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VOL. XVIII. JULY 15, 1897. No. 14
Views from the Watch Tower……………………207
Warnings from a Spiritist…………………209
Many Possessed of Devils To-day……………210
Spirits Organizing “Churches”……………..214
“In the Secret Chamber”…………………..214
Satanic Powers Malific……………………215
Preaching to Athenian Philosophers…………….216
God’s People in Corinth………………………219
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
THE “American Railway Union” under the lead of Eugene V. Debbs at its June convention merged itself into a new organization, known as “The Social Democracy of America.” The scheme proposed is that members and friends of the Society shall contribute funds to start a system of colonies, one after another, as rapidly as possible, in some state of the Union at present sparsely settled and otherwise considered favorable to the scheme. When the colonists are of sufficient number they hope to control the State legislature and government—to enact socialistic laws, and to enforce them; and thus to give to the world a practical example of their claim, that Socialism is to be the world’s savior.
Practical tests of the various social remedies proposed are just what is needed to prove them all at best palliatives, never remedies, and often breeders of woes worse than those they seek to cure. It would be an excellent plan to set apart one half say, of Oregon, and divide it into about twenty little states for experimental purposes, in which the advocates of various “social-redemption” theories could rule themselves and “try” their theories, and prove them failures. Give one to “The Social Democracy,” another to the “Nationalists,” another to the “Single Taxers,” another to “The New Woman,” another to “Anarchists,” etc. In fact there is no need for legislation on the subject, for there is plenty of good vacant land to be had by settlers, free, in several states.
But what these “reformers” want is not free land, free water, free air, and plenty of hard work in “subduing the forests,” etc. The Pilgrim fathers got those things with “sweat of face;” and it developed in them strong characters for integrity, and a reverence for the Creator and his Word.
Judging from their declaration of intentions, “The Social Democracy of America” purposes to steal a State. Under cover of liberal laws they design to enter some favored State and to so change its laws that the invested wealth, improvements and conveniences accumulated by others through years of toil shall, nolens volens, be largely appropriated to the use and convenience of the less prudent or less fortunate invaders.
And all this is proposed on the plea that the “reformers” wish to demonstrate the blessings that would flow from the operation of the Law of Love, as opposed to the miseries of the present Law of Selfishness. Alas! how easily men can deceive themselves. Surely, anyone can see that at very most this is the self-love of one class fighting the self-love of another class.
We rejoice to note any evidence of the growth of the spirit of generosity in mankind; and would be glad if all men were willing to surrender private interests to the public welfare; but we are not so blind to facts and reason as to suppose that Mr. Debbs and his associates are acting the part of philanthropists in scheming to acquire the property of others: tho, of course it may be claimed that such a readjustment should come sometime.
But all such schemes are now in order, and many of them will undoubtedly be tried that the world may have demonstrations of that which God’s people already know from his Word;—that all human schemes must fail to bring forth perfect results because conceived and carried forward by men and women whose thoughts and deeds are warped by the sin and selfishness of six thousand years’ development.
Mr. Debbs and his principal associates express great confidence in the success of their scheme, and point to the success of the Mormons in Utah. They forget that the secret of the Mormon success is a religious
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unity that practically enslaves the people to the control of their Elders whom they accept as divinely appointed and inspired. No other slavery can hold its victims so firmly as religious slavery—good or bad. And Mr. Debbs could expect no such influence over those who would follow him as standard-bearer. There would be nothing but selfishness common to all who would join his colonies: and selfishness is the very basis of anger, envy, hatred and strife, and constantly tends to disintegration. His scheme might prosper so long as donations in its aid would continue, or so long as special hopes of improvement at the expense of others held out; but it would go to pieces at once when these selfish inducements would cease.
Mr. Debbs and some of his associates no doubt have some benevolent sentiments blended with their selfish ones, and with us would probably rejoice to see all the “groaning creation” (Rom. 8:22,23) relieved from the present pressure of evil. What they lack is the knowledge which comes from the Lord’s Word—a quarter from which they expect no light.
It teaches—(1) That no man can either appreciate or exercise pure love unmixed with selfishness, except he be “born again,” for which he must first be
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“begotten again” by the holy spirit of the Lord’s Word of truth.
(2) That only such are qualified to rule either themselves or others, or to enjoy full liberty.
(3) That God has been testing and selecting just such a class of rulers during this gospel age; and that soon he will bless the world by establishing his “elect” under Christ, their “Head,” as his autocratic Kingdom, to take away human liberty and rule with a rod of iron, until all who will obey shall be blessed and lifted to perfection of being and of character; and all who will not obey shall be destroyed. (Acts 3:19-23; 1 Cor. 15:12-25.) Then, at the close of the Millennial age, full liberty can be granted to all; for none but the worthy will remain.
“Our Father which art in heaven … Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
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WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT SPIRITISM?
—PROOFS THAT IT IS DEMONISM—CONCLUDED—
Another popular Spiritualist paper is The Philosophical Journal. It continually urges that its gospel of Spiritism be tested, and declares it to be the one thing the world needs; and yet it also admits the frauds practiced by the “spirits” upon mediums. It will admit that when detected as “evil spirits,” “lying spirits,” by misrepresentation, fraud, wicked suggestions or works, arousing the victim to resistance or relief through prayer, evidently the same spirits return as moralists, with reproofs, professions of sympathy and promises of aid in resisting the evil spirits, etc., only to improve the first opportunity of weakness or temptation to break down all resistance of the will and obtain complete possession—obsession. We clip a statement in support of this from its issue of April 22, ’97, signed by A. N. Waterman, one of the leading Spiritualist lights. Under the caption, “Real Authorship of Spirit Communications,” he says:—
“It appears to me impossible that in this life we can know from whom a spiritual communication from the other world is made. We can have evidence, something like that which we possess in reference to the authorship of a telegram, but no more.”
Would people of “sound mind” stake their all, risk an insanity which according to their own accounts is manifold worse in torture than ordinary dementia, and spend their lives trying to get other people to risk their all similarly, when for it all they have no more evidence than goes with a telegram? Would they do so when the bitter experiences of forty years testing had told them that the genuine are at most only as “one grain to a bushel,” as one of them has just told us?
No, no; only desperately deluded people would pursue such a course. Evidently as the holy spirit in men produces “the spirit of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7; Prov. 2:6,7), so, on the other hand, the spirit of devils produces the spirit of an unsound mind.
Another letter received recently from Florida, from a brother in Christ, a WATCH TOWER reader, well educated in several languages, informs us concerning some peculiar experiences recently had with these “seducing spirits.” He became aware of the presence of invisible spirit beings, and they seemed to manifest a curious interest in his work: he was translating MILLENNIAL DAWN into a foreign language.
Well informed along the Scriptural lines presented foregoing, as to who these “seducing spirits” are, he nevertheless forgot, or failed to heed the divine instruction,—that mankind should hold no communication whatever with these “lying spirits” and “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” The neglect of this instruction caused him serious trouble; and but for the interposition of divine mercy, in response to his and our prayers, it might have made shipwreck of him—soul and body.
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He was allured to the conference by a mixture of curiosity with a benevolent desire to do them good by preaching to them the glorious gospel of divine love and mercy operating through Christ toward all mankind; and the eventual hope of a judgment (probationary trial) for the fallen angels, declared in the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 6:3.) At first they gave close attention and appeared to take a deep and reverent interest in the message; but before long they became very “familiar” spirits, intruding themselves and their questions and remarks at all times and places, disputing with him and with each other in a manner and upon topics far from edifying, so that he remonstrated: finally he demanded that they depart, but having gained his “inner ear” (having made of him what Spiritists would term a “clairaudient medium”) they were not disposed to go, and only through earnest prayer was he finally delivered. He should have been on his guard against their seductive influences; he should have remembered that whatever message of grace the Lord may yet have for these fallen angels he has not yet sent it to them, and that none are authorized to speak for the Lord without authority. “How shall they preach except they be sent?” The message of salvation thus far is to mankind only; and even here it is limited, for altho all are to be counseled to repent of sin and to reform, yet the gospel of salvation is restricted to repentant “believers” only,—”the meek of the earth.”
WARNINGS FROM A SPIRITIST AND SWEDENBORGIAN
Joseph Hartman has published a book of 378 pages in which he recounts his experiences as a Spirit medium (led into it by Swedenborg’s teachings), his debasement almost to the loss of reason by spirit obsession, and his final recovery from its ensnarement of his will; but strange to say, he is still a firm believer in Swedenborgianism and Spiritism, altho, like others, he cautions every one to be on guard against their wicked devices. Poor deluded man, he still believes that there are good spirits.
Mr. H. had come in contact with the “Planchette,” a wooden device which holds a pencil and moves readily under the hands of certain mediums or “sensitives,” even children, writing answers to questions propounded to it; and he had attended several tipping and rapping seances, and was convinced that they were not frauds, but the operations of invisible, intelligent spirits. He became actively interested while endeavoring to convince doubting friends of the genuineness of the manifestations. Next he tried it in his own family and developed the fact that his little son was a drawing and writing medium. Next he was curious to investigate the phenomena of spirit materialization. About this time his daughter “Dolly” died, and he was deeply interested in the apparitions or materializations which professed to be “Dolly.” He, however, was incredulous, and, in his own words, “gave it up under a cloud, and a suspicion of fraud.” But after five years of experience he says,—”Whatever doubts I may have entertained respecting the phenomena, I am clearly of the opinion that honest materializations are now of frequent occurrence. Who the forms are, or whence derived, is a mooted question.” We have just seen that if the manifestations are “honest” so far as the mediumship is concerned, they are frauds so far as the persons represented are concerned—simulations of the dead, by the fallen angels.
Later the table-tipping and rapping and drawing and writing tests were revived at Mr. H.’s home, two of his children becoming adept mediums, and finally, he himself became a writing medium, to his own surprise and without expectation or solicitation. Now he could and did hold frequent converse supposedly with his daughter “Dolly,” but really with demons who personated her, and others, he was caused to smell pleasant odors, etc. As a later development he became a speaking medium, and “under control” would speak and act without his own intention or volition; but with full power to refuse to be a medium to such “spirits” as he chose to refuse, because of their former rudeness or obscenity. Next he was granted the “inner ear,” “Clairaudience,” or ability to hear sounds not audible to others, and thus to hold converse with the “spirits” without any outward agency, such as writing, rapping, etc.
Of his “spirit friends” he says,—”They described to me that their controlling circle consisted of ‘twelve spiritual gifts or virtues’ which composed a ‘band’ of very great strength; and under their guidance, they declared, I would become one of the greatest mediums ever known. I revolted—had not the least ambition for fame of that sort.—They were the more determined.”
Thus gradually was Mr. Hartman brought, against his wish, more and more under the “control” of the wicked spirits which finally obsessed him. The next experience was with a peculiar clairaudient “Voice” which represented itself to be the Lord and took full control of him, directing his every act. It pictured all his errors and weaknesses in darkest shades; and endeavored to destroy all hope. He was told to pray, and when he attempted to pray he was given such conflicting suggestions as to words as made it impossible. He was fast in the snare of the “wicked spirits;” “possessed,” and controlled by “spirit-mesmerism,” as he calls it.
But finally he escaped their bondage;—a once strong will reasserted itself, and he wrote the account to hinder others from being similarly entrapped. But
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he does not understand the matter, notwithstanding his remarkable experiences. His experiences had proved
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that all the “spirits” which he had come in contact with were “wicked,” lying, profane, and a majority of them vulgarly and disgustingly obscene: Yet, believing these to be the spirits of dead men and women, he surmised that he had met a band of evil ones only, and that there were other bands of good, truthful and pure spirits of good people. If he had but known the Lord’s testimony on this subject, it would have put the entire matter in another light.
After gaining will-control of himself he was still attended by these evil spirits whose character he now fully knew; and they tried repeatedly to bring his will power again under “control,” but had no power that he would not grant. He did, however, grant them liberty to use his hand in writing communications, and in reply to his questions respecting how and why they had abused his confidence, lied to him, were obscene and sought to bind and injure him, they answered that they were constitutionally and thoroughly bad and that they were “devils;”—again contradicting this and declaring that they were spirits of dead human beings. But to confirm him in Swedenborgianism they told him that there were no Swedenborgians among them. And Hartman evidently believed these self-confessed “lying spirits,” for he concludes his book by quoting proofs that Swedenborg had passed through experiences of obsession somewhat like his own. He quotes from Swedenborg’s Diary 2957-2996 as follows:—
“Very often when any one spoke with me, spirits spoke through me. … This occurred many times; for instance twice to-day. I cannot enumerate the times, they are so many. … Moreover, they have laughed through me, and done many things. … These are those who introduce these things into my thoughts, and while I am unconscious of it, lead my hand to write thus.”
Hartman says of Swedenborg further:—
“It is a matter of history that Swedenborg’s maligners, not understanding interior temptations or spirit control, published that he was crazy, and that he did several foolish and insane things while living in London. … He was under control of spirits who acted through his body, speaking through him and moving his body as if it were their own. … During a part of this transitional period he was unquestionably controlled by evil spirits. He says he had ‘tremors and was shaken from head to foot, and thrown out of bed on his face’ … ‘I was in the temptation,’ he says, thoughts invaded me that I could not control, … and full liberty was given them. … While I had the most damnable thoughts, the worst that could possibly be, Jesus Christ was presented visibly before my internal sight.'”
Mr. Hartman comments:—”This we believe was an evil spirit pretending to be Christ, as in our own case the spirit pretended to be God.”
To us it seems evident that Swedenborg was a Spirit-medium and was an advance agent for promulgating and establishing the “doctrines of devils” respecting “seven heavens and seven hells,” etc., etc., ad nauseam. Yet Mr. Hartman closes his book with a eulogy of Swedenborg; who, altho admittedly possessed of devils at times, he thinks was sometimes possessed and controlled by good spirits: while Hartman’s own experience corroborated the Scriptures, that they are all “wicked,” “seducing,” “lying” spirits.
MANY POSSESSED OF DEVILS TO-DAY
In a pamphlet entitled—”The Nature of Insanity; its Cause and Cure”,—by J. D. Rhymus, the author shows that in many cases insanity is merely demoniacal possession or “obsession.” He says,—
“In my own case I know that the brain was not diseased at all; my whole nature seemed to be intensified by conflicting emotions raging within my breast. I was completely enveloped and pervaded by thought, or in other words thought came as something impinged upon me, seeking expression through me, without being coined or generated by the action of my own brain, altho fully conscious at the time, as I am now, that I possessed a strength within me not my own will and brain power so-called;—yet it was so blended with, and manifested through my own powers of action, that I felt great exhaustion of nerve force and mental prostration when the conditions subsided.”
After detailing his own case and his release from the thraldom of evil spirits, whom he supposed to be the spirits of wicked dead men (apparently he also was a follower of Swedenborg), he quotes a letter from a Philadelphia physician, dated Nov. 12, 1884, as follows:—
“The young lady to whom you refer in your letter is a Miss S__________, who was once my patient and quite intimate in my family. Her father was a sea captain, and was lost at sea, no one knowing when or where. Her anxiety to learn something of his fate, led her to apply to a spirit medium. She was found to be very ‘susceptible’ and a remarkable medium. She did nothing to encourage the approach of spirits; but they came all the same. They almost tormented the life out of her for a long time—how long I do not remember. They often made her get out of bed at night and perform all sorts of grotesque antics. She finally drove them off by repeating the Lord’s Prayer on their every approach.
Your sincere friend, __________.”
The same writer says:—
“Judge Edmonds of New York [a noted Spiritist and both a Clairvoyant and Clairaudient medium—now deceased], has recently expressed the opinion that many so-called lunatics in asylums are only under the influence of spirits.” The Judge himself said,—’Some fifteen cases of insanity, or rather obsession, I have been instrumental in curing. This I said to the Academy of Science, in New York.’
“The Judge has had Catholic priests, after a thorough trial of their ‘holy water and prayers,’ send [to him] their mediumistic members when wickedly disordered,
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to be demagnetized and released from the grasp of obsessional spirits.”
Few are aware to what extent Spiritism is now active; how it is gradually reviving. Here is an account of Dr. Peebles’ visit to Melbourne, Australia, this year, 1897. He writes to The Philadelphia Journal as follows:—
“Altho I had come for a rest, I was immediately pressed into active service, and have been lecturing every Sunday evening either in the Masonic hall (which seats 1300) or the Lyceum (700), both of them being filled at times to overflowing. I have also spoken in the Unitarian and Swedenborgian churches, and the Australian (Presbyterian) church, on vegetarianism and other reform subjects.
“Several mediums speak about coming to Australia. Before leaving, let me tell you that the Melbourne press says there are already 500 mediums in the city and suburbs, while others say 200, but I see none who compare with Mrs. Freitag, and others. I cannot, conscientiously, encourage mediums to come to Australia, unless they are absolutely first-class test mediums. That’s what the people clamor for—tests, tests, tests. Old, bald headed Spiritualists, who had tests years ago, want them renewed, and so seek for tests instead of going on to a higher plane of harmony, beauty and spiritual truth, becoming their own mediums.”
Yes; the tests, rapping, writing, table tipping, and even materialization tests are only the beginnings of Spiritism, and not the desired ends sought by the spirits. The end sought is possession “obsession;” and those who by strong self-control constantly resist absolute spirit-control are used as “test mediums,” to catch others, and to exhort others, as above, to go “on to a higher plane of harmony” with lying, seducing, enslaving and demonizing spirits.
An English journal called Black and White gives a detailed and illustrated account of recent apparitions at the town of Tilly-sur-Seulles, Normandy, France. It says that the apparitions are of the Virgin Mary and have continued for several months, and are thoroughly vouched for. It adds:—
“The appearances, which seldom or never resemble each other even to the same voyants, always either ascend from the earth, as in the case of those of the Witch of Endor, or appear gradually bit by bit, first a leg, then an arm, and so on, at a slight elevation. All this is very queer reading.
“The trampled field of oats, the elm tree stripped of its branches by relic-hunters, the torn hedge protected by barbed wire and decorated with statues pictures, rosaries, pots of flowers and votive tapers, remain to testify to a belief in the supernatural not less strong than it was in mediaeval times.” Black and White, after quoting from the Croix du Calvados (the official organ of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese), that, “Altho it cannot doubt the fact of the appearances, it is inclined more and more to attribute them to diabolic intervention,” adds:—
“If anything, this is calculated to lend them still greater interest in the eyes of the world which, at the end of the nineteenth century, shows itself especially ready to dabble in Satanism, crystal-gazing, astrology, theosophy, spiritualism and magic, both black and white. The chief points in favor of this clerical decision seem to be that one Vintras, who lived in an old mill, still standing on the banks of the Seulles, below the older village of Tilly, prophesied these apparitions about the year ’30. Vintras was condemned as a sorcerer and incarcerated at Caen by request of Pope Gregory XVI. He claimed to have been ‘inspired’ by the Archangel Michael. Curiously enough, another ‘prophet,’ claiming to be inspired by another Archangel, Gabriel to wit,—namely Mlle. Cuedon, who has made a stir in Paris lately, and whom a certain Abbe
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declares to be ‘possessed’ rather than ‘inspired,’ prophesied these same apparitions at Tilly a fortnight before they began.”
Satan’s motto seems to be, Anything to deceive and bewilder humanity and to hinder the truth now due to them from reaching them. From an English Spiritist journal Light, we quote a recent statement of a seance, as follows:—
“At a sitting which was being held one evening at the invitation of a mother who had just lost a dearly loved son, amongst other phenomena a remarkable light was seen. It was in the form of a beautiful radiant globe, the center of which was a bright blue of great brilliancy. It was apparently an immeasurable distance away, the wall of the room offering no obstruction to those who watched it, and it remained for about half an hour, when it gradually faded from their sight.
“All present were filled with a sense of deep reverence and veneration. The control [i.e., the spirit controlling the medium] explained that this was indeed the Light of Christ, who, in verification of the belief which is now very generally held by Christians of every denomination, is gradually approaching this earth; and in fulfilment of His words, spoken nearly two thousand years ago, is coming to establish his Kingdom, the reign of universal love and brotherhood, amongst us.
“The control further said: ‘Write thus to the editor of Light, Tell him that light is coming to all men. It grows brighter day by day. This light is the Light that should lighten all men that come into the world. Love is embodied in it. Truth is bringing it. Wisdom teaches it. Faith reveals it. Hope nourishes it. Justice craves for it. Glory attends it. Peace claims it. Power waits for it. This remarkable light is attended by hosts of angels; by dwellers in the spheres of the Blest; by mighty conquerors; by those whose sins, being scarlet, now shine radiant in this Light. Perfected good, perfected man, perfected light.
“Beautiful angels surrounded the medium. The Light appeared behind her; but she was pleased to know that the greatest glory shone when she spoke of Christ’s power. Altho not herself viewing the greatest glory of the Light she saw it, far, far away, having a star-like radiance.”
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Just as at his first advent the evil spirits acknowledged Jesus, saying, “We know thee, who thou art.” “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” and as they testified of the apostles,—”These be the servants of the most high God which show unto us the way of eternal life; so to-day, as we have seen, some of them will testify occasionally to the truth, commend MILLENNIAL DAWN, etc.; but it is safe to assume that it is all for a purpose; as a “bait” for those who are interested or seeking light along these lines, to eventually lead them off into some gross darkness. Let us constantly remember that these deceptions will become so bold, and be apparently so backed by advanced truth that they will, “if it were possible, deceive the very elect.”—Matt. 24:24-26.
Under such circumstances there is but one safe course. It is not to stand still with closed eyes, panic stricken: that will be impossible, very soon. It is to fully accept of Christ Jesus the redeemer, the ransomer of the race as your Savior and your Teacher, and to be controlled only by his spirit of truth expressed to man through his Word—the Bible. So doing you will be kept by the power of God from all the snares of the wicked one; for the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that [obediently] believeth.”
To what great dangers the people of Christendom are exposed we may judge when we remember that nearly all are laboring under the delusion of Satan, first enunciated to Mother Eve in Eden,—to her deception and fall. He then said, “Ye shall not surely die.” He has kept up his side of the controversy since then, and the majority of God’s people believe Satan’s statement and disbelieve the Lord’s word;—holding that no one really dies, but that when death apparently takes place the person is thereby made “more alive than ever.” Believing that none are really dead, we cannot wonder that Christendom totally rejects the Bible doctrine that the only hope for a future life rests in God’s promise of a “resurrection of the DEAD,” and makes nonsense of it by claiming that it is merely a resurrection of the body that died—which the Apostle declares will never be resurrected—but a new body be substituted when the soul, the being is resurrected.—1 Cor. 15:12-18 and 36-38.
In evidence of the dangers along this line we note the fact that in a very recent issue of “The Ram’s Horn,” a radical orthodox journal of Chicago published on its outside cover a colored engraving representing a Christian mother with clasped hands, praying beside a little grave decorated with flowers, while just before her is shown the shadowy outline of her child approaching her. The editor of The Ram’s Horn and his readers are like all other nominal Christians who neglect the teachings of God’s Word on this subject;—just ready for Satan’s delusions to ensnare them.
Note also the following, clipped from the Jan. 2, ’97, issue of The Philosophical Journal (Spiritualist). Under the caption “Progressive Thought, the editor quotes from Rev. T. De Witt Talmage’s discourse of Dec. 6, ’96, as follows:—
“Even Talmage has progressed from the old faith, and now believes in the return of the spirit to this world of ours after death. On December 6 he preached a Sermon at Washington on the ‘Celestial World,’ showing the employment of ‘the departed’ in that state of existence. In answer to the question: ‘What are the departed doing now?’ he said: ‘That question is more easily answered than you might suppose,’ and adds:—
“‘Their hand has forgotten its cunning, but the spirit has faculties as far superior to four fingers and a thumb as the supernatural is superior to the human. The reason that God took away their eye and their hand and their brain, was that he might give them something more limber, more wieldy, more skillful, more multipliant.’
“Dr. Talmage says that the spirits, freed from the material body, are ‘more limber, more skillful,’ and ‘are at their old business yet,’ but with vastly improved faculties. He argues it thus:—
“‘Have you any idea that that affluence of faculty at death, collapsed and perished? Why so, when there is more for them to look at, and they have keener appreciation of the beautiful, and they stand amid the very looms where the sunsets and the rainbows and the spring mornings are woven.
“‘Are you so obtuse as to suppose that because the painter drops his easel and the sculptor his chisel, and the engraver his knife, that therefore that taste, which he was enlarging or intensifying for forty or fifty years, is entirely obliterated?
“‘These artists, or friends of art, on earth worked in coarse material and with imperfect brain and with frail hand. Now they have carried their art into larger liberties and into wider circumferences.
“‘They are at their old business yet, but without the fatigues, without the limitations, without the hindrances of the terrestrial studio.’
“In answer to the question as to what the physicians are doing, since they passed to ‘the beyond,’ he says they ‘are busy at their old business,’ and adds:
“‘No sickness in heaven, but plenty of sickness on earth, plenty of wounds in the different parts of God’s dominion to be healed and to be medicated. Those glorious souls are coming down, not in lazy doctor’s gig, but with lightning locomotion.
“‘You cannot understand why that patient got well after all the skillful doctors had said he must die. Perhaps Abercrombie touched him. I should not wonder if he had been back again to see some of his old patients. Those who had their joy in healing the sickness and the woes of earth, gone up to heaven are come forth again for benignant medicament.’
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“Then he propounds another question, as to what all the departed are doing now—who in earth life were ‘busy, and found their chief joy in doing good.’ He replies: They are ‘going right on with the work.’
“John Howard visiting dungeons; the dead women of Northern and Southern battlefields still abroad looking for the wounded; George Peabody still watching the poor; Thomas Clarkson still looking after the enslaved—all of those who did good on earth, busier since death than before. The tombstone is not the terminus, but the starting-post.’
“He then concludes with this very emphatic language:—
“‘To show you that your departed friends are more alive than they ever were; to make you homesick for heaven; to give you an enlarged view of the glories to be revealed, I have preached this sermon.’
“Without the slightest doubt then, Dr. DeWitt Talmage is a Spiritualist. He does not claim that cognomen, but he teaches the grand tenets of our philosophy and admits the consequent phenomena of the return of the spirit to visit mortals—spirit physicians to touch those given up to die by mortal physicians, and to heal them—to visit those in dungeons in order to relieve their distress—to watch the poor—to look after the enslaved—and in this work to be ‘busier since death than before!’
“If ‘the departed are more alive than they ever were’—as Dr. Talmage affirms in his closing remarks—then it is evident that he was correct in saying that ‘the tombstone is not the terminus, but the starting
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post”—the ‘door’ to the higher life, the entrance to the state of endless labor, grand possibilities, and eternal progression.
“If Dr. Talmage thought more of these grand truths than of his clerical standing, he would frankly avow himself a Spiritualist.
“All the churches are rapidly becoming permeated with Spiritual philosophy, and soon must either add to their structural confession these grand and inspiring verities, or sink into oblivion in the twentieth century, when the cycle of evolution shall be completely rounded out.”
Who can deny the logic of the Spiritualist editor in claiming Dr. Talmage as a Spiritualist, who refrains from fully acknowledging his identity? Who can doubt that the hundreds of thousands who read that discourse in the many journals which publish Dr. Talmage’s discourses regularly, accepted every item of its poisonous, unscriptural suggestion as gospel; because in full accord with what they had been taught from other pulpits, and especially at funeral services? Alas! the millions of Christendom are ready, ripe, for the evil work of these seducing spirits.
Note the following hand-bill announcement of Spiritist performances and tests, given at Muskegon, Michigan, recently: it is in display type and illustrated etchings showing shadowy forms, etc.—and was sent to us through the Lord’s providence just in time for a notice here. It reads thus:—
“Opera House, under the auspices of the Religio-Philosophical Society of Boston, Mass., Sunday night, April 11, 1897.
“Spirit materializations, marvelous superhuman visions, Spiritualistic rappings, slate writing, floating tables and chairs, remarkable tests of the human mind, a human being isolated from surrounding objects floating in mid air. Behold the marvels of to-day! Reflect on the one great question of the hour: Is there a spirit land? and what is the destiny of man? Do you want to be convinced that there is a hereafter? Do you believe in immortality? Do you believe in a soul world? or do you believe that death ends all?
“Dr. Loyd Cooke, preeminently peer of spirit mediums, assisted by a number of mediums of note, on the open stage, will produce some of the most wonderful materializations ever witnessed in this country.
“The following are some of the tests that usually take place in the presence of these mediums: A table rises 4 to 5 feet and floats in mid-air. Spirit hands and faces are plainly seen and recognized by their friends. A guitar is played and passed around the room by the invisible power. Flowers are brought and passed to the audience by hands plainly seen. Bells are rung, harps are played, and other tests of a startling nature take place in the presence of these wonderful mediums, if the conditions are strictly complied with.
“A night of wonderful manifestations! The veil drawn so that all may have an insight into the spirit world and behold many things that are strange and startling.
“The clergy, the press, learned synods and councils, sage philosophers and scientists, in fact, the whole world has proclaimed these philosophical idealisms to be an astounding fact. You are brought face to face with the spirits. A large piano is played upon without a living soul touching it. And many spirit forms upon the stage—sometimes eight or ten at a time—are proof positive of the genuineness of these mediums. They have been three years developing for the special purpose of demonstrating the facts of spirit power in full gas light!
“The invisible powers are constantly producing new and startling manifestations to convert the skeptical and strengthen the believer. Come and see for yourself. Take no one’s word. Investigate and believe your own eyes. Be guided by your own reason. Believe nothing you hear! Every man and woman has a right to see and think.
“Many ask: ‘Is there any truth in Spiritualism?’ If you should attend this seance with these new mediums, you would never doubt again that the spirits do re-visit the earth, and can be seen and recognized by their friends. They will stand beside you and shake hands with any one who will ask them. Remember, this seance is not like others you have attended. The forms seen here are not afraid of you, but will come so close to you that you cannot doubt their identity, and will satisfy you that they are not flesh of this earth. No
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one who has ever attended these seances can doubt the genuineness of these mediums. Remember, these are newly developed mediums, just arrived at this place, and are recognized by all that have seen them to have the most powerful circle that has ever been brought to this country. Not in darkness, but in open light. You feel their touch. You see their disembodied forms. In plain, open light! Every possible means will be used to enlighten the auditors as to whether these so called wonders are enacted through the aid of spirits or are the result of natural agencies.
“Committees will be selected by the audience to assist, and to report their views as to the why and wherefore of the many very strange things that will be shown during the evening. This is done so that every person attending may learn the truth regarding the tests, whether they are genuine or caused by expert trickery. Doors open at 7:15. Commences at 8. A small admission will be charged.
SPIRITS NOW ORGANIZE “CHURCHES”
Finding that Churchianity is popular, and a certain amount of formalism demanded by the people they seek to ensnare, Spiritists are organizing “churches” for the “worship” and “praise” of the “All Good,”—the name they use instead of God. But since advanced Spiritists do not believe in a personal God this name merely represents to them—all good spirits, among whom they reckon Thomas Paine, Shakespeare, Judas and Nero, as well as Christ, Confucius and Buddha. In these “churches”—”Spiritualist,” “Theosophical” and “Christian Scientist,” all of the same cult, and all guided (unknown to many of their votaries) by the same master spirit—Satan—the preachers and evangelists are generally women: in marked contrast (whatever the explanation) with the course pursued by the true Head of the one and only true Church, our Lord Jesus,—who appointed twelve apostles and seventy evangelists, all of them men.
The newspapers gave an account of a Spiritist baptism service, at the “First Church of Spiritualists,” Pittsburg, on Sunday, Dec. 13, ’96, by Mrs. Ida Whitlock, of Boston, as follows:—
“When the babies’ parents and godmothers had been assembled, deacons of the church brought out a long flower decked rope, which they tied about the participants in the ceremony. Mrs. Whitlock gave each baby a small bunch of carnations, handing them from a silver bowl. Having completed this ceremony, Mrs. Whitlock took another silver bowl, and, advancing to each baby, she dipped into the bowl a rose and sprinkled the faces of those to be baptized, saying as she did so, ‘I, Ida Whitlock, by a power commissioned to me, do baptize thee, Anna Marie Klotz, in the name of the All Good‘ Alderman Klotz, of Allegheny, is the father of this child.”
The power commissioned to Mrs. Whitlock was certainly not from the Father, nor from the Son, nor by the holy spirit; and we feel confident it was from the one who backs all the tests and tricks and lies and obsessions:—”Your Adversary the Devil.”—1 Pet. 5:8.
“IN THE SECRET CHAMBER”
Brother Thori of St. Paul, Minn., sends us the card of a Dr. Snyder of that city, who styles himself a Christian Spiritualist and claims that he and others there hold regular seances in which the Lord as a spirit being shows himself to their mortal eyes. He says that about forty persons there have seen these manifestations. Three of them received “the communion” direct from the Lord’s hand. The card received bears sixteen texts from the Bible, among which are the following:—
“God is a spirit.”
“I am the light of the world.”
“He that keepeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”—John 14:21.
In large type at the head of the card are these words:—
“HAVE YOU SEEN THE LORD? IF NOT, WHY NOT?”
Brother Thori remarks that the Doctor appears to be very pious, and professes faith in the ransom and in restitution. The incident at once reminded Brother T. of the statement of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., page 158, which reads as follows:—
“Among other such things some of them even teach that Christ is present, and we doubt not ere long they will give seances at which they will claim to show him ‘in the secret chamber.'” (Matt. 24:26.) Brother T. called the Doctor’s attention to this Scripture and this application of it; but he was so enamored by the seducing spirits that he could make no application of it to his own experiences. He declared that it referred to such preposterous frauds as Schweinfurth.
Here we see more of Satan’s policy: he works one fraud against another. A few weak-minded people are deluded into thinking and claiming that they are “some great one”—Christs, etc.,—and by hypnotic powers deluding a few into their “heavens,” thus disgust more sensible people, who, believing that these frauds
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fulfil the scope of our Lord’s warning, are off guard against the much more subtle deceptions of Spiritism which draw nearer and nearer daily. Then again, true to his character as a deceiver, Satan begins all such performances with the outwardly devout. He puts a bait on his hook when he fishes for men. It will be found that self-willed Christians, no matter what their morals or faith, will be subject to snares of the great enemy. The full submission of the will to the will of God as expressed in his Word is absolutely necessary to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
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“WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES”
We will no doubt surprise some when we state that to our understanding “Christian Science,” “Theosophy,” “Mesmerism,” “Clairvoyance” and “Hypnotism,” as well as “Swedenborgianism,” are all related to Spiritism, and designed by the “seducing spirits” to enthral and “pass along” the various classes of mankind who are now awakening out of mental lethargy; and to blind their eyes to the truth respecting the Lord and his Word.—2 Cor. 4:4.
“Christian Science” by its attractive but deceptive name, no less than by its lying proposition that there is no pain, no sickness, no death, no sin, no devil, no Savior—nor need of any—by the very absurdity of its claims attracts the curious; and by its seeming harmlessness and “good works” ensnares the unguarded and uninstructed, who do not know “the depths of Satan.” (Rev. 2:24.) Their processes for treatment of “imagined” diseases seem harmless, but are their cures therefore less of the demons and more of God than those of Spiritualists? While a pure faith in the first principles of the doctrines of Christ is not to be accepted as instead of good morals, the latter are nevertheless to be considered as concomitants to every manifestation of divine favor and power. All, therefore, who deny our Lord Jesus as the Redeemer of mankind “who gave his life a ransom price for many,” are not of God, and their “wonderful works,” whether good or bad, are not to be credited to divine power.*
*For an examination of “Christian Science” see ZION’S WATCH TOWER of May, 1891.
It may be questioned by some whether Satan and his associates can be charged on the one hand with causing sickness and death (Heb. 2:14), and on the other hand with healing the sick and casting out devils. Would not this seem to be an opposition to his own kingdom not supposable of any intelligent being. “If Satan cast out Satan he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?”—Matt. 12:25,26; Mark 3:24-26.
Very true; and this shows to what straits “the prince of this world” is reduced by the great increase of intelligence shining in upon the world during the past century. The demons must sham to be “angels of light,” teachers of advanced truths and good physicians, both of souls and bodies, in order to reensnare those who are feeling after God, if haply they might find him. (Acts 17:27.) The words of inspiration give us to understand that Satan’s struggles to retain control of mankind will be specially desperate at its close—before he is “bound” for the thousand years that he may deceive the nations no more.—Rev. 20:2.
Here will be one of the “strong delusions” mentioned by the Apostle Paul, to cope with which God’s people will have need of “the whole armor of God” that they “may be able to stand in this evil day.” (2 Thes. 2:9-12; Eph. 6:11-13.) We are now in the period of which he cautions us to be specially on guard against “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” (1 Tim. 4:1.) Here the Apostle Peter tells us to “beware lest ye also being led away [seduced] by the error of the wicked [one] fall from your own steadfastness.” (2 Pet. 3:17.) Hence the Lord tells us to watch and pray to escape the delusions which will be so strong as to “deceive if it were possible the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24.) Shall we, in view of these warnings, expect no “strong delusions,” deceptions from the wicked spirits? Nay; we expect far more during the next few years than even Spiritists have dreamed of hitherto.
SATANIC POWERS MALIFIC
But if Satan and his faithful have a knowledge of curative agencies and skill in their application let us not forget that he has great malific power also. This has already been demonstrated. Take the case of Jannes and Jambres, the celebrated mediums and magicians of Egypt, who in the presence of Pharaoh duplicated many of the miracles performed by divine power through Moses and Aaron. They could transform their rods into serpents; they also turned water into blood; they also produced frogs, altho they could not duplicate the plagues of lice, etc.—Exod. 7:11,22; 8:7.
We have every reason to believe that the fallen spirits have learned considerable during the past four thousand years and that they have a much wider range of power to-day. We are inclined to believe that the grasshopper plagues and the multitudinous farmer-pests and the spores and microbes of disease that are afflicting human and animal life in recent times, may be manifestations of the same power for evil. Similarly Satan is “the prince of the power of the air,” and is malevolent enough to exercise his powers to the extent of divine permission. This might account in part for the great floods, cyclones and tornados of recent years.
But surely such forces of nature are not left in the charge of demons? some one inquires.
Not entirely;—most assuredly not; otherwise we may doubt if the world would be at all habitable. Take the case of Job: as soon as divine restraints upon Satan were released, he moved the Sabeans to steal Job’s cattle and to kill his servants; he caused fire to come down from heaven, which not only killed but burned up Job’s flocks of sheep; he sent the Chaldeans who stole Job’s camels, and finally produced a cyclone which
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smote the house in which Job’s children were feasting together, and destroyed the house and killed its occupants; and he attacked Job’s person with disease as soon as granted permission.—Job 1:9-2:7.
There is no question that Satan and his legions are as able and as willing as ever to do all the mischief that divine wisdom may see fit to permit them to do. It only remains, therefore, to notice that God has not only foretold that he will permit them to have great power in the end of this age, but also why he does so. He tells us that he is about to “pour out his indignation, even all his fierce anger,” upon the world of mankind, as a chastisement for sin and for a correction toward righteousness; to humble mankind and to prepare them for the blessings of the Millennial Kingdom. All are familiar with the plagues foretold in the book of Revelation about to be poured upon the world in the end and judgment of this age. Of these the plagues upon Egypt were illustrations,—even tho the coming plagues be described in symbols. But let us always remember God’s care over his people to preserve them from every calamity which would not under divine supervision work out for them some valuable lesson or experience; and let us remember that he is able and willing to overrule the wrath of men and of devils and to restrain the remainder that would hinder his grand purposes.
The following words of Rev. A. B. Simpson are quite to the point:—
“The healing of diseases is also said to follow the practices of Spiritualism, and Animal Magnetism, Clairvoyance, etc. We will not deny that while some of the manifestations of Spiritualism are undoubted frauds, there are many that are unquestionably supernatural, and are produced by forces for which Physical Science has no explanation. It is no use to try to meet this terrific monster of Spiritualism, in which, as Joseph Cook says, is, perhaps, the great IF of our immediate future in England and America, with the hasty and shallow denial of the facts, or their explanation as tricks of legerdemain. They are often undoubtedly real and superhuman. They are the spirits of devils working miracles,’ gathering men for Armageddon. They are the revived forces of the Egyptian magicians, the Grecian oracles, the Roman haruspices, the Indian medicine-men. They are not divine, they are less than omnipotent, but they are more than human. Our Lord has expressly warned us of them, and told us to test them, not by their power, but by their fruits, their holiness, humility and homage to the name of Jesus and the Word of God; and their very existence renders it the more imperative that we should be able to present against them—like the rod of Moses which swallowed the magicians’, and at last silenced their limited power,—the living forces of a holy Christianity.”
In conclusion let spiritual Israel hear the Word of the Lord to fleshly Israel:—
“When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shall not learn to do after THE ABOMINATIONS OF THOSE NATIONS. There shall not be found among you any one that … USETH DIVINATION, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord; and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”—Deut. 18:9-12.
“When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter: Should not a people SEEK UNTO THEIR GOD? on behalf of the LIVING should they seek unto the DEAD? To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”—Isa. 8:19-20.
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PREACHING TO ATHENIAN PHILOSOPHERS
—JULY 25.—ACTS 17:22-34.—
“God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”—Jno. 4:24.
ALTHO the Jews of Berea received the message of Christ in a proper spirit and searched the Scriptures daily for the proofs of the gospel, a measure of persecution was at least threatened there. The Jews of Thessalonica, hearing of the progress of the gospel amongst their brethren at Berea, went thither for the express purpose of fomenting strife and hindering the gospel. Satan seems always to have plenty of agents ready and willing to oppose the truth—frequently blindly, as in Paul’s own case.
We do not know that there was much persecution at Berea: the brethren merely saw that it would follow, and judged it to be the wiser plan that the Apostle Paul, who was always the chief object of attack, should at once withdraw. The absence of his powerful testimony left nothing for the opposers to contend against, and they probably speedily withdrew, satisfied with having, as they supposed, put a stop to the influence of the gospel, by chasing Paul away. But Silas remained with the Bereans, to strengthen and establish them, as Timothy had remained at Thessalonica, and Luke at Philippi, for similar reasons. Thus Paul was alone when he came to Athens, the center of the world’s civilization, religious philosophy and art, at that time, as indeed it had been for several centuries. It was a college city, where resided the most eminent philosophers
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of the world as instructors in its great colleges to which came the brightest and ablest thinkers of the world. Some one has said of Athens: “In its prime it sent forth more great men in one hundred years than all the rest of the world could show in five hundred.” Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Sophocles, Aristides, Phidias, Zeno, Epicurus, Xenophon and Themistocles, still of world-wide renown, were sons of this famous city.
It would appear that there were no Jews in Athens, and this was doubtless for two reasons: (1) The Jews had a religious philosophy of their own which would have been in continual conflict with these heathen philosophies. (2) Not interested in heathen philosophies, nothing would draw them to Athens, except commerce, and Athens was not a commercial or manufacturing city. Finding no synagogue, the Apostle wandered through the streets of Athens, noting the endeavor of its people to reach, by mental philosophy, a knowledge of God, while ignorant of the holy Scriptures, the revelation of the only true God. In a city so given over to philosophical speculations, it is not surprising that such questions were discussed in the streets, in the market places and wherever its intelligent, cultured citizens came in contact with each other or with strangers. As an educated man the Apostle was well versed in the various speculations of the day, and had besides the philosophy of the divine plan which others had not.
Where the Jews were the auditors one-half of the preaching would do, for they already knew the one living and true God and acknowledged him; they already knew of Moses and the law, and of how Moses had foretold Messiah; and they were already waiting for this long promised Messiah. To such the Apostle merely needed to present the evidences that Christ fulfilled in every particular the predictions of the prophets. But with these Athenians even the true God was not known. Hence, the first point in preaching to them was to establish faith in Jehovah; the second, to establish faith in the prophets as his mouth pieces, and then third, to prove that Christ fulfilled the predictions of the prophets. This was the Apostle’s first contact with undiluted heathenism, and he began by talking as the others did, in the market places, on the subject of the true God.
Noting that the Apostle was consistent and logical in his remarks, some of the leading men made an appointment for him to give a public address before the Council of the Areopagus, which occupied chief seats in the auditorium on Mars Hill, and was surrounded at its sitting with the intelligent population of this metropolis of philosophy.
For the first time the gospel is preached to the most learned and most scientific, according to the estimate of this world,—by its most able exponent on earth. We note with intense interest the method of presentation employed, and the results obtained. It was necessary first of all that these philosophers should learn of their error in supposing that there are many gods, and come to understand that there is but one living and true God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, his Son: then they would be prepared to see how the Father’s law was infracted through sin; how a ransom was necessary, and that Christ came into the world and died and rose again for the justification of sinners, and their release from sin’s penalty,—death.
We are impressed with the wisdom of the Apostle’s method of procedure in addressing a congregation so cultured in error. Our Common Version (v.22) does the Apostle great injustice, by representing him as beginning his discourse by insulting his hearers;—telling them that they were “too superstitious.” What he did say to them signified, “You are reverential to an extreme; for as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription—’To the unknown God.’ Whom, therefore, you worship [admittedly] without knowledge [of his name and character], him declare I unto you.” What a lesson we have here of presenting the truth with wisdom, in meekness and in love.
Our respect for the Apostle’s method is increased when we know that the Athenians considered themselves so well supplied with gods that they had passed a law inflicting the death penalty upon any one who would set forth in their midst any foreign god not previously recognized in their city. (Possibly this helps to account for the absence of Jews.) Thus the Apostle seized upon the only opportunity for presenting to his hearers the true God without risking his own life, by calling attention to the fact that they already recognized and offered worship to the true God, altho ignorant of his name. Such masterly wisdom must have had weight with so intelligent an audience: and apparently the Apostle received a careful hearing as he described some of the characteristics of Jehovah—far above and beyond anything which his hearers had ever claimed for their divinities.
The secret of the Apostle Paul’s success, and the reason why God used him so graciously as a servant, is a lesson which all who attempt to serve the truth to others would do well to note and to apply to themselves. Was it not because he preached not himself but the Lord and his gospel? Do not many would-be teachers fail to attain results and to be more used of the Lord because their ambition really preaches self, and the gospel as a means for calling attention to self;—and do not others combine self-glorification with the
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gospel, and thus obtain only partial results for the Lord? The Apostle’s course was self-abandonment, as he explained, “I determined to know nothing among you save Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2.) His knowledge on other subjects was all sunk out of sight. It is for this reason that many comparatively ignorant men have been greatly used of the Lord in the gospel service—great learning in the philosophies often proving a snare, a temptation to preach these and to make a show among men rather than to preach the divine philosophy—redemption through the blood of the cross. Let us all copy the Lord and his greatly used and thus approved servant, Paul, until the expression of our every word and act will be
“None of self and all of Thee.”
Athens was full of idols and temples representing the homage to deities of various degrees of distinction. Pliny, the historian, informs us that in Nero’s day Athens contained more than 3,000 public statues—of gods of various grades and of notable human heroes. In one street there stood before every house a square pillar supporting a bust of the god Hermes, and every gate-way and porch had its protecting god. Paul preached (1) a God so great that he not only could not be made by human hands, but that all things, both in heaven and in earth, were his creation; (2) a God who needed no temple or house; (3) a God so great that nothing could be done for him, seeing that he himself is the Creator of the world and the author of every good gift, including life itself; (4) that all the human family evidenced his handiwork, and all from one source or parent; and (5) that God had in general one great plan with reference to the entire human family. All this was very different from the confused ideas presented by the philosophers respecting various gods and the competition and strife between them as between human heroes.
Having set forth the character of God, the next point was to show that all God’s creation should seek him, that he is nigh unto all that call upon him; for his power and intelligence are everywhere present. Seizing upon a truthful statement by one of their poets to the effect that all mankind are God’s offspring, the Apostle endorses this, and then points out that this, being true, it logically follows that images of gold, silver and stone could not properly represent this great God.
Anticipating the question in their minds—If there is so great a God why has he not previously manifested himself to us? and why has he permitted us to look to and to worship other gods? and would he not be very angry with us, because of this false worship? the Apostle
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answers, No; the past period of ignorance God entirely overlooks: You are not charged with responsibility for rejecting that of which you did not know. But, now this great God has sent forth his gracious message, that all men everywhere should come to a knowledge of him, and should repent of sins and seek to do his will.
Here is a definite statement from an inspired source informing us that the millions who lived and died in heathen darkness prior to the coming of Christ are not held responsible and will not be punished for that ignorance. And the same principle can logically be applied to all since who have not known of Christ and of the redemption through his blood. All of these must yet come to a knowledge of the truth.
But note the Apostle’s reasoning: God has appointed a day of trial (“judgment”) for the whole human family, in which Christ will be the righteous Judge, and in which every man—the whole world—will have a righteous trial, a fair opportunity for accepting divine favor and eternal life, or of rejecting these and receiving the wages of sin, the second death. Here, the Apostle was able to bring Christ to the attention of his hearers. The little portion of the discourse set before us omits all mention of a redemption by the second Adam, before any blessing of life or even a trial for life eternal could be offered to any: doubtless, however, this was part of the discourse, set forth along the same lines as the Apostle’s argument in Romans 5 and in 1 Cor. 15.
In logical order, it was necessary that the Apostle would present the doctrine of the resurrection. (1) He must show that Christ, having died for our sins, did not remain dead, but was raised up and clothed with authority and power to be the Deliverer in due time of those whom he had purchased with his own blood. (2) He must show that the ignorant ones of preceding centuries, as they had shared the Adamic penalty, would have an opportunity also of sharing the benefits of the atonement, and he must therefore show that, altho the penalty, death, was justly enforced against all, yet God purposed an awakening from death for all mankind; and a complete resurrection to the condition enjoyed by Adam before the fall, to all who would render obedience to the Redeemer when he would be the Judge. (The mention of the high calling and the way of full consecration leading to it, he reserved for such as would accept justification.)
The Apostle held the attention of his hearers and evidently made considerable impression until it came to this last part of his discourse. But the doctrine of the resurrection ran counter to all their latest philosophical deductions which were to the effect that death is merely a change to a higher form of life. According to their philosophy there could be no resurrection of the dead; for they believed that there were no dead. These philosophers had become so thoroughly imbued
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with the sentiments wherewith Satan deceived mother Eve (“Ye shall not surely die”) that they were ready and willing to reject what they must have conceded was the grandest philosophy respecting the Deity that they had ever heard. This same error has been a stumbling block to many, hindering them from seeing the beauty and consistency of the divine plan.
The Apostle’s efforts were not wholly without fruitage, for one of the Professors of the university, Dionysius, and a lady of note, Damaris, and some others believed, but evidently not satisfied with the prospect for future service, the Apostle departed for Corinth. Aside from the general lesson of this narrative other valuable lessons may be drawn.
(1) As Athens, the seat of learning, was full of idols, so the heart, even tho enriched with earthly wisdom, may be full of idols and wholly lacking of any proper conception of the great Creator and his plan. Many cultured minds have nevertheless idols of selfishness, passions, earthly ambitions and love of falsehoods, to such an extent as to reject the sublime testimony of the gospel, even when brought to their attention.
(2) Culture and refinement are not always accompaniments and indications of the Lord’s presence and the light of his grace, but quite frequently are hindrances, in that they give a measure of satisfaction which serves as a substitute for Christ and his gospel.
(3) Forms of worship are not acceptable with God: the Athenians were worshipful and reverential to an extreme. God not only seeks worshipers who have the true spirit of worship, but he arranged also that these shall have a knowledge of the truth, so that they may worship in truth, according to the truth. Hence, the declaration, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” A knowledge of the truth is essential before we can worship in spirit and in truth. As a spirit of worship without the truth is not sufficient or accepted, much more a knowledge of truth is not sufficient nor acceptable without a spirit of worship.
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GOD’S PEOPLE IN CORINTH
—AUGUST 1.—ACTS 18:1-11.—
“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”—1 Cor. 3:11.
CORINTH as a city was almost the opposite of Athens. Corinth was as completely given over to commerce and sinful pleasures as Athens was given over to religious philosophy and idol worship. We have seen what poor success attended the gospel amongst the superstition-blinded philosophers of the religious metropolis; and we feel curious to know whether its effect will be more or less amongst the non-religious of Corinth. The Lord’s testimony settles the matter. In a vision he encouraged the Apostle not to be afraid but to speak boldly, assuring him that he would be with him and protect him; adding,—“I have much people in this city.”
Here we see the principle of the divine policy in respect to the sending forth of the gospel. The Lord knew the honest-hearted ones beforehand; and even tho they did not know him, and had not yet accepted of Christ, “the only name,” God nevertheless spoke of things to come as tho they already were accomplished, and called the earnest ones who hungered and thirsted after righteousness his people. When we remember that the Lord specially directed the Apostle into Macedonia and suffered him to remain but a short time in the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica and Athens, and that his stay in Corinth was for a year and a half, and then note these words,—”I have much people in this city,” it gives us the thought that the objective point of this missionary tour in the divine program was Corinth. And indeed, at the close of his ministry in Corinth the Apostle was sent nowhere else, but took his journey homeward, visiting enroute the Churches he had previously established in Asia-Minor. What a lesson we have here of the divine superintendence of his own Word and plan! what an illustration of the statement, “The Lord knoweth them that are his;” and that our God is “the same yesterday, to-day and forever!” He still knows his own; he still superintends his work; he still sends through appropriate agents and at the proper season just such helps as are needful to his people.
Every laborer (every public and every private laborer in the vineyard) should mark the lesson which the Lord has here set before us. And each should the more carefully watch for the leadings of divine providence and realize that only as he is a co-worker together with God can he accomplish anything. As the Master said, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
Every minister of the gospel (and this includes all who serve the Lord in any degree or capacity) can find in the Apostle Paul a most wonderful lesson of practical humility. Upon entering Corinth he did not look up some philosopher and endeavor to ingratiate himself with him as a fellow-philosopher and teacher, who could not dig and was ashamed to beg. He did nothing which would compromise the truth, and his influence or liberty as a servant of the truth. Like all Jews of that time he had learned a trade and he at once set to work to earn an honest living, while seeking the door of opportunity for his great life-work, the preaching of the gospel. His trade, tent-making, was a good one in the sense that it afforded employment in every
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seaport town; but a poor one in that not being difficult, it had much competition, and was poorly paid. Nevertheless, there is not the slightest intimation that the Apostle repined or in any degree rebelled against the leadings of divine providence, altho he probably queried why it was that the Lord, who had specially called and commissioned him to the work of the gospel, had so circumstanced him that it was impossible to give any but the fag-ends of his time to this service to which he had devoted himself, and to which he had been accepted. Under the leadings of divine providence he became acquainted with Aquilla and Priscilla, poor Jews, outcasts for their religion, who were earning their living by the same trade. Their troubles had no doubt mellowed their hearts and made them ready for the gospel of Christ, and the Lord brought it first to their humble dwelling, and they became devoted servants of the Lord’s cause.
The Apostle was fervent in spirit and not slothful in the great business to which his life was devoted; and hence he lost no opportunity of looking up the Jews of Corinth and attending the Sabbath services in
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their synagogue. Apparently, however, the difficulties and persecutions endured tended to make the Apostle cautious, if by any means he might improve upon the methods of the past, by the use of greater wisdom. We see how he left Thessalonica and then Berea as the persecution manifested itself; and we see that he studiously sought to avoid persecution at Athens; and now at Corinth apparently he did not start out to preach Christ boldly to the Jews, but rather reasoned with them, and with certain Gentiles who were feeling after God, for a number of Sabbath days, along general lines; as a preparation for the great message he had to deliver. He persuaded both Jews and Greeks with reference to the Law, its types and ceremonies and sacrifices; and with reference to the significance of the prophecies; but he avoided that which would awaken prejudice until he would first arouse faith and fervor in his hearers, and their confidence in his sincerity, and in his fidelity to the Lord’s Word.
But when Silas and Timothy joined him, the opportune moment came: and the Apostle felt such a pressure of earnest desire to make known the Lord Jesus, as the grand hope of Israel and the world, that he could keep it back no longer and spoke it forth.
Then came the opposition and blasphemy which previous experiences had warned him to expect: but by this time he had made some impression, not only upon some of the Jews, but upon the religiously disposed Greeks, who had been interested in Judaism. Foreseeing that thereafter the Jews would consider him an intruder in their synagogue, he withdrew, accepting as a place for meetings the home of Justus, who apparently was a Greek convert first to Judaism, and now to Christianity. This change would make it more favorable to all Greeks to come and hear, and at the time being near the synagogue would keep the gospel of Christ before the attention of the Jews. The result was that “much people,” the Lord’s people, were found by the truth, including the ruler of the synagogue and many citizens of Corinth.
Had the Apostle been either a cold or a lukewarm Christian and servant of the Lord, or one of the “fearful and unbelieving” kind, he might have attended the synagogue and for years kept his “light under a bushel;” and in such an event it probably would shortly have become extinguished, according to the divine rule; and he would have lost his place as a servant of the gospel and some one else who had a sufficiency of faith, love and zeal would have been permitted to do the work. But the Apostle never kept his light under a bushel, but lifted it high that all might see the glorious light of the goodness of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, which had shone into his heart. He continually showed forth “the praises of him who had called him out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Judging from his past experiences, the Apostle might have expected persecution which would have permitted him to stay but a short time in Corinth. It was probably for his instruction in this particular that he was granted the vision, instructing him that God would protect him from persecution here, because he had much people to be reached by the truth. Nevertheless, it was necessary and the Lord’s instruction, that he should speak the truth boldly and not hold his peace, nor expect that the Lord would work a miracle to reach his people in Corinth without a public testimony.
It was during this stay in Corinth that the Apostle received a loving contribution for his support from the converts at Philippi, which gave evidence that Luke, who remained with them, was performing a faithful ministry and stirring up their hearts with zeal for the Lord and his service. It was during this period, also, that he received through Silas and Timothy a good message from the Churches at Thessalonica and Berea; and it was during this stay in Corinth also that the two letters were written to the Church at Thessalonica. Nevertheless, it is respecting this very period of his stay in Corinth that the Apostle subsequently wrote to the Corinthians (1:4; 2:3); in which he mentions his weakness (bodily sickness) and “fear and trembling;” probably the result partly of his weak physical condition and of the remembrance of the trying experiences already passed through.
Subsequently he writes apparently referring back to experiences at Corinth,—”Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat. We are made the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”—1 Cor. 4:11-13.
Every servant of the truth to-day can find rich lessons in the experiences and faithfulness and perseverance of the great Apostle. In infinite wisdom the Lord permitted this his chiefest servant amongst men, next to the Lord Jesus, to preach the truth under unfavorable circumstances and with many drawbacks. Paul learned that the servant is not above his Master; and so must every other faithful follower learn the same lesson of faithfulness and endurance—overcoming self and difficulties in the name and strength of the Lord and his Word: upheld by loving zeal and by the exceeding great and precious promises of the Father’s Word. In due time we shall reap the reward, if we faint not by the way.