BOTH the United Presbyterian and the Lutheran young people are organizing after the manner of the Epworth Leaguers. The latter are styled the Luther League. About 100,000 are already enrolled. Their motto is"Non-Synodical, Strictly Conservative, and Thoroughly Lutheran."
It is almost as difficult for sectarians to get free from their denominational bondages as for a leopard to change his spots. The Christian Endeavor movement was the purest and freest, and at least took the name of Christ. But all efforts to make either "worldings" or Christian "babes" into Christian free-men by means of organization and rules must always prove futile. The only Christian freemen are those who are no longer "babes tossed about by every wind of doctrine," but who, feeding first as babes upon the sincere milk of the Word, have grown thereby in grace and knowledge and love, and who by use of the strong meat of God's Word have had their senses exercised and have become strong freemen in Christfree from the world and its spirit, and free from self; reckonedly dead to all such influences, and alive to God and his will, and in bondage only to God's will through him who bought them with his own precious blood. And we have the Lord's assurance that this class, being selected during this Gospel age, will in all be but a "little flock."
It was at a similar Convention of this same religious body that the proposition for a Protestant Union or Confederacy was first extended to other Protestant denominations. This proposition is still under consideration, especially by the Presbyterian Assembly.
The coming Convention will attract more than ordinary attention, for it proposes a number of important steps in connection with its organization. (1) It is proposed that the triennial Conventions shall be superseded by General Synods, which shall meet triennially. (2) It proposes to have two divisions or "houses" hereaftera House of Bishops and a House of Delegatessimilar to the two houses of Congress and of Parliament. (3) It is proposed to elect one of the Bishops to be their chief or President, who shall be known as "Primus"which signifies, one who is first. The Scottish Episcopal Church has long had such an officer, who presides, and is otherwise privileged.
This movement is quite significant in connection with the Protestant confederacy which the Scriptures clearly indicate will take place. (See our issue for Dec. 1881now out of print.) It will make ready for the "Image" to "speak" promptly as soon as it receives the "life" of Apostolic succession and supposed "authority."Rev. 13:15.
Sept. 20 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of Papacy's temporal power. Roman Catholics everywhere are being urged to pray for the restoration of temporal sovereignty. A statement is going the rounds of the press to the effect that, in view of the bankrupt condition of the Italian treasury, the plan of proposing to purchase the freedom of Rome and some surrounding territory for the Papacy for $1,000,000,000 is being seriously considered.
On Scriptural grounds we doubt the success of this project. Our expectation is that the present government of Rome will continue in some form or degree until utter collapse and anarchy shall put an end to all government, political and religious, in the great time of trouble which [R1870 : page 224] prepares for the better conditions symbolically called the "new heavens and new earth."
"Reverence, called by Goethe the ultimate object of all moral education, is vanishing most alarmingly in the new generation. They respect nothing, neither God, nor the barriers which nature has set up between the sexes, nor patriotism, which by them is made to give way to the mercenary desires of a race bent on enjoyment only. Education, extended to all, becomes more and more shallow. The deep thought of the ancients is despised, and only that which serves the purposes of the near future finds favor. Every one talks about everything, guided by the newspapers and encyclopedias, consequently the creative power of intellect becomes rare. Science, once tempted to be too profound, now loses itself in platitudes; only a few noble giants of original thought continue to stand out among the underwood of mere gatherers of notes. Taste has degenerated, the love of truth has given way to a morbid love of actualities. Hence a wax figure often gains more applause than a work of art. The people lead an empty life, which they seek to fill out by killing time in giving undue attention to sport and betting. When we think of the manner in which the heroes of public games and of the circus are overrated, we are filled with loathing."
"In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves [selfish], covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."2 Tim. 3:1-5.
"A curious mode of worship was introduced by the Salvation Army at Detroit recently. A lecture was delivered by two "captains," on the analysis and dissection of the devil's body, the parts being pride, whiskey, etc., immediately after which the lights were suddenly extinguished, and the form of his Satanic Majesty was brought out, made of paper, and colored to suggest the analytic description. Red lights were thrown upon the stage to represent the fire of hell, and horns, hoofs and tail were terrible in appearance. A red bonnet decorated with roses represented pride, while cards and liquor indicated ruin and destruction. The effigy was then set on fire, amid shrieks and yells which reminded the beholders of Milton's Pandemonium."
Alas! how many of the "babes in Christ" are ignorant of Satan's devices; and do not see that the great Adversary might even help along such a sham battle against himself, if thereby he could fasten the more firmly upon the consciences of the people the errors [doctrines of devils] which are keeping them from real love and worship toward God. The Lord's prescription for holiness"Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth"is far better, more successful, than this and all other unscriptural methods. This is the Chinese method of serving God by using fireworks to scare off the devil. But Satan is too subtle to be thus dealt with.
A New York journal reports that at a meeting of the S.S. Missionary Association of the Presbyterian Church held in Detroit not long since "The Presbyterian Board of Publication was severely scored for the alleged antiquated and attenuated tracts that it sends out. A committee was appointed to draw up resolutions asking the Board for a higher grade of tracts."
A Sister suggests that "possibly the live and good-sized Old Theology Tracts going all over the world from the WATCH TOWER office have something to do with this discontent. Ordinary tracts are so stupid that intelligent [R1871 : page 224] people feel offended if handed one. The O.T. Tracts are always crisp and fresh because full of the spirit of the Truthindex fingers pointing and referring constantly and truly to the Word of God."
Many are finding this sort of "Silent Evangelism" a blessing to themselves and to others and orders are coming for "more tracts" from every quarter of the world. For instance, since our last issue we have sent tracts and DAWNS to the following foreign countries: viz., England; Scotland; Denmark; Germany; Sweden; Jamaica, West Indies; Cape Colony, S. Africa; New South Wales, Australia; and Colombia, Central America. The reading matter sent out amounted to five hundred and twenty-five copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN besides over ten hundred thousand pages of Old Theology Tracts.
Our readers who are of German extraction will be pleased to learn that a Sister in the Lord, a representative of the TOWER TRACT SOCIETY in Berlin, Germany, reports favorably respecting a new method adopted lately to gain the attention of consecrated Germans. A Berlin journal has recently given her a most excellent notice of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and she is finding quite a number willing to hear. She now has seventy-five copies of DAWN loaned in Berlin.
Next week a Brother starts for Sweden, and in about a month two others will start for Switzerland, all seeking to carry to their native lands the gospel of "a ransom for all." The tract and colporteur work all over the United States progresses valiantly.
A strong movement is on foot amongst Methodists seeking "lay-representation at the Annual Conferences." A circular has been issued from Baltimore, Md., claiming to voice the sentiments of 2,500,000 Methodists who demand this reform. The ministers do not favor it, desiring to keep the power in their own hands. An additional reform urged is that the laymen should have a voice in the election of Presiding Elders; and that the latter be given equal powers with Bishops.
This is part of the general tendency toward equal rights and privileges. As it increases, the M.E. Bishops will wish that they could put forward the claim of "divine authority through Apostolic succession," as is claimed by Episcopalians and Roman and Greek Catholics. This will tend to draw them toward a general Protestant Confederacy possessed of the ability to make the claims and exercise the Apostolic authority coveted.
A Baptist division of the Boy's Brigade went "into camp" at May's Landing near Philadelphia during September. Some boys of the town "raided them for fun," and the young Baptists who had put on carnal armor were "forced to defend themselves" with their bayonets, and murder was narrowly averted. Warfare for the Lord according to unauthorized methods is, and always will be, dangerous. "All they that take to the sword shall perish by the sword."
At the Presbyterian Ministers' Association meeting, in Philadelphia, Sept. 16, it was decided not to permit the discussion of the question: "Is the Presbyterian Church firmly established in the Confession of Faith, and, if not, whither is she drifting?" They all knew that she is not firmly established upon it, and that she is drifting into four factions(1) The "higher criticism" or infidelity party; (2) the form-of-godliness-social-club-no-doctrine party; (3) the well-intentioned-but-superstitious party, ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth, because they are looking backward to the dim lights of human tradition; (4) the children of the light and of the day, who, looking in the direction of the sun of righteousness, are beginning to get rays of the Millennial dawning; and who are compelled to "come out of her" because, with present light, they can no longer stay where their presence means the misrepresentation of God's Word and character as well as their own stultification. The ministers, therefore, very wisely, concluded that they needed no information on the subject; and that the opening of their mouths on the subject would hasten the dissolution already in progress. But the sooner it comes the better for the fourth class mentioned.