THE financial pressure which has weighed heavily upon the whole world within the past few months is but another pang in the travail of the world, incident to the birth of a new order of society. As the Apostle predicted, so it is coming,—pang after pang, with increasing severity, with respites between, until the present order of society shall perish in a great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.
Already there have been "bread riots" in the very city where the "Columbian Exposition" offers its testimony that we are living in the most enlightened era of this world's history—in the dawning of the great Millennial Day. The mutterings of the unemployed crowds in Chicago, and in Jersey City and elsewhere, are only premonitory suggestions of what may be expected if the present order of affairs were still more disturbed, and a larger proportion of the population thrown out of employment.
The question comes from many quarters: "Brother Russell, are you not possibly mistaken by a few years in your calculations, since you expect, upon Scriptural authority, that the great trouble will all be over by A.D. 1915, and that in its severity it will probably not reach us before A.D. 1906 to 1908? Is it not possible that the present financial trouble is the beginning of the great trouble?"
We answer, No; we think there is no mistake. The present trouble is not the start of the great calamity which is to involve the overthrow of all government, law and social order. As aforesaid, it is only another pang, [R1581 : page 282] and will pass off—perhaps speedily, perhaps slowly. We are sure of this, not merely because of our confidence in the Bible Chronology and the Dispensational Parallels, but also in another way. Before that trouble upon the world, the trials of faith amongst God's people will increase until many shall fall,—into doubt and skepticism. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand." Hot and close as the battle between truth and error already is, it will grow more serious. Then, again, the Scriptures point out that all the great Protestant sects will yet unite, and attempt and accomplish a partial union with the civil governments of the world—and all this will be before the last great dying pang of the present social order.