Notes and Comments (2)

The church of God has received two great gifts from God, or to state the truth more exactly, it is by two great gifts that the church of God exists — they are the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God.

It is in the all-inspired Word that the truth as to Christ is found, and He is the perfect revelation of God to men. The Holy Spirit speaks in and through the Scriptures; He is the interpreter of them, and it is by His power alone that the truth is made effectual in men, for it is He alone who can take of the things of Christ and show them to us, for the natural man understandeth not the things of God (1 Cor. 2). So that apart from the Scriptures and the Holy Ghost men lie in the darkness of that ignorance of God into which sin has plunged the race, for God is only known as Christ is known.

It will be readily understood, since these things are so, that every energy and subtle device of Satan will be brought into operation against these two great and holy gifts; and he has so far succeeded as to have firmly established in the very heart of Christendom two mighty engines by which to shatter and destroy the Word of God, and make null and void the presence of the Holy Spirit upon earth. These two great towers are Rationalism and Rome.

Rationalism does not now wear the blatant and profane garb of former days, it is highly cultured and of eminent respectability, but its attack upon the Word of God is more determined than ever. The trained intellect of the world's scholars is directed against the Scriptures, and the great seats of learning seem to exist chiefly for the purpose of "blasting at the Rock of Ages."

Nigh 3000 years ago David prophesied that the day would come when men would say, "Let us break [God's] bands asunder and cast away [His] cords from us." This day is surely upon us, for what a loosening of the bands of God has followed the work of "higher criticism." From its profane tamperings with Holy Scripture to the utter rejection of the God of Scripture and His laws has been an easy and quick descent. An American writer states that: "The widespread college teaching of the day is, that there are no God-given commandments, and that notions of right and wrong are adopted as the result of custom and training;" and that "God is but another name for all-conquering truth."

But as men must have a god to adore, these "advanced" thinkers are exalting man to the throne in the place of the true God, and they believe they are nearing "that awfully triumphant epoch when man shall recognize his existence as that of Jehovah;" and they claim that "science is demonstrating that man is God made manifest." This is the goal of Rationalism, the end of that road the gate of which is higher criticism.

If these evil views were shut in, and kept behind college doors, they would be comparatively harmless, but the design is disclosed in the words of an American professor, "We move our students that we may move the world;" and so the poison flows out through many channels to wherever the gospel of Christ is carried. Letters from distressed missionaries in heathen lands bear witness to this; one received a few days ago from China states:

"The leading English paper for workers is given up to higher criticism, and other articles tending to elevate man but not convert him; and in the leading paper for Chinese Christians, which has a circulation of 4000 weekly, it is stated that China was not destroyed by the flood … We are on the down grade in China."

Rome does not reject the Scriptures, but the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth is entirely ignored, and His offices usurped by her: this is seen notably in the fact that she insists that she alone can interpret the Scriptures, and that the pope, claiming infallibility, is Christ's vicar on earth.

It would seem on the face of it as though Rationalism and Rome were mortally opposed to each other, but as Herod and Pilate became friends on the casting out of Christ, so will these mighty forces find common ground in the exaltation of Antichrist; for they have been conceived for this very purpose.

The unity of Christendom is the great ideal before many minds, and in this connection the president of the Wesleyan Reform Union stated recently, "That all great movements commenced at the top, and it seemed to him that the great agency for the unification of Christendom was the Roman Catholic Church," and so he asked prayers for the pope. When you find the president of a Protestant union owning the pope as at the top, and looking to Rome as the great unifier, you may be sure that in that union, at least, the Holy Spirit of God has no place, and the unity of which He is the energy and power is to them of little or no moment. But is the condition peculiar to this society?

We refer to these things because we believe that many excellent Christians, living in a little world of their own, are ignorant of, or indifferent to, the onward march of evil, and we would that they, and we, were mightily stirred in our spirits because of it.

In the first place we must be free ourselves from these things; we may say that we are neither Rationalist nor Romanist, but let us beware. The tide of evil runs strongly; and complete subjection to the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the Word can alone keep us from being influenced in one or other of these directions. We must test our associations also, for evil communications corrupt good manners; and the words of those who would overthrow our faith eat as a canker; and the principles that underlie these great movements are very insidious. Let us not parley with any weakening of the authority of the Scriptures, or any displacement of the Holy Spirit in the things of God. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

But are the Scriptures indeed the Word of God to us who profess to hold them as such? Do we hearken to His communications with ready ears and obedient hearts? Is the law of the Lord our delight and meditation?

And are we subject to the Holy Ghost? "What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?" Is this indwelling the dominant fact in our lives, and, truly realizing it, have we turned away from our own wisdom and power to be taught, led, and sustained by the Holy Ghost? These are questions we do well to ask ourselves.

To contend for the faith (Jude 3), to hold forth the word of life (Phil. 2:16), and to pray for the prosperity of the word of the Lord (2 Thess. 3:1) is our privilege and first responsibility, and every other claim falls into insignificance in comparison with this. But we shall not fulfil our mission in this world aright unless we appreciate God's two great gifts.

Finally, the Scriptures testify of Christ (John 5:39), and all the prophets bear witness to Him (Acts 10:43); and the Holy Ghost is here to glorify Christ and to show to us His things. God's intention is that in all things Christ shall have the pre-eminence, and all who know "the love of Christ which passes knowledge" will determine that this shall be so. as far as they are concerned; but for this the Word of God and Spirit of God must have the supreme place with us.