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RESPECTING the fulfilment of prophecy it seems to be natural for us, and for all humanity, to be impatient and to expect things to be done more rapidly than they usually come to pass. We had expected a Federation of the churches and the giving of life to the Federation by the Episcopal system by the beginning of this century and now we are ten years beyond this period. This is a delay as respects our expectations, but we may be sure that there is no delay in the matter as respects the Divine intention. Our expectations are wonderfully fulfilled, however, inasmuch as it was true that when we first began to tell about the coming Federation of the various churches and systems of Protestantism the matter was poo-poohed by all Protestants, who were free to declare that there was nothing of the kind contemplated and nothing of the kind desired; that they were really better off in a divided condition, because in that way there was a certain competition. This was the same argument once used by business people, to the effect that competition was the life of trade; but in business they are finding out that combination is the life of trade, and profit and trusts are the result. And so in our religious circles the same [R4611 : page 155] thought is brought forward, and the tendency today is strongly in favor of the Federation which the Scriptures indicate and which we pointed out more than thirty years ago was coming, and which will result in a great blight upon Christianity in many respects.
Apparently, at first, the prospective Federation will mean great prosperity and great progress and will give great outward appearance of piety and it will seem as though the world is now to be converted. All who will not or cannot see it thus will be considered as obstreperous and out of accord, and as unreasonable, pessimists and hinderers of the public good by those who think that this is the Divine arrangement and proper course and who do not see as do we the result. This is the very [R4611 : page 156] condition of things that the Lord guards his people against, by saying, "Say ye not a Confederacy (a Federation) to all to whom this people shall say a Confederacy, neither fear ye their fear nor be afraid." The fear of all the different denominations seems to be that unless something is done, unless something of this kind be brought about, the whole religious system will go to pieces and God's purposes will fail of being legitimately accomplished. We are not to fear thus, and we do not so fear.
We realize that there is a difference between the nominal church and the real Church of Christ; that God's real saints are to be found in all denominations and outside of all denominations, and that he will perfect his glorious plan of selecting the Church to be the Spiritual Seed of Abraham. The Divine Plan will thus be worked out entirely aside from the projects of man to convert the world, which we see to be impossible; not that we are in opposition to anything and everything possible to be done for the heathen, but that we are not putting our confidence in these efforts for the glorious outcome which God's Word shows us will be realized when our Lord "shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied."
But while the matter has not come along as rapidly as we might have expected, we may be sure that there is no real delay, and we have no doubt that the results will be attained in the fulness of timeGod's time. There is no doubt that this prophecy will be found in full accord with the other prophecies respecting the close of the Gentile Times and the inauguration of the Millennial Kingdom, due in the year 1915.
Indeed, we see that the people in general are very indifferent, as yet, to the matter of Federation. It is merely the leaders and ministers of all denominations that fear the rising influence of Higher Criticism and Socialism in the deprivation of the people of their faith in God and in the Bible, and these perceive that something in the way of an outward, formal church system is necessary to take the place of individual faith and the influence of the Word of God. This is the class that is anxious for Federation, and we have no doubt the time is near at hand when all the Protestant denominations, or practically all of the ministers of Protestant denominations, will be willing to receive the apostolic blessing and laying on of hands from some Episcopal Bishop, and thus be recognized by the Episcopal Bishop as having the apostolic succession and benediction. And this we understand will thereafter be considered the test as to the right to exercise any of the functions of public ministers, such as preaching, teaching, marrying, etc. Thus the people will be more and more brought to regard the Protestant ministry as Catholics already regard the Catholic ministry.
This will be the growing sentiment during the next few years, the next five years. Five years may seem to be a short time in which to accomplish great things, but we live in the age of rapidity, in the age of electricity. More results are now accomplished in one year than might have been accomplished in five years a short time ago, consequently in the next five years there will be the possibility of as large an accomplishment as twenty-five years would have brought about a short time agoperhaps much more than that. We shall expect that, in due time, the Scriptures which indicate this Federation will have fulfilment and clear demonstration, and that before 1915.
As respects the gathering of Israel back to Palestine: It might have seemed strange to us that the Lord did not stir up the people sooner, but we may be sure that his plans and arrangements are all right. The Zionist movement is not yet twenty years old, but it has exerted, and is now exerting, an influence over the masses of Jewish people all over the world. What more could be expected? Meantime the Lord has for some reason kept Palestine closed against the Jews by the Turkish edict and by passport restrictions; and the fact that it has been closed to them has seemed to make them all the more anxious to open the door and to go in and possess the land.
We see a marvelous manifestation of this among the masses of the Jews. In their recent conference, their very able leaders endeavored to deter them from their purpose of entering Palestine at this timeclaiming that the Turkish government should give them an autonomous Jewish government before they would take any steps toward entering the land, and that if they were to go in now they would blast their own hopes and privileges and that the Turks would tax them and keep them in subjection and they never could have the opportunity of having their own form of government. But so strong was the feeling in favor of going in at once to possess the land that the arguments of the leaders were unavailing, and while feeling great respect for them they voted them down and decided that they would go in at once and that all the institutions connected with Zionism should be moved to Palestine, and their banking capital should be transferred there as rapidly as wisdom would justify. So we see the movement is gaining headway.
The thought has been held up to some extent and has gained force, and is our expectation, that the present year will be more eventful respecting Palestine than any recent preceding year. Our thought is that from now onward we may expect rapid progress there for the Jewish cause. We will go there to see regarding it, the Lord willing. The next five years may seem a short time in which to gather there Jewish people from all parts of the world, but we are to remember three thingsone is that the majority of the Jews are in Russia and rapidly coming to the United States; the second is that at the present time Jews in all parts of the world, and especially in the United States, are very prosperous; third, that God does not declare that all Jews will go back to Jerusalem, but that he will gather his people, and by this we understand him to mean those who have faith in the promises made to Abraham, those who are really at heart Israelites, those who at heart are anxious to come into harmony with him and to receive his favors.
These are the ones he intends to gather there; and these will doubtless include some that are wealthy, especially as the troublous times in the next few years will indicate the insecurity of property elsewhere; and the Jews, many of them having accumulated property, will be desirous to return to Palestine, where they feel they will be more safe than in any of the large cities of civilization. We could not, of course, agree that they would be more safe there, because the Scriptures distinctly state that the trouble which will encircle the whole civilized world will reach to Palestine and will culminate there in what the Scriptures term "the time of Jacob's trouble."
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines,
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will."