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The True Church, Known unto the Lord, has no Share in the Judgments of Babylon—The Religious Situation of Christendom Presents no Hopeful Contrast to the Political Situation—The Great Confusion—The Responsibility of Conducting the Defense Devolves upon the Clergy—The Spirit of the Great Reformation Dead—Priests and People in the Same Situation—The Charges Preferred—The Defense—A Confederacy Proposed—The End Sought—The Means Adopted—The General Spirit of Compromise—The Judgment Going Against the Religious Institutions of Christendom.
"And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant." Luke 19:22
WHILE we here consider the present judgment of the great nominal Christian church, let us not forget that there is also a real Church of Christ, elect, precious; consecrated to God and to his truth in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. They are not known to the world as a compact body; but as individuals they are known unto the Lord who judges not merely by the sight of the eye and the hearing of the ear, but who discerns and judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. And, however widely they may be scattered, whether standing alone as "wheat," in the midst of "tares," or in company with others, God's eye is always upon them. They, dwelling in the secret place of the Most High (sanctified, wholly set apart unto God), shall abide [D158] under the shadow of the Almighty, while the judgments of the Lord are experienced by the great religious systems that bear his name in unfaithfulness. (Psa. 91:1,14-16) These have no share in the judgment of great Babylon, but are previously enlightened and called out of her. (Rev. 18:4) This class is described and blessedly comforted in Psalms 91 and 46. In the midst of much merely formal and sham profession of godliness, the Lord's watchful eye discerns the true, and he leads them into the green pastures and beside the still waters, and makes their hearts rejoice in his truth and in his love. "The Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Tim. 2:19); they constitute the true Church in his estimation, the Zion which the Lord hath chosen (Psa. 132:13-16), and of whom it is written, "Zion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of thy judgments, O Lord." (Psa. 97:8) The Lord will safely lead them as a shepherd leads his sheep. But while we bear in mind that there is such a class—a true Church, every member of which is known and dear to the Lord, whether known or unknown to us, these must be ignored here in considering what professes to be, and what the world recognizes as, the church, and what the prophets refer to under many significant names which designate the great nominal church fallen from grace, and in noting the judgment of God upon her in this harvest time of the Gospel age.
If the civil powers of Christendom are in perplexity, and distress of nations is everywhere manifest, the religious situation surely presents no hopeful contrast of peace and security; for modern ecclesiasticism, like the nations, is ensnared in the net of its own weaving. If the nations, having sown to the wind the seeds of unrighteousness, are about to reap an abundant harvest in a whirlwind of affliction, the great nominal church, ecclesiastical Christendom, which has shared in the sowing, shall also share in the reaping.
The great nominal church has long taught for doctrines the precepts of men; and, ignoring in great measure the Word of God as the only rule of faith and godly living, it has boldly announced many conflicting and God-dishonoring doctrines, and has been unfaithful to the measure of truth retained. It has failed to cultivate and manifest the spirit of Christ, and has freely imbibed the spirit of the world. It has let down the bars of the sheepfold and called in the goats, and has even encouraged the wolves to enter and do their wicked work. It has been pleased to let the devil sow tares amongst the wheat, and now rejoices in the fruit of his sowing—in the flourishing field of tares. Of the comparatively few heads of "wheat" that still remain there is little appreciation, and there is almost no effort to prevent their being choked by the "tares." The "wheat" has lost its value in the markets of Christendom, and the humble, faithful child of God finds himself, like his Lord, despised and rejected of men, and wounded in the house of his supposed friends. Forms of godliness take the place of its power, and showy rituals largely supplant heart-worship.
Long ago conflicting doctrines divided the church nominal into numerous antagonistic sects, each claiming to be the one true church which the Lord and the apostles planted, and together they have succeeded in giving to the world such a distorted misrepresentation of our Heavenly Father's character and plan, that many intelligent men turn away with disgust, and despise their Creator, and even try to disbelieve his existence.
The Church of Rome, with assumed infallibility, claims it to be the divine purpose to eternally torment in fire and brimstone all "heretics" who reject her doctrines. And for others she provides a limited torment called Purgatory, from which a release may be secured by penances, fasts, prayers, holy candles, incense and well-paid-for "sacrifices" [D160] of the mass. She thus sets aside the efficacy of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and places the eternal destiny of man in the hands of scheming priests, who thus claim power to open heaven or close it to whom they please. She substitutes forms of godliness for its vital power, and erects images and pictures for the adoration of her votaries, instead of exalting in the heart the invisible God and his dear Son, our Lord and Savior. She exalts a man-ordained priestly class to rulership in the church, in opposition to our Lord's teaching, "Be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 23:8,9) In fact, the Papacy presents a most complete counterfeit of the true Christianity, and boldly claims to be the one true church.*
The "Reformation" movement discarded some of the false doctrines of Papacy and led many out of that iniquitous system. The reformers called attention to the Word of God and affirmed the right of private judgment in its study, and also necessarily recognized the right of every child of God to preach the truth without the authority of popes and bishops, who falsely claimed a succession in authority from the original twelve apostles. But ere long that good work of protest against the iniquitous, antichristian, counterfeit church of Rome was overcome by the spirit of the world; and soon the protestants, as they were called, formed new organizations, which, together with the truths they had found, perpetuated many of the old errors and added some new ones; and yet each continued to hold a little truth. The result was a medley of conflicting creeds, at war with reason, with the Word of God and with one another. [D161] And as the investigating energy of the Reformation period soon died out, these quickly became fossilized, and have so remained to the present day.
To build up and perpetuate these erroneous doctrinal systems of what they are pleased to call "Systematic Theology," time and talent have been freely given. Their learned men have written massive volumes for other men to study instead of the Word of God; for this purpose theological seminaries have been established and generously endowed; and from these, young men, instructed in their errors, have gone out to teach and to confirm the people in them. And the people, taught to regard these men as God's appointed ministers, successors of the apostles, have accepted their dictum without searching the Scriptures as did the noble Bereans in Paul's day (Acts 17:11), to see if the things taught them were so.
But now the harvest of all this sowing has come, the day of reckoning is here, and great is the confusion and perplexity of the whole nominal church of every denomination, and particularly of the clergy, upon whom devolves the responsibility of conducting the defense in this day of judgment in the presence of many accusers and witnesses, and, if possible, of devising some remedy to save from complete destruction what they regard as the true church. Yet in their present confusion, and in the desire of all the sects from reasons of policy to fellowship one another, they have each almost ceased to regard their own particular sect as the only true church, and now speak of each other as various "branches" of the one church, notwithstanding their contradictory creeds, which of necessity cannot all be true.
In this critical hour it is, alas! a lamentable fact that the wholesome spirit of "The Great Reformation" is dead. Protestantism is no longer a protest against the spirit of antichrist, [D162] nor against the world, the flesh or the devil. Its creeds, at war with the Word of God, with reason, and with each other, and inconsistent with themselves, they seek to hide from public scrutiny. Its massive theological works are but fuel for the fire of this day of Christendom's judgment. Its chief theological seminaries are hotbeds of infidelity, spreading the contagion everywhere. Its great men—its Bishops, Doctors of Divinity, Theological Professors, and its most prominent and influential clergymen in the large cities—are becoming the leaders into disguised infidelity. They seek to undermine and destroy the authority and inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, to supplant the plan of salvation therein revealed with the human theory of evolution. They seek a closer affiliation with, and imitation of, the Church of Rome, court her favor, praise her methods, conceal her crimes, and in so doing become confederate with her in spirit. They are also in close and increasing conformity to the spirit of the world in everything, imitating the vain pomp and glory of the world which they claim to have renounced. Mark the extravagant display in church architecture, decorations and furnishments, the heavy indebtedness thereby incurred, and the constant begging and scheming for money thus necessitated.
A marked departure on this line was the introduction in the Lindell Avenue Methodist Church of St. Louis, Mo., of a work of art representing "The Nativity," by R. Bringhurst. It is sculptured in bas-relief above the altar, the grand organ and the choir loft. The representation spans an arch forty-six feet wide and fifty feet high, and every figure in it is life size. At the highest point of the arch is the figure of the Virgin, standing erect with the infant Jesus in her arms. Flying outward from these two figures are shown seraphim with trumpets, proclaiming the enthronement. [D163] Ascending either side of the arch are hosts of worshiping angels with outstretched wings. At either base is the figure of an angel, that on the left holding a festooned scroll bearing the inscription: "Peace on Earth," and the similar figure on the right bearing the closing words of the nativity announcement: "Good Will to Men." Additional effectiveness is given by the fact that the bas-relief is mounted on a splay at an angle of 45 degrees inclined towards the congregation, thus bringing into bolder relief the high work of the study and deepening the shadows in proportion.
What an endorsement, not only of the spirit of extravagant display, but also of the image worship of the church of Rome! Note, too, the arrangements in connection with some churches of billiard rooms; and some ministers have even gone so far as to recommend the introduction of light wines; and private theatricals and plays are freely indulged in in some localities.
In much of this the masses of church members have become the willing tools of the clergy; and the clergy in turn have freely pandered to the tastes and preferences of worldly and influential members. The people have surrendered their right and duty of private judgment, and have ceased to search the Scriptures to prove what is truth, and to meditate upon God's law to discern what is righteousness. They are indifferent, worldly, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God: they are blinded by the god of this world and willing to be led into any schemes which ministers to present worldly desires and ambitions; and the clergy foster this spirit and pander to it for their own temporal advantage. Should these religious organizations go down, the offices and salaries, the prestige and honors of the self-exalted clergy must all go with them. They are therefore as anxious now to perpetuate the institutions of nominal Christianity [D164] as were the Scribes and Pharisees and Doctors of the law anxious to perpetuate Judaism; and for the same reasons. (John 11:47,48,53; Acts 4:15-18) And because of their prejudices and worldly ambitions Christians are as blind to the light of the new dispensation now dawning as were the Jews in the days of the Lord's first advent to the light of the Gospel dispensation then dawning.
The charges preferred against the nominal Christian church are the sentiments of the waking world and of waking Christians, both in the midst of Babylon and beyond her territorial limits. Suddenly, within the last five years particularly, the professed Christian church has come into great prominence for criticism, and the scrutinizing gaze of the whole world is turned upon her. This criticism is so prevalent that none can fail to hear it; it is in the very air; it is heard in private conversation, on the streets, the railways, in the workshops and stores; it floats through the daily press and is a live topic in all the leading journals, secular and religious. It is recognized by all the leaders in the church as a matter that portends no good to her institutions; and the necessity is felt of meeting it promptly and wisely (according to their own ideas), if they would preserve their institutions from the danger which threatens them.
The nominal Christian church is charged (1) with inconsistency. The wide distinction is marked, even by the world, between her claimed standard of doctrine, the Bible, and her conflicting, and in many respects absurd, creeds. The blasphemous doctrine of eternal torment is scouted, and no longer avails to drive men into the church through fear; and for some time past the Presbyterian and other Calvinistic [D165] sects have been in a very tempest of criticism of their time-honored creeds, and are terribly shaken. With the long discussions on the subject and the desperate attempts at defense on the part of the clergy, all are acquainted. That the task of defense is most irksome, and one that they would gladly avoid, is very manifest; but they cannot avoid it, and must conduct the defense as best they can. Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage voiced the popular sentiment among them when he said:
"I declare, once for all, that all this controversy throughout Christendom is diabolic and satanical. A most diabolical attempt is going on to split the church; and if it is not stopped it will gain for the Bible a contempt equal to that for an 1828 almanac that tells what the weather was six months before and in what quarter of the moon it is best to plant turnips.
"What position shall we take in regard to these controversies? Stay out of them. While these religious riots are abroad, stay at home and attend to business. Why, how do you expect a man only five or six feet high to wade through an ocean a thousand feet deep?...The young men now entering the ministry are being launched into the thickest fog that ever beset a coast. The questions the doctors are trying to settle won't be settled until the day after judgment day."
The irksomeness of the task of defense and the dread of the outcome were also very strongly expressed in a resolution of assembled Presbyterian clergymen in Chicago, not [D166] long after the summons to judgment came. The resolution read as follows:
"Resolved, That we regard with sorrow the controversies now distracting our beloved church as injurious to her reputation, her influence and her usefulness, and as fraught, if pursued, with disaster, not only to the work of our own church, but to our common Christianity. We therefore earnestly counsel our brethren that on the one side they avoid applying new tests of orthodoxy, the harsh use of power and the repression of honest and devout search for truth; and on the other side we urgently advise our brethren against the repetition upon the church of unverified theories, the questions of doubtful disputation, and especially where they have, or under any circumstances might have, a tendency to unsettle the faith of the unlearned in the Holy Scriptures. For the sake of our church and all her precious interests and activities we earnestly request a truce and the cessation of ecclesiastical litigation."
"A disturbance or alarm in a hospital or asylum might prove fatal to some of its inmates. An elderly gentleman in a benevolent institution amused himself awhile by beating a drum before sunrise. The authorities finally requested this 'lovely brother' to remove his instrument to a respectful distance. This illustrates why earnest pastors grow serious when a disturbance arises in the church. The church is like a hospital where are gathered sin-sick persons who, in a spiritual sense, are fevered, leprous, paralytic, wounded and half dead. A disturbance, like the present cruel distraction which emanates from some Theological Seminaries, may destroy some souls who are now passing through a crisis. Will Prof. Briggs please walk softly and remove his drum?"
The church nominal is charged (2) with a marked lack of [D167] that piety and godliness which she professes, though the fact is admitted that a few truly pious souls are found here and there among the obscure ones. Sham and hypocrisy are indeed obtrusive, and wealth and arrogance make very manifest that the poor are not welcome in the earthly temples erected in the name of Christ. The masses of the people have found this out, and have been looking into their Bibles to see if such was the spirit of the great Founder of the church; and there they have learned that one of the proofs which he gave of his Messiahship was that "the poor had the gospel preached unto them"; that he said to his followers, "The poor ye have always with you"; and that they were to show no preferences for the man with the gold ring or the goodly apparel, etc. They have found the golden rule, too, and have been applying it to the conduct of the church, collectively and individually. Thus, in the light of the Bible, they are fast arriving at the conclusion that the church is fallen from grace. And so manifest is the conclusion, that her defenders find themselves covered with confusion.
The church nominal is charged (3) with failure to accomplish what she has claimed to be her mission; viz., to convert the world to Christianity. How the world has discovered that the time has come when the work of the church should show some signs of completion seems unaccountable; but nevertheless, just as in the end of the Jewish age all men were in expectation of some great change about to take place (Luke 3:15), so now, in the end of the Gospel age, all men are in similar expectation. They realize that we are in a transition period, and the horoscope of the 20th Century is full of terrors and premonitions of great revolutionary changes. The present unrest was forcefully expressed by Hon. Henry Grady, in an eloquent address before the University Societies, Charlottesville, Va.
His words were: "We are standing in the daybreak....The fixed stars are fading from the sky and we are groping in uncertain light. Strange shapes have come with the night. Established ways are lost, new roads perplex, and widening fields stretch beyond the sight. The unrest of dawn impels us to and fro; but Doubt stalks amid the confusion, and even on the beaten paths the shifting crowds are halted, and from the shadows the sentries cry, 'Who comes there?' in the obscurity of the morning tremendous forces are at work. Nothing is steadfast or approved. The miracles of the present belie the simple truths of the past. The church is besieged from without and betrayed from within. Behind the courts smoulders the rioter's torch and looms the gibbet of the anarchists. Government is the contention of partisans and the prey of spoilsmen. Trade is restless in the grasp of monopoly, and commerce shackled with limitation. The cities are swollen, and the fields are stripped. Splendor streams from the castle, and squalor crouches in the home. The universal brotherhood is dissolving, and the people are huddling into classes. The hiss of the Nihilist disturbs the covert, and the roar of the mob murmurs along the highway."
For the church to deny that the end of the age, the day of reckoning, has come, is impossible; for whether she discerns the time in the light of prophecy or not, the facts of judgment are forced upon her, and the issue will be realized before the close of this harvest period.
The church knows that the eyes of all the world are turned upon her; that somehow it has been discovered that, while she has claimed her commission to be to convert the world, the time has arrived when, if that be her mission, that work should be almost, if not fully, accomplished, and that really she differs little from the world, except in profession.
Having assumed this to be her present mission, she has lost sight of the real purpose of this Gospel age; viz., to "preach this gospel of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness to all nations," and to aid in the calling and preparing of a "little flock" to constitute (with the Lord) that Millennial Kingdom which shall then bless all the families of the earth. (Matt. 24:14; Acts 15:14-17) She is confronted with the fact that after eighteen centuries she is further from the results which her claims would demand than she was at the close of the first century. Consequently apologies, excuses, a figuring over and re-examining of accounts, the re-dressing of facts, and extravagant prognostications of great achievements in the very near future, are now the order of the day, as, forced by the spirit of inquiry and cross-questioning of these times, she endeavors to speak in self-defense before her numerous accusers.
To meet the charge of inconsistency of doctrine with her recognized standard, the Bible, we see her in great perplexity; for she cannot deny the conflict of her creeds. So, various methods are resorted to, which thinking people are not slow to mark as evidences of her great confusion. There is much anxiety on the part of each denomination to hold on to the old creeds because they are the cords by which they have been bound together in distinct organizations; and to destroy these suddenly would be to dissolve the organizations; yet the clergy specially are quite content to say as little about them as possible, for they are heartily ashamed of them in the searching light of this day of judgment.
Some are so ashamed of them that, forgetting their worldly prudence, they favor discarding them altogether. Others are more conservative, and think it more prudent to let them go gradually, and in their place, by degrees, to insert new doctrines, to amend, revise, etc. With the long discussions [D170] on Presbyterian creed-revision every one is familiar. So also the attempts of self-styled higher critics to undermine the authority and inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, and to suggest a twentieth-century-inspiration, and a theory of evolution wholly subversive of the divine plan of salvation from an Adamic fall which the Bible affirms, but which they deny. Then there is another and a large class of clergymen who favor an eclectic, or compromise, theology, which must of necessity be very brief and very liberal, its object being to waive all objections of all religionists, Christian and heathen, and, if possible, to "bring them all into one camp," as some have expressed it. There is a general boasting on the part of a large class, of the great things about to be accomplished through instrumentalities recently set in operation, of which Christian union or cooperation is the central idea; and when this is secured—as we are assured it soon will be—then the world's conversion to Christianity, it is assumed, will quickly follow.
The charge of lack of piety and godly living is also met with boastings—boasting of "many wonderful works," which often suggest the reproving words of the Lord recorded in Matt. 7:22,23. But these boastings avail very little to the interests of Babylon, because the lack of the spirit of God's law of love is, alas! too painfully manifest to be concealed. The defense, on the whole, only makes the more manifest the deplorable condition of the fallen church. If this great ecclesiasticism were really the true Church of God, how manifest would be the failure of the divine plan to choose out a people for his name!
But while these various excuses, apologies, promises and boasts are made by the church, her leaders see very clearly that they will not long serve to preserve her in her present [D171] divided, distracted and confused condition. They see that disintegration and overthrow are sure to follow soon unless some mighty effort shall unite her sects and thus give her not only a better standing before the world, but also increased power to enforce her authority. We therefore hear much talk of Christian Union; and every step in the direction of its accomplishment is proclaimed as evidence of growth in the spirit of love and Christian fellowship. The movement, however, is not begotten of increasing love and Christian fellowship, but of fear. The foretold storm of indignation and wrath is seen to be fast approaching, and the various sects seriously doubt their ability to stand alone in the tempest shock.
Consequently all the sects favor union; but how to accomplish it in view of their conflicting creeds, is the perplexing problem. Various methods are suggested. One is to endeavor first to unite those sects which are most alike in doctrine, as, for instance, the various branches of the same families—Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, etc.—preparatory to the proposed larger union. Another is to cultivate in the people a desire for union, and a disposition to ignore doctrine, and to extend a generous fellowship to all morally disposed people and seek their cooperation in what they call Christian work. This sentiment finds its most earnest supporters among the young and middle-aged.
The ignoring in late years of many of the disputed doctrines of the past has assisted in the development of a class of young people in the church who largely represent the "union" sentiment of Christendom. Ignorant of the sectarian battles of the past, these are unencumbered with the confusion prevalent among their seniors respecting fore-ordination, election, free grace, etc. But they still have from [D172] the teachings of childhood (originally from Rome and the dark ages), the blighting doctrine of the everlasting torment of all who do not hear and accept the gospel in the present age; and the theory that the mission of the gospel is to convert the world in the present age, and thus save them from that torment. These are banded under various names—Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations, Christian Endeavor Societies, Epworth Leagues, King's Daughters and Salvation Armies. Many of these have indeed "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."
True to their erroneous, unscriptural views, these plan a "social uplift of the world," to take place at once. It is commendable that their efforts are not for evil, but for good. Their great mistake is in pursuing their own plans, which however benevolent or wise in human estimation, must of necessity fall short of the divine wisdom and the divine plan, which alone will be crowned with success. All others are doomed to failure. It would be greatly to the blessing of the true ones among them if they could see the divine plan; viz., the selection ("election") of a sanctified "little flock" now, and by and by the world's uplift by that little flock when complete and highly exalted and reigning with Christ as his Millennial Kingdom joint-heirs. Could they see this, it would or should have the effect of sanctifying all the true ones among them—though of course this would be a small minority; for the majority who join such societies evidently do so for various reasons other than entire consecration and devotion to God and his service—"even unto death."
These Christian young people, untaught in the lessons of church history, and ignorant of doctrines, readily fall in with the idea of "Union." They decide, "The fault of the past has been doctrines which caused divisions! Let us now [D173] have union and ignore doctrines!" They fail to appreciate the fact that in the past all Christians were anxious for union, too, just as anxious as people of today, but they wanted union on the basis of the truth, or else no union at all. Their rule of conduct was, "Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints"; "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Jude 3; Eph. 5:11) Many today fail to see that certain doctrines are all-important to true union among true Christians—a union pleasing to God—that the fault of the past was that Christians were too greatly prejudiced in favor of their own human creeds to prove and correct them and all doctrines by the Word of God.
Hence the union or confederacy proposed and sought, being one which ignores Bible doctrine, but holds firmly to human doctrines respecting eternal torment, natural immortality, etc., and which is dominated merely by human judgment as to object and methods, is the most dangerous thing that could happen. It is sure to run into extreme error, because it rejects the "doctrines of Christ" and "the wisdom from above," and instead relies upon the wisdom of its own wise men; which is foolishness when opposed to the divine counsel and methods. "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish." Isa. 29:14
Then, too, there are many ideas set afloat by progressive (?) clergymen and others as to what should be the character and mission of the church in the near future, their proposition being to bring it down, even closer than at present, to the ideas of the world. Its work, it appears, is to be to draw the unregenerate world into it and to secure a liberal financial patronage; and to do this entertainment and pleasure must be provided. What true Christian has not been shocked by the tendencies in this direction, both as he observes them at home and reads of them elsewhere.
What stronger evidence could we have of the decline of real godliness than the following, from the pen of a Methodist clergyman, and published in a Methodist journal—The Northwestern Christian Advocate—and called by the Editor a "friendly satire on existing Methodist conditions," thus admitting the conditions. Whether meant as an endorsement, or as a satire, it matters not; facts are facts by whomsoever told, though doubly forcible when in the nature of a confession by an interested minister in his own church journal. We give the article entire as follows, the italics being ours:
"The revival of religion in the eighteenth century under the leadership of the Wesleys and Whitefield purified the moral tone of the Anglo-Saxon race and put in operation new forces for the elevation of the unevangelized. Secular historians, both English and American, have united in crediting the movement originated by these remarkable men with much in modern church machinery and statement of doctrine which tends to spread and plant our civilization. The doctrine of 'free will' preached by them and their successors has, with the evolution of modern experiments in secular government, been one of the most popular dogmas engaging the thoughts of men. Among our American fore-fathers this doctrine was peculiarly contagious. Throwing off the yoke of kings, and disgusted with a nationalized and priest-ridden church, what could be more enchanting and more in harmony with their political aspirations than the doctrine that every man is free to make or mar his own destiny here and hereafter?
"The doctrine of the 'new birth' upon which the Methodists insisted, and the preaching of which by Whitefield in New England was like the telling of a fresh and unheard story, likewise produced effects upon which the secular and even the unreligious looked with approbation. For this doctrine not only demanded a 'change of heart,' but also such a change in the daily life as to make the Methodist easily distinguished [D175] from the man of the world by his behavior. The great purpose for which the church existed was to 'spread Scriptural holiness over these lands.' This was the legend on her banner—with this war-cry she conquered.
"Another reason for the phenomenal success of Methodism in this country is to be found in the fact that to its simple, popular service the common people were gladly welcomed. Only those who have been untrained in ritual can appreciate this apparently insignificant but really very important fact. To know that you may enter a church where you can take part in the service without the risk of displaying your ignorance of form and ceremonies is of greatest concern if you have no desire to make yourself conspicuous. Thus the plain, unstudied service of the early American Methodist church was exactly suited to the people who had but lately abandoned the pomp of Old World religions. Lawn sleeves, holy hats, diadems, crowns and robes were repugnant to their rough and simple tastes. The religion that taught them that they could make their appeals to the Almighty without an intermediator of any kind emphasized the dignity and greatness of their manhood and appealed to their love of independence.
"The marked triumphs of this church may also be attributed in part to the fact that she had not then laid down the Master's whip of small cords. There was in those early days, from time to time, a cleansing of the church from pretenders and the unworthy which had a most wholesome effect, not only on the church itself, but also upon the surrounding community. For after the storms which often accompanied the 'turning out' of the faithless, the moral atmosphere of the whole neighborhood would be purified, and even the scoffer would see that church-membership meant something.
"A factor also assisting in the success of which I write was the pure itinerancy of the ministry which then obtained. Without doubt there were heroes and moral giants in those days. The influence of a strong, manly man, possessed by the idea that here he had 'no continuing city,' making no provision for his old age, requiring no contract to secure his support or salary, denying himself the very things the [D176] people were most greedy to obtain, and flaming with a zeal that must soon consume him, must have been abiding and beneficent wherever it was felt.
"No mean part in achieving her commanding position in this country was played by the singing of the old-time Methodists. Serious, sensible words, full of doctrine, joined to tunes that still live and rule, there was in such singing not only a musical attraction, but a theological training whereby the people, uncouth though they might have been, were indoctrinated in the cardinal tenets of the church. The singing of a truth into the soul of child or man puts it there with a much more abiding power than can be found in any Kindergarten or Quincy method of instruction. Thus, without debate, doctrines were fixed in the minds of children or of converts so that no subsequent controversy could shake them. It remains now to show that
"Let me not assume the role of boaster, but rather be the annalist of open facts, a reciter of recent history. So far as the standard of doctrine is concerned, there is no change in the position held by the church, but the tone and spirit which obtain in almost all her affairs show at once the presence of modern progress and light-giving innovations. The temper and complexion of this mighty church have so far changed that all who are interested in the religious welfare of America must study that change with no common concern.
"The doctrine of the new birth—'Ye must be born again'—remains intact, but modern progress has moved the church away from the old-time strictness that prevented many good people from entering her fold, because they could not subscribe to that doctrine, and because they never had what once was called 'experimental religion.' Now Universalists and Unitarians are often found in full fellowship bravely doing their duty.
"The ministry of the present day, polished and cultured as it is in the leading churches, is too well bred to insist on 'holiness,' as the fathers [D177] saw that grace, but preach that broader holiness that thinketh no evil even in a man not wholly sanctified. To espouse this doctrine as it was in the old narrow way would make one not altogether agreeable in the Chautauqua circles and Epworth leagues of the present.
"The old-time, simple service still lingers among the rural populations, but in those cultured circles, where correct tastes in music, art and literature obtain—among the city churches—in many instances an elaborate and elegant ritual takes the place of the voluntary and impetuous praying and shouting which once characterized the fathers. To challenge the desirability of this change is to question the superiority of culture to the uncouth and ill-bred.
"When the church was in an experimental stage, it possibly might have been wise to be as strict as her leaders then were. There was little to be lost then. But now wise, discreet and prudent men refuse to hazard the welfare of a wealthy and influential church by a bigoted administration of the law, such as will offend the rich and intellectual. If the people are not flexible, the gospel surely is. The church was made to save men, not to turn them out and discourage them. So our broader and modern ideas have crowded out and overgrown the contracted and egotistical notion that we are better than other people, who should be excluded from our fellowship.
"The love-feast, with its dogmatic prejudices, and the class-meeting, which was to many minds almost as bad as the confessional, have been largely abandoned for Epworth Leagues and Endeavor Societies.
"The present cultured ministry, more than ever in the history of the church, conforms to the Master's injunction to be 'wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' Who among them would have the folly of the old-time preachers to tell his richest official member who is rolling in luxury to sell all for God and humanity and take up his cross and follow Christ ? He might go away sorrowing—the minister, I mean.
"While evolution is the law, and progress the watchword, rashness and radicalism are ever to be deplored, and the modern Methodist minister is seldom guilty of either. The rude, rough preacher who used to accuse the God of love of being wrathful has stepped down and out to give place to [D178] his successor, who is careful in style, elegant in diction, and whose thoughts, emotions and sentiments are poetical and inoffensive.
"The 'time limit,' whereby a minister may remain in one charge five years, will be abandoned at the next General Conference in 1896. In the beginning he could serve one charge but six months; the time was afterward extended to one year, then to two years, then to three, and lately to five. But the ruling, cultured circles of the church see that if her social success and standing are to compare favorably with other churches, her pastorate must be fixed so that her strong preachers may become the centers of social and literary circles. For it must be remembered that the preacher's business is not now as it often was—to hold protracted meetings and be an evangelist. No one sees this more clearly than the preachers themselves. Great revivalists used to be the desirable preachers sought after by the churches, and at the annual conferences the preachers were wont to report the number of conversions during the year. Now, however, a less enthusiastic and eccentric idea rules people and priest alike. The greater churches desire those ministers that can feed the aesthetic nature, that can parry the blows of modern skepticism and attract the intellectual and polished, while at the annual conference the emphasized thing in the report of the preacher is his missionary collection. The modern Methodist preacher is an excellent collector of money, thereby entering the very heart of his people as he could not by any old-fashioned exhortation or appeal.
"How great the lesson that has been so well learned by these leaders of Christian thought; viz., that the gospel should never offend the cultured and polite taste. To a church that can so flexibly conform to the times the gates of the future open wide with a cheery greeting. What more fitting motto can be found for her than the herald angels sang: 'Peace on earth, good will to men.' Rev. Chas. A. Crane."
The following, by Bishop R. S. Foster, of the M. E. Church, we clip from the Gospel Trumpet. It bears the same testimony, though in different language; a little too plainly perhaps for some, as the bishop has since been retired against his wish and despite his tears.
"The church of God is today courting the world. Its members are trying to bring it down to the level of the ungodly. The ball, the theater, nude and lewd art, social luxuries, with all their loose moralities, are making inroads into the secret enclosure of the church; and as a satisfaction for all this worldliness, Christians are making a great deal of Lent and Easter and Good Friday and church ornamentations. It is the old trick of Satan. The Jewish church struck on that rock; the Romish church was wrecked on the same, and the Protestant church is fast reaching the same doom.
"Our great dangers, as we see them, are assimilation to the world, neglect of the poor, substitution of the form for the fact of godliness, abandonment of discipline, a hireling ministry, an impure gospel—which, summed up, is a fashionable church. That Methodists should be liable to such an outcome and that there should be signs of it in a hundred years from the 'sail loft' seems almost the miracle of history; but who that looks about him today can fail to see the fact?
"Do not Methodists, in violation of God's Word and their own discipline, dress as extravagantly and as fashionably as any other class? Do not the ladies, and often the wives and daughters of the ministry, put on 'gold and pearls and costly array?' Would not the plain dress insisted upon by John Wesley, Bishop Asbury, and worn by Hester Ann Rogers, Lady Huntington, and many others equally distinguished, be now regarded in Methodist circles as fanaticism? Can any one going into the Methodist church in any of our chief cities distinguish the attire of the communicants from that of the theater or ball goers? Is not worldliness seen in the music? Elaborately dressed and ornamented choirs, who in many cases make no profession of religion and are often sneering skeptics, go through a cold artistic or operatic performance, which is as much in harmony with spiritual worship as an opera or theater. Under such worldly performance spirituality is frozen to death.
"Formerly every Methodist attended 'class' and gave testimony of experimental religion. Now the class meeting is [D180] attended by very few, and in many churches it is abandoned. Seldom do the stewards, trustees and leaders of the church attend class. Formerly nearly every Methodist prayed, testified or exhorted in prayer meeting. Now but very few are heard. Formerly shouts and praises were heard: now such demonstrations of holy enthusiasm and joy are regarded as fanaticism.
"How true that the Methodist discipline is a dead letter. Its rules forbid the wearing of gold or pearls or costly array; yet no one ever thinks of disciplining its members for violating them. They forbid the reading of such books and the taking of such diversions as do not minister to godliness, yet the church itself goes to shows and frolics and festivals and fairs, which destroy the spiritual life of the young as well as the old. The extent to which this is now carried on is appalling.
"The early Methodist ministers went forth to sacrifice and suffer for Christ. They sought not places of affluence and ease, but of privation and suffering. They gloried not in their big salaries, fine parsonages and refined congregations, but in the souls that had been won for Jesus. Oh, how changed! A hireling ministry will be a feeble, timid, truckling, time-serving ministry, without faith, endurance and holy power. Methodism formerly dealt in the great central truth. Now the pulpits deal largely in generalities and in popular lectures. The glorious doctrine of entire sanctification is rarely heard and seldom witnessed in the pulpits."
While special efforts are being made to enlist the sympathies and cooperation of the young people of the churches in the interests of religious union, by bringing them together socially and avoiding religious controversy and doctrinal teaching, still more direct efforts are being made to bring the adult membership into sympathy with the union movement. For this the leaders in all denominations are scheming and working; and many minor efforts culminated [D181] in the great Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in the summer of 1893. The object of the Parliament was very definite in the minds of the leaders, and found very definite expression; but the masses of the church membership followed the leaders seemingly without the least consideration of the principle involved—that it was a grand compromise of Christianity with everything unchristian. And now that there is a projected extension of the movement for a universal federation of all religious bodies, proposed to be held in the year 1913, and in view of the fact that Christian Union is being actively pushed along this line of compromise, let those who desire to remain loyal to God mark well the expressed principles of these religious leaders.
Rev. J. H. Barrows, D. D., the leading spirit of the (Chicago) World's Parliament of Religions, while engaged in promoting its extension, was reported by a San Francisco journal as having expressed himself to its representative with reference to his special work of bringing about religious unity, as follows:
"The union of the religions," he said in brief, "will come about in one of two ways. First, those churches which are most nearly on common ground of faith and doctrine must unite—the various branches of Methodism and Presbyterianism, for instance. Then when the sects are united among themselves Protestantism in general will draw together. In the progress of education Catholics and Protestants will discover that the differences between them are not really cardinal, and will broach reunion. This accomplished, the union with other different religions [that is, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Brahminism, Confucianism, etc.—heathen religions] is only a question of time.
"Second—The religions and churches may join in civil unity on an ethical basis, as advocated by Mr. Stead [a Titanic victim, a Spiritualist]. The religious organizations have common interests and common duties in the communities in which they exist, and it is possible that they will federate for the promotion and accomplishment of these [D182] ends. I, myself, am disposed to look for the union to come through the first process. However that may be, the congresses of religion are beginning to take shape. Rev. Theo. E. Seward reports a greatly augmented success of his 'Brotherhood of Christian Unity' in New York, while very recently there has been organized in Chicago, under the leadership of C. C. Bonney, a large and vigorous 'Association for the Promotion of Religious Unity.'"
"Never since the confusion at Babel have so many religions, so many creeds, stood side by side, hand in hand, and almost heart to heart, as in that great amphitheater last night. Never since written history began has varied mankind been so bound about with Love's golden chain. The nations of the earth, the creeds of Christendom, Buddhist and Baptist, Mohammedan and Methodist, Catholic and Confucian, Brahmin and Unitarian, Shinto and Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Pantheist, Monotheist and Polytheist, representing all shades of thought and conditions of men, have at last met together in the common bonds of sympathy, humanity and respect."
How significant is the fact that the mind of even this enthusiastic approver of the great Parliament should be carried away back to the memorable confusion of tongues at Babel! Was it not, indeed, that instinctively he recognized in the Parliament a remarkable antitype?
The Rev. Barrows, above quoted, spoke enthusiastically of the friendly relations manifested among Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis and, in fact, the leaders of all religions extant, by their correspondence in reference to the great Chicago Parliament. He said:
"The old idea, that the religion to which I belong is the only true one, is out of date. There is something to be [D183] learned from all religions, and no man is worthy of the religion he represents unless he is willing to grasp any man by the hand as his brother. Some one has said that the time is now ripe for the best religion to come to the front. The time for a man to put on any airs of superiority about his particular religion is past. Here will meet the wise man, the scholar and the prince of the East in friendly relation with the archbishop, the rabbi, the missionary, the preacher and the priest. They will sit together in congress for the first time. This, it is hoped, will help to break down the barriers of creed."
"This first Parliament of Religions seems to be the harbinger of a still larger fraternity—a fraternity that will combine into one world-religion what is best, not in one alone, but in all of the great historic faiths. It may be that, under the guidance of this larger hope, we shall need to revise our phraseology and speak more of Religious unity, than of Christian unity. I rejoice that all the great cults are to be brought into touch with each other, and that Jesus will take his place in the companionship of Gautama, Confucius and Zoroaster."
"We cannot make out exactly what the Parliament proposes to accomplish....It is possible, however, that the Chicago scheme is to get up some sort of a new and compound religion, which shall include and satisfy every variety of religious and irreligious opinion. It is a big job to get up a new and eclectic religion satisfactory all around; but Chicago is confident."
It would indeed be strange if the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world would suddenly prove to be in harmony, that those filled with the opposite spirits should see eye to eye. But such is not the case. It is still true that the spirit of the world is enmity to God (James 4:4); that its theories and philosophies are vain and foolish; and that the one divine revelation contained in the inspired Scriptures of the apostles and prophets is the only divinely inspired truth.
One of the stated objects of the Parliament, according to its president, Mr. Bonney, was to bring together the world's religions in an assembly "in which their common aims and common grounds of union may be set forth, and the marvelous religious progress of the nineteenth century be reviewed."
The real and only object of that review evidently was to answer the inquiring spirit of these times—of this judgment hour—to make as good a showing as possible of the church's progress, and to inspire the hope that, after all the seeming failure of Christianity, the church is just on the eve of a mighty victory; that soon, very soon, her claimed mission will be accomplished in the world's conversion. Now mark how she proposes to do it, and observe that it is to be done, not by the spirit of truth and righteousness, but by the spirit of compromise, of hypocrisy and deceit. The stated object of the Parliament was fraternization and religious union; and anxiety to secure it on any terms was prominently manifest. They were even willing, as above stated, to revise their phraseology to accommodate the heathen religionists, and call it religious unity, dropping the obnoxious name Christian, and quite contented to have Jesus step down from his superiority and take his place humbly by the side of the heathen sages, Gautama, Confucius and Zoroaster. The spirit of doubt and perplexity, and of compromise and general faithlessness, on the part of Protestant Christians, and the spirit of boastfulness and of counsel and authority on the part of Roman Catholics and all other religionists, were the most prominent features of the great Parliament. Its first session was opened with the prayer of a Roman Catholic—Cardinal Gibbons—and its last session was closed with the benediction of a Roman Catholic—Bishop Keane. And during the last session a Shinto priest of Japan invoked [D185] upon the motley assembly the blessing of eight million deities.
Rev. Barrows had for two years previous been in correspondence with the representative heathen of other lands, sending the Macedonian cry around the world to all its heathen priests and apostles, to "Come over and help us!" That the call should thus issue representatively from the Presbyterian church, which for several years past had been undergoing a fiery ordeal of judgment, was also a fact significant of the confusion and unrest which prevail in that denomination, and in all Christendom. And all Christendom was ready for the great convocation.
For seventeen days representative Christians of all denominations, sat together in counsel with the representatives of all the various heathen religions, who were repeatedly referred to in a complimentary way by the Christian orators as "wise men from the east "—borrowing the expression from the Scriptures, where it was applied to a very different class—to a few devout believers in the God of Israel and in the prophets of Israel who foretold the advent of Jehovah's Anointed, and who were patiently waiting and watching for his coming, and giving no heed to the seducing spirits of worldly wisdom which knew not God. To such truly wise ones, humble though they were, God revealed his blessed message of peace and hope.
The theme announced for the last day of the Parliament was "The Religious Union of the Whole Human Family "; when would be considered "The elements of perfect religion as recognized and set forth in the different faiths," with a view to determining "the characteristics of the ultimate religion" and "the center of the coming religious unity of mankind."
Is it possible that thus, by their own confession, Christian (?) ministers are unable, at this late day, to determine what [D186] should be the center of religious unity, or the characteristics of perfect religion? Are they indeed so anxious for a "world-religion" that they are willing to sacrifice any or all of the principles of true Christianity, and even the name "Christian," if necessary, to obtain it? Even so, they confess. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked and slothful servant," saith the Lord. The preceding days of the conference were devoted to the setting forth of the various religions by their respective representatives.
The scheme was a bold and hazardous one, but it should have opened the eyes of every true child of God to several facts that were very manifest; namely: (1) that the nominal Christian church has reached its last extremity of hope in its ability to stand, under the searching judgments of this day when "the Lord hath a controversy with his people," nominal spiritual Israel (Micah 6:1,2); (2) that instead of repenting of their backslidings and lack of faith and zeal and godliness, and thus seeking a return of divine favor, they are endeavoring, by a certain kind of union and cooperation, to support one another, and to call in the aid of the heathen world to help them to withstand the judgments of the Lord in exposing the errors of their human creeds and their misrepresentations of his worthy character; (3) that they are willing to compromise Christ and his gospel, for the sake of gaining the friendship of the world and its emoluments of power and influence; (4) that their blindness is such that they are unable to distinguish truth from error, or the spirit of the truth from the spirit of the world; and (5) that they have already lost sight of the doctrines of Christ.
Doubtless temporary aid will come from the sources whence it is so enthusiastically sought; but it will be only a preparatory step which will involve the whole world in the impending doom of Babylon, causing the kings and merchants [D187] and traders of the whole earth to mourn and lament for this great city. Rev. 18:9,11,17-19
In viewing the proceedings of the great Parliament our attention is forcibly drawn to several remarkable features: (1) To the doubting and compromising spirit and attitude of nominal Christianity, with the exceptions of the Roman and Greek Catholic Churches. (2) To the confident and assertive attitude of Catholicism and of all other religions. (3) To the clean-cut distinctions, observed by the heathen sages, between the Christianity taught in the Bible, and that taught by the Christian missionaries of the various sects of Christendom, who, along with the Bible, carried their unreasonable and conflicting creeds to foreign lands. (4) To the heathen estimate of missionary effort, and its future prospects in their lands. (5) To the influence of the Bible upon many in foreign lands, notwithstanding its misinterpretations by those who carried it abroad. (6) To the present influence and probable results of the great Parliament. (7) To its general aspect as viewed from the prophetic standpoint.
The great religious Parliament was called together by Christians—Protestant Christians; it was held in a professedly Protestant Christian land; and was under the leading and direction of Protestant Christians, so that Protestants may be considered as responsible for all its proceedings. Be it observed, then, that the present spirit of Protestantism is that of compromise and faithlessness. This Parliament was willing to compromise Christ and his gospel for the sake of the friendship of antichrist and heathendom. It gave the honors of both opening and closing its deliberations to representatives of papacy. And it is noteworthy that, while the faiths of the various heathen nations were elaborately set [D188] forth by their representatives, there was no systematic presentation of Christianity in any of its phases, although various themes were discoursed upon by Christians. How strange it seems that such an opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ to representative, intelligent and influential heathen should be overlooked and ignored by such an assemblage! Were the professed representatives of Christ's gospel ashamed of the gospel of Christ? (Rom. 1:16) In the discourses Roman Catholics had by far the largest showing, being represented no less than sixteen times in the sessions of the Parliament.
And not only so, but there were those there, professing Christianity, who earnestly busied themselves in tearing down its fundamental doctrines—who told the representative heathen of their doubts as to the inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures; that the Bible accounts must be received with a large degree of allowance for fallibility; and that their teachings must be supplemented with human reason and philosophy, and only accepted to the extent that they accord with these. There were those there, professing to be Orthodox Christians, who repudiated the doctrine of the ransom, which is the only foundation of true Christian faith, others, denying the fall of man, proclaimed the opposite theory of evolution—that man never was created perfect, that he never fell, and that consequently he needed no redeemer; that since his creation in some very low condition, far removed from the "Image of God," he has been gradually coming up, and is still in the process of an evolution whose law is the survival of the fittest. And this, the very opposite of the Bible doctrine of ransom and restitution, was the most popular view.
Below we give a few brief extracts indicating the compromising spirit of Protestant Christianity, both in its attitude towards that great antichristian system, the Church of [D189] Rome, and also towards the non-Christian faiths.
Hear Dr. Chas. A. Briggs, Professor in a Presbyterian Theological Seminary, declaim against the sacred Scriptures. The gentleman was introduced by the President, Dr. Barrows, as "one whose learning, courage and faithfulness to his convictions have given him a high place in the church universal," and was received with loud applause. He said:
"All that we can claim for the Bible is inspiration and accuracy for that which suggests the religious lessons to be imparted. God is true, he cannot lie; he cannot mislead or deceive his creatures. But when the infinite God speaks to finite man, must he speak words which are not error? [How absurd the question! If God does not speak the truth, then of course he is not true.] This depends not only upon God's speaking, but on man's hearing, and also on the means of communication between God and man. It is necessary to show the capacity of man to receive the word, before we can be sure that he transmitted it correctly. [This "learned and reverend" (?) theological professor should bear in mind that God was able to choose proper instruments for conveying his truth, as well as to express it to them; and that he did so is very manifest to every sincere student of his Word. Such an argument to undermine the validity of the Sacred Scriptures is a mere subterfuge, and was an insult to the intelligence of an enlightened audience.] The inspiration of the holy Scriptures does not carry with it inerrancy in every particular."
"Christ is more than a Judean slain on Calvary. Christ is humanity as it is evolving under the power and grace of God, and any book touched by the inspiration of this fact [not that Jesus was the anointed Son of God, but that the evolved humanity as a whole constitute the Christ, the Anointed] belongs to Christian literature."
"Literature with few exceptions—all inspired literature—stands squarely upon humanity and insists upon it on ethical grounds and for ethical ends, and this is essential Christianity....A theology that insists on a transcendent God, who sits above the world and spins the thread of its affairs, does not command the assent of those minds which express themselves in literature; the poet, the man of genius, the broad and universal thinker pass it by; they stand too near God to be deceived by such renderings of his truth."
"I would that we might all confess that a sincere worship, anywhere and everywhere in the world, is a true worship....The unwritten but dominant creed of this hour I assume to be that, whatever worshiper in all the world bends before The Best he knows, and walks true to the purest light that shines for him, has access to the highest blessings of heaven."
He surely did strike the keynote of the present dominant religious sentiment; but did the Apostle Paul so address the worshipers of "The Unknown God" on Mars' Hill? or did Elijah thus defend the priests of Baal? Paul declares that the only access to God is through faith in Christ's sacrifice for our sins; and Peter says, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12; 17:23-31; 1 Kings 18:21,22
Hear the Rev. Lyman Abbot, Editor of the Outlook, and formerly Pastor of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, N. Y., claim for all the church that divine inspiration which, through Christ and the twelve apostles, gave us the New Testament, that the man of God might be thoroughly furnished. (2 Tim. 3:17) He said:
"We do not think that God has spoken only in Palestine, and to the few in that narrow province. We do not think he has been vocal in Christendom and dumb everywhere else. No! we believe that he is a speaking God in all times and in all ages."
But how did he speak to the Prophets of Baal? He has not revealed himself except to his chosen people—to fleshly Israel in the Jewish age, and to spiritual Israel in the Gospel age. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." Amos 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:6-10
"I am in sympathy with every effort by which men may be induced to think together along the lines of their agreement, rather than of their antagonism....The only way to unite is never to mention subjects on which we are irrevocably opposed. Perhaps the chief of these is the historic episcopate, but the fact that he believes in this while I do not, would not hinder that great and good prelate, Archbishop Ireland, from giving his hearty help to me, not as a Protestant woman, but as a temperance worker. The same was true in England of that lamented leader, Cardinal Manning, and is true today of Mgr. Nugent, of Liverpool, a priest of the people, universally revered and loved. A consensus of opinion on the practical outline of the golden rule, declared negatively by Confucius and positively by Christ, will bring us all into one camp."
The doctrine of a vicarious atonement was seldom referred to, and by many was freely set aside as a relic of the past and unworthy of the enlightened nineteenth century. Only a few voices were raised in its defense, and these were not only a very small minority in the Parliament, but their views were evidently at a discount. Rev. Joseph Cook was one of this small minority, and his remarks were afterward criticised and roundly denounced from a Chicago pulpit. In his address Mr. Cook said that the Christian religion was the only true religion, and the acceptance of it the only means of securing happiness after death. Referring for illustration of the efficacy of the atonement to purge even the foulest sins, to one of Shakespeare's characters, he said:
"Here is Lady Macbeth. What religion can wash Lady Macbeth's red right hand? That is the question I propose to the four continents and the isles of the sea. Unless you can answer that you have not come with a serious purpose to the Parliament of Religions. I turn to Mohammedanism. Can you wash her red right hand? I turn to Confucianism and Buddhism. Can you wash her red right hand?"
"In order that we may discover the immorality of the vicarious atonement—this 'look-to-Jesus-and-be-saved' kind of a scheme with which the great Boston orator undertook to browbeat out of countenance the representatives of other faiths and forms of thought at the Parliament—let us study closely the character of the deed, the temper of the woman to whom he promised such swift immunity if she would only 'look on the cross.' This champion of orthodoxy indignantly flung into the faces of the representatives of all the religions of the world the assertion that it is 'impossible in the very nature of things for one to enter into the kingdom of heaven except he be born again' through this Christ atonement, this supernatural vicariousness that washes her red hand white and makes the murderess a saint. All I have to say to such Christianity is this: I am glad I do not believe in it; and I call upon all lovers of morality, all friends of justice, all believers in an infinite God whose will is rectitude, whose providence makes for righteousness, to deny it. Such a 'scheme of salvation' is not only unreasonable but it is immoral. It is demoralizing, it is a delusion and a snare in this world, however it may be in the next....I turn from Calvary if my vision there leaves me selfish enough to ask for a salvation that leaves Prince Siddartha outside of a heaven in which Lady Macbeth or any other red-handed soul is eternally included."
Subsequently an "oriental platform meeting" was held in the same church, when the same reverend (?) gentleman read select sayings from Zoroaster, Moses, Confucius, Buddha, [D193] Socrates and Christ, all tending to show the universality of religion, which was followed by the address of an Armenian Catholic. After this address, said the reporter for the public press:
"Mr. Jones said that he had had the temerity to ask Bishop Keane, of the Catholic University of Washington, if he would attend this meeting and stand on such a radical platform. The Bishop had replied with a smile that he would be in Dubuque or he might be tempted to come. 'I then asked him,' said Mr. Jones, 'if he could suggest any one.' The Bishop replied, 'You must not be in too much of a hurry. We are getting along very fast. It may not be a long time before I shall be able to do so.'*
*However, Rome has since concluded that the Chicago Parliament was neither a credit to her, nor popular with her supporters, and has announced that papists will have nothing to do with such promiscuous Parliaments in the future. And distinct marks of papal disapprobation are not lacking as against those Roman prelates who took so prominent a part in the Chicago Parliament. Protestants may have all the glory!
"'The Roman Catholic Church,' continued Mr. Jones, 'under the leadership of such men as Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop Ireland and Bishop Spalding, is getting along, and these men are forcing the laggards to work. People tell us that we have given up the Parliament of Religions to the Catholics on one hand and the Pagans on the other. We will hear from our Pagan friends now. That word pagan does not have the same meaning as it did, and I thank God for it.'"
Prof. Henry Drummond was on the program of the Parliament for an address on Christianity and Evolution, but, as he failed to arrive, his paper was read by Dr. Bristol. In it he said that a better understanding of the genesis and nature of sin might at least modify some of the attempts made to get rid of it—referring disparagingly to the doctrine of atonement, which his doctrine of Evolution would render null and void.
In the midst of this compromising spirit, so bold and outspoken, it was indeed refreshing to find a very few representatives of Protestant Christianity who had the moral courage, in the face of so much opposition, both latent and expressed, to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; though even these show signs of perplexity, because they do not see the divine plan of the ages and the important relationship of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity to the whole marvelous system of divine truth.
Prof. W. C. Wilkinson, of the Chicago University, spoke on "The Attitude of Christianity toward Other Religions." He directed his hearers to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments for an exposition of Christianity, to the hostile attitude of Christianity toward all other religions, which must of necessity be false if it be true, and to our Lord's exclusive claim of power to save, as manifested in such expressions as:
"It may be answered, 'But Jesus also said, 'I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me'; and we are hence warranted in believing, of many souls involved in alien religions, that, drawn consciously or unconsciously to Jesus, they are saved, notwithstanding the misfortune of their religious environment.
"To this, of course, I agree, I am grateful that such seems indeed to be the teaching of Christianity. [But this hope flows from a generous heart rather than from a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation. Prof. W. did not then see that the drawing of the world to Christ belongs to the Millennial age, that only the drawing of the Church is now in progress, and that knowledge of the Lord, the drawing power now, will be the power then; "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Hab. 2:14] I simply ask to have it borne steadily in mind that it is not at all the extension of the benefits flowing from the exclusive power of Jesus to save, that we are at present discussing, but strictly this question: Does Christianity recognize any share of saving efficacy as inherent in the non-Christian religions? In other words, is it anywhere in Scripture represented that Jesus exerts his saving power, in some degree, greater or less, through religions not his own? If there is any hint, any shadow of hint, in the Bible, Old Testament or New, looking in the direction of an affirmative answer to that question, I confess I never have found it. Hints far from shadowy I have found, and in abundance, to the contrary.
"I feel the need of begging you to observe that what I say in this paper is not to be misunderstood as undertaking on behalf of Christianity to derogate anything whatever from the merit of individual men among the nations, who have risen to great ethical heights without aid from historic Christianity in either its New Testament or its Old Testament form. But it is not of persons, either the mass or the exceptions, that I task myself here to speak. I am leading you to consider only the attitude assumed by Christianity toward the non-Christian religions.
"Let us advance from weighing the immediate utterances of Jesus to take some account of those upon whom, as his representatives, Jesus, according to the New Testament, conferred the right to speak with an authority equal to his own. Speaking of the adherents generally of the Gentile religions, he uses this language: 'Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible [D196] God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.'
"Man, bird, beast, reptile—these four specifications in their ladder of descent seem to indicate every different form of Gentile religion with which Christianity, ancient or modern, came into historic contact. The consequences penally visited by the offended jealous God of Hebrew and of Christian, for such degradation of the innate worshiping instinct, such profanation of the idea, once pure in human hearts, of God the incorruptible, are described by Paul in words whose mordant, flagrant, caustic, branding power has made them famous and familiar: 'Wherefore God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts, unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves; for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.'
"I arrest the quotation unfinished. The remainder of the passage descends into particulars of blame well known, and well known to be truly charged against the ancient pagan world. No hint of exceptions here in favor of points defectively good, or at least not so bad, in the religions condemned; no qualification, no mitigation of sentence suggested. Everywhere heavy shotted, point blank denunciation. No idea submitted of there being in some cases true and acceptable worship hidden away, disguised and unconscious, under false forms. No possibility glanced at of there being a distinction made by some idolaters, if made only by a very few discerning among them, between the idol served and the one incorruptible jealous God as meant by such exceptional idolaters to be merely symbolized in the idol ostensibly worshiped by them. Reserve none on behalf of certain initiated, illuminated souls seeking and finding purer religion in esoteric 'mysteries' that were shut out from the profane vulgar. Christianity leaves no loophole of escape for the judged and reprobate anti-Christian religions with which it comes in contact. It shows instead only indiscriminate damnation [condemnation] leaping out like forked lightning from the glory of his power upon those incorrigibly [D197] guilty of the sin referred to, the sin of worship paid to gods other than God.
"There is no pleasing alleviation anywhere introduced in the way of assurance, or even of possible hope, that a benign God will graciously receive into his ear the ascriptions formally given to another as virtually, though misconceivingly, intended for himself. That idea, whether just or not, is not scriptural. It is indeed, anti-scriptural, therefore anti-Christian. Christianity does not deserve the praise of any such liberality. As concerns the sole, the exclusive, the incommunicable prerogatives of God, Christianity is, let it be frankly admitted, a narrow, a strict, a severe, a jealous religion. Socrates, dying, may have been forgiven his proposal of a cock to be offered in sacrifice to Aesculapius; but Christianity, the Christianity of the Bible, gives us no shadow of reason for supposing that such idolatrous act on his part was translated by God into worship acceptable to himself.
"To fear God first, and then also to work righteousness, these are the traits characterizing ever and everywhere the man acceptable to God. But evidently to fear God is not, in the idea of Christianity, to worship another than he. It will accordingly be in degree as a man escapes the ethnic religion dominant about him, and rises—not by means of it, but in spite of it—into the transcending element of the true divine worship, that he will be acceptable to God.
"Of any ethnic religion, therefore, can it be said that it is a true religion, only not perfect? Christianity says, No. Christianity speaks words of undefined, unlimited hope concerning those, some of those, who shall never have heard of Christ. These words Christians, of course, will hold and cherish according to their inestimable value. But let us not mistake them as intended to bear any relation whatever to the erring religions of mankind. Those religions the Bible nowhere represents as pathetic and partly successful gropings after God. They are one and all represented as groping downward, not groping upward. According to Christianity they hinder, they do not help. Their adherents' hold on [D198] them is like the blind grasping of drowning men on roots and rocks that only tend to keep them to the bottom of the river. The truth that is in the false religion may help, but it will be the truth, not the false religion.
"According to Christianity the false religion exerts all its force to choke and to kill the truth that is in it. Hence the historic degeneration represented in the first chapter of Romans as affecting false religions in general. If they were upward reachings they would grow better and better. If, as Paul teaches, they in fact grow worse and worse, it must be because they are downward reachings.
"The attitude, therefore, of Christianity toward religions other than itself is an attitude of universal, absolute, eternal, unappeasable hostility, while toward all men everywhere, the adherents of the false religions by no means excepted, its attitude is an attitude of grace, mercy, peace for whosoever will [receive it]. How many will be found that will [receive it], is a problem which Christianity leaves unsolved."
"We are brought now to another fundamental truth in Christian teaching—the mysterious doctrine of atonement. Sin is a fact which is indisputable. It is universally recognized and acknowledged. It is its own evidence. It is, moreover, a barrier between man and his God. The divine holiness and sin, with its loathsomeness, its rebellion, its horrid degradation and its hopeless ruin, cannot coalesce in any system of moral government. God cannot tolerate sin or temporize with it or make a place for it in his presence. He cannot parley with it; he must punish it. He cannot treat with it; he must try it at the bar. He cannot overlook it; he must overcome it. He cannot give it a moral status; he must visit it with the condemnation it deserves.
"Atonement is God's marvelous method of vindicating, once for all, before the universe, his eternal attitude toward sin, by the voluntary self-assumption, in the spirit of sacrifice, of its penalty. This he does in the person of Jesus [D199] Christ. The facts of Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection take their place in the realm of veritable history, and the moral value and propitiatory efficacy of his perfect obedience and sacrificial death become a mysterious element of limitless worth in the process of readjusting the relation of the sinner to his God.
"Christ is recognized by God as a substitute. The merit of his obedience and the exalted dignity of his sacrifice are both available to faith. The sinner, humble, penitent, and conscious of unworthiness, accepts Christ as his redeemer, his intercessor, his savior, and simply believes in him, trusting in his assurances and promises, based as they are upon his atoning intervention, and receives from God, as the gift of sovereign love, all the benefits of Christ's mediatorial work. This is God's way of reaching the goal of pardon and reconciliation. It is his way of being himself just and yet accomplishing the justification of the sinner. Here again we have the mystery of wisdom in its most august exemplification.
"This is the heart of the gospel. It throbs with mysterious love; it pulsates with ineffable throes of divine healing; it bears a vital relation to the whole scheme of government; it is in its hidden activities beyond the scrutiny of human reason; but it sends the life-blood coursing through history and it gives to Christianity its superb vitality and its undying vigor. It is because Christianity eliminates sin from the problem that its solution is complete and final.
"Christianity must speak in the name of God. To him it owes its existence, and the deep secret of its dignity and power is that it reveals him. It would be effrontery for it to speak simply upon its own responsibility, or even in the name of reason. It has no philosophy of evolution to propound. It has a message from God to deliver. It is not itself a philosophy; it is a religion. It is not earth-born; it is God-wrought. It comes not from man, but from God, and is intensely alive with his power, alert with his love, benign with his goodness, radiant with his light, charged with his truth, sent with his message, inspired with his energy, pregnant with his wisdom, instinct with the gift of spiritual healing and mighty with supreme authority.
"It has a mission among men, whenever or wherever it [D200] finds them, which is as sublime as creation, as marvelous as spiritual existence and as full of mysterious meaning as eternity. It finds its focus, and as well its radiating center, in the personality of its great revealer and teacher, to whom, before his advent, all the fingers of light pointed, and from whom, since his incarnation, all the brightness of the day has shone.
"Its spirit is full of simple sincerity, exalted dignity and sweet unselfishness. It aims to impart a blessing rather than to challenge a comparison. It is not so anxious to vindicate itself as to confer its benefits. It is not so solicitous to secure supreme honor for itself as to win its way to the heart. It does not seek to taunt, to disparage or humiliate its rival, but rather to subdue by love, attract by its own excellence and supplant by virtue of its own incomparable superiority. It is itself incapable of a spirit of rivalry, because of its own indisputable right to reign. It has no use for a sneer, it can dispense with contempt, it carries no weapon of violence, it is not given to argument, it is incapable of trickery or deceit, and it repudiates cant. It relies ever upon its own intrinsic merit, and bases all its claims on its right to be heard and honored.
"Its miraculous evidence is rather an exception than a rule. It was a sign to help weak faith. It was a concession made in the spirit of condescension. Miracles suggest mercy quite as much as they announce majesty. When we consider the unlimited sources of divine power, and the ease with which signs and wonders might have been multiplied in bewildering variety and impressiveness, we are conscious of a rigid conservation of power and a distinct repudiation of the spectacular. The mystery of Christian history is the sparing way in which Christianity has used its resources. It is a tax upon faith, which is often painfully severe, to note the apparent lack of energy and dash and resistless force in the seemingly slow advances of our holy religion. [It must of necessity be so to those who have not yet come to an understanding of the divine plan of the ages.]
"Doubtless God had his reasons, but in the meantime we cannot but recognize in Christianity a spirit of mysterious reserve, of marvelous patience, of subdued undertone, of [D201] purposeful restraint. It does not 'cry, nor lift up, nor cause its voice to be heard in the street.' Centuries come and go and Christianity touches only portions of the earth, but wherever it touches it transfigures. It seems to despise material adjuncts, and counts only those victories worth having which are won through spiritual contact with the individual soul. Its relation to other religions has been characterized by singular reserve, and its progress has been marked by an unostentatious dignity which is in harmony with the majestic attitude of God, its author.
"We are right, then, in speaking of the spirit of this message as wholly free from the commonplace sentiment of rivalry, entirely above the use of spectacular or meretricious methods, infinitely removed from all mere devices or dramatic effect, wholly free from cant or doublefacedness, with no anxiety for alliance with worldly power or social eclat, caring more for a place of influence in a humble heart than for a seat of power on a royal throne, wholly intent on claiming the loving allegiance of the soul and securing the moral transformation of character, in order that its own spirit and principles may sway the spiritual life of men.
"It speaks, then, to other religions with unqualified frankness and plainness, based on its own incontrovertible claim to a hearing. It acknowledges the undoubted sincerity of personal conviction and the intense earnestness of moral struggle in the case of many serious souls who, like the Athenians of old, 'worship in ignorance'; it warns, and persuades, and commands, as is its right; it speaks as Paul did in the presence of cultured heathenism on Mars' Hill, of that appointed day in which the world must be judged, and of 'that man' by whom it is to be judged; it echoes and re-echoes its invariable and inflexible call to repentance; it requires acceptance of its moral standards; it exacts submission, loyalty, reverence and humility.
"All this it does with a superb and unwavering tone of quiet insistence. It often presses its claim with argument, appeal and tender urgency; yet in it all and through it all should be recognized a clear, resonant, predominant tone of uncompromising insistence, revealing that supreme personal will which originated Christianity, and in whose [D202] name it ever speaks. It delivers its message with an air of untroubled confidence and quiet mastery. There is no anxiety about precedence, no undue care for externals, no possibility of being patronized, no undignified spirit of competition. It speaks, rather, with the consciousness of that simple, natural, incomparable, measureless supremacy which quickly disarms rivalry, and in the end challenges the admiration and compels the submission of hearts free from malice and guile."
"I trust that nobody is here who thinks lightly of his own religion [though he certainly learned to the contrary before the parliament closed. This was said at its beginning.] I for myself declare that I am here as an individual evangelical Christian, and that I should never have set my foot in this Parliament if I thought that it signified anything like a consent that all religions are equal, and that it is only necessary to be sincere and upright. I can consent to nothing of this kind. I believe only the Bible to be true, and Protestant Christianity the only true religion. I wish no compromise of any kind.
"We cannot deny that we who meet in this Parliament are separated by great and important principles. We admit that these differences cannot be bridged over; but we meet, believing everybody has the right to his faith. You invite everybody to come here as a sincere defender of his own faith. I, for my part, stand before you with the same wish that prompted Paul when he stood before the representatives of the Roman Court and Agrippa, the Jewish king. I would to God that all that hear me today were both almost, and altogether, such as I am. I cannot say 'except these bonds.' I thank God I am free; except for all these faults and deficiencies which are in me and which prevent me embracing my creed as I should like to do.
"But what do we then meet for, if we cannot show tolerance? Well, the word tolerance is used in different ways. If the words of King Frederick of Prussia—'In my country everybody can go to heaven after his own fashion'—are used as a maxim of statesmanship, we cannot approve of it too [D203] highly. What bloodshed, what cruelty would have been spared in the world if it had been adopted. But if it is the expression of the religious indifference prevalent during this last century and at the court of the monarch who was the friend of Voltaire, then we must not accept it.
"St. Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, rejects every other doctrine, even if it were taught by an angel from heaven. We Christians are servants of our Master, the living Savior. We have no right to compromise the truth he intrusted to us; either to think lightly of it, or to withhold the message he has given us for humanity. But we meet together, each one wishing to gain the others to his own creed. Will this not be a Parliament of war instead of peace? Will it take us further from, instead of bringing us nearer to, each other? I think not, if we hold fast the truth that our great vital doctrines can only be defended and propagated by spiritual means. An honest fight with spiritual weapons need not estrange the combatants; on the contrary, it often brings them nearer.
"I think this conference will have done enough to engrave its memory forever on the leaves of history if this great principle [religious liberty] finds general adoption. One light is dawning in every heart, and the nineteenth century has brought us much progress in this respect; yet we risk to enter the twentieth century before the great principle of religious liberty has found universal acceptance."
"It seems to me that we should begin this Parliament of Religions, not with a consciousness that we are doing a great thing, but with an humble and lowly confession of sin and failure. Why have not the inhabitants of the world fallen before the truth? The fault is ours. The Apostle Paul, looking back on centuries of marvelous, God-guided history, saw as the key to all its maxims this: that Jehovah had stretched out his hands all day long to a disobedient and gainsaying people; that, although there was always a remnant of the righteous, Israel as a nation did not understand Jehovah, and therefore failed to understand her own marvelous mission.
"If St. Paul were here today would he not utter the same sad confession with regard to the nineteenth century of Christendom? Would he not have to say that we have been proud of our Christianity, instead of allowing our Christianity to humble and crucify us; that we have boasted of Christianity as something we possessed, instead of allowing it to possess us; that we have divorced it from the moral and spiritual order of the world, instead of seeing that it is that which interpenetrates, interprets, completes and verifies that order; and that so we have hidden its glories and obscured its power. All day long our Savior has been saying, 'I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people.' But the only one indispensable condition of success is that we recognize the cause of our failure, that we confess it, with humble, lowly, penitent and obedient minds, and that with quenchless Western courage and faith we now go forth and do otherwise."
Would that these sentiments had found an echo in the great Parliament!—but they did not. On the other hand, it was characterized by great boastfulness as to the "marvelous religious progress of the nineteenth century"; and Count Bernstorff's first impression, that it meant a bold compromise of Christian principles and doctrine, was the correct one, as the subsequent sessions of the Parliament proved.
The confident and assertive attitude of Catholicism and the various heathen religions was in marked contrast with the skepticism of Protestant Christianity. Not a sentence was uttered by any of them against the authority of their sacred books; they praised and commended their religions, while they listened with surprise to the skeptical and infidel discourses of Protestant Christians against the Christian religion and against the Bible, for which even the heathen showed greater respect.
As evidence of the surprise of the foreigners on learning of this state of things among Christians, we quote the following from the published address of one of the delegates from Japan at a great meeting held in Yokohama to welcome their return and to hear their report. The speaker said:
"When we received the invitation to attend the Parliament of Religions, our Buddhist organization would not send us as representatives of the body. The great majority believed that it was a shrewd move on the part of Christians to get us there and then hold us up to ridicule or try to convert us. We accordingly went as individuals. But it was a wonderful surprise which awaited us. Our ideas were all mistaken. The Parliament was called because the Western nations have come to realize the weakness and folly of Christianity, and they really wished to hear from us of our religion, and to learn what the best religion is. There is no better place in the world to propagate the teachings of Buddhism than America. Christianity is merely an adornment of society in America. It is deeply believed by very few. The great majority of Christians drink and commit various gross sins, and live very dissolute lives, although it is a very common belief and serves as a social adornment. Its lack of power proves its weakness. The meetings showed the great superiority of Buddhism over Christianity, and the mere fact of calling the meetings showed that the Americans and other Western people had lost their faith in Christianity and were ready to accept the teachings of our superior religion."
It is no wonder that a Japanese Christian said, at the close of the addresses, "How could American Christians make so great a mistake as to hold such a meeting and injure Christianity as these meetings will do in Japan?"
Those who are posted in history know something of the character of that great antichristian power, the Church of Rome, with which affiliation is so earnestly sought by Protestants; and those who are keeping open eyes on her present operations know that her heart and character are still unchanged. [D206] Those who are at all informed know well that the Greek Catholic Church has supported and approved, if indeed it has not been the instigator of, the Russian persecution of the Jews, "Stundists" and all other Christians who, awaking from the blindness and superstition of the Greek Church, are seeking and finding God and truth through the study of his Word. The persecution incited by the Greek Catholic priests and prosecuted by the police are of the most cruel and revolting nature. But, nevertheless, union and cooperation with both these systems, the Roman and Greek Catholic Churches, is most earnestly sought, as also with all the forms of heathen superstition and ignorance.
Of the gross darkness of the heathenism with which cooperation and sympathy are now craved by Christians, we may gain some idea from the following indignant retort of Dr. Pentecost against the critical tone which some of the foreigners assumed toward Christianity and Christian missions. He said:
"I think it is a pity that anything should tend to degenerate the discussions of this Parliament into a series of criminations and recriminations; nevertheless, we Christians have been sitting patiently and listening to a series of criticisms upon the results of Christianity from certain representatives of the Eastern religions. For instance, the slums of Chicago and New York, the nameless wickedness palpable to the eye even of the strangers who are our guests; the licentiousness, the drunkenness, the brawls, the murders, and the crimes of the criminal classes have been scored up against us. The shortcomings of Congress and government both in England and America have been charged to Christianity. The opium trade, the rum traffic, the breach of treaties, the inhuman and barbarous laws against the Chinaman, etc., have all been charged upon the Christian [D207] church. [But if Christians claim that these are Christian nations, can they reasonably blame these heathen representatives for thinking and judging them accordingly?]
"It seems almost needless to say that all these things, the immoralities, drunkenness, crimes, unbrotherliness, and the selfish greed of these various destructive traffics which have been carried from our countries to the Orient lie outside the pale of Christianity. [No, not if these are Christian nations. In making this claim, the church is chargeable with the sins of the nations, and they are justly charged against her.] The Church of Christ is laboring night and day to correct and abolish these crimes. The unanimous voice of the Christian Church condemns the opium traffic, the liquor traffic, the Chinese acts of oppression, and all forms of vice and greed of which our friends from the East complain.
"We are willing to be criticized; but when I recall the fact that these criticisms are in part from gentlemen who represent a system of religion whose temples, manned by the highest casts of Brahmanical priesthood, are the authorized and appointed cloisters of a system of immorality and debauchery the parallel of which is not known in any Western country, I feel that silence gives consent. I could take you to ten thousand temples, more or less—more rather than less—in every part of India, to which are attached from two to four hundred priestesses, whose lives are not all they should be.
"I have seen this with my own eyes, and nobody denies it in India. If you talk to the Brahmans about it, they will say it is a part of their system for the common people. Bear in mind this system is the authorized institution of the Hindoo religion. One needs only to look at the abominable carvings upon the temples, both of the Hindoos and Buddhists, the hideous symbols of the ancient Phallic systems, which are the most popular objects worshiped in India, to be impressed with the corruption of the religions. Bear in mind, these are not only tolerated, but instituted, directed and controlled by the priests of religion. Only the shameless paintings and portraiture of ancient Pompeii equal in obscenity the things that are openly seen in and about the entrances to the temples of India.
"It seems a little hard that we should bear the criticism which these representatives of Hindooism make upon the godless portion of Western countries, when they are living in such enormous glass houses as these, every one of them erected, protected and defended by the leaders of their own religion.
"We have heard a good deal about the 'fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man,' as being one of the essential doctrines of the religions of the East. As a matter of fact, I have never been able to find—and I have challenged the production all over India—a single text in any of the Hindoo sacred literature that justifies or even suggests the doctrine of the 'fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.' This is a pure plagiarism from Christianity. We rejoice that they have adopted and incorporated it. How can a Brahman, who looks upon all low-caste men, and especially upon the poor pariahs, with a spirit of loathing, and regards them as a different order of beings, sprung from monkeys and devils, presume to tell us that he believes in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man? If a Brahman believes in the brotherhood of man, why will he refuse the social amenities and common hospitalities to men of other castes, as well as to his Western brethren, whom he so beautifully enfolds in the condescending arms of his newly found doctrine of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man?
"If there is any brotherhood of man in India the most careless observer need not hesitate to say that there is no sisterhood recognized by them. Let the nameless horrors of which the Hindoo women of India are the subjects answer to this statement.
"Until the English government put down with a strong hand the ancient religious Hindoo institution of Suttee, hundreds of Hindoo widows every year gladly flew to the funeral pyres of their dead husbands, thus embracing the flames that burned their bodies rather than to deliver themselves to the nameless horrors and living hell of Hindoo widowhood. Let our Hindoo friends tell us what their religion has done for the Hindoo widow, and especially the child widow, with her head shaved like a criminal, stripped [D209] of her ornaments, clothed in rags, reduced to a position of slavery worse than we can conceive, made the common drudge and scavenger of the family, and not infrequently put to even worse and nameless uses. To this state and condition the poor widow is reduced under the sanction of Hindooism. Only two years ago the British government was appealed to to pass a new and stringent law 'raising the age of consent' to twelve years, at which it was lawful for the Hindoo to consummate the marriage relation with his child wife. The Christian hospitals, filled with abused little girls barely out of their babyhood, became so outrageous a fact that the government had to step in and stop these crimes, which were perpetrated in the name of religion. So great was the excitement in India over this that it was feared that a religious revolution which would almost lead to a new mutiny was imminent.
"We have been criticized by our Oriental friends for judging with an ignorant and prejudiced judgment, because at a recent challenge in the early part of this Parliament only five persons were able to say that they had read the Bible of Buddha; so it was taken for granted that our judgment was ignorant and unjust. The same challenge might have been made in Burmah or Ceylon, and outside of the priesthood it is almost fair to say that not so many would have been able to say they had read their own Scriptures. The Badas of the Hindoos are objects of worship. None but a Brahman may teach, much less read them. Before the Christian missionary went to India, the Sanskrit was practically a dead language. If the Indian Scriptures have at least been translated into the vernacular or given to the Western nations, it is because the Christian missionary and Western scholars have rediscovered them, unearthed them, translated them and brought them forth to the light of day. The amount of the Sanskrit Scriptures known by the ordinary Indian who has secured a Western education is only those portions which have been translated into English or the vernacular by European or Western scholars. The common people, ninety-nine one-hundredths of all, know only tradition. Let us contrast this dead exclusiveness on the part of these Indian religions with the fact that the [D210] Christian has translated his Bible into more than three hundred languages and dialects, and has sent it broadcast by hundreds of millions among all the nations and tongues and peoples of the earth. We court the light, but it would seem that the Bibles of the East love the darkness rather than light, because they will not bear the light of universal publication.
"The new and better Hindooism of today is a development under the influence of a Christian environment, but it has not yet attained to that ethical standard which gives it right to read the Christian Church a lesson in morals. Until India purges her temples of worse than Augean filth, and her pundits and priests disown and denounce the awful acts and deeds done in the name of religion, let her be modest in proclaiming morals to other nations and people."
While Christendom stood representatively before the representative heathen world, boastful of its religious progress, and knowing not that it was "poor and blind and miserable and naked" (Rev. 3:17), the contrast of an evident feeling after God on the part of some in heathen lands was very marked; and the keenness with which they perceived and indirectly criticized the inconsistencies of Christians is worthy of special note.
In two able addresses by representative Hindoos, we have set before us a remarkable movement in India which gives some idea of the darkness of heathen lands, and also of the influence of our Bible, which the missionaries carried there. The Bible has been doing a work which the conflicting creeds that accompanied it, and claimed to interpret it, have hindered, but have not destroyed. From Japan also we hear of similar conditions. Below we append extracts from three addresses remarkable for their evident sincerity, thought and clear expression, and showing the very serious attitude of heathen reformers who are feeling after God, if haply they might find him.
Mr. Mozoomdar addressed the assembly as follows: MR. PRESIDENT, REPRESENTATIVES OF NATIONS AND RELIGIONS: The Brahmo-Somaj of India, which I have the honor to represent, is a new society; our religion is a new religion, but it comes from far, far antiquity, from the very roots of our national life, hundreds of centuries ago.
"Sixty-three years ago the whole land of India was full of a mighty clamor. The great jarring noise of a heterogeneous polytheism rent the stillness of the sky. The cry of widows; nay, far more lamentable, the cry of those miserable women who had to be burned on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands, desecrated the holiness of God's earth. We had the Buddhist goddess of the country, the mother of the people, ten handed, holding in each hand the weapons for the defense of her children. We had the white goddess of learning, playing on her Vena, a stringed instrument of music, the strings of wisdom. The goddess of good fortune, holding in her arms, not the horn, but the basket of plenty, blessing the nations of India, was there; and the god with the head of an elephant; and the god who rides on a peacock, and the thirty-three millions of gods and goddesses besides. I have my theory about the mythology of Hindooism, but this is not the time to take it up.
"Amid the din and clash of this polytheism and social evil, amid all the darkness of the times, there arose a man, a Brahman, pure bred and pure born, whose name was Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Before he became a man he wrote a book proving the falsehood of all polytheism and the truth of the existence of the living God. This brought upon his head persecution. In 1830 this man founded a society known as the Brahmo-Somaj—the society of the worshipers of the one living God.
"In the course of time, as the movement grew, the members began to doubt whether the Hindoo Scriptures were really infallible. In their souls they thought they heard a voice which here and there, at first in feeble accents, contradicted [D212] the Vedas and the Upanishads. What shall be our theological principles? Upon what principles shall our religion stand? The small accents in which the question first was asked became louder and louder, and were more and more echoed in the rising religious society, until it became the most practical of all problems—upon what book shall all true religion stand?
"Briefly they found that it was impossible that the Hindoo Scriptures should be the only record of true religion. They found that although there were truths in the Hindoo Scriptures, they could not recognize them as the only infallible standard of spiritual reality. So twenty-one years after the founding of the Brahmo-Somaj the doctrine of the infallibility of the Hindoo Scriptures was given up.
"Then a further question came. Are there not other scriptures also? Did I not tell you the other day, that on the imperial throne of India Christianity now sat with the Gospel of Peace in one hand and the scepter of civilization in the other? The Bible has penetrated into India. The Bible is the book which mankind shall not ignore. Recognizing therefore, on the one hand, the great inspiration of the Hindoo scriptures, we could not but on the other hand recognize the inspiration and the authority of the Bible. And in 1861 we published a book in which extracts from all scriptures were given as the book which was to be read in the course of our devotions. It was not the Christian missionary that drew our attention to the Bible; it was not the Mohammedan priests who showed us the excellent passages in the Koran; it was no Zoroastrian who preached to us the greatness of his Zend-Avesta; but there was in our hearts the God of infinite reality, the source of inspiration of all the books, of the Bible, of the Koran, of the Zend-Avesta, who drew our attention to the excellencies as revealed in the record of holy experience everywhere. By his leading and by his light it was that we recognized these facts, and upon the rock of everlasting and eternal reality our theological basis was laid.
"Was it theology without morality? What is the inspiration of this book or the authority of that prophet without personal holiness—the cleanliness of this God-made [D213] temple? Soon after we had got through our theology, the fact stared us in the face that we were not good men, pure minded, holy men, and that there were innumerable evils about us, in our houses, in our national usages, in the organization of our society. The Brahmo-Somaj, therefore, next turned its hand to the reformation of society. In 1851 the first intermarriage was celebrated. Intermarriage in India means the marriage of persons belonging to different castes. Caste is a sort of Chinese wall that surrounds every household and every little community, and beyond the limits of which no audacious man or woman shall stray. In the Brahmo-Somaj we asked, 'Shall this Chinese wall disgrace the freedom of God's children forever?' No! Break it down; down with it, and away.
"Next, my honored leader and friend, Keshub Chunder Sen, so arranged that marriage between different castes should take place. The Brahmans were offended. Wise-acres shook their heads; even leaders of the Brahmo-Somaj shrugged up their shoulders and put their hands in their pockets. 'These young firebrands,' they said, 'are going to set fire to the whole of society.' But intermarriage took place, and widow-marriage took place.
"Do you know what the widows of India are? A little girl of ten or twelve years happens to lose her husband before she knows his features very well, and from that tender age to her dying day she shall go through penances and austerities and miseries and loneliness and disgrace which you tremble to hear of. I do not approve of or understand the conduct of a woman who marries a first time and then a second time and then a third time and a fourth time—who marries as many times as there are seasons in the year. I do not understand the conduct of such men and women. But I think that when a little child of eleven loses what men call her husband, to put her to the wretchedness of a lifelong widowhood and inflict upon her miseries which would disgrace a criminal, is a piece of inhumanity which cannot too soon be done away with. Hence, intermarriages and widow marriages. Our hands were thus laid upon the problem of social and domestic improvement, and the result of that was that very soon a rupture took place in the Brahmo-Somaj. [D214] We young men had to go—we, with all our social reform—and shift for ourselves as we best might. When these social reforms were partially completed, there came another question.
"We had married the widow; we had prevented the burning of widows; what about our personal purity, the sanctification of our own consciences, the regeneration of our own souls? What about our acceptance before the awful tribunal of the God of infinite justice? Social reform and the doing of public good is itself only legitimate when it develops into the all-embracing principle of personal purity and the holiness of the soul.
"My friends, I am often afraid, I confess, when I contemplate the condition of European and American society, where your activities are so manifold, your work is so extensive that you are drowned in it, and you have little time to consider the great questions of regeneration, of personal sanctification, of trial and judgment and of acceptance before God. That is the question of all questions.
"After the end of the work of our social reform, we were therefore led into the great subject, How shall this unregenerate nature be regenerated; this defiled temple, what waters shall wash it into a new and pure condition? All these motives and desires and evil impulses, the animal inspirations, what will put an end to them all, and make man what he was, the immaculate child of God, as Christ was, as all regenerated men were? Theological principle first, moral principle next; and in the third place the spiritual of the Brahmo-Somaj—devotions, repentance, prayer, praise, faith; throwing ourselves entirely and absolutely upon the spirit of God and upon his saving love.
[This heathen philosopher sees to only a partial extent what sin is, as is indicated by his expression, "an immaculate child of God...as all regenerated men were." He does not see that even the best of the fallen race are far from being actually spotless, immaculate, perfect; hence that they all need the merit of Christ's perfection and sin-sacrifice to justify them. He speaks of prayers, faith, etc., and the mercy of God, but he has not yet learned that justice is the foundation [D215] underlying all of God's dealings; and that only through the merit of Christ's sacrifice can God be just, and yet the justifier of sinners believing in Christ, and thus covered by his great atonement for sin, made eighteen centuries ago—once for all—to be testified to all in due time.]
"Moral aspirations do not mean holiness; a desire to be good, does not mean to be good. The bullock that carries on his back hundredweights of sugar does not taste a grain of sweetness because of his unbearable load. And all our aspirations, and all our fine wishes, and all our fine dreams, and fine sermons, either hearing or speaking them—going to sleep over them or listening to them intently—these will never make life perfect. Devotion only, prayer, direct perception of God's spirit, communion with him, absolute self-abasement before his majesty, devotional fervor, devotional excitement, spiritual absorption, living and moving in God—that is the secret of personal holiness. And in the third stage of our career, therefore, spiritual excitement, long devotions, intense fervor, contemplation, endless self-abasement, not merely before God but before man, became the rule of our lives. God is unseen; it does not harm anybody or make him appear less respectable if he says to God: 'I am a sinner; forgive me.' But to make your confessions before man, to abase yourselves before your brothers and sisters, to take the dust off the feet of holy men, to feel that you are a miserable, wretched object in God's holy congregation—that requires a little self humiliation, a little moral courage.
"Christianity declares the glory of God; Hindooism speaks about his infinite and eternal excellence; Mohammedanism, with fire and sword, proves the almightiness of his will; Buddhism says how peaceful and joyful he is. He is the God of all religions, of all denominations, of all lands, of all scriptures, and our progress lay in harmonizing these various systems, these various prophecies and developments into one great system. Hence the new sytem of religion in the Brahmo-Somaj is called the New [D216] Dispensation. The Christian speaks in terms of admiration of Christianity; so does the Hebrew of Judaism; so does the Mohammedan of the Koran; so does the Zoroastrian of the Zend-Avesta. The Christian admires his principles of spiritual culture; the Hindoo does the same; the Mohammedan does the same.
"But the Brahmo-Somaj accepts and harmonizes all these precepts, systems, principles, teachings and disciplines and makes them into one system, and that is his religion. For a whole decade, my friend, Keshub Chunder Sen, myself and other apostles of the Brahmo-Somaj have traveled from village to village, from province to province, from continent to continent, declaring this new dispensation and the harmony of all religious prophecies and systems unto the glory of the one true, living God. But we are a subject race; we are uneducated; we are incapable; we have not the resources of money to get men to listen to our message. In the fullness of time you have called this august Parliament of Religions, and the message that we could not propagate you have taken into your hands to propagate.
"I do not come to the sessions of this Parliament as a mere student, nor as one who has to justify his own system. I come as a disciple, as a follower, as a brother. May your labors be blessed with prosperity, and not only shall your Christianity and your America be exalted, but the Brahmo-Somaj will feel most exalted: and this poor man who has come such a long distance to crave your sympathy and your kindness shall feel himself amply rewarded.
"May the spread of the New Dispensation rest with you and make you our brothers and sisters. Representatives of all religions, may all your religions merge into the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, that Christ's prophecy may be fulfilled, the world's hope may be fulfilled, and mankind may become one kingdom with God, our Father."
Here we have a clear statement of the object and hopes of these visiting philosophers; and who shall say that they failed to use their opportunities? If we heard much before the Parliament of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood [D217] of unregenerated men—with no recognized need of a Savior, a Redeemer, to make reconciliation for iniquity and to open up "a new and living way [of return to God's family] through the veil, that is to say, his flesh," we have heard much more of the same thing since. If we heard before the Parliament of society's redemption by moral reforms, as in opposition to redemption by the precious blood, we have heard still more of this Christless religion since. It is the final stage of the falling away of these last days of the Gospel age. It will continue and increase: the Scriptures declare that "a thousand shall fall at thy side"; and the Apostle Paul urges, "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand in that evil day"; and John the Revelator significantly inquires, "Who shall be able to stand?" The entire tenor of Scripture indicates that it is God's will that a great test should now come upon all who have named the name of Christ, and that all the great mass of "tare"-professors should fall away from all profession of faith in the ransom-sacrifice made once for all by our Lord Jesus; because they never received this truth in the love of it. 2 Thess. 2:10-12
When Kinza Ringe M. Harai, the learned Japanese Buddhist, read his paper on "The Real Position of Japan toward Christianity," the brows of some of the Christian missionaries on the platform contracted and their heads shook in disapproval. But the Buddhist directed his stinging rebukes at the false Christians who have done so much to impede the work of spreading the gospel in Japan. The paper follows:
"There are very few countries in the world so misunderstood as Japan. Among the innumerable unfair judgments, the religious thought of my countrymen is especially misrepresented, and the whole nation is condemned as [D218] heathen. Be they heathen, pagan, or something else, it is a fact that from the beginning of our history Japan has received all teachings with open mind; and also that the instructions which came from outside have commingled with the native religion in entire harmony, as is seen by so many temples built in the name of truth with a mixed appellation of Buddhism and Shintoism; as is seen by the affinity among the teachers of Confucianism and Taoism, or other isms, and the Buddhists and Shinto priests; as is seen by the individual Japanese, who pays his respects to all teachings mentioned above; as is seen by the peculiar construction of the Japanese houses, which have generally two rooms, one for a miniature Buddhist temple and the other for a small Shinto shrine, before which the family study the respective scriptures of the two religions. In reality Synthetic religion is the Japanese speciality, and I will not hesitate to call it Japanism.
"But you will protest and say: 'Why, then, is Christianity not so warmly accepted by your nation as other religions?' This is the point which I wish especially to present before you. There are two causes why Christianity is not so cordially received. This great religion was widely spread in our country, but in 1637 the Christian missionaries, combined with the converts, caused a tragic and bloody rebellion against the country, and it was understood that those missionaries intended to subjugate Japan to their own mother country. This shocked Japan, and it took the government of the Sho-gun a year to suppress this terrible and intrusive commotion. To those who accuse us that our mother country prohibited Christianity, not now, but in a past age, I will reply that it was not from religious or racial antipathy, but to prevent such another insurrection; and to protect our independence we were obliged to prohibit the promulgation of the gospels.
"If our history had had no such record of foreign devastation under the disguise of religion, and if our people had had no hereditary horror and prejudice against the name of Christianity, it might have been eagerly embraced by the whole nation. But this incident has passed, and we may forget it. Yet it is not entirely unreasonable that the terrified suspicion, or you may say superstition, that Christianity is [D219] the instrument of depredation, should have been avoidably or unavoidably aroused in the oriental mind, when it is an admitted fact that some of the powerful nations of Christendom are gradually encroaching upon the Orient, and when the following circumstance is daily impressed upon our mind, reviving a vivid memory of the past historical occurrence. The circumstance of which I am about to speak is the present experience of ourselves, to which I especially call the attention of this Parliament, and not only this Parliament, but also the whole of Christendom.
"Since 1853, when Commodore Perry came to Japan as the ambassador of the President of the United States of America, our country began to be better known by all western nations, the new ports were widely opened and the prohibition of the gospels was abolished, as it was before the Christian rebellion. By the convention at Yeddo, now Tokio, in 1858, the treaty was stipulated between America and Japan and also with the European powers. It was the time when our country was yet under the feudal government; and on account of our having been secluded for over two centuries since the Christian rebellion of 1637, diplomacy was quite a new experience to the feudal officers, who put their full confidence upon western nations, and without any alteration, accepted every article of the treaty presented from the foreign governments. According to the treaty we are in a very disadvantageous situation; and amongst the others there are two prominent articles, which deprive us of our rights and advantages. One is the exterritoriality of western nations in Japan, by which all cases in regard to right, whether of property or person, arising between the subjects of the western nations in my country as well as between them and the Japanese are subjected to the jurisdiction of the authorities of the western nations. Another regards the tariff, which, with the exception of 5 per cent ad valorem, we have no right to impose where it might properly be done.
"It is also stipulated that either of the contracting parties to this treaty, on giving one year's previous notice to the other, may demand a revision thereof on or after the 1st of July, 1872. Therefore in 1871 our government demanded a revision, and since then we have been constantly requesting [D220] it, but foreign governments have simply ignored our requests, making many excuses. One part of the treaty between the United States of America and Japan concerning the tariff was annulled, for which we thank with sincere gratitude the kind-hearted American nation; but I am sorry to say that, as no European power has followed in the wake of America in this respect, our tariff right remains in the same condition as it was before.
"We have no judicial power over the foreigners in Japan, and as a natural consequence we are receiving injuries, legal and moral, the accounts of which are seen constantly in our native newspapers. As the western people live far from us they do not know the exact circumstances. Probably they hear now and then the reports of the missionaries and their friends in Japan. I do not deny that their reports are true; but if any person wants to obtain any unmistakable information in regard to his friend he ought to hear the opinions about him from many sides. If you closely examine with your unbiased mind what injuries we receive, you will be astonished. Among many kinds of wrongs there are some which were utterly unknown before and entirely new to us 'heathen,' none of whom would dare to speak of them even in private conversation.
"One of the excuses offered by foreign nations is that our country is not yet civilized. Is it the principle of civilized law that the rights and profits of so-called uncivilized or the weaker should be sacrificed? As I understand it, the spirit and the necessity of law is to protect the rights and welfare of the weaker against the aggression of the stronger; but I have never learned in my shallow studies of law that the weaker should be sacrificed for the stronger. Another kind of apology comes from the religious source, and the claim is made that the Japanese are idolaters and heathen. Whether our people are idolaters or not you will know at once if you will investigate our religious views without prejudice from authentic Japanese sources.
"But admitting, for the sake of the argument, that we are idolaters and heathen, is it Christian morality to trample upon the rights and advantages of a non-christian nation, coloring all their natural happiness with the dark stain of [D221] injustice? I read in the Bible, 'Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also'; but I cannot discover there any passage which says, 'Whosoever shall demand justice of thee smite his right cheek, and when he turns smite the other also.' Again, I read in the Bible, 'If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also;' but I cannot discover there any passage which says, 'If thou shalt sue any man at the law, and take away his coat, let him give thee his cloak also.'
"You send your missionaries to Japan, and they advise us to be moral and believe Christianity. We like to be moral, we know that Christianity is good and we are very thankful for this kindness. But at the same time our people are rather perplexed and very much in doubt about this advice when we think that the treaty stipulated in the time of feudalism, when we were yet in our youth, is still clung to by the powerful nations of Christendom; when we find that every year a good many western vessels engaged in the seal fishery are smuggled into our seas; when legal cases are always decided by the foreign authorities in Japan unfavorably to us; when some years ago a Japanese was not allowed to enter a university on the Pacific coast of America because of his being of a different race; when a few months ago the school board of San Francisco enacted a regulation that no Japanese should be allowed to enter the public schools there; when last year the Japanese were driven out in wholesale from one of the territories in the United States of America; when our business men in San Francisco were compelled by some union not to employ the Japanese assistants or laborers, but the Americans; when there are some in the same city who speak on the platform against those of us who are already here; when there are many men who go in processions hoisting lanterns marked 'Jap must go;' when the Japanese in the Hawaiian islands are deprived of their suffrage; when we see some western people in Japan who erect before the entrance to their houses a special post upon which is the notice, 'No Japanese is allowed to enter here,' just like a board upon which is written, 'No dogs allowed;' when we are in such a situation, is it unreasonable—notwithstanding the kindness of the western nations, from one point of view, [D222] who send their missionaries to us—for us intelligent 'heathen' to be embarrassed and hesitate to swallow the sweet and warm liquid of the heaven of Christianity? If such be the Christian ethics, well, we are perfectly satisfied to be heathen.
"If any person should claim that there are many people in Japan who speak and write against Christianity, I am not a hypocrite, and I will frankly state that I was the first in my country who ever publicly attacked Christianity—no, not real Christianity, but false Christianity, the wrongs done toward us by the people of Christendom. If any reprove the Japanese because they have had strong anti-Christian societies, I will honestly declare that I was the first in Japan who ever organized a society against Christianity—no, not against real Christianity, but to protect ourselves from false Christianity, and the injustice which we receive from the people of Christendom. Do not think that I took such a stand on account of my being a Buddhist, for this was my position many years before I entered the Buddhist Temple. But at the same time I will proudly state that if any one discussed the affinity of all religions before the public, under the title of Synthetic Religion, it was I. I say this to you because I do not wish to be understood as a bigoted Buddhist sectarian.
"Really there is no sectarian in my country. Our people well know what abstract truth is in Christianity, and we, or at least I, do not care about the names if I speak from the point of teaching. Whether Buddhism is called Christianity or Christianity is named Buddhism, whether we are called Confucianists or Shintoists, we are not particular; but we are particular about the truth taught and its consistent application. Whether Christ saves us or drives us into hell, whether Gautama Buddha was a real person or there never was such a man, it is not a matter of consideration to us, but the consistency of doctrine and conduct is the point on which we put the greater importance. Therefore, unless the inconsistency which we observe is renounced, and especially the unjust treaty by which we are entailed is revised upon an equitable basis, our people will never cast away their prejudices about Christianity in spite of the eloquent orator who speaks its truth from the pulpit. We are very often [D223] called 'barbarians,' and I have heard and read that Japanese are stubborn and cannot understand the truth of the Bible. I will admit that this is true in some sense, for, though they admire the eloquence of the orator and wonder at his courage, though they approve his logical argument, yet they are very stubborn and will not join Christianity as long as they think it is a western morality to preach one thing and practice another....
"If any religion teaches injustice to humanity, I will oppose it, as I ever have opposed it, with my blood and soul. I will be the bitterest dissenter from Christianity, or I will be the warmest admirer of its gospel. To the Promoters of the Parliament and the ladies and gentlemen of the world who are assembled here, I pronounce that your aim is the realization of the Religious Union, not nominally, but practically. We, the forty million souls of Japan, standing firmly and persistently upon the basis of international justice, await still further manifestations as to the morality of Christianity."
"Brethren from the Sunrising of all lands: I stand here to represent the young men of the Orient, in particular from the land of the pyramids to the ice-fields of Siberia, and in general from the shores of the Aegean to the waters of Japan. But on this wonderful platform of the Parliament of Religions, where I find myself with the sons of the Orient facing the American public, my first thought is to tell you that you have unwittingly called together a council of your creditors. We have not come to wind up your affairs, but to unwind your hearts. Turn to your books, and see if our claim is not right. We have given you science, philosophy, theology, music and poetry, and have made history for you at tremendous expense. And moreover, out of the light that shone upon our lands from heaven, there have gone forth those who shall forever be your cloud of witnesses and your [D224] inspiration—saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs. And with that rich capital you have amassed a stupendous fortune, so that your assets hide away from your eyes your liabilities. We do not want to share your wealth, but it is right that we should have our dividend, and, as usual, it is a young man who presents the vouchers.
"You cannot pay this dividend with money. Your gold you want yourselves. Your silver has fallen from grace. We want you to give us a rich dividend in the full sympathy of your hearts. And, like the artisan who, judging by their weight, throws into his crucible nuggets of different shape and color, and, after fire and flux have done their work, pours it out and behold, it flows pure gold, so, having called together the children of men from the ends of the earth, and having them here before you in the crucible of earnest thought and honest search after truth, you find, when this Parliament is over, that out of prejudice of race and dogma, and out of the variety of custom and worship, there flows out before your eyes nothing but the pure gold of humanity; and henceforth you think of us, not as strangers in foreign lands, but as your brothers, in China, Japan and India, your sisters in the Isles of Greece and the hills and valleys of Armenia, and you shall have paid us such a dividend out of your hearts, and received yourselves withal such a blessing, that this will be a Beulah land of prophecy for future times, and send forth the echo of that sweet song that once was heard in our land of 'Peace on earth and good will toward men.'
"There has been so much spoken to you here, by men of wisdom and experience of the religious life of the great east, that you would not expect me to add anything thereto. Nor would I have stood here presuming to give you any more information about the religions of the world. But there is a new race of men that have risen up out of all the great past whose influence will undoubtedly be a most important factor in the work of humanity in the coming century. They are the result of all the past, coming in contact with the new life of the present—I mean the young men of the Orient; they who are preparing to take possession of the earth with their brothers of the great west.
"I bring you a philosophy from the shores of the Bosphorus and a religion from the city of Constantine. All my firm convictions and deductions that have grown up within me for years past have, under the influence of this Parliament, been shaken to their roots. But I find today those roots yet deeper in my heart, and the branches reaching higher into the skies. I cannot presume to bring you anything new, but if all the deductions appear to you to be logical from premises which human intelligence can accept, then I feel confident that you will give us credit for honest purpose and allow us the right as intelligent beings to hold fast to that which I present before you.
"When the young men of today were children, they heard and saw every day of their lives nothing but enmity and separation between men of different religions and nationalities. I need not stop to tell you of the influence of such a life upon the lives of young men, who found themselves separated and in camps pitched for battle against their brother men with whom they had to come in contact in the daily avocations of life. And as the light of education and ideas of liberty began to spread over the whole Orient with the latter part of this century, this yoke became more galling upon the necks of the young men of the Orient, and the burden too heavy to bear.
"Young men of all the nationalities I have mentioned, who for the past thirty years have received their education in the universities of Paris, Heidelberg, Berlin and other cities of Europe, as well as the Imperial Lyceum of Constantinople, have been consciously or unconsciously, passively or aggressively, weaving the fabric of their religion, so that to the thousand young men, for whom their voice is an oracle, it has come like a boon, and enlisted their heart and mind.
"They find their brothers in large numbers in all the cities of the Orient where European civilization has found the least entrance, and there is scarcely any city that will not have felt their influence before the end of the century. Their religion is the newest of all religions, and I should not have brought it upon this platform were it not for the fact that it is one of the most potent influences acting in the Orient [D226] and with which we religious young men of the east have to cope efficiently, if we are to have the least influence with the peoples of our respective lands.
"For, remember, there are men of intelligence, men of excellent parts, men who, with all the young men of the Orient, have proved that in all arts and sciences, in the marts of the civilized world, in the armies of the nations and at the right hand of kings they are the equal of any race of men, from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof. They are men, moreover, for the most part, of the best intentions and most sincere convictions, and, when you hear their opinion of religion and think of the position they hold, you cannot, I am sure, as members of the Religious Parliament, feel anything but the greatest concern for them and the lands in which they dwell.
"I represent, personally, the religious young men of the Orient; but let me, by proxy, for the young men of the newest religion, speak before you to the apostles of all religions: 'You come to us in the name of religion to bring us what we already have. We believe that man is sufficient unto himself, if, as you say, a perfect God has created him. If you will let him alone, he will be all that he should be. Educate him, train him, don't bind him hand and foot, and he will be a perfect man, worthy to be the brother of any other man. Nature has sufficiently endowed man, and you should use all that is given you in your intelligence before you trouble God to give you more. Moreover, no one has found God. We have all the inspiration we want in sweet poetry and enchanting music, and in the companionship of refined and cultured men and women. If we are to listen to it, we would like Handel to tell us of the Messiah, and if the heavens resound, it is enough to have Beethoven's interpretation.
"'We have nothing against you Christians, but as to all religions, we must say that you have done the greatest possible harm to humanity by raising men against men and nation against nation. And now, to make a bad thing worse, in this day of superlative common sense you come to fill the minds of men with impossible things and burden their brains with endless discussions of a thousand sects. For there are many I have heard before you, and I know how many could follow. We consider you the ones of all men to [D227] be avoided, for your philosophy and your doctrines are breeding pessimism over the land.'
"Then, with a religious instinct and innate respect that all orientals have, I have to say suddenly; 'But, see here, we are not infidels or atheists or skeptics. We simply have no time for such things. We are full of the inspiration for the highest life, and desire freedom for all young men of the world. We have a religion that unites all men of all lands, and fills the earth with gladness. It supplies every human need, and, therefore, we know that it is the true religion, especially because it produces peace and the greatest harmony. So, we do not want any of your 'isms' nor any other system or doctrine. We are not materialists, socialists, rationalists or pessimists, and we are not idealists. Our religion is the first that was, and it is also the newest of the new—we are gentlemen. In the name of peace and humanity, can you not let us alone? If you invite us again in the name of religion, we shall have a previous engagement, and if you call again to preach, we are not at home.'
"This is the Oriental young man, like the green bay tree. And where one passes away, so that you do not find him in his place, there are twenty to fill the gap. Believe me, I have not exaggerated; for word for word, and ten times more than this, I have heard from intelligent men of the army and navy, men in commerce and men of the bars of justice in conversation and deep argument, in the streets of Constantinople, in the boats of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, in Roumania and Bulgaria, as well as in Paris and New York and the Auditorium of Chicago, from Turk and Armenian, from Greek and Hebrew, as well as Bulgarian and Servian, and I can tell you that this newest substitute for religion, keeping the gates of commerce and literature, science and law, through Europe and the Orient, is a most potent force in shaping the destinies of the nations of the east, and has to be accounted for intelligently in thinking of the future of religion, and has to be met with an argument as powerful in the eyes of the young men of the Orient, as that which science and literature have put in the hands of the great army of the new gentlemen class.
"There is another class of young men in the Orient, who call themselves the religious young men, and who hold to [D228] the ancient faith of their fathers. Allow me to claim for these young men, also, honesty of purpose, intelligence of mind, as well as a firm persuasion. For them also I come to speak to you, and in speaking for them I speak also for myself. You will naturally see that we have to be from earliest days in contact with the New Religion; so let me call it for convenience. We have to be in colleges and universities with those same young men. We have to go hand in hand with them in all science and history, literature, music and poetry, and naturally with them we share in the firm belief in all scientific deduction and hold fast to every principle of human liberty.
"First, all the young men of the Orient who have the deepest religious convictions stand for the dignity of man. I regret that I should have to commence here; but, out of the combined voices and arguments of philosophies and theologies, there comes before us such an unavoidable inference of an imperfect humanity that we have to come out before we can speak on any religion for ourselves and say: 'We believe that we are men.' For us it is a libel on humanity, and an impeachment of the God who created man, to say that man is not sufficient within himself, and that he needs religion to come and make him perfect.
[Note how the natural man accuses and excuses himself in the same breath. Imperfection cannot be denied; but power to make ourselves perfect in time is claimed, and thus the necessity for the "precious blood" of the "sin-offering," which God has provided, is ignored by the heathen as it is now being denied by the worldly-wise of Christendom.]
"It is libeling humanity to look upon this or that family of man and to say that they show conceptions of goodness and truth and high ideals and a life above simple animal desires, because they have had religious teaching by this or that man, or a revelation from heaven. We believe that if man is man he has it all in himself, just as he has all his bodily capacities. Will you tell me that a cauliflower that I plant in the fields grows up in beauty and perfection of its convolutions, and that my brain, which the same God has created a hundred thousand times more delicate and perfect, [D229] cannot develop its convolutions and do the work that God intended I should do and have the highest conceptions that he intended I should have; that a helpless pollywog will develop, and become a frog with perfect, elastic limbs and a heaving chest, and that frogs will keep together in contentment and croak in unity, and that men need religion and help from outside in order that they may develop into the perfection of men in body and soul and recognize the brotherhood of man and live upon God's earth in peace? I say it is an impeachment of God, who created man, to promulgate and acquiesce in any such doctrine.
"Nor do we accept the unwarranted conclusions of science. We have nothing to do with the monkeys. If they want to speak to us, they will have to come up to us. There is a western spirit of creating difficulties which we cannot understand. One of my first experiences in the United States was taking part in a meeting of young ladies and gentlemen in the City of Philadelphia. The subject of the evening was whether animals had souls, and the cat came out prominently. Very serious and erudite papers were read. But the conclusion was that, not knowing just what a cat is and what a soul is, they could not decide the matter, but it still was a serious matter bearing upon religion. Now suppose an Armenian girl should ask her mother if cats had souls. She would settle the question in parenthesis and say, for example: 'My sweet one, you must go down and see if the water is boiling (What put the question into your head? Of course cats have souls. Cats have cats' souls and men have men's souls). Now go down.' And the child would go down rejoicing in her humanity. And if my Armenian lady should one day be confronted with the missing link of which we hear so much, still her equanimity would remain unperturbed and she would still glory in humanity by informing you that the missing link had the soul of a missing link and man had the soul of a man.
"So far we come with young men of the gentlemen class, hand in hand upon the common plane of humanity. But here is a corner where we part, and take widely diverging paths. We cry, 'Let us alone, and we will expand and rise up to the height of our destiny;' and, behold, we find an invisible [D230] power that will not let us alone. We find that we can do almost everything in the ways of science and art. But when it comes to following our conception of that which is high and noble, that which is right and necessary for our development, we are wanting in strength and power to advance toward it. I put this in the simplest form, for I cannot enlarge upon it here. But the fact for us is as real as the dignity of man, that there is a power which diverts men and women from the path of rectitude and honor, in which they know they should walk. You cannot say it is inherent in man, for we feel it does not belong to us. And if it did not belong to us, and it was the right conception of man to go down into degradation and misery, rapacity, and the desire of crushing down his fellow man, we would say, 'Let him alone, and let him do that which God meant that he should do.'
"So, briefly, I say to any one here who is preparing to boil down his creed, put this in it before it reaches the boiling point: 'And I believe in the devil, the arch-enemy of God, the accuser of God to man.' One devil for the whole universe? We care not. A legion of demons besieging each soul? It matters not to us. We know this, that there is a power outside of man which draws him aside mightily. And no power on earth can resist it.
"And so, here comes our religion. If you have a religion to bring to the young men of the Orient, it must come with a power that will balance, yea, counterbalance the power of evil in the world. Then will man be free to grow up and be that which God intended he should be. We want God. We want the spirit of God. And the religion that comes to us, in any name or form, must bring that, or else, for us, it is no religion. And we believe in God, not the God of protoplasms, that hides between molecules of matter, but God whose children we are.
"So we place as the third item of our philosophy and protest the dignity of God. Is chivalry dead? Has all conception of a high and noble life, of sterling integrity, departed from the hearts of men, that we cannot aspire to knighthood and princeship in the courts of our God? We know we are his children, for we are doing his works and thinking his [D231] thoughts. What we want to do is to be like him. Oh, is it true that I can cross land and sea and reach the heart of my mother, and feel her arms clasping me, but that I, a child of God, standing helpless in the universe, against a power that I cannot overcome, cannot lift up my hands to him, and cry to him, that I may have his spirit in my soul and feel his everlasting arms supporting me in my weakness?
"And here comes the preacher from ancient days, and the modern church, and tells us of one who did overcome the world, and that he came down from above. We need not to be told that he came from above, for no man born of woman did any such thing. But we are persuaded that by the means of grace and the path which he shows us to walk in, the spirit of God does come into the hearts of men, and that I can feel it in my heart fighting with me against sin and strengthening my heart to hold resolutely to that which I know to be right by the divine in me.
"And so with a trembling hand but firm conviction, with much sadness with humanity but joy of eternal triumph, I come with you all to the golden gates of the twentieth century, where the elders of the coming commonwealth of humanity are sitting to pass judgment upon the religion that shall enter those gates to the support of the human heart. I place there by the side of ancient Oriental Confucianism and modern Theosophy, ancient Oriental Buddhism and modern Spiritualism, and every faith of ancient days and modern materialism, rationalism and idealism—there I place ancient Oriental Christianity with its Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God; and its cross, still radiant in the love of God,
This speaker, although not a delegated representative of the Armenian Catholic Church, evidently presents matters from the standpoint of the Armenian Christians, whom the Turks have lately persecuted in a most barbarous manner. His address makes many excellent points; but it must not be thought that he is a fair sample of the young men of the [D232] Orient; he is a long way in advance of those for whom he spoke. Neither does his address afford a true view of Armenian Catholicism, with its prayers for the dead; its worship of pictures and of saints and of the Virgin Mary; its confessionals; and its blasphemous doctrine of the Mass;* all closely resembling the devices of Antichrist. Those who sacrifice the "abomination" of the Mass thereby show that they have little knowledge and appreciation of the real cross and its one sacrifice, "once for all." The "Oriental Christianity" to which this young man points us is not the one which we respect, nor after which we would pattern: we go back to the Christianity declared and illustrated by Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, and by his apostles, and as set forth in the Scriptures: not Oriental, nor Occidental, nor Catholic (i.e., universal or general), but the power of God and the wisdom of God only to "every one that" BELIEVETH unto righteousness. Rom. 1:16
The thoughtful observer cannot read the noble sentiments of some of these who are feeling after God and aspiring toward righteousness, without marking the contrast between their serious sincerity and their noble purpose and effort to lift up before their fellowmen the highest standards of righteousness they can discern, and the compromising attitude of so many Christians who have been more highly favored by birth and environment with a knowledge of the truth, who are now anxious to sell it at the immense sacrifice of its noble principles, merely to gain the present popular favor. To whom much has been given of him much will be required by the Lord, who is now weighing them all in the balances.
But while a few of the foreign representatives call out our admiration and respect, the great majority of them were rejoicing [D233] in their privilege of parading and recommending their superstitions to such a representative assembly of the civilized and enlightened nations. Buddhism, Shintoism, Brahminism, Confucianism and Mohammedanism were repeatedly set forth with great boldness, and the Mohammedan apostle had the audacity even to recommend polygamy. This was almost too much for the audience, but their manifestations of disapproval were quickly silenced by the chairman, Dr. Barrows, who reminded them of the object of the Parliament—to give all a fair hearing without dispute. So all had an abundant hearing and freely argued their points before the already unsettled minds of thousands of professed Christians, and as a result they have much reason to expect converts to their religions here in America. The same privileges were also granted to many of the antichristian movements, such as Christian Science, Theosophy, Swedenborgianism, etc.
The closing sentiments of the great Parliament show how determined is this spirit of compromise on the part of Protestant Christianity. So desperate are the straits to which the judgment of this day has driven them, that they hail with the greatest enthusiasm the least indication of a disposition toward union even on the part of the very grossest forms of heathenism. We give the following brief extracts:
"Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory; but if any one here hopes that this unity would come by the triumph of any one of these religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, Brother, yours is an impossible hope. Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindoo? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindoo or Buddhist would [D234] become Christian? God forbid. The Christian is not to become a Hindoo, or a Buddhist to become a Christian. Learn to think without prejudice....If theology and dogma stand in your way in the search for truth, put them aside. Be earnest and work out your own salvation with diligence, and the fruits of holiness will be yours."
"If you will permit a 'heathen' to deliver his message of peace and love, I shall only ask you to look at the multifarious ideas presented to you in a liberal spirit and not with superstition and bigotry....I entreat you to examine the various religious systems from all standpoints."
"What I wish to do is to assist you in carrying out the plan of forming the universal brotherhood under the one roof of truth. You know unity is power. Now I pray that the eight million deities protecting the beautiful cherry tree country of Japan may protect you and your government forever, and with this I bid you good-bye."
"I, on behalf of four hundred and seventy-five millions of my co-religionists, followers of the gentle Lord Buddha Gautama, tender my affectionate regards to you....You have learned from your brothers of the far East their presentation of the respective religious systems they follow;...you have listened with commendable patience to the teachings of the all-merciful Buddha through his humble followers," etc., etc.
"When the invitation to this Parliament was sent to the old Catholic church, people said, 'Will she come?' And the old Catholic church said, 'Who has as good a right to come to a Parliament of all the religions of the world as the old Catholic universal church?'...Even if she has to stand alone on that platform, she will stand on it. And the old church has come, and is rejoiced to meet her fellow-men, her fellow-believers, her fellow-lovers of every shade of humanity [D235] and every shade of creed....But will we not pray that there may have been planted here a seed that will grow to union wide and perfect. If it were not better for us to be one than to be divided, our Lord would not have prayed that we might all be one as he and the Father are one. [But they are not praying for such a union as exists between the Father and the Son: the proposed union is a vastly different one.]"
"The conventional idea of religion which obtains among Christians the world over is that Christianity is true, while all other religions are false; that Christianity is of God, while all other religions are of the devil; or else, with a little spice of moderation, that Christianity is a revelation from heaven, while other religions are manufactures of men. You know better, and with clear light and strong assurance can testify that there may be friendship instead of antagonism between religion and religion, that so surely as God is our common father, our hearts alike have yearned for him and our souls in devoutest moods have caught whispers of grace dropped from his throne. Then this is Pentecost, and behind is the conversion of the world."
Is it indeed? What resemblance is there, in this effort to compromise truth and righteousness, for the fellowship of Antichrist and Idolatry, to that faithful, prayerful assembly in Jerusalem, patiently waiting for the power from on high? And what manifestation was there of a similar outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this motley company? If the conversion of the world is to follow this, we beg leave to inquire, To what is the world to be converted? Such a promise, even with all this flourish of trumpets, does not satisfy the probing disposition of this judgment hour.
"Infinite good and only good will come from this Parliament. To all who have come from afar we are profoundly [D236] and eternally indebted. Some of them represent civilization that was old when Romulus was founding Rome; whose philosophies and songs were ripe in wisdom and rich in rhythm before Homer sang his Iliads to the Greeks; and they have enlarged our ideas of our common humanity. They have brought to us fragrant flowers from eastern faiths, rich gems from the old mines of great philosophies, and we are richer tonight from their contributions of thought, and particularly from our contact with them in spirit. [What a confession!]
"Never was there such a bright and hopeful day for our common humanity along the lines of tolerance and universal brotherhood. And we shall find that by the words that these visitors have brought to us, and by the influence they have exerted, they will be richly rewarded in the consciousness of having contributed to the mighty movement which holds in itself the promise of one faith, one Lord, one Father, one brotherhood.
"The blessings of our God and our Father be with you, brethren from the east; the blessings of our Savior, our elder brother, the teacher of the brotherhood of man, be with you and your peoples forever."
"We who welcomed now speed the parting guests. We are glad you came, O wise men of the East. With your wise words, your large toleration and your gentle ways we have been glad to sit at your feet and learn of you in these things. We are glad to have seen you face to face, and we shall count you henceforth more than ever our friends and coworkers in the great things of religion.
"And we are glad now that you are going to your far-away homes, to tell the story of all that has been said and done here in this great Parliament, and that you will thus bring the Orient into nearer relations with the Occident, and make plain the sympathy which exists among all religions. We are glad for the words that have been spoken by the wise men and women of the west, who have come and have given us their grains of gold after the washing. What I said in the beginning I will repeat now at the ending of this Parliament: It has been the greatest gathering in the name of religion ever held on the face of the earth."
"I bid you, the parting guests, the godspeed that comes out of a soul that is glad to recognize its kinship with all lands and with all religions; and when you go, you go leaving behind you in our hearts not only more hospitable thoughts for the faiths you represent, but also warm and loving ties that bind you into the union that will be our joy and our life forevermore."
"Our hopes have been more than realized. The sentiment which has inspired this Parliament has held us together. The principles in accord with which this historic convention has proceeded have been put to the test, and even strained at times, but they have not been inadequate. Toleration, brotherly kindness, trust in each other's sincerity, a candid and earnest seeking after the unities of religion, the honest purpose of each to set forth his own faith without compromise and without unfriendly criticism—these principles, thanks to your loyalty and courage, have not been found wanting.
The remarks of President Bonney were very similar; and then, with a prayer by a Jewish rabbi and a benediction by a Roman Catholic bishop, the great Parliament came to a close; and five thousand voices joined in repeating the angel's message of "Peace on earth and good will toward men."
But Oh, at what sacrifice of principle, of truth, and of loyalty to God were the foregoing announcements made to the world; and that, too, on the very threshold of a divinely predicted time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation; a trouble which all thinking people begin to realize, and the crisis and outcome of which they greatly fear. And it is this fear that is driving this heterogeneous mass [D238] together for mutual protection and cooperation. It is merely a stroke of human policy to try to quiet the fears of the church by crying Peace! Peace! when there is no peace. (Jer. 6:14) This cry of peace issuing from the church representatively is characterized by the same ludicrous ring of insincerity that issued from the nations representatively at the great Kiel celebration noted in the previous chapter. While the civil powers thus proclaimed peace with the tremendous roar of cannon, the ecclesiastical powers proclaim it with a great, bold, boastful compromise of truth and righteousness. The time is coming when the Lord himself will speak peace unto the nations (Zech. 9:10); but it will not be until he has first made known his presence in the whirlwind of revolution and in the storm of trouble. Nah. 1:3
Viewed from its own standpoint, the Parliament was pronounced a grand success, and the thoughtless, always charmed with noise and glitter and show, responded, Amen! They foolishly imagine that the whole unregenerate world is to be gathered into one universal bond of religious unity and brotherhood, and yet all are to think and act and grope along in the darkness of ignorance and superstition and to walk in the wicked ways above referred to, just as they have always done, refusing "the light that shines in the face of Jesus Christ," which is the only true light. (2 Cor. 4:6; John 1:9; 3:19) And Christians are rejoicing in this prospect, and hailing such an imaginary event as the most glorious event in history.
But while the general impression created by the great Parliament was that it was the first step, and a long one, toward a realization of the angel's message at the birth of Christ, of peace on earth and good will toward men, rightly viewed it was another manifestation of the faithlessness of Christendom. Surely, as saith the prophet, "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their [D239] prudent men shall be hid." (Isa. 29:14) And again we hear him say, "Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird [bind] yourselves [together] and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word [for Unity] and it shall not stand." Isa. 8:9,10
With the Psalmist we would again propound the question, "Why do the people imagine a vain thing? [Why do they cry Peace! Peace! when there is no peace?] The kings of the earth [civil and ecclesiastical] set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
"He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure." Psa. 2:1-5
When God's chosen people—spiritual Israel now, like fleshly Israel anciently—abandon his Word and his leading, and seek to ally themselves with the nations that know not God, and to blend divine truth with the world's philosophies, they take such steps at a peril which they do not realize; and they would do well indeed to mark God's recompenses to his ancient people, and take warning.
(1) It introduced to the already unsettled mind of Christians the various heathen philosophies, and that in their most favorable aspects. Afterwards we learned that one of the delegates to the Parliament from India—Mr. Virchandi R. Gandhi, of Bombay, secretary of the Jainas Society—had returned to America to propagate his views, making Chicago his headquarters. We quote the following published description of his purposes:
"Mr. Gandhi does not come to make proselytes. The rule of the Jainist faith forbids that; but he comes to found a school of Oriental philosophy, whose headquarters will be in Chicago, with branches in Cleveland, Washington, New York, Rochester and other cities. He does not come as a missionary to convert Americans to any form of Hindooism. According to his own idea, 'the true idea of Hindoo worship is not a propagandism, but a spirit—a universal spirit of love and power, and answerable to the realization of brotherhood, not brotherhood of man alone, but of all living things, which by the lips of all nations is indeed sought, but by the practice of the world is yet ignored.' Roughly, these are the tenets of his creed and the platform upon which he stands, not beseeching Americans to join him, but willing to have their co-operation."
"My Brothers and Sisters in the worship of God: All the religions now in this general and religious congress are parallel to each other in the sight of the whole world. Every one of these religions has supporters who realize and prefer their own to other religions, and they might bring some arguments or reasons to convince others of the value and truth of their own form of religion. From such discussions a change may come; perhaps even doubts about all religions; or a supposition that all of them are identical faiths. And, therefore, the esteem of every religion may fall or decrease; doubt may be produced against all the inspired books, or a general neglect may happen, and no one remain to hold a certain religion, and many may entirely neglect the duties of religion, for the reason of restlessness in their hearts and the opinion which prevails in one form of religion, just as is going on among many millions in Europe and America. Therefore, I think that a committee should be selected from the great religions, to investigate the dogmas and to make a full and perfect comparison, approving the true one, and announcing it to the people."
(2) It made special friendship between "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots," the Church of Rome, and her many daughters, the various Protestant sects, who glory in their shame, and are proud to own the disreputable relationship.
(3) It took a long step, which will be followed by others already proposed, towards the affiliation, in some sense, of all religions—toward a yet closer union of the church (nominal) and the world. It was publicly announced by the President at the last session of the Parliament that a "proclamation of fraternity would be issued to promote the continuation in all parts of the world of the great work in which the congresses of 1893 had been engaged."
(4) It practically said to the heathen that there is really no necessity for Christian missions; that Christians are themselves uncertain of their religion; that their own religions are good enough, if followed sincerely; and that Christianity, to say the least, can only be received with a large measure of incredulity. It is a cause of astonishment to note how the heathen representatives have measured nominal Christianity; how clearly they have made distinctions between the Christianity of "Christendom" and the Christianity of the Bible; and how keenly their rebukes were often administered.
(5) It said to distracted Christendom, Peace! Peace! when there is no peace, instead of sounding an alarm, as saith the Prophet (Joel 2:1): "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain;...for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand," and calling upon all to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.
(6) It was evidently a measure of policy, originating in the fears of the leaders in Christendom, as they discerned the approaching trouble of this day of the Lord; and the movement had its beginning in the distracted and perplexed [D242] Presbyterian church. This cry of Peace! Peace! in the very midst of the rising storm reminds us of the prophecy—"When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them." 1 Thess. 5:3
Let not the children of God be deluded by Babylon's false prognostications. In God only can we find a safe retreat. (Psa. 91) Let us rally closer round the cross of Christ, which is our only hope. Let the universal brotherhood of false religions and apostate Christianity prove the value of that relationship; but let us recognize only the brotherhood in Christ—the brotherhood of all who trust in Christ alone for salvation, through faith in his precious blood. Other men are not children of God, and will not be until they come unto him by faith in Christ as their Redeemer, their substitute. They are the "children of wrath," even as were we before we came into Christ (Eph. 2:3); and some are the "children of the Wicked One," whose works they do. When God condemned Adam and his posterity to death, on account of sin, he no longer owned and treated them as sons. And only as men come into Christ by faith in his precious blood are they reinstated in that blessed relationship to God. Consequently, if we are no longer the children of wrath, but are owned of God as his sons through Christ, other men, not so recognized of God, are not in any sense our brethren. Let all the children of light watch and be sober (1 Thess. 5:5,6); let the soldiers of the cross be valiant for the truth, and receive no other gospel, though it be declared by an angel from heaven (Gal. 1:8); and let them negotiate no union with any class save the consecrated and faithful followers of "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
While the church nominal is thus willing and eager to compromise and unite with all the heathen religions of the world in a great "world religion" which would perpetuate all [D243] their false doctrines and evil practices, let us hear some admissions and statements of facts from others who are not so infatuated with the idea of religious unity, facts which show the deplorable condition of the world, the baneful results of the false religions, and the utter hopelessness of ever converting the world through the instrumentality of the church in her present condition. Not until the church—not the false, but the true church, whose names are written in heaven, the loyal and faithful consecrated ones begotten and led of the spirit of God—is endued with power from on high, not until she has reached her full development and has been exalted with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom, will she be able to accomplish the world's conversion to God and his righteousness.
"One thousand million souls, two-thirds of the human race—heathen, pagan, Moslem—most of them have yet to see a Bible or hear the gospel message. To these thousand millions, less than 10,000 Protestant missionaries, men and women all included, are now sent out by the churches of Christendom. Thibet, almost all of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Beloochistan, nearly all of Arabia, the greater portion of the Soudan, Abyssinia and the Philippine Islands are without a missionary. Large districts of Western China and Eastern and Central Congo Free State, large portions of South America and many of the islands of the sea are almost or altogether unoccupied."
A little pamphlet entitled, "A Century of Protestant Missions," by Rev. James Johnston, F.S.S., gives the following figures, which, it has been remarked are "sufficiently appalling to electrify Christendom." The import of the pamphlet is that (1) Protestantism has gained but 3,000,000 converts from heathenism during the last hundred [D244] years, whilst the number of heathen has increased during that period by at least 200,000,000. (2) The swift advance of heathenism is not due merely to the natural growth of heathen populations, but to the fact that the adherents of Brahma, Buddha and Mohammed can boast of more numerous converts to their creeds than can the Protestant Christian churches. Thus for every convert to Christianity which Hindooism has lost, it has gained a thousand from the aboriginal tribes of India which it is constantly absorbing. Buddhism is making marked progress among the tribes of the Northern dependencies of China—even following the Chinese emigrants and planting its strange temples on the soil of Australia and America. But the most extraordinary progress of all has been achieved by Mohammedanism. In certain parts of Africa it is spreading with amazing swiftness. Also, in a less but rapid degree, in India and the Archipelago. These are facts which the gentleman feels obliged to admit, but he endeavors to silence criticism by affirming that the church can yet accomplish the world's conversion. He attempts to establish that the Protestant churches have ample resources, both of money and of men, to change the whole aspect of affairs, and to evangelize the world; and the Methodist Times, quoting the above, expressed the same opinion, boastfully adding:
"No man need be stunned by the awful facts we have now briefly named....God has so well ordered the course of events during the last hundred years that we are well able to conquer the whole heathen world in the name of the Lord. What we have done proves what we might have done if we had provided ourselves with the two human essentials—a daring policy and plenty of money."
Says another theorizer: "If we had a tenth of the income of church members it would fully suffice for all gospel work at home and abroad. Or if we had, for foreign work, a tenth of [D245] their annual savings, after all home expenses are paid, we could put 12,000 missionaries in the field at once."
Yes, money is the one thing considered needful. If the nominal church could only bring about a sufficiency of the spirit of self-denial to secure a tenth of the income of church members, or even a tenth of their annual savings, the salvation of the world would begin to look more hopeful to them. But this is one of the most hopeless features of the delusive hope. It would be an easier matter to half convert the heathen to a profession of Christianity than to overcome to this extent the spirit of the world in the churches.
But if the above twelve thousand missionaries could be placed in the foreign field at once, would they be more successful than their brethren in this favored land? Hear the pertinent confession of the late well known Protestant clergyman, Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage. He said, as reported in The Christian Standard:
"Oh! we have magnificent church machinery in this country; we have sixty thousand ministers; we have costly music; we have great Sunday-schools; and yet I give you the appalling statistic that in the last twenty-five years the churches in this country have averaged less than two conversions a year each.
"There has been an average of four or five deaths in the churches. How soon, at that rate, will this world be brought to God? We gain two; we lose four. Eternal God! what will this come to? I tell you plainly that while here and there a regiment of the Christian soldiery is advancing, the church is falling back for the most part to ghastly Bull Run defeat."
Some time ago Canon Taylor of the English church discussed the question, Are Christian Missions a Failure? and the paper was read before the English Church Congress. In it he took the ground that the Mohammedan religion is not only equal to Christianity in some respects, but is far better [D246] suited to the needs and capacities of many peoples in Asia and Africa; that at its present rate of progress Christianity can never hope to overtake heathenism. Estimating the excess of births over deaths in Asia and Africa as 11,000,000 a year, and the annual increase of Christians as 60,000, it would take the missionary societies 183 years to overtake one year's increase in the heathen population. He said:
"To extort from Sunday school children their hoarded pence, for the ostensible object of converting 'the poor heathen,' and to spend nearly #12,000 a year in fruitless missions to lands where there are no heathen, seems to me to be almost a crime; the crime of obtaining money under false pretenses."
In giving his opinion of the cause of missionary failures: that it is Sectarianism, together with lack of full consecration to the work on the part of the missionaries, who endeavor to live as princes surrounded by more than European luxuries, Mr. Taylor referred to Dr. Legge, a missionary of thirty-four years standing, saying:
"He thinks we shall fail to make converts so long as Christianity presents itself infected with the bitter internal animosities of Christian sects, and associated in the minds of the natives with the drunkenness, the profligacy, and the gigantic social evil conspicuous among Christian nations. Bishop Steere thought that the two greatest hindrances to success were the squabbles among the missionaries themselves, and the rivalry of the societies."
But while Canon Taylor and many others whose sentiments were voiced in the great Religious Parliament would silence criticism by telling us that the heathen religions are good enough, and better suited to the needs of the respective countries than Christianity would be, we have a different suggestion from the report of the late Bishop Foster, of the Methodist Episcopal church, who, after an extended tour of the world years ago, gave the following picture of the world's sad condition in the darkness of heathenism. He said:
"Call to your aid all the images of poverty and degradation you have ever seen in solitary places of the extremest wretchedness—those sad cases which haunted you with horror after you had passed from them, those dreary abodes of filth and gaunt squalor: crowd them into one picture, unrelieved by a single shade of tempered darkness or colored light, and hang it over one-half the globe; it will still fail to equal the reality. You must put into it the dreary prospect of hopeless continuance; you must take out of it all hope, all aspiration even. The conspicuous feature of heathenism is poverty. You have never seen poverty. It is a word the meaning of which you do not know. What you call poverty is wealth, luxury. Think of it not as occasional, not as in purlieus, not as exceptional in places of deeper misery, but as universal, continent wide. Put into it hunger nakedness, bestiality; take out of it expectation of something better tomorrow; fill Africa with it, fill Asia with it; crowd the vision with men, women and children in multitude more than twenty times the population of all your great cities, towns and villages and rural districts, twenty for every one in all your states and territories—the picture then fails to reach the reality.
"Put now, into the picture the moral shading of no God, no hope; think of these miserable millions, living like beasts in this world and anticipating nothing better for the world to come. Put into the picture the remembrance that they are beings who have the same humanity that we have, and consider that there are no hearts among all these millions that do not have human cravings, and that might not be purified and ennobled; that these lands, under the doom of such wretchedness, might equal, and many of them even surpass, the land in which we dwell, had they what we could give them. Paint a starless sky, hang your picture with night, drape the mountains with long, far-reaching vistas of darkness, hang the curtains deep along every shore and landscape, darken all the past, let the future be draped in deeper and yet deeper night, fill the awful gloom with hungry, sad-faced men and sorrow-driven women and hopeless children: this is the heathen world—the people seen in vision by the ancient prophet, 'who sit in the region [D248] and shadow of death;' to whom no light has yet come, sitting there still, through the long, long night, waiting and watching for the morning.
"A thousand millions in the region and shadow of death; the same region where their fathers lived twenty-five hundred years ago, waiting still, passing on through life in poverty so extreme that they are not able to provide for their merely brute wants; millions of them subsisting on roots and herbs and the precarious supply that nature, unsubdued by reason, may furnish. Those of them living under forms of government and semi-civilization, which in a manner, regulate property and enforce industry, after their tyrants have robbed them of their earnings, do not average for the subsistence of themselves and their children three cents a day, or its equivalent—not enough to subsist an animal; multitudes of them not half fed, not half clothed, living in pens and styes not fit for swine, with no provision of any kind for their human wants. Ground down by the tyranny of brute force until all the distinctive traces of humanity are effaced from them save the upright form and the uneradicable dumb and blind yearnings after, they know not what—these are the heathen, men and women, our brothers and sisters.
"The grim and ghastly shadows of the picture would freeze us, were they not cast in the perspective, and the sheen and gilding thrown over it by imagination. From our standpoint of comfortable indifference they are wholly concealed. They are too far away, and we are too much taken up with our pleasures to see them or even think of them. They do not emerge in the picture; and if we do think of them at all, it is in the light, not of reality, but of misleading fancy. We see the great cities and the magnificence of the Mikadoes and Rajahs, and the pomp of courts, and voluptuous beauty of landscapes—all of them transfigured by imagination and the deceptive glare in which works of travel invest them. We are enchanted with the vision. If we would look deeper into the question of the homes of the people, and their religious condition, again we are attracted by the great temples and the fancy sketches of travelers of some picturesque and inviting domestic scene. We [D249] are comforted. The heathen world is not in so bad a case, after all, we say. They have their religion; they have their pleasures. This is the relieving thought with which we contemplate the world. Oh, fatal delusion! The real picture lies in shadow. The miserable, groping, sinful millions, without God and without hope, homeless, imbruted, friendless, born to a heritage of rayless night, and doomed to live and die in the starless gloom—these are not seen. They are there, gliding about in these death shades, gaunt and hungry and naked and hopeless, near brute beasts; they are not in small numbers, crouching in the by-ways, and hiding themselves, as unfortunates, from their fellows; but they are in millions upon millions, filling all those fancy painted lands, and crowding the streets and avenues of their magnificent cities, and appalling us, if we could but see them, by their multitude. There their fathers lived and died without hope. There they grind out their miserable lives. There their children are born to the same thing. There, living or dying, no man cares for their souls.
"That is the non-Christian world. It has great cities, great temples, magnificent mausoleums, a few pampered tyrants who wrap themselves in trappings of gold, but the glare of its shrines and thrones falls upon a background of ebon night, in which the millions crouch in fear and hunger and want. I have seen them, in their sad homes and diabolical orgies, from the Bosphorus to the Ganges, in their temples and at their feasts, crouching and bowing before grim idols and stone images and monkey gods; seen them drifting through the streets and along the highways; seen their rayless, hopeless, hungry faces, and never can the image be effaced from memory.
"I think we should agree that there is no hope for man in the non-Christian world. It has nothing to give us, not a ray, not a crumb. It hangs as a ponderous weight about the neck of the race, sinking it deeper and deeper into night, death. Its very breath is contagious. Its touch is death. Its presence appalls us as some gigantic specter from the realm of night, towering and swaying through the centuries and darkening all ages.
"I raise no question about whether these countless millions [D250] can be saved in the world to come. I do not affirm that giving them the gospel will improve their prospects or at all increase their chance in that direction. Possibly as many of them will be saved without the gospel as with it. That question does not come into the problem which I am discussing—the outlook of the world—by which I mean the outlook for time, not for eternity. If the awful thought could once take possession of my mind that the whole world must, of necessity, be lost forever, simply because they are heathen, I would not send them a Gospel which reveals such a God. That grim thought alone would shut out all hope for the world, and make eternity itself a dungeon, no difference who might be saved. For how could any rational creature enjoy even a heaven with a God whose government could permit such a stain of shame and dishonor, of cruelty and injustice? Convince men that there is a God at the head of the universe, who, without fault of theirs, or any chance of escape, will damn the dead, the living and the yet-to-live millions of heathenism, and at the same time turn earth into a gigantic terror, where ghastly horrors will admit of no relief, and you make it forever impossible that he should be worshiped by any but devils, and by them only because he becomes their chief."
The Bishop also mentioned the fact that, while the population of the world is estimated at 1,450,000,000, nearly 1,100,000,000 are non-Christian; and that many (yes, nearly all) of the nominally Christian are either heathen or antichristian. Then in view of the church's failure to convert the world in eighteen hundred years, and of the hopelessness of the task, he attempted to relieve the church of the responsibility she has assumed by suggesting that these heathen millions must be saved without faith in Christ. And by way of relieving God from the responsibility of the present distress among men, he said, "God is doing the best he can with the power he has got."
The Church Times some years ago published an article by a Maori, of which the following extracts are very suggestive of the cause of the church's failure to enlighten the world to [D251] any considerable degree. The letter originally appeared in a New Zealand newspaper, and runs as follows:
"You published a few days ago the account of what took place at a meeting of Maoris, convened by the Bishop of Christ church. I was present at the meeting, and wish you to give me an opportunity of answering one of the questions put to us by the Bishop, namely: 'Why is the fire of Christian faith so low among the Maori people in my diocese?' I will tell you what I believe is the reason. We Maoris are confused and bewildered in our minds by the extraordinary way in which you Europeans treat your religion. Nobody amongst you seems to be sure whether it means anything or nothing. At the bidding of the early missionaries we substituted what they told us was a true religion for that of our forefathers, which they called false. We accepted the Book containing the history and precepts of the 'True Religion' as being really the Word of God binding upon us, his creatures. We offered daily, morning and evening, worship to the Creator in every pah and village throughout New Zealand. We kept the seventh day holy, abstaining from every kind of work out of respect to the divine command, and for the same reason abolished slavery and polygamy, though by doing so we completely disorganized our social system and reduced our gentry to poverty and inflicted much pain on those who were forced to sever some of the tenderest ties of human relationship. Just when we were beginning to train up our children to know and to obey God as manifested in Jesus Christ, Europeans came in great numbers to this country. They visited our villages and appeared very friendly, but we noticed that they did not pay the same respect to the Bible as we novices did. The Roman Catholics told us they alone knew the correct interpretation, and that unless we joined them our souls would be lost. The Baptists followed, who ridiculed our presenting our children to Christ in baptism, and told us that as we had not been immersed we were not baptized Christians at all. Then came the Presbyterians, who said the office of a Bishop was unscriptural, and that in submitting to be confirmed by Bishop Selwyn we had gone through a meaningless ceremony. Lastly came the Plymouth Brethren, who told us [D252] that Christ never instituted a visible church or ministry at all, but that everybody ought to be his own minister and make his own creed.
"Besides the confusion in our minds caused by the godless example of the majority of Europeans, and the contradictory teaching given by ministers of religion, we were puzzled by the behavior of the government, which, while professing to be bound by the moral law contained in the Bible, did not hesitate, when we became powerless, to break solemn promises made to us when we were more numerous and strong than the Europeans. Great was our surprise when the Parliament, composed not of ignorant, low-born men, but of European gentlemen, and professing Christians, put the Bible out of the schools, and, while directing the teachers to diligently instruct the children of New Zealand in all kinds of knowledge, told them on no account to teach them anything about the Christian religion, anything about God and his laws. My heathen master taught me to fear and reverence the Unseen Powers, and my parents taught me to order every action of my life in obedience to the Atuas, who would punish me if I offended them. But my children are not taught now in the schools of this Christian country to reverence any being above a policeman, or to fear any judge of their actions above a Resident Magistrate.
"I think, when the Bishop of Christ church asked us the other day the question I have already referred to, we might fairly have asked him to tell us first why the fire of faith burns so low among his own people. We might have quoted apt words from that Book which English people want everyone but themselves to take for their rule of life, and reverence as the Word of the living God: 'Physician, heal thyself.'
"Can ignorant Maoris be blamed for lukewarmness in the service of God, whose existence one of his ordained ministers tells them no man in Christendom can prove? I sometimes think, sir, that my children would have had a better chance of developing into honorable men and women, and would have had a better prospect of happiness when the time comes for them to enter the unseen world and meet their Maker, if, like the first Maori king (Potatu), I had refused [D253] to make an open profession of your religion till, as he said: 'You had settled among yourselves what religion really is.' Better, I think, the real belief in the unseen spiritual world which sustained my forefathers than the make-believe which the European people have asked us to substitute for it.
The following extract from an article in the North American Review by Wong Chin Foo, an educated Chinaman, a graduate of one of our New England colleges, gives similarly suggestive reasons for preferring the religion of his fathers to Christianity. Wong Chin Foo said:
"Born and raised a heathen, I learned and practiced its moral and religious code; and acting thereupon I was useful to myself and many others. My conscience was clear, and my hopes as to future life were undimmed by distracting doubt. But, when about seventeen, I was transferred to the midst of your showy Christian civilization, and at this impressible period of life Christianity presented itself to me at first under its most alluring aspects; kind Christian friends became particularly solicitous for my material and religious welfare, and I was only too willing to know the truth. Then I was persuaded to devote my life to the cause of Christian missions. But before entering this high mission, the Christian doctrine I would teach had to be learned, and here on the threshold I was bewildered by the multiplicity of Christian sects, each one claiming a monopoly of the only and narrow road to heaven.
"I looked into Presbyterianism only to retreat shudderingly from a belief in a merciless God who had long foreordained most of the helpless human race to an eternal hell. To preach such a doctrine to intelligent heathen would only raise in their minds doubts of my sanity, if they did not believe I was lying. Then I dipped into Baptist doctrines, but found so many sects therein of different 'shells,' warring over the merits of cold-water initiation and the method and time of using it, that I became disgusted with such trivialities; and the question of close communion or not only impressed me that some were very stingy and exclusive with [D254] their bit of bread and wine, and others a little less so. Methodism struck me as a thunder-and-lightning religion—all profession and noise. You struck it, or it struck you, like a spasm—and so you 'experienced' religion. The Congregationalists deterred me with their starchiness and self-conscious true-goodness, and their desire for only high-toned affiliates. Unitarianism seemed all doubt, doubting even itself. A number of other Protestant sects based on some novelty or eccentricity—like Quakerism—I found not worth a serious study by the non-Christian. But on one point this mass of Protestant dissension cordially agreed, and that was in a united hatred of Catholicism, the older form of Christianity. And Catholicism returned with interest this animosity. It haughtily declared itself the only true church, outside of which there was no salvation—for Protestants especially; that its chief prelate was the personal representative of God on earth; and that he was infallible. Here was religious unity, power and authority with a vengeance. But, in chorus, my solicitous Protestant friends besought me not to touch Catholicism, declaring it was worse than heathenism—in which I agreed; but the same line of argument also convinced me that Protestantism stood in the same category. In fact, the more I studied Christianity in its various phases, and listened to the animadversions of one sect upon another, the more it seemed to me 'sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.'
"Call us heathen if you will, the Chinese are still superior in social administration and social order. Among four hundred millions of Chinese there are fewer murders and robberies in a year than there are in New York State. True, China supports a luxurious monarch whose every whim must be gratified; yet, withal, its people are the most lightly taxed in the world, having nothing to pay but from tilled soil, rice and salt; and yet she has not a single dollar of national debt....
"Christians are continually fussing about religion; they build great churches and make long prayers, and yet there is more wickedness in the neighborhood of a single church district of one thousand people in New York, than among one million heathen, churchless and unsermonized. Christian [D255] talk is long and loud about how to be good and to act charitably. It is all charity and no fraternity—'There, dog, take your crust and be thankful!' And is it, therefore, any wonder that there is more heart-breaking and suicides in the single state of New York in a year than in all China?
"The difference between the heathen and the Christian is that the heathen does good for the sake of doing good. With the Christian, what little good he does he does it for immediate honor and for future reward; he lends to the Lord and wants compound interest. In fact, the Christian is the worthy heir of his religious ancestors. The heathen does much and says little about it, the Christian does little good, but when he does he wants it in the papers and on his tombstone. Love men for the good they do you is a practical Christian idea, not for the good you should do them as a matter of human duty. So Christians love the heathen; yes, the heathen's possessions; and in proportion to these the Christian's love grows in intensity. When the English wanted the Chinaman's gold and trade, they said they wanted 'to open China for their missionaries.' And opium was the chief, in fact the only, missionary they looked after when they forced the ports open. And this infamous Christian introduction among Chinamen has done more injury, social and moral, in China, than all the humanitarian agencies of Christianity could remedy in two hundred years. And on you, Christians, and on your greed of gold, we lay the burden of the crime resulting; of tens of millions of honest, useful men and women sent thereby to premature death after a short, miserable life, besides the physical and moral prostration it entails even where it does not prematurely kill! And this great national curse was thrust on us at the point of Christian bayonets. And you wonder why we are heathen? The only positive point Christians have impressed on heathenism is that they would sacrifice religion, honor, principle, as they do life, for—gold. And they sanctimoniously tell the poor heathen: 'You must save your soul by believing as we do!'....
"'Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you,' or 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' is the great divine law which Christians and heathen alike hold, but which the [D256] Christians ignore. This is what keeps me the heathen I am! And I earnestly invite the Christians of America to Confucius."
The following similar instance was reported by the press, of a woman from India—Pundita Ramabai—who visited Boston a few years ago and was preparing to return to India to engage in teaching the high caste women of India. She did not find it easy to tell to what denomination of Christians she belonged. A reporter asked the question, and she answered:
"I belong to the universal church of Christ. I meet good Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, and each one tells something about the Bible. So it seems to me better to go there myself and find the best I can. [A wise decision.] And there I find Christ the Savior of the world, and to him I give my heart. I was baptized when in England, and I commune with all Christian people who allow me to do so. I do not profess to be of any particular denomination, for I would go back to India simply as a Christian. To my mind it appears that the New Testament, and especially the words of our Savior, are a sufficiently elaborate creed. I believe as the Savior has told us, and his message through John has come to us, that God is a spirit, is light and love; that he created, illuminates and pervades the universe; that Jesus, his Son and Servant, the apostle of our faith, was sent by him to be the savior and leader of his children; that as many as believe on him have the right to be the sons of God; and that the holy spirit is our guide and comforter, the great gift of God through Christ; that there is but one Church, and that all who acknowledge Jesus as their Savior are members of that Church. I believe that whatever is needed for my salvation will be given me, and I pray earnestly that God may grant me grace to be a seeker and follower of truth and a doer of his will. In Boston they said I was a Unitarian; I told them I was not. Neither am I a Trinitarian. I do not understand these modern inventions at all. I am simply a Christian, and the New Testament teaches me my religion."
The Japanese converts to Christianity manifested a similar [D257] spirit, their noble course being both a severe rebuke to the nominal churches and their creeds and a beautiful commentary on the power of the Word of God. Of their opinions of the creeds of Christendom, and of their determination to stand by the Bible alone, we have the following published account:
"When the Japanese Empire was thrown open to American commerce, the American churches were zealous to proselyte that country to their several confessions of faith. The missionaries sent out found that their division would be an effectual barrier to success, and agreed to conceal their differences and work together for souls alone, simply presenting one God, and Christ crucified for sinners, until they should obtain a foothold. The dissimulation succeeded so well that in 1873, in respect to the clamor for sectarian harvests on the part of home Boards, it was agreed that the converts were sufficiently numerous to warrant a division of the spoil.
"But when the deceit was carefully exposed to the converts from heathenism, an unexpected difficulty arose. These Japanese Christians assembled and drew up a petition, setting forth the joy and peace and righteousness they had found in Christ Jesus, and objecting to being divided, contrary to the Word and spirit of God, and urging the missionaries, since they had confessed such a deplorable state of things in their own country, to return to America and leave the further evangelization of Japan to them.
"Copies of this petition were forwarded to the various Boards by which the missionaries were supported and controlled, and agents were sent out to investigate and report. One of these agents, whose letter was published in The Independent (N. Y.), says that to these minds, just brought from the darkness of heathenism, 'the simple joys of salvation overshadow all other considerations,' and 'it will be many years before they can be indoctrinated into the nice distinctions which divide Christendom.' Nevertheless, these whose 'other considerations' overshadowed the 'joys of salvation' and shut out the love of God, persevered in the work of dividing. The spirit of God, as it always does, prompted these honest souls to meet in the name of Jesus only. The [D258] most difficult thing in the work of the sectarian missionary is to 'indoctrinate the convert into the nice distinctions which divide Christendom.' Very few of the adherents of any sect in America are so indoctrinated. They are prejudiced and overcome by other considerations than real convictions. A very small per cent, have anything like intelligent consciences about professions of faith and the distinctions by which they are separated from other sects."
Such are the sentiments of intelligent heathen, bewildered and confused by the misrepresentations of the divine character and doctrines. But we rejoice to know that, notwithstanding the conflict of creeds and the unchristian conduct of multitudes of professed Christians, and of the so-called Christian nations, all Christian missionary effort among the heathen peoples has not been in vain, but that here and there the seeds of divine truth have dropped into good and honest hearts and brought forth the fruits of righteousness and true Christian character. Such fruits, however, cannot be credited to the creeds, but to the Word and spirit of God, despite the confusion of human creeds. The Lord refers to the Old and New Testament Scriptures as "My two witnesses" (Rev. 11:3), and faithfully they have borne their testimony to every nation.
As to whether the heathen religionists will have any disposition to affiliate with nominal Christianity, we have no affirmative indications. On the contrary, their representatives at the World's Parliament of Religions were impressed chiefly with the inferiority of the Christian religion to their estimate of their own; but the "sure word of prophecy" indicates very clearly that the various Protestant sects will form a cooperative union or federacy, and that Catholicism and Protestantism will affiliate, neither losing its identity. These are the two ends of the ecclesiastical heavens which, as their confusion increases, shall roll together as a scroll (Isa. 34:4; Rev. 6:14) for self-protection—as distinct [D259] and separate rolls, yet in close proximity to each other.
For this desired end Protestants show themselves ready to make almost any compromise, while Papacy has assumed a most conciliatory attitude. Every intelligent observer is aware of these facts; and every reader of history knows the baneful character of that great antichristian system that now sees, in the great confusion of Protestantism, its opportunity for readvancing to power. And, though realizing in itself a strength superior to that of divided Protestantism, the great Papal system also fears the approaching crisis, and hence desires most anxiously the union of Christendom, Papal and Protestant, civil and religious.
The following extract from a paper by the noted "Paulist father," Walter Elliot, of New York city, read at the Columbian Catholic Congress of 1893, shows the purpose of the church of Rome to take advantage of the present confusion of Protestantism. He said:
"The collapse of dogmatic Protestantism is our opportunity. Denominations, and 'creeds,' and 'schools,' and 'confessions' are going to pieces before our eyes. Great men built them, and little men can demolish them. This new nation cannot but regard with disdain institutions [Protestant] hardly double its own short life, and yet utterly decrepit; cannot but regard with awe an institution [the Roman Catholic Church] in whose life the great republic could have gone through its career nearly a score of times. I tell you that the vigor of national youth must be amazed at the freshness of perennial [Roman Catholic] religion, and must soon salute it as divine. The dogmas of older Protestantism are fading out of our people's minds, or are being thrust out."
Pope Leo XIII in an encyclical, offered Roman Catholics a premium to have them pray for the conversion of Protestants to the church of Rome, the premium being release for a time from the pains of purgatory. From his address to Protestants, which formed a portion of the encyclical, we quote the following words:
"It is with burning charity that we now turn towards those people, who in a more recent age under the influence of exceptional convulsions, temporal and material, left the bosom of the Roman church. Forgetful of past vicissitudes, let them raise their spirits above human things, and, thirsting only for truth and salvation, consider the church founded by Jesus Christ. If they will then compare their own churches with this church and see to what a pass religion has come with them, they will admit readily that having forgotten the primitive traditions in several important points, the ebb and flow of variety has made them slip into new things. And they will not deny that of the truths which the authors of this new state of things had taken with them when they seceded hardly any certain and authoritative formula remains....
"We know full well how many long and painful labors are necessary to bring about the order of things which we would see restored, and some may think perhaps that we are too hopeful, pursuing an ideal rather to be desired than expected. But we place all our hope and trust in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, remembering the great things which were accomplished once by the so-called madness of the cross and of its preaching to the wise world, which looked on stupefied and confounded. Especially do we implore princes and rulers, in the name of their political foresight and solicitude for the interests of their peoples, to weigh our designs equitably, and second them by their favor and authority. Were only a part of the fruits that we expect to ripen, the benefit would not be small amid the present rapid downfall of all things, and when to the prevailing unrest is joined fear of the future.
"The last century left Europe wearied by disasters and still trembling from the convulsions by which she had been shaken. Might not the century which now wears to its end hand down as a heritage to the human race some few pledges of concord and the hope of the great benefits held out by the unity of Christian faith?"
That the trend of Protestantism is Romeward cannot be denied. That was the real significance of the prominent part given to Roman Catholics in the great Religious Parliament; [D261] and it is the expressed anxiety of all interested in the Protestant Union movement to secure alliance, if not union, with the Church of Rome. One of the items in the Presbyterian creed now considered obnoxious, and which it is proposed shall be changed, is that referring to the Papacy as Antichrist.
"Dear Cardinal: You are, without doubt familiar with and interested in the fact that there is a movement among the Protestant churches toward reunion. If such a reunion is to take place, why may it not include the Roman Catholic church? Has not the Roman church some foundation to propose upon which we may all stand? Cannot she meet us with concessions which may be temporary, if she believes us wrong, until we learn of Christ and his plans more perfectly?
"Of one thing I feel sure, that personally I have a growing tendency to look more and more carefully for the good in all branches of the Christian church, and I apprehend that I am not alone in this. Sincerely yours,
"This reunion would be only fragmentary if the Catholic Church were excluded. It would also be impossible; for there can be no union possible without a solid Scriptural basis, and that is found in the recognition of Peter and his successor as the visible head of the church.
"There can be no stable government without a head, either in civil, military or ecclesiastical life. Every State must have its governor, and every town must have its mayor or municipal chief with some title. If the churches of the world [D262] look for a head, where will they find one with the standard of authority or prescription except the Bishop of Rome?—not in Canterbury or Constantinople.
"As for the terms of reunion, they would be easier than is commonly imagined. The Catholic church holds to all the positive doctrines of all the Protestant churches, and the acknowledgment of the Pope's judicial supremacy would make the way easy for accepting her other doctrines. You are nearer to us than you imagine. Many doctrines are ascribed to the church which she repudiates.
"Dear Cardinal: Your reply has been read with much interest. May I not now inquire if it would not be a wise and valuable thing for the Catholic church to set forth to the Protestant churches a possible basis of union (describing the matter in sufficient detail) somewhat after the order of the Chicago-Lambeth propositions of the Episcopal church? I know how much the Methodist church, and indeed the entire Christian church, is misunderstood by many, and I conceive it more than possible, inevitably, that the Catholic church should likewise be misunderstood and misjudged in many things. Cannot the Catholic church correct this misunderstanding on the part of Protestants to a large degree at least, and would not this hasten the desired reunion?
The sentiments of the popular Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor toward the Church of Rome were very clearly indicated at its annual convention in Montreal in 1893. Among the delegates at the convention was a noted Hindoo from Bombay, India, Rev. Mr. Karmarkar, a convert [D263] to Protestant Christianity. In his remarks before the Society he stated that Romanism was a hindrance to missionary work in India. The statement met with very manifest disapproval in the convention; but when the French Romanist dailies took up the matter and published what the Hindoo had said, commenting angrily upon it, and in consequence a subsequent session of the convention was disturbed by a mob of Roman Catholics, the presiding officer of the convention endeavored to appease their wrath by rising in the midst of the assembly and declaring that he and the delegates were not responsible for Mr. Karmarkar, thus leaving their guest alone to bear the brunt of their wrath, for thus courageously testifying to the truth. Evidently Mr. Karmarkar was the only Protestant at that convention, the only one who neither feared, sympathized with, nor worshiped the beast. (Rev. 20:4) The following were his words as reported by The American Sentinel, Aug. 1893:
"There is a remarkable correspondence between Romish worship and Hindoo worship. Romanism is but a new label on the old bottles of paganism containing the deadly poison of idolatry. Often the Hindoos ask us, when seeing the Romish worship, 'What is the difference between Christianity and Hindooism?' In India we have not only to contend with the hydra-headed monster of Idolatry, but also the octopus of Romanism."
Among the few voices raised in opposition to this action of the Christian Endeavor Society were the following resolutions presented at a patriotic meeting of the citizens of Boston, and unanimously adopted by two thousand people:
"Whereas, At the Christian Endeavor convention now in session at Montreal, Rev. S. V. Karmarkar clearly and truthfully stated the hindrances to the progress of Christianity in India, mentioning the demoralizing influences of the Roman Catholic church, thereby arousing the animosity [D264] of French Roman Catholics, who endeavored to prevent free speech in a Protestant convention by riotous acts; therefore
"Resolved, That we, Protestant citizens of Boston, fully endorse Rev. S. V. Karmarkar in boldly stating facts; and we deeply regret that a company of Christians sought to pacify Romanists by a rising vote (which was loudly applauded), apparently censuring a man of God for telling the truth.
Another popular Protestant institution, the Chautauqua Literary Circle, at one of its large annual conventions, sent the following message to a similar assembly of Roman Catholics, more recently instituted and located on Lake Champlain. The message was adopted by unanimous vote and with great enthusiasm, and read thus:
"Chautauqua sends greeting and best wishes to the Catholic Summer School." In reply Chancellor Vincent received the following from Dr. Thomas J. Conarty, head of the Catholic Summer School at Plattsburgh, Lake Champlain: "The scholars of the Catholic Summer School of America are deeply grateful for Chautauqua's cordial greetings, and send best wishes to Chautauqua in return."
Another company of Protestants, chiefly Covenanters, is very solicitous to have this nation (which, from the beginning of its life has repudiated the doctrine of the divine right of kings, and which has never acknowledged the right of any man to rule as "king by the grace of God") put on the garb of Christian profession, however greatly it might dishonor that profession. One of the chief objects of this National Reform Movement, as it is called, is to enforce upon all the strict observance of Sunday as a day of worship. And in hope of securing their ends by a majority vote of the people, they are very solicitous to have their influence augmented by the Roman Catholic vote. Hence they express [D265] their willingness to make almost any concessions, even to sell their religious liberty, bought with the blood of the martyrs, to gain the cooperation of the Church of Rome. Hear their proposition expressed by the chief organ of the denomination, The Christian Statesman, thus:
"Whenever they [the Roman Catholic Church] are willing to cooperate in resisting the progress of political atheism, we will gladly join hands with them." Again, "We may be subjected to some rebuffs in our first proffers; for the time is not yet come when the Roman Church will consent to strike hands with other churches, as such; but the time has come to make repeated advances, and gladly accept cooperation in any form in which they may be willing to exhibit it. It is one of the necessities of the situation." Rev. S. F. Scovel (Presbyterian)
The same journal also marked the duty of the United States' government as follows: "Our remedy for all these malefic influences is to have the government simply set up the moral law and recognize God's authority behind it, and lay its hand on any religion that does not conform to it." Yes, "the necessities of the situation" are indeed forcing the religious powers of Christendom into peculiar positions, and it does not require a very keen observation to note the backward turn of the wheels of religious progress; nor to surmise where religious liberty will be brought to an abrupt end.
"Of one thing I am certain: If at the time of any of the great separations among Christians in the past, the condition of the church had been what it is today, and if the mind and temper of those who became separatists then had been the same as that of their representatives now, no separation would have taken place at all. [Very true!] This change on both sides is a proof, to me, that the God of unity and love is, in his own time and way, bringing us all together again in him. [But to those not intoxicated with the [D266] spirit or wine of great Babylon (Rev. 17:2) it is proof of the decline of vital godliness and love of the truth; and an evidence that the spirit of that noble movement, The Great Reformation, is dead.]"
"The whole cause of the Reformation is going by default, and if the alienated laity do not awake in time and assert their rights as sharers in the common priesthood of all Christians, they will awake too late, to find themselves members of a church which has become widely popish in all but name."
While we see that, in this country, the church nominal, both Papal and Protestant, is seeking the protection and cooperation of the state, that the various sects are associating themselves together for mutual cooperation and defense, ignoring their doctrinal differences and emphasizing their points of agreement, and that all are anxious for a speedy union at any price which will not affect their policy, in Europe the case is somewhat reversed. There the civil powers feel their insecurity and danger most, and they consequently look to the ecclesiastical powers for what assistance they may be able to render. Here the languishing eye of the church looks imploringly to the state, while there the tottering thrones seek props from the church.
Such is the unhappy condition of that great system which is now brought to judgment before the assembled world—that system which proudly styles itself Christendom (Christ's Kingdom), but which Christ promptly and emphatically disowns, and most appropriately names "Babylon." How manifest the absurdity of applying the name Christendom to the kingdoms of this world! Do the prophets portray any such condition of things in the glorious Kingdom of God? Will the great Prince of Peace [D267] go about imploring the nations to recognize his authority and grant him his rights—of territory, of wealth, or of dominion? Will he beg a pittance from the poorest peasant or court the favor of the affluent? Or will he implore his subjects to bestir themselves and exert their dying energies to support his tottering throne? Oh, no; with dignity and authority, when the appointed time comes, he will take unto himself his great power and begin his glorious reign; and who shall hinder or obstruct his way?
Thus there is a general banding together of the powers that be, both civil and ecclesiastical, and a mutual dependence one upon another; and with these are bound up the interests of all the rich, the great and mighty—the interests of kings and emperors and statesmen and lords and ladies and titled officials and priests and bishops, and the clergy of every grade, great capitalists, bankers, monopolistic corporations, etc., etc. The present status of the conflict is but a clashing of ideas and a general preparation for the impending crisis. The ecclesiastical powers, referred to in the Scriptures as the powers of the heavens (the nominal spiritual powers), are approaching each other, and truly, "the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll"; but "while they be folden together as thorns [for there can be no peaceful and comfortable affiliation of liberty-loving Protestants and the tyrannical spirit of Papacy], and while they are drunken as drunkards [intoxicated with the spirit of the world, the wine of Babylon], they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry" (Nahum 1:10), in the great cataclysm of trouble and anarchy predicted in the Word of God as the introduction of the Millennial Kingdom.
We would not be understood as including all Christians as "Babylonians." Quite to the contrary. As the Lord recognizes some in Babylon as true to him and addresses them [D268] now, saying—"Come out of her, my people" (Rev. 18:4), so do we; and we rejoice to believe that there are today thousands who have not bowed the knee to the Baal of our day—Mammon, Pride and Ambition. Some of these have already obediently "Come out of her," and the remainder are now being tested on this point, before the plagues are poured out upon Babylon. Those who love self, popularity, worldly prosperity, honor of men more than they love the Lord, and who reverence human theories and systems more than the Word of the Lord, will not come out until Babylon falls and they come through the "great tribulation." (Rev. 7:9,14) But such shall not be accounted worthy to share the Kingdom. Compare Rev. 2:26; 3:21; Matt. 10:37; Mark 8:34,35; Luke 14:26,27