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    June 18, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. Backsliding to Confirmed Apostasy” The Signs of the Times 28, 25, p. 5.

    BY ALONZO TREVIER JONE

    IN the history of the restoration from the captivity to Babylon there is one notable thought that runs like a thread through the whole, that until now it could not be considered in its full strength of meaning. That thought—that truth—is that after the first coming-out of Babylon, the real strength and hope of the cause of God lay in the other comings-out of Babylon, and not at all in any development or growth from within, of those who were not of Babylon and in the Lord’s land, and possessed there of the full light of His Word, His prophets, and all the opportunities and blessings of His true worship.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.1

    The Course and Cause of Backsliding

    The first coming-out of Babylon was a glorious deliverance; a wonderful manifestation of God’s power and grace, both through the powers of the world and upon His people. The most perfect freedom in work and worship in the world, was theirs. Heaven and earth were united in their favor. But instead of being absolutely swallowed up in pure devotion out of gratitude for all this wondrous favor of God, they soon began to drift into formality and worldliness; they neglected the cause and work of God and thought of worldly gain; they so slighted the truth of God, so lost true love for it, that they neglected to instruct their own children, the children, therefore, easily swung into the ways of the heathen, into essential sympathy with the heathen, so that they could readily choose the heathen in marriage; and the parents were themselves so in essential sympathy with heathenism in principle, that they could readily assent to their children’s marriage with the heathen, not seeing “but that the children were about as well off as marrying the heathen as in marrying among their own people.” And this was true, because by the general neglect of the parents among their own people, the young of their own people had grown up within the heathen that any vital difference was difficult to see. And yet in the presence of all the essential confusion, these people were willing to pride themselves on being “out of Babylon.” “We have the truth.” “God speaks to us by prophets.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.2

    And when down in Babylon devout souls, seeking the full truth, longing for light and freedom and for deliverance from the confusion and darkness and redemption around them, really found deliverance and came “out of Babylon” indeed, glad even to know that God was really speaking by living prophets to His people who were out of Babylon,—when these dear souls came, all expectant, up to Jerusalem to the people of God, as to the very gate of heaven, they were so disappointed and pained at the low and loose condition of the people in worship, in morals, and in mixing with the world, that they were made ashamed and to blush to lift up their faces to God in view of the iniquities that had increased over their heads, and trespasses that were grown up unto the heavens.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.3

    Spirituality Waning.

    Nevertheless by this second coming-out of Babylon—that under Ezra—there was a great revival sought, and the backslidden people were again separated from corruptness and worldliness, and united once more to God.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.4

    But soon the power of the revival was allowed to wane; again the people drifted into the former condition of worldliness, of money-getting, of neglect of the cause and work of God, and of marriage with the heathen.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.5

    The Final Coming-out and Apostasy.

    And still there were in Babylon devout souls, loving God, and longing to see His cause rise in its true dignity and power, and move prosperously, in the world; souls longing for deliverance from the corruption of Babylon, into the light and freedom and place of God’s own land, among God’s people who were out of Babylon. And again these were disappointed and groaned at the low and loose conditions of the people whom they thought to be out of Babylon; grieved at the neglect of the cause and work of God which those people professed, and grieved at the deplorable unity of heart and mixture of marriage between them and the open enemies of God and His cause and work in the world.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.6

    Nevertheless, again as the consequence of these comings-out of Babylon, there was a great revival, and a cleansing and a separating from the heathen, among the backslidden ones also professed to be “out of Babylon.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.7

    And still again, but now for the last time, the power and blessedness of the revival was allowed to wane, the people drifted into formalism, worldliness, love of money, neglect of the cause and work of God, and now—even worse than the confusion of marriages with the heathen—a confusion of relationships among themselves by the use and multiplying of divorce.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.8

    The backsliding was now so great that there was a total separation of their own interests from the cause and work of God, so much so that if they did for the cause so little a thing as the shutting of the doors of the house of God, or the kindling of a fire on His altar, they considered that they ought to be paid for it; because that was “not their work,” but the work of those whose time was devoted to that and who consequently were paid for it. When they made offerings to the Lord, instead of making them from the first and the first and the best, it was from what was left after they had consumed upon themselves the first and the best—from the refuse, that would be unfit to offer to their human governor. Yes, and even when the first and best was still in their possession unconsumed—instead of making offerings from that, they would actually pick out that which was inferior, and make that their offering to the Lord. And all this as a professed expression of their faith that God had given for their salvation and redemption of His First and Best! But in truth it was the expression of their unbelief in God’s having made, or that He would make, any true offering at all, but only the refuse, if any.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.9

    The Depth of Backsliding.

    The backsliding was now such that the priests, the ministers and teachers to the people, “departed out of the way,” and actually caused the people to stumble at the very law that they were set to teach. They forgot the fear of God, and of course feared the people. Then they would not declare the clear and plain Word of God, for fear that the people would resent it and they would lose their place; for tho the office of priest was of God, as a consequence of such example the people, seeing that the priests had become political and were afraid of them, became themselves political and unruly, and would turn out of office even a priest who did not please them. Thus the priests did not keep the straight way of the truth, but practised partiality in the law of the Lord, and so made the Lord “contemptible and base before all the people.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.10

    The men dealt treacherously, committed abomination, and profaned the holiness of the Lord and the covenant of fatherhood, in dealing treacherously against the wife of their youth by divorcing her for another, and especially for a younger. “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away; for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts; therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.11

    They were so far backslidden from God that they would keep the tithe, paying it not at all; thus robbing God. they were so far in the dark that they actually drew comparisons between themselves and the wicked, to the advantage of the wicked. And when in their darkness and discontent with God, because of their own perverseness, they concluded that the wicked were having a better time than themselves were, they declared, “It is vain to serve God,” and there is no profit in trying to do right and walking mournfully before the Lord; for while we are doing this and having a hard and cheerless time of it, the proud are happy, the wicked are prospered, and they that actually go so far as to tempt God, are even delivered.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.12

    Dead Formality.

    And with all this looseness of life, this darkness of spirit, this corruption of morals, they would go to meeting on the Sabbath, and go through the forms of worship, and pray, and weep; and they counted themselves very religious because of all this. But the Lord rebuked this with the rest of their iniquity, and declared that it was this formalism. This was the cause of His rejecting their offerings. “This have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that He regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will of your hand.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.13

    But amidst this dark and dismal mass there were still a few, a little flock, who feared the Lord. These “spake often one to another” of the goodness of the Lord, of the joy of serving Him, and the wealth of happiness found in the loving-kindness of the Lord. “And the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord, of hosts in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth His own son that serveth Him.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.14

    Thus was it with the few; but as for the people themselves, the nation, they were gone. They had neglected the light and joy and blessing of the three messages of God calling out of Babylon; they had worn out the Lord’s good Spirit of reviving; they had confirmed themselves in backsliding. All that is left for the Lord to do is by His prophet to testify to the real condition of things and the end thereof, close up His revelation, cease to speak; and let them reap what they had so persistently sown—the rejection of God when He came in the person of His Son to offer Himself finally for them; and then appeal directly to the heathen to whom they had persistently allied themselves, and whose salvation they had so long hindered by so allying themselves to them.SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.15

    It was a wonderful thing to be delivered from Babylon, and brought to the freedom, and light, and joy, and blessing, of the Lord in His own chosen land. It was a wonderful thing to have God enlist in their favor all power of earth as well as of heaven. It was a wonderful thing that God should speak to them by living prophets. And it was a most deplorable thing that they should allow the love of the world and fellowship of the heathen to frustrate and make utterly vain, so far as they were concerned, this whole tide of heaven which had been made to flow upon earth. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.16

    [“From Religious to Political” is the title of the next article.]SITI June 18, 1902, page 5.17

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