PROF. A. H. SAYCE, one of the greatest living archaeological explorers and professors of Assyriology in Oxford University, England, after thirty years spent in deciphering the ancient hieroglyphics of eastern lands, recently declared:—"Higher Criticism is wrong. The higher critics of the Bible are engaged in hair-splitting trivialities and are pursuing false methods. Our researches among the monuments of Babylon, Assyria and Egypt have opened up a new world undreamed of a few years ago. They show that the history of mankind goes back to a very remote past; and that civilization was then quite as high as that of imperial Rome or the civilization of Europe at the time of the Renaissance, if not higher in some respects.
"They have also shown how much there is still to be discovered. After all, what we have found is only the beginning of what we shall find. It is no longer possible to say, as in the early days of oriental research, that such and such a thing could not have been. The population of the early East was highly cultured and highly literary. Both in Egypt and in Babylon a large portion of the people seem to have occupied their time in reading and writing.
"The monuments that have been found in Egypt [R2537 : page 259] and Babylonia have revealed this fact in part. These are literally covered with writing. Even the smallest articles of daily use have been found covered with inscriptions. The revelations are also partly due to the discoveries that the old cities of the East had very large libraries of books. And some discoveries made a few years ago at Tel-el-Amarna, in Egypt—where a large number of letters on clay tablets were found—proved that in the fifteenth century before the Christian era the whole educated population of the East from the Euphrates to the Nile were engaged in writing letters to one another. This correspondence was going on actively in a language and form of writing which belonged only to the Babylonians. Those, therefore, who wrote in this language must have studied and learned it as we do French. Hence there must have been schools in which the language and script of Babylonia were studied all over western Asia.
"Not long since a discovery was made in the extreme south of Egypt showing that papyrus books were written in the very early days of Egyptian history. As regards the Babylonian libraries, they were equally ancient and very numerous. Every great library had its clay books. Some time ago at a place called Tello, in South Chaldea, a French excavator discovered a library which was formed three or four centuries before the birth of Abraham, and which he concludes had contained 33,000 separate clay tablets or books on all kinds of subjects. He found them arranged in shelves, piled one upon another. They had probably been overwhelmed by the fall of the building in which they were placed. Many of these clay tablets are now in Constantinople. About 10,000 were stolen by the Arabs. The tablets are mostly written in Accadian, a language which is still imperfectly known."
Amongst the papyri found recently in Egypt and mentioned in our View for Nov. 15th were others quite interesting. One was—An Ode of Welcome to Usertesen III., written probably on the occasion of a royal visit. It has six stanzas of ten lines each and is pronounced by scientists "the oldest known poem in the world." They forget the Bible again, for the Book of Job is of about the same age and conceded to be a masterly poetic production.
Veterinary surgery is treated in a good sized volume, and we are told "the cures are very practical and similar to those used in the present day." But legal documents and private papers are amongst the most interesting, evidencing surely that if (as Evolutionists claim) the first man was but one remove from a monkey, he got civilized very quickly, and that so far [R2537 : page 260] as the Egyptians are concerned, very little evoluting has been done for the past 3700 years. We quote a few extracts from these interesting documents from the London Daily News of Sept. 29th, '99,—supplied to it by Mr. F. L. Griffith,—as follows:—
"The wills and conveyances are certainly the earliest examples of legal documents known, and afford ample proof of the antiquity of the laws of ancient Egypt. The first is a curious transfer of the apparently hereditary office of 'regulator of priestly orders' from father to son.
"'I am giving up my regulatorship of priestly orders to my son Antef, called Jusenb, an old man's staff (assistant); even as I grow old let him be promoted at once. As to the title to property I made for his mother it is annulled.'
"Like all Egyptian documents, it concludes with 'name list of those in whose presence this title to property was made,' and the date is the 19th day of Khoiak, in the 39th year of Amen-em-hat III., or about B.C. 2588.* The next papyrus is even of greater interest. It measures twenty-two inches by twelve and a half, and has been folded up and sealed with a scarab seal, and is inscribed with two wills. The first is a deed of gift by a man named Ankh-ren, servant of the superintendent of works, to his brother, of all his property in 'town and marsh land, his servants,' etc. It is stated a list of the property is deposited in the office of the 'second registrar.' The second will is that of the brother, named Uah, who bequeaths all to his wife, Teta. Considering its great age, it is really a very remarkable document. The writer says:
"'I am making a title to the property to my wife—of all things given to me by my brother, the devoted servant of the superintendent of works, Ankh-ren, as to each article. She shall give it to any she desires of the children that she has borne me. I am giving her the four Eastern (Syrian) slaves that my brother gave me. She shall give them to whomsoever she will of her children. As to my tomb, let me be buried in it with my wife. Moreover as to the apartments my brother built for me, my wife shall dwell therein without allowing her to be put forth by any person. The deputy Gebu shall act as guardian for my son.'
"The word used for guardian is curious, 'child instructor.' To the deed are appended the names of several official witnesses. Among the officials we find the name of 'the scribe of the hearing,' in whom we may see the official shorthand writer who wrote out the draft of proceedings.
"Very curious are the private letters, a number of which were found. These letters, probably the oldest in the world, are in various handwritings, in the hieratic character, and resemble in style the Early English letters. The writing is across the longest width, the papyrus is then folded three times from the side, and sealed or tied, and the address written on the outside, for example: 'The master to whom be Life. Health Sakanu to whom be L.P.H., from Arisu, Year 2, 4th Month of Harvest, 12th day. Brought by Henat.' Like all Oriental letters, these ancient epistles are redolent with platitudes and flowery language, the pious phrase, 'Life, Prosperity and Health,' being constantly repeated. The less the importance of the letter the more flowery the language. Most of the letters are from officials, and relate to the public works being carried on. The following is a good example:
"'The servant of the wakf Arisu saith to the superintendent of the interior, Sa-ka-anu, to whom be life, health, and prosperity. This is a communication to the Master L.P.H., saying that I arrived in the city of Het-Gehes on the 4th Month of Harvest (July) on the early morning of the 5th day. I found that the Master had gone South. The foreman Ampy told me, and I gave him three laborers. Thereupon I sent to the foreman Henai, in a ship that I found at Het-Gahes. I caused him to bring thee a freight.'
"'May thy speech be in all ill favor by Sebek (crocodile god), and whoever will send thee to perdition—favored be his Ka (spirit). Thus hath the dean of the temple, He Kat-Pepa, done for thee, continually for ever and ever, eternally. Ill be thy hoaring and a plague (on thee).'
"The reports and account tablets are wearisome in bulk, but abound in details of the greatest value to the historian and archaeologist. The whole system of the corvee is set forth in detail. The men were called from certain villages and towns, hence the gangs contain several members of the same family, to work for two months. The gangs numbered usually ten, and each had a master, a ganger, and a timekeeper or scribe. They were lodged in sections in the town and fed from a common store. Some idea of the number of men and the work of the commissariat is afforded by the return for one day's baking of eighteen hundred and ninety loaves. An interesting account is that of the dancers employed in the temple in the great festivals. Many of them were Syrians and Nubians. The list of festivals is very curious, and among them are several which exist to the present day. Thus, the 'Festival of the Night of Receiving the River,' is the well-known festival of the cutting of the dam, celebrated to this day in Cairo on the second or third week in August.
"As we turn these ancient fragments over—these accounts and revenue returns—it is hard to believe that they are the records of some forty-five centuries ago,+ they might be those of the Egypt of today. The return of the native reiyses and katibs (scribes) for the daily and monthly work on the barrage at Assouan, hardly differ in a single detail from those made for the reclimbing works in the Fayoum in Bezboim. The publication of these papyri only affords another proof of how real is the resurrection of the buried past and how vivid and full of life is the picture we can reconstruct."
Rev. H. R. Perseval, Episcopalian, of Pennsylvania, over his own signature has recently expressed his views of the present situation and the future outlook of the Christian religion in civilized lands. He sees a tendency toward the denial of all positive faith and a substitution of unbelief coupled with forms and liturgies: in other words, he foresees an Agnostic ceremonialism; and so far as we understand him, he is in full sympathy with such a faithless "church." We agree [R2538 : page 261] that the tendency is as he outlines it; but we are not in sympathy with the tendency and deny that it will be the Church of Christ or in any sense justified in the use of the name Christian. We hold that it will be merely the binding of the "tares" in bundles ready for the "fire" (trouble) of this Day of Vengeance;—that the true Church, the "wheat," will first all be separated from the "tares," as now commanded by the Lord.—Rev. 18:4; Isa. 48:20-22; 52:11; Jer. 51:6-10,45; 2 Cor. 6:16-18.
"Even old-fashioned orthodox Protestantism is in America on the wane, and while the law of William Penn's own Pennsylvania still by statute fines those who speak against or insult the Holy Scriptures of God, many Protestant ministers in the hundreds of pulpits of Philadelphia find no more interesting and exciting theme for their Sunday preachments than the showing the Word of God to be the erring and often immoral and ridiculous word of man!
"An American bishop, whose diocese is in the wilds of New England and contains but twenty-seven clergymen all told, has recently written a letter to a church newspaper in which he makes the highly interesting assertion that the clergy are not bound even to believe the statements they make in the prayers of the church service, which they offer out of the prayer-book to the God of truth! The bishop would seem to be a fair match, in this respect at least (altho not in others), to the rationalistic German professor, Adolf Harnack, who made a similar statement with regard to the Lutheran ministers of the state church, who were obliged to accept the Apostles' Creed which they did not believe!
"It is not too much to say, then, that Protestantism as a system of positive religious belief is dying out, and that its professors are for the most part able to continue in its ministry only through some device of casuistry [equivocation, lying], which in any other matter would be considered by themselves, as it is in their case by almost every one except themselves, dishonest and dishonorable. It is manifest that this state of things can not go on, and that the only final result of 'progress' in this direction, so far as faith is concerned, must be unbelief, and, so far as organization is concerned, decay and dissolution."
At a meeting of the "Canadian Society for Christian Union" held in Toronto, Canada, Oct. 3d, was a speaker, whose subject should have evoked astonishment, but evidently did not. The nominal Christian is in a sort of hypnotic stupor which accepts unquestioningly and unreasoningly whatever is presented to him by those duly authorized by any popular sect to bear the title of Reverend. The press reports say:—
"Rev. A. Crapsey, of New York, had prepared a lengthy paper on the subject, 'The Disappointment of Jesus Christ.' As it was too exhaustive for such a meeting, he gave the audience the essence of his idea extempore. There was, he held, one great petition in the Savior's prayer just before he suffered death that was not answered yet. He prayed that his people might be one, as he was one with the Father. He came to be a great unifier, and his plan was the most successful of any in the history of the world, yet his own people had disappointed him. They were continually at war with one another over trivial matters. The speaker held that one of the great causes of disunion was an improper theory of officialism, whereby the outward organization was considered the church."
(1) How it came that the Lord who had the Holy Spirit without measure (stint) at the time he offered the prayer referred to (John 17), did not know what to expect as the outcome of his work and hence met with the declared disappointment.
(2) If disappointed in one particular may he not be disappointed in all? Hence, may not his prophecy of Matthew 24 th chapter and all others of his precious promises be similarly mistakes—disappointments?
(3) If our Lord and his words are thus "errant" would not the argument of the "Higher Critics" be correct when they claim that the Book is an unreliable guide and that instead of it we should take the wisdom of earth's wise men (the Higher Critics) as far better?
(4) It is not unreasonable to suppose from his "orthodox" associations that the Rev. Crapsey is a trinitarian; and if so a believer that our Lord Jesus was his own Father in heaven at the same time that he was his own Son on earth.* This being the reverend gentleman's position the logic of his argument is that Jehovah has been disappointed and hence did not know the end from the beginning—as he supposed and said
*See The At-one-ment Between God and Man, Chap. 5. [R2538 : page 262] he did. (Isa. 46:10.) And if Jehovah is thus "all at sea" and greatly disappointed at results, is it not time that we his creatures should become excited and abandon our rest in Christ and our hopes and our faith, and begin to try our own skill instead of trusting all to the Lord?
(5) To cap the climax of this argument we should only need to be assured that the reverend gentleman is a Calvinist (a Presbyterian, or a Congregationalist, or a Baptist) and that he is a firm believer in "the divine decrees," in divine predestination,—that God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. In other words, that God foreordained matters as we see them but did not know, or forgot that he had so foreordained, and was disappointed in consequence.
What a wretchedly nauseating pabulum is this, that is being served to young and old Christians instead of the "sincere milk of the word" and its "strong meat" so abundantly supplied in the Scriptures. Is it any wonder that the rising generation in Christian lands is full of scepticism? They see the reasoning people leaving the Bible under the lead of Higher Criticism, and from the friends of the Bible they get such arrant nonsense as the above. The wonder is that all who do not see the truth do not quickly become skeptics. They are saved apparently by their stupor in things spiritual.
What is the reverend gentleman's difficulty? The closing sentence quoted above shows that despite his gross darkness he has some light,—some light that many of his associates do not have. That last sentence gives us good hope for the man, for we see just where he floundered and why. He floundered in his logic by reason of his attempt to hold and harmonize a prominent teaching of Churchianity with the Scripture's teachings. He must sift and separate the teachings of the Scriptures from all others, and then he will find the logical harmony and consistency which he does not now find.
Had he followed along Scriptural lines the logical reasoning of his last sentence quoted above that the outward organization is not the real Church, he would have seen that it was not for the union of the outward organization that our Lord prayed. He would have seen then that Christ is not disappointed that the outward organizations are not united. If the real Church is composed of believers and not of unbelievers, "higher critics" or otherwise: and if, as the Scriptures declare, it is composed of only such believers as are consecrated—the holy, "the saints" (Heb. 12:23; 2 Thes. 2:13; Rev. 20:6), was not the gentleman looking in a wrong quarter to find those who are at one with the Father and the Son and with each other? We think so.
And no doubt he was mislead into all this error by that other doctrine of Churchianity that is in conflict with the teachings of the Bible,—the doctrine of eternal torment of all except the Church. Every man of generous heart, believing this false doctrine, will be disposed to "count into the Church" as many as possible, not wishing to count them into eternal torture. Many are thus blinded and misled and unintentionally arrayed against God and his Word.
What these well-meaning but deluded people need is, to see the Scriptural doctrine of Election stript of the unscriptural doctrine of hopeless reprobation of the non-elect to eternal torture. They need to learn that God foreknew and foreordained an elect Church which he has been calling and selecting from among mankind during this age for a purpose (Acts 15:14; Rom. 8:28)—the glorious purpose of making them his agents for the blessing of all mankind. They need to see that this elect Church is the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:8,16,29), and that it will shortly inherit the promises made to Abraham:—"In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blest."
They need to see, too, what God has predestinated; and then they will see the absurdity of "counting in" the millions of nominal churchianity; and all the more they will see the need for their own neighbors and friends and families, of the promised blessed Millennial reign of Christ and his elect Church, his Bride. God's predestination is stated by inspiration by the Apostle, thus: "Those whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be copies of his Son."—Rom. 8:29, Diaglott.
"He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied"—not disappointed.—Isa. 53:11.
Well do the Scriptures symbolically represent Papacy as a leopard beast (or mottled government—Rev. 13:2). In one place it is liberal, almost white in its professions or appearances; in another quarter it [R2539 : page 262] is black, corrupt, degrading, brutal; and in still other places it has various neutral and tawny shades of correspondence to the natural depravity of the people it rules with its rod of eternal torment and its staff of Purgatory.
In Spain, which has been for centuries one of its dark spots—as dark as the general civilization of the people will permit,—the "leopard" has been accustomed to have its way, and is now incensed that freedom of worship, or even of thought, should be dreamed of. And now hints are thrown out that an insurrection would be supported against the present government, [R2539 : page 263] if the "Liberals" are granted any privileges. Of course, all the blame is attached to the "Liberals" (which there means any and all who demand the right to think and act for themselves in religious matters), and it is claimed that they should let things alone—not create a disturbance by demanding and seeking their rights. A Paris newspaper (Journal des Debats) analyses Papacy's demands thus:—
"According to the views expressed at Burgos, the Spanish church, to quote the words of a French king, simply says: 'L'etat c'est moi!' The grave crisis of Spain, we are told, is due to her 'excessive Liberals,' and, further, that 'the chief error of Liberalism is that it substitutes individual discernment for the authority of the church.' The church, therefore, makes the following cardinal demands: Complete independence of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which means that none of its members, under any consideration whatever, shall be judged by secular courts; re-establishment of all clerical privileges; abolition of the legality of marriages not sanctioned by the church; non-interference of the secular authorities with any legacies or grants obtained by the church; prohibition of religious association to non-Catholics. Thus the church makes demands which are altogether incompatible with modern life. The spirit of these demands is all the more easy to discern when we read that 'the increasing impudence and audacity of Protestantism, which raises its temples and opens its schools in the presence of Catholic sanctuaries and schools, in the capital as well as in other places of Spain, is a direct violation of the constitution.'"
In a word, the Pope and his coadjutors seem to be seeking to put pressure on all the nations of Europe to compel an interference on his behalf to secure for him some restoration of temporal power at the opening of the new century.