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years, have averaged over two hundred and fifty million dollars per year.
The distress of nations was never more apparent than now. While they are spending millions in preparation for the slaughter of the foreigner, starving multitudes are crying for bread at home. The whole world is racked by strikes and lockouts, unions and disunions, each struggling with the strongest for the mere pittance of existence.
The rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer, for they have "heaped together treasure for the last days.” “Divide the spoils," cries the toiler. “Never,” returns the capitalist, and the greedy monopolist grinds on.
On the other hand, the wonderful increase of knowledge in every department of usefulness and science, exhibited on the farm and in factory, in classroom and laboratory, in surgery and invention, astoundingly resounds to the voice of prophecy. Verily it is the time of the end. (Daniel 12: 4.)
The recent demonstrations of unrest prevailing in the Balkans, are hastening to a crisis. This unrest will continue until Turkey will be driven from Europe. It is portrayed in prophecy in the drying up of that "great river Euphrates." Transpiring as it will, under the administration of the sixth angel, in close proximity to the seventh, the last, one can not but feel our nearness to the end. “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
Surely, then, the times are upon us for the restoration of the gospel. Yea! "The time is fulfilled.” (Matthew 24: 14, 7, 29, 37; Luke 21:10, 11, 25, 26; Acts 2:19, 20; Isaiah 24:4; Jeremiah 30: 23; 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:1-7; Revelation 16: 12; Matthew 24: 33.)
2. TO BE RESTORED A VERY LITTLE WHILE BEFORE THE RETURN
OF FERTILITY TO PALESTINE. Isaiah submits a time limit for the inauguration of this “marvelous work and a wonder."
"Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field ?" —Isaiah 29: 17.
The land of Lebanon refers to Palestine. (See Jeremiah 22:6; Zechariah 10:10.)
Now notice: a predicted change is to come over that land, of an extraordinary nature. It is a change for the better, a transference from a state of sterility to a state of fertility, from a barren field to a "fruitful field.”
Wonderful, indeed, when we consider that for long centuries it has been a barren waste. It has lain under the curse of God ever since the Jews rejected our Lord: “And the Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust.”
Eighteen centuries of war, ruin and neglect have passed over it.
a land of ruins without man or beast.—McClintock's and Strong's Encyclopedia.
Thanks be to God, the drought of disfavor has been broken. Rains have returned and Lebanon has been restored to a fruitful field. This all occurred in 1853 A. D. The following letter from Louis Van Buren is to that effect:
I arrived in Indiana a few days since, from the Eastern Continent. I stopped at Joppa nearly the whole winter. For my part I was well pleased with the country. It is certainly a land of most wonderful fruitfulness, with a delightsome climate, producing everything, if properly cultivated, and from two to three crops in a year. They have grain, fruit and vegetables all the year round. In fact I never was in such a country before. I have seen much good country in Europe and America, but none to compare with Palestine; its fruitfulness is uncommon, and the climate the most delightful; even in winter I did not see the least sign of frost, and vegetables of every sort were growing in the gardens. It is a fact that the rain and dew are restored; recently, in 1853, the former and latter rains were restored, to the astonishment of the natives.-November 14, 1867.
Nor must we forget the expiration of that grand prophetic period of twelve hundred and sixty years. Beginning in 570 A. D. it necessarily ended in 1830 A. D. It was the day of the deliverance of the church, and was it not yet a very little while before Palestine was turned into a fruitful field?
DID IT EFFECT THE RESTORATION? It is needless to ask whether Rome established the restoration. She repudiates the apostasy. She claims a regular, unbroken succession. To her the glories of a restoration are raptureless. She does not admit of anything being lost. We pass her by. The Scriptures say nothing about a succession. They speak of an apostasy and restoration only.
But what of the reformation? It is indeed what it claims to bea reformation Chambers defines reformation as "the act of reforming: amendment: improvement: the great religious change of the sixteenth century when the Protestants separated from the Roman Catholic Church." (Etymological Dictionary, 1882.)
The reformation, therefore, is doubtless all that it claims to be, viz, an "amendment," an "improvement" of—of what! Of what was already in existence, the papacy. Thus upon the strength of its own admission, the reformation is nothing more nor less than an amended papacy, or, at best, an improved papacy.
Not so with the restoration. An entirely different thing! Chambers says it is a "replacement,” a “recovery.” It is the bringing back of what was taken away; the same original, identical article.
Three claims are before us, the succession, the reformation, and the restoration. We have rejected the succession for one reason,it is unscriptural. And since the Bible supports only the “replacement,” the restoration of the gospel, we are for the selfsame reason obliged to reject the reformation also.
The following fatal admission from Alexander Campbell, himself a leading Presbyterian, later the founder of what is commonly called “Discipleism,” is quite correct in its conclusions :
A reformation of popery was attempted in Europe full three centuries ago. It ended in a Protestant hierarchy, and swarms of dissenters. Protestantism has been reformed into Presbyterianism, that into Congregationalism, and that into Baptism, etc., etc. Methodism has attempted to reform all but has reformed itself into many forms of Wesleyanism. They are at best a reformation of popery, an only reformations in part.-On Baptism, p. 15.
If in any sense the reformation should claim to be the embodiment of the original church, it must be prepared to prove it in all points of identification. John Alexander Dowie set up an assumption that he was the genuine, original Elijah. Upon examination, however, he was found to lack very many of the finer qualities of that ancient seer.
Is the reformation, therefore, ready to submit evidence of such originality? If so, we shall look for a church possessing the pillars of twelve apostles. We shall expect to find among them prophets. We shall look for a ministry, called of God by the voice of revelation, and clothed with priesthood authority. Have they a foundation composed of the six cardinal principles of the gospel? (Hebrews 6:1-3.) Is there among them an ordinance of entrance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins? Do they practice the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the healing of the sick, and for the blessing of little children? Can they present an institution lightened by the nine spiritual gifts, and point to us the signs following the believer? They must place before us a comely church, enshrouded with the robes of revelation and in constant communion with her God. In a word, we shall look for nothing less than a marvelous work and a wonder, identical in all things with the church of the New Testament.
Do we ask too much? Which one of these distinguished, Godappointed characteristics would we eliminate? The pillars? The lights? The door? Or the covering? Or would we away with all?
No! Nothing else will do us, than the old Jerusalem gospel back again. We want it, fully rigged and completely manned. We want the original body of Christ with all its marks of identification. Our Savior experienced some difficulty in convincing his disciples that he was indeed their risen Lord. But once he showed the wound prints upon his hands and upon his side, they were ready to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
Except, therefore, we see in the reformation the imprints of originality and apostolicity, we will not believe. THE REFORMATION COULD NOT HAVE EFFECTED THE
RESTORATION. The times of the reformation were utterly unripe for a restoration. It was an age of universal struggle, intermingled with the decrees of murder and assassination. Burning and branding was the religion of the masses. Everybody had religion! aye, oozing out at every pore! What would they not do for "our church"!
The sword and the saber were the foremost evangelists; and the minister, to be qualified, must needs make a study of the arts of execution and explosion. They preached the blood of Jesus, and they shed the blood of man. They proclaimed a hell hereafter, and kindled its fires here.
With fagot and fork, thumbscrew and rack, altars were erected and painted with the blood of their victims.
Darkened by dismal doctrines, they illuminated their intelligence with the fires of human sacrifice. It was war to the knife, and knife to the hilt.
When weary of slaughtering each other they turned and fought among themselves. The Lutherans persecuted the Zwinglians, and the Church of England raged against the Nonconformists. The Covenanters of Scotland were hunted to death by their southern neighbors, and Calvin cremated Servetus. Of the treatment accorded the Baptists, the Puritans, and the Quakers at the hands of their Protestant brethren, the pen is powerless to picture; and the Jews suffered of them all.
Who, then, would presume that out of the impoverished soil of this barren, rockbound, volcanic Christianity, the seed of the restoration would grow? Impossible! It could not germinate in such an uncongenial climate.
Rome and the reformation were too aged in the vices of bloodcurdling exploits to give birth to a kingdom of peace.
It was an age of spiritual stupor long foreshadowed by Isaiah:
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with winę; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep.--Isaiah 29: 9, 10.
And the people just awakening from the opiate of Romanism were, as yet, too unbecalmed to accomplish any great spiritual task.
As a matter of fact, the reformation was a little too previous to confuse it with the restoration. It commenced, says Spanheim, by Zwingli in Switzerland A. D. 1516; by Luther in Germany 1517; by Calvin in France 1529; by Petri in Sweden 1530; in England 1534; by Bergenharius in Denmark 1537; by Knox in Scotland 1560; by Brown in Ireland 1560 (Ecclesiastical Annals, p. 72).
It began approximately three hundred years before the due time of the Lord set for the bringing forth of his church.
Had an impostor appeared three hundred years before the time of our Lord's first appearing, announcing himself the Christ, he would have been justly turned down, from the fact that the time set for our Savior's coming was not fulfilled. Four hundred and ninety years had to pass by from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until our Lord would be offered. And had he been crucified a year before he was he would not have fulfilled the prophecy, for the scripture can not be broken," 76 hence the Christ was crucified not a day sooner or later than the scriptural schedule called for.
Even thus must we regard the reformation, or any other movement assuming to be the church of Christ, arising before the determined time.
78 John 10: 35.
THE REFORMATION DID NOT EFFECT THE RESTORATION. As a matter of fact the reformation did not effect the restoration. While many of its followers make such a claim for it, we do not know that the reformers themselves ever urged such an assumption. True, they started a great many churches, but such were suggestively and appropriately named when designated with such titles as Lutheran Church, Wesleyan Church, Church of England, Nonconformist Church, etc., etc.; but where among them all was the church of Jesus Christ?
It may be interesting to learn just what the reformers did claim: Martin Luther: "I can not tell what to say of myself, perhaps I am Philip Melancthon's forerunner. I am preparing the way for him like Elias in spirit and power.
"Luther perceived that the ancient and primitive church must, on the one hand, be restored in opposition to the papacy by which it had been so long oppressed."
John Wesley: “The times which we have reason to believe are at hand, (if they are not already begun,) are what many pious men have termed, “the latter day glory'; ... And yet the wise men of the world, the men of eminence, the men of learning and renown, 'can not imagine what we mean by talking of any extraordinary work of God!' They can not discern the signs of these times ! They can see no sign at all of God's arising to maintain his own cause, and set up his kingdom over the earth!” Charles Wesley:
“Almighty God of love
Set up the attractive sign,
For messengers divine.
The new apostles chose,
The dead-reviving news.
“Previous to that dreadful day
Which shall thy foes consume,
Let the last prophet come. Roger Williams, founder of the first Baptist church in America: “In the poor, small span of my life I desired to have been a diligent and constant observer, and have been myself many ways engaged in city, in country, in court, in schools, in universities, in churches, in Old and New England, and yet can not, in the holy presence of God, bring in the results of a satisfying discovery that either the begetting ministry of the apostles or messengers to the nations, or the feeding or nourishing ministry of pastors and teachers, according to the first institution of the Lord Jesus, is yet restored and extant
the apostasy of antichrist hath so far corrupted all that there can be no
" D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation, vol. 2, p. 111.