President Eliot, of Harvard University, takes a rather gloomy view of the future outlook. He says that "churches, courts and legislatures command less respect and have less influence now than thirty years ago." He thinks the church has degenerated into poetic generalities or to ritualistic pomp. He notes in the judiciary a decline in personal merit and in public estimation. "Legislative bodies," says the president of Harvard, "have fallen into popular contempt." But, gloomy as all this is, he does not despair of his country. While the years have been laying successive layers of black paint on the religious bodies, on the judges of our courts, and on the lawmakers, there is still one ray of light shining through the gloom. For meanwhile, the school has become more powerful, "and education is the one agency for promoting intelligence and righteousness which has gained strength in the last half century."
Dr. George C. Lorimer, the noted Boston preacher, now pastor of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, says the Protestant Church is in peril; that the dangers are from within, not without; that the church is losing hold on intelligent thought. In his Sunday sermon he said:
"Romanism is dogmatic. She has come to the front as the champion of the Bible against the destructive critics, and as the defender of the sacred mysteries against the naturalism of the rationalists, while we have fallen into the cheap and idle fashion of decrying doctrine; and we fail to see that as we drift from the theologia sacra we are losing our hold on intelligent thought.
"An additional peril springs from the present spirit of Protestantism. The peril is that genuine Christians may desire to make their churches centres of social influence rather than sources of regenerating power. Protestantism today suffers from worldliness.
"For over ten years the Pool of Siloam has been only a name. Visitors to Palestine who have seen this historic spot of late years have found that its healing waters have vanished. Just recently the waters of Siloam have been made to flow once again, and there has been great rejoicing in the Holy Land. It appears that Jerusalem has been especially short of water of late, and it occurred to some of the inhabitants of Siloam to try to find out whether the spring which used to supply the pool was really dry. Tons of accumulated rubbish were cleared away, and after about a month's work the spring was found. The excavators discovered behind some fallen rocks an old aqueduct running into the valley of the Chadron, and into this aqueduct the beautiful, cool, clear water had run and been wasting for years."
"Very little. It looks as though the scornful indifference of the intellectual and wealthy among the Jews were sufficient to promptly dissipate their co-religionists' dream of returning to the promised land. The latter, to be sure, have in their favor the greater number and faith, but against these are arrayed the rationalists, for whom the true Messiah is [R2946 : page 36] the French Revolution that brought them emancipation; the prudence of the rabbis, proclaiming that henceforth the Jews have no other country but that of their birth (declaration of the grand rabbis of France, England, Austria, Hungary, at the Congress of Basle, 1897); the money dealers, without whom nothing can be done, and who are not willing to exchange their banks, their industries, their palaces, for the barren and poor soil of Palestine; the politicians, for whom the integrity of the Ottoman Empire has become a dogma, and who would not permit a Jewish state to rise in the midst of the Sultan's Asiatic dominions. All these powers of the modern world, rationalism, wealth, politics, are barring the way of those simple minded, pious souls who persist in striving for a redemption of Israel, who dream of a temple other than the Exchange and who long for the promised land with all the ardor of the Jews of the Babylonian captivity."
Just so! Worldly wisdom fails to discern some matters even while they are transpiring. The Watch Tower and Dawns pointed out the present Zionist movement from God's Word long before its founders thought of it. Ever since 1878, when Israel's "double" of chastisement expired, the land has been preparing for the people and the people for the land. In God's due time, and that soon, they will come together. Meantime persecutions in various lands are the prods, the "staff" of their Shepherd, to awaken them and direct their hearts toward the promises of which they are heirs.—Rom. 11:26-29.
I am not a prophet, but it certainly seems to me that without the Zionistic movement, and without persecution from without, isolated Jewish communities have no sufficient seeds of permanence in a world whose civilization is already built up on Old Testament lines. Unfortunately, persecution is still unfailing, especially in Russia and Roumania, and fortunately Zionism is making great strides. Nineteen hundred and one will be memorable as the year in which the ruler of Palestine—the Sultan of Turkey—received Dr. Herzl, and will end characteristically with the fifth Zionistic congress. Every congress shows an augmentation in enthusiasm and in the prospects of what seemed five years ago to be the mad vision of a dreamer of the Ghetto. In striking the racial chord Dr. Herzl has struck the chord which rings truest, and there is no doubt the brotherhood of Israel contains the elements of a political force. When even America is beginning to exclude Jewish emigrants, there will be no place left for the sole of their foot but Palestine, and thus forces external and internal are beginning to coincide and work together for good—the evil force of persecution, the righteous force of Zionism. Faithfully yours,—I. ZANGWILL.