EVIDENCES corroborative of the Bible's truthfulness accumulate. Genesis notes Nimrod as the founder of the Chaldee or Babylonian empire before Abraham's day. (Gen. 10:8-12.) These and other features of the narrative have been doubted and considered mythical; but explorations in Babylonia seem to confirm the Bible record at every point.
We have already mentioned the exploration of the ruins of ancient Nippur, once the royal capital, commenced some years ago by the representatives of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The past year, it seems, has been a very fruitful one, the ruins yielding to the searchers vast literary treasures,—the once National Library of Chaldea. The Biblia gives the following interesting description of the find:—
"The most surprising feature of the discovery is that the person who collected the tablets and placed them originally in the pot was an old priest, who lived previous to and during the time of Belshazzar, and who was evidently a scientist of no mean discrimination. The pot was, indeed, his archaeological museum, not portentous in size, but the first museum known to man, and therefore more important for the bearing it has on the history of civilization than any of the great museums in existence to-day. Among the articles found in it were the following tablets:
"1. One of Sargon, which gives his titles. This particular piece of baked clay may give information concerning the doings of centuries. It was the custom in those days for each king to inscribe a memorial tablet not only with an account of his victories, but with his pedigree, showing where he was born, who were his ancestors, the god he worshiped, and, in fact, anything else that might serve to impress posterity with his personal glory. These tablets, therefore, reveal the names and origin of many of the writer's contemporaries, predecessors, and, as the accounts of the successive kings dovetail into one another, they will all in the end constitute an unbroken history of this early civilization. There are, however, comparatively few of these tablets yet found which [R2703 : page 291] date so far back as 3800 B.C., hence the vast importance of this tablet.
"2. A tablet written in the reign of Ur Gur. This king is famous for building and remodeling the old temple of Ekur, dedicated to the god Bel. This stone tablet states specifically that he rebuilt the temple wall, which had originally been erected by Narim Sin. He also erected many other buildings in Nippur.
"3. A tablet, excellently preserved, stating the great hall of the temple was called Emakh. It also stated, to Professor Hilprecht's great amazement, that there were forty different shrines in Nippur, each of which was dedicated to a distinct god. This important fact will amaze Babylonian scholars, because it has hitherto been supposed that there was but one god, i.e. Bel, worshiped in Nippur.
"Near the spot where Professor Hilprecht found this wonderful little museum there was picked up a peculiarly shaped barrel cylinder recording King Samsu-iluna's restoration of part of the Temple of Bel. This was about 2000 B.C. Near by lay a curious truncated barrel cylinder marked with the name of Assur-bani-pal, a king whose name is well known to the explorers. In addition to these, two hundred Hebrew bowls, excellently preserved and some of them quite large, were unearthed in another part of the mounds. But these were quite modern, having been left by the Jews who lived on the mounds of Nippur as late as 700 A.D.
"No one can read an account of the work of Professor Hilprecht without being struck by the fact that the people of 7,000 years ago lived very much as we do to-day. There was the same appreciation of literature and art, as shown in the cuneiform scripts and in their sculpture. Wealthy people lived in the cities and employed attorneys to manage their tenantry who [R2703 : page 292] lived in the country on farms. When they bought jewelry a written guaranty went with it. In the archive room of Murashu Sons, attorneys of ancient Nippur, there was found a tablet guaranteeing that an emerald set in a ring would not fall out for twenty years. Houses were built on an extensive, not to say modern, plan, and were furnished more or less magnificently, as evidenced in the palace mentioned above. Fortifications were built, wars were carried on, conquests were made, and heroes were glorified. People, when they died, were not thrown hastily into the earth, but were laid away carefully in clay coffins, which are found to-day still covered with the beautiful blue glaze with which they were decorated by the ancient undertaker. And for the benefit of posterity, science was studied and museums were planned that they might be found in the dawn of the twentieth century, and the history of the race read as a sermon in stones."
"The find has been much more important than could have been anticipated. In the course of three months, no less than 17,200 tablets, covered with cuneiform writings, have been recovered. These are not of the character mentioned in my former notice of the discovery of tablets, namely, the recovery of private business contracts, conveyances, letters, and the like, but bear more resemblance to the contents of an ordinary library. The tablets are historical, philological, and literary. They treat of mythology, of grammar and lexicography, of science, and of mathematics. There is reason to believe that they will for the first time enable the world to form an adequate idea of life in Babylonia such as could be possible only by the discovery of a national library, recording the national progress in literature, science, and thought generally. No document is found in this collection of a later date than 2280 B.C. As this date marks the invasion of the Elamites, the fact adds confirmatory evidence that the library was destroyed during this invasion.
"The unexplored remains of the library are even more extensive than those already examined. The tablets are generally arranged with regularity on clay shelves around the rooms of the library, and Professor Hilprecht estimates that at their present rate of working five more years will be necessary to excavate and examine the contents. He thinks it probable, judging from the contents already found in the rooms excavated, and from various other reasons, that the unexplored part will yield 150,000 tablets to be added to those already discovered. As the library was one of great renown, the chief glory of the temple in early Babylonia, the chief college for instruction in law and religion, which, as in all early systems, were inextricably bound together, and, indeed, in all studies judged worthy of attention, it is evident that no examination of the contents can be too careful. It is, in fact, hardly too much to say that if the unexplored parts should prove as rich in results as that already found, there will be no example in the world's history, not even in Egypt, of so complete a recovery of the records of an ancient civilization....
"In the course of the present excavations a palace belonging to the pre-Sargonic period was uncovered beneath an accumulation of seventy feet of rubbish on the southwestern side of the Shatt-en-Nil, dividing Nippur in two parts. Professor Hilprecht himself, having never been doubtful as to the actual site of the temple library at Nippur since his first visit to Babylonia in 1889, considers the discovery of this large building, with 600 feet frontage, which will probably turn out to be the palace of the early priest-kings of Nippur, as the most important result of this year's campaign. Already the few rooms excavated have given valuable results in the shape of pre-Sargonic tablets, of seal cylinders of the earliest type, and clay figurines of early date and great interest. The palace was very extensive, and at least two stories high....
"Beyond doubt the greatest success of the year is that accomplished by the American expedition. The importance of the discovery of the pre-Sargonic palace and of the library of so famous a temple as that of Nippur was at once recognized. The systematic and thorough examination which it is hoped will be made next year promises to give a full and detailed picture of life in what the author of the Book of Genesis regarded as one of the oldest cities in the world, and one whose origin, even in his time, was attributed to the famous hunter whose name has become mythical. The results of the explorations will probably show that Nippur was as important in the fifth millennium before Christ as it was in the third; that it anticipated the civilization and the period when Babylon took the lead by at least two thousand years; and that at this early period the human race in Babylonia had acquired arts and knowledge which hitherto have only been attributed to a much later period."
How does this agree with the claim of Evolutionists that Adam was but one remove from the highest type of monkey, and too ignorant at first to wear clothing? On the contrary, how these evidences of intelligence amongst the ancients corroborate the old Bible, at which "higher criticism," falsely so called, sneers! The Bible's declaration is that the first man was up, high up in intelligence, in the very image of God, and that he fell from that high estate because of sin. The fact is that during the 1656 years to the flood, the fall, the depravity of mankind, was very great; and that in Abraham's day, about 400 years later, the race was still further enervated, through climatic and other influences, as shown by the fact that Arphaxad, born two years after the flood, lived 438 years, while his children, during those four centuries, gradually declined in vitality and years, so that Terah, Abraham's father, died at seventy: and it is not unreasonable to presume that the mental vigor suffered equally with the physical. And yet the Scriptures show us Abraham, every way a noble specimen of humanity: and now ancient Nippur's libraries, then in process of formation, show us that a high degree of intelligence was then prevalent among the sons of Ham, as well as in the family of Shem.
But we caution all to beware of the dates ascribed to these ancient tablets, cities, etc.; for they are only scientific guesses: and since they are contradictory to Bible chronology, we know that they are unreliable. The worldly-wise, depressing the Bible as unscientific, and relying on their own "findings," endeavor to reconcile such archaeological testimonies with their previous errors instead of with the Bible. And scientists, misled into reckoning on "evolution" lines, have given to human history an age much beyond that declared in God's Word, which we accept as the only authority;—some of them going to more absurd extremes than others.
"The strange appearance of manna on the stems of the bamboo, was reported last March by the divisional forest officer, Chanda, Central Provinces, and notices of this phenomenon have been published in the local papers. The bamboo forests of Chanda consist of Dendrocalamus strictus, the male bamboo, a bushy plant from twenty to thirty feet in height, and affecting the cooler northerly and westerly slopes of Central and Southern India. This is said to be the first time in the history of these forests that a sweet and gummy substance has been known to exude from the trees. The gum has been exuding in some abundance, and it has been found very palatable to the [R2704 : page 293] natives in the neighborhood, who have been consuming it as a food. The occurrence of the manna at this season is all the more remarkable, since the greatest famine India has known is this year visiting the country, and the districts where the scarcity is most felt are in the Central Provinces.'—Nature.
"The Japan Advertiser has it upon the best of authority that one of the American mission boards is next month to withdraw from Japan its only remaining representative, and is to leave its work, henceforward, entirely in the hands of the Japanese, who have become interested in it. 'The latter (says our contemporary) are to have the use of the buildings and property (of no inconsiderable value), and some pecuniary aid will continue to be granted them, but the work itself will be practically free from foreign guidance.'"
"This extract shows clearly the failure of Protestant Christianity in this country; for it is failure, and not large-hearted trust in the Japanese Protestant, that has caused this retreat. There are at present independent Protestant churches in Japan; but, in the first place, their Christianity has become so vague that it can hardly be called Christianity at all; and, in the second place, they are not making headway. A Japanese journalist, who relates his experiences in the columns of the Kirisuto Tokyo Shimbun, says that he examined the roll of one of these churches some time ago, and found that out of a total membership of 323 no less than 86 persons were marked absent. He was informed that out of the remainder, 123 persons were Christian only in name, so that the work of the church had to be carried on by a little over 100 converts; and even out of these the average attendance at church meetings did not exceed 77. And the last report of the Kumiai (Independent Japanese churches—Protestant, of course,) shows that the number of self-supporting churches has fallen from 40 to 34, and, if the truth must be told, there are not more than 24 or 25 of these that are self-supporting in reality.
"Not only are the 'Independent' churches thus going backward in point of numbers, they are, as I have just hinted, going woefully backward in regard to doctrine as well. I shall give a concrete example of what I mean. The Doshisha is a fine educational institution established by a Japanese Protestant who was, I believe, a sincere and able Christian. It was run for a number of years as a religious establishment in connection with the American Mission Board, and of course the trustees were all Christians of good standing, and generally clergymen. For some time they were Christians, but changes—mental and otherwise—occur rapidly in Japan, and only last year they had progressed so far toward Agnosticism that a breach with the American Mission Board occurred. I visited personally some of the leaders of the movement, and they told me that they certainly did not believe in the divinity of Christ; in fact, I failed to discover any one point of Christian belief that they did believe in....Ten years ago Protestantism had a very good outlook in Japan, and many highly educated Japanese embraced it. But it took the 'advanced thinkers' among the converts only a year or two to out-Spencer Spencer, and to-day the vernacular Protestantism of Japan is getting on as best as it can without any burning or shining light whatsoever. The burning and shining lights—in other words, the leading native ecclesiastics—became all of them 'philosophers,' and, while still professing to be Christians, attempted to call in German and other materialism to their aid. The English and American missionary bodies to which they belonged, naturally objected. The American Episcopal Church of Japan fell foul of Dr. Sagiura, a Japanese minister (who has had, by the way, the advantage of an excellent American education), who denied the miraculous birth of Christ. Many of the leading Japanese clergymen resigned; and, in another direction, the organ of the Lutheran Church in Japan, a magazine which maintained that the Bible is a revelation, was discontinued because 'no suitable editor could be found who was prepared to defend such a theory.'"
"Can it be said that our Christian philosophy has been any more successful than our preaching of morality? I trow not. After attempting to call in German materialism to the aid of Christianity with poor results, our philosophers fell back on the ultra-idealism of Brahmanism and Buddhism, with the outcome that they have gradually explained away the personality [R2704 : page 294] of the Christian God, reducing him to a mere controlling force, or to a fixed law called Temmei. What possibility is there of building a system of morality on belief in the existence of such an entity as this?...If we ask what amount of real faith in Christianity there exists in this country, the answer must be discouraging. Christians dispute about opinions and discuss this doctrine and that, but beneath it all, it seems to me, there is little real belief. Christianity, in coming to us, has had the advantage of being associated with a system of civilization whose merits are acknowledged. It has been represented as part and parcel of that civilization, and hence has in the past received a certain amount of prestige that it is no longer likely to retain. The feeling of the nation in reference to the various elements composing what is called Western civilization has changed, and hence Christianity is no longer likely to be regarded as an inseparable part of that civilization. If things proceed thus, in thirty years Christianity in Japan will be effaced."
We cannot vouch for the correctness of these pessimistic views of the Protestant situation in Japan: doubtless honest people view these things through various spectacles. We do know, however, that Mr. Penman's picture corresponds well with what we see right here at home—that the colleges and theological seminaries of this so called Christian land are hot-beds of infidelity called "advanced thought," "higher criticism," "Evolution," etc. We cannot wonder, then, that the same spirit has reached Japanese institutions: nor can we wonder that the Japanese, less bound to the Bible by traditions of the past, should be more free to speak and act out their unbelief;—especially when popularity, the masses of the people, etc., would all favor such a course.
Surely the shaking and sifting will be thorough (Heb. 12:26); for it is the Lord that is back of it, wishing to thoroughly separate the little handful of wheat from the vast quantity of tares constituting nominal "Christendom," "Babylon." We may be sure, however, that not one grain of the true wheat will be neglected by the great Reaper.—Matt. 24:24.
"Bishop James M. Thoburn proposed the plan at the General Conference of the church in May. It has been the chief topic at the ministers' meetings. The order has gone to the Bishops and will be handed down to each member of the church. Briefly, the scheme is to have 200,000 members each pledge themselves to bring ten converts into the church before Dec. 31, 1901. The Methodist church is so thoroughly organized that the movement will be carried out without a hitch throughout the country.
"'A large part of the work ought to be done in the big cities,' says Mr. Cooper. 'This is the beginning of a revival that will extend through the first half of the coming century. Every organization connected with the church will be utilized to further this grand plan. There is much dead timber in the church, which, it is hoped, will respond to this invitation to extend the influence of Christ.
Last year witnessed a decrease in Methodist numbers, and this and other offsets are proposed. No doubt results will follow. It is as much a part of this harvest work to gather the tares into "bundles" and "bind" them, as it is to gather the "wheat" into the light and liberty wherewith Christ makes free and safe in his "garner." Should any ripe "wheat" be gathered into these "bundles," we may surely expect them to be gathered out again, speedily; for "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and is calling in a voice which all his true ones will hear and recognize and obey, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues!"—2 Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:4.
No doubt this "Twentieth Century Movement" will spread among all denominations, and favor the "Union" movement. No doubt also it will lead to an increased bitterness against present truth and all who are loyal to it as the true gospel. It would not surprise us if this led to persecution, for no doubt many now, like Saul of Tarsus, will verily think that in persecuting the truth and its servants they are doing God service.
"Unbelief is rampant. Many regard it as a mark of intellectual superiority to reject the Bible, and even faith in God and immortality. It is about the only mark of superiority many possess, and perhaps that is the reason they cling to it so tenaciously. Many of us who are professedly orthodox ministers are infidels. Worldliness is rampant among church members. Many church members are just as eager as any in the rush to get rich. They use the methods of the world in the [R2705 : page 295] accumulation of wealth, and they hold just as fast to it as any, when they have it. Many do not believe in the whole Bible. The book of Genesis is a myth; Jonah is an allegory; and even the miracles of the Son of God are questioned. The doctrine of prayer is old-fashioned, and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is sneered at. Conversion is unnecessary, and hell is no longer believed in. Then look at the fads and errors that have sprung up out of this loss of faith....Praylessness abounds among church members on every hand. Many Christians spend twice as much time every day wallowing in the mire of the daily papers as they do bathing in the cleansing waves of God's holy Word."
While the last Zionist Congress (London, August) was a success as respects numbers and enthusiasm, it revealed no progress on the part of its leaders in the accomplishment of its aims, or steps thereto. The London Spectator says of it:—
"The main arguments of the speakers are the horrible position of the Jews in countries where, as in Roumania, they are actively persecuted, and the benefit they may be to Europe, as the vanguard of an army of intelligence for penetrating Asia. Both are sound arguments, but some hotter impulse than either would seem to be required before the majority of Jews will quit countries to which they are accustomed, for a country which has for ages been represented to them as desolate beyond experience. The English Jews in particular are too comfortable to move; the Jews in professions on the Continent fear to be declared foreigners; and the poor majority have no means of influencing the Turkish Government, which is not favorable to the movement. Some day or other, when the Seraglio is in acute want of money, a great experiment will be tried; but meanwhile Zionism is rather the highly interesting aspiration of a great race, than a practical design for the restoration of the Jews to their own land."
"'Since they began to review the position of the Jew among the nations, during the sittings of the Congress, the drama had developed before their eyes, and every act was progressively heartrending. The book of Job must be taken to be the picture of the Jewish position. Anti-Semitism was growing more virulent. The press of Europe bore testimony to Jews being cast in prison for a crime to none so revolting as to the Jew. In Prussia these ridiculous charges had received their quietus, and the energetic action of the Government deserved the best thanks of Jewry.
"'Why are we thus treated? Are we not as human as our neighbors? Are we not as innocent? Is our desire to support our wives and children less laudable in us than in them? There have been other religious persecutions, but none so gruesome.'
"One historical parallel occurred to his mind. In 1729-31 all the Protestants in Salsburg, Austria, were expelled from their homes on account of religious intolerance. They took all necessary comforts with them. Church dignitaries offered them valedictory blessings, and even accompanied them some distance towards their new land. King Fredrick William I. of Prussia offered them a home, and their new neighbors vied with each other in the heartiness of their greeting. But the poor 270,000 Jews exiled from Roumania carry nought but the rags on their backs; for their sick there was no medical consolation; and their future was as uncertain as their past was dark. They are accompanied on their rough road with suspicion and hatred; are met with repulses and rebuffs, and with the cry, ever growing sterner, 'Go further, further.'"
Inconsistency seems to be stamped on every doctrine and practice of "orthodox" Churchianity. For instance, point out to them that only one-fifth of the world's population make the slightest claim to be Christians, in the most formal sense, and that therefore the four-fifths who are professedly heathen can in no sense be saved in Christ, and that unless there be hope for them in the future, by an awakening from death to "a resurrection by judgment," there can be no other hope; and they will at once reply, Oh, no! we believe and teach that the heathen can be saved and go to heaven if they believe in Mohammed or Buddha or Confucius or some other divinity, if they do the best they know how.
You ask them, Will not heaven then be a place of common rather than choice spirits, with such a preponderance of heathen? and, What advantage then have Christians? and they are sorely perplexed, but generally not sufficiently perplexed to start a fresh investigation of the divine Word to see where the difficulty lies. When we further ask, Why the expenditure of millions of dollars annually, and the sacrifice of many lives of missionaries, if the heathen are saved anyway? they are confused at their own inconsistency. And if we then inquire, Do you not claim that the hearing of the gospel, with the natural ear, brings condemnation to eternal torment if it be rejected? And do you not admit that the vast majority of those who thus hear do reject the gospel? And putting this part of your faith with the other, do you not admit that one or the other must be wrong, or else that missionary effort is keeping millions of heathen people out of heaven?—Then they are confused and want (not to search for the truth but) to change the subject and stop thinking lest they lose their "faith." Poor things, they hold fast to their nonsensical delusions, calling them faith!
"LONDON, Sept. 21.—'Authentic accounts have been received here,' says the Moscow correspondent of the Standard, 'of a horrible massacre at Blagovestchensk, which was undoubtedly carried out under direct orders from the Russian authorities, and which then let loose the tide of slaughter through Amur.
"'The entire Chinese population of 5,000 souls was escorted out of town to a spot five miles up the Amur, and then, being led in batches of a few hundred to the river bank, were ordered to cross over to the Chinese side. No boats were provided and the river is a mile wide. The Chinese were flung alive into the stream and were stabbed or shot at the least resistance, while Russian volunteers, who lined the bank, clubbed or shot any who attempted to land. Not one escaped alive. The river bank for miles was strewn with corpses.'"
It is the claim of certain religious journals, and of many ministers of the gospel, that the present war in China for the protection of ministers and missions is a holy war in the interest of Christianity and its civilization, as against heathenism and its civilization. Now our question is whether this war is adding to the population of heaven or of hell, according to "orthodoxy"? It is surely a very important and proper question from their standpoint. Let us see; the succoring of the ministers and missionaries (every one of whom no doubt would have been passported to heaven by his own denomination) has cost the lives of probably 50,000 persons thus far, about 5,000 of the number being soldiers representing Christendom (as the Russians of the above clipping). Now did the entire 50,000 go to heaven?—the heathen because they did not know of Christ and the soldiers of "Christendom" because they were "soldiers of the cross"? If so, then the war already has saved 50,000 and should be prosecuted vigorously.
If our question be answered negatively,—that the heathen 45,000 went to torment, and the "Christian" 5,000, being no more "saints" than the heathen, went to the same awful fate, then another question would be in order, namely: Would it not have been more Christlike for the few rescued ministers and missionaries to have taken death as martyrs, in their faith of an immediate entrance to heaven; and to have allowed the 50,000 thus far slain in the war, to escape the torture for a few years more at least? How inconsistent "orthodoxy" is in its every proposition respecting the very subject it professes to know all about; viz., the divine plan of salvation!
But how consistent the Bible teaching on these subjects;—(1) That only consecrated believers in the atonement are Christians—"saints." (2) That the vast majority of those killed on both sides were merely "children of this world," and not to be reckoned among the "children of God" whose trial for "glory, honor and immortality" is now in progress. (3) That the hour is coming in the which not only these, but "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth," the masses "unto [i.e. to have an opportunity for] a resurrection [raising fully out of death, in perfect and everlasting conditions] by judgments," *disciplines, corrections in righteousness, [R2706 : page 296] which will prevail toward all men during the Millennium.
"PARKERSBURG, W. VA., Sept. 8.—It has fallen to the lot of the Rev. Wm. H. Draper, pastor of the Logan Memorial Church, of Washington Conference, A.M.E. Church, of this town, to give a living affirmative answer to the famous Biblical question, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?" Though once as black as charcoal, the Rev. Mr. Draper is now white. His people say that his color was changed in answer to prayer. Many years ago Draper was employed by a fair-skinned man, and he was often heard to remark that if he could only be white like his employer he would be happy. While in the white man's service Draper 'experienced' religion.
"From that day forward he prayed constantly and fervently that he might become white. Thirty years ago his prayer began to be answered. He first experienced a prickling sensation on his face, and upon close investigation found a number of small white spots scarcely larger than the point of a pin. He became alarmed, thinking he had some peculiar disease, but he did not suffer, and aside from the prickling sensation felt nothing unusual. Gradually the white spots became larger and extended themselves, until now, after the change has been in progress for over thirty years, Draper has not a single dark spot on his body.
"Many years ago, before this strange metamorphosis took place, Mr. Draper was in charge of the same church he has now. He was popular with his flock and his departure was a source of great regret. When he recently returned to Parkersburg there was great rejoicing among the churchmen because their favorite pastor was coming back. When, however, Draper appeared in the pulpit the first Sunday, not one of the congregation recognized him. In fact, it was all he could do to convince them that he, a white man, was the same old black preacher they had years before."
*The word in this text (John 5:29) rendered "damnation" is very improperly translated. It should be "judgment," as in the Revised Version, and in verses 22,27 and 30 of this same chapter and many other places in the Scriptures where this word krisis occurs.