"IT WOULD be difficult for a confirmed cynic to make a more bitter comment upon what we may term political Christianity than has just been offered in the conduct of the European Powers toward China. In considering the partition of that Empire, the natural rights of its Government and people have not been taken into account, but only the desires and covetousness of the rival spoliators. And, however mild may be the later negotiations of the Germans at Kiao-Chau, their first intent, and the direct command of the Emperor, was to 'strike with a mailed fist' and take whatever they wanted by force. That is, or was, the attitude of that nation of Christian Europe, whose ruler most vaunts himself upon his divine right.
"Briefly stated, the doctrine is that heathen nations have no rights which Christian nations are bound to respect. The powerful Christian nations of Europe approach the weak heathen nations of Asia, to oppress and rob and murder. They say, 'Let us rob them of their land, which we covet'in the name of him who commanded, 'Thou shalt not steal' and 'Thou shalt not covet.' They say, 'If they resist us, let us kill them'in the name of him who said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' They say, 'Let us oppress them and compel them to do our will'in the name of him who said, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' That is what the Christian nations are practically saying and are actually doing....
"For Prince Henry of Prussia, who leads this great campaign against the Orient, and who goes thither to avenge the death of missionaries and to carry the beneficence of Europe to the benighted heathen, declares in terms that he will preach not Jesus of Nazareth, but William of Germany; not Christ crucified, but William crowned! Let there be no injustice done. Here are his identical words, spoken with the foreknowledge and approval of the Emperor himself: 'One thing,' he said, 'is the aim that draws me on. It is to declare in foreign lands the gospel of Your Majesty's hallowed person (das Evangelium Eurer Majestats geheiligter Person), to preach it to every one who will hear it, and also to those who will not hear it. This gospel I have inscribed on my banner, and I will inscribe it whithersoever I go.' Such, then, is the evangel of these few closing years of this nineteenth century of the Christian era.
"The German seizure of a part of China is probably the consummation of a long laid plan. There is reason to believe that such action was decided upon some years ago, to be taken as soon as a pretext was afforded. The pretext came in the murder of a couple of missionaries, and the seizure of Kiao Chau immediately followed. That the murders occurred when they did was a matter of chance, but the time could not have been chosen more opportunely to serve the German Emperor's ends. A foreign campaign for the acquisition of a new empire in China will give him the greatest possible aid in getting his Navy bill through the Reichstag, especially since the murdered missionaries whom he is avenging were Roman Catholics, and it is the Roman Catholic vote in the Reichstag that he most needs. It will also serve to divert German attention from domestic distress and to make the people forget their poverty for a time in their enthusiasm for what is termed the honor of the Fatherland.
"There is perhaps no need greater than this latter, unless, indeed, it be to remedy the poverty, instead of merely glossing it over with military glory. For Germany, with all her progress, is wretchedly poor. With one of the greatest armies in the world and with commerce whiteningor blackeningevery sea, her people are grovelling in abject poverty. The facts in the case are actually startling. In England the line of exemption from income-tax is drawn at $800. In Prussia it is drawn at $225. One would think that would leave all except paupers subject to taxation. On the contrary, it taxes only 8.46 per cent. of the people. No less than 91.54 per cent. of the people of Prussia, then, have to live on incomes of less than $225 for each family! That is a picture of poverty literally appalling. That more than 29,000,000 out of 32,000,000 people [R2255 : page 36] should be living on incomes of less than 62 cents a day, such an income generally having to suffice for a whole family, is the blackest picture of German social economy that any enemy of the Fatherland could wish to draw.
"A generation ago matters were not as bad as they are now. Or, if they were, the people had not yet been waked to a realization of the fact, and they had no one in particular to blame for it. But Germany is now wide awake. The people know and feel how wretchedly poor they are. Rightly or wrongly, they blame the Government for it. Some demand more aid from the Government, in tariff protection and bounties. Others clamor for free trade, which may not increase their incomes, but would, they imagine, lessen their expenses. Others see in the vast expenditures for army and navy the source of all their woes. And others, weary of the problem, seek to escape it by expatriation. There is a desperate chance that foreign war, or at least colonial conquests, may for a time allay the rising discontent. But that will be an anodyne for the pain, not a remedy for the disease. The latter is something that is to be sought through other mediums than blood and iron."
Thus does the New York Tribune comment on the greed of the so called Kingdoms of God and of Christ"Christendom," whose kings and emperors claim to reign "by the grace of God." No wonder, then, that people whose religious theories are in line with and built upon such claims, and who believe that the Bible so teaches, are inclined to repudiate the Bible and to modernize Christianity and make of it a society for social and political reform, and without creed or any tests as to religious faith. Alas! that God's wise and gracious plan and its record, the Bible, should be so misrepresented amongst those who love and seek righteousness, justice.
Notwithstanding the foregoing and all the records of the past fourteen centuries that claims on the part of worldly governments to be Kingdoms of God are hypocritical and blasphemously false, there are quite a number of very good but very much blinded people, who think that they could add to these Kingdoms of God another, if they could but get the name of the Creator into the Constitution of the United States. These people recently held a convention in the City of Philadelphia to forward their views and unanimously passed the following resolution without debate:
"We recognize in our various young people's societies, in connection with the visible church, one of the mightiest forces on the side of Christian citizenship, and that we gladly anticipate the day when the united forces, now for many years drilled for active service, will, in connection with other Christian forces, so control the Constitution and administration of our Government that this nation will be a confession before the world, and, in fact, a kingdom of our Lord."
The Rev. Dr. Rainsford (Episcopalian) who is a leader in the Social Uplift movement in New York City recently preached a sermon to men, in which social and political and moral reasons only seem to have been advanced as reasons for joining and attending church. Commenting on quotations from that sermon a metropolitan editor says:
"It will be seen that in all this there is no reference to the Church as a divine institution, in which lies the means of salvation for men. It is treated as a fallible human institution, which commends itself to men as a voluntary association simply, of moral and religious usefulness to them. That there is any divine obligation to join the Church and that its sacraments are a means of salvation is not contended by Dr. Rainsford. With all its faults, his argument is, the church is a desirable association for men, and attendance upon its services is of moral advantage to them.
"That is, in the view of Dr. Rainsford, the church is a sort of religious club to which a man should go for moral improvement. He says nothing about any religious belief required by it from him, but inferentially leaves him to believe or deny according as he is minded. So far as the Bible is concerned, he gives men an example of denial by himself refusing to accept its infallibility. Go to church, he says in substance, because the influences in it are good and pure, as a man might say, associate with refined people if you wish to take on refinement.
"Dr. Rainsford, moreover, commends the church specifically as a political club, and he referred to the late municipal election to illustrate its advantages as such. In that campaign his particular church was especially active as a political club. The Citizens' Union movement, so-called, was started in St. George's Church. Its candidate for Mayor was one of its vestrymen; the Chairman of the concern was another, and among the officers generally were a majority of that vestry. Dr. Rainsford, therefore, calls on men to join St. George's as a political club."
Thinking people have seen for some time that the religious features are gradually being dropped out of the "churches" and "gospels" of our day. This began [R2256 : page 36] in the centres of culture, but it is spreading everywhere.
"I utter no slander upon our own time nor upon any nation when I say that as an age we have lost the vision of the Almighty. The remarkable resources of our great continent, resources that multiply in variety and increase in vastness the more we learn of them, throw in the path of the nation exceptional dangers. History has written it in letters big with the ruin of [R2256 : page 37] nations and vivid with the fires of devastating armies, that an age of mammon worship and of luxury is ever an age of withering blight upon all institutions of social and civic strength. And such, in this free land of ours, this age threatens to be, unless God in his mercy turns us from our infatuation. The age needs heroic souls who, with clarion call, will, in the old prophetic spirit, lead us back to a sight of things that are true and eternal."
These men see clearly enough that our civilization, energized by the spirit of selfishness, is leading the world to the great whirlpool of discontent and destruction which the Scriptures have distinctly portrayed, but which they have misread because of their false creeds and theories which have led them to believe that human efforts are to bring in the Millennium of blessing and peace in which God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
Mark the earnest prayer for heroic souls to lead the Lord's people back "to a sight of things that are true and eternal." We cannot question the sincerity of this prayer, and yet, strange to say, experience proves that nine out of ten, if not ten out of ten, of those who use similar language, are thoroughly unapproachable so far as the truth and appeals to God's Word are concerned; and the "heroic soul" that ventures to present the real "glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people," is tolerably sure to need a great deal of heroism and divine grace to take meekly and patiently the disdainful, cold reception which he will encounter and the calumnious epithets that will be hurled at him.
But why should good men be so bound up with error? It is the influence of sectarianism and is undoubtedly a part of the blinding influence of Satan, which the Apostle Paul describes in 2 Cor. 4:4. And such bounden and deceived ones deserve our sympathy rather than any unkind feelings. We can rejoice in the fact that the time is near when Immanuel with his elect and then glorified "little flock," the true Church, shall bind Satan and set at liberty his blinded captives.Rev. 20:2,3; Isa. 61:1.
Evangelist Mills, after for a long time preaching hell and damnation instead of the Gospel of Christthat the entire race is doomed to everlasting torment because father Adam ate the forbidden fruit, found it too much for his heart as well as too much for his intellect to believe. Consequently, some time ago he changed and switched off to another gospelequally unscriptural: he is now a Universalist. Note his statement of his present faith as presented in a Boston sermon and reported by the Boston Herald, as follows:
"You need not ever give yourselves the least concern about the old question of God's forgiveness for the past. You have had wrong ideas of God. The past does not need forgiveness or atonement in his sight. It is only the present that needs correction and the future that needs inspiration.
"I realize to-day that the only real, powerful motive for the future for intelligent people, that shall lead them to practice purity and to grow in all that is good and beautiful, will be what might well be called 'the social motive for individual righteousness.' As I said in a former sermon, the old individualistic motives, and the appeal to man to be good on the ground of personal reward or punishment, has become an ignoble appeal, and has been abandoned by the best minds and noblest souls. Woe be to us if the stronger motive and impulse for righteousness does not take its place, and this motive is nothing more nor less than the realization that we are all bound together in a common body of humanitythat if one suffers, all must suffer; that if one sins, all must be hampered in their development, that "no man liveth unto himself," and that in any real sense, no individual can be truly saved until the whole community is saved."
How remarkable it does seem that the great Adversary is so successful in getting people to believe either one or the other of errors, extremes, and keeps hid from them the golden truth between!that the penalty of Adam's sin was death, destruction, and not life in torment, and that this death sentence has been inherited with its mental, physical and moral blights in a natural way, by heredity (Rom. 5:12); and that a ransom for Adam (and hence for all lost through him) was paid by the death of our Lord Jesus, who died, the just for the unjust, to open for man the way back to life, and whose second advent is to be for the double purpose of glorifying his elect little flock and restoring to perfection and life so many as will accept divine favor on divine terms.
Some years ago, being curious to know how learned Hebrews view the Old Testament references to Christ,as "a lamb for the slaughter," etc., we visited a friendly Rabbi, and asked him the question. He replied that Hebrews apply those prophecies to the Hebrew people and their centuries of bitter experiences under more or less of persecution. We are forcibly reminded of this false method of interpretation by the statement of Dr. Herzl at the Basel Congress, held Aug. 29th, last;to the effect that that Congress was the birth of their Messiah;that the Messiah class which they hope will fulfil all the good promises of Scripture concerning Abraham's seed was there organized. It appears, too, that the date (Aug. 29) was selected in harmony with a tradition prevalent among the Bulgarian Jews to the effect that Messiah would be born on that date.
"The boldness of that dream startled the world. As for me, when the full report reached me and I read the fearful story of the 'Judennoth,' that was submitted to the congress, I could not wonder at the statement made by Dr. Herzl, the president of the congress, during the first day's session: 'The Bulgarian Jews have long believed that the Messiah should be born on a 29th of August. They were right, THE MESSIAH HAS BEEN BORN TO-DAY in the Zionist Congress.'
"It was a magnificent assemblage of Israelites that had gathered there in congress. Two hundred delegates, representing as many hundreds of thousands of people, had come with a most sacred purpose, that of putting an end to the persecutions and miseries of millions of Jews, by reacquiring for them of their own native Palestine and reestablishing them there in peaceful and honorable industries.
"It was beyond doubt the most remarkable gathering in the whole history of Israel. The venerable Dr. Lippe opened the congress and Dr. Herzl gave the key note of the movement, comparing the inflictions of the modern anti-Semite with the Jew baiter of former centuries. A similar tale of woe was told by Max Nordau. It was the same refrain by all, and the congress concluded that the settlement of Palestine was the only solution of the Jewish question.
"It was a dream and yet not all a dream. Some very stern reality was beneath it all, which neither skeptic nor scoffer can sneer away. It has come to stay. The superstructure of the castle will, in all probability, take a different and more practical form from that outlined in its first designs, but the foundation upon which it rests will remain unchanged. Among those builders who had come from different parts of the world to discuss the plans for an ark of safety, there may have been many a visionary, but there were also those who know from personal bitter experience the real need of an ark that is to bear the Jew high on the crest of the flood of the 'Judennoth' that is rushing in upon us from all sides. The foundation timber is: Relief of the fatally congested centers of Jewish population by means of agriculture and colonization at home, abroad, in adopted lands, in Zion, anywhere, everywhere, but always agriculture with its accompanying handicraftsmen, industrialists and men following professions.
"Upon research, I have found that Palestine, with the adjacent countries stretching between the Euphrates and the Tigris, that are now almost deserted, could amply support millions of agriculturists. The soil is luxuriantly fertile, the climate salubrious, the water pure and abundant, the irrigation canals of the ancients still available. The winters are short and mild, the summers long enough to ripen two harvests. The products of all the land can be laid down in the capitals of Europe within five days after their shipment and in price and excellence they can drive from the market those of other competing countries. Because of these conclusions I have been proclaimed a Zionist and asked to attend the second congress at Jerusalem next summer."