Page images
PDF
EPUB

recovery out of that apostasy till Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew." $1

Waldensians, Wyckliffites, and Hussites: “Some of this class of people, perceiving that such a church as they had formed an idea of, would never be established by human means, indulged the hope that God himself would in his own time erect for himself a new church, free from every blemish and impurity; and that he would raise up certain persons and fill them with heavenly light for the accomplishment of this great object.”.

Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples: “By the reformation of the seventeenth century that dark cloud was broken in fragments and though the heavens of gospel light are still obscured by many clouds—the sects of various names—the promise is that at evening time it shall be light. The primitive gospel in its effulgence and power is yet to shine out in its original splendor to regenerate the world.” 83

John Bunyan: “It hath been the way of God, even when he doth execute the severest judgments, to tell it in the ears of some of his saints, some time before he doth execute the same; yea, it seems to me that it will be so in the great day of God Almighty, for I read, that before the Bridegroom came there was a cry made, ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh,' which cry doth not seem to me to be the ordinary cry of the ministers of the gospel, but a cry that was effected by some sudden and marvelous awakening, the product of some new and extraordinary revelation." **

John Robinson: "He charged us before God and his blessed angels, to follow him no further than he followed Christ; and if God should reveal anything to us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive it as ever we were to receive any truth by his ministry; for he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy word. He took occasion also miserably to bewail the state and condition of the reformed churches, who were come to a period in religion, and would go no further than the instruments of their reformation. ... For, saith he, it is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once." ®

Sir Isaac Newton: “Newton came to the conclusion, however, that the time had not then arrived for the full light to shine, but looked for clearer light to shine in future days, saying: 'About the time of the end, in all probability, a body of men will rise up, who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition.”

“The gospel must be preached to all nations, before the great tribulation and the end of the world. An angel must fly through the midst of heaven, with the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations, before Babylon falls and the Son of man reaps his harvest.

The following is the gist of what the men of the reformation really claimed and foresaw:

1. That Luther did not really know what his mission was.

2. That whatever his calling, it consisted solely of a "perhaps." Vague! Indefinite!

3. That apostles and teachers were not "restored and extant" in Williams' day, 1639.

4. That God had not "set up his kingdom" in Wesley's day, 1739.

87

51 Kelley's Presidency and Priesthood, pp. 109, 110. $2 Mosheim's Church History, book 4, pp. 200, 201.

Hayden's History of the Disciples, p. 36, quoted in Kelley's Presidency and Priesthood, p. 95.

** Tomlin's Interpretation, etc., p. 516.
* Robinson's Works, vol. 1, pp. 44, 45.

Totten's Our Race News Leaflet, No. 90, June 1898, pp. 325, 326.
Cunninghame's Dissertation, etc., p. 351.

86

87

5. That “the primitive gospel in its original splendor” was not shining in Campbell's day, "is yet to shine out." He commenced his work about 1810.

6. That the "ancient and primitive church must be restored.” 7. That God "will arise and set up his kingdom." 8. That “the Lord has yet more truth to break forth.”

9. That “God himself would in his own time erect for himself a new church."

10. That “such a church would never be established by human means.'

11. That to erect this "new church” God "would raise up certain persons and fill them with heavenly light."

12. That “about the time of the end a body of men will be raised up,” turning their attention to the prophecies.

13. That there can be no recovery out of the apostasy till Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew.”

14. That God will "the new apostles choose." 15. That the “last prophet” had to come.

16. That there will be "a sudden and marvelous awakening," "a new and extraordinary revelation."

17. That "an angel must come with the everlasting gospel."

18. That the body of men to be raised up will meet with "much clamor and opposition.”

In view of these startling admissions and prophetic forecasts, who will assume to credit the reformers with a task they never attempted, that of restoring the church. And right here is where the churches have been building on sand. Congregating in great bodies they have never investigated the foundation on which they are building. To them it is sufficient that their forefathers were adjusted to a certain faith and of course that is good enough for them. Strange, however, that this puppy principle works only along lines of theology. They never think of returning to the domestic and manufacturing inconveniences of even twenty years ago. The spinning jenny, the reaping hook, and the flail they have discarded; the tallow dip and the candle they have abolished save when they wish to illumine and illustrate the density of their sanctuaries.

No marvel then that men are arising, loudly lamenting the inefficiency of their churchly institutions. "Now when we look for the 'woman,' the true church, under the outward form of even the Protestant churches, she is not there." 88 “The reformation did not go far enough, it did not purge out all the old leaven, it retained some principles of corruption." 89

As the offspring of Rome the reformation is beginning to acknowledge its place in prophecy: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.”—Revelation 17: 5.

*Rev. Ira Case, Light from Prophecy, p. 102. *Reverend Guinness, End of the Age, p. 337.

The Tennessee Baptist says: “This woman (popery] is called the mother of harlots and abominations. Who are the daughters? The Lutheran, the Presbyterian, and the Episcopalian churches are all branches of the [Roman) Catl lic. Are not these denominated ha and abominations in the above passage? I so decide. I could not, with the stake before me, decide otherwise." Alexander Campbell says: "The worshiping establishments now in operation throughout Christendom, cased and cemented by their respective voluminous confessions of faith, and their ecclesiastical constitutions, are not churches of Jesus Christ, but the legitimate daughters of that mother of harlots, the Church of Rome.”—Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith, p. 796.

And these writers might have included their own respective churches, the Baptist being as near a relative as any; while Discipleism, although not a daughter, yet being an offshoot of the Presbyterian and Baptist churches, may claim relationship as granddaughter.

The work of the reformation, however, was necessary in its time and place. It tended to break the fetters of priestly domination, ushering in an era of investigation. "The efforts of the reformers were an important preparation, in the providence of God, for the scenes which are soon to be realized in the Christian world. It was like the dawning of the morning, in which the verge of the horizon is tinged with light; but afterwards all becomes obscure, by the collecting and thickening clouds, which are too gross and dense to be dispelled in a moment. Thus the darkness becomes greater than before, until at length the sun rises, and all obscurity is driven away. In this view the reformation may be considered as a preparative to the accomplishment of this prophecy.... It was the dawning of the great work, which shall appear, and spread rapidly over the world, in the latter days. The accomplishment of this prophecy is yet future, but it is fast hastening on.”—Rev. Robert Reid, in Seven Last Plagues, p. 202, published 1828.

The prophecy alluded to by Mr. Reid is Revelation 14:6, wherein God has promised a restoration of the everlasting gospel by the hand of an angel. Little did he think that its fulfillment was even at the door while he wrote.

[ocr errors]

ROME AND THE REFORMATION WITHOUT

AUTHORITY. In addition to all these disqualifying conditions, Rome and the reformation lacked the very essential credentials of authority. Authority? Yes, authority! For no man has the right to usurp any office without first being appointed thereto. This principle is recognized in all the marts of life, whether the judicial, the military, the mercantile, or the labor. Even the very ordinary calling of a town constable can not be assumed at the pleasure of presumption.

It is by authority that kings rule, generals command, parliamentarians make laws and magistrates enforce them; and the humblest of our public school instructors are restrained from teaching until authorized by the appointing power.

And this question surely concerns the kingdom of God, for do

[ocr errors]

we not read, "How shall they preach except they be sent?”— Romans 10:14, 15.

Moses did not dare to enter upon the exalted functions of his office until appointed thereto by an angel; neither did Aaron occupy as a spokesman until authorized by revelation.

It was the same in New Testament times. While here, our Lord appointed a ministry in person, and after his ascension made selection by the Holy Spirit in audible revelation :

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed.-Acts 13:1-4.

All were not permitted to occupy who wanted to. Self assumers and usurpers were frequently punished. It was dangerous to impersonate the Lord's appointed. Saul tried it and lost his kingdom; Uzziah for the same sin was smitten with leprosy; and the seven sons of Sceva were set on by devils. (1 Samuel 13; 2 Chronicles 26; Acts 19:13, 16.)

The unchangeable law governing in this matter is as impartial as it is clear, “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of Cod, as was Aaron.”—Hebrews 5:4. High or low, rich or poor, none were privileged. A divine call was exacted.

How unlike our modern methods of conferring a "call.” Aaron was not ordained because of some feeling in the heart; a theological seminary did not do it; nor yet was he voted one by the voice of a congregation. The fact is, that God spoke. He ordered Aaron's appointment, and the people, knowing that a revelation from the Eternal had been received, were satisfied to accept him. (Exodus 4:10-16, 30, 31.)

Nor was Aaron suffered to enter the priest's office simply upon his personal say-so. That would never do. There are too many getting "calls" from that quarter nowadays, particularly when there is a fat salary in sight.

The record reads that God revealed himself through another, Moses; one already occupying the position of authority. Upon the strength of this revelation and no other, Aaron was ordained. This, then, is the pattern “call” and no man may assume ministerial office save he is "called of God, as was Aaron.”

Apply this test to Rome and the reformation, and what a contrast! Where among them is there a mouthpiece of the Almighty through whom he may communicate his will? They tell us that the last revelation given to man, was that to John upon the Isle of Patmos, over eighteen hundred years ago. How then are their ministers called ? Manifestly not as was Aaron, by the voice of revelation. The facts are that if the attractions of society and salary were removed there would be fewer "calls" evolved. Place the ministers on a Bible basis of going without "purse or scrip,” and they will soon cease making merchandise out of the word of God.

Here we are then in a sorrowful situation, in a land full of

churches and yet none of them receiving revelations from the Lord. Verily it hath happened even as the prophet foretold :

For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears.—Matthew 13: 15.

Well might Isaiah hopelessly ask, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?”—Isaiah 28:9.

“Hold,” says the reformation, “our ministers are ordained.”

What! ordain men who have not been previously called! What kind of work is this? Comparable only to the conduct of Micah, the idolater who, having a house of gods, consecrated his own priests. Well did Paul predict:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. (Judges 17: 10; 2 Timothy 4:3.)

Not only must the "call” be legitimate but the ordination also. Everyone can not ordain. An ordination to be valid must come from some one already vested with authority; otherwise it is a pitcher without water. A son can not inherit the fortune of his father save the father possesses one.

Let us trace, then, back to its source this reformation river of ordination. Confessedly we find a good many streams, but it makes little difference which one we take, as all lead to the same source. The Lutheran may follow his as far back as Luther; the Calvinist to Calvin; the Presbyterian to John Knox; the Episcopalian to Henry VIII; and the Baptist to Menno Simon, etc., etc.

And whence received these men their ordination? Or did they begin their work without one? If so, what an unenviable position, for unordained spells unauthorized! And in what an equally unenviable position it places the churches which have grown out of them! An organization can not possess more authority than its organizer; a stream can not rise higher than its source. If, then, Messrs. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Henry VIII, et al, began their respective churches without an ordination, why should the ordination service have ever started in these churches? Surely if a church can be started without ordination, it can be continued without ordination.

But what would an ordination from unordained gentlemen impart? It is nothing more nor less than “having a form of godliness and denying the power thereof."-2 Timothy 3: 5. Empty of ordination themselves, how could they pour out on somebody else that which they did not possess ?

Driven to the wall and realizing the hopelessness of the situation, the reformation is finally forced to follow their meandering streams a little further. Following, therefore, this river a turn beyond the reformers, we are brought to its source. There it is, spread out amid the marshes of Rome. Not a reformer but who either directly or indirectly quenched his authoritative thirst out of the stagnant pool of the papacy. Luther, Melancthon, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Henry VIII, Cranmer, and Menno Simon were all

« PreviousContinue »