have never united myself to any church, because I have found difficulty in giving my assent, without mental reservation, to the long complicated statements of Christian doctrine which characterize their Articles of Belief and Confessions of Faith. Whenever any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior's condensed statement of the substance of both law and gospel, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,' that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul."
Common people hesitate to be out of line with truth, even a little, but scientists think nothing of thousands of millions of years. An illustration of this is found in their statements respecting the age of our planet. The Scranton Tribune quotes the scientific (?) estimates as follows:
Lord Kelvin, of England, some years ago, guessed the earth's age to be about ninety-eight millions of yearsdays and months not stated. Five years later this scientific gentleman revised his figure, estimating mother earth to be from twenty millions to forty millions of years old.
The latest scientific (?) declaration on the subject is from the Smithsonian Institute which, being under governmental control, gives its estimate an official standing. The figures are given by Frank Wigglesworth Clark and George F. Baker, of the United States Geological Survey, whose pronouncement is not above seventy million years, nor below fifty-five million years.
Ordinary men obliged to confess themselves perplexed to the extent of from fifteen million years to one hundred million years, would be apt to keep very quiet lest some one would criticize them and say they didn't know their business; but scientific men are so used to guessing on every subject that they do not take their own situation so seriously.
These scientific gentlemen usually feel that they are damaging the credibility of the Divine testimony on the subject. We doubt if the majority of them know that the Bible does not undertake to say when the earth was formed, though it does undertake to say when the ocean was formed. Bible students will note that Genesis declares that when the first of the creative orders or epochs began, "the earth was without form and void." In SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. VI., we have presented the Bible's own testimony, to the effect that each of the creative days was 7,000 years long and that we are living in the seventh epoch day and that six-sevenths of it are in the past. One more thousand years will complete itcomplete an entire cycle of 49,000 years and usher in the glorious fiftieth of absolute perfection.
It is well known that the Union Railway Depot in Washington City is thus far the finest on earththe new Pennsylvania Railroad depot in New York City alone excepted. It is nearing completion and the following three texts of Scripture are quite prominent over the main arches of the entrance:
Our friends and our enemies alike will be inclined to suppose that in some manner we engineered the putting of those texts in those prominent positions. We want, in advance, to disclaim the honor. The selection was made by Prof. Eliot, formerly President of Harvard University and now prominent as an advocate of a Christless ChristianityEvolution and Higher Criticism of the Bible, which mean no Bible. How came he, then, to select these texts of Scripture? Answer: "God is able to make the wrath of man to praise him."
Secretary Foster of the Detroit Y.M.C.A., speaking to the World's Sunday School convention at Washington the other day, made this discouraging statement: "Seventy-five per cent. of all the boys over thirteen years of age in the Protestant Sunday Schools of the United States are lost to the church, and never make professions of faith." He added, so as to leave no question about his facts, "I have made that calculation after study, observation and experience," and practically all the delegates in the meeting agreed with him. An English delegate, shocked by it, remarked, "This is the most astonishing statement I have heard in this country. In England we do not lose more than three per cent."
Mr. Foster's statement, which the Englishman called "astonishing," might be called appalling by every sincere Christian, and at once provokes the questions, What are the churches and the Sunday Schools doing? Would the result be better or worse if the latter were abandoned altogether? What happens to the children after they leave the Sunday School to wean them from the faith? Do the Sunday Schools really give them any faith at all, that it is so easily and generally rubbed off afterwards?Detroit Free Press.
"There is no necessity for discussing with honest minds what is and what is not meant by the expressionthe Lord's death. Some, in an anxiety to get away from the doctrine of the ransom, or, rather, in their anxiety to get away from the logical deductions associated with the doctrine of the ransom, are claiming, regardless of all Scripture to the contrary, that our Lord Jesus had two deaths, one when he came into the WORLD, and the OTHER at CALVARY; and that the death of the "man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," at Calvary, was of small importance as compared with the other. They seem willingly ignorant of the fact that the Scriptures declare, 'In that he died, he died unto sin once'; and that that one death, and the only one ever referred to by our Lord or his apostles, was the death at Calvary.
"The Apostles declare that Jesus spoke of the death which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. This one and only death of our Redeemer is what is symbolized in the Memorial Remembrancerhis body, his flesh broken for us, and of its merits and life all who would have life everlasting must partake."