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 [R2306 : page 147] 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 [R2306 : page 148] 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.
"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."
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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 [R2307 : page 150] 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.
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 [R2308 : page 151] 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.
"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.'
"'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 [R2308 : page 152] 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.'
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.
Last summer a petition signed by 40,000 English and Welsh Episcopaleans was presented to Lord Salisbury, complaining that the Premier's appointments of [R2309 : page 152] 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.
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.
"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.