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THE CHURCH'S FAILURE

The church knows that the eyes of all the world are turned upon her; that somehow it has been discovered that, while she has claimed her commission to be to convert the world, the time has arrived when, if that be her mission, that work should be almost, if not fully, accomplished, and that really she differs little from the world, except in profession.

Having assumed this to be her present mission, she has lost sight of the real purpose of this Gospel age; viz., to "preach this gospel of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness to all nations," and to aid in the calling and preparing of a "little flock" to constitute (with the Lord) that Millennial Kingdom which shall then bless all the families of the earth. (`Matt. 24:14`; `Acts 15:14-17`) She is confronted with the fact that after nineteen centuries she is further from the results which her claims would demand than she was at the close of the first century. Consequently apologies, excuses, a figuring over and re-examining of accounts, the re-dressing of facts, and extravagant prognostications of great achievements in the very near future, are now the order of the day, as, forced by the spirit of inquiry and cross-questioning of these times, she endeavors to speak in self-defense before her numerous accusers.

To meet the charge of inconsistency of doctrine with her recognized standard, the Bible, we see her in great perplexity; for she cannot deny the conflict of her creeds. So, various methods are resorted to, which thinking people are not slow to mark as evidences of her great confusion. There is much anxiety on the part of each denomination to hold on to the old creeds because they are the cords by which they have been bound together in distinct organizations; and to destroy these suddenly would be to dissolve the organizations; yet the clergy specially are quite content to say as little about them as possible, for they are heartily ashamed of them in the searching light of this day of judgment.

Some are so ashamed of them that, forgetting their worldly prudence, they favor discarding them altogether. Others are more conservative, and think it more prudent to let them go gradually, and in their place, by degrees, to insert new doctrines, to amend, revise, etc. With the long discussions on Presbyterian creed-revision every one is familiar. So also the attempts of self-styled high critics to undermine the authority and inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, and to suggest a twentieth-century-inspiration, and a theory of evolution wholly subversive of the divine plan of salvation from an Adamic fall which the Bible affirms, but which they deny. Then there is another and a large class of clergymen who favor an eclectic, or compromise, theology, which must of necessity be very brief and very liberal, its object being to waive all objections of all religionists, Christian and heathen, and, if possible, to "bring them all into one camp," as some have expressed it. There is a general boasting on the part of a large class, of the great things about to be accomplished through instrumentalities recently set in operation, of which Christian union or cooperation is the central idea; and when this is secured--as we are assured it soon will be--then the world's conversion to Christianity, it is assumed, will quickly follow.

The charge of lack of piety and godly living is also met with boastings--boasting of "many wonderful works," which often suggest the reproving words of the Lord recorded in `Matt. 7:22,23`. But these boastings avail very little to her interests, because the lack of the spirit of God's law of love is too painfully manifest to be concealed. The defense, on the whole, only makes the more manifest the deplorable condition of the fallen church. If this great ecclesiasticism were really the true Church of God, how manifest would be the failure of the divine plan to choose out a people for his name!

But while these various excuses, apologies, promises and boasts are made by the church, her leaders see very clearly that they will not long serve to preserve her in her present

divided, distracted and confused condition. They see that disintegration and overthrow are sure to follow soon unless some mighty effort shall unite her sects and thus give her not only a better standing before the world, but also increased power to enforce her authority. We therefore hear much talk of Christian Union; and every step in the direction of its accomplishment is proclaimed as evidence of growth in the spirit of love and Christian fellowship. The movement, however, is not begotten of increasing love and Christian fellowship, but of fear. The foretold storm of indignation and wrath is seen to be fast approaching, and the various sects seriously doubt their ability to stand alone in the tempest shock.

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