KAISER WILLIAM'S THEOLOGY.
ABOUT a year ago, at the German Emperor's instance, Professor Delitzsch delivered an address at the palace. He spoke on recent excavations in Babylon; attempting to show that the findings entirely discredited the Bible and proved that the Hebrews' intelligence of religious things came to them from the Babylonians. The impression went out that the Emperor was much pleased with that discourse, and evidently had lost his respect for the Bible. This greatly distressed some of his orthodox subjects, and encouraged the Socialists, many of whom are reputed to be unbelievers--agnostics. To offset this, the Emperor has recently invited Prof. Harnack to address his court on the same theme;--Prof. Harnack being rated as "orthodox."
(We, however, could not rate the Professor as orthodox or Biblical. He holds that the Babylonian findings confirm the Bible records in some respects; viz., that there is a sufficient agreement between these witnesses and the Bible to prove that the Bible is not a fable,--that it records some facts of actual occurrence. However, Prof. Harnack does not accept the Bible as of divine origin as do we and, hence, discredits its dates, and accepts instead the uncertain decipherings of hieroglyphics relating to many dynasties (which may have existed contemporaneously) and by stringing these out one after the other, he and his associates count thousands of years which the Scriptures do not allow.)
Additionally, the Emperor prepared a letter which, as was intended, has been made public. In it he sets forth his religious views and, it is said, has quite satisfied his people. In this connection it should be remembered that the Emperor is summus episcopus of the Prussian Protestant Church--its chief bishop, or overseer.
Commenting on the Emperor's action, the London Times correspondent says:--
"Orthodox Protestants seem to have apprehended that the foundations of the State, as well as the Church, would be undermined if the summus episcopus encouraged heterodoxy. The question has a deep political bearing also, because the Social Democrats are professedly anti-Christian in a doctrinal sense, and because nearly all the Liberals are freethinkers. The Conservative press is satisfied that the Kaiser holds to the essentials of orthodox Protestantism, and the Liberal press is pleased because the Kaiser's statement upholds the freedom of research and speculation for scholars.
"The Catholic Kolnische Volks Zeitung sees danger in this distinction between the learned and the 'people,' and the Radical Berliner Tageblatt comes to the far-fetched conclusion that the Kaiser's fearless initiative will produce the greatest and most triumphant impression in England and America, and may help to inspire friendlier feelings there for 'our Germanic cousins.'"
The "orthodox" are evidently easily satisfied. We trust that readers of ZION'S WATCH TOWER have a much more distinct idea of the inspiration of the Bible writers--the apostles and prophets--than has the Kaiser. We cannot with him count Moses in along with Shakespeare and the Kaiser's grandfather and Homer and Charlemagne. Moses was both a prophet and a type of the great Prophet and, hence, to us, belongs to an entirely different class from the worldly-wise and great. We quote a portion of the letter:--
"I distinguish between two different kinds of revelation--one progressive, and, as it were, historical; the other purely religious, as preparing the way for the future Messiah.
"Regarding the former it must be said, for me it does not admit of a doubt, not even the slightest, that God reveals himself continuously in the race of men created by him. He breathed into man the breath of his life and follows with fatherly love and interest the [R3177 : page 116] development of the human race. In order to lead it forward and develop it he reveals himself in this or that great sage, whether priest or king, whether among the heathen, Jews or Christians. Hammurabi was one; so was Moses, Abraham, Homer, Charlemagne, Luther, Shakespeare, Goethe, Kant and Emperor William the Great. These he sought out and endowed with his grace to accomplish splendid, imperishable results for their people in their intellectual and physical provinces, according to his will. How often my grandfather pointed out that he was only an instrument in the Lord's hands....
"The legislative act on Sinai, for example, can be only regarded as symbolically inspired by God. When Moses had to reburnish well-known paragraphs of the law, perhaps derived from the code of Hammurabi, in order to incorporate and bind them into the loose, weak fabric of his people, here the historian can perhaps construe from the sense of wording a connection with the laws of Hammurabi, the friend of Abraham. That is perhaps logically correct. But that will never disguise the fact that God incited Moses thereto and in so far revealed himself to the people of Israel."
The Emperor has evidently become quite tinctured with higher-critic infidelity. If Moses concocted the Law with the assistance of a heathen legend which had been extant several centuries before he was born, he perpetrated a fraud at Mt. Sinai,--a stupendous fraud--when he represented that it was directly God-given. Was our Lord also deceived respecting Hammurabi's law, palmed off by Moses as of divine origin? And were all the Jews, including the apostles, deceived? Hear our Lord's words, "Did not Moses give you the Law?" (John 7:19.) When our Lord, after his resurrection, would establish the faith of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, we read: "Beginning with Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them the Scriptures," etc. (Luke 24:27.) Did he begin by quoting a fraud, a deceiver who had palmed off Hammurabi's law for a new divine code? Whoever believes so, cannot believe in our Lord's claims to Messiahship; for surely Messiah could not be inspired to know what was in man and yet be deluded as present-day wise men claim.
If these men are right Stephen, the first martyr to follow the Lord in death, for his sake, was deceived also. See his testimony concerning Moses in Acts 7:35-44, noting specially vss. 38 and 44.
Who that believes Moses a deceiver and a fraud could longer accept the inspiration of the words of the Apostle Paul on any subject, after noting his eulogy of Moses and the Law of God given by his hand? He says: "It is written in the law of Moses." (1 Cor. 9:9.) Again he recites an incident of Moses' presence in Mt. Sinai, not as a part of a stupendous fraud, but as a fact; saying, "Moses...put a vail over his face." (2 Cor. 3:7-13; Ex. 34:29,30,35.) Again he ascribed that law to God, declaring it so "just and holy and good" that no fallen man could keep it. (Rom. 7:9-12.) He even recites circumstantially the giving of the Law Covenant at Sinai, pointing out that this was a type of the ushering in of the New Covenant. --Heb. 12:18-26.
"The Law was given [of God] by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." "Moses verily was faithful, as a servant over all his house"--he was, therefore, not a fraud.--John 1:17; Heb. 3:5.
The great and worldly-wise are all to stumble into just such unbelief respecting God's Word, but the faithful are to be kept by the power of God through faith and by assistance divinely granted in this "evil day." "A thousand shall fall at thy side, but it [the pestilence of infidelity] shall not come nigh thee." The elect will stand on a sea of glass, as it were mingled with fire, and be able to sing intelligently "the song of Moses, the servant of God [not a fraud], and the Lamb."--Rev. 15:3.
Quoting further from the war-lord-bishop we are touched to sympathy by his "blind unreason" in the following "most orthodox" sentence,--in which he attempts to discuss what he, evidently, in no sense understands. How true that "the natural man receiveth not [comprehendeth not] the things of the spirit of God: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14.) He says:--
"Christ is God, God in human form. He redeemed us and inspires us, entices us to follow him. We feel his fire burning in us. His sympathy strengthens us. His discontent destroys us. But, also his intercession saves us. Conscious of victory, building solely upon his Word, we go through labor, ridicule, sorrow, misery and death, for we have in him God's revealed Word, and he never lies."
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GRANTED BY THE CZAR OF ALL
St. Petersburg, (Press Cable).--The Czar has issued a decree providing for freedom of religion throughout his dominions, establishing to some degree local self-government and making other concessions to the village committees.
Among the measures outlined by the Czar for the attainment of these ends is reform of the rural laws, which is to be effected with the advice of persons who possess the confidence of the people. The system of administration in the various governments and districts is to be examined by representatives of the different localities concerned, with the view of effecting the necessary amendments. Measures are also to be taken to relieve the peasantry of the burdens of forced labor.
The decree, which was issued in commemoration of the anniversary of the birthday of Alexander III., is considered to be the most significant act of state since the emancipation of serfs. The public hails it as the proclamation of a new era, opening up bright [R3178 : page 117] prospects of the early improvement of Russian internal administration.
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All who love righteousness and freedom will rejoice in the news conveyed by the above dispatch. However, it would not be wise for us to expect great and speedy changes as a result of this decree. It is almost forced upon the Czar by the poverty and discontent of the people; and it may be a considerable time before the promised reforms are realized. Powerful nobles are opposed to reform, and many of the evils are deeply entrenched in the customs of the land. As yet it is only a paper reform; but it is an illustration of the melting of the mountains [kingdoms] predicted by the prophet.--Psa. 97:5.
The extent to which this decree will affect the political or religious liberties of Jews is doubtful; we expect little from it to their advantage.
TRUST METHODS IN CHURCH WORK.
We quote below from the Chicago Inter-Ocean. Where the matter may end is difficult to determine now, but that it is along the lines of higher-criticism, and therefore opposed to real Bible study, from the standpoint of faith, is never to be forgotten. Extracts follow:--
"The purpose of the new organization, which will be known as 'the Religious Educational Association,' is to bring about a greater unification of religious interests, irrespective of denomination or creed, and to disseminate religious education through the various mediums outlined in the constitution and by-laws adopted by the convention at the afternoon and closing session of the conference.
"President William R. Harper of the University of Chicago, in his address before the convention, gave a comprehensive and detailed outline of the real scope and purposes of the new organization. All of Dr. Harper's suggestions concerning the new work were adopted by the convention.
"'The new organization will be something of a clearing house for religious thought and work,' said Dr. Harper in his address. He urged the necessity of cooperation among the various religious bodies in stimulating and carrying on the work of the Sunday school and church.
"'There is a great waste of effort for the lack of co-relation,' declared Dr. Harper. 'The new organization will undertake to render service in stimulating present agencies to greater effort, such aid being furnished through suggestion, through the publication of information concerning the work at large, through the provision of larger and better opportunities for these agencies to confer together, and through the help derived from personal contact with each other of those interested in the same divisions of work.'
"Departments and committees represented in the various organizations were named in the constitution adopted by the convention to carry on the work of the organization:--Universities and colleges, theological seminaries, churches and pastors, Sunday schools, secondary public schools, elementary public schools, private schools, teacher-training, young men and young women's associations, young people's societies, the home, libraries, the press, correspondence instruction, religious art, and music.
"Three classes of members are to be admitted. These are active, associate and corresponding.
"The new organization will include the establishment of a central board of trustees or directors, which will constitute the executive body of the association, and as such arrange the programs of special and general conventions, secure by proper means the coordination of the work of the departments, and carry into effect the decisions of the association.
"The members of the board will represent the various countries, states, territories and districts furnishing the membership of the association; also the various religious denominations and the various schools of opinion recognized as Christian; and still further, the various divisions of Christian activity, educational, evangelical and philanthropic.
"The principal address of the afternoon was made by the Rev. Frank Gunsaulus. He declared it was not the intention of the new organization to interfere with the work being done by the various lines of religious organizations, but to aid these in securing better results. He said that the field was sufficiently wide to permit the exercise of the very best energies of all who desired to engage in the work. He predicted a useful future for the new organization, and closed his address with an eloquent plea for church unity in educational work.
"President Charles J. Little of Garrett Biblical Institute said he regretted that the Catholics and Jews were not included in the new organization. 'They exclude themselves from conferences of this kind, but I sincerely hope that the day will soon dawn,' declared Mr. Little, 'when we can all get together on common ground.'"
GEN. CHAFFEE STARTLES METHODIST SOCIAL UNION.
New York, March 20.--Maj. Gen. Chaffee told the members of the Methodist Social union tonight that he never met an intelligent Chinese who expressed any desire to embrace the Christian religion.-- Pittsburg Gazette.
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General Chaffee has been in China for a considerable time, and is widely recognized as a moderate man, whose general sympathies are with the Christian religion; hence, his opinion is weighty. It attests the wisdom of God in passing by the Chinese and sending the gospel to the European barbarians eighteen centuries ago. Evidently there will not be many representatives from China in the "elect Church," "the bride, the Lamb's wife."
Thank God for the good hopes inspired by the great oath-bound promise made to Abraham, of which we, the Church, are heirs (Gal. 3:29)--that all the families of the earth shall yet be blessed with a knowledge of the Lord and with an opportunity for applying that knowledge, so as to return to God's favor and life everlasting.