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VOL. IX. ALLEGHENY, PA., MAY, 1888. NO. 9
Zion’s Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY
No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION
TERMS:—FIFTY CENTS A YEAR, POSTAGE FREE
Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Three shillings per year. Including “Special Number,” four shillings. Remit by Foreign Postal Money Order.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord’s poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat—yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” And you that have it—”Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently—and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”—ISAIAH 55:1,2.
Entered as SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER, at the P.O., Allegheny, Pa.
NO. VOL. II. OF M. DAWN is not yet ready and will not be for several months. Due notice will be given in these columns. We are doing what we can to hasten it. Assist us by being very particular in all orders and in giving addresses carefully. About one letter a day lacks either a signature or address, which causes us trouble as well as you.
WE HAVE a good supply of the January ’88 issue of the TOWER containing articles upon Hell, etc. Thirty thousand have already gone out, and we will supply all you can use judiciously, free. These however, are not for general distribution (use the Arp tracts thus), but for use among your friends or such as you think might be specially interested. You may if you choose send us the full addresses of such, and we will mail them as sample copies.
IN ORDERING “Arp Tracts” say about how many you can distribute. Order freely—we make no charge. Quite a few saints have been found by this agency. Some whose feet had well nigh slipped into Infidelity and Spiritism got these, then got MILLENNIAL DAWN, and are now praising God, discerning His “Plan of the Ages.” They should be distributed to every congregation of Christian worshippers everywhere, and we are prepared to supply them to all who will thus use them.
MISSIONARY ENVELOPES.—We are now having another lot of 20,000 printed. For convenience we put them up in lots of 100, for 35cts. and 300 for $1.00—this pays the carrying charges to you.
To introduce these to all our readers we have concluded to put up some of them in smaller packages—25 envelopes for 10cts. This will give the opportunity of doing this sort of mission work, for the truth, to all—even those who write but few letters. If each of our ten thousand readers used these envelopes always, it would be a great additional power constantly and quietly at work without effort or expense—telling the good tidings, preaching where you could not preach otherwise.
IF YOU meet any friends of the TOWER who say they have not been getting it lately, just ask them whether they subscribed for it for 1888, or asked for it free on “The Lord’s Poor List.” We cannot state our terms more explicitly than we do at the head of first column. We do not wish to send the TOWER to those who are able to pay the small price of fifty cents per year, but are not sufficiently interested to do so. Nor do we wish a single interested one to be without its regular visits because unable to pay. All such interested ones are as welcome to it as those who pay. But do not mistake us to mean that we want to send the TOWER to all poor people, and do not send us lists of the poor of your neighborhood. We offer it to the interested poor only, and expect such to show their interest by writing for it themselves, stating their willingness but inability to pay.
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THE GERMAN DAWN
The German translation of Millennial Dawn is issued as yet only in cloth binding—414 pages, price $1.00 per copy. When orders for 2000 copies in paper binding are pledged we will get out an edition of 5000 such. As yet only about 500 have been pledged. Many of our readers have friends and relatives who are Germans and should, as far as possible, use this agency for their benefit.
We propose, to those unable to purchase, that we will loan them a copy of this book and pay the postage to them, if they will promise to read it carefully and to return it, and to pay return postage. The same proposition, to loan, we apply also to the English edition,—though at the low price of 25cts. in paper covers, there are few who cannot purchase, if they so desire.
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“A CHRISTIAN pays a very poor compliment to the Bible, and to his own faith in it, when he starts out with the assumption that SCIENCE is the fixed point of certainty, and that the BIBLE is the variable point of uncertainty, and that if there be seeming conflict between the two, the Bible must yield to the supreme authority of science.”
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
THE BISHOP OF LONDON ARRAIGNS THE CHURCH FOR UNFAITHFULNESS TO THE CAUSE OF LABOR, AND VOLUNTARILY GIVING UP HIS BISHOPRIC, HIS PALACE, HIS SEAT IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, AND AN ANNUAL SALARY OF 10,000 POUNDS, HE PROPOSES HENCEFORTH TO DEVOTE HIMSELF TO THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING HUMANITY.
TEXT.—”Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just, and he doth not resist you.”—James 5:1,4,5,6.
Fellow Citizens—The text which I have just read you, and from which I shall preach the last sermon as bishop that I shall ever deliver from this pulpit, is one which is probably as unfamiliar to you comfortable well-to-do people as it is familiar to all those who since it was originally penned, have toiled and suffered for humanity. Although it is read sometimes in the ordinary course of our church service, yet judging by your conduct, your ears have been deaf to its terrible denunciations. From the days when I was an humble curate until now, I have had a large and varied experience of cathedrals, churches, preachers and sermons, but I have never yet heard a discourse based on these words, and I cannot learn from any of my brother bishops or priests that they have used them, or heard them so used.
I can see by your uneasy demeanor that you are asking yourselves why, on this Christmas day, when, in accordance with custom, I should be preaching smooth things to you, I should be mad enough to offend your delicate susceptibilities by quoting the saying of one of the common people—words written eighteen centuries ago—which might have done very well then, but which cannot possibly be applied to you and your class to-day; you who come here, clad in purple and fine linen, who, some of you, live in king’s houses, who fare delicately every day, and who consider that you have fulfilled every moral obligation when you have dropped a coin into the collection box, before you step into your carriages to be driven to your luxurious home. It is because I believe that not only James, but Jesus Christ himself, if he could stand in my place to-day, would hurl these words at you with a force and a passion of which we, in the nineteenth century, have but little conception. Not as a bishop, but as a man, I repeat them to you, hardly hoping that they may touch your hearts, but more as a justification for my new and strange position.
For years I have been one of you. My home has been not where Christ’s home was, with the masses, but with the classes. I have an abundance of this world’s goods. I have been a dignitary of a church which is the church of the rich, and not the church of the poor. Without a protest I have mixed in society with men and women whom Christ would have denounced as bitterly as he denounced the scribes and pharisees. In the house of lords, I have sat silently side by side with whoremongers and adulterers, and silently have I welcomed as my personal friends, high-born women—some of whom I see before me to-day—with whom no decent working man would allow his wife or daughter to associate.
I have seen among you, spreading like a canker, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, and instead of reproving you, as Christ would have done, I have taken refuge in generalities, and have not dared to denounce your individual sins. All this time there has been going on around me, in this huge city and throughout the land, the surging, toiling life of humanity—the sorrow, the suffering, the poverty, the disease, the sin and the shame which I realized but dimly, as something altogether apart from my own existence, but for which, I at last see clearly, you and I have been up to the present time mostly to blame. We and our class have kept back by fraud the hire of the laborers who have reaped our fields, we have lived in pleasure on the earth and been wanton, we have nourished our own hearts while we have starved the bodies of those to whom we owe the very bread we eat and the clothes we wear, and now we are condemning and killing at our own very gates the people whose inarticulate cry is entering into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, whose faithful servants we pretend to be.
My fellow citizens, I know not how it may be with you, but for me this careless, selfish life is ended. Little by little I have awakened to the fact that all my days I have entirely neglected my real duty to my fellow men, and at last I have come to know that my proper place is not here, as a well paid bishop of a church which, in its present condition is utterly opposed to every thing which Christ taught, but among the poor, to whom he declared that the gospel should be preached; among the laborers whose hire we have kept back by fraud.
Too long have I neglected the miserable social facts of our so-called Christian civilization. Too long have I spoken to you smooth things and cried peace when there was no peace. I have known by repute that there was misery among our people, starvation in our midst, and prostitution on our streets. But hitherto I have taken these as something for which you and I were not responsible, but which were really due to the inherent wickedness of nature.
But now I have learned that our pleasures and our wantonness have been built upon this hideous foundation, and having learned this—as you may also learn if you will—I have resolved that from this Christmas
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day my new life shall begin. To-day I lay down my robes, I give up my bishoprick, my palace and my income; I give up my seat in the house of lords; I give up my pleasures of society and of the world, and at last I take my place as a MAN among MEN.
It is, I know, a bold step that I have taken, but I have fully counted the cost. Resolved no longer to live on the labors of others, I shall probably have to join the great army of the unemployed. Tomorrow I shall attempt to preach my first sermon to them in Trafalgar square, from the same text that I have used here to-day, and it is likely that I shall pass tomorrow night in a police cell. But there I shall be no worse off than Jesus Christ would be, if he attempted to enter this abbey (Westminster) now, for he would be arrested and locked up as a vagabond without visible means of subsistence. To you and your class he would simply be a laborer whose subsistence you have kept by fraud. To the abolition of that fraud, and of the misery and degradation which result from it, I shall henceforth devote my life. It will be no easy task, not near so easy as being Bishop of London, but the reward of a good conscience and of noble work well done, is better far than a palace and ten thousand pounds ($48,000) a year.
In this place I shall probably never speak again. But when freedom shall have opened out her arms and gathered all men into her wide embrace, when justice and truth shall have taken the place of oppression and fraud, some man of the people shall stand in this temple of the dead, and inspired by the best traditions of past, the noble aspirations of the present, and the ideal hopes of the future, shall send ringing through these lofty aisles that living Christmas message which, till then can never have its full significance—”Peace on Earth, and Good Will to Men.”—From London Justice.
The above clipping sent us by one of the brethren came just too late for our April issue. It is rather remarkable that an event of so great moment, should have been kept quiet so long.
So far as we can learn, at this great distance, the above discourse gives only too true a picture not only of the state of society in Great Britain, but throughout the old world. Even the moral and conscientiously disposed of the Aristocratic Class, live often in idleness as well as luxury upon the labors of the middle and lower classes,—including the trades-people, small manufacturers, mechanics and day-laborers; all of whom are indirectly forced to supply this extravagant luxury, waste and idleness, out of their unceasing toil and often pitiful wages.
The aristocratic class referred to are really social parasites, who as a rule never have given any equivalent for the extravagant favors they enjoy, and never intend to do so; nor to permit the favors which they regard as their lawful rights to slip from their grasp. The incomes of this class, amounting often to millions of dollars yearly, are generally derived as rentals for the lands held by them for centuries. If it could be shown that the parents of the present owners ever gave an equivalent of any sort for these lands, and that their tenants or their parents once had as
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good a chance of owning their natural proportion of the soil, but had wasted their time and energies in idleness, foolishness, or dissipation, then the case would be different; though that would not make proper the everlasting perpetuity of a land-lord system, found to be grievously oppressive to all except the very few.
But except in a very few cases there is not the slightest show of equity. The parents of present land-lord aristocrats in the remote past obtained control of the land by force, without giving any equivalent. And, of keener intellects than the masses, they framed laws which recognize their titles thus obtained. These laws the common people have heretofore consented to, being for most part ignorant of their own rights, and easily swayed by the plausible arguments or liberal patronage of those whose mental superiority to many of them they recognize—especially when among these aristocrats stood the highest representatives of the church, teaching by word and example that this arrangement, as it stands, is the will of God.
No doubt many of the royal and aristocratic families, and many of the bishop-princes of Great Britain, at heart are really benevolent, and have never thought of this matter in its true light,—that instead of being very merciful and benevolent, they are not even just; that they owe much to those who for years they have deprived of the rights and privileges which God provided for them equally. We believe the bishop above quoted, is one of the few among the aristocratic class, whose eyes have been opened to see these matters in their true light. But, under the enlightening influences of the new age now dawning, the eyes of the “common people” are opening much more rapidly. Self-interest tends to open the eyes of the one class, as it tends to close those of the other. By reason of the inventions, etc., of this “Day of preparation” the common people have gotten a taste of education and of the comforts and luxuries of life, which the aristocratic class could not have prevented if they would. Now the thinking process has begun; knowledge is being increased, and they are beginning to see that it is not by God’s decree that the land which he provided for humanity as a whole, has been unjustly seized by the few to the lasting injury of the vast majority.
What is the remedy? It is the recognition of the wrong, and the righting of it. Because few of the aristocracy will allow themselves to see the right, or to in any measure release their hold upon their assumed rights, therefore the remedy, which must come, will come from the common people demanding and taking their rights. They are not fully awake yet, but it will not be long until they are. And the danger will be, that in the frenzy of the revolution which must come, (the great “time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation”), many of them will ungenerously exact a fearful interest—such as was illustrated in the French Revolution.
In the United States, though we have no such inequitable land-lord system as that of the old world, while there are still millions of acres of public domain held for actual settlers, yet we see nevertheless, in the sale of large bodies of the public lands to individuals and corporations, the beginning of a system which in the end would work injury to the masses. The people of to-day have no right to dispose of public lands to speculators, which their own and their neighbors’ children will sooner or later need for use. Yet this is what they are doing through their governmental representatives. We see here too, a principle at work which is contrary to God’s design—that the earth should be for the people, each in proportion as he can and will use the same; not to be made a matter of speculation whereby one person or family may in the future collect a toll or rent from others for the use of God’s gift—the land. Improvements, representing labor, are proper investments; but land, representing God’s generous gift to all, should not be appropriated by the few to be held from the many,—not even by common consent.
It would be wise for all possessing large holdings of land to dispose of the surplus speedily; and not only in this but in every matter let us see to it that our lives and deeds conform to righteousness—justice. This should be the action of the righteous, from principle and from a desire to conform their lives in all things to the will of God. It might well be followed by others who care only for self-interest; for we are coming into the days of retribution when every deed shall receive a just recompense, whether it be good or evil.
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EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS
The following letter is from the Editor’s beloved father, who has past his threescore and ten: it shows his deep interest in the truth, and though neither a public speaker or writer, he is a minister and ambassador for the Lord, seeking continually to be used to the Master’s honor, by letting his light so shine as to glorify our Father in heaven.
Manitee Co., Fla.
C. T. RUSSELL,
MY DEAR SON:—Your kind and welcome letter came duly, and I infer from its tenor that you are all well. However much I like to hear from you often, I am satisfied that you have not much time to give to writing letters and therefore will excuse you, when you do the best you can. We are in comfortable health at present, though I am far from rugged or strong. I feel that the Lord is dealing very graciously with us in all things, and that we have great reason to be very humble and thankful for his mercies, and I do feel thankful and contented. The world and the things of the world do not trouble me as they used to do. I take great pleasure in thinking of the goodness of our Heavenly Father in giving us the light of His glorious plan of salvation, and of establishing our faith in Christ Jesus our Lord as the only way to obtain eternal life. This hope and this trust in Jesus alone for salvation, is daily strengthened in me, the more I see of the various dogmas of conflicting creeds. The most regret I have, and the only thing which makes me feel dissatisfied with myself is, that I cannot do more than I am doing for the cause of truth, and to communicate to others the blessed truths we so much enjoy. We had a precious season here on the anniversary of the death of “Christ our Passover,” though there were but three of us. We remembered the gathering at Allegheny, as well as all the scattered sheep, and knew even before
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the April TOWER told us, that you would have a precious season and remember us at the throne of grace.
I am glad to know that Bro. Zech has concluded the translation of DAWN into the German language. Tell him I compliment him on having accomplished his work in so short a time, considering other work. You are all doing a great work, and I pray that you may be very successful in your undertakings in the future, as you have been in the past. Send me 300 missionary envelopes. I have some of the “Arp Tracts” yet. Please send me about five or six more February TOWERS. I will state to you that if you find any one wanting to buy wild land near Pinellas, I want to donate 10 acres to the WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY, but I am unable to find a purchaser here at present.
We here, all join in sending love to you all. Your loving father.
J. L. RUSSELL.
Graham Mines, West Va.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—It is some time since I learned of your valuable paper Z.W.T. It was in the Jan. and Febr. Nos., I saw the complete Bible Denunciation of the Orthodox view of Hell. I shall try to work for the “TOWER” what time I can spare from my farm this summer. From what I have seen of your publications, you are certainly doing a grand, and it must be an appointed work; and may the good Lord stand by you on Zion’s wall to proclaim what the signs of promise are. Yours in hope. J. J. B.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—The Arp slips have been scattered broadcast throughout this locality, and also the few Dawns that Bro. Wise and myself have been able to sell and give away, have caused a grand confusion. The nominal churches are denouncing us, and specially warning their congregations to not even allow a scrap of paper of any kind we may send out to come into their homes, and warning their children not to read anything of the kind. But thank God though the Devil may use all the forces he can command, it is only stimulating us to greater efforts, and we can already see some fruits of our labor. God is not an idle spectator of what is going on. He is not allowing the devil to have all his own way. He, as we believe, has plucked one soul as a brand from the burning [out of the confusion and distress of Babylon—into the joys of truth]. Glory be to His name, for he is worthy of all praise.
Your poor unworthy brother rejoices that his name is cast out as evil, and that the finger of scorn is pointed at him; having the blessed privilege of suffering it for the Master’s sake. Pray for me that my faith may wax stronger in the Lord. God bless you and yours, and all the faithful ones is my earnest prayer. Yours in fellowship and love. I. W. M__________.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—We want the TOWER, but as yet we are unable to send any money. It seems strange to us, but it is true, that before we saw the true light and tried to walk therein, we could pay for publications, but because of this truth many around us, (in sectarian churches,) make it as hard on us as possible, and then ascribe it to “Providence” because we are wrong. But we do not see it so. We see in this, that we are on the right road. In this age we are not promised riches, but tribulation; and we prefer to be poor now and rich hereafter, dishonored now, and honored in the coming age. We know our Father knoweth what things we need. We will continue to work and do the best we can and send you some money when we can.
Send us some Arp slips if you can for circulation. May God bless you with grace, more wisdom and knowledge in the truth, and means to sustain you.
Yours in the hope of eternal glory.
J. W. P__________.
EDITOR TOWER, DEAR BROTHER:—Last issue of TOWER at hand some time since and eagerly read, and next issue longed for. I have been a follower of Christ for four years or more and have been a close student of His Word, but never saw the truth as I now do on reading Dawn. It has been my purpose to enter college and prepare for the ministry, but on account of circumstances the way has never been opened, and I now believe God has restrained me to take up this work in a different way—not to become bound to the traditions of men or sects.
I am loaning Dawn. The M.E. minister here is studying it now, and being a bold preacher, if he could be brought into the light, I am sure he would be a power.
Hoping to receive some suggestions on best manner of going to work, I am,
Yours in Christ. C. H. D__________.
DEAR SIR:—With this request for four “Dawns,” I must say a word. I have only lately heard these “Glad tidings of Great Joy.” I have only just begun to follow after this glorious blessed truth. Would that I had heard of it years ago; but now by His help and guidance I mean to press forward, and spread the truth as set forth by the “TOWER.” May God abundantly bless and prosper you in this work. Please send me 300 or 400 of the Arp slips, and I will distribute them to best advantage in my office, and send four of the 25ct. edition of “Dawn” for distribution also. I expect to send for more soon.
Yours most sincerely. R. L. B__________.
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THE HARVESTER’S PRAYER
Earth’s harvest great is ripe indeed,
But laborers true, seem few;
Ah! help me Lord, my heart doth plead,
Some needful part to do.
Wise as the serpent let me be
In laboring for thy truth;
Let it absorb my every thought
And to my love give proof.
With cunning let me overtake
Some stranger, and by me
Thy love reveal, Thy truth impart,
And charm them Lord for Thee.
And, gentle as a dove I’d be,
Infused with love and power;
Go forth to win all hearts to Thee
Until my latest hour.
Help me Thy wisdom and Thy power
To show forth with Thy love;
Thy Justice, too, make clear to view
And lead their thoughts above.
And while the members of the Bride
Part from each other here,
May it my blessed privilege be
To comfort some and cheer.
By Thy example may we each
Be strengthened, not in vain
To sacrifice earth’s present things,
The promised prize to gain.
—Mrs. M. M. Land.
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BAPTISM AND ITS IMPORT
That our Lord and his apostles practised and enjoined upon all followers—”even to the end of the world,” or present dispensation, an outward rite called baptism, in which water was used in some manner, cannot reasonably be questioned. This was not only the case during our Lord’s ministry in the end of the Jewish age, but also under the Spirit dispensation after Pentecost, as is abundantly proved by the Scriptural record.*
*See, Acts 2:41; 8:12,36,38; 9:18; 10:47,48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:3-5; 22:16.
Nor will it answer to assume, as some do, that baptism belonged among the ceremonies of the Jewish Law, and that with all other features of that Law it ended at the cross—where our Lord “made an end of the Law nailing it to his cross;” for, baptism was not a part of the Jewish Law. The washings enjoined in the Law, performed at the laver in the court of the tabernacle, were neither immersions, nor sprinklings, but simply cleansings, and were not practised upon the people. The one tribe of Levi alone had access to that washing.
Nor will it do to say, as some do, that the apostles coming out of Judaism erred for a while. They failed to discern at first (say these teachers) that the real baptism was that of the holy Spirit at Pentecost, and so improperly kept up the water baptism after the Jewish age to which it belonged. In this as in the matter of not eating with the uncircumcised, they claim Peter erred, and others of the apostles with him to some extent. They claim too, that Paul confesses to an error when in 1 Cor. 1:14-16 he says, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius … and the household of Stephanas:” also, when he says (Col. 2:20,21), “Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances—touch not, taste not, handle not.”
Thus an apparently strong argument is built up, which is quite beyond the ability of many to see through—including those who make such arguments. This is the result of a too superficial examination of the subject, and a jumping at conclusions from certain texts whose connections have not been thoroughly studied or understood.
As already shown “baptism” was not a feature of the Law Covenant: hence it was not at all a part of that which our Lord ended and cancelled at the cross. It is a great mistake to class baptism, which is a symbol of the New Covenant, with the “ordinances” of the Jewish Law Covenant mentioned by the Apostle, Col. 2:20,23. In verse 14, he shows that he refers to ordinances that were against, i.e., unfavorable, disadvantageous to the Jew. Can any one say this of baptism? In what sense is it against any one?
What Paul does refer to as the Law “ordinances” contrary to or against the Jew, were those ceremonies, and fastings, those celebrations of new moons and sabbaths (verse 16), and particularities about the eating of clean and unclean animals, and wearing of clothing made of linen and wool mixed, etc., etc. These “ordinances” had their origin in the Law Covenant instituted by Moses, and had been added to by the Scribes and Pharisees who sat “in Moses’ seat” (Matt. 23:2), until they had become a mass of forms and ceremonies so complex and bewildering that those who attempted a strict observance of them found them extremely burdensome,—a yoke of bondage. Our Lord referred to the same bondage and weariness (Matt. 23:4); and again (Matt. 11:28) to the same class he held out grace instead of the Law, as the only way of life, saying, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden [with the Law’s unprofitable and multitudinous ordinances—which, because of your weak, fallen condition cannot profit but only annoy and weary you, and are therefore “against” you], and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
It is furthermore evident, that baptism is not one of the ordinances referred to in verse 14, when we read to the contrary in verse 12, that we who are buried with Christ in baptism, ARE THEREFORE (even if Jews formerly under the Law Covenant) not liable or subject to the ordinances of verse 14. Thus baptism is placed in contrast with the ceremonies of the Law.
The idea that baptism does not belong to the Gospel age and ended at the cross is again proved erroneous, when we remember that it was after his crucifixion, during the forty days before his ascension that our Lord while giving special instruction concerning the new dispensation, or Gospel age, specially mentioned baptism as the outward symbol by which believers were to confess him—”even to the consummation of the age” then just begun.—See Matt. 28:18-20.
And those who claim that proper baptism is that of the holy Spirit only, and that water baptism is therefore wrong, should be effectually silenced and converted from their error by the Master’s commission to his church to preach and baptize to the end of the age. For, how could the disciples baptize any with the holy Spirit? Surely that is God’s part. On the other hand, the Lord’s words could not have meant that his followers should teach all nations, and that those who believed would be baptized with the holy spirit by God, for then why would he give particular directions to the disciples as to how it should be done,—”In the name [or by the authority] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit”—? It is evident that our Lord’s directions refer to the symbol, to water baptism only; because we can do no more for others than teach them and symbolically baptize them: we cannot believe for them, nor make them believe; neither can we consecrate for them, nor make them consecrate. But we can teach them, and when they believe for themselves and consecrate for themselves, we can baptize them in water. And by this act they confess their faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, and their own consecration to be dead to the world and alive toward God, that in due time they may share in Christ’s resurrection.
Furthermore, God specially recognized water baptism under the Spirit dispensation by in some cases withholding certain gifts [miraculous manifestations conferred upon believers in the beginning of this age, for the purpose of manifesting God’s approval of the new teachings of the gospel], until the water baptism had been properly performed (Acts 19:3-6); as in another case the gifts were bestowed first, to teach Peter that water baptism and every other feature of the gospel favor was open to the Gentiles.—Acts 10:44-48.
That Paul’s expression of thankfulness that he had been prevented from baptizing many of the Corinthian church, was not because he saw that the ordinance had passed away, but for an entirely different reason, will be seen by a careful examination of the context. A serious affection of the eyes which rendered him almost blind was undoubtedly the reason why Paul did not baptize more of his converts but left this ordinance to others to perform. The great Apostle has been ignominiously styled “The blear-eyed Jew,” and there is little room for doubt that after he was struck down in the way to Damascus (Acts 9:4,8), he never fully recovered his sight. This “thorn” (figurative) he besought the Lord thrice to remove, but it was left as a reminder of previous error and hence served to keep Paul humble in the service of that Master whom he once had persecuted. (2 Cor. 12:7.) It was probably because of this difficulty that he did not recognize the High-priest, when on trial (Acts 23:5); and for the same reason all of his epistles were written by some one else, except one, and that one of the shortest of them; and it closes with a statement which indicated that he could write only with difficulty and that his readers could appreciate this, knowing his disadvantages. He says: “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” (Gal. 6:11.) Again, when wishing to mention their love for him, and their willingness to do for him the most useful thing, had it been possible, he says to them (Gal. 4:15), “I bear you record that, if possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes and have given them to me.”
It evidently was for this same reason that Paul never baptized any of his converts where he could avoid it—where others were present who could see to the service better than he.
When he thanked God that of the Corinthian church he had baptized only a few (1 Cor. 1:11-17), he was not assuming that he had become wiser than to do so—wiser than the Master who said, teach and baptize unto the close of the age, but for totally different reasons; reasons which only those who read the epistle to the Corinthians connectedly, as a whole, can recognize. He had heard that the church at Corinth was split into factions, divisions [literally sects]; some were Paulites, others Apollosites, others Peterites, and others Christians. He was sure he had in no way aided such sectarianism, and was glad he could say, I never authorized you to call yourselves by my name. Were you baptized into the name of Paul, or into the name of Christ? Since the majority were Paulites, and since Paul had founded the church at Corinth, it might appear to some that he had been seeking to make converts to himself, Paulites instead of Christians; and as it turned out thus he was glad to have it to say, that very few of those calling themselves Paulites had been baptized by him, as he said,—”Lest any should say, I baptized in mine own name.”
Even had Paul’s sight been good, the fact that he was an abler preacher than others and that many could baptize as well as he, would have been a sufficient reason for his course; for it was thus with the Master: We read (John 4:1,2), “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John; though Jesus himself baptized not but his disciples.” Judging from his unfitness for performing baptisms, and his talent for teaching, Paul concluded that preaching, and not baptizing, was his special mission (1 Cor. 1:17), though his own record shows that he did not allow even his own unfitness to hinder or prevent this obedience to the Master’s precept and example, when occasion required and no one else was convenient to render the service.
WHO WERE TO BE BAPTIZED?
Our Lord authorized teaching first, and then the baptism of such as believed in him as the Redeemer, and accepted the gospel call to become followers of him. The apostles followed this rule, and we have no testimony anywhere that they baptized others—neither unbelievers, nor infants, nor idiots. True, it is recorded that several “households” were baptized, and from this it is argued that probably there were infants in some of those families, and that therefore it is probable that infants were baptized, though none are mentioned. But, we answer, some families contain idiots, and some families number one or more unbelievers, shall we therefore conclude without other evidence that the apostles disregarded our Lord’s command and baptized unbelievers? Nay, verily! It is far more reasonable to conclude that in the few cases where households are mentioned they consisted only of adult believers; or that, since the custom or general usage would prevent misunderstanding, it was proper enough to say “household,” even if there were in them children too young to be “believers,” and who therefore would be understood as not included.
THE FORM OF BAPTISM
The Greek language is remarkable for its clear and definite expression of thought, and therefore was well fitted to give expression to divine truth. Its flexibility is well illustrated in the following words, each expressing a different shade of thought, yet all having a similar significance. Thus cheo signifies to pour; raino, to sprinkle; louo, to wash or bathe; nipto, to wash a part of the person; bathizo, (from bathos the bottom), to immerse or plunge deep; rantizo, (from raino), to sprinkle or shed forth; bapto, to dip or dye; baptizo, to dip, immerse or cover.
This last word baptizo (rendered baptize in the common version Bible), is used by our Lord and his apostles when referring to an ordinance which they practised, as well as enjoined upon all followers of the Lamb. It is a deeply significant ordinance in reality, though very simple in the outward symbol. From the word selected out from among so many others of various shades of meaning, it is clear that a sprinkling or even a washing of a part of the person was not the thought, but an immersion or covering of the whole being,—whatever that action or thought implies. Immersed is the correct translation; baptized as rendered in our common English Bibles is not a translation at all, but a mere carrying over of the Greek word into the English without translating
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it at all. Immersed, is the English word which corresponds in meaning to baptizo.
Not only does the Greek word signify to bury, immerse, or cover, but the connected Scripture narrative of itself, without the particular strictness of the Greek word used, would imply that the baptism was one of immersion and not sprinkling. The Greek as well as the English shows that our Lord went down into the water and came up out of the water. And the Apostle Paul frequently speaks of baptism as a burial which would be a very inappropriate figure with any other form than that of immersion.
It has been suggested by some, that in the case of the jailor who believed and was baptized straightway (Acts 16:33), that it could not have been by immersion, because he and the prisoners could not have left the jail for the purpose; but on the contrary, it has been shown that at that time the jails were provided with bathing reservoirs, most suitable for the immersions. And furthermore, it is to be remembered that of John the baptizer, it is written, “John was baptizing at Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there.” (John 3:23.) No one can for a moment suppose that if John sprinkled his converts, the largeness of the water supply could be a consideration. It was probably at a pool in the Jordan river.
It is generally admitted by scholars that immersion was the common practice of the early church, but with the beginning of the third century came great confusion on this as on other subjects; on the one hand some placed all the value upon the form, insisting even on three immersions, because our Lord had said in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, not seeing that in the name of simply signifies in recognition of; others claimed that as our Lord’s head bowed forward in dying on the cross so they should be immersed, not as in a burial, but face downward; others insisted that the baptized must be nearly naked as our Lord died thus; and still others went to an opposite extreme, and while holding that a form was all important, claimed that the exact form was unimportant, and for convenience substituted sprinkling.
This latter finally became the standard mode in the Church of Rome, from whom it reached Protestants. Immersion however is still the recognized form in the oriental churches. As we shall show presently, all these errors as to form, resulted from losing sight of the real significance of baptism. A claim frequently made, but not generally appreciated by those who make it, is that the Greek word baptizo, though it generally is used in referring to some thing or process (as the dying of cloth) which requires dipping, has been found in classical Greek writings used in places where the evident thought was that of washing without dipping. To this we answer that the word baptizo is not limited to a certain form of action, but rather carries the broad idea, to cover. And, so far as the word goes, the entire person is baptized if the entire person is wet, or in any manner covered with water.* But if the entire person to be baptized should be wet, or covered with water, who will claim that dipping was not the original as well as the easiest method of doing this?
*An illustration of this use of the word is found in 1 Cor. 10:1,2. The Apostle declares that all Israel were baptized (immersed) unto Moses, and gives as the form, that they were covered with water (though not wet); the walls of the sea being on either hand and the clouds of water over head.
WHO MAY IMMERSE
There is no limitation placed in Scripture as to who shall perform this ceremony of baptizing believers in water, except that only the church was ever commissioned, either to teach or to baptize. The faith and knowledge of the one performing the ceremony does not count, but the faith and knowledge of the one immersed. Sometimes the one performing the ceremony may be far inferior every way to the one from whom it is performed (John 3:14) and might even, if necessary, be a believer not of the kingdom or church class. (Matt. 11:11.) Certainly all who are authorized to teach, are equally authorized to baptize; and that includes every true follower of Christ—”even unto the end of the age,” according to the general call to the ministry, commission, and ordination of Matt. 28:19,20 and John 17:14-18-23. And this commission evidently does not exclude from this service the females of the “body of Christ” (Gal. 3:28), only that modesty, convenience, etc., indicate that they should avoid such public services except in rare necessary cases.
THE SIGNIFICATION OF IMMERSION
In considering the signification of immersion, the change from the Jewish to the Gospel dispensation must be recognized. The Jews, by their covenant, the Law, occupied a relationship toward God very different from Gentiles,—who were without hope. (Eph. 2:12.) Israelites by God’s arrangement were recognized and treated under the provisions of the typical sacrifices, as though they were justified from Adamic guilt and penalty, and were as a nation consecrated to God and treated as though they were to be made the Bride of Christ. The provision, too, was that when the true Lamb of God should come, those truly consecrated among them, “Israelites indeed,” might, by accepting of the true Lamb and true sin-sacrifice and atonement, enter upon actual justification, and carry with them their former consecration. In other words, an Israelite, consecrated indeed, living at the close of the Jewish age, when the real sacrifice for sins was made by our Lord, would be treated as though he had always had the reality, whereas really he had only a typical justification up to that time.
Therefore in the opening of the Gospel age, Jews were not preached to in the same manner as Gentiles. The latter were told,—Ye who were once aliens and strangers have been brought nigh and may now have access to God and enter into covenant relations with him. Therefore, come to God by Christ who hath abolished distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, not by taking favors from the Jews, but by ushering believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, into the blessings and favors of the New Covenant, which the Law Covenant merely typified. (Eph. 2:13-19.) The Jews were told the opposite: “Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, … unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away each of you from his iniquities.” “Repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the holy Spirit: For the promise is unto you [belongs to you] and to your children, etc.”—Acts 3:25,26 and 2:38-41.
The point, to be noticed, is, that Israelites were already consecrated, and heirs according to the Law Covenant, and the only reason they as a nation had not been merged right at once out of the Jewish typical state into the Gospel realities and holy Spirit acceptance with God, as the apostles and other individuals had been, was, that they were not living up to their covenant relationship. Hence they were told to repent, or turn back into the true covenant relationship with God, and to enjoy their privileges as children of the covenant. They had sinned in not living up to what they could of their covenant, and they were to show that they renounced their previous state of sin by immersion,—washing away their transgressions in symbol, after praying in the name of Christ. (See Acts 22:16.) In like manner baptism by John and by Christ’s disciples was confined to the Israelites, and signified repentance for covenant violations, and a return to covenant relationship, and was intended as a preparatory work: for those who fully received John’s testimony and reformed and became Israelites indeed, did receive Christ, and did pass into the higher favors of the Gospel age.
To these, already children of the covenant and already heirs of the promised blessings, water baptism meant a renouncing of previous sins of unfaithfulness, and it meant more: it meant their renunciation of the national sin of crucifying Christ—for the rulers representing that nation had said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children,”—and hence Peter exhorted saying, “Let all the house of Israel know that this Jesus whom you crucified, God hath made both Lord and Messiah.” And when in view of this national sin which each shared, they inquired, “Brethren! What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Reform and be immersed, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins [and specially your share in this national sin of crucifying Messiah] and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit.” To those who accepted it meant not only a renunciation of their national error of crucifying Christ, but a stepping out from the dispensation and control of Moses into that of Christ. Because in acknowledging Jesus to be the true Messiah, they were acknowledging him to be the long promised Saviour, Lawgiver and Teacher greater than Moses.
But, baptism could not mean repentance in either of these senses to the Gentiles who had never been under the Jewish Covenant, and who had no direct responsibility for the death of Christ. Hence after the “elect remnant” of Israel had been received, and the Gospel message went to the Gentiles, to select out of them the number necessary to complete the body of Christ,—in the epistles to the Gentile churches we hear no further exhortation to be baptized as a sign of repentance, or as a symbol of washing away of sins. And since we by nature are not Jews, but are of the Gentiles whose fathers previously were aliens, and foreigners so far as God’s covenants and promises were concerned, therefore, we should not apply to ourselves that idea of baptism which was Jewish, but that idea which the Apostle unfolds in Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12.
The full import of baptism, the reality of which the immersion in water commanded by our Lord is the symbol, is clearly shown by the Apostle in the above cited passages. “Know ye not that as many of us as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into HIS DEATH?” Those who know this fully and thoroughly, and they alone, truly appreciate the water immersion commanded, and its weighty and appropriate significance.
“Immersed into Jesus Christ.”—Those who see the “high calling” of this Gospel age—to joint-heirship with Christ Jesus our Lord, as members in particular of the “body of Christ” of which the Redeemer is Head and Lord, know that our attainment of that high honor depends upon our acceptableness as members in that body of Christ. (Rom. 12:1; 8:17,18.) Such also know that no one is “called,” or invited into this “body of Christ,”—”the church of the firstborn,” except those who already are believers, such only as own Christ as their Redeemer or Justifier, such therefore as are justified freely from all things by faith in his blood. Such, are not sinners, are invited to become joint-sacrificers and joint-heirs with Christ. The blemished of the flock were not acceptable on the Lord’s altar under the Law, as a type of God’s rejection during this age of all imperfect offerings. Our Lord was the actually spotless, unblemished, perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins; and in inviting some to join him in sacrifice and afterward in glory and honor, the Father accepts only such as are first made “whiter than snow,”—who because of faith in, and acceptance of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, are reckoned perfect and hence are acceptable with God as joint-sacrificers.
“Were immersed into his death.”—This is given by the Apostle as the significance of water immersion—the real baptism therefore is this immersion into a sacrificial death with Christ; and the water immersion, though a beautiful figure which graphically illustrates the real one, is only its figure or symbol.
But, how much is meant by the expression, “Immersed into his death?” In what way was our Lord’s death different from that of other men?
His death was different from that of other men in that theirs is a penalty for sin, while his was a sacrifice for the sins of others, to release others from their penalty—death. We with all others of Adam’s family involuntarily share Adam’s death—the wages of sin. And we, with all the Adamic family, were redeemed by Christ’s death and granted a right to live again, and a restoration of all the human rights and privileges which Adam lost for us. We who believe this good news, accept of and begin (by faith) to enjoy those redeemed rights and privileges even now, believing that what Christ died to secure and has promised to give, is as sure as though already possessed. We have joy and peace in believing this “good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people,” and by faith already reckon ourselves as in possession of those good things which are to be brought unto all who hate sin and love righteousness, at the second coming of our Lord Jesus.
It is when we are in this justified condition, repossessed of the human rights lost through Adam, but redeemed by Christ, that the call or invitation is extended to us to become something far higher and far grander than perfect men fully restored to the likeness of God in flesh, (though that is so grand that few appreciate it)—to become joined with the Redeemer in the glories and dignities of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and co-workers with him in the great work of the Millennial age,—the work of restoring the redeemed race of Adam to perfection and all “that which was lost” in the fall.
But the invitation to share this great dignity, “far above angels” (Eph. 1:21; 1 Cor. 6:3), is accompanied by certain conditions and limitations. This prize is not given because of works, for no works which could be conceived of could purchase, or earn, so high an exaltation as that offered. The offer is a favor, unmerited by anything which we have done, or can do; and yet the conditions may be
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said to be the price, or cost to us, of the prize offered us. It is not however an equivalent or corresponding price. The price to us is a mere pittance in comparison to the value received, and “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” And when we consider that we had nothing to give, until first purchased by the precious blood of Christ, it will be clearly seen that the high honors to which we are called are not of works of our own, but of grace, through Christ. For even our pittance was forfeited by sin and had first to be redeemed, before it could be accepted.
The requirements or conditions attached to the invitation to share with Christ the coming glories and dignities, are plainly stated:—Such must share his death, be immersed or buried into his death; if they would be of that “little flock” of joint-heirs, the “body of Christ,”—otherwise called “the Bride the Lamb’s wife.” To be sharers in his death, means that as our Redeemer spent his life, not in self-gratification (even lawful), but consumed it in the interest of truth and righteousness, in opposing sin and doing the work and executing the plan of the Father, so we must use our time, talents, energies, rights, and privileges. Redeemed by him and given to us, we not only consecrate these all to the Father’s service, but we must use them faithfully even unto death—as he hath set us the example—walking in his footsteps as nearly as possible. If thus we be dead with him, we shall in due time live with him (Rom. 6:8); if thus we suffer with him, and in the present life endure afflictions even unto death (whether the death of the cross or some other form) for righteousness sake, we are counted as sharers of his death: and all who share “his death” will also share “his resurrection.”—See Phil. 3:8-11.
As “his death” differs from the Adamic death, so “his resurrection” differs from the RESTORATION resurrection which he has secured and will effect for all men. His resurrection is in Scripture pointed out as different from that of the world redeemed by him. It is emphasized in the Greek—”the resurrection,” and also designated the “first [chief] resurrection.” His resurrection was to the divine or immortal nature, a spiritual body. And so many of us as shall be immersed into Jesus Christ—immersed into his death—shall also obtain a share in “his resurrection”—”the resurrection,” as described in 1 Cor. 15:42-53. We who have borne the image of the earthly father Adam who also lost it for us, have been redeemed to it again by Christ’s sacrifice, and have surrendered that again with him as joint-sacrificers of human nature. Thus we become partakers of a new nature, and shall bear the image of that new divine nature in the resurrection.—Verse 49.
Note how pointedly the same writer mentions this too, in the passage under consideration. (Rom. 6:4-5.) “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in a new life. [Our new natures are reckoned as begun now, and are to be perfected at our resurrection in the Lord’s likeness.] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, [then] we shall be also [sharers] in the likeness of His resurrection.”—Rom. 6:5.
It is evident then, that baptism in water is the symbol of a complete, and to those who would be joint-heirs, an indispensable self-sacrifice; an immersion with our Lord into his death—an immersion which began and is counted from the moment the justified believer consecrated himself and surrendered his will to God,—though to secure the prize promised it must continue until the close of the earthly life. It was from this standpoint that our Lord spoke, when he said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straightened till it be accomplished.” (Luke 12:50.) He had already performed the symbol at Jordan, but he was now referring to the consummation of his baptism into death. His will, surrendered to the Father’s will and plan, was already buried; but as the dark hour of Gethsemane and Calvary drew near he longed to finish his sacrifice. It was from this same standpoint that he spoke of baptism to the two disciples who asked to sit, the one at his right hand and the other at his left in the kingdom. “He answered and said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask—Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Matt. 20:22.) He referred here to the baptism into death, and shows that none need expect to share the kingdom except those who share this baptism of death with him. Thus our Lord’s explanation of the symbol exactly concurs with that of the Apostle.
These are not two baptisms—one of water and the other into Christ’s death—but one. The immersion into water is the symbol or shadow of the immersion into death. If there is a shadow, there must be a substance; and a clear strong light falling upon a substance produces a shadow of it. It is for the instructed child of God to distinguish between the substance and the shadow, and by recognizing their relationship to see in the two parts “one baptism.” Since the two parts were recognized as one baptism by the Apostle, it is doubtful if any one fully appreciates the ONE TRUE BAPTISM without seeing both the substance and the shadow.
Recognizing the true import of baptism we see, that next to faith in Christ, it is the one important and essential step by which the Church glorified shall be entered: for only such as are conformed to, and have fellowship in our Lord’s death will, as “members of his body,” share the first or chief resurrection, to be with and like the head. It is not surprising that some have mistaken the shadow or symbol for the real, and made it a test of membership in the church upon earth; this is but a natural mistake. All who see the real immersion, as well as the symbol, yet ignore the latter, should carefully examine themselves to see that their wills in this matter are really dead and buried in the will of Christ. And if they refuse obedience to the Lord’s word and example in this, they should make unquestionably sure to themselves the strength and validity of any arguments to the contrary, by which they set these aside.
But some inquire, Is it necessary for me to be immersed in water, if I am confident that I am fully consecrated—immersed into Christ? Would the Lord reject me for so small a matter as a failure to go through a form?
Do not forget that the present age is not one of commands and compulsions. God does not command and compel the obedience of his Church. This is a time in which, as a great favor, believers are privileged to offer their wills and their all in self-sacrifice to God. It is “the acceptable year of the Lord”—the time in which God is pleased to accept of our sacrifices (through Christ) and to give us certain exceeding great rewards promised to those who surrender their little all, and thus become followers in the footsteps of the High Priest of our order.
Such as see this clearly will know that the Body of Christ is not given a law of commandments, nor dealt with as were the Jews; for “Ye are not under law but under favor.” Theirs was the house of servants and it is proper to command servants; but we belong to the “house of sons” (Heb. 3:5,6), if we are new creatures in Christ; and God dealeth with us as a true Father with true sons. True sons, and the only ones whom he will acknowledge as such, possess the spirit of adoption, and the spirit of obedience, the spirit of sons, and need not be commanded and threatened; for such both by word and deed, and in matters both small and great declare, “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” For such, no self-denial is too great, and no act of respect and obedience too small; and ignoring pride and all human philosophies and expediencies as unworthy to be weighed at all in opposition to the Father’s wisdom, these learn that to obey is the best of sacrifice.
No, God will not compel you to be immersed, either really or symbolically. These opportunities to sacrifice convenience, worldly opinion, etc., are privileges which we should highly esteem and covet, because by these we are able to show the Lord the depth and sincerity of our love and the reality of our consecration. It is on the basis of this and hundreds of other little things that we are being tried now,—to see if we are as earnest as we have professed to be. If we are ashamed to confess Christ before men by the very simple way which he arranged, we may well expect that he would be ashamed to call us overcomers and joint-heirs, and to confess us as faithful followers. He could not do so honestly and truthfully, and hence we may be sure he would not do so. And if after we see how much our Lord has done for us—first in our redemption and secondly in the great offer of the crown and divine nature,—we allow a trifling sacrifice of contemptible pride to hinder us from a small act of obedience which our Redeemer and benefactor requested, our own self-contempt and shame, should prevent our taking crowns and places (even if offered them) with the little band of faithful overcomers who valiantly sacrificed much, and thus proved that they loved much.
While therefore we do not say that none will be of the “little flock” except those who have been immersed in water, as well as in the death of Christ, which it so beautifully symbolizes, we do say, that we do not expect to find in that “little flock” a single one who has seen water immersion to be the will of God, and who has refused to obey. Let us remember that obedience in a small matter may be a closer test than in a large one. Had Satan attempted to get Eve into the sin of blaspheming the Creator, he would have failed; had he attempted to get her to murder Adam he would have failed; hence the test of obedience in a very small matter, was a much more crucial test. So now God tests our professions of love and devotion and obedience most thoroughly by some of the smallest matters, of which the symbolic immersion is one. God’s decision is, He that is faithful in that which is least, will be faithful also in that which is greater.
Though “Baptists” do not generally grasp the full import of immersion, and look at the water rather than the death which it symbolizes, yet the holding of the symbol has been valuable, and shows the Lord’s wisdom in choosing the symbol; for the truth with reference to the symbol even, has been unpopular ever since its rejection by Anti-christ centuries ago, and in very many cases has it required the true consecration, the true burial of the will into Christ’s will, before the believer was willing to brave the scorn of the world by obedience to an unpopular ceremony.
Even those who practice sprinkling and that upon unintelligent (and hence unbelieving) babes, hold that baptism is the door into the Church of Christ, and none of the sects receive into membership others than those who have gone through some ceremony called “baptism.” They receive infants thus into their Churches, on the ground that only church members will be saved from everlasting torment. True, this like other doctrines is little taught in our day, and is losing its influence over the people, yet millions of parents to-day believe that their children would be consigned to everlasting torment if they should die without being sprinkled with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Especially do Romanists, Episcopalians and Lutherans, fear an omission of this sort, and some Presbyterians and Methodists no less so.
An illustration of this, and one which shows the power these errors put into the hands of the priestly or clerical class, came under our observation here in Allegheny about four years ago. The parents of the infant were Lutherans, but had a disagreement with the pastor of the congregation about non-payment of church dues and non-attendance at meetings. The child grew seriously ill and the father and mother by turn went many times to implore the cold hearted, error teaching, hireling shepherd to come and sprinkle their babe and save it from the eternal damnation he had taught them would otherwise be its portion. But he refused to come, telling them that they deserved the punishment. After further effort they got some one “just in time” to allay their groundless fears.
Thus, it is evident, that no matter how careless they may be as to the exact form all the principal sects view baptism as the door into the church, the door of salvation, the door into the body of Christ, as truly as do Baptists. We, on the contrary, hold that neither the sprinkling with water, nor the immersion in water is the door into the “body of Christ,” now being elected or chosen out of the world; but that the immersion into Christ’s death, which begins in full consecration, is the door by which justified men become members of the Body of Christ which is the Church. We insist, that all who thus become members of “THE CHURCH whose names are written in heaven,” as soon as the precept and example of the Lord and the apostles, and the appropriateness of the symbol are seen, should make haste to show their obedience and consecration before men.
BAPTISM AND THE TABERNACLE
The true baptism is illustrated in the Jewish Tabernacle, but not by the Laver which stood in the Court full of water, at which the priests washed their hands and feet. No, that is a symbol of the cleansing effect of the truth upon the outward conduct of believers in general. It symbolizes the putting aside of filthy practices—lying, stealing, etc., and the putting away of filthy communications out of our mouths,—slanders, envy, strife, back-biting, etc.,—a cleansing as proper for the natural man as for the consecrated saints.
The vail at the door of the Tabernacle represented the same thought as baptism, namely death. When the priest passed the first vail, it represented him as passing
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out of sight, buried from the outward things; and his shut in condition enlightened only by the lamp and supplied by the shewbread, represented the spiritual nourishment and enlightenment granted all such as are immersed into Christ—which the world knoweth not of.
The second vail represented the end of the reckoned death in actual death; and the Most Holy represented the full fruition of all the exceeding great and precious promises made to those who become new creatures in Christ Jesus by sharing his death and also his resurrection. In the Most Holy comes the full realization of what the Holy gave but a foretaste of. Thus we see that a complete immersion or burial from sight was necessary to reach the Most Holy. And as the Tabernacle had but the one entrance, it clearly teaches that none can attain that state or condition which it typified (the divine nature), without first passing through the first vail, representing consecration or death to the world, which baptism in water most beautifully illustrates also.
WHO MAY BE IMMERSED
In John’s baptism of the Jews unto reformation, he demanded of some that they should first show by their lives that they had reformed, before they went through the symbol of reformation. In the use of baptism after Pentecost, however, the only condition imposed was faith in Christ. It seems to have been taken for granted that none but true, sincere persons would thus profess faith in and allegiance to so unpopular a Leader, as the crucified Christ. But the water immersion, though it was a public profession of Christ by the one immersed, was not necessarily an endorsement of such by the apostles and the church. The church could not and did not decide whether the one they immersed symbolically had been really immersed into Christ. The symbol indicated this, and they explained the symbol and urged all that had consecrated in symbol to see that they were really dead to the world and its plans and aims, and alive toward God and his plan.
This is evident from some instances, as that of Ananias and Sapphira and Simon Magus (Acts 5:1-10 and 8:13,20-23). To the latter, though he had been baptised, the apostle declares, “Thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” So now, we do not need to decide for others who may wish to thus confess Christ, (except it be very evident that they do it as an intended mockery); it is their act alone and represents their conscience toward God; and the opinions and faith of the one performing the symbol, cannot affect the matter either favorably or unfavorably. The real baptism is that which cannot be seen, except in its influence upon the conduct; and the real church which is joined is the church whose names are written in heaven whose members cannot be known positively until the close of this age, when they shall be glorified with the Head.
THE MANNER OF THE SYMBOL
The immersion since it symbolizes a burial should be backwards, in water sufficient for the purpose, and convenient as circumstances will permit. It should not be done with secrecy, as it is intended as a public confession of faith, and the only form of such public confession used by the early church, of which we have any record. Yet its publicity should be to fellow-believers rather than to the world. Hence, while it should in no way be kept secret from the world, it is unnecessary to give public notice except to the fellow-believers of the church. In fact, so solemn is the occasion to the church who realize its deep significance, that the presence of the worldly, unless they be seekers after God and therefore more than mere curiosity seekers, is not desirable. Such public notice we gather from the record, was the custom in the early church.
Some think that because John the Immerser and the Lord’s disciples baptized publicly in the river Jordan, therefore all should be immersed in public view in a river. But let it be remembered that the whole Jewish nation was the church according to their Law Covenant, therefore public view was public to the professed church of that time. As for the river Jordan, John and the disciples evidently used it as the most convenient place at their service. If the river was an important factor, why not the same river Jordan?
It should be noted that when the Eunuch believed and was immersed, only Philip was present; when the jailer believed and was immersed (Acts 16:33), it was not in a river, but in a bath or some convenient arrangement in the prison. And we know that the ruins of the church buildings of the first two centuries show that they had special annexed buildings prepared for the convenience of immersions.
The form of words used by the apostles and early church is not given, which shows that the form of words used is much less important than the act, and the meaning which it expresses. We may gather however from Acts 2:38, 8:16, Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27 and 1 Cor. 1:13, that baptism “into Christ” into the name of the Lord Jesus was the thought; and that it was expressed in words. We may also presume that our Lord’s words “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,” were not disregarded, but expressed somehow on such occasions. The thought is, that believers by immersion into Christ’s death, are joined to Christ as members of the little flock which is “his body;” and that their right or privilege to be thus accepted in the Beloved, is in the name or by the authority of the Father, through the merit of the Son and by the impartation to such of the holy Spirit of truth. We now give the form of words which it is our custom to use on such occasions, and our general procedure, for the convenience and satisfaction of those who may have occasion to use the suggestion.
We first have, privately, some assurance on the part of all who are about to be immersed, that they recognize the death of Christ as their ransom price, and that they are already consecrated wholly to his service, and desire to now confess all this in the symbol which Christ enjoined. Then, the announcement having been publicly made before the congregation, we meet at an appointed time and place* for the service; and there, after briefly explaining the real immersion and its water symbol, and after offering thanks to God for the privilege of thus following in our Lord’s footsteps, and expressing our trust in his promises to give grace and strength sufficient to enable those who have consecrated all to his service, to be dead indeed to the world and its aims and ambitions, and alive only to God’s service and the study and carrying out of his plans; and after specially requesting a blessing upon those about to symbolize their covenant, we receive the candidates in the water. Then (in the usual manner, with one hand in front at the throat, and the other at the back of the neck) we say, if the name of the candidate be John,—”John, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit—by this authority,—I baptize thee into the name of “Christ.” We then let them down backward (as a corpse) until immersed, covered completely; then raise them to their feet. After again changing our clothing in the provided rooms, we meet in the presence of the congregation (who meantime worship God in prayer, songs of praise, etc.) and with convenient words we extend to the newly immersed ones the right-hand of fellowship in the name of the great Head of the Church, and on behalf of the entire church whose names are written in heaven; exhorting that they walk worthy of the name of Christ which they have confessed and taken; and that they run earnestly in the race for the prize of the high calling which they have publicly entered.
*We are kindly made welcome to the use of three different baptistries here, and presume could by asking, obtain the privilege of all. Our “Baptist” and “Christian” friends hereabouts, though they do not see this subject and others from the same standpoint as we, nevertheless are courteous, respectful, and willing to fellowship as far as they can see.—Would to God they were less self-satisfied and would examine again the full import of the symbol to which they both so earnestly and so steadfastly adhere.
It is evident that all through the Gospel age baptism into Christ has symbolized union with him and membership in the one body—the bride. But now in the harvest or lapping of the Gospel and Millennial ages, a new question arises, viz., While it is still appropriate for all of this class who have not done so, to confess Christ by this symbol, what about others, of the restitution class, who shall now confess Christ and desire to consecrate themselves,—to relinquish their wills and have the will of Christ only? Seeing that such will sooner or later apply for baptism as a symbol, and that it would be a proper symbol of consecration for others as well as for the body of Christ, and that it is not incumbent upon us to decide to which class those belong who apply to us for immersion,—the question arises, Would the same form of words be appropriate for both?
Yes, we answer; for though the class referred to will not be of the bride of Christ, they will be of the Christ family,—children of the Christ; and it is proper for the children to bear their father’s name. Christ is to be the “Everlasting Father” or life-giver to the restored human race; and hence it will not be improper for them also to take his name. Therefore as we now view it, it will be proper to baptize such into the name of Christ; and we doubt not that all of the world who shall come into harmony and receive the gift of life from the Life-giver in the next age, will be known also as Christians. As before pointed out, however, the words of the immerser cannot affect favorably or unfavorably the interests of the immersed; the importance rests in the obedience of the act and what it signifies of consecration to the one immersed.
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OF FIRE
We need not examine this subject at length here, since it was discussed in our issue of November ’87. We merely remark now that the immersion in holy Spirit which began at Pentecost, is not symbolized by water baptism: it follows, but is totally different from an immersion into Christ’s death, which the water immersion does symbolize so perfectly. The immersion of the holy Spirit is bestowed as a consequence of full consecration and immersion into Christ’s death, and is a pledge or earnest of our full acceptance to the divine nature with Christ, when we shall have fully accomplished our sacrifice with him. The baptism into Christ’s death and its water symbol are matters for us to attend to. The immersion of the holy Spirit is God’s work entirely. None are immersed in holy Spirit except such as have voluntarily consecrated, or immersed themselves into Christ’s death. And such as have experienced these two have no will of their own to oppose to the water symbol, enjoined by the word and example of the Head, and practiced and taught by the stalwart members of the Royal Priesthood.
The baptism of fire signifies destruction and accompanying distress. Thus, as already shown, the Jewish nation, except the Israelites indeed worthy of the Pentecostal baptism, was immersed in tribulation and national destruction. This was John the immerser’s prediction. Luke 3:16,17.
BAPTIZED FOR THE DEAD
“Else what shall they do which are baptizing for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why then are they baptized on behalf thereof?”+
+sinaitic MS reading.
This has been considered a very obscure passage, because the real meaning of immersion (as symbolic of death) has been generally lost sight of. Some have been led to the absurd conclusion that early Christians were immersed in the interest of their dead unbelieving friends and relatives,—supposing that Paul here referred to and commended so senseless a thing. On the contrary, the Apostle here refers to the fact, then well understood, that each one of those who had been immersed, had symbolized his own death—had cast his lot among those dead with Christ, to share his sacrificial death (which was on behalf of the dead and dying world), in prospect of a glorious resurrection to share with the Redeemer the work of blessing and restoring the world.
Paul is combatting and disproving the theories of some who were teaching that there would be no resurrection. He appeals to various arguments to prove the falsity of such teaching. He proves that the dead can be raised by divine power by the fact of Christ’s resurrection (verses 12 to 18); and then, in the verse under consideration, he shows how absurd it is for those who by immersion have symbolized their consecration to death, to disbelieve in a future life. He asks such doubters of a resurrection, Why then were you baptized for the dead, if you hope for nothing beyond? Wiser and better far it would be, if there is to be no resurrection of the dead, that we should make the most of the present life, enjoying all its pleasures, instead of consecrating ourselves to death in baptism, and then living a life of self-sacrifice which is a daily dying.
But, in this as in all things, the beauty and harmony only appears from the true standpoint. Those who regard sprinkling as baptism can see no meaning in this passage; neither can those who deny water baptism interpret it without making out, that this great inspired apostle was foolish. Neither can those who see the symbolic water immersion only, appreciate the passage. Its beauty and force are only discernible from the standpoint herein set forth, viz., a recognition of the death with Christ to self-will, to the world, and all worldly interests, and also of the water immersion as its proper, appropriate and provided symbol. In conclusion we quote the inspired record.
Peter said: “Can any man forbid water?” (Acts 10:47.) Paul said: “So many of you as were immersed into Jesus Christ, were immersed into his death. …
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For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom. 6:3-5.) “Then they that gladly received his word were immersed, … and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.”—Acts 2:41,42.
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ANOTHER INFALLIBLE CHURCH
The Church of Rome is not the only one which acts upon the assumption that its annunciations of several centuries ago are infallible and unalterable. The Presbyterian Church takes the same stand, though she does not speak so loudly as her “Mother Church”—nor can she claim that her infallible decisions regarding what is truth and what is error, are as venerable with age.
Our readers will recall an article in our issue of Oct. ’87, entitled “Reasons for Expecting Toleration in the Presbyterian Church.” We therein referred to the case of Brother Baker, who after being for years a minister in the Presbyterian Church, became convinced by his common sense as well as his Bible study of the error of his sect, in holding that everlasting torment is the future lot of all except the elect little flock of the present age. Brother Baker soon discovered that a majority of the members as well as of the ministers of the Presbyterian Church disbelieve this point of their Confession of Faith. He saw, too, that he and all such were acting a lie in professing publicly, to believe a doctrine which they denied privately, and concerning which they made mental and private reservations.
As an honest man Bro. Baker could not follow others in the footsteps of Ananias, misrepresenting and keeping back part of the truth,—he could not afford to misrepresent himself, and could not conscientiously continue to misrepresent God’s character and Word. Consequently he decided to let his light shine, confident at first that he would be joined by others in the same sect, solicitous for the truth rather than careful to preserve inviolate a Confession of Faith, with some of whose tenets they disagreed decidedly.
To bring the matter to an issue, Bro. Baker introduced to the Presbytery of West Jersey of which he was a member, a resolution providing for a revision of the Standards of doctrine as set forth in the Presbyterian Confession of Faith on the subject of the everlasting torture of all except the elect little flock,—the Gospel Church.
Brother Baker argued well his points, and tried hard to carry Presbyterianism into an acknowledgment of the Bible as the ONLY STANDARD of faith; and to show that the well intentioned men who in A.D. 1646 framed the “Westminster Confession of Faith” were not infallible, but merely did as well as they could on coming out of the extreme darkness of the “dark ages” preceding them.
In the article above referred to, we pointed out to Bro. Baker that his well-meant scheme would fail; that the majority love their sect and its infallibility (?) and its honors and rewards more than they love the truth, and the honor which cometh from God only. We rejoice that Bro. Baker has manifested his love for the truth by boldly advocating it in the face of opposition. In this he is demonstrating himself to be an “overcomer.” Our prayer for him is, that he may continue to be faithful in all his stewardship of the mysteries of God; that thus he may make his calling and election sure and receive the reward of an “overcomer.” (See Rev. 3:21.) Brother Baker’s example in withdrawing, should be followed by every honest person, who, reading over his own public Confession of Faith, finds that it does not present his real faith. And this should be done by each, no matter which denomination has bound him or which Confession of Faith now misrepresents his views to fellow Christians and to the world. It is useless to try as Bro. Baker has done, to bring about a reform. Sect-worshippers would rather act a lie and thus stultify themselves before God and each other, than to honestly and publicly confess that their sect is not infallible,—that they have erred in some things.
A careful examination we believe will convince any one that only the ignorant members and ministers of any of the leading Christian denominations believe this dogma which all so publicly confess,—that all except the elect and holy Church will suffer everlasting torment.
That our predictions relative to the action of the Presbytery have been verified to the letter, is witnessed by the following clipping:
MEETING OF THE PRESBYTERY OF WEST JERSEY, AT ATLANTIC CITY. SEVENTY-FIVE CLERGYMEN AND ELDERS PRESENT. REV. L. C. BAKER’S CASE
The committee to whom the questions were referred brought in a report advising withdrawal. This part of the report came up for action.
Mr. Baker presented the case from his point of view. He had, he said, deemed it his duty to call the attention of the Church to its false position in holding on tenaciously to certain doctrinal statements in its standards, which had ceased to be a fair and honest expression of its views. It was as a necessary consequence of this position, that he should introduce into the Presbytery an overture requesting the General Assembly to inquire into the matter, and that he should claim the right to discuss the points involved and to show
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from Scripture just where the standards erred. Some of the brethren had thought that in opposing the teaching of the Church at an important point he was violating his ordination vows. He had interpreted those vows as binding him to seek the purity of the Church and to be loyal above all else to the Word of God. At the sacrifice of his own personal feelings he would, he said, have been willing to submit to a long church trial, if any of the brethren chose to bring it to that issue, provided the questions of Scripture interpretation he had raised could be decided in the court of Scripture. But heretofore the Church had insisted that the standards alone must be the tests.
He had therefore determined to go on in the course adopted a year ago, and to now put the case in the hands of the Presbytery. If, with any degree of unanimity, they advised him that his action was inconsistent with his remaining as an accredited minister of this Church, he should at once place his resignation in their hands.
Mr. Baker then reviewed the case in some of its wider bearings upon the Church. It involved, first, the correctness of that interpretation of Scripture put into the Standards, which represents God as having no other end in view in raising to another life the immense mass of the human race, consigned to death and hell for their sins, except to judge and sentence them again to a deeper death and hell, to suffer “most grievous and unspeakable torments, without intermission, with the devil and his angels in hell fire forever.” The point he had raised against this teaching is that it strips resurrection, confessedly due to the redeeming work of Christ, of every redemptive and beneficial feature, and converts this provision of another life into an unutterable curse to all but the elect.
The question also, he said, was no less important in its bearings upon the constitution of the Church and the right of private judgment. Upon this point he said: “So far as I am aware, this is the first time in the history of our Church that one of its ministers has openly called in question its authoritative statements upon an important point of doctrine, and connected therewith an effort to induce the Church to revise them. Other instances of difference have occurred in which the dissentient has assumed that the rule of the system is inexorable—that no change in it is possible—and so has withdrawn from it. In other cases the effort has been to prove that the standards are flexible enough to admit the variation. In this case there is no such attempt. There is the open affirmation that the framers of our standards at this point erred, and that it is our duty to correct them. And this duty is the more strongly urged, because the Church tacitly admits that they erred, in as much as these statements are seldom avowed in her pulpits, nor is the impression made upon her hearers that she earnestly believes them. The question, therefore, which you are now asked to decide is unique in our history. You, brethren, have the rare opportunity and the solemn responsibility to decide whether this Presbyterian Church must go on forever in its present lines, or whether it shall hold itself open in an honest way to the larger illuminations of truth which God is giving in our day, and so grow up to its place in that larger unity of the future for which our Lord prayed. If it shall do this, there must be room made for the discussion and amendment of its standards. There must be no slavish suppression of honest differences, no rod of terror held over the head of honest dissentients, and no such dishonor of the Holy Spirit in the Church as is involved in the unwillingness to trust Him to correct the disorders and contradict the errors which may arise in the exercise of His own principle of liberty. Better a hundredfold that some heresies should be propounded, than that the healthy life of the Church should be repressed by the denial of that liberty of conscience and of utterance wherewith Christ hath made us free.”
The discussion was continued at the afternoon and evening sessions on the report of the committee, which recommended that Mr. Baker withdraw from the Presbytery. A vote was taken on the recommendation, which resulted in 55 yeas and 5 nays, and the report of the committee was then adopted as a whole. Mr. Baker then tendered to the Presbytery his resignation, which was accepted.
In view of such an open confession of unwillingness to re-examine or in any way change or modify their creed, even though tacitly admitting it to be erroneous; and in view of such refusal to test and prove this and other points of doctrine by the Bible; what can be expected of the ministers of this Presbytery? Does it not seem evident that love of the honor of men, love of sect, a desire to be considered staunch, “dyed-in-the-wool” Presbyterians, and above all the desire to maintain their dignity, and bread and butter, and titles, and white cravats, rather than the love of the truth, holds and governs these professed leaders and teachers? Possibly all the “wheat” has already been, like Bro. Baker, selected and separated from this Presbytery. As we are now in the “harvest” time, we must expect such separation to be thorough. We should expect too, that it be first completed among the ministers who, by reason of time for study and advantages of education, should be most ready for the greater light of the dawn of the Millennial Day, and who should if Israelites indeed be first and quickest, to receive and to walk and to rejoice in the greater light now shining upon God’s Word. We should expect of all others than the guileless, just what we see,—that they would “hate the light, neither come to the light, lest their deeds should be made manifest” [lest they should thus be obliged to confess that for years they had been teaching errors which His Word does not authorize, in the name of the Lord]. For this reason it is, that they cling to the creeds of the “dark ages,” yea, and love darkness rather than light. “But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”—John 3:19-21.
Note this likeness of many of the Priests and Pharisees of to-day to those at the time of the first advent, of whom our Lord declared that they received not the truth themselves, but really, though professing to be teachers, hindered the people from receiving the truth (Matt. 23:13 and 21:23-31). Let us as our Lord and the Apostles did, spend less time and effort, upon self-serving, dignity-puffed, and sectarian-blinded ministers, and the more upon the weary and heavy laden “common people,” among whom are still some Israelites indeed, who without guile really desire the truth.
May our dear Bro. Baker and all such as he, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not again entangled with any yoke of bondage, or entrapped in any of the many snares which are being spread in this evil day, by our adversary Satan, who as soon as we escape one, fain would entrap us in another error. We may not lay our armor down or think the victory won until we have received our crown, and entered fully into the joys of our Lord. Since each must either advance or retreat, let us go on unto perfection, growing in grace and knowledge and love.
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THE KISHENEV MOVEMENT
Concerning the wonderful movement toward Christ on the part of the Jews of Siberia, which is now attracting the attention of the civilized world, Harper’s Weekly says:—
“Ever and anon reports reach western Europe and America of a remarkable movement among the Jewish people of southeastern Europe and Siberia. In these vague and often conflicting accounts so much can be recognized as the substratum of truth that we have in this agitation a unique movement, looking to the acceptance of the principles of Evangelical Christianity, and of Western culture and civilization, not by individual members of this strangest of historic peoples, but by the Jews as a nation. It is only now that a fair and correct view of the genesis, character, and development of the agitation can be gained.
The movement, whose beginnings date back almost four years, is yet in its formative stage. But its development during this period has been such that it can confidently be pronounced no longer a mere experiment with doubtful chances of permanent existence. It has manifested a remarkable vitality; its growth has been steady and healthy, positive in character, yet avoiding all unnatural haste and dangerous extremes. Having been recognized
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by the Russian authorities as a religio licita, it now has a legal existence and legal rights. Its character stamps it as one of the most unique phenomena in the variegated kaleidoscope of national, social, and religious interests that divide the hearts and minds of the Czar’s one hundred and sixteen millions of subjects.
“The view generally entertained that the Kishenev movement is entirely religious in character is both correct and incorrect. It is correct in this, that at least for the present the new spirit that controls the new communion finds its most pronounced expression in the acceptance of the tenets of Christianity. On the other hand, it is incorrect also, because neither the inception nor the ultimate end and aim of this people is Christianity as such. The latter is rather a means to an end, and not the end itself. The ideal that fills the souls of Rabinowitch and his followers is the improvement and growth of the highest and best interests of his people. In his
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search for the best means to attain this end, he, after years of study and research, has reached the conclusion that this can only be accomplished through a moral regeneration of the people, which, in turn, can be effected only through the religion of the New Testament as the completion and fulfillment of the Old. The movement is thus, strictly speaking, not religious at all, at least not primarily, but is national, and in the interests of progress and civilization in the best sense of the word. It is in no sense or manner the result of Christian missionary activity. It is an independent agitation springing up entirely out of Jewish soil. Its intrinsically non-religious character is attested by the further fact that Rabinowitch was not a Jewish rabbi; he is not ordained to the present day. Indeed, among all the participants and leading men of the movement there is not one who is or has been a clergyman of any sect or creed. Whatever influence Christian workers may have now in those regions on the Jewish people is independent of the Kishenev society, and was no decisive factor in its formation or development.
“Rabinowitch was a merchant, and later a lawyer. Energetic in character and ambitious in self-improvement and the advancement, politically, socially and morally, of his people, he years ago became known as a zealous friend of reform among the Eastern Jews. With an education and enterprise far beyond his brethren, he set about to devise ways and means to attain his ideals and ends. He did what he could to secure for them better political rights, but was unable to protect them against the fierce persecutions that five years ago set in against the unfortunate Israelites in Russia, Roumania, and neighboring countries. He acquainted himself with the advanced philosophical thought of the West, in the hope that its adoption by his people would elevate them to a higher spiritual plane, and thus secure for them higher ideals and nobler ends. But he soon learned to doubt both the efficiency of the means and the possibility of applying them to a people whom centuries of persecution and ultra conservatism had been hardening to principles so at variance with their traditional ideas. He again attempted to win them away from their greed for gain, which, next to their formalistic religious exercises, is the all-controlling and all-degrading factor in the mind and life of the Oriental Jew. But his endeavors to establish agricultural colonies for them, both at home and in the Holy Land, proved abortive. While in Palestine the conviction ripened in him, through an independent study of the New Testament in its relations to the Old, that Israel had made the mistake of its national life, and had become untrue to its historic mission, by the rejection of Christ.
“This conviction concerning Christ, not as the Savior of the world, but as the embodiment and fulfillment of the prophecies of old, and of the ideals and aims of Israel as a nation, is the central thought around which the whole movement circles. The principles enunciated by the humble Nazarene are recognized as those which alone can accomplish the destinies of the people, and enable them to attain the end for which they were set apart as a chosen people. It is thus regarded as a serious break in the normal and historical development of Israel, that eighteen hundred years ago this people as a nation refused to accept those tenets and principles which are regarded by all Christians, and now also by Rabinowitch and his followers, as the legitimate and only correct outcome of the whole previous historical development of Israel. To heal this breach is the ideal aim of the Kishenev reformers, by setting in anew there where first the chosen people entered upon an erroneous path of national development.
“These ideas explain why the Kishenev communion by no means desire to join any of the existing Christian denominations. Their object is to secure the recognition of Christianity, and the morality, culture, and civilization that have grown out of Christianity, as the genuine and legitimate development of Old Testament Judaism, and as the only means of securing the national prosperity of the Jews as such. For this reason they do not think of ceasing to be Jews. Whatever is characteristic of Judaism is a national idea, and is not religious in character, and has not been superseded by the Christian phase of revelation, they retain. They still keep the seventh day; they still practice circumcision; they still celebrate the Passab feast as a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt—because all these are national characteristics distinguishing them from the Germans, from the English, from other peoples, as separate nations, each with its own peculiarities.
“The genesis and development of such clear-cut ideals is all the more remarkable when we remember the manner of men in the midst of whom they have sprung up. Those who are accustomed to see only the Western Jew, with few characteristics differing from his Christian neighbor, can form no idea of his Oriental brother. He is still the outcast his Western brother was during the Middle Ages. His religion is Talmudic to the core. It is a petrified formalism, traditional legalism, and religionism hardened through centuries of conservatism and reverence for the faith of the fathers. He is the modern representative of that stern Pharisaism which we find depicted on the pages of the New Testament. From that day to this there has essentially been no progress, no development in his religion, except that line has been added to line and precept to precept.
“And yet it is just this characteristic of the Oriental Jew that enables us psychologically to understand the rise of the Kishenev movement. Among the Western Jews, whose religious tenets have been seriously modified by their constant intercourse with Western thought, and whose faith or unfaith is now to a great extent the result of compromises with modern thought, such an agitation would be unthinkable. The philosophy of history could not explain it. The factors could not produce it. But the Eastern Jew, as a man of positive convictions, will exchange these only for other positive convictions.”
It is true, as above shown, that the Jew has held and still holds too rigidly the national idea,—that God’s plan for ruling and blessing the world centers in the national exaltation of the seed of Abraham; but it is also true that nominal Christians have not held that idea sufficiently. Both extremes are disadvantageous and blinding. The Jew fancies his nation necessary to God’s purpose, and hence is proud and boastful and unready for God’s real plan. The Gentiles losing sight of all blessing through any particular people, theorize that God is now trying to draw the world to himself, and are perplexed at the small results of the past eighteen centuries.
The truth lies between the two positions. God will use a nation to bless the world in general, and that nation must first be exalted to universal dominion before through it “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” But God is not bound by his covenant with Abraham to take his literal children according to the flesh for this nation which he shall exalt to bless all others. On the contrary Abraham, who was faithful to God’s promises, is reckoned as the father of the faithful one—Our Lord Jesus; and he is the only heir of the covenant made with Abraham. And he selects others who under the cover of his perfection and united to him as his bride, are counted with him—the Seed of Abraham, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation. And in this nation, when complete and glorified, which we believe will be very shortly, all the families or nations of earth shall be blessed. Israel first shall be blessed, and become the earthly agency for blessing others of the earthly family.—EDITOR.
::R1036 : page 8::
DR. ABBOTT ON “CONDITIONAL IMMORTALITY”
Dr. Lyman Abbott, the well-known editor of the Christian Union, [and now successor to Henry Ward Beecher, as pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Brooklyn,] in an editorial in a recent number of that paper, announces his belief in the probability of conditional immortality. After mentioning the final triumph of Christ over all things, and the consummated glory of the redeemed, he says: “In the New Testament picture of this hour of triumph I see no shadow of scowling faces, of angered and unrepentant rebels; in the New Testament echo of this song of the redeemed I hear no interrupting of wail or wrath from any far-off prison-house of despair. After the last enemy is destroyed, shall sin, worst of all enemies, still live, and work his ruin eternally? When God hath put all enemies under Christ’s feet, shall this worst of all enemies still rule in triumph over some remote, reserved corner of creation? … The more I study my Bible, the more unscriptural seems to me the conception of endless sin; the nearer I come into fellowship with God my Father, my Saviour, my Comforter, the more intolerable grows the thought of it to me. And I thank God for the good hope in His word, which permits me to look forward to and haste toward the day, when this terrible tragedy of sin and pain will come to an end. If I believe in the hopeless doom of incorrigible sin, and also in the undimmed glory of a perfected kingdom of love, I must believe in the annihilation of the incorrigibly wicked. … Fire in the Bible is generally an emblem of destruction, not of torment. The chaff, the tares, the fruitless tree, are thrown into unquenchable fire, not to be tortured, but to be destroyed. The hell-fire of the New Testament is the fire of Gehenna, kept burning outside the walls of Jerusalem, to destroy the offal of the city; here was the worm that dieth not and the fire that is unquenched; emblems of destruction, not of torment. … I find nothing in the New Testament to warrant the terrible opinion that God sustains the life of His creatures throughout eternity, only that they may continue in sin and misery. That immortality is the gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that man is mortal and must put on immortality, that only he can put it on who becomes a partaker of the divine nature, and so an inheritor of Him ‘who only hath immortality,’ that eternal life is life eternal, and eternal death is death eternal, and everlasting destruction is destruction without remedy—this is the most natural, as it is the simplest, reading of the New Testament.”
::R1029 : page 8::
“TWO SPANIARDS, both Protestants, lately met in the streets of Madrid a Catholic priest carrying the viaticum to a dying parishioner. The priest, perceiving that the Protestants did not kneel or take off their hats, sternly upbraided them and gave them into custody. The municipal judge condemned them to six days’ imprisonment and to a fine of 25 pesetas and the costs.”