THE greatest affliction of the world is discontent: the great prosperity of the few causes the masses to "fret," and the more so as knowledge increases. Individually and nationally the world is restless. Yet statesmen especially are fearful of war—fearful, too, that despite their desire to avoid it something may enkindle the blaze which may involve all Europe. (1) Trouble is feared in Macedonia, an eastern province of Turkey, peopled by socalled Christians who are in a state of ferment because of various oppressions. The country under the misrule of Turkey is, according to apparently reliable accounts, so infested with robbers, "brigands," that neither life nor property is safe. The Turkish tax-gatherers oppress the people. The result is discouragement, and anarchy is expected in the spring. This will call for Turkish soldiers and a general and terrible slaughter is expected.
(2) The further fear is that Russia will seize such an occasion and join in the war;—either because of the sympathy of the people of Russia for all Greek Catholics or with a desire on the part of their government to seize more territory. (3) It is generally admitted that this might lead to further strife between the great powers of Europe. This might start a flame of war which might be difficult to extinguish; for (4) Austria-Hungary is in a bad way—almost ready for civil war. (5) Italy has a grudge against Austria of 37 years' standing, which one of her chief ministers of state recently referred to publicly. (6) France still nurses her grudge against Germany and wants back Alsace and Lorraine. (7) Germany is approaching some kind of a crisis: Socialism there is growing so rapidly that all the other political parties have been compelled to unite to oppose it. The three old parties have just entered into an agreement that whichever party polled the largest vote in each district at the last election shall have the support of the others as against Socialism. This will probably keep the Socialists from gaining full control until the subsequent election,—1908. Then they and the Kaiser will have a settlement.
"Dr. David F. Bradley, president of Iowa College, Grinnell, Ia., occupied the pulpit of the First Congregational church yesterday morning and evening. At the morning service Dr. Bradley spoke from John 12:32: 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.'
"Dr. Bradley asked if Jesus expected the fulfilment of the prophecy that all men would be drawn to him, and if the present indications pointed to its fulfilment, answering both questions in the affirmative.
"The Christian powers, he said, were dominating the earth, and this was especially true of the last century. St. Louis, with the vast territory of which it was the center, a hundred years ago was in savagery, but was now dedicated to Christianity. This condition was true not only of America, but of other countries.
"Africa, the dark continent of a few years ago, was now dominated by Christian countries, and slavery in all its hideous forms was rapidly being eliminated by the onward march of the Christian religion.
"The emancipation of Egypt by the occupation of the English, and the control of India, with its 250,000,000 of people, by a monarch who is the sworn defender of the faith, were indications that all men were being drawn to Christ.
"Russia, which had reclaimed northern Asia; [R3170 : page 100] Japan, which had joined the family of Christian nations, and the recent opening of China to the outside world, thus bringing one-third of the population of the earth in direct contact with the progressive peoples of other nations, showed that the fulfilment of the prophecy was near at hand.
"There was a closer unity of the nations of the world now than ever before. The introduction of the railroad, the telegraph and other facilities which bring all parts of the world into closer contact with one another, had done much toward spreading the teachings of the Christian religion.
"These facilities had also caused a wider dissemination of the English language, which was essentially the language of purity. This had done much to counteract the effects of the teachings of the native languages which were corrupt and unclean. All these things had worked for the inculcation of Christian ideas.
"The conditions at home were also more favorable than ever before. There was a greater unity among the churches. They were working not only independently for the regeneration of the world, but acting in concert for the same great end.
"Live and learn" is an old proverb; but it will take some of us a long time to learn that soldiers, steamboats, telegraphs, railroads and other modern conveniences are the new missionaries of the cross of Christ. It will be a long time before some of us learn that Civilization is merely another name for Christianization. If it is still true that there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus—through faith in his name and obedience to his Word—then some of us will be hard to convince that the millions who are receiving the blessings and conveniences of our day are thereby receiving Christ.
How blinding must be the education and title of a Doctor of Divinity;—"deceiving and being deceived." Others of far less opportunity can see clearly, that love of money, selfishness and discontent are devouring true religious instincts in all classes, and in all quarters. Others can see that, while benevolences are increasing and "a form of godliness" is maintained, vital piety, sanctity, consecration to God's will, as well as faith in the inspiration of the Scriptures, are waning rapidly in every direction.
If the whole world were civilized—as highly as the most civilized nations of "Christendom"—how far from the true Christian standard of saintship its millions would still be. How much need there would still be for us to pray: "Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done!—on earth, even as in heaven!"
"The observance of Lent, formerly confined to the Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran churches, now extends to the religious public very generally; and for the society of fashionable gaiety quite universally it has become a period of relative asceticism.
"This extension of regard for the Lenten fast has been coincident with an actual or supposed loosening of the hold of religious doctrines on a large part of Protestantism, more especially. Whether there has been a diminution in the attendance on religious services generally during that period of declension we have no comparative statistics to enable us to determine, though it seems to have been proved that in New York at present the great majority of the population do not go to church on Sunday—something like two-thirds.
"A similar census in London shows that in 12 of the boroughs with a population exceeding two millions, only about one in five are church attendants, counting the number at both the morning and evening services, and only one-half of them at the Anglican churches. In New York, out of a total attendance of about four hundred and fifty thousand, nearly three-fourths were found in Roman Catholic churches; and of the rest of the attendance, about 30 per cent. was in Episcopal and Lutheran churches.
"It appears, therefore, that of the people of New York who pay heed to religious observances, something like four-fifths frequent the churches which hold to the celebration of the Lenten fast. But, as we have already suggested, some special regard for that season is beginning to be paid by Protestant denominations which used to look on it as a detestable relic of 'Popery.' For example, we find in the Christian Intelligencer of the Reformed Church, an appeal by the 'National Central Committee of the Twentieth Century Gospel Campaign,' a distinctively 'Evangelical' enterprise, that Ash Wednesday be observed by the churches as a special day of humiliation and prayer, 'That the praying may not be general and indefinite, the committee suggests the following topics:—
"'1. For a return of absolute faith in the Bible, as the inspired, authoritative Word of God, and as furnishing the churches their only credentials and message; and for an immediate revival of earnest and systematic study of that Word in order to learn what God would have us to do in the present conditions.
"'4. For an overwhelming sense of the obligations and responsibility on the part of every professed follower of Christ, for witnessing to the lost soul nearest him—and to all lost souls he can reach—of the dying love and saving power of Christ, and urging the immediate acceptance of salvation by his blood.
"'5. For an immediate entrance of all Christians upon a campaign of personal work in seeking and winning [R3170 : page 101] lost souls, "beginning at Jerusalem"—at home—and reaching out to the uttermost parts of the earth.
"'6. For a mighty outpouring of and enduement with, the holy spirit, that the church throughout the entire nation may, by his enlightening influence, be brought to understand these life and death truths and be guided in meeting these awful and inescapable responsibilities.'"
We read the above six topics with interest amounting to amazement. Whoever drafted that list was either "not far from the Kingdom" and "an Israelite indeed," or else he was a hypocrite. We should be glad to learn that the entire committee agreed to the topics heartily and intelligently—appreciating specially the features which we have italicized. Our best wish for all the people of New York and of the whole world would be that all or at least some of them, may observe Lent and join in such petitions heartily: if but one in a hundred of those who will observe the Lenten season will do so, it will surely mean a great revival in their own hearts.
To us who observe the Memorial Supper on its anniversary only, the occasion is one of the greater solemnity, and may well be approached with the greater reverence. We commend to all of "this way" (Acts 9:2) that the interim between now and the Memorial (April 10th) be specially a season of prayer and fasting—drawing near to the Lord. (1 Cor. 7:5.) True, the Lord's consecrated people are continually to live as separate from sin and from the mind of the flesh as possible, and are to "pray without ceasing"; but, as the Apostle intimates, there may profitably be special seasons of this kind; and surely none more appropriate than this Memorial season. The fasting which we urge may or may not affect the food and drink, according to the judgment of each, respecting what diet will best enable him to glorify God and to keep his "body under." We refer specially to abstention from all "fleshly lusts which war against the soul"; these appetites always under restraint with the saints, may well be specially mortified at this time.
"The State committee of the Socialist party of Pennsylvania has instructed its secretary to send a letter to J. Pierpont Morgan to thank him, as the representative of the trusts, for the aid which monopolies are giving to the Socialist movement in the United States.
"The great trust-maker is frankly told that he cannot help his actions as a Socialist agitator, being moved thereto by certain inevitable laws of economic development over which he has no control. The letter says the trusts have demonstrated the wastefulness of competition and the practicability of combination on a large scale. While the Socialists say they press forward toward that goal where the nation will own the trusts, they are careful to say that they are not adverse to taking remedial measures, en route, such as shorter hours, more wages, factory regulations, etc.
"'Dear Sir:—As a preface to this letter and as an excuse for the liberty we take in addressing you, we desire to say that we consider you one of the most notable characters the world has seen. At the same time we cannot forbear adding that we are of the opinion that you are an unconscious tool in the hands of natural forces, a chief factor in certain social and economic tendencies, whereof [R3171 : page 101] you know not the meaning and of which you cannot see the end. You are the leader of the great modern so-called trust movement, which is doing more to prepare civilized countries for the advent of Socialism than all the feeble efforts of us working-men. We know, or at least have good grounds for supposing, that you honestly dislike Socialists without exactly knowing why. We cannot blame you for this, because you unwittingly manifest the feeling of your class. As your friend, Emperor William, frankly said, you know nothing about Socialism—"the great question of the day"—but then a man in your position does not, in the nature of things, have time to study social science.
"'Political economy, as taught in all the schools today is an anachronism, holding that competition is the best means of advancing the welfare of society; whereas the successful operation of the trust has demonstrated at once the practicability of cooperation and the impossibility of a continuance of competition. The Socialists have maintained this for the last fifty years, in proof of which we refer you to the predictions of Karl Marx in Das Kapital.
"'For years the recognized intellectual class has told us that production on a national or world-wide scale was impossible; that one man or group of men could not conduct such vast enterprises; that they would break down of their own weight—in short, that they were an ephemeral phase of economic development. We could not convince the intellectuals to the contrary; but the stern logic of events has proved the correctness of our position. The trust convinces the most obtuse.
"'In the United States, as in all other civilized countries, the natural order of economic development has separated society into two antagonistic classes—the capitalistic, a comparatively small class, the possessors of all the means of production and distribution (land, mines, machinery and the means of transportation and communication), and the larger and ever-increasing class of wage-workers who possess no property at all. This economic supremacy has secured to the dominant class the full control of the government, the pulpit, the schools and the subsidized press. It has thus made the capitalist class the arbiter of the fate of the workers, whom it is reducing to a condition of dependence, economically exploited and oppressed, intellectually and physically crippled and degraded. Under these conditions their political equality is a bitter mockery. The present government is a conspiracy of organized and incorporated wealth, hiding behind and secretly manipulating the political machine.
"'The contest between these two classes grows ever sharper. Hand-in-hand with the growth of monopolies [R3171 : page 102] goes the annihilation of small industries and of the middle class depending on them. Ever larger grows the multitude of destitute wage-workers and of the unemployed, and ever fiercer the struggle between the class of the exploiter and the exploited.
"'Socialists demand that this struggle shall cease, but it will cease only with the elimination of its causes. To eliminate these causes it is necessary to abolish the private ownership of the modern tool of production—the trust—and place its ownership in the hands of the people. To accomplish this, it is necessary to arouse the wealth producers to a recognition of their class interest and weld them into a compact political force. This Socialists are doing, and the development of the trust constantly accelerates the movement.
"'Our ultimate goal is the cooperative commonwealth, but in striving for it we do not hesitate to seize any opportunity to improve the condition of the working class, such as securing a shorter workday, increased wages, child labor laws, factory regulations, employers' liability acts, etc.
"'The Socialist vote in the United States now numbers one-third of a million; in industrial Pennsylvania, 28,000; in intellectual Massachusetts, 40,000. These few facts, Mr. Morgan, constrain us to acknowledge our indebtedness to you and your class for demonstrating the practicability and inevitability of Socialism.
Replying to many letters of inquiry, we report to all friends of the cause that the six meetings held here recently in Carnegie Music Hall—instead of in our usual chapel—to afford opportunity for the public—were quite successful, so far as human judgment can determine. The attendance was good; at the first meeting at least 600 and at the others 800 or over, each. The audiences were not aristocratic, but very intelligent, and almost exclusively of the middle aged and elderly. The closest of attention was given, although the discourses were three or four times as long as many of the auditors were accustomed to.
We cannot doubt that some prejudices and misconceptions were removed; and we certainly trust that some were led to clearer views of our gracious heavenly Father and his plans for man's salvation. Let us hope also that some who heard will be drawn by the cords of love nearer to the Lord. We can only do our best and leave all results with the Lord. It is his work specially, and ours only as his mouthpieces and representatives. The speaker and all of the Allegheny Church were surely blessed in the efforts put forth to reach with the truth "brethren" still in "Babylon."
We are advised by our Swiss brethren that arrangements have been made for a General Convention of German and Swiss friends, to be held at Zurich, Switzerland, May 31 and June 1, at which a large number of friends is expected. We, therefore, change the date of the Editor's visit in that vicinity to conform with this arrangement, and announce that he will be at Zurich May 31 and June 1, instead of Thun, May 23 and 24.
Believing that the general interests of the work hoped to be accomplished through the Editor's visit abroad will be thereby advanced, it has been decided that Brother E. C. Henninges shall go, too. Indeed, he goes before—hoping to assist in making arrangements for the meetings and in gathering information necessary to the determining of the further course of operations in various parts of Europe. He is sure of a cordial welcome, and looks forward with pleasure to meeting the friends of present truth in London on April 5th, and also on the Memorial occasion, April 10th, and to accompanying the Editor, as above.