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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
THINGS TO COME—AND THE PRESENT EUROPEAN SITUATION
“The Spirit of truth … will guide you into all truth, … and will show you things to come.”—John 16:13
While a part of the work of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Truth, is to guide the children of God into a clear apprehension of present duty and privilege and to give them such knowledge of things past as is needful, another of its offices is here stated to be that of showing them “things to come;” for the things to come, as well as things past and present, are of great importance to the Church. Such knowledge is not given merely to gratify curiosity, but for a definite and worthy purpose. It is wisely hidden from the merely curious and graciously revealed to the meek disciple who seeks to know the divine mind more perfectly, in order that he may the more fully conform to it.
It is only such truth seekers that are ever rewarded with the knowledge of the things to come and of the relationship of things past and present to those which are yet future—or, in other words, who ever come to see the beauty and harmony of divine truth as a system. The scoffing skeptic may diligently search the divine oracles, but he never finds the truth until he comes with reverence and humility as a meek disciple. He reads the wonders of divine revelation in a disjointed way, but cannot systematize or comprehend them. And even if God’s children set them forth systematically, they are to him foolishness: he cannot receive them. Nor can any man retain this divine truth after he has found it, unless he retain the meek spirit in which he first received it, which also implies the right and diligent use of it.
This privilege of being shown things to come is granted in order, first, that we may not be overwhelmed with fear and discouragement at the seeming calamities of the future; secondly, that we may be co-workers together with God in harmony with his plan; and thirdly, in order that, seeing our future relationship to that plan, we may be fully prepared to enter into that new relationship and its duties and privileges.
The Scriptures give unmistakable testimony to those who have full faith in its records, that there is a great time of trouble ahead of the present comparative calm in the world—a trouble which will embroil all nations, overthrow all existing institutions, civil, social and religious, bring about a universal reign of anarchy and terror, and prostrate humanity in the very dust of despair, thus to make them ready to appreciate the power that will bring order out of that confusion and institute the new rule of righteousness. All this, the Scriptures show us, is to come to pass before the year 1915 (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chapter IV.)—that is, within the next twenty three years. And in view of these calamities the Lord’s consecrated ones are told not to be alarmed, knowing what the grand outcome is to be.
All thinking men, whether they have faith in the Word of prophecy or not, see in the present attitude of mankind in general a growing tendency which threatens such a culmination,
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and they stand in fear and dread of it. As a consequence, the daily papers and the weeklies and monthlies, religious and secular, are continually discussing the prospects of war in Europe. They note the grievances and ambitions of the various nations and predict that war is inevitable at no distant day, that it may begin at any moment between some of the great powers, and that the prospects are that it will eventually involve them all. And they picture the awful calamity of such an event in view of the preparations made for it on the part of every nation. For several years past thoughtful observers have said, War cannot be kept off much longer: it must come soon—”next spring,” “next summer,” “next fall,” etc.
But, notwithstanding these predictions and the good reasons which many see for making them, we do not share them. That is, we do not think that the prospects of a general European war are so marked as is commonly supposed. True, all Europe is like a great powder magazine which a single stray match might set off at any moment with a tremendous explosion. The various nations are armed to the teeth with the most destructive weapons that skill and ingenuity can invent, and there are national grievances and bickerings and hatred that must find a vent some time; and in consideration of these things the war cloud is always impending and ever darkening: but things may continue just so for many years, and we think they will.
These rumors of impending European wars, and the desire to judge whether observation would tend to confirm the divine revelation that the intensity of the great predicted trouble is yet nearly fifteen years future, formed no small part of our motive in visiting Europe during the past summer. With this object in view, and especially to be enabled to form some estimate of the social conditions of the people, which always have much to do with war probabilities, we pursued a very different course from that usual to European tourists.
We paid more attention to the towns, villages, cities, and especially to the poorer quarters, than to the lakes, cathedrals and art galleries. That you may know that our observations were not confined to any one corner of Europe, we will state that our journey carried us over more than four thousand miles of those portions of Europe expected by so many to be the battlefield of the world within a year, viz., 900 miles in Italy, 500 miles in Austria, 900 miles in Russia, and 1800 miles in Germany and France.
As for war, it is the talk of everybody in Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy and France. And all seemed agreed that if it did not break out this fall it would surely come by next spring. All seem ready for what they consider the inevitable. In Germany every man is a soldier; and wonderful soldiers they seem to be: every thing is done with military precision, the influence of the last twenty years of military methods extending into every department of life, business, etc. And, by the way, we experienced quite a change of view with reference to this matter of German military influence. We had heretofore considered as an almost unmixed evil the taking of hundreds of thousands of men from the tilling of the soil to spend four years each in the prime of life in military service; but now we see another side to the question. While the taking away of so much of the energy and muscle of a nation from the army of production into an army of consumption has been to the detriment of the nation financially for the present and to the greater bondage of the women of Germany who do most of the farming, it has been the greatest and most rapid educator of the men of that nation, and thus, under divine providence, an instrumentality for awakening the world and preparing for the great change of dispensation about to be inaugurated.
It has taken sleepy, thoughtless boys from the farm and has waked them up and educated them, often to far more practical benefit than four years of a college course would have done. As a result, one seldom meets a stupid German. And this same rule seems to hold in other countries in proportion to their strictness in military regulations. France, Austria and Italy follow the lead of Germany in military education, although far behind her. Italy, however, is awaking more rapidly than other nations. She has adopted the German military system in full, and the influence of this measure is already
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seen and felt. The German military system, it may be as new to others as it was to us to learn, is not alone a system of military drilling and physical disciplining, but also a schooling in the common branches of education. The men do not idle and dream away their time, except when on dress parade, but have regular hours for lessons under well educated instructors.
The effect of this general education may be imagined: the people are awake to an appreciation of their rights in a way and to a degree that no one would have suspected but a short time ago, when the German brain was generally credited with being rather slow and sluggish. No other nation on earth is so fully awake now.
This general awakening of the masses to a knowledge of their rights and their power, it might be argued, is one of the chiefest reasons for fearing the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, spoken of in the Scriptures as one of the results of the present increase of knowledge which will eventuate in anarchism, and prepare the way for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yes, this is true; but there are modifying circumstances, not generally considered, which will hinder this from having its full effect for some time to come. These modifications are as follows:—
First, the various states of Germany, once independent, are now not only united, but that union is cemented by a patriotic feeling which would sacrifice much rather than see the present empire, of which they all feel proud, destroyed. They would therefore bear much rather than see it disturbed.
Secondly, the Germans are a cautious people: they know that their present government is as good as the average, at least, and that they are surrounded by enemies, and they will be extremely slow to take chances on a change such as would be implied by the word Revolution.
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Thirdly, the present government and Emperor are very popular. The last ten years have witnessed for the masses a great social and financial elevation; laws have been enacted for the protection, and gradually for the betterment, of the poorer classes; and the present Emperor has very wisely addressed himself to various liberal reforms for their amelioration.
Our judgment therefore is that, so long as these conditions prevail, Germany can control the anarchistic or lawless elements within her borders, and is not likely to experience a social revolution for some years to come.
Germany’s military preparation is so well known to the leading statesmen of Europe that no nation is likely to seek a quarrel with her; and her strain to keep up her present standard is so great that she wants no increase of it such as war would bring. Hence, with Austria and Italy in league and largely in the same plight and under her influence, Germany is today, humanly speaking, the arbiter of the world’s peace.
Furthermore, we found that throughout Europe the social conditions are much better than we had expected to find them. Indeed, the houses occupied by the poorest class, except in southern Russia, compare favorably with the dwellings of a similar class in this country; and we know of localities here in Pittsburgh which are as dilapidated in appearance as any tenements observed on our journey—not even excepting the slums of London, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are the worst we saw in Europe, Russia alone excepted.
The people are generally intelligent, industrious, busy and comfortably clothed and fed—far beyond our previous suppositions. We could not help wondering whence come some of the worst specimens of all races to this country as emigrants. Evidently the people of the United States are performing a service of inestimable value to the whole world in receiving their scum of ignorance and their dregs of degradation—both due more to evils of the past than to those of the present, and chiefly chargeable to priestcraft, superstition and ignorance fostered for centuries by that old “Mother of Harlots,” which falsely claims to be the Church-system founded by our Lord and his apostles. The wonder often is that, with almost no assistance except the necessity and opportunity for industry, so many of these degraded members of the human family turn out as favorably as they do. What a field here at our door for mission workers,
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evangelists and philanthropists—better, if they but realized it, than any foreign mission field we saw. And these emigrants, let us remember, although generally poor, are not always either ignorant or vicious. Some of them are God’s consecrated saints whom he is sending here to be blessed and sealed with present truth, which he gives us the privilege of ministering to them.
True, the food of the lower classes of Europe would not be satisfactory to the average mechanic and laborer in the United States, who, accustomed to larger pay and unaccustomed to frugality, spends probably six times as much on his stomach, eating not only finer and more nutritious foods, but also much more of them, and wasting often through improvidence as much as or more than he eats. However, the European laborer seems to enjoy himself as much as or more than his artisan brother here, and on the whole there is more of an appearance of contentment on the faces of all the people there—the poor, the middle class and the rich—than on faces met in the streets here.
Intelligence without the grace of God to back it up brings discontent: only when it is backed by godliness, does it bring contentment, peace and joy. For this reason it is that the greater general intelligence and greater liberty of the people of the United States bring them, not more contentment, but less than their less favorably circumstanced European brothers. And this leads us to expect as stirring times in the United States as elsewhere when the “time of trouble” shall reach its height.
While the growing intelligence of Europeans is fast preparing them for the trouble and anarchy which God’s Word predicts, it cannot reasonably be expected for some years yet. This is further in harmony with prophecy, though out of harmony with the expectations of many who look every day for a declaration of war in Europe, which they suppose will be the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Even should a war or revolution break out in Europe sooner than 1905, we could not consider it any portion of the severe trouble predicted. At most it could only be a forerunner to it, a mere “skirmish” as compared with what is to come. Indeed, in our judgment, based upon our observations, nothing could precipitate the great anarchistic trouble upon Europe, which the Scriptures predict, sooner than the date named, except a famine or some such unusual occurrence which would bring the people to feel that they have nothing to lose, but all to gain, by a general uprising.
While it was an agreeable surprise to us (in view of the contrary sensational accounts so often published) to find the situation in Europe as we here describe it—in harmony with what the Scriptures had led us to expect—yet so great is our confidence in the Word of God and in the light of present truth shining upon it, that we could not have doubted its testimony whatever had been the appearances. The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874. Thus far it has been chiefly a battle of words and a time of organizing forces—capital, labor, armies and secret societies.
Never was there such a general time of banding together as at present. Not only are nations allying with each other for protection against other nations, but the various factions in every nation are organizing to protect their several interests. But as yet the various factions are merely studying the situation, testing the strength of their opponents, and seeking to perfect their plans and power for the future struggle, which many, without the Bible’s testimony, seem to realize is the inevitable. Others still delude themselves, saying, Peace! Peace! when there is no possibility of peace until God’s Kingdom comes into control, compelling the doing of his will on earth as it is now done in heaven.
This feature of the battle must continue with varying success to all concerned; the organization must be very thorough; and the final struggle will be comparatively short, terrible and decisive—resulting in general anarchy. In many respects the convictions of the world’s great generals coincide with the predictions of God’s Word. Then “Woe to the man or nation who starts the next war in Europe; for it will be a war of extermination.” It will be abetted not only by national animosities, but
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also by social grievances, ambitions and animosities, and if not brought to an end by the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the hands of his elect and then glorified Church, it would exterminate the race.—Matt. 24:22.
THE CHURCH’S SHARE IN THE BATTLE
The Scriptures show also that the battle of the great day will begin with the Church of God, and that the overthrow of the great nominal church systems will precede the overthrow of the present civil powers; for the Lord is about to shake, not only the earth (the civil organization of society), but heaven (the ecclesiastical powers) also (Heb. 12:26), to the end that great “Babylon,” falsely called Christendom—Christ’s kingdom—may be completely destroyed. The great counterfeit kingdom of Christ, with all its allied civil and ecclesiastical powers, must go down as a great millstone into the sea, preparatory to the final establishment of the true Kingdom of Christ. Here, as in the world at large, the work of preparation is going on. The creeds, which for years have been reverenced and received without questioning, are now called up for inspection; and their inconsistencies and lack of Bible foundation is being discovered. As a consequence, the clergy, whose living and honors and worldly prospects in general are all bound up with the systems held together by these creeds, are in great trouble, and are looking about to see what can be done to strengthen the stakes and lengthen the cords of so-called Christianity. A general union of the various sects is suggested, with a simple creed formulated from the various points of agreement among them all and the ignoring of all other points of doctrine to which objection might be made by some.
This scheme meets with very general approval from all the sects, and the trend of their efforts is in this direction. This, too, is in harmony with prophecy, which shows, not only that the various sects of “Protestantism” will band together as one, but that there will also be a close affiliation with Roman Catholicism. These two ends of the ecclesiastical heaven will roll together as a scroll (Isa. 34:4), the two rolls, Protestantism and Romanism, coming closer and closer together as their power over the masses of the people decreases.
This work is already progressing very rapidly: church congresses for the consideration of various schemes of union are the order of the day. All the various branches of Presbyterianism are considering the feasibility of union; so also of Methodism, Congregationalism, and others. When each of these is consolidated, their respective denominations will have a greater prestige in the world; and when all Protestant sects are more firmly united under some one name, such as “The Evangelical Alliance,” the prestige of Protestantism as a whole will be greatly augmented, though we think the term Protestantism will probably be dropped entirely as a concession to the church of Rome, to secure its favor. Such an organization is already in existence,
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and corresponds to what the Revelator calls “the Image of the Beast” (of Papacy); but this Image has yet to receive life and power to speak with authority to the civil powers, which authority will be used for the oppression and suppression of all that is opposed to them. (Rev. 13:15.) All this remains to be accomplished before the trouble upon the world can reach its crisis; for when men begin to realize more fully the united power of ecclesiasticism to oppress and fetter free thought and action, and when under the searching light of this day they shall have discovered the hollowness of its pretensions, we can readily see what the results will be—viz., a sudden and terrible overthrow, as the Scriptures predict. And when its present power of superstitious reverence is broken, and its authority no longer binds men in subjection to the civil powers by the false doctrine of the divine right of kings, the fate of the civil powers will not long tremble in the balances, and the ever-darkening war cloud will burst in all its destructive fury. This culmination we do not expect, however, before about 1905, as the events predicted will require about that time, notwithstanding the rapid progress in these directions now possible.
It is written that judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17), and here it has begun. Trials for heresy of many of the most prominent clerics of the various denominations
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have raised the questions, What is heresy? and what is orthodoxy? and before these questions are settled, every creed of Christendom will be brought before the bar of the public judgment.
“A THOUSAND SHALL FALL AT THY SIDE”
But while judgment has thus begun at the nominal house of God and has been in progress for some years past, it had a still earlier beginning among those consecrated saints who have been coming out of Babylon for the last fourteen years, and whom the Lord has been graciously leading into the knowledge of the deep things of his wisdom and grace. It is right that these prospective joint-heirs of God’s kingdom should be fully tested before its establishment, before being permitted to enter into their reward; and consequently the Lord has permitted and will permit our great adversary to severely test and try all accounted worthy of the light of present truth. Since 1878, the time when this judgment was chronologically due to begin, the arts and devices of the adversary to overthrow the faith of the saints in the very fundamental doctrines have been constantly multiplying. New theories have been constructed, purporting to tell us of wonderful things to come, yet lacking the sure foundation of the Word of God. What has not appeared? Theosophy, Christian Science, Evolution in all its various and deceptive forms, Koreshanism and even a modernized Buddhism. All these deceptions have one common identity; for no matter how different they may be in other respects, they agree in denying that the Lord Jesus Christ by his death on Calvary paid the penalty for Adam’s transgression, the guilt and penalty of which his race has inherited; and they all agree that instead of being justified by faith in that ransom-price paid for our release from sin and death, salvation is to be on some other score. These become “strong delusions,” because they each unite with their errors certain elements of present truth. Thus Satan clothes himself in the garment of “light.” These have been and are being brought with force against the consecrated and awakened children of God who have escaped from Babylon. Their various theories concerning things to come are presented in most seductive forms, and God permits them to practice and prosper for a time. Nay, He even makes use of these, sending the strong delusions to lead away from the light all such as, after coming to a knowledge of the Truth, do not love it so as to be willing to die for it.—2 Thes. 2:10,11.
Such as fall away under these delusions are thereby shown to be “condemned” as unworthy a share in the Kingdom of the elect—none such will escape, for the deceptions will be so strong that “if it were possible they would deceive the very elect.” But the deception of the elect, the faithful, will not be possible: God knoweth them that are his—who meekly abide under the wedding-garment of Christ’s imputed righteousness and who are daily seeking to be the more conformed to the image of God’s dear Son. All others shall be deceived and led astray from the truth, being unworthy of it—who have pleasure in error, and who have not that pleasure in the truth which gladly endures hardness and persecution for its sake. If one error does not overcome such, the persistent adversary will be permitted to bring another and another. He will surely find some seeming messenger of light to bear to such a deceptive doctrine, to ensnare such as reject the favor of God, expressed in the sacrifice for sins once for all.
And let us remember that a preparation for thus leaving the foundation and getting ready for the deception is laid beforehand, always. Instead of the truth leading such to humble service of the truth, it leads to pride or to carelessness and worldliness, or to that idle curiosity which, while willing and curious to know the present and the future, never leads to its service; or, neglecting the Word of truth, they fall into purely human reasoning and, getting a theory, start to twist the Scriptures to fit the theory; or imbibe some of the worldly ambitions to be thought well of, to be considered liberal-minded and very charitable to every thing, whether it be truth or error, and to every one who claims to be a teacher, whether he teach the true gospel or a base and deceptive counterfeit. All possessing such a self-seeking, compromising spirit are not worthy of the truth, and must go back into the outer darkness,
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whether we wish so or not. Some of the many deceptions and snares will overcome all such.
Or should we become listless and indifferent in the service of the truth and have consecrated time on our hands which we are willing to occupy in other ways than as we covenanted to do, the adversary will find some convenient method of occupying the time and some plausible excuse for so doing, wherewith to silence conscience; and to such a covenant-breaker will soon be sent a strong delusion, because he is not a lover (server) of the Truth.
“GREAT PEACE HAVE THEY WHO LOVE THY LAW, AND NOTHING SHALL STUMBLE THEM.”
There is but one sure, safe course for the saints to pursue if they would gain the prize of our high calling, and that is a course of fidelity and loyalty to the truth with a full determination to give no heed to seducing spirits who seek either to present to us another gospel, or to attract our attention away from the true gospel and from the one service of preaching that gospel of the Kingdom to which our lives have been consecrated, to the study of other themes and interests. Our Lord has opened up before us the chart of his wonderful plan of the ages and has shown us the written specifications, so that the things to come might be as surely known to us by faith as the things past and present are known by history and experience. He has thus taken us into his confidence as beloved sons and heirs of the kingdom to come. He showed us these things because at the time of the showing we were justified by faith in the precious blood of Christ, and consecrated to his service, and because we were meek and had faith in his Word and were loyal to him and desired to continue faithful. So we were reckoned of him as worthy of the truth and eligible to the high calling.
Having received all these favors of knowledge and grace, our use of them becomes the test of our loyalty and faithfulness. If we are ashamed to bear witness to them lest we offend those who advocate false doctrine, preferring their favor to God’s favor; or if we hold the truth lightly, with an open ear for every doctrine opposed to the doctrine of Christ, and a God-speed for every advocate of error as well as of truth; or if we make no effort to withstand error, or to help the weak, or to spread abroad the knowledge of the right ways of the Lord, we are surely unfaithful to our trust and must lose it.
But ye, brethren, who are still walking in the light, be faithful to the end. The things to come reveal a glorious reward for your faithfulness. In this our part of the battle of the great day, a thousand will fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand (Psa. 91:7); but be not dismayed. Like Gideon’s typical band, the victory is reserved to the faithful few. Glory not in numbers nor in worldly favor. The devices of error alone will prosper in that way. Glory only in faithfulness to the Master, and make haste to accomplish his appointed work for this time of sealing the elect, and bear the “good tidings of great joy unto all people,” saint or sinner, wherever you can reach them.
“SPEAK AS THE ORACLES OF GOD”
And in attempting to teach others—for all who have the truth are commissioned to declare it to others—let us remember the Apostle’s counsel: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” (1 Pet. 4:11.) To teach what we claim to be divine truth, even in the humblest way, is to incur great responsibility; for in so doing we stand as God’s representatives, and the Prophet Isaiah (5:20,21) says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight.”
Hear again the word of the Lord by the Prophet Ezekiel (13:1-23) saying, “Son of man … say unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord:
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Thus saith the Lord God, Woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing. … They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them; and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye
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say, The Lord saith it? albeit I have not spoken.”
“Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Because ye have spoken vanity and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of the people, neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord Eternal.”
Let us, therefore, be zealous for the truth, in declaring the glorious things to come, according to God’s revealed plan, but take heed that we be not of those “foolish prophets that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing.” No man has any commission from God to be a teacher of divine truth who has not first learned what the truth is and become fully convinced of it so that he can say with confidence, Thus saith the Lord! and here are the chapter and verse, and thus and so it harmonizes with every other chapter and verse of the Word. Let us have confidence in the sure word of the Lord and with humble boldness declare it and with zeal and vigor as loyal soldiers of the cross defend it against every opposing device of error. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth [not of his own], that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever.”—1 Pet. 4:11.
— January 15, 1892 —