IN using the above words (Matt. 24:6) our Lord indicated by their connection that the mere fact of war should prove nothing to his people respecting the consummation of the age. They were to be otherwise guided in their discernment of the signs of the times. Whatever therefore we have to say respecting wars is based on some knowledge of the divine plan, aside from these frequently occurring disturbances.
Our expectations respecting a war have been realized. We based that expectation not on any private information, nor on prophecy, but upon the thought that unless war intervened to prolong the commercial prosperity of Christendom a great financial depression would be sure to come speedily; and because we could not see time enough for such a depression and a recovery from it and a subsequent depression, all before October, 1914, when prophecy teaches us to expect the great climax of earth's troubles. We have in the Scriptures what we think is clear testimony respecting that date, but no particulars or dates for the intervening time. It is not our intention to enter upon the role of prophet to any degree, but merely to give below what seems to us rather likely to be the trend of events—giving also the reasons for our expectations.
The present outlook is that the success of the Japanese over the Russians thus early in their war will prolong the conflict and quite probably draw into it many other civilized nations. The Russian character is badly damaged by the fall, and, as a result, haughtiness, pride and contempt for others, are among the unenviable characteristics of their ruling classes,—and the peace-loving Czar is under their control. This will make it doubly difficult for Russia, as a great nation, to accept defeat at the hands of a small nation like Japan, which they have scarcely been willing to acknowledge as civilized, or in any degree a factor in the world's affairs. It would, we believe, be wisdom on Russia's part to propose terms for peace; but remembering the proverb, "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall," we incline to think that Russia will blunder into a prolonged war, disastrous to her prestige, finances, etc.
Meantime Great Britain is seemingly disposed to use the opportunity of Russia's distraction to add Thibet-China to her empire, either directly or as a suzerainty. Thibet is a rich country, adjoins India on the east, and its people are peaceable—unskilled in modern warfare and could be easily subjugated if no European nation interfered—and Russia alone could or would interfere. The present, therefore, is England's auspicious moment for satisfying her "land-hunger"—for opening up a new market for the products of civilization.
France, Russia's ally, will feel keenly for Russia, and were it not for the alliance between Great Britain and Japan she most surely would back her ally and send her powerful fleet against the Japanese. She well knows, however, that this would bring England to the assistance of Japan, and that the British fleet is the most powerful in the world. Still, pride and "honor" are powerful factors with the French, who are a very excitable people, and there is no knowing when she may conclude that "French honor" demands her participation in the war.
The German Emperor, we may be sure, could scarcely remain quiet at such an auspicious moment as the present one for "cutting a dash" that would bring himself and Germany into prominence before the world. He will probably seek to befriend Russia, his powerful neighbor on the east, to secure her friendship and also to, if possible, break the tie now uniting France and [R3327 : page 68] Russia. Thus Germany and France may yet vie with each other for Russia's friendship and may both be led into the war.
Even the United States may become involved, improbable as that may at present appear. If the Great Powers of Europe become involved, as above suggested, it would be very difficult for this nation to remain neutral. The seed for trouble is already planted in the "Note" sent by the American Secretary of State to the Great Powers, proposing that the war be limited so as not to involve the independence of China. The "Note" is simple enough and well intentioned, and beneficent, and has been generally assented to, but it may not be lived up to by all, and the United States may yet feel "honor-bound" to insist on the terms of that agreement, and this may mean participation in war.
We do not say that the foregoing will take place, nor that it is likely to occur: we are merely outlining bare possibilities. Nevertheless, there is something behind it worth considering; because the Scriptures seem to imply some sort of a general war preceding or connected with the great time of trouble—anarchy—with which this age will close and usher in the Millennial period. For instance Joel (3:9-16) calls on all the nations to prepare for war; to beat plowshares and pruninghooks into swords and spears, to cause pursuits of agriculture to give place to pursuits of war, and for even the weak among the nations to feign strength. The connection shows this to be at about the present time, and mentions that the "harvest" is ripe (also Rev. 14:15-20) and the Lord's holy ones as about to "come down." This may be fulfilled in the anarchy in which "every man's hand shall be against his neighbor," but we incline to expect its fulfilment in a general and worldwide call to arms.
Another reason why we incline to expect a general war is, that at present the nations are so strong that a successful anarchous uprising against them would be little short of a miracle. But such a general war would increase taxation and breed general discontent alarmingly and quickly, causing the seeds of Socialist propaganda to shoot up and blossom and bring forth red-handed anarchy speedily. The credit of the nations would be weakened also by their increased debts; money would become proportionately scarce and interest rates proportionately higher, with corresponding effects influencing the general welfare and prosperity of Christendom.
It may appear strange to consider religious ambitions a factor provocative of war; but it is true, nevertheless, that misguided emotions, supposedly religious, have been potent factors in many wars. Just now the apathy of the public of Christendom on religious subjects is noted as a result of the love of money and the cares of business. All the more those of religious proclivities are looking for another issue more popular than personal repentance, faith in the precious blood and consecration to divine service. They have been seeking it in "social uplift" schemes which have been more or less successful; and now the "civilization" of the uttermost parts of the earth is the popular scheme amongst them. They tell us that the conversion of the world is merely a question of dollars and cents, but do not explain to us why it is that the lands of dollars and cents are the lands of discontent and murder and suicide, etc., more than others. As an evidence of this spirit of aggression "for Christ's sake," note the following:—
"If the storm breaks upon the world too suddenly, and all the other Powers stand back and leave the contest to the English-speaking peoples, we even then can defend our rights, save the world from Russian absolutism and meet the high obligation thrust upon us by a friendly Providence; provided that the strife is like the old Talke-knife strife of the Swedes, where the contestants were bound together by a rope around their waists and, each armed with a stout knife, fought the mortal combat to the finish; provided that we understand its decisive character and have but one argument, and that war to the bitter end; that we have but one plan, and that victory or death, and that we have but one purpose, the absolute control of the Pacific, cost what it may. With such convictions and purposes we can help Liberty to her last and final triumph, and secure civil and religious freedom for mankind forever....A wise and sleepless Providence has cared for us, even before our cradles were made, and furnished defences for our use.
"So God has made ready his channels, and can easily cut the leashes of storm and tempest about the centers of English-speaking peoples, these homes of liberty and Christianity. It is for us merely to use the defences offered us."
The Bishop then proceeded to say to the assembled mission-workers that "the great Methodist Church is only playing at saving the world;" that if an earnest effort were made to straighten the traces, the M.E. Church alone, instead of struggling to raise one million and a half could raise more than three hundred million dollars a year for missions. "But even with one-third of that amount of holy, consecrated money what could we not accomplish?" exclaims the Bishop, and adds: "The world's salvation is reduced to a question of dollars and cents! We have the blood of the atonement; we have the resurrection of the Son of God; we have the Gospel; we have the experience of saving grace; we have the theology and a host of scholarly believers; we have the material agencies, Bibles, presses, steamboats, railroads and an open world—everything ready and waiting—all we lack is money." And yet he concludes, [R3328 : page 69] "This generation of believers will see the salvation of this generation of sinners, and the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our God and of his Christ."
Quite a furor of excitement has been aroused in Presbyterian circles in Canada by the action of the congregation known as "Cooke's Presbyterian Church." This Church, in company with others, has been in the habit of taking up yearly collections to assist in maintaining Knox College, Toronto. At the usual time for voting the money this last year, the pastor called attention to the fact that if the money were donated as usual, it would be in effect the rendering of assistance to the enemies of God's Word. He set forth that the teachings of the college were along the lines of higher criticism, especially arraigning Professor McFayden. He pointed out that higher criticism was really the worst form of infidelity that had yet attacked the Lord's people, and recommended that the donation be not made until the congregation had some assurance from the college authorities that such donations would not hereafter be used against the Word of God, but for the reverent expounding of it.
We are glad to note this evidence that some are still on the side of the Lord and of his Word. The majority are rapidly falling away into unbelief, and day by day the cleavage, the separation between these two classes, believers and unbelievers, in all the churches of Christendom is becoming wider and wider.
Prof. McFayden is unquestionably a full-fledged higher critic, otherwise an agnostic. But he is one of the wise ones who, instead of attacking the Bible, has written recently what might properly be termed AN APOLOGY FOR HIGHER CRITICISM. His book, while avoiding higher criticism most explicitly, is written to show that higher criticism is honest, is candid, is truthful, is necessary, that it will do no harm, that ultimately it will do much good, and, to use his own expression, "while removing the old landmarks, it will not remove the land." These subtle leaders and teachers are the most injurious of all. They pretend a reverence for the holy things and a disinclination to mar them, but assume superiority of wisdom and of honesty which compels them to take the stand they do in opposition to their own preferences. We have no right to question the honesty of Prof. McFayden, and other college and seminary professors and ministers, any more than we have a right to question the honesty of Voltaire, Thomas Paine or Robert Ingersoll. We assume that these men were all honest, but they were none the less enemies of the Lord's Word, adversaries in the most absolute sense, as the Lord used that word concerning Peter when the latter opposed the Truth. The difficulty with all of these professors and free-thinkers is that they are natural men and not New Creatures—that they were never begotten of the holy Spirit, and hence cannot see and understand spiritual things. Besides, their position in society and professionally has made them arrogant and self-conceited. From their standpoint the words of the Book have become to them foolishness. As the Scriptures declare, the world by wisdom knows not God. The Word of God is to be understood from its internal testimony. "If any man will do my Father's will, he shall know of the doctrine." To us who believe, the Gospel of Christ, as expressed by Jesus and the apostles, and their reference to and corroboration of the prophecies, is the power of God and the wisdom of God. But these are evidences only to those who can see them, and none can see them except the eyes of his understanding be opened that he "may be able to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths, and to know the love of God which passeth all understanding." (Eph. 3:18.) As our Lord said on the same line to his faithful followers, "To you it is given to know of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to them who are without all these things are done in parables and dark sayings, that hearing they might hear and not understand." Again he said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."—Luke 8:10; 10:21.
We wondered to what extent the action of "Cooke's Presbyterian Church" would meet with the approval of other Presbyterians, and a Toronto journal, dated January 23, before us, gives us the desired information. A reporter for this paper called upon the other Presbyterian ministers of Toronto to ascertain how the question appealed to them, and their replies are given. So far as we observe, every one of the seventeen ministers either avowed their sympathies with higher criticism, or dodged the question, and thus implied that they were to some extent at least ashamed of the Lord and of his Word. One of the ministers, Rev. T. R. Robinson, said that he was amused at the course of Cooke's Presbyterian Church, and did not think it would likely have many imitators. He added that he thought the chief danger to Knox College was not so much the loss of financial support, as a possibility that Professor McFayden might become weary of the treatment he was receiving from his opponents, and leave.
How clear are the evidences that the falling away from the faith is upon us, and that, as the prophet foretold, a thousand shall fall to one who stands. (Psa. 91:7.) How necessary that we should have well in mind the words of the Apostle, "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."—Eph. 6:13.
"Ours is a democratic government founded on ideas of equality and simplicity, but nowhere is there more of ostentation or of enervating luxury. Fundamentally, also, we are opposed to war and to the entangling diplomatic complications, yet we have forsaken the policy of the Fathers and have chosen a road whose end no man can see.
"In no country is the Church so strong as in America, yet in no civilized country is there so much of robbery and of murder. No other land has so excellent a school system, so free a press, and so just and equitable a law, yet no modern nation has suffered so much from the violence of the mob.
"We all recognize also the absolute perfidy of the citizen who, chosen to public office, proceeds to plunder the community that has invested him with the seal of its confidence; yet of such malfeasance in office we hear almost every day.
"Every true patriot—that is, every man who has the future of his country at heart—must, during the last year, have been brought to an intense realization of the fact that we are face to face with a crisis—a crisis whose results no man knows, and which it is our supreme duty to meet like men.
"We are not now confronted with an alien foe; neither are we menaced by rebellion. But the dangers that threaten us today are no less to be feared. Far more insidious, they threaten the very life of the Republic. How shall we stem the money madness of the time? How shall we combat the growing canker of official dishonor? How shall we overcome the menace of the mob? These are the evils that suck the very life-blood of our liberties, these are the sins that tarnish our national honor with deep stain....
"We have enlarged the sphere of our influence in Europe, in Asia, and on the seas—until today we are hailed as the foe of tyrants and the friend of the oppressed. [R3329 : page 70] We stand ready, if need be, to conquer the wide world—but alas, like the great Alexander, we have failed to conquer ourselves."
"The largest Congregational church of New Jersey has begun the erection of a people's palace, in which there will be rooms for dancing and card games as well as for Church meetings and Sunday School. The corner-stone of the structure was laid yesterday on Jersey City Heights.
"In the words of the pastor, the Rev. John L. Scudder, 'the People's Palace' will sanctify all legitimate amusements, and not let the devil have a monopoly of them. It will keep boys off the streets, young men out of saloons and young women out of the dance halls." Accordingly, beneath the roof of this building, there will be bowling alleys, pool and billiard tables, rifle ranges, a theatre, a ballroom, an armory, a gymnasium, together with accommodations for many more amusements, and on the roof there will be a garden for summer recreations.
"Above the auditorium, on the fourth and top floors, will be situated the gymnasium, which is also to be used on certain occasions as an armory. Among other innovations, Mr. Scudder has established a cadet corps, composed of 175 boys, and in this room they will be drilled in the use of weapons of war. A large adjacent room is to be devoted to the quartermaster's department, and will be fitted up with gun racks, drums, cannon and other military paraphernalia. The armory floor will be of hard maple and the walls will be lined with maple sheathing.
"The entire basement will be devoted to popular amusements. It will contain six regulation bowling alleys, and individual and club lockers will be furnished those who prefer private tenpin balls and a place to keep their bowling slippers. Other space will be devoted to shuffleboards, pool and billiard tables and table tennis. Separated from these amusements by a heavy brick wall there will be a rifle range with an adjustable counter to increase or diminish the shooting distance. Near by there will be a smoking room which may, by means of folding doors, be connected with a restaurant, and thus furnish a large hall for diners or smokers. From an elevated platform spectators will be able to watch the games."
Evidently the old idea that a change of heart—a full consecration of the life to the Lord—is a prime necessity for the production of a true Christian, is rapidly giving way to the thought that a Christian is just the same as others, except that he avoids grossness and offensiveness. Morality is now the standard and not, as previously, Faith and Morality. We are in the "harvest" time and both the "tares" and "wheat" are ripening, and daily it becomes easier to distinguish the one from the other. Now is the time to thrust in the sickle of Present Truth and gather the wheat to fellowship with the present Lord.
"One of the most pathetic sights in America is the ordinary Sunday School, taught by untrained persons not properly co-ordinate; text books the poorest; ideals the most vague; yet to that we are supposed to trust the rising generations for their systematic religious teaching."
Dr. Butler said that the place for the religious education was in the family and in the Church, but that "the trouble with the Church is that it preaches too much and does not teach enough." He then spoke of the teaching in the Sunday School, and said that there was next to no religious teaching in the home. He said that every time he had said that, he was told that the Bible Society had sold many more Bibles this year than the year before. "I don't care how many Bibles are sold," said the Doctor "I want to know what becomes of them. I am pretty sure they are not read."
We fear that Dr. Butler's opinion is too true—that Church-going, Sunday-School attendance, Bible-owning, and participation in the exercises of Epworth Leagues, etc., are forms of godliness which to the majority are without the power of the holy Spirit—the power of consecration.
It is nearly fifty years since Pope Pius IX. decreed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of our Lord's mother. The present pope, Pius X., it is said, purposes soon to decree that it shall be the faith of Romanism that the Virgin's flesh did not corrupt in death—that she was received direct into heaven. It is conceded that the place and time of her death are not certainly known. On the strength of this lack of knowledge the Pope assumes that she experienced "Assumption."
The dogma of the Virgin's immaculate conception is not only contrary to the Word of God—that condemnation passed upon all of Adam's posterity—but it reflects against the divine character and plan thus: If God could justly and properly so arrange that one of Adam's race should be born sinless he might have done the same for us all. And if our birth in sin is God's fault, to that extent he is responsible for all the deformity, mental and physical, with which we are born. In that event Christ's death as the ransom-price for Adamic sin was unnecessary. Let God be true—let his Word stand, though it make every creed and dogma of men appear foolish.
Similarly the dogma of the Assumption is unscriptural. Ascension to glory is to come by resurrection. Our Lord himself was the first-born from the dead, and no member of his Church was to be received into glory with him until he would "come again and receive us unto himself."
The account of Samson's slaying a lion by tearing it open, and of his subsequently finding honey in its carcase, has been very widely discredited; because bees are particular and generally seek very different storehouses for their honey. However, the workmen in the J. W. Goodwin lumber camp in Ovid Township, Branch County, Michigan, have recently come across a parallel instance. On cutting down a black ash tree recently they found it hollow, and in the cavity the carcase of a large raccoon full of wild-bee honey and apparently preserved by the sweets, though some of the hair of the hide had fallen off. The curiosity was sent to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
Following its announced policy of centralization, the International Harvester Company has decided to lay off 7,500 of its 19,000 employes, and thus save $5,000,000 a year. Already 1,500 employes of the Deering division have been informed that their services were no longer required, and as many more are to be laid off. In the McCormick division 1,500 employes are slated for dismissal. The other 3,000 workers to lose positions are employed in the mills in Milwaukee, Springfield, Ohio, and Plano.