OUR READERS know better than do the majority of people the meaning of the present social unrest. Many of them have been studying this subject with us from the standpoint of the Divine Plan of the Ages for more than thirty years. Steadily the unrest which the Bible predicted for the present time—the Harvest of this Age—is culminating. Many know our expectations respecting October, 1914—that thereabouts the Time of Trouble will gain full headway and sweep the social structure as a besom of destruction.
While pointing out these things from the Word of God our journal has done all in its power to counsel peace, contentment, faithfulness of heart, appreciation of our multiplied mercies and blessings, the like of which humanity never before enjoyed. More than this, THE WATCH TOWER has striven faithfully in all these thirty-five years past to establish the foundation for true peace amongst the Lord's people—an exact knowledge of God, a correct understanding of the Divine Word and an appreciation of the Divine attributes.
To some extent the Divine blessing has attended our labors. Thousands of Christian people have been awakened, enlightened and brought back to the firm foundation of faith in God and in the Bible. Tens of thousands who have not come to a full consecration of their hearts to the Lord have, nevertheless (according to their letters), taken their stand for righteousness and truth, against sin and error. In these and through these to their families, friends and neighbors a testimony has gone out respecting "Love Divine, all love excelling," which has brought many into closer relationship with God, to a greater reverence of His Word and to a considerable faith in respect to the Divine Plan of the Ages. Hundreds of thousands no longer believe that God used His wisdom and power in human creation to bring into being thousands of millions doomed to eternal torture.
The glorious character of God is shining more resplendently in the world than ever before. The light is going forth in about twenty different languages and to practically every nation. We have not succeeded in effecting great things for the world. We did not so convince the nations that they turned from selfishness and sin to righteousness and love. We have not gotten them to "beat their swords into plowshares, nor their spears into pruning-hooks" (Isa. 2:4), nor have we reason to expect that kind of success to follow our labors. From the very beginning we announced the Scriptural Program to be that only the wise should understand and that "none of the wicked should understand" (Dan. 12:10) and that during this Age only the Elect class will be brought into full harmony with God.
We pointed out from the beginning that the world, full of selfishness, would wreck the present civilization and that God, according to the Bible, will use that great Time of Trouble—anarchy, confusion—as a means to an end, and upon the ruins of the highest civilization the world has yet known, wrecked by human selfishness, God will in His own due time erect the Messianic Kingdom, which for centuries He has promised and which eventually will bring the foretold blessing to Israel and to all the nations of the earth. If we were obliged thus to prophesy evil things, we were glad that we could also prophesy glorious things, everlasting blessing, the silver lining to the cloud.
A little more than two years remain before the climax of trouble we anticipate—if we are exactly right about the time. If we are not exactly right, surely we are not far astray, our enemies themselves being the witnesses.
Look at the state of the world. Europe is seething with a Socialism which indeed numbers amongst its hosts many men of noble impulses who fancy that the course they are taking is the only one to bring about a more equitable distribution of the rapidly increasing wealth of the world. Other less noble men in the ranks of the Socialists are thinking evidently less of justice, of a general betterment of society and of a more equitable arrangement of the world's riches, than of their own selfish interests. Others in this growing army of Socialism appear to be wholly demagogic—ignorant prattlers upon subjects which they do not comprehend.
The wage-workers of the world, under the names of Syndicalism, Socialism, etc., have finally realized that the progress of the world really depends upon the coal miners, engineers, machinists, etc. They do not dispute, of course, that brain capacity is also necessary, but they are inclined to say, and still more to think that brain power and Capital have appropriated the lion's share of earth's bounties for a long time and that now Labor must have the lion's share, even if force be required to obtain it.
The governments of Europe are in perplexity. They wonder and fear what a day or a year may develop, but hope for the best. Their chief consolation seems to be to claim that "all things continue as they were from the foundation of the world" (2 Pet. 3:4), and that no radical [R5062 : page 224] change in the affairs of humanity need be expected. Indeed, while Labor feels its power, Capital also feels its strength. Capital says that if Labor should attempt to block the wheels of industry and progress, Labor would be the first to feel the pangs of hunger and would be glad to compromise the situation. It is this confidence on both sides of the question that gives the situation the most serious aspect. When the struggle comes, both parties will feel so confident that neither will be ready to compromise and the results will be the more terrible.
Strange as it may at first appear, it is unquestionably true that the troubles upon us are the results of increased knowledge amongst the masses. When people did not know their power, they were content. The ascertainment of their power has brought them discontent and is leading on to anarchy. Had the knowledge come a thousand years sooner, the trouble would have come a thousand years earlier. Had the knowledge come two thousand years sooner, so would have come the discontent, the trouble. It comes now because Divine providence has been gradually lifting the veil of ignorance as the morning of the New Dispensation is nearing. We have not yet experienced the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, but we have with us the early gray dawn.
The world is awakening before the Master-Hand of the Messianic Kingdom, the Controller of earth's affairs. Civilization will wreck itself in its ignorant use and selfish abuse of the wonderful riches which Divine providence is showering upon mankind today through the increase of knowledge. The lesson is evident—the recompense also. All the blessings which we have would do good and not harm were it not for the selfishness and hardness of heart which have come upon humanity. Strange to say, this selfishness and hard-heartedness is more manifest amongst the civilized nations than amongst the peoples of India, China and Japan, although all have it, and although the more civilized of mankind cloak their selfishness in many ways.
Selfishness is never grateful. It never cries Enough! Even its gifts and benefactions are likely to be selfishly bestowed. All this is the result of original sin. Disobedience to the Divine Word has brought gradual opposition to the Divine Spirit of love, kindness, mercy. Tender-heartedness has given place to hard-heartedness. The strife that is coming will undoubtedly be most severe amongst those possessed of large knowledge and great blessings—and this means Europe and America, although the same malignant influence will assuredly exert itself throughout the world.
Just at the appropriate time religion lost its power. Churchianity came instead of Christianity, forms of godliness instead of the Spirit of the Lord. What led up to this? The educators and preachers of the world lost their faith in the Bible. Gradually the spirit of unbelief and the theory of evolution (that man was evolved from lower forms of life and not created) have spread through all the colleges, seminaries, schools and school-books. Now the person who possesses faith in a personal, intelligent, just, wise, powerful and loving God, is considered a simpleton.
Wealthy men have endowed colleges and schools to teach unbelief and Evolution. And now these same men stand aghast with wonder that the people whose faith has been destroyed by Higher Criticism and evolutionary doctrines have no longer faith in God's Word nor in God's providence and are determined to take matters into their own hands. Is it strange? Is it not merely the logical outcome that should have been expected? Do we not see here fulfilled the words of the Prophet Isaiah, "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall not be manifest"? (Isa. 29:14.) The prudent men are the wealthy, whose generosity has been showered upon these colleges which are doing so destructive a work in the minds of men and preparing them to destroy the very foundations of our present civilization.
Two great political conventions have been held which have had an awakening and enlightening influence on the minds of many. The candidates have spoken out with considerable freedom. The charges generally made and generally believed are that in each of the two principal parties there is a warfare in progress between a "stand-pat" element (willing to yield nothing) and a reform element. The former have apparently the more particular backing of the financial world and the Church influence, Catholic and Protestant. The other, or more progressive party, realizes in some measure the real condition of things in the world today—realizes that Capital must make concessions to Labor and must improve Labor conditions or else a social revolution is inevitable. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Bryan are the prominent standard-bearers of the progressive thought in the two great parties. They represent millions of the middle-class people and millions of sympathizers in religious circles and in the world.
The Boston Globe quotes Mr. Roosevelt as saying, "With unflinching heart and undimmed eye, we stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord." Then the Globe quotes the Scripture to which Mr. Roosevelt refers in Rev. 16:16-18: "And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the Temple of Heaven, from the Throne, saying, 'It is done.' And there were voices and thunders and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great."
We cannot but wonder how much of what he said Mr. Roosevelt believes and appreciates. But the same thought is in the minds of others who profess little knowledge of or faith in the Bible. The Cincinnati Post, for instance, commenting on the same subject, says:
"There is a feeling that history is being made in a more mysterious manner than any of us can understand—that something is moving more powerfully than any of us can comprehend—and however much men predict or hazard guesses, nobody knows.
"Sometimes one forgets it is a Republican convention and sees only two tremendous forces about to clash. It is people who are stirring, not mere partisans. And it is the same spirit of unrest, the same mysterious uprising and breaking forth from beneath of a wonderful and awful power that has been breaking forth in spots all over the world."
If, however, it be conceded that the financial powers have set themselves in opposition to progress, those who know the power of money may well fear that the chances of the progressives are small. The money power, through the banks and bankers, has its influence upon all borrowers of money. There lies the danger. The power which can thus control nearly all of the influential is in danger of carrying its power too far and sitting upon the safety-valve [R5062 : page 225] until the explosion takes place—just such an explosion as the Bible warns us to expect.
What should be the attitude of God's consecrated people at this time? They should remember the Master's words and not be alarmed. He said, "When ye see these things begin to come to pass, lift up your heads, for your deliverance draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28.) This does not mean that we should ever act or feel boastfully, or even carelessly, respecting the welfare of humanity so seriously at stake. It means that with quiet confidence we may look up to God, and, realizing His omnipotence, wisdom and love, we may trust Him where we cannot trace Him and rest assured that all things are working together for good—especially for the Church, but indirectly also for the interests of all humanity.
God's consecrated people should more than ever "set their affections on things above and not on things on the earth." (Col. 3:2.) More than all, we should spend time and influence in the service of God, of the Truth, of our families and of all men, so far as we have opportunity. We should do them good, calming instead of arousing their fears. Instead of dilating particularly upon the trouble coming, we should expatiate especially upon the time beyond the trouble, encouraging them to faith in the Omnipotent One who has promised that through the Seed of Abraham "all the families of the earth shall be blessed."—Gal. 3:29.
Today we have wonderful opportunities. The world is waking up and inquiring about the meaning of the wonderful things of our day. Intelligent people are perplexed. They need the very light upon the Divine Plan which we have for them. The Golden Rule bids us do toward them as we would have them do towards us, if we were in the dark and they in the light. The Class Extension work is being greatly blessed and is reaching many. The Colporteur work is gathering, we believe, many ripe grains.
On the whole, the Lord's blessing seems to be specially manifest thus far this year. No doubt many who are now receiving the Truth respecting the Harvest time, etc., have been God's children for a considerable time, and under Divine providential guidance, direction, discipline, in preparation for the Kingdom. To these Present Truth comes as a special blessing and refreshment and as a [R5063 : page 225] special ripening for the Kingdom. Today's opportunities become tests also of our love and loyalty to God. "He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." (John 4:36.) Freely have we received, freely let us give to others the glorious light of Present Truth.—Matt. 10:8.
There is a general apprehension of something unusual and fearful. Religious people of all denominations are distressed, as well as politicians and financiers. Large sums of money are still forthcoming, but chiefly from the wealthy. And these are growing weary of their trials as the supporters, "pillars," of their respective systems. Church attendance grows more slim, and many who do attend service confess that their worship is largely a form of godliness and custom and habit rather than an intelligent appreciation of their privileges. The people believe—they know not what. The "new thought" offered them as a soul-satisfying portion is, "Our forefathers generations back were monkeys." There is nothing soul-satisfying in this statement. The true-hearted are starving, not for bread, nor for water, but for hearing the Word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11.) The formalists are discouraged because of lack of numbers. All are in dread lest some one should ask questions respecting the various creeds of Churchianity, knowing that no one of intelligence can defend even one creed of Christendom.
Various schemes have been tried. Various good endeavors have been made to awaken the public to an interest in religious things. The public interest in Churchianity has died out. Evolution and Higher Criticism have undermined faith. The public say, "The preachers themselves do not believe the Bible. Why should we?"
Finally, the solemn thought is being pressed home daily that a great trial time has come upon Christianity as a whole—a day of judgment; and that in harmony with the adage, "In union there is strength," all Christian people should draw together for mutual support. The cry is, "A federation" (a confederacy—Isa. 8:12). This movement, foretold by the Scriptures, is now nearing a fulfilment, much as the matter was disputed when we called attention to it thirty-five years ago.
As we write, the Conference in Lambeth Palace, London, is in session. The chief representatives of the churches in Great Britain and the United States have assembled to see to what extent they can let down the bars of custom and superstition and recognize Protestant Christians of all denominations as fellow-Christians of the one Body of Christ—the one Church. Very soon there is to be a general meeting in the United States to which the proposals of the Lambeth Conference will be submitted.
The feeling of fear, uncertainty, need of union, is so generally felt that undoubtedly many Christians of various denominations will be glad to be associated, federated. The hope is that thus they will present a solid, religious backing to the Government and that the Government will give them in return a support. It will not surely amount to a union between Church and State, as in the old world, but it will amount to an understanding between Church and State, for the State also is feeling its need of backing. The result will be an apparently triumphant Churchianity, a brilliant flare-up of success. However, according to our understanding of the Bible, their prosperity will be short-lived, for it has no real foundation of Christian faith, but merely the excuse of necessity for its federative existence.
With the flare-up of Churchianity's apparent prosperity all not joining in will be esteemed as enemies, however conscientious. And they will have hard experiences for a little while, until the Master shall say, "It is enough. Come up higher." "To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations"; "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne"; "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life."—Rev. 2:26; 3:21; 2:10.
"Toronto, Ont., June 15.—The question of restricted communion was discussed by the Toronto Association of Baptist Churches in Parkdale Baptist Church yesterday. The leading speaker on the subject was the Rev. J. J. Ross, who maintained that "the ordinance of the Lord's Supper is unmistakably a restricted ordinance, and those who partake of it unworthily will bring judgment upon themselves.
"The debate was opened in the morning, but gave way to other topics until it was resumed by arrangement in the midst of the Women's Missionary Conference in the afternoon. A lively period of three-quarters of an hour was given up to it. Mr. A. M. Denovan took the view that it was never proven that Christ did not baptize infants a span long. Rev. T. T. Shields quickly retorted [R5063 : page 226] that it certainly had been proven that He had never done so.
"A heated discussion followed between those who maintained that the love of God in people's hearts entitled them to a place at the communion table, and the others who rigidly held that the only passport was immersion.
Our Baptist brethren are having their troubles. After more than eighteen centuries they are half inclined to believe that they have made a huge mistake! Perhaps all the heathen who have not been baptized did not go to hell and are not still there roasting! Perhaps the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, etc., are not in hell for similar insufficiency of water!
Perhaps, after all, it has been a mistake that our Baptist friends have been excluding others from their communion table—claiming that, not being completely immersed in water, these are not members of the true Church of Christ, not eligible to heaven, etc. It is certainly time that our dear Baptist brethren became established with definite ideas about baptism, or else they should take that particular word from their denominational name.
The Bible teaches clearly enough that Christians are baptized into the Church, which is the Body of Christ, but nowhere does it say that it is the water baptism which inducts the believer into Christ. On the contrary, it most explicitly declares that the real, true baptism is baptism "into Christ's death." To be immersed into Christ's death plainly enough means to have a participation with the Redeemer in the death which He died—death to self-will, death to earthly hopes and aims and prospects. Only such as are thus immersed into His death will be in His likeness in the resurrection. "If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him"; "If we be dead with Him, we shall live with Him."—Rom. 6:4-6; Col. 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:12,11.
If our Baptist brethren come to see what the true baptism is, they will all the more appreciate the water baptism as merely a symbol of the true immersion. Our baptism into Christ's death inducts us into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, whose names are written in heaven.—Eph. 1:22,23; Heb. 12:23.
Throughout this Age some Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and others have had this real baptism into Christ's death, and accordingly have had their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. These constitute the members of the One Church. Some of them were confused on the subject of baptism and used sprinkling—incorrectly, unscripturally. Others used immersion unscripturally—the Disciple friends thinking it the same as the Jewish baptism practised at the first advent of our Lord, for the remission of sin and for bringing Israel back into harmony with the Law Covenant. Others used water immersion improperly instead of the real immersion into Christ's death. The true view of the subject shows that we all in the past have been more or less in error. Humiliating as this fact is, it needs to be learned if we would make any progress.
Another lesson we need to learn is that not merely the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is to be saved, but that God has a salvation—although a very different one—for others.—Heb. 2:3; Jude 3.
Under the creeds formulated during the Dark Ages we supposed that since the whole world is under Divine condemnation, therefore every infant is so condemned. We were right in this, but wrong in respect to the character of the condemnation. None of our race were condemned to eternal torment or purgatory. The Bible explicitly tells us that we were condemned to death. (Rom. 6:23; Gen. 2:17; 3:19.) As a consequence mankind are a dying race. The dying processes of the six thousand years have affected the race mentally, morally and physically.—Psa. 51:5; Jer. 31:29,30.
Only those baptized into Christ's death and thus vitally united to the living Head of the Church, have as yet escaped from the condemnation which rests upon the world. But God's provision, which begins with the Church, will proceed, after her glorification, to bless the world. (Gal. 3:8,16,29.) Then all the non-elect, all the unbaptized, all out of Christ—infants, heathen, all—will be subjects of the blessed Millennial Kingdom. All will have the opportunity, not to be baptized into the Body of Christ, but to experience the promised restitution to human perfection and earthly paradise—all that was lost in Eden, all that was redeemed at Calvary.—Acts 3:19-21.