The Present Truth, vol. 10

52/53

December 20, 1894

“Front Page” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

May Christians fight?-Yes, certainly: “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:12. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.1

May they take human life?-“The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:56. “He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.” 1 Peter 2:23. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.2

With whom, then, are Christians to contend? “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12, margin. “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.” 2 Corinthians 10:3. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.3

With what weapons only may Christians fight? “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.4

“The World Not Converted” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

The World Not Converted.-“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” The world and the Gospel of Christ can never have anything in common. The world will pass away, but never be converted. It will never help the cause of Christ along, because it knows Him not. His people are chosen out of the world, so that they are not to be of it, even while living in it. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.5

“‘He Saved Others’” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

“He Saved Others.”-This was the testimony which the enemies of Christ gave to Him as He hung upon the cross. By that saying they convicted themselves. For He who could save others must have been the Saviour. The Lord had said through His prophet, that His righteous servant should justify many. The persecutors of Jesus acknowledged that He had saved others. But if He had saved others, He could save them. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” There is no modification, and no limit. He came to save sinners, whoever, whenever, and wherever they may be. Let no one then be content with admitting that “He saved others.” Rather say, He saved me. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.6

“Himself He Cannot Save.”-“He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” The last statement was as true as the first. He “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” “With His stripes we are healed.” He could save others only by giving Himself as a sacrifice. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” So of His followers.” “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.7

“The Day of Visitation” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

Every life has its day of visitation. It is a day when God by His Spirit appeals to us, and we choose, as we must do, whom we will serve. The destiny of no person will be determined otherwise than by his own choice. Every day men are choosing for good or bad, and one choice leads to another in the same direction. Each move takes the individual further, until at last the climax is reached, when a final stand is taken, knowingly and deliberately, from which there will be no retrogression. Then, whether the individual knows it or not, his choice for eternity is made. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.8

The day of visitation comes unheralded, nor does it by any sign proclaim itself an important day in our lives. The consequences with which it is fraught are not discerned. We can gather from it nothing to brace ourselves for any heroic action. Our dependence is simply the principles we have developed, the love of the truth which we have acquired from choices already made. The love of the truth will be our only safety, and not the importance of the issue, for that may not appear. Little did Pontius Pilate, as he gave sentence for the crucifixion of Christ, think of the history he was making for all subsequent time. Yet his foresight was as good as ours. It was the foresight of the wisdom common to men, but which does not penetrate an hour into future. Little do men now foresee that the evil they do in secret will one day be proclaimed on the housetops. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 801.9

It was when the truth came to Pilate that he made his fatal mistake. So it is when the truth of God comes to people now that they make the decisive choice. Pilate tried to evade the issue, but he could not. He knew that Christ was innocent; that it was for envy he had been seized and brought before him by the Jews; and he endeavoured to shift the responsibility, first upon the Jews themselves, and then upon Herod. But he failed, and his failure is a warning to such as would do likewise. He was forced to make a decision, and in that decision the fear of man outweighed his convictions of right. He feared to lose his position more than he feared to violate his conscience and disregard the right. He had some curiosity about the truth, but not a love of it. He had some curiosity as many have to-day, and all that they have, so far as concerns the choice of righteousness. He did just what all will do who swerve from the right because of the fear of man. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.1

In the day of visitation we are to glorify God; and we are to live so that “the Gentiles,” beholding our good works, may also in that day glorify Him. 1 Peter 2:11, 12. He is glorified by a life which vindicates the principles of His government; by a decision which justifies Him in His dealings with mankind. Our choice must be in harmony with His law. It must be made in love of the truth. Otherwise it will be Pilate’s choice, and we shall see only when too late, the folly which led us to throw aside, with the right, the heritage of righteousness and truth. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.2

“The Pope and the East” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

The Apostolic Constitution, giving effect to the decisions of the recent conference of the Eastern churches, has been issued. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.3

According to Reuter’s Rome correspondent, after referring to the history of the Eastern churches and testifying to the dignity imparted to them by the Church of Rome, which is spoken of as the Mistress of the World, the document alludes to the ecclesiastical colleges founded by the Papacy in Rome and in the East, which Leo XIII. proposes to develop on behalf of Orientals. It proclaims the necessity of maintaining intact the rites of the Orientals, because their very divergencies give splendid expression to the oneness of the dogmas of the Catholic religion. The Constitution confirms the measures taken by the Pope Benedict XIV. to preserve the Oriental rites, and sanctions thirteen new regulations, the principal of which provides that any Latin missionary who invites an Oriental to embrace the Latin rites shall ipso facto incur suspension from his functions and loss of his position. The colleges and religious orders shall see that Oriental students are instructed according to their respective rites. No new college is to be established in the East by Latin monks without the authority of the Pope. All Orientals-even those placed beyond the jurisdiction of the patriarchates-shall continue to be instructed according to their rites, and those who may have embraced the Latin rite shall be allowed to revert to the Oriental. Matrimonial cases and questions of conscience shall be referred to the Congregation of the Propaganda. The jurisdiction of the Greek Melchite Patriarch is extended over all the faithful of his rite in the whole Ottoman territory. In conclusion, the Constitution announces that the Pope will establish colleges and churches in the East, and will afford them assistance with the aid of generous Catholics in all countries. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.4

It will be seen that recognition of the Pope is the one essential thing. That being granted, all else will follow as the Pope desires. It is not to be wondered at that the Papacy is exulting in its successes. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.5

“Two Examples” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

The Apostle Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” 1 Timothy 1:15, 16. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.6

There is another pattern held up before men, in contrast with this. Peter tells us that God “spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:5, 6. The one pattern can be distinctly seen only by those who believe; the other is visible to all persons, whether they believe or not. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.7

The contrast here is not in the dealings of God with men, but in the attitude of men toward God. God displays His mercy and longsuffering toward all. His judgments have never fallen without this. “The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” 1 Peter 3:20. It waited in the days of Lot, while he “sat in the gate of Sodom.” The fate of the wicked city has passed down in the history linked with the wonderful testimony of God’s forbearance which appears in His conversation with Abraham, when He declared that for the sake of ten righteous persons only, it should still be spared. So also God “endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” before sending destruction upon Pharaoh and his host of Egyptians. Romans 9:22. The same longsuffering and grace that was manifested in the life of the great apostle was held out to those who perished, but they did not see it. They did not have faith. Paul believed, and they did not believe. That made all the difference in their history. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.8

Saul persecuting and making havoc of the church, and Pharaoh oppressing the chosen people of God, stood in a similar position. The apostle declared that he was the chief of sinners. He had no more claim upon the mercy and grace of God than had Pharaoh or the inhabitants of Sodom. His glorious career as Paul the apostle was the result simply of his faith. He believed on the name of Christ, and was set forth for a pattern to those that should believe thereafter, that all might be encouraged to have faith. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.9

By faith we see not merely condemnation and impending judgment where sin abounds, but grace “much more” abounding. We see God not only as just, but as the justifier of him who believes. We see mercy standing before judgment in all His dealings; we see the bow of the covenant before His throne, and the lightnings and thunders in the background. The patterns He has set before us encourage us to put our trust in Him. Sin, not God, is our enemy; and faith in Him-simple trust-is the victory over every foe. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.10

“Can Animals Think?” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

Even at this day we see the question asked in a high-class religious newspaper, “Can animals think?” This leads us to expect that philosophers will soon be propounding the question, “Can animals eat?” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 802.11

“Testimony of the Centuries. The Sure Word” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.1

The present age is called night. Paul says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:12. And this he says in view of the fact previously stated, that it is high time to wake out of sleep, because our salvation is near. The dawning of the day, and the rising of the day-star, refer to the coming of Christ, who is “the bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.2

At Christ’s first advent He Christ’s first advent He was made an offering for sin, and He “bare our sins in His own body on the tree;” but when He comes the second time, He comes “without sin unto salvation” to them that look for Him. Hebrews 9:28. Concerning this coming there is less knowledge among men than of the first; yet it brings the consummation of the Gospel and of this earth’s history. Therefore, since that event is of such overwhelming importance, how true the words that we “do well” to “take heed” to the sure word of prophecy. In the midst of the darkness of sin which covers the earth, our only light is that which shines from God’s word. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.3

THE COMING OF THE LORD

The third chapter of the second epistle of Peter contains some positive evidence concerning the sure word of prophecy which points out the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The chapter opens with the statement that the epistle was written for the purpose of stirring up the brethren to take heed to “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.” There is special reason for this admonition, because just before the end the darkness will be more intense, as the Apostle says, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:13. And these evil men will scoff, saying (following the Revised Version), “Where is the promise of His coming? for from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.4

That this is a falsehood, and that they ought to know better if they do not, Peter declares in the next two verses, saying, “For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.5

The plain statement is that the earth in its chaotic state was simply a watery mass, as indicated by Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” When God gathered the waters together into one place, and made the dry land appear, He evidently stored large quantities of water in the interior of the earth. This is indicated in the second commandment by the phrase, “the water under the earth,” and in other scriptures. In the flood which destroyed the earth in the days of Noah, the waters in the interior of the earth united with the rain from the heavens, as the record says: “The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Genesis 7:11. “By which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” The idea of the words of Peter is that the very elements from which the earth was formed was made to contribute to its destruction. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.6

THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

Having disproved that all things continue as they were since the beginning of the creation, the apostle draws a parallel thus: “But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for [or, as more properly given in the marginal rendering, with] fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.7

Now the comparison is at once apparent. By the word of God, the earth in the beginning was formed from the watery mass which God had spoken into existence. Part of this water was stored up in the earth, and by the word of God was afterward caused to overflow the earth and contribute to its destruction. And the same word of God, which performed this, has stored the interior of this present earth with fire, and is keeping it till the day of Judgment, when, as in the case of the waters of the flood, the fire within the earth, uniting with that which comes down from God out of Heaven (Revelation 20:9), will destroy it. Instead of all things continuing as they were from the beginning of the creation, the earth has within it the elements of its destruction, and it is only the power of God that stays the catastrophe. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.8

Some have fancied that this chapter teaches that the earth will be annihilated at the Judgment-day. This is a mistake. This earth will be destroyed in the same sense that the original earth “perished” by the waters of the earth. It was all broken up, and the face of it was changed, so that the earth after the flood had no resemblance to the earth before the flood. This was the last and greatest curse caused by sin, and completed the desolation of the earth. But the matter which composed the earth was not destroyed. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.9

So by the fires of the last day “the elements shall melt with fervent heat,” but they will not be annihilated. From those melted elements, “new heavens and a new earth” will be formed, which will have no more resemblance to this sin-cursed earth than this earth does to Eden, the garden of God. The people that shall dwell in it will all be righteous (Isaiah 60:21), and “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” Isaiah 35:1, 2. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 803.10

The “sure word of prophecy” tells us again and again that this earth shall be destroyed by fire, and that in that fire shall the ungodly be burned up. Scoffers say that they see no evidence that any such event will ever take place, but the Apostle Peter assures us that the instrument of the earth’s destruction is already prepared, and is stored within it. Just as surely as the earth was once destroyed by water, so surely will again be destroyed by fire. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.1

“But these prophecies were spoken hundreds, and some of them thousands, of years ago, and there is no more evidence of their fulfilment now than there was when they were uttered.” Thus argues the scoffer; but it is a vain argument, for two reasons. In the first place, all the evidence goes to show that there is now far more prospect of their speedy fulfilment than there was when they were uttered. The truth of the statement that “the earth shall wax old like a garment” may be verified by any close observer. The earth is wearing out. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.2

Take, for example, the land of Palestine. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, that wonderfully fertile country, the Lord promised them a land “flowing with milk and honey,” (Exodus 3:8), a land better than Egypt (Deuteronomy 11:10, 11), “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.” Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Hundreds of years later the prophet Ezekiel called it a land “flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands” (Ezekiel 20:6, 15); our Saviour’s parable affords evidence that the land would yield thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold (Matthew 13:8); and when God would describe the beauty and richness of the new earth, He said, “The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon.” Isaiah 35:2. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.3

But how is it now? A traveller, who has written a good description of Eastern lands, says:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.4

Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of colour, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation, that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and dependent... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.5

And what is true of that country is true in less degree of other countries. The waxing old of the earth is more marked in Palestine, because of its original superior fertility. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.6

But even allowing that there were no visible tokens of the approach of the time when this earth shall as a vesture be folded up and changed, it would still be a vain thing to say that it must be long ere God’s sure word can be fulfilled, because of the truth of the following statement:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.7

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.8

God “inhabiteth eternity.” The flight of time makes no difference with His plans. Compared with His eternity, the entire six thousand years of earth’s existence is but a span. Says the Psalmist, “For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4. Therefore the apostle concludes that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness.” That which seems to men forgetfulness of the promise, is only a kindly delay to allow dilatory men to secure the promise. In God’s reckoning, it is only as the three days’ grace which men allow for the payment of a promissory note. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.9

It should not be forgotten that while a thousand years is with the Lord as one day, one day is as a thousand years. This is too often overlooked. While He may take a thousand years for the fulfilment of a promise, and then it will be the same as though performed the next day, He can do in one day the work of a thousand years. Therefore there is no warrant for settling down to carnal ease, thinking that it will necessarily be a long time yet before the work of God on earth can be accomplished. “For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness; because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” Romans 9:26. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 804.10

“Christmas Thoughts” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

The great church holiday of the year is at hand, and it is most natural that the season should awaken thoughts in regard to an institution so generally observed throughout Christendom. There are few things in which the influence of “the church” is more strikingly manifest than in the general observance of this festival day by so many who do not profess to be Christians. Since reasonable beings desire to know the reason for the things which they are required to do, it seems most natural that first in order we should consider the PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.1

ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS

This is a thing that is very seldom treated of in these days. The commonly-accepted idea is that it is the celebration of the birth of Christ. If it were not that most people are like school boys, glad of any excuse for a holiday, and that the celebration of Christmas in supposed commemoration of the birth of Christ is one of the easiest ways in which a person can make himself believe that he is religious, the day would long since have fallen into oblivion for lack of foundation. For one of the surest things about the 25th of December, commonly called Christmas, is that it is PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.2

NOT CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY

Luke gives us the fullest account of the birth of Christ, but neither he nor any other writer of Scripture gives the slightest hint as to when it took place. Much less is there any hint in the Bible that the birthday of Christ was to be observed any more than any other day in the year. We do know that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” to whom the angel of the Lord appeared, announcing the birth of the Saviour. But that this was not the 25th of December, nor any other day of that month, is certain from the fact that December is the height of the rainy season in Judea, when neither flocks nor shepherds could have been out in the fields at night. No man who knows anything about sheep would think of leaving them out at night in a cold, winter rain. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.3

Facts like these, however, have never been allowed to stand in the way of the celebration of festival days. The main thing is to have a day; the facts can be manufactured to suit the occasion. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.4

NOT FROM THE BEGINNING

Neander, in his church history of the first three centuries, speaks of the institution of Easter and Whitsuntide, and says that they were the only feasts observed at this period. “The idea of a birthday festival was foreign to the Christians of this period generally.” “Besides, it was in truth unknown at what definite time the celebration of the remembrance of Christ’s birth should be placed, as nothing definite was ascertained respecting the date of His birth.” He might as well have added also that nothing definite is known now, but that custom has been accepted in the place of knowledge. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.5

ITS FIRST APPEARANCE

There is quite general agreement that the first celebration of the festival of Christmas began in the fourth century after Christ. Neander says, “This feast first makes its appearance, as one generally celebrated in the Roman Church, under the Roman Bishop Liberius, after the middle of the fourth century.... It was not till later, however, that it spread from the Roman church to Eastern Asia.... Chrysostom says expressly, in a discourse pronounced at Antioch in celebration of this festival, on the 25th of December in the year 386, that it had first become known there less than ten years before.”-History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, section 3. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.6

Dr. Schaff says:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.7

We first find it in Rome in the time of Bishop Liberius, who on the 25th of December 360, consecrated Marcella, the sister of St. Ambrose, nun or bride of Christ, and addressed her with these words: “Thou seest what multitudes are come to the birth-festival of thy bridegroom.”-History of Christian Church, vol. 2, sec. 77. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.8

The association in which it is first seen is surely no recommendation to it for Protestants. The name Christmas-Christ mass-shows its Roman Catholic origin, and should have been sufficient to condemn it for those who reject the “idolatrous sacrifice of the mass.” Let it be remembered that if we could find the clearest evidence from history that the festival of Christmas was observed from the first century, that would not add a feather’s weight to its authority. The two essential things would still be lacking, namely, the knowledge of when Christ was born, and a command to observe the day of His birth, even if it were known. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.9

A RELIC OF HEATHENISM

It is a fact too well known to require any lengthy argument here, that it was not very long after the days of the apostles before the church began to court the favour of the world. Indeed, the “mystery of iniquity,” which should develop into the “man of sin,” was already working in the days of the Apostle Paul. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. Mosheim tells us that as early as the second century, that is, within less than a hundred years of the death of Paul, a large part of the “Christian” observances and institutions “had the aspect of heathen mysteries.” This being the case, no one need be surprised to read testimony like the following from Dr. Schaff (same section as above), which might be multiplied indefinitely:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.10

The Christmas festival was probably the transformation or regeneration of a series of kindred festivals-the Saturnalia, Siggilaria, Juvenalia, and Brumalia-which were kept in Rome in the month of December, and commemoration of the golden age of universal freedom and equality, and in honor of the unconquered sun. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.11

THE SATURNALIA

Space allows but a very brief reference to this Pagan festival, just enough to show how closely it has been copied. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of it:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.12

The great festival of Saturn was celebrated on the 19th, but after C?sar’s reform of the calendar, on the 17th of December.... In popular usage, the festival lasted seven days. The time was one of general joy and mirth.... All classes exchanged gifts, the commonest being wax tapirs and clay dolls. These dolls were especially given to children, and the makers of them held a regular fair at this time. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.13

So we see that in ancient heathen Rome the shops doubtless presented much the same appearance about Christmas time that they do now in England. It is thought, and with reason, that the dolls that were given on the occasion of the festival of Saturn represented the human sacrifices that had formerly been offered to that god. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 805.14

Dr. Schaff well says, “Had the Christmas festival arisen in the period of the persecution, its derivation from these pagan festivals would be refuted by the then reigning abhorrence of everything heathen.” And he adds, “But in the Nicene age this rigid opposition between the church and the world was in a great measure softened by the general conversion of the heathen.” The adoption of the festival was, therefore, a mark of the growth of apostasy, and of the patronising of the church. The heathen, whose chief god was the sun, regarded the time when it began to rise higher in the heavens as its birthday; and it was very easy for church people with whom heathen philosophising had taken the place of the word of God, to take advantage of this idea, and make the heathen believe that they were in reality celebrating the birth of Christ, and so bring them into the church in swarms. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.1

CHRISTMAS AT THE REFORMATION

At the time of the Reformation, there was considerable discussion concerning the festivals of the Catholic Church. By some nearly all of them were retained, and by others nearly all rejected. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists, particularly, rejected all the yearly festivals as human institutions. Doubtless the reason why the rejection of them was not permanent was that in the rejection more dependence was placed in Parliament than in the Bible. Neal, in his “History of the Puritans,” says:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.2

Among the ordinances that passed this year (1646) for reformation of the church, none occasioned so much noise and disturbances as that of June 8, for abolishing the observance of saints days, and the three grand festivals, of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, and other festivals, commonly called holy days, have been heretofore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained that the said feasts, and other festivals, commonly called holy days, be no longer observed as festivals; any law, statute, custom, constitution, or canon, to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.”-Vol. 3, ch. 8. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.3

AN UNANSWERABLE ARGUMENT

“The king,” says Neal, “was highly displeased with this ordinance and while the matter was under debate, he put this query to the Parliament-commissioners at Holmby-house, April 23, 1647,” which shows that as long as the king’s head remained on his shoulders it was clearer than those of the theological politicians:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.4

I desire to be resolved of this question, Why the new reformers discharge the keeping of Easter? My reason for this query is, I concede the celebration of this feast was instituted by the same authority which change the Jewish Sabbath into the Lord’s day or Sunday, for it will not be found in Scripture where Saturday is discharged to be kept, or turned into Sunday; wherefore it must be the church’s authority to change the one and instituted the other; therefore my opinion is, that those who will not keep this feast may as well return to the observance of Saturday, and refuse the weekly Sunday. When anybody can show me that wherein I am in error, I shall not be ashamed to confess and amend it.-Ib. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.5

No one performed this task. Sir James Harrington made a simple denial that the Sabbath was changed by the authority of “the church,” and asserted that the change was derived from the authority and example of Christ and the apostles; but he very naturally neglected to give any evidence from the Scriptures, as the king required, since none is to be found. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.6

It is true that the king’s point was made concerning Easter, but it applies equally well to Christmas. The reformers were not willing to carry the reformation so far as to return to the Scriptures as the only guide in all matters of religion. They determined to retain the observance of the Sunday; and the retention of that day, which, like Christmas, was a heathen festival day, left the way open for the bringing back of all the other festivals. Thus it is that to-day we see the church festival days coming more and more into recognition by the various Protestant bodies. And thus it will be that within a few years the Roman Catholic Church will have regained all that it lost a few centuries ago. For when people adopt so much as one custom that has no warrant in Scripture, the Catholic Church has a long lever with which to bring them into its fold, into the observance of all its unscriptural customs. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.7

IS IT A GOOD THING?

Some will certainly ask, “But is it not a good thing to observe one day in the year in memory of the birth of Christ?” The reply is, No; it is not a good thing. If it were, it would have been appointed in the Bible. “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” “It is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written.” “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” Job 14:4. The Christmas festival was originally an unclean heathen festival, and nothing can make it clean. Heathenism can never become Christianity. The power that presumed to transform a heathen festival into a Christian institution, is the very same that claims the ability to transform a common piece of bread into the actual body of Christ. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.8

The setting apart of one day in the year in commemoration of God manifest in the flesh, must and does tend directly against the daily recognition of that fact. The birth of Christ is a mystery which is to be commemorated not by a yearly festival, but by the formation of Christ within as the hope of glory. Nothing can commemorate the event but the event itself. The life of Christ is to be manifest “in our mortal flesh,” and “renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:11-16. In the festivals of “the church year,” we have the substitution of forms and ceremonies for Christian reality; and it is one of the worst signs of the times, that the increasing observance of those days, adopted directly from heathenism, is looked upon as a proof of the growth of Christianity. There was never a time when a reformation was more imperatively needed in the church than to-day. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.9

CHRISTMAS GIFTS

“What about Christmas gifts? Are they also to be condemned?” That depends. The Lord assures us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive;” but He makes a distinction in giving. “If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Luke 6:32-35. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.10

There is not the slightest doubt but that Christmas giving, as generally practised, is productive of only evil. Selfishness and jealousy are fostered by means of it. The child is encouraged to value its parents and friends according to what it can get from them. They are encouraged to think only of self. And this evil is not confined to children. Besides this, the squandering of so much money upon foolish, unnecessary, and even harmful presents, is wicked, when there are so many who are suffering not only for food and clothing, but for the bread of life. This of course applies to gifts at any time; but if it were not for certain holidays when gifts are by custom specially expected, the evil would be far less. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 806.11

“But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:13, 14. The rule for giving, whether to members of one’s own family or to others, is to give where there is need, and to give the thing needed. This is the way with the Lord, whose grace supplies the needy, “in time of need.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.1

But if this rule were followed, there would not be a greater display of giving at Christmas than at any other time. “The poor ye have always with you, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good.” Mark 14:7. It is a thing much to be commended that Christmas is by many, perhaps more than in time past, devoted to gifts that will benefit the needy; but while it is better to give at Christmas time than not to give at all, it is far better to give when there is need, without any reference to the day. As before stated, these annual church festivals tend to minimise the necessity of daily Christian living; and this is doubtless the reason why the Gospel knows nothing of them. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.2

“Studies in Romans. Something Worth Knowing. Romans 8:26-28” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

The preceding lessons have shown us that the possession of the Holy Spirit marks our relation to God as sons. It is the pledge of the life and inheritance to come. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.3

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which can not be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:26-28. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.4

QUESTIONING THE TEXT

What does the Spirit do for us? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.5

“The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.6

Why is this necessary? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.7

“We know not what we should pray for as we ought.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.8

How therefore does the Spirit help us? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.9

“The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.10

In what way? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.11

“With groanings which cannot be uttered.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.12

What does He who searches the hearts know? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.13

“He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.14

Who searches the hearts? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.15

“I the Lord search the heart.” Jeremiah 17:10. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.16

Why does the Lord know the mind of the Spirit? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.17

“Because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.18

What then do we know? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.19

“We know that all things work together for good.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.20

To whom? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.21

“To them that love God.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.22

How are such ones called? PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.23

“Called according to His purpose.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.24

“PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT”

“And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity; for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.25

The heart is deceitful above all things, and none can know it except God. Jeremiah 17:9, 10. That in itself is sufficient reason why we do not know what we should pray for. Moreover, we do not know the things that God has to give us; and even if we did, our lips could not describe them, for “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-12. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.26

God desires to give to us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20. Of course a petition for such things can not be put into words. The next clause however says that it is “according to the power that worketh in us;” and the sixteenth verse tells us that the power that works in us is the Spirit. Thus we find the same thing that we read in the eighth of Romans and the second of 1 Corinthians. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.27

“The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Therefore the Spirit knows just what the Lord has for us. The deepest thoughts are too great for language, and so the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that can not be uttered. But, although there is no articulate speech “He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” The Lord knows that the Spirit asks for just the things that He has to bestow. He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that whatever is asked according to God’s will is granted. 1 John 5:14, 15. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.28

Now note how this statement in regard to prayer fits in with what goes before in the eighth of Romans. God has given us his Spirit to be in us, to lead us, and to direct our lives. The possession of the Spirit of God proves that we are the sons of God. Being sons, we can come to Him to ask for things to supply our need, with all the confidence of a child to a parent. But while we have all confidence, our thoughts are as the earth is below the heaven. Isaiah 55:8, 9. Not only are our thoughts feeble, but our language is still more so. We can not give proper expression even to the little that we do realise. But if we are the sons of God, we have in us his own representative, who helps our infirmity and who is able to take of the things of God to give to us. What wonderful confidence this should give us in praying to God; and especially should it give confidence to those who are particularly infirm in regard to language! It makes no difference if one has a very limited vocabulary, if he stammers, or even if he is dumb; if he prays in the Spirit, he is sure to receive all that he needs, and more than he can ask or think. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 807.29

With these facts before us, how much more forcible becomes the exhortation of the apostle, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:18. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.1

ALL THINGS FOR GOOD

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Without this knowledge we could not have that confidence in prayer that we ought to have and that is indicated in the preceding verses. Whoever knows the Lord must love Him, for He is love. And the Spirit reveals Him to us. Whoever knows that “God so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” cannot fail to love Him. And then all things work together for good to Him. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.2

Take notice that the text does not say that all things shall work together for good to them that love God, but that they do so work now in this present time. Everything as it comes is good to those who love and trust the Lord. Many people lose the blessing of this assurance by reading it as though it were for the future. They try to be resigned to troubles that come by thinking that by and by some good will come from them; but in that case they do not get the good that God gives them. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.3

Note further that the text does not say that we know how all things work together for good to them that love God. People in trouble often sigh piously and say, “Well, I suppose that it is all for good, but I can’t see how.” Of course not; and they have no business to see how. It is God that makes them work good, because He alone has the power. Therefore it is not necessary for us to know anything about how it is done. The fact is knowledge enough for us. God can overrule all the plans of the devil, and can make the wrath of man to praise Him. Our part is to believe. There is no trust in the Lord if we must see how He does everything. Those who must be able to see how the Lord works, show that they can not trust Him out of sight, and thus they give Him a bad name to the world. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.4

CALLED OF GOD

God has called everybody to come to Him. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. God is no respecter of persons; He desires that all men shall be saved, and so He calls them all. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.5

Not only does He call us, but He draws us. No man can come to Him without being drawn, and so Christ is lifted up to draw all to God. He tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9), and through Him all men have access to God. He has destroyed in His own body the enmity, the wall that separates men from God, so that nothing can keep any man from God unless that man builds up again the barrier. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.6

The Lord draws us, but does not employ force. He calls, but does not drive. It remains therefore for us to make our “calling and election sure” by yielding to the influence that God throws round us. He says, “Follow Me,” and we must make the calling effectual by following Him. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.7

PURPOSE OF THE CALLING

God calls us “in the grace of Christ.” Galatians 1:6. “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Ephesians 1:4. Still further, we read that He hath “called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Timothy 1:9. In our text in Romans we learned that those who love God are the “called according to His purpose.” His purpose is that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. If we yield to His purpose, He will see that it is carried out. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.8

God designed man for a companion for Himself. But there is no true companionship where there is restraint. Therefore, in order that man might associate with Him on terms of intimacy, He made the will of man as free as His own. God cannot work against His own purpose; and therefore He not only will not, but He can not, force the will of man. All men are as absolutely free to choose as is God Himself; and when they choose to yield to the call of God, His purpose of grace is wrought out in them by the power by which He is able to make all things work together for good. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 808.9

“Mackay, of Uganda” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

ALEXANDER MACKAY, Missionary Hero of Uganda, Sunday School Union, Ludgate Hill, London. 1s. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 811.1

It is a notion, unfortunately too prevalent, that young people must have stories that are not true to interest them. And so every holiday season the catalogue of tales full of fighting and impossible adventures is increased by scores and hundreds of volumes. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 811.2

It is altogether a matter of perverted taste. Any healthy young person, or old either, who has been trained to believe in the seriousness of life finds far more to interest him in a book that is true, than in one in which he knows the writer is telling him things that never happened. But as the boy is started in with tales, and the taste for the unreal is formed, so when he becomes the man he must have the adult novel with its maudlin sentiment, if indeed the mind does not crave the modern novel with a “purpose” which promises to come in shoals as thick as the frogs of Egypt, and as slimy and unclean. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 811.3

There are no books of more thrilling interest than the stories of missionary life which are issued by many publishers in popular form. Buy the children such books as these, and they will care little for fiction, and they are as interesting to the old as to the young. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 811.4

The life of the young Scotsman, Mackay, was a stirring one, and closed only about four years ago. As a boy in Aberdeenshire he was industrious in his studies, and especially apt in picking up bits of information about practical things. Being of a mechanical turn of mind, he took up engineering after his school days were over. One of the most interesting lessons of his life is the story of how the Lord is able to use mechanical skill when it is consecrated to His service. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.1

It was his ability to make things that attracted the natives to him after he reached Uganda, in the African lake region, and by his industry he taught the indolent natives lessons which they needed so much to learn. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.2

“All kinds of iron implements were brought to him to repair; and when they saw him burnishing metal until it shone, their astonishment and admiration knew no bounds. Much of this skill they put down to witchcraft; and when he had done anything more than usually surprising, they cried, ‘Mackay is truly the great spirit.’ But this very belief in his power was sometimes rather awkward. If they asked him to do something beyond his power, and he explained his inability, they would not believe him, but thought it was because he would not.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.3

It was his work to show, that there was nothing supernatural about his skill, and that he was industrious only that he might do good to others. When later he was persecuted and robbed and yet toiled early and late at the hardest kind of labour for the very ones who mistreated him, many saw revealed a higher principle than the selfishness which ruled their own lives. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.4

Mtesa, the king, had invited missionaries to come to his kingdom, but it was evident that his professed interest to learn of Jesus Christ was only to get some advantages from the white men. He was treacherous and deceitful, and jealous of the missionary’s influence. Yet gradually a few natives began to gather about Mackay and his companions, who were rejoiced after the years of labour to see real fruit springing up in the hearts of some. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.5

Toward the close of Mtesa’s life, Mackay built a house which was a marvel to the people, and which the Arabs tried to make the king believe was to be a fort for the whites. An ox cart made at the same time was another wonder. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.6

“News of Mackay’s wonderful cart was carried to the king, and exaggerated descriptions given of its size and powers. Among other things it was said that the cart was uncontrollable, and had killed people. Mtesa sent a chief to inspect it, and to report, To his great delight Mackay drove him past the mission house, and showed him how absurd were the rumours about its dangerousness.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.7

Every fresh triumph by Mackay only increased the jealousy of the Arabs who had the ear of the king, and so while the believers in the Gospel increased and were learning to read the Scriptures which had been translated, the opposition from the king and chiefs increased. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.8

Mtesa died and was followed by his son Mwanga, who soon began to persecute the native believers. This only increased the number who came by stealth to be taught. Large numbers were now seeking to know the way, and soon a reign of terror began. Soldiers were sent to search out the converts, and every day fresh batches of them were burnt. “These black Christians prayed to God in the fire, and met death so fearlessly, and even joyfully, that the executioner said ‘he had never killed such brave people before.’” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.9

Soon after this general persecution of natives was begun Mackay thought it best to leave the king’s country for a time, and went to the Southern shore of Lake Nyanza to found another station. It was here that he died in 1890, hard at work to the very last. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.10

Uganda has had a troubled history since Mackay left it. Mwanga was deposed by a revolt, and managed to escape to a Roman Catholic mission, where he professed conversion. Getting back to his kingdom later he found the Protestant converts in power, and since then there has been fighting between the so-called, Protestant and Catholic parties, followed by intervention by the British Government to keep peace between the factions. While admiring the zeal and devotion of the early missionaries, and finding inspiration in their life story, it is impossible to escape the conviction that too much reliance was placed on getting kingly favour and on using force to suppress some irregularities, putting, perhaps, into the minds of the later converts the idea of getting power in the government of the kingdom. Persecution advanced the Gospel, and the power of the word was demonstrated amidst pillage and burnings. But the successive wars between the Protestant and Catholic factions show the death of real piety amongst the great majority of the converts, and their very meagre knowledge of the religion which is pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated, and which suffers long and is kind. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.11

But this shilling book and the others in the same series, are well written records of the lives of men whose work it will do the reader good to know about. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 812.12

“News of the Week” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

-Diamonds have been discovered in Tasmania. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.1

-A financial crisis and panic prevails in Newfoundland and trade is almost at it standstill. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.2

-A convention of the American Federation of Labour was opened Dec. 10 at Denver, U.S.A. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.3

-The Russian Army is to be increased next year by the addition of two regiments of field artillery. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.4

-A cyclone broke over the island of Ponta Delgada (Azores) Dec. 8. Two ships were wrecked and several lives lost. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.5

-Sir John Thompson, Premier of Canada, died very suddenly at a lunch in Windsor Castle, Dec. 12. The body will be taken to Canada for interment. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.6

-The Court appointed to inquire into the loss of the New Zealand steamer Wairarapa, which resulted in the loss of 134 lives, find that the wreck was due to the default of the captain. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.7

-Several Catholic Cardinals are reported as saying that the question of the validity of Anglican orders ought to he again examined, and that the Pope alone can express an authoritative opinion on the point. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.8

-The Austrian Official Gazette has announced that the operation of the Anglo-Austrian Copyright Treaty has been extended to India, Newfoundland, Natal, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and New Zealand. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.9

-The Porte is said to be aware of the gravity the Armenian question, and a conference last-g twenty-four hours took place at the Sultan’s palace. It is stated in official Russian circles at the Russian Government done not intend to intervene, as it did in the massacres which led to the Russo-Turkish war of 1877. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.10

-The Japanese troops have captured Foochow, Huh was evacuated by the Chinese without firing a shot. It is reported that two Japanese divisions numbering together 25,000 men have tided on the western shores of the Gulf of Peehill with a view to an advance on Pekin. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.11

-Recently a man undertook to drink three pints of rum in a public-house in Dublin within half-an-hour. After swallowing the last pint he collapsed on the floor and died. The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against the man who ordered the drink and the man who supplied it. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.12

-Great satisfaction is expressed both in financial and official circles in Russia, as well as by the Press, at the participation of the London market in the new Russian loan. This is regarded as material evidence of the improvement of the political relations between Russia and Great Britain. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.13

-Relations between the Vatican and M. Dupuy, the French Premier, are, it is said, very such strained. The Pope some months ago expressed a desire to establish an ecclesiastical hierarchy in China. France, however, who exercises a Catholic protectorate in the Far East, refused to entertain the idea, with the result mentioned. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.14

-The Emperor of Austria has at last given his consent to the Church Bills, which with much difficulty were passed through the Hungarian louse of Magnates. Dr. Wokerle, the Premier announced the fact in, the Hungarian Reichstag, and was greeted with enthusiastic applause. The liberal victory has caused great rejoicings in Budapest and throughout the Province. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.15

-A tornado struck the town of Forsythe, in Texas, Dec. 12, and wrought a great deal of havoc. The principal church was blown down, and the roof of practically every place of business was torn off, while many dwellings were completely demolished. The loss is estimated at 50,000 dollars. Other cyclones are reported from parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.16

-Emperor William, addressing the newly elected President of the German Reichstag, said he regarded the recant Socialist demonstration as an attack upon the Constitution, which it was the intention of the anti-revolutionary Bill to put down. Herr Leibnicht, a Socialist deputy, has caused further excitement by defending the course of the Socialists, and stigmatising the Emperor’s speech as “hypocrisy.” PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.17

-On October 12 last, three African sportsman, of the abortive Freeland movement, together with Mr. Remington, postmaster of Mombassa, and a German missionary, made a midnight attack on the Somalis, under, it is said, a mistaken impression that they were about to attack the German mission station at Ngoa or the English mission station at Golbanti. The Somalis retaliated by ravaging the Tana districts, inhabited by the Gallas and Pokamas, tribes under British protection. They returned, after doing immense damage, with a largo booty of women, children and cattle. The Somalis also attacked the American-Swedish mission station at Kulasa, but were beaten off Now a “punitive expedition” is talked of, and as the Somalis can put several thousand men into the field, much shedding of blood is likely to happen. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.18

-A large district in Southern Russia is suffering from a plague of mice. Extraordinary accounts have been received of the damage done over a district larger than Wales by the ravages of myriads of these tiny rodents. It is said that their nests are so numerous in the fields that ploughing is impossible, the peasants turning away in loathing. In houses and barns, in the village streets, the mice swarm. The rivers and wells even are full of there, either dead or alive, and carp and other fish taught in the rivers have their stomachs laden with mica. So horrible is the plague that peasants in bodies are leaving their cottages, seeking spots where they may be free from these vermin. They are praying for an early and a severe winter to exterminate the mice. The loss to grain and other property already incurred is enormous. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 814.19

“Back Page” The Present Truth 10, 51.

EJW

E. J. Waggoner

This year, for the first on record, it is said, the car of Juggernaut at Serampore failed to find a sufficient number of devotees to drag it forth on the usual route. Three days the Brahmans tried to persuade the people to draw it out, but they failed. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.1

When a person is dissatisfied with himself, there is good hope that he will accept the One who is “altogether lovely” and “full of grace and truth.” To be dissatisfied with one’s self, therefore, is an excellent state in which to be. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.2

It is very common for people to feel discouraged when they have a vivid consciousness of their failures. On the contrary, this should be a cause for courage, since it is an evidence that the Lord is holding up for their acceptance that which is better. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.3

The man who recently jumped from the top of the Tower Bridge into the Thames, a distance of 240 feet, and was killed, was a Spiritualist, and was lured to his death by spirits, who had assured him that he would make the dive in safety. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.4

A recent writer says: “A man in society may betray an amazing ignorance of Scripture, and be let off with an indulgent smile; but let him make a false quantity in a quotation from a heathen author, and he will never be forgiven.” Which shows that “society” is more heathen than Christian. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.5

The Catholic Times, speaking of the theological commission which the Pope has appointed to investigate the validity of Anglican orders, says that there is no reason to anticipate that the contention of the Anglican controversialists will be upheld, but that the Pope will make every concession possible. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.6

Poland is rejoicing at the prospect that General Gourko, the Governor who has for years oppressed the people, will soon be superseded. The Czar has censured his recent acts of injustice to the Roman Catholics, who have suffered under him in Poland as Protestants suffer where Rome rules with free hand. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.7

One of the principal points in the German Chancellor’s speech in the Reichstag, outlining the policy of the Government, was the statement that the chief task of the State now is to act in friendly and intelligent co-operation with the authorities of the Church, and that his energies would be directed towards maintaining peace between Church and State. This means that Papal influence will vastly increase in Germany. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.8

Complaint is made that, although the Duke of York’s military school, Cambridge, is a State-supported institution, before admission can be obtained a baptismal certificate must be produced, bearing a Church of England, a Presbyterian, a Wesleyan, or a Roman Catholic stamp, and that all other sects are barred. The barred sects seem to feel aggrieved that they are not considered sufficiently Christian to be permitted to learn the art of killing men. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.9

One of our workers in Turkey reports rather a queer use of the Bible in controversy. He says:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.10

One of our brethren who was formerly a colporteur for the Bible Society, but was dismissed as soon as he began to keep the Sabbath, learned basket-making, and went to a city near ancient Nicea. Here he was soon arrested, and without any reason given, sent to the capital of the province. Being released on bail after ten days’ imprisonment, he returned to continue the business which he had begun, but was immediately re-arrested. The chief of the place took away his Bible, and striking our brother with it said: “Don’t you venture to come to this place again; you preach a strange religion.” He was sent to the capital a second time, but is now free again. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.11

It is unfortunate that the most of those who seem to stand for freedom of religion from State patronage and control, are not really opposed from principle to union of Church and State. Thus one of the leading Congregationalists in England, recently said in answer to a question as to the standing of Nonconformists as compared with Churchmen:- PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.12

Really our civil disabilities now are hardly worth talking about-except that we are outside a great national institution and can take no part in it. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.13

If this “disability” should be removed, the only Nonconformists that would then be left would be the few who believe that connection with civil affairs is the greatest disability that the Gospel can be made to suffer. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.14

The Bible Echo, of Melbourne, Australia, now in its ninth year, is a weekly paper working along the same lines of Bible study as the PRESENT TRUTH. The increasing tendency among the churches in Australia to seek to control politics in the interests of religious legislation has led our brethren there to establish a 82-page quarterly journal, the Australian Sentinel, specially devoted to these issues, showing how contrary to the principles of the Gospel of Christ is the effort to advance His kingdom by any other method than the preaching of the word. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.15

When Jesus died upon the cross, “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:50-53. It is through death that Jesus destroys him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil. Hebrews 2:14. He did not go into the grave a conquered victim, but a conqueror. In death He gained the victory, as the opening graves testified. Thus it is that even in death itself “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:37. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.16

Jesus asks, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46. If He is Lord, then His word has authority, and must be obeyed. His Lordship must be practically recognised, else it is but mockery to call Him Lord. Now “the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Matthew 11:8. Therefore properly to recognise Christ’s Lordship, means to keep the Sabbath,-the day which commemorates creation, of which He is the Head. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18. PTUK December 20, 1894, p. 816.17