IN its issue of June 16, the New York Herald gives expression to some feeling of solicitude concerning the outcome of the manifest drift in religious thought and teaching which is taking the masses into altogether new channels of belief. It says:—
“What is the drift of religious thought in these latter days, and where will the current take us? Is it true that the dogmas of our fathers are slowly falling in innocuous desuetude; that we their children have slipped the old-fashioned moorings; and, if so, there dangerous rocks ahead, or the open sea where we shall have plain sailing?
“This is a matter of very considerable consequence to us laymen. We have been brought up in certain ideas, and there is some solicitude among us to know whether the reverend clergy still cling to these ideas or whether their grasp on them is loosening. They certainly ought to be entirely frank with us, and if the basis of religious conviction is gradually shifting we ought to know it. It is not a subject in which concealment can be regarded as expedient. We don’t wish to believe what specialists have discovered to be untrue, and if any modification of the old faith has taken place the pulpit should make open confession thereof.
“Are we heading for the port of agnosticism? Is religion so far unlike the exact sciences that a large part of it consists of the unknowable, and have we reached that point when, if we are to be religious, we must regard all or not at all? What says the ripest scholarship of the age on this subject? The common people need some degree of bold speech by those who have the authority to speak. There should be no confusion in the public mind and it is not for the ultimate interest of the church universal that its teachers should hesitate to tell the truth, and the whole truth.”
The condition of the religious world in general at this day is well expressed by the word, drifting. They have lost sight of the well-defined faith of their fathers, and are drifting on, whether to dangerous rocks or an open sea they know not, neither do they care. But one thing is certain; namely, that the soul which drifts upon the sea of religious thought without chart or compass, is in far greater danger of shipwreck than is the mariner under similar conditions on the literal ocean. For nowhere do treacherous currents cross the path of safety and more swiftly or insensibly drawn the voyager away, or more surely bear him upon the rocks, than in that spiritual sea upon which every soul embarks to find its destiny.
There are two opposing currents in this great sea, which to-day are bearing their freight of human souls to different destinies. The one is that upon which the observer finds himself drifting away from the beliefs of his fathers, while he queries, as in the Herald quotation, whether he is moving toward the open sea or toward the rocks. And this current—and to say—bears the masses of the people,—those who look upon the revelations of the inspired Word as hidden mysteries, concerning which they must seek to the “ripest scholarship” for explanation. They are becoming more and more unsettled in faith, more and more uncertain whether any definite bearings can be taken by which to shape their course.
The other current, on the contrary, is bearing forward a class of people whose faith and hope are even more definite than were those of their fathers. There is no drifting in their course,—no speculation as to their whereabouts, or seeking to the “ripest scholarship,” to priest or pastor, for directions. They are following the plain directions given them by the Omniscient. More than fifty years ago God sent a message to the world which said, “Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come.” Revelation 14:7. Those who received that message, as many did and are still doing, knew that they had reached the hour of that great investigation, the conclusion of which would mark the termination of God’s work for the salvation of men. Almost immediately following this message came another one, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” And anon “the third angel followed them,“—a third message went forth,—saying, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.” This called attention to the apostate spiritual power which has presumed to change the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week, and points to that change as the mark of its spiritual authority; and thus those who received it were led to return to the keeping of the true Sabbath.
Thus on the one hand are those who are drifting aimlessly on—a vast multitude—knowing only that they are getting farther and farther away from the faith of their fathers and that their course must be taking them toward agnosticism or something else; while on the other hand there are those—only a small company, alas—who rejoice in a still more definite faith than that of their fathers,—not a faith that sets aside the old paths, but  which reveals more clearly and beautifully the wonderful wisdom and love of God in his great work for the redemption of mankind. They behold wondrous things out of the divine law, and with a hope based upon the definite assurances of the infallible Word, they are waiting for the glorious appearing of their God in the clouds of heaven, to purify the earth of sin and sinners.
To which of these companies, reader, do you belong? Are you drifting carelessly on into the unknown, or are you guided by the chart and compass of God’s Word?