"A DISPATCH from Berlin relates that the Emperor William 'has attended the consecration of two new churches, and presented to each a Bible containing his autograph and a text of Scripture.' The text in one was from John (15:5), 'Without me ye can do nothing;' in the other, from Jeremiah (7:23), 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.'
"These texts written by any other sovereign, even the czar, would have passed without further notice than as showing his orthodoxy, his desire to set an example in faith to his people, but coming from William they excite a wholly different thought. Admitting that the dark suspicions of his insanity heard from time to time are the inventions of his enemies, ample reason remains to believe that he is not always fully responsible for his language or his acts.
"Roman emperors set up statues of themselves and commanded the people to bow down to them in worship, in language not very different from that which this man has repeatedly used. That explains why the newspaper writers pitched upon those texts, which would have been passed unheeded if inscribed by any other man."—The Pittsburg Daily News.
In the German Emperor we have the father, papa or pope, of Germany—its earthly god or mighty one, whose will must be done in Germany, as the Almighty's will is done in heaven. He is the civil and ecclesiastical head of so-called "Protestant Germany." He holds the reins of power and so proclaims himself; and his subjects, while generally repudiating such claims, are so bound by their necessities and by the power put into their emperor's hands, that they cannot help themselves.
In the Czar of Russia we have another pope, the civil and ecclesiastical head of the millions of Russia and the Greek Catholic church; who similarly poses as God's vicegerent or representative. Less enlightened than the Germans, many of his subjects would worship him if so commanded. Indeed, they do enshrine and worship his representative, the minister of religion, whose portrait by law is exposed in all public offices with a continually lighted lamp before it, for the adoration of the people. The writer, when in Russia, seeing the portrait everywhere, inquired who it represented, and was answered, "That is Nicholas—that is our god."
The pope at Rome is the third pope, but, divested of power, his influence depends upon his securing support to his claims by civil rulers (not so ambitious as those of Germany and Russia) who are willing to give him their allegiance. The only one willing to do this to-day is the emperor of Austria.
Here we have the three Emperors of Europe representing autocratic powers and most opposed to everything like religious or political freedom of thought or action, and all are believers, almost to the extent of insanity, that the secular and religious control of the world is in their hands by divine appointment. It is not strange, therefore, that the recent visit of the German Emperor to the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, followed by a visit of the latter ruler to the Emperor or Czar of Russia, has given rise to the conclusion that an alliance of the three empires of Europe is about to be consummated. Not only do the autocratic and "divine right" sentiments of their rulers favor such an alliance, but their temporal interests as well. Russia is glad to drop fickle France with the republican sentiments, and Germany is glad to drop poor and weak Italy. On the whole, the "Imperial Alliance" is the strongest national combination of modern times. The design evidently is that at the proper time Austria and Russia will divide European Turkey, while Germany [R2151 : page 144] will be permitted quietly to absorb Holland, her navy and her colonies. At such a time Great Britain will probably improve her opportunity to take possession of Palestine, and thus will its doors be again thrown open to the Jew, and under conditions more favorable than ever before, facilitating the fulfilment of prophecy to this effect. A few years would work marvelous changes there under such conditions. Meantime the preparations for Jewish colonization progress at a wonderful rate among Jewish "Zion" societies.
"The Anglican Church appears to weary of her 'splendid isolation.' Not content with collecting, as she will this year, all her sister and daughter Churches [R2152 : page 144] at Lambeth, in a gathering which will include representatives from every continent, and at least prove to the world that she is as little insular in influence as in aims, she is making overtures of friendship to other churches which she once regarded only as hostile rivals. It is but a few months since some of her leading spirits asked Rome once more to acknowledge her rank in the Christian Hierarchy by admitting the validity of her Orders, and now she is making overtures, or at least offering courtesies, to the Holy Orthodox Church, a corporation as ancient as that of Rome, almost as proud and independent, and destined, perhaps in the near future, to as large an area of sway or influence. The Archbishop of York is hardly visiting the great ecclesiastics of Russia out of mere curiosity, or with a desire to reveal to them that there are Protestant prelates as dignified and as secure in their dignity as themselves. He undoubtedly wishes to draw the churches closer, if only in the bonds of friendship."—London Spectator.
There seems little likelihood of union between the Church of England and the Greek Church of Russia; but evidently they desire to draw closer together. Not long since all Protestants seemed anxious to take the gospel to the poor benighted ones deluded by the Greek and Roman Catholic churches into the worship of images, offering of incense before pictures, etc. But a desire to count numbers and make a fair show in the flesh is changing all this.
"It turns out that one object of Archbishop Maclagan's visit to Russia was to carry to the ecclesiastical authorities there the answer of the English Primates to the Pope's Bull, The 'Novoe Vremya' is among the Russian newspapers which welcome the Archbishop. His visit, says that journal, 'emphasises the fact that in spite of all national, social, economic, political and religious differences between civilized countries and peoples, the aspiration for the unity of the churches is continually breaking forth.' Dr. Maclagan has been cordially received wherever he has gone, both by Russian churchmen and high State functionaries."
Recently Bishop Sessums of the Episcopal Church, New Orleans, preached a discourse which was printed in the Picayune. Something of its character may be judged by the following items of protest published in the Times-Democrat (New Orleans), May 6, '97, over the signatures of forty-seven ministers of that city, as follows:—
"The undersigned ministers of the Gospel in different branches of the Church of Jesus Christ unite in this public protest against the exposition of Christianity given by Bishop Sessums, as put forth in the Picayune under the sanction of his name. It is, in our judgment, a complete surrender of the whole system of grace revealed in the holy Scriptures. So far from being 'the old religion in the new language,' it is another religion in language which does not contain a single new suggestion. The syllabus offered to us is only a compend of the old heresies which have afflicted the Church of God in ages past. The 'old religion' is swept out of the Scriptures so completely that not a trace is left of that 'grace of God which bringeth salvation.' This will appear from the following specifications of its numerous errors:—
"3. In the express denial that Christ hath 'redeemed us by his blood,' being not a sacrificial offering for sin, but consisting merely in the influence of a good example reclaiming man from the error of his way.
"7. The significant omission, in a scheme professing to define the gospel of Christ, of the necessity of faith in the Redeemer and of repentance for sin, of love to God or any of the graces of the holy spirit.
"We purposely omit the mention of others clearly implied in the language of the bishop, confining ourselves to those which are explicitly avowed and which spring of necessity from the seed-plot of Pantheism. It is not our design to inflict upon this community a theological controversy which must range over the entire field of Christian doctrine—and that, too, before a tribunal which has no power to issue the case in a formal verdict.
"But, set for the defense of the faith as ministers of the gospel, entire silence would implicate us in the guilt of betrayal of the truth. We cannot, therefore, but deliver, once for all, this testimony against another gospel than that delivered us in the Word of God. Side by side with this, our protest, we append the syllabus of Bishop Sessums, that the reader may compare the two and judge for himself upon the issue made."
We are glad to note that the ministers of New [R2152 : page 145] Orleans as a whole are so loyal to the teachings of God's Word respecting the fall of man and his redemption by "the precious blood of Christ." We are sorry that in the Northern States there are few ministers who still hold to these cardinal and fundamental doctrines.
It is the failure to recognize the logical results of the "ransom for all!" that he "tasted death for every man." Admit the value of the precious blood as "a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins [the Church's sins], and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," and thinking people will not be driven by the wholesale from their faith in it.
But such an admission of the true value of the blood proves a future opportunity for knowledge and trial for the millions who have gone down into the great prison-house of death without knowledge and trial. As surely as the ransom was for all, so surely all must be brought to a knowledge of the truth soon or later—else, so far as the mass of mankind is concerned, Christ died in vain; for, surely, hundreds of millions died before the ransom was given, and other hundreds of millions have since died without knowledge of the only name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved.
Let God and his Word be true! The sacrifice has been offered and accepted, the Church has been and is being blessed by it, and by and by, "in due time," it shall be testified to all;—and that will be the world's trial time, as this is the Church's. No Scripture can be found which limits the testimony and blessing resulting from the shedding of the precious blood to the present age or the present life. Quite to the contrary;—unless there be a future opportunity for the majority of our race, many precious promises of God will fail, including his promise and oath to Abraham,—"In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed;" and our dear Redeemer will not be the "True Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
We too object to such a future probation as pantheists teach, and therefore can agree to protest No. 5. But we heartily believe in, and advocate as the only key to the harmony of the Bible, a future probation for all who have not had one in the present life;—because a probation for all was bought by the one sacrifice, given once for all at Calvary.
Just to let thy Father do what he will;
Just to know that he is true, and be still.
Just to follow, hour by hour, as he leadeth;
Just to draw the moment's power, as it needeth.
Just to trust him, this is all. Then the day will surely be
Peaceful, whatso'er befall, bright and blessed, calm and free.
Just to let him speak to thee through his Word,
Watching, that his voice may be clearly heard.
Just to tell him everything, as it rises,
And at once to him to bring all surprises.
Just to listen, and to stay where you cannot miss his voice.
This is all! and thus to-day, you communing, shall rejoice.
Just to ask him what to do all the day,
And to make you quick and true to obey.
Just to know the needed grace he bestoweth,
Every bar of time and place overfloweth.
Just to take thy orders straight from the Master's own command.
Blessed day! when thus we wait always at our Sovereign's hand.
Just to recollect his love, always true;
Always shining from above, always new.
Just to recognize its light, all-enfolding;
Just to claim its present might, all-upholding.
Just to know it as thine own, that no power can take away;
Is not this enough alone for the gladness of the day?
Just to trust, and yet to ask guidance still;
Take the training or the task, as he will.
Just to take the loss or gain, as he sends it;
Just to take the joy or pain, as he lends it.
He who formed thee for his praise will not miss the gracious aim;
So, to-day, and all thy days, shall be molded for the same.
Just to leave in his dear hand little things,
All we cannot understand, all that stings.
Just to let him take the care sorely pressing;
Finding all we let him bear changed to blessing.
This is all! and yet the way marked by him who loves thee best:
Secret of a happy day, secret of his promised rest.
—Frances Ridley Havergal.