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´╗┐Title: The Christian Foundation, Or, Scientific and Religious Journal, Volume I, No. 12, December, 1880
Author: Various
Language: English
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Scientific and Religious Journal.

VOL. I. DECEMBER, 1880. NO. 12.



IS THE SINNER A MORAL AGENT IN HIS CONVERSION?


There are a great many questions asked upon the subject of conversion,
and as many answers given as there are theories of religion, and many
persons listening to men's theories upon this subject are left in doubt
and darkness in reference to what is and is not conversion. You ask the
Mormons, who fully believe their theory of conversion, and they will
refer you to their own experience and the experience of the loyal,
self-sacrificing devotees of their faith. Ask the Roman Catholic and he
will give you an answer corresponding with his theory of religion. All
Protestant parties give you their experience, and refer you to their
loyal and self-sacrificing brethren for the truthfulness of their
theories of conversion. In the midst of this conflict and medley of
contradictions what are we to do? Shall we accept their experience as
the infallible rule by which to determine the right from the wrong in
matters pertaining to our present and eternal salvation? A strange rule,
in view of the great contrariety of opinions and our liability to be
misled. It would justify Mother Eve, she being deceived. But "she was
found in the transgression." We may be deceived and found in
transgression. This strange rule would justify Saul; for he verily
thought he ought to do many things contrary to Jesus, which things he
did, and did them in all good conscience towards God and man, yet he was
a blasphemer and injurious. The Master, in view of our liability to be
deceived, gave us a rule of conduct in reference to our communications
in these words: "Let your communications be yea, yea, and nay, nay." It
requires heroism and manhood, which is the highest degree of moral
courage, to say nay where questions of personal interest are involved.

The rule in reference to God's word is different, being based upon his
immutability and perfections. He is not deceived, not misled, not
mistaken. Paul says in reference to the word of God, which was preached
by himself, Sylvanus and Timotheus: "Our word toward you was not yea and
nay, but in him was yea, for all the promises of God in Christ are yea,
and in him amen unto the glory of God by us." 2 Cor. 1, 18-20. "Let God
be true though every man be a liar," was in the times of the Apostles
and first Christians a rule which they had no hesitancy in affirming. A
moral agent is one who, with a knowledge of the right and wrong,
exercises the power of action. In conversion it is the exercise of the
power that begins conversion. If the sinner has not this power, then he
is not a moral agent in his conversion. All the differences among men
upon the subject of conversion grew out of their different notions of
God and of men. It is a matter of the greatest consequence to have
correct notions of God and of self. As conversion relates to both, wrong
notions of one will create wrong notions of the other. Those who have
been taught to debase themselves under the pretext of giving glory to
God, consider meanness and wrong as natural and inherent imperfections
of their being, and attributable to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and
neglect to exercise the powers at their command. Being taught that they
are unable to do anything to help themselves, they are left to throw the
work all back upon God or give it up in despair. If they throw it back
upon God, and regard themselves as passive recipients of the work of
conversion, then they must wrestle with God, for there is no use in
wrestling with the powerless one.

With this view of the subject the world's condition is incomprehensible,
and in direct conflict with the revealed character of God. We would
naturally suppose when we read that "God is not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance," that none would be
allowed to perish on account of any neglect upon the divine side. But
thousands do die in their sins. Do you say it is because of their great
wickedness? In what does wickedness consist? Is it the neglect of that
which is not in their power? Does not the system that God interposes in
the conversion of the sinner rest upon the idea that the sinner is
helpless in respect to his conversion? It certainly does. Then why
should the sinner he blamed? This view of the sinner's moral condition
necessitates a view of God utterly at variance with his character, viz:
that he is _now_ and _then_ on the giving hand, that he consents to pour
out his Spirit occasionally, and does this only where the good people
wrestle with him and give him no rest day nor night. One would think
that "he who spared not his own son, but gave him up for us all," would
send that Almighty Spirit everywhere, and at once bring about the
millennial glory. What is the trouble? "_God is love!_" "Tell them, as I
live, saith the Lord God, I have _no pleasure_ in the death of him who
dieth, but rather that he would repent and live." This theory of the
sinner's helplessness is the foundation of the entire system of mystical
conversion through mystical operations of the Spirit of God. And as for
plain and easy conditions of pardon and peace that we know all sinners
can comply with, this system of mystical conversion sets them all
_aside_. So you see that difficulties are multiplying on our hands, and
unless we can start off upon another foot, we must be lost in the
mystical and incomprehensible. As reformers, our greatest work is to
clear away mystical and false notions of men in reference to themselves
and their God; to make men sensible of their dignity and responsibility,
as beings endowed with God-like attributes.

We have succeeded, in most communities, in killing the _tap-root_ of the
mystical tree of conversion--_i.e._, the tenet of total hereditary
depravity, but the tree still stands erect, and men claim that a
wonderful outpouring of the Spirit of God has, in many days and nights,
resulted in 100 or 200 or 300 conversions. But what is conversion? It is
lexically defined "_to turn upon, to turn towards_." In a moral sense,
"_to turn upon or to, to convert unto, to convert from error, to turn to
the service and worship of the true God_." "And all who dwelt at Lydda
and Saron saw him and _turned_ to the Lord." Acts ix, 35. The word
_turned_, in the above text, is a translation of the Greek term that is
nine times rendered _convert_ in its forms and thirty-eight times _turn_
in its forms. They, the people of Lydda and Saron, _turned, converted to
the Lord_. Did they do it? Then they were active and not passive. It was
an act of their own. "Repent and turn yourselves."--Eze. xviii, 30. Here
the Lord commanded sinners to _convert themselves_. "Cast away from you
all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a
new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Eze. xviii, 31. "If the wicked will turn, convert, from all his sins
that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is
lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die." Eze. xviii,
31. Here we discover that the burden of conversion and the entire
responsibility of an unconverted state is thrown upon the sinner.

The Apostles taught men to convert themselves. See Acts xiv, 15. "We
also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you, that ye
should turn, _convert_, from these vanities to the living God." Paul
says, "He showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem and
throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they
should turn, _convert_, to God, and do works meet for, worthy of,
repentance." Acts xxvi, 20. Speaking of the unbelieving Jews he said,
"But their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same
vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which vail is
done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the
vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless, when it shall _turn_, _convert_,
to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away." 2d Corinthians, iii, 14-16.
Here we find that the heart must do its own _turning_, _converting_.
_Poor Jews!_ Could they help themselves? Yes, it all depended upon their
own actions. The INFINITE ONE did as much for them as for any others.
They closed their eyes and stopped their ears, lest at _any time_ they
should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand
with their hearts, and be converted and healed. Why did the Master not
say, "And I should _convert_ and heal them?" _Ans._ Conversion is a
commandment of God, and sinners must obey it or perish.

The above quotation is made from Isaiah vi, 10, where it reads: "Lest
they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and
understand with their hearts, and _convert_, and I should heal them."
Paul, speaking of the disciples in Macedonia and Achaia, says: "They
themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and
how ye turned, _converted_, to God from idols to serve the living and
true God." 1 Thess., i, 8, 9. "Repent ye therefore and be converted," is
passive in our translation, but imperative active in the original. In
the Geneva text it reads: "_Amend_ your lives and turn. So conversion is
a commandment of God. If there is anything necessary to conversion that
is not in the power of the sinner, why should he be commanded to
convert? If the trouble is in his corruption, through inborn depravity,
why are _some converted_ and _others not_? If there is anything in
conversion that is not in the power of the sinner, then he must of
necessity be saved without it, or remain unavoidably in sin--_doomed to
misery_."

Webster defines the term _convert_ "to change from one state to another,
as to convert a barren waste into a fruitful field; to convert a
wilderness into a garden; to convert rude savages into civilized men; to
change or turn from one party or sect to another--as to convert Pagans
to Christianity, to turn from a bad life to a good one, to change the
heart and moral character from enmity to God and from vicious habits to
the love of God and to a holy life." Hence the ancient commandment:
"Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will you die." Eze.
xviii, 32. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Is this out of your
power? Then who is to blame? Does the blessed Father command you to do
what you can not? Are you thus lost without remedy? Does the Lord mock
you with commandments that you can not obey? The importance of
conversion is in the fact that it is the turning point or dividing line
between those who serve God and those who serve him not.

I. The Lord commands sinners to convert.

II. The Lord's commandments are duties that sinners owe to God.

Therefore, conversion is a duty that the sinner owes to God. It is the
sinner's duty; then he must perform it. We have seen that the Lord
commands it, and that sinners did perform it. Do you say it is a work
begun upon them and accomplished by them? Then sinners must be passive
in the beginning of this work, and the beginning is most essential, for
unless the thing is begun it will never be accomplished. Is this
beginning the work of God wrought upon the sinner by a special operation
of the Holy Spirit? If this be so it follows that the entire Christian
life is of necessity, and not of choice, for the root always bears the
tree, and not the tree the root. If the cause is the unconditioned power
of God, the effects growing out of that cause are the fruits of
necessity; and so the Christian is a necessitated creature, and entitled
to neither praise or reward, for it was not he that did it, _but God_.
And in this case the sinner is not a moral agent, for in moral agency
the sinner, with a knowledge of the right and the wrong, begins the work
_himself_ and does it himself. This does not exclude the instrumentality
of Christ, the Apostles, prophets and Christians, who, by the words of
the Holy Spirit, have placed before sinners all the knowledge necessary
to give them correct ideas of duty, and also the motives to be accepted.
An agent is one who has power to begin action, and moral agency in
conversion is the exercise of that power, with a knowledge of the right
and the wrong, and so it comes to pass that conversion to God always
makes a Christian, provided, however, that the man, knowing what to turn
from and what to turn to, honestly turned from the wrong to the right,
which is the same as to say that he was a moral agent in his conversion.
A man may _turn_ without a knowledge of the right and the wrong, but it
is turning _round_ and _round_ and remaining in the same place, _i.e._
in ignorance of God's will, and so remaining in disobedience. Such may
be and often is.

In all such cases the person has been the creature of passion, wrought
upon by excitement, and left in ignorance of duty in disobedience to the
gospel of Christ. A good rule by which to determine when such is the
case, and it is the Master's rule, is the unwillingness of the person to
do the commandments of God, and to receive for instruction upon the
subject of duty, his word, an unteachable disposition, which not only
refuses to obey when the commandments are presented, but absolutely
persists in opposing them. A man in this condition is worse than
ignorant, his heart is irreconciled to the government of God, and he may
turn around and around and die in sin and transgression. Do you object
that God controls in conversion, and, therefore, the man is illuminated
in a mysterious manner, and necessitated aright--that he is a
necessitated moral agent? Necessitated moral agency and free slavery are
identical. There is no such thing as necessitated moral agency. What I
am compelled to do is not mine, but his who compelled me. All that we
call moral or immoral, virtuous or vicious, praiseworthy or blameworthy,
in our conduct, depends wholly upon the will. It begins in us and is
done by us. It is ours and we will answer for it. No man is to be blamed
or praised for that which he neither had power to do or avoid. This, in
harmony with the words _agent_ and _action_, is saying no more than that
a man is to be praised or blamed for actions done by himself and not by
another. It is the gospel rule, "that every man shall receive according
to that which he bath done; that every man shall give account of
_himself_ to God."

If the sinner is to blame for remaining in an unconverted state, then of
necessity conversion is his own voluntary act; a duty imperatively
enjoined upon him, in the performance of which he needs to be guided by
the knowledge of the right and the wrong, as much as in any other duty.
On the other hand, if it is a work wrought upon the man by a special
effort of the Holy Spirit, then the man is free from all responsibility
in the premises, for he will answer only for his _own work_.

"Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of
life." Prov. iv, 23. "He taught me also, and said unto me: Let thine
heart retain my words; keep my commandments and live." Prov. iv, 4.
"Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way."
Prov. xxiii, 19.

  "Man, with naught in charge, could betray no trust,
  And if he fell, would fall because he must.
  If love reward him, or vengeance strike,
  His recompense in both would be unjust _alike_."

If the sinner is passive in his conversion he can claim no reward, for
it is the act of another. All action is the work of an agent, of a being
who acts. And every being who acts is the beginner of the motion which
constitutes the action. The bullet that kills the man, the explosion
that makes it fly, the sparkles from the cap which produce the
explosion, are not agents, all being equally passive; nor is it the
finger operating upon the trigger that begins the motion; that also is a
passive instrument; it is the mind giving to the finger direction and
energy which is the mover in this business, and as such, is, properly
speaking, the agent. But if we were super-naturally informed that the
mind thus exerted was made to do so by the mysterious and irresistible
impulse of a superior being, we should instantly declare _that being_
the agent, and the mind irresistibly influenced only a passive
instrument, and no more to blame than the gunpowder. Now, if the sinner
is passive he is no more to blame or praise than the passive instruments
employed by the murderer. And if he is not passive, but active, then the
thing is begun and done by himself _as the real agent_. Action implies
motion, and where there is no power to begin motion there can not be
action, _but rest_. If the sinner has power to begin that action called
conversion, then he is a moral agent in his conversion, provided that he
begins it with a knowledge of the right and the wrong in their relations
to the subject, for action without knowledge of duty is not conversion
to the service of God. In this case the moral element is wanting, the
man acts blindly from impulse or passion; which is no more than saying
that men must know what to _convert from_, and what to _convert to_,
before they can act intelligently as rational moral agents. As such, the
thing of first importance is to teach men the will of God upon the
subject of conversion, that they may know what to do. Anciently men were
told what to do. And the gospel of Christ tells men the same story yet.
If the sinner is the agent in his conversion then he should give himself
no rest until he learns his duty and does it. But if he is not, then he
might just as well rest contented, for the passive stone that has no
power to change its place _must rest_. To say that the sinner has the
power to change is giving up the question. And when this is once given
up all good people will go to work upon sinners to teach them their
duty, and persuade them to turn, convert, to God. And the Lord will no
longer be regarded by sensible skeptics as a very changeable being.

The ancient Christians did not wrestle with God in the work of saving
sinners. He was always willing that men should be saved, and is yet
willing. If we were to wrestle with him in solemn prayer all our days he
would not be more willing than he is at this moment.

Why is it that _all men_ are not _saved_? Ans.--The Lord commands men to
convert, turn and live. Turn from what? Ans.--From the will of the flesh
and from the will of man. To what? Ans.--To the gospel of Christ. And
they refuse to do it. To say the sinner has not the power is to relieve
him, forever, of all responsibility for his continuance in an
unconverted state, and throw it, forever, upon God. To say the sinner
has not the power, and in the next breath tell him that he has, is a
square contradiction and a self-evident falsehood, only equaled by the
statement that a thing is a round square, or that ice is red hot. Let
whatever fall that may, it is true that a thing can not _be_, _exist_,
and _not_ be, not _exist_, at the same time. The sinner is either
passive or active in his conversion. He can not be both. If he has not
the power to begin and _convert_, it follows that all who have died in
sin were fated to ruin without remedy. Philosophers have said, "that the
will is determined by motives, purposes, intentions, or reasons."
Granting this to be true, we _can not_ admit that the will is
_necessarily_ determined by motives and purposes; for it is the
self-determining power of the mind that gives a motive, or reason, that
weight and influence whereby our course is determined. In other words,
it depends on ourselves whether we will act from one motive or another.

Action from motive always begins in ourselves. And if conversion is the
result of motive power, it begins in ourselves and by ourselves. Let a
man be tempted to steal, his motive is the love of money. But _if he_
refrains from the deed, his motive is a regard for duty. If he suffers
himself to be governed by the first, he is a thief and deserves
punishment, but if he allows himself to be governed by the second, he
has done well. The laws of every country suppose that men have it in
their power to give to either motive that regard which will determine
their conduct. The divine laws allow the same, placing motives high as
heaven before sinners for their acceptance, and warning them with
restraining threats deep as hell. And if sinners will not receive these
threats and act accordingly, they are without excuse. The scriptures
allow that men convert from God. How is this? Have men power to cross
the chasm backwards, and are not able, at the same time to cross it in a
forward movement? Strange logic, this! It is the same old philosophy
that sinners have the power to go to hell, but none to get to heaven;
that they are free, like the slave, to do the tyrant's bidding; that
they are free like the water that stands in the pool; that they are
mechanically free, are simply active when wrought upon, the same as any
machinery. If this be so, why is it that so many are left in an
unconverted state? Is it because the good Spirit prefers the existence
of iniquity and crime? If the Lord brings about the salvation of some,
through a mighty outpouring of his Spirit, then we shall never
comprehend his ways. Why is it that he does not give us one general
outpouring, one grand revival all over our country, and bring about the
long prayed for millennial day? Answer.--Conversion is a commandment of
God. It must be obeyed or the country lie, in direct opposition to the
will of God, in sin. His will is expressed in the words, "Let the wicked
forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him
return, _reconvert_, unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and
to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

"To Israel he saith, all the day long have I stretched forth my hands
unto a gainsaying and disobedient people." Ro. x, 21. "The Lord strove
with them by his Spirit in the prophets, and bore with them many years,
yet they would not hear." Nehe. ix, 30. "They made their hearts as an
adamant stone lest they should hear the law, and the words which the
Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets." Zech.
vii, 12. Jesus wept over them when he stood upon Mount Olivet and
expressed the greatness of his great heart in these words: "How often
would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her
brood under her wings, and ye would not." Lu. xiii, 34. Their failure
was not because the Spirit did not strive with them as it did with
others who were saved. "God is no respecter of persons." Neither was it
on account of inborn depravity. For if any were corrupted in their moral
nature by Adam's sin, all were corrupted alike. So that each one would
be in this respect equally hard to overcome. But why bring up inborn
corruption and helplessness? Is not the Spirit of God able for any task
which is in its own line of work? Jesus gave the true solution of the
question. He said: "Their hearts have 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, and
understand with their hearts and be converted, and I should heal them."
The words "at any time" deserve particular attention, for the Lord's
time is _all the time_. He is unchangeable. "He is not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Pet. iii, 9.

Many people talk and act as though the Lord was the most changeable
being in the universe. They seem to think that the unchangeableness of
the Lord is in the idea that he is everlastingly changing. Let us
imagine a perfect circle with a stone permanently fixed in the center
and a man walking within, and every move he makes from side to side
affecting his relations to the center. So it is with God and the
children of men. He is immutable. He is the center of the circle. In the
right hand side of this circle are the innocent and the obedient, in the
enjoyment of all its riches, peace, pardon and all spiritual blessings.
These blessings were provided for all men, and presented in the gospel
of peace; and in the left side of this circle are all the threatenings
of God and all the wickedness and miseries of men. The wicked at the
left are able to _convert_ around to the right. In doing this they leave
their sins and miseries and come around where all the blessings of the
great salvation have always been, are, and will be until time is no
more. In all the work of human redemption there is no place for change
in God. The center has never changed. Man _alone_ changes. God has not
bestowed _special_ pardoning grace. Such phraseology is unknown in the
gospel. "His grace was given us in Jesus Christ before the world began."
2 Tim. i, 9. All that we or any others have to do is to live on the
Christ side of this circle--the right hand. If we are sinners it is our
duty to convert around to the right into new relations containing all
that is grand, glorious and desirable. The sinner, led by the motives of
the gospel, changes sides; leaving the kingdom of darkness upon the
left, and crossing the line drawn through the center of the circle, he
passes into the kingdom of light. It seems strange that intelligent men
and women should be constantly throwing mystery around a matter that is
so plain and simple. But we are aware that, by long dwelling on an idea,
and from the excited and abnormal sensitiveness of the mind, we
sometimes lose ourselves to truth amidst our own creations, which become
in the imagination stern realities, producing a species of monomania or
religious insanity.

Long dwelling upon the idea that conversion is a special work of God
destroys all disposition _to convert_, and causes men to be at ease in
disobedience. We will to do those things, and those only, which we
believe to be in our power. We are not so destitute of common sense as
to undertake that which we know to be out of our power. I never attempt
to fly, or raise a weight that I know to be far above my strength. So it
is in the question of conversion. If I believe it to be a work that is
beyond my power, there will be a corresponding indifference upon my
part. As long as men are made to believe that God must convert them by a
special interposition of his Spirit, so long their minds will be
directed, beyond the plain duties of the gospel, to the realm of the
mysterious and incomprehensible. In ancient times, when men were plainly
told to convert--_turn_--to God and do works worthy of repentance, when
the mists and mysticles of the schoolmen and dogmatists of all sects and
parties had not, as yet, beclouded the minds of men, nor corrupted the
simplicity of the Gospel, thousands were converted in a day.
Christianity overran the inhabited earth in the space of a few years.
Judaism and Paganism trembled and crumbled before its mighty power. But
now the religious world is contending with sin and crime, under the
great disadvantages of a perverted mind and a Gospel beclouded with the
smoke of Babylon, and the result is that three-score souls brought into
the church is a great success for the labors of weeks, and even months.
Why should this be so? It need not be. It would not be but for the wrong
teaching consequent upon creeds. It is said, "That many of the
Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized." Their minds were clear
upon the great subjects of human duty and the goodness, love and mercy
of God. They had no long sessions, in which they were wrestling with God
as though he was insensitive and indifferent upon the subject of the
sinner's salvation.

They were told the story of God's love, and made acquainted with the
great fact that all things were ready for their reception; "that Christ
had finished the work which the Father had given him to do," and that it
only remained for them to believe and obey the Gospel and all would be
well. They were commanded _to convert_ to the service of God. This work
was not given into the hands of Christ to perform. It is the sinner's
own work. Christ will not believe for you. He will not repent for you.
He will not convert for you. Conversion is the overt action of the will
carried out in "breaking off from sins by righteousness." It begins in
the heart, but it does not end there. Murder begins in the heart, but
its consummation is the action of the will carried out. The man first
yielded to the temptation by saying, in his heart, I will. The next
thing in the order was carrying out the will in the deed. Nothing short
of the deed done would have met the statement in the heart, _I will_. So
it is in conversion. The man first says in his heart, _I will_, I will
forsake my former course of life and be a Christian, I will obey God, I
will do his will. And nothing short of doing the will of God as it is
addressed to him in the Gospel will carry out the action of the will,
and meet the demands of the statement, _I will_. "Whosoever will let him
come and take the water of life freely." So the "tree is known by its
fruits." "He that saith I know him, acknowledge him, and keepeth not his
commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 Jno. ii, 4.

As regards the instrumentalities employed in persuading men, I have only
to say, that men were always free as moral agents, to convert--_turn_,
under the weakest instrumentality, or refuse under the most powerful.
The Lord himself "strove with the ancient Jews by his Spirit in his
prophets, and they would not hear but resisted the Spirit." Stephen,
after he had made one grand effort to instruct his hearers, said, "Ye
stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist
the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did so do ye." Acts vii, 51. Was the
condition of those fellows unavoidable? If it was, they were not to
blame. But there was nothing in their condition that was not in their
power. If there was, why should we find these words in their law,
"circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked."
Deut. x, 16. The Lord has made the salvation of all men possible,
otherwise those remaining in an unconverted state, and dying in their
sins, are unavoidably lost. And who is to blame? The Father "so loved
the world that he gave his only begotten son to die for every man. He
sent him to be the Savior of the world. The Gospel is the ministration
of the Spirit. The Apostles preached it with the Holy Spirit sent down
from heaven. They received grace and Apostleship, for the obedience of
faith among all nations, for Christ's name." Rom. i, 5. A great and
grand law governed them. In obeying it they did all that they ever did
for the world or for the church. There were just three duties prescribed
in that law. The first is in the word "teach," or, the _better
rendering_, disciple. The second is in the word "baptizing;" and the
third is in the phrase "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you." The whole is beautifully rendered thus, "Going
therefore, disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." And the whole is rested
upon a declaration of kingly authority, viz: "All power in heaven and
upon earth is given into my hands," going _therefore_,--you see the
connection.

Go to the Acts of the Apostles and read for yourselves and see how they
turned men to God. Paul says, "That he showed first to them of Damascus,
and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to
the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn, convert, to God, and do
works meet for repentance." Some disobeyed under the preaching and
teaching of the Apostles. Some under the teachings of Christ. And many
"rejected the council of God against themselves in not being baptized of
John's baptism." Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the
gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be
saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Paul was preaching at
Corinth; many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized,
and Jesus appeared unto him in a vision by night, and said, "Speak
boldly and hold not thy peace, and I will let no man set on thee to hurt
thee."

Christ gave the commission and Paul was carrying it out. The Savior's
visit to Corinth, in vision, was to encourage Paul to go on. Would all
the preachers in this country encourage such a work by speaking well of
it? Would they say, Go on? If I was preaching in a great city under the
same circumstances that surrounded Paul in Corinth, and the days of
miracles were not past, I might rationally conclude that Jesus would
encourage me in the same manner. Be that as it may, one thing is
doubtless true, viz., the same work is the Lord's work yet, and his
visit to Corinth to encourage Paul is a great source of encouragement to
us. The primitive Christians were all baptized believers; all converted
to the service of God; none of them on probation, but all in the
fellowship. All were "sanctified unto obedience," all had "purified
their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." Many reverse the
order thus: "Get your souls purified and then obey the truth." But
Christ has become the "Author of eternal salvation unto all those who
obey him." Heb. v, 9. Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God." Whatever this
language may mean _it_ is accomplished when the sinner is begotten in
Christ Jesus through the gospel and baptized into Christ.

Paul said of the Corinthians: "In Christ Jesus have I begotten you
through the Gospel." And they, "Hearing, believed and were baptized."
And James said: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth."
Consequently, the entire meaning is in the power of all sinners who have
access to the Gospel of Christ. Otherwise, the sinner is unavoidably
lost for his unavoidable unbelief. But we are told in John's Record, i,
12, "That as many as received him to them gave he power to become the
sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." So the power of the
sinner to become a son of God depends upon his belief on the name of the
Son of God, and if he can not believe it is no fault of his. _Poor
fellow!_ Is he thus doomed? If he can believe on the name of Christ he
is able to reach the relation of a son. For the divine law grants the
privilege, liberty or power to as many as believe on the name of Christ.
The primitive Christians were the "children of God by faith in Jesus
Christ, for as many as were baptized into Christ put on Christ." Gal.
iii, 26, 27. John said: "Little children, let no man deceive you: he
that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." 1 John
iii, 7. "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that
doth righteousness is born of him." 1 John ii, 29. The great appeal to
man as a moral agent is in these words: "Know ye not that to whom ye
_yield yourselves_ servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye
obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness."
Rom. vi, 16. Do you not know this? Do you not know that you will
receive, in the great day, according to that which you have done,
whether it be good or bad? Then why not obey the Gospel and enjoy its
promises?



OUR INDEBTEDNESS TO REVELATION--No. VI.

BY P.T. RUSSELL.


THE NATURE OF MAN NECESSITATED REVELATION.

The above proposition rests upon and is in harmony with all the
relations existing between natural wants and supplies, being itself a
supply. Does the power of vision make light a necessity? Yes; without it
the eye would be useless. Could man create his own light? It has taken
ages upon ages to invent the limited artificial light which we now have.
Man is endowed with the powers of locomotion. Could he create an earth
to move upon? Could he create the air for breathing? Were these and all
such matters necessities? And was man entirely unable to provide for his
own natural wants? The faculties with which man is endowed call for
these supplies, and they are necessities on account of the existence of
these faculties. Think of a being, if you can, with the powers of vision
in the entire absence of light, with no air to breathe nor earth to move
upon. Do you say such would be a grand failure? So it would. But the
Creator has not given powers to man for which he has no use, having
nothing to meet their demands. The existence of a faculty or power leads
logically to the conclusion which all candid, intelligent people have
reached, viz: that the Creator has made a supply for the use of every
faculty, or power which was designed and provided. Do you ask, what of
all this? I answer, man has the power to become religious, but he had no
more power to invent a supply for this faculty than he had to create
light for the eye or air to breathe. So the necessity for this must be
met with a supply from the Creator as well as all other natural demands
or powers.

Now, as we have a desire for the knowledge that we are approved of God,
and as religion consists in this knowledge, and in the knowledge of our
relations, dependence and obligations to God; and, as we have but one
means of obtaining this knowledge, and that is the means of his will
concerning us, then by knowing through that will that our actions are
such as he desires and approves, the one question remains to be
answered, How can man obtain the knowledge of the will of another
concerning himself? Ans.--Only by a revelation of the will of the one to
the other. I know not the will of the reader of this essay concerning
myself. My style of writing may not please him, but if he would tell me
just how he wishes me to write, then, by following his directions, I
should obtain the knowledge of his approbation as a necessary result
experienced in my own mental nature. This is plain, but no more plain
than God's revelation to man and its results experienced in conscious
knowledge.


AN IMPORTANT THOUGHT.

In order to man's highest happiness, all his powers must be so called
into activity by education that each faculty may act with energy, but at
the same time in exact harmony with all of its kindred powers. There
must be no clash, no jar nor friction. No one power must be highly
exercised and cultivated at the expense of the rest, but each must be
brought out by its own appropriate food. Material food is for the
body--it can not feed upon thought, nor mind upon bread. "Man should not
live upon bread alone." This is an axiomatic truth endorsed by man's
two-fold nature. If you feed and exercise the body only you may acquire
the strength of an Ajax, but your countenance will be as stolid and your
eye as dull as the Hottentot's. Such a fellow would be of almost no use
whatever. Add to the education of the body the cultivation of the
intellect only; now the prospect is fearful, for the intellect always
works for its master, and in this case, the man being without moral and
religious training, the master Will be his animal desires. Can you
imagine the depth of infamy and pollution that is possible in this case?
The entire motive power that moves his intellect is carnal, sensual and
devilish. He now needs the sanction of a higher authority. The man is
but half educated. There are two groups of faculties in his nature that
are lying dormant. His moral and religious powers have not as yet been
brought into action--they have had no food nor exercise, and without
this there can be no development. These, as well as the intellect and
the body, must have their own appropriate food, which must be in kind
with their nature. Moral truth is for the moral powers. This directs us
in our moral relations and obligations to our fellows with whom we may
be associated. Religious truth is for our religious faculties. Now add
to all this the sanction of the authority of God, which is like the
balance-wheel in a watch, regulating and controlling every movement.
Man, thus educated, is prepared to act in harmony with his entire
nature. He can now reach a position of moral, religious, social and
intellectual grandeur worthy of his nature.

Reader, is all of this demanded by the elements of our nature? Then a
revelation of God to man of the knowledge of his being, wisdom,
goodness, power, authority and law was and is a necessity, without which
man must have remained in part uneducated, not perfectly developed.

Is the development of man's religious nature necessary in order to a
full, perfect and harmonious growth? Yes. There neither is, nor can be,
a harmonious growth while any one power is dwarfed by starvation.
Without the knowledge of God man's religious powers must remain dwarfed,
and these can not be fed without a revelation. Are these powers so many
empty buckets, never filled and never to be filled? No. Hence my
conclusion, that man's nature made revelation a necessity, rests upon
the bed-rock of truth. Let him who feels able try to shake my position.


REVELATION PROBABLE.

Our series of essays are such that this requires no argument here. There
are certain analogies that we may, nevertheless, speak of, which will
not _down_ at the bidding of David's fool. The facts stand thus: a
supply for each and every one of our other faculties, sufficient in
quantity for all their necessities, is placed within our reach for their
use. Now let us look at the analogy. I have food to eat, good water to
drink, light for the eye, air to breathe, and a good earth to walk upon
and space in which to move, beauties of nature to admire, its music to
listen to with rapture, and things with their combinations to perceive
and think of.

Now, Mr. Skeptic, you know that man has religious faculties, otherwise
he could never become religious, no more than he could see without eyes
and hear without ears. Now, what say you? Did the author of all things
make a mistake here by conferring upon us a power that would be of no
use? Is this the reason of your rejection of religion? Do you say it is
of no use? Or do you say that the Great Creator and wise and merciful
Provider forgot to give a supply just here? Come! You boast of reason.
Give us your _reason_. Will you? To one or the other of these
conclusions you are irresistibly driven. No other retreat is open. Take
either, and, if true, the harmony of the universe is destroyed. Take
either, and your folly is so plain that it needs no words of mine to
point it out. This is the true conclusion; all analogy points directly
and clearly to the probability and fact of a revelation.


A REVELATION OF THAT WHICH WAS NECESSARY?

To answer this question we must keep in mind the nature of man's
religious powers, and from this deduce the nature of the supply that is
called for. Would the simple idea of the existence of a first cause, or
creator of all things, be sufficient? This idea, by itself, could not
quicken reverence and adoration and a desire to worship, and without
these there is no religion. Would a knowledge, by revelation, of the
power, intelligence, wisdom and goodness of God be sufficient in the
absence of anything more? No. What more? Would it not be enough, in
addition to what you have named, to have a knowledge of our relation to
and dependence upon him for all we enjoy? No; we must have one thing
more shown to us or the whole will be imperfect and unworthy of God as
its author. Religion can not be without something to do, and that
something must be done upon or by the authority of its author. Add this
to all the other items and the system is complete, meeting perfectly the
necessities of man's nature.


THE NECESSARY ORDER OF REVELATION.

The proper arrangement of the various parts of any communication
designed to convey knowledge from one to others, is an important factor
in this subject of _revelation_. Remember "the clear is the true." This
is the case in all methodic arrangements; to this rule there are no
exceptions. The fundamental truth must first be developed. A child must
first be instructed in the rudiments of numbers in order to learn the
science of mathematics, otherwise no sensible progress can be made.
Intricate problems in Euclid are not to be presented to beginners for
solution. So, in religion, the primary thought of the existence of God
is the first great truth made known. Second, we are taught that he
possesses power, wisdom and goodness. This instruction must also be
adapted to the capacity of those who are to be taught. We know that the
very young mind needs more simple instruction than the adult. As, of
necessity, there was a first man, and a time when that first man began
to be, so, of necessity, in the beginning of the life of that man,
however perfectly developed his body might have been, his mind was
infantile--destitute of the first principles of an education.

Object lessons were called for. Here they come in hills and dales, dry
lands and running waters, in trees and vines, in shrubs and grass,
flowers and fruits, beasts, birds and winged insects and creeping
things, and higher up in the sun with his brilliant light, and in the
moon with her paler rays, and in all her attending, sparkling stars.
Here are the objects for man's first lesson. Just now the wise man of
this world, a skeptic, asks the question, Could not the first man, with
all these objects before him, learn by the use of reason the fact that
all these objects originated from a creator? And if he could he
certainly needed no revelation, for, reasoning from nature up to
nature's God, he might then, from the order, beauty and harmony of all,
reach the idea of his character, and from this deduce a knowledge of his
will, and if so a revelation was not necessary. This seems to me very
clear, and you often say "the clear is the true." This is my reason for
rejecting the idea that a revelation was ever made.

Will you, Mr. Christian, grapple with this? I would with pleasure if
there was anything in it to grapple with, but you will see nothing real
in your premises, for objects teach nothing without an instructor. There
lies a brick, pick it up and examine its surface closely; do you, from
it, reach the idea of its maker? No. Yet I know it must have been made,
for I have seen other bricks made, and this resembles them. Very well.
Did you ever see worlds made, and, if so, does our earth resemble them?
But when you saw those bricks made were there not several men engaged in
their manufacture, as well as horses? There is no analogy in your
premises; you beg the question entirely; you take the whole foundation
for granted; your argument is "as clear as mud."

Had you seen others made by only one maker, then and only then could you
by analogy have reached even the idea that ours was made also. Also, the
makers of those bricks may have been of the most base and malignant
disposition, for you can learn nothing of their disposition from the
bricks; they only testify of the skill of their makers--this is all. Do
you not see that you give me nothing to grapple with? The truth is this,
nature gives you no sufficient foundation for religion. Revelation must
of necessity furnish us with that. Without revelation no one can learn
of the existence and character of God. The knowledge of his existence,
power and wisdom might excite reverence, but this alone could not bring
man's religious powers into activity. To this must be added the
knowledge of his goodness and kindness towards, and his love of, those
who are required to worship him. And in addition to all this, there must
be a revelation of the divine will concerning human action, for the term
_worship_ indicates submission and obedience; without this, very
important elements would be wanting, and the system show great
imperfection and want of wisdom--as man could not learn his relation nor
obligation to that great Creator and Preserver of all. But give in
addition the knowledge of man's relation to and dependence upon God,
with a knowledge of his will in the form of law or commands, with
promises of good annexed, resting upon the condition of obedience. Such
a system of revelation would be perfect, fitted to the necessities of
human nature. And you, Mr. Skeptic, have agreed with me, that the nature
of man was true and right. Now, when we find a perfectly straight edge,
and then find another edge that fits it, we know that the last is also
perfectly straight, for straight and crooked edges do not match. Having
already found the kind of a revelation that human nature made necessary,
in my next I shall show that such a revelation is contained in the
Bible. Then as human nature is true, and as the Bible's revelation is
exactly fitted to it, the inevitable conclusion will follow that the
Bible does contain a revelation from God to man.



WHERE SHALL WE TAKE INFIDELS TO GET THEM OUT OF UNBELIEF?


Goethe says it is a law of the demons that they must get out at the same
place where they sneaked in. This is a very suggestive expression. If a
mathematician makes a mistake in the solution of a problem his only
chance to get out of the difficulty lies just at the point where the
mistake was made. He must remain in perplexity until he finds the
mistake and corrects it. This law holds good in all our intellectual
operations. Many men are professedly in unbelief. How shall we get them
out? This is an important question and needs to be well studied by all
Christian ministers. If we can find out just how they got in, then it
will be easy to get the honest ones out. But it is well to remember that
many professed infidels are _only skeptics_ in heart. They are
unbelievers at will. The most effectual remedy for such unbelief, as yet
known, is an attack of cramp colic, or some other fearful affliction.
Under such circumstances they always surrender. There is not much chance
for Gospel means as long as a man's unbelief is simply a profession. His
disease is not one of the head, but of the heart; yet our law holds good
here. The man himself may repent; may make to himself a new heart and a
new spirit. This is his way out. If a man gets into unbelief through a
misunderstanding of Bible facts he will never get out short of a better
understanding of those same facts.

If he gets in through the impression that science and the Bible are in
conflict, there is no way to get him out short of a removal of the
impression. Hence the importance of ministers being scientists. Many
unbelievers claim that the Bible and science conflict, who have never
investigated them, and know comparatively nothing of either. This class,
too, is in the majority. They are men who ape certain leaders, being
under their influence. Many of them love to have us know that they know
something about such men as Strauss, notwithstanding their ignorance of
_even the man_. To have such a mind do their thinking is the highest of
their ambition. There is a good deal of heart disease about these
fellows. They really glory in the names of such men as Strauss. He was
so far away that they never learned the fact that "he was divorced from
his wife, the former actress, Agnese Schebest, and spent his days going
about from place to place. His pseudo-theology or mythology ended in a
theatrical comedy, and the comedy in a tragedy." "In 1839 this famous
Dr. Strauss--who resolved the gospel history of salvation into an
incoherent and self-contradictory mythological poem, and denied the
existence of a personal God and the immortality of the soul--was duly
elected professor of Christian dogmatics and ethics in the University of
Zurich, by the party then in power, which consisted mostly of demagogues
and frivolous infidels."

But the free Swiss would not submit, so the people of the Canton of
Zurich rose in their republican majesty and marched to the city under
the lead of an energetic pastor, and with the weapons which they hastily
collected scared the Strauss clique away; they very courageously took to
their heels; then the people of the Canton of Zurich placed the
government into the hands of conservative, trustworthy Christian men,
and quietly retired to their mountain homes without shedding a drop of
blood. The new government elected Mr. Lange in the place claimed, but
never occupied, by Strauss; but Mr. Strauss claimed half the salary, and
it is said that he enjoyed it, up to 1857 at least.

How much influence could such a man in our own country exert over the
American mind? For these facts touching the life of Strauss, see
"Germany; Its Universities, Theology and Religion," by Phillip Schaff,
pages 101, 386. The reader may rely upon the quotations given above. I
have taken them with the book referred to open before me.

Infidels who investigate the Bible honestly, with reference to an
understanding of its contents, are unknown to us. The master spirits in
unbelief give abundant evidence of their ignorance of the scriptures of
the Bible. Not one in a thousand ever investigated the scriptures of the
Bible with pure and honest motives. Many have never investigated it at
all. To read a chapter here and there for the sole purpose of finding
fault and getting up a difficulty, is not investigation. An honest
investigation requires a very different course. All the evidence must be
brought into the court and presented in such a manner as to be
understood, just as it was given, otherwise the court is not qualified
to decide righteously in the case. That all such men as Col. Ingersoll
have failed to thus investigate the Bible is evident from the fact that
they, to be like him, must be infidels in all their history. It is
published to the world that the Colonel was born an infidel. He has been
hacking away at religion and the Bible ever since he was a small boy. So
his infidelity is not the result of an intelligent investigation of
either science or religion. I will not undertake to say what the
Colonel's trouble is, but if he was born an infidel it is possible,
according to our law, that he will die an unbeliever.

Many infidels, governed by a spirit of fanaticism, undoubtedly, have
labored with as much earnestness as if the world's salvation depended
upon their efforts, without the least hope of bettering its condition,
for the false philosophy of materialism which they advocate gives to a
man nothing to live for except his own animal nature. This philosophy
says all is well as long as you dodge the sharp corners of the laws of
your country. If the materialist can avoid paying fines, along with all
other penalties of the laws of his country, what need he care for one
course of life in preference to another? Do you say he has a conscience?
Well, it may be that it is not seared so that he is past feeling. Very
few men, I know, ever reach such a depraved condition. And this is
doubtless the greatest reason why all infidels, as a general rule, get
into mental distress during great bodily afflictions. Many of them are
converted by disease of the body, for two reasons: first, they were
unbelievers at will, just because it suited their desires, and, second,
because they are in possession of a religious nature or conscience. But
men who are converted by disease of the body are liable to go back to
the old wallow as soon as prosperity and health crown them again.

Many men are driven to irreligion through its abuses. I have often
thought it a misfortune that we Americans are under the necessity of
meeting the infidel literature of the old world, for the simple reason
that it is evolved out of the circumstances peculiar to state churches.
In America our religion is heroic; that is, it rests upon the merits of
its own evidence, and is supported by the voluntary contributions of the
people. But in Europe, where the mass of our infidel literature comes
from, Christianity is not free and independent, but entangled with the
affairs of state, and supported by the secular arm. The result is that
difficulties are continually arising out of the unholy alliance which
are disgusting to the independent scientific mind. The natural result is
to drive such persons into irreligion. Where men are educated in both
science and religion, and have not been all their lives called upon to
look upon religion in a secular light, tangled up in the interests of
politics and law, there should be no fears on account of any literature
that infidels may pass around. The misfortune that I speak of is not
with such men, but with the uneducated in religion and science, who are
more than anxious to find an excuse for irreligion. Christianity fears
nothing in the light.

      *      *      *      *      *

The desires that have only a bodily end and aim, that are unconnected
with the high, holy, and noble purposes of a pure, true, and good life,
are false desires, and should be cast off.



COUNCILS--No. II.

UNITY OF THE ROMAN CHURCH.


In our October article on Councils we closed with the council that was
assembled by Mrs. Irene in the year 787. The Franks, having heard that a
council at Constantinople had ordained the adoration of images,
assembled, in the year 794, by order of Charles, son of Pepin,
afterwards named Charlemagne, a very numerous council. In this council
the second council of Nice is spoken of as an impertinent and arrogant
synod held in Greece for the promotion of the worship of pictures. This
council, held at Frankfort, was composed of three hundred clergymen from
England, Italy, France and Germany. Aventin, Hinemar and Regina say the
Frankfortians rescinded the decisions of the false Grecian synod in
favor of image worship.

In 842 a grand council was held at Constantinople, convened by the
Empress Theodora. Here the worship of images was solemnly established.
The Greeks still have a feast in honor of this council called
"_Orthodoxia_." Theodora did not preside at this council.

"In 861 a council was held at Constantinople consisting of three hundred
and eighteen bishops, assembled by the Emperor Michael. St. Ignatius,
patriarch of Constantinople, was deposed and Photius elected.

"In 866 another council was held at Constantinople, in which Pope
Nicholas III. was deposed for contumacy and excommunicated.

"In 869 was another council at Constantinople; in this Photius, in turn,
was deposed and excommunicated and St. Ignatius restored.

"In 879 another council was held in Constantinople, in which Photius,
already restored, was acknowledged as true patriarch by the legates of
Pope John VIII., who declares all those to be Judases who say that the
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

"In 1122-3 a council was held at Rome, in the church of St. John of
Lateran, by Pope Calixtus II. This was the first general council
assembled by the popes. The emperors of the west had now scarcely any
authority, and the emperors of the east, pressed by the Mahometans and
by the crusaders, held none but little wretched councils. In this
council the bishops complained heavily of the monks. 'They possess,'
said they, 'the churches, the lands, the castles, the tithes, the
offerings of the living and the dead; they have only to take from us the
ring and the crosier.' _The monks remained in possession._"

"In 1139 was another council of Lateran, by Pope Innocent II. It is said
a thousand bishops were present. Here the ecclesiastical tithes are
declared to be of _divine right_, and all laymen possessing any of them
are excommunicated.

"In 1215 was the last general council of Lateran, by Pope Innocent III.
Four hundred and twelve bishops and eight hundred abbots were here. This
was in the time of the Crusades, and the popes have established a Latin
patriarch at Jerusalem and one at Constantinople. These patriarchs
attend this council. This council declares, among other things, that 'no
one can be saved out of the Catholic church.' The word
transubstantiation was not known until after this council. It forbade
the establishment of new religious orders; but, since that time, no less
than eighty have been instituted. It was in this council that Raimond,
Count of Toulouse, was stripped of all his lands.

"In 1245 a council assembled at the city of Lyons. Innocent IV. brings
thither the Emperor of Constantinople, John Puleologus, and makes him
sit beside him. He deposes the Emperor Frederick as a felon, and gives
the cardinals a red but, as a sign of hostility to Frederick, and the
source of thirty years of civil war.

"In 1274 another council is held at the city of Lyons. Five hundred
bishops are present, seventy great and a thousand lesser abbots. The
Greek emperor, Michael Paleologus, that he may have the protection of
the Pope, sends his Greek patriarch, Theophanes, to unite, in his name,
with the Latin church; but the Greek church disowns these bishops.

"In 1311 Pope Clement V. assembled a general council in the small town
of Vienne, in Dauphiny, in which he abolishes the order of the Templars.
It is here ordained that the Begares, Beguins and Beguines shall be
burned. These were a species of heretics '_to whom was imputed all that
had formerly been imputed to the primitive Christians_.'" So says
Voltaire. He does not, like the pitiful blaspheming infidels of to-day,
try to heap all this corruption of the dark ages upon primitive
Christianity. No! The hull of Voltaire's soul was too great for such a
deed.

"In 1414 the great council of Constance was assembled by an emperor who
resumes his rights, viz: by Sigismund. Here Pope John XXIII., convicted
of numerous crimes, is deposed, and John Huss and Jerome of Sprague
convicted of _obstinacy and burned_.

"In 1431 a council was held at Basle, where they in vain depose Pope
Eugene IV., who is too clever for the council. This was a stormy
council, and it is said that Eugene regretted in _his_ old age that he
ever left his monastery.

"In 1438 a council assembled at Ferrara, transferred to Florence, where
the excommunicated pope excommunicates the council, and declares it
guilty of high treason. Here a feigned union is made with the Greek
church, crushed by the Turkish synods held sword in hand.

"Pope Julius II. would have had his council of Lateran in 1512 pass for
an ecumenical council. In it that pope solemnly excommunicated Louis
XII., King of France, laid France under an interdict, summoned the whole
Parliament of Provence to appear before him, and excommunicated all the
philosophers because most of them had taken part with Louis XII. Yet
this council was not like that of Ephesus, called the council of
robbers.

"In 1537 the council of Trent was first assembled at Mantua, by Paul
III., afterwards at Trent, in 1543, and terminated in Dec., 1561, under
Pius VI." See vol. Phil. Dic.

"Pope Pius IX. convened a council in 1869, which in July, 1870, decreed
the _personal infallability of the Pope_ in matters of faith and morals,
to be a dogma of the church."

Reader, if you will digest this little piece of history, you will
doubtless discover good reasons for asserting the right of private
judgment and the liberty of conscience. _Truth stands true to her god;
men alone vascillate._



FREE-THOUGHT IN GERMANY, FRANCE AND RUSSIA, OR RUSSIAN NIHILISM.

BY FITZ CUNLIFFE OWEN. LIBRARY MAG. VOL. 3.


Rationalism and radicalism exist to a certain extent in every country of
Europe. But the Social Democrats of Germany and Austria and the
Communists of France and Spain turn with horror from Russian
revolutionists, who consider the programme of the Paris commune of 1871
condemnably weak, and Felix Pyat, Cluseret and their companions as
little better than conservatives. The Social Democrats and even the
Communists of the rest of Europe have in view aims which, no matter how
fantastic, are always of a sufficiently defined nature. They look
forward to an entirely democratic form of government, and hope for a
recognization of the social world, under which all capital and property
would be held either by the State or Commune for the equal benefit of
everybody. They are levellers, but they are not destroyers. Take the
right of property from the citizens of a government and the greatest
motive to industry and prosperity is gone.

The revolutionary party in Russia has no definite aims of either
reorganization or improvement. In its sight everything as it now exists
is rotten, and before anything new and good can be created all existing
institutions must be utterly destroyed. Religion, the state, the family,
laws, property, morality, are all equally odious, and must be rooted out
and abolished. It is because "nothing," as it exists at present, finds
favor in their eyes that they have been called "Nihilists." They
maintain that no one should be bound by laws or even moral obligations
of any kind, but that every body should be allowed to do exactly as he
pleases. They desire to break up the actual social organization into
mere individualism, with entire independence for each separate person.
Their object is anarchy in the very truest sense of the word. They are
only modest enough to decline the attempt to create a new order of
things in the place of what they propose to destroy. That they intend to
leave for a better and more enlightened generation. The following, from
a Nihilist paper, Narodnia Volya (The Will of the People), which is
published at St. Petersburg by means of secret presses, will set them
forth in their true inwardness:

"The Russian press is bent almost double by the imperial government.
Notwithstanding its disagreeable position it does its utmost to curry
favor of its oppressors. Whenever thefts, murders, or incendiarisms take
place in Russia the press invariably attributes them to the Nihilists.
There is an old proverb which says, 'Slander, slander; some result will
always be obtained.' Judging from the tone of the press some result has
been obtained. According to its statements the Nihilists are little
better than wild beasts. We do not venture to assert that there are no
bad men in our ranks, but are yours entirely free from them? The number
of bad persons among the Nihilists is so very small that we need hardly
enumerate them. Since 1862 over 17,000 persons have been exiled to
Siberia for political offenses.

"You accuse us of adopting means of action which are unjustifiable in
every way. But what can we do? We are reduced to silence. We only adopt
questionable means of action very rarely, and then only in self-defense;
whereas you use them daily.

"The money obtained from private individuals by means of theft and
blackmail has not been levied by order of the 'committee,' but by
certain unscrupulous Nihilists acting on their own behalf. However, we
are all the more ready to admit that such things have been done when we
remember that only five such cases are known to have taken place.

"Do not accuse us of being murderers, because of our attempts to take
the life of His Most Sacred Majesty? Why, we would most gladly
accomplish his destruction, and he has only escaped until now in
consequence of the many cowards in our ranks! It has been stated that
Solowjew's attempt in April last has disturbed the rest and peace of
mind of many harmless and respectable citizens. Some of the Liberal
papers even go so far as to say that it will have the effect of
producing a reaction in favor of the government. Why, what idle and
stupid talk! These good newspaper proprietors, who love their ease and
their books, must have been asleep not to have perceived that the
reaction began sixteen years ago, not in favor of the government, but
against it.

"We are quite persuaded that if Solowjew's attempt had succeeded,
everybody would talk in a different manner, even the slaves and asses
who surrounded the throne would have rejoiced.

"Do not be surprised at these political assassinations, but rather be
astonished that they are not more frequent. Unfortunately for our cause,
the Nihilists are too humanitarian, and hence are incapable of carrying
out many necessary measures. Perhaps in time they will acquire the
aptitude necessary in critical moments; perhaps it will be your conduct
which will effect this change in them. Then in that case the
responsibility of terrorism and assassination will rest with you, and
not with us."

      *      *      *      *      *

How many amusing and ridiculous scenes should we witness if each pair of
men that secretly laugh at each other were to do it openly!



AXIOMS LYING AT THE FOUNDATION OF ALL PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION.


Out of nothing, nothing comes. Into nothing, nothing goes. These are
foundation axioms underlying the entire system of Christian theology.
The first looks backward, and the second looks forward. The first
correllates with the saying, "So things which are seen were not made of
things which do appear." The converse of this is the following: Things
which are seen were made of unseen things; that is, the visible universe
is the manifestation of the invisible. The real universe is the
invisible. There is nothing that can not be thrown into the invisible.
Even the diamond has been thrown into solution, and all solutions may be
thrown into the invisible by heat. The question, What is matter? has
puzzled the best minds of earth, and puzzled all, both infidels and
Christians, as much as any other question. The visible, organic universe
was created, but it was created out of the invisible. The invisible is
eternal. There is an eternal world, and that is the invisible and real
universe, without which the visible would not be, for of nothing,
nothing comes. All matter is to be referred to antecedent
substance--that which lies under and causes it to be. Substance,
strictly speaking, lies in the invisible. Matter, properly speaking, is
an effect, which is the visible manifestation of an unseen substance,
and this is eternal.

God created the universe by means of eternal substance. He is the king
eternal. The time never was when he was the king of nothing. It is said
of Leibnitz that he thought inert matter insufficient to explain the
phenomena of body, and had recourse to the entelechies of Aristotle, or
the _substantial forms_ of scholastic philosophy, conceiving of them as
primitive forces, constituting the substance of matter, atoms of
substance, but not of matter _imperishable_, but subject to
transformation. This view of the atomic theory is two-fold: First, the
atomic invisible, as the very term _atom_ indicates, for it is from "ha
temno," which means _not cut_--literally _indivisible_. You can't cut an
atom chemically or otherwise, unless you are working upon that which is
an atom in the loose and more modern sense of the term. You may reduce
matter chemically to the invisible or underlying substance, but beyond
this you can not cut? Can you run it into nothing? No. Into nothing
nothing goes. Physicists are indebted to the oldest philosophers, who
lived prior to Democrites, for the use of the term atom. Those oldest
philosophers used the term to indicate something that was not matter,
viz: immaterial substance. The term in its primary sense is applicable
nowhere else.

The invisible world of substance is undoubtedly eternal. But those men
who try to make this fact an argument against the existence of God are
guilty of the most stupid nonsense and impudence, for, having allowed
eternity not only to substance, but to _material_ substance, they have
no right in logic to deny eternity to life and mind; because it is as
easy, and as rational, to conceive of the eternity of one thing known to
exist as of another. But the idea that the visible world is eternal is
in direct conflict with the facts of science, which establish beyond
contradiction the mutable nature of all organized bodies. Aristotle,
though a believer in the existence of God, did affirm the world's
eternity, and therefore held that there never was any first male or
female in the history of any animals whatsoever, but affirmed, on the
contrary that one begat another infinitely, without any beginning. This
thought was so repugnant to common sense that Aristotle himself seemed
to be skeptical about it, admitting it to be a disputable thing. After
affirming his notion he added, "If the world had a beginning, and if men
were once earth-born, then must they have been, in all probability,
either generated as worms, out of putrefaction, or else out of eggs."
But the question comes up for an answer, From whence came the eggs?

Old Epicurus, after Aristotle, fancied that the first men and animals
were formed in certain wombs or bags growing out of the earth, by a
fortuitous concourse of dead atoms. Here we have the last _home stretch_
of all physicists in their efforts to get rid of the Christian idea of
creation; beyond it no modern infidel has traveled in his speculations,
nor ever will.

But if men were formed from eggs growing out of the earth, or from bags,
or from wombs created by a fortuitous concourse of dead atoms, by
chance, why, the motion of atoms being as brisk and vigorous as ever,
should we not expect the same thing to occur occasionally throughout all
the ages?

Anaximander, however, concluded that men, because they require longer
time than other animals to be hatched up, were at first generated in the
bellies of fishes, and there nourished till they were able to defend and
shift for themselves, and were then disgorged and cast upon dry land. So
we are driven to the conclusion that there is nothing in the world too
absurd for those men, both ancient and modern, to swallow down in their
efforts to get rid of the notion of an intelligent creation by the hand
of an intelligent creator.



ESTOPPELS; OR, FOSSILIZATION.


In our religion we find no law requiring uniformity of thought. Think
the same things. Be of the same opinion. These and like statements are
no part of our religion. Faith and opinion are not the same. All
Christians have one faith, "the faith of Christ." "Be of the same mind
and of the same judgment." "Speak the same things." These are to be
taken in their proper relations. The made up judgment is the result of
faith in the judgment of Christ. "I judge nothing by myself; he that
judgeth me is the Lord." The one great mind enjoined is the result of
thought upon the one great subject of the life of Christ, which is given
as the light of men. These imperatives are summed up in the beautiful
expression, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Uniformity of thoughts or opinions is a very different thing. A man
would be considered worse than a knave who would throw chains around the
human intellect, so as to put an end to progress in thought; it would be
the stagnation of all in which we are most interested. Christians are
not to be charged with any such wickedness, for they are using all their
powers to produce thought; money and talent are freely bestowed in many
ways to get men to think, and then decide, not in reference to opinions
but facts; not in reference to things which are matters of opinion only,
but of the living object of faith, Christ and Christian duty. There is
no system of things in which investigation, liberty of thought and
action, upon all matters of interest to our humanity, both as respects
this world and the world to come, is more encouraged and insisted upon.
Wicked and unholy thoughts only are prohibited.

Who would paint every flower of the same hue? Who would trim all the
trees of the forest into one and the same shape? Or, who is so foolish
as to want all faces cast into one mould? Who would chain human thought
or mould the opinions of men so that they should not only be one in
Christ, the greatest living fact in history, but one in every other
being known in the world's history--one in opinions? The freeist thing
in the universe is thought. The liberties of thought are charter
liberties from the King of Kings. The spirit of man is free in its
normal state. You can not chain it in slavery against its will. No. It
knows no servitude but the voluntary. But, then, its wanderings are
many. In the field of search after beauty, rectitude and truth, many
minds may come into collision. But greater evils would result from
chaining them all to one spot, and thus ending progress in many things
of interest lying in the realm of thought. Of all the varieties known
among men those of thought are the most sublime and useful.

This variety causes the investigation of every interest; it brings every
truth and every error to the surface.

Men have made many attempts to check the onward march of intellect. But
every attempt in that direction is marked by some great dread. Men are
not anxious to put on the brakes unless they are in fear of being
wrecked. Nothing is more dangerous in any government than perfect
indifference to public interests. Men in places of public trust always
need watching. Irresponsible power, it is said, would corrupt an
archangel, and is, doubtless, unknown among the inhabitants of the
better land. Among men there is great liability. Every political
candidate has his accusations, his promises, and scheme, with which he
confronts his rival and agitates the minds of the people. So we have
been saved from that stagnation of thought which has retarded progress
among other nations. Many men, seeking office, have been wise enough to
see the danger to their interests of an expose of corruption. So they
have been perfectly willing that mechanics, artisans and farmers should
investigate and expose to public view all the questions of interest
belonging to our government, but good Christians, "and especially
preachers, entering the field of political investigation, at once
forfeit their right to the crown of life.(?)"

But just how it is that lawyers, doctors and politicians will all reach
heaven in spite of political action, and preachers will sink to
perdition on account of the same, is a problem among problems that has
never yet been satisfactorily solved. Are we to conclude that such men
as Generals Hancock and Garfield, along with a great many more, had, and
have, no religion to be disturbed? Or is there a double portion of
sacrifice, the sacrifice of principle and liberty, demanded at the hands
of ministers of the Gospel of Christ? How is this? We are anxious to
know. Are the politicians of the country the voluntary scapegoats of the
nation, who risk their own salvation for political toil, which, from its
character, would, according to a very common opinion, kill out the
religion of all the saints in America? Surely we ought to feel grateful
to the political sinners who so willingly take all the risk of being
shut out of Paradise that they may have the exclusive right of
controlling the offices of the government. They seem to say to us
Christians, Hear us, ye hard-thinking toilers and aspirants to the
realms of bliss while we proclaim to you the perils of our position; we
warn you against the crime of accustoming yourselves to the
investigation of the political and civil interests of the day, and let
not your devout meditations be disturbed by secular pursuits. Read your
Bibles and other pious books; attend to all your prayer meetings and all
your philanthropic societies.

What is the object of all this pious policy? Is it to keep the national
mind as far as possible in a state of political stagnation, or,
otherwise, to ostracise politically the preachers of the land with
reference to party success? How is this? Are the preachers of the United
States a dangerous element in our land? If they are, then the fewer we
have of them the better we are off. Do any but infidels take that view
of the subject? It correllates with infidelity, but not with
Christianity.



TO KEEP A ROOM PURE.


To keep a room purified it is only necessary to keep a pitcher or some
other vessel full of water in it. The water will absorb all the respired
gases. The colder the water is the greater is its capacity to hold the
gases. At ordinary temperature a pail of water will absorb a pint of
carbonic acid gas and several pints of ammonia. The capacity is nearly
doubled by reducing the water to the temperature of ice. Water kept
awhile in a room is unfit for use. The pump should always be emptied
before catching water for use. Impure water is more injurious than
impure air.

      *      *      *      *      *

Man, being essentially active, must find in activity his joy, as well as
his beauty and glory, and labor, like everything else that is good, is
its own reward.



INTERESTING FACTS.


Glass windows were used for lights in 1180.

Chimneys first put up to houses in 1236.

Tallow candles for lights in 1290.

Spectacles invented by an Italian in 1240.

Paper made from linen in 1302.

Woolen cloth made in England in 1341.

Art of printing from movable types in 1440.

The first book printed with movable types in 1450.

Watches first made in Germany in 1447.

Telescopes invented by Porta and Janson in 1590.

Tea first brought from China to Europe in 1501.

Circulation of blood discovered by Hervey in 1610.

Newspaper first established in 1629.

Pendulum clocks first invented in 1639.

Barometer invented by Torricelli in 1535.

Steam engine invented in 1649.

Bread made with yeast in 1650.

Cotton planted in the United States in 1759.

Fire engine invented in 1685.

Telegraph invented by Morse in 1832.

      *      *      *      *      *

CURE FOR A FELON.--"Take common salt, dry it in the oven, then pound it
fine and mix it with turpentine, equal parts. Put it on a rag and wrap
it around the finger, and as soon as it gets dry put on some more, and
in twenty-four hours the felon will be as dead as a door nail."--_Old
Mr. Mix._


Transcriber's Note

The punctuation and spelling from the original text have been faithfully
preserved. Only obvious typographical errors have been corrected.





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