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While missionary efforts have been greatly blessed abroad (and praise God that they have), infallibility, ritualism, skepticism and desecration of the Lord's day have more than equally triumphed at home. And let it not be forgotten that the monstrous assumption of infallibility has triumphed in what was once an apostolic church of Christ, the mother of us all.
The past century has had its full share of war and carnage. Numerous, dark and fearful have been the fields of blood up to this very year. In short, Satan is on the alert and fully up to the times, multiplying his deceptions on either hand, as he will continue to do, until chained by the angel at the beginning of the Millennium.108
Is the Church Progressing?
Lastly, it is argued that, as Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth,109 the greatly increased number of professed Christians must certainly have augmented the light and the salt, and consequently have made the world better.
Jesus was indeed the light of the world, but He shone in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. Men loving and clinging to the darkness, because their deeds were evil, would not see the light, and were not made better by it.110 So true Christians, reflecting the light from
(108) Rev. 20:1. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season.
(109) Mat. 5:13. Ye ase the salt of the earth: but if the
salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Phil. 2:15. That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.
(110) John 1:4. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 3:19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come heaven, only intensify the darkness about them. The darkness is still darkness and cannot be improved. The sinner must forsake it and come to the light, or he can never be saved.
Losing the Saltness.
Let us notice carefully that Jesus speaks of the salt losing its saltiness and becoming good for nothing, and He also intimates that the light may be hid under a bushel. And therefore He exhorts, "Have salt in yourselves." Mark 9:50. Evidently the Jews lost their "savour" (Mat. 5:13) and "were broken off."111 This leads to the solemn query, is the professing Church progressing or declining in faith and spiritual life?
The kingdom in mystery,112 or the state of Christendom until Christ comes again, is taught us, we believe, by the parables of Mat. 13.
"The parable of the Sower shows the varied and imperfect reception of the Word. The parable of the Tares shows the early and continued effects of Satan's presence among the saints. The parable of the Mustard-seed shows outward growth sheltering evil. The parable of the Leaven shows the gradual and utter corruption of the truth. The parable of the Treasure hid in a field shows what Israel is to be in the world. The parable of the Pearl of great price shows what the Church is to Christ. And the parable of the Dragnet shows the cleansing of the kingdom at His second coming."
into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
(Ill) Rom. 11:20. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest
by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
(112) Mat. 13:10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
The Leaven. ..
There is, perhaps, but little opposition to this interpretation of the parables, excepting that of the Leaven, which has quite extensively been interpreted to teach exactly the opposite, viz.: that the power and influence of the gospel or Christian life is to permeate the masses of the world, until the whole is leavened into holiness. The inconsistency of this is seen when we consider that precisely the contrary is taught by the parable of the sower and the tares, each of which most undisputedly shows that evil is to continue and grow up to the end of the age. This is surely the most sufficient and scriptural reason for assigning the same typical meaning to the Leaven, in this and the correlative passage,113 which we find it to bear in the numerous other passages, where the same word is used, viz.: the corrupting influence of evil and the symbol of death. See carefully Mat. 16:6-12.11*
(113) Luke 13:20. And again he said, Whereunto snail I liken the kingdom of God?
21. It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
(114) Mat. 16:6. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
7. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
11. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12. Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of
the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Mark 8:15. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.
Luke 12 :1. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
1 Cor. 5 :6. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leavenetb the whole lump?
7. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the un
Here then we are most emphatically taught not only that the world is growing no better, but that the professing Church itself will lose its saltness, becoming nominal and lukewarm, fit only to be spued out of the Master's mouth.115 The entire teaching of the Word of God, we believe, agrees with this.
And we have but to take an unprejudiced survey of the Church even now, to see the truth of it. The loss of spiritual power in the different branches of the great nominal Church has not resulted from the casting out of truth, but from the imbibing and internal workings of false doctrine, which, like heaven, has fermented the mass. Little by little the ordinary bishop of Rome has developd into an infallible Pope. Image worship, the confessional, world conformity and post-millennialism have all worked out their enormous growth like the little leaven in the meal.
How do the great Papal and Greek churches, in their stateliness, formality, popularity and spiritual weakness of to-day, compare with the despised Nazarene and his followers,116 or with the persecuted, consecrated and godly congregations (ekkleesias) of the first two centuries?
And are not the present evangelical denominations, by worldly conformity and increeping doubts regarding the inspiration of the Word, etc., dangerously tending in the same direction f How very few of the members in them are to-day crying out for separation and holiness. Surely, no one can fail to see the corrupting influences of the leaven permeating them.
We realize that this is an awful fact. It is not even pleasant to state it. But, while Noah's preaching was not pleasant to them that heard it, still it was true and the
leavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Gal. 5:7. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8. This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
(115) Rev. 3:16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
(116) 1 John 4:17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
flood did come. Likewise the prophesying of Jeremiah was exceedingly unpleasant, but it was true and was followed by the terrible fate of the city, and the Babylonian captivity. The preaching of Jesus was at times of fearful severity,117 but was it not true? So would we humbly yet faithfully proclaim the Word of God. We would "cry aloud and spare not,"118 fully believing that, upon an apos
(117) Mat. 11:20. Then Began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Mat. 18:7. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
8. Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it 1= better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
9. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from
thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye.
Mat. 23:13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
31. Wherefore ye be wttnerse« unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
M. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
(118) Isa. 58:1. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.