THE Liberal Party in the present House of Commons stands committed to a considerable degree to the laboring class—indeed quite a few of its members were chosen on the Labor ticket. British statesmen have been wondering to what extent this new element in their politics will affect future legislation, wondering how conservative or otherwise the new members from the lower strata of society would prove to be. Heretofore the members have generally been chosen either from the aristocratic or wealthy class, or from the middle class of merchants, lawyers, etc., who have a great respect for traditions. It is causing quite an awakening amongst the British to find that the new members representing the working classes are by no means disposed to be conservative, but rather are laying their plans for the ultimate capture of the majority in Parliament—planning also something of a socialistic turn to legislation. Thus, in their due time, matters are shaping around for the termination of Gentile rule in anarchy by the appointed time—by October, 1914, when their lease or permit will expire. We quote the following from the pen of an English writer who evidently is well posted on his subject. He says:—
"The enormous majority secured by the Liberal party in the last British parliamentary elections had its embarrassments as well as its pleasant features. ...A section of the Labor party in parliament, composing about one-half the labor vote, is socialistic in its program and principles, and has been striving vigorously to whip into line with itself the other half by seeking to get control of the trades unions to which the conservative half owes and confesses allegiance. This movement has become so successful that the leaders of the Liberal party, especially the Scotch, became alarmed at the growth of Socialism in the labor end of the party, and have recently taken steps to warn the Government that any further encouragement of the socialistic element would result in serious trouble. Alexander Murray, the Liberal Scottish whip in the House of Commons, in a recent speech made a fierce attack upon Socialism and its representatives in Parliament. The Scottish Parliamentary Association, under Mr. Murray's influence, passed a resolution that 'it is the primary duty of the Liberal party to present strenuous opposition to all candidates who are not prepared to dissociate themselves from the Socialist party, the avowed object of which is the complete destruction of those principles of individual liberty for which Liberalism has always contended.'
"In the meantime, the Labor representation committee, whose chairman is Keir Hardie, and which is the controlling body of the Socialistic element in politics, is working with might and main among the unions to bring them over body and soul to Socialism, with which they are all more or less deeply leavened, and seems to be in the way of fully succeeding. This presages a cleavage between the whole Labor vote and the Government."
"'The unrest of Europe, the spread of Socialism and the ominous rise of anarchism are warnings to the governments and the ruling classes that the condition of the working classes in Europe is becoming intolerable, and that if a revolution is to be avoided some steps must be taken to increase wages, reduce the hours of labor and lower the prices of the necessaries of life. Europe is a great military camp. We have no peace, only an armistice, with unlimited expenditures. The result is that instead of accumulating capital for our children we are piling up for them debt and overwhelming responsibilities.'
"These words were spoken, not by a labor agitator or a Socialist, but by an aristocrat and a member of the most conservative body in all Europe. That gives them all the more significance. They contain more valuable political economy than is to be found in most of the books. They sound a note of warning. Take [R3898 : page 372] heed, gentlemen of the war and navy departments!"—Wall Street Journal.
The matter that confuses many is that really the working people of the civilized world are better off in many respects today than they ever were before: the unrest is the result of knowledge, the increase of the spirit of liberty. When the people supposed that God had created the royal families to rule and had specially blessed them financially, they looked to them as they properly looked to the Almighty, as their benefactors, and were thankful for whatever they received, thankful to be permitted to live at all, thankful to have enough of food and raiment and shelter to make them reasonably comfortable. But with the opening of the eyes of their understanding, with the information from the pages of history that their kings and nobles in times past had seized the property and power which they now possessed—seized it by force and without divine authorization—this knowledge has rendered the masses dissatisfied. They now reason that those who have seized the earth and its honors, authorities and powers in the past and who hold them by force may be reasonably required to surrender to the public enough of their surplus to make the entire people reasonably comfortable. Nor need we be surprised that frequently unreasonable demands are made by those whose minds have not been developed along the lines of finance, politics and religion, but who are coming to these subjects with crude, half-formed impressions, surmises, expectations. Is not this exactly what the Scriptures tell us respecting our day, the "time of the end"—in which we have already been for one hundred and seven years? Do they not tell us that in this period would come the running to and fro of travel, which we now see about us everywhere, by which the various nations and peoples and classes are intermingled and waked up to the true situation of matters? Do we not see about us as another evidence of this time the fulfilment of the prediction, "Knowledge shall be increased"? And is it not as a result of the increase of knowledge from this intermingling that the further prediction is to be fulfilled, "There shall be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation"?—Daniel 12:1.
Rev. Dr. Hoar, of the Newton Theological Seminary, has been making a study of conditions in New England, and finally raises his voice in protest that instead of civilization elevating the people a marked degeneracy is in progress. This may be disappointing to those who have the wrong expectation for the future—to those who are hoping that the Millennium will be introduced by the conversion, sanctification, of the whole world of mankind to the extent that God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven. But for those who take the Scriptural view, Reverend Hoar's findings are a further corroboration of the truth of the Bible. Our Lord's words are confirmed, for he said, "When the Son of man cometh shall he find the faith on earth?"—implying that the true faith would be very scarce at that time. It confirms the Apostle Paul's statement that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived"; and again, that "In the last days [in the close of the present age, before the dawning of the new dispensation] perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
Reverend Hoar says:—"There has come to some communities a disintegration and degeneration of public morals which has brought them down in moral tone below the mining camps of the west. Degenerates in mining camps are willing to acknowledge that they are bad, but not so with degenerates in New England. They commit the sins of the mining camps while they lay claim to respectability, and refuse to admit their guilt. There must be a mixture of wickedness in order to free them from a charge of being Puritanical. In 90 per cent. of the New England towns the large majority of the people have no intelligent faith about anything, and do not wish to have any. Serious religion, which interferes with personal aims and pleasures, is shunned and its advocates ridiculed. The condition seems utterly hopeless."
Considerable agitation has been caused amongst our Methodist friends looking toward a revised statement of their creed; but, says the Michigan Christian Advocate, commenting on the question, "Present indications are that no revision of the Methodist creed will be undertaken in this generation."
"Theoretically a great deal might be said in favor of the American proposal, especially on the score of [R3899 : page 372] honesty. But, practically, we are convinced that any attempt at definition just now would be inexpedient. The fact is, every Methodist Church now allows a certain latitude to its ministers and people on points of doctrine, so long as the 'substance of doctrine' is accepted and honorably adhered to. We all know in practice what that substance is, for it has been clearly laid down in the admirable Free-Church catechism. Anything further in the way of an attempt to bring the whole body of Methodist belief into the strait-waistcoat of a doctrinal standard would probably have an effect of a far-reaching and disastrous character.
"For the plain truth is, that the world of religious thought is still in a state of flux. True, Christian thought has assimilated and been enriched by the theory of evolution as the result of the researches into natural science. But even on the subject of evolution we have not heard the last word. Meanwhile, a new realm of thought is being opened up by the investigations [R3899 : page 373] of the psychologist. The secrets of man's higher self are being laid bare with the scientific exactness which has been already brought to bear on his physical frame, and the thoughtful Christian is being led into new realms of thought, which must still further widen the theological horizon. In these circumstances no finality is practicable, and any effort to force it prematurely might conceivably end in a fissure which would rend our Church asunder from pole to pole. Students of theological history know well that these periods of flux in thought occur in cycles; and it will be quite time enough to examine our own doctrinal position when the present movement has reached a standstill—of which no signs are yet discernible. If the invitation comes to the British conference, we hope that it will be courteously declined—and declined not on the grounds proffered by Bishop Wilson and others, of any slavish dread of breaking with traditional views, but because the time is not opportune."
Reverend E. D. Decker, pastor of Ebenezer M.E. Church, Manayunk, Philadelphia, finding that even short sermons and elaborate choir service failed to attract the people to his Church, has introduced a new plan to draw "worshipers," as follows:—
"He has formed the young, attractive and unengaged girls of his congregation into an ushers' association, the chief duties of membership being to conduct worshipers, and especially strangers, to their seats and to collect the offertory. The girls take turns, twelve of them officiating each week. They wear a simple, neat and very effective uniform of white, with a becoming lace cap, and stand ready in a double row at the Church door to welcome arriving worshipers.
"The first trial of the innovation yesterday was an enormous success, crowds of young men who have been stubbornly 'unregenerate,' coming from far and near. The pastor is delighted with the success of the experiment, which, he said, he was sure would prove the long-sought solution of the difficult problem of how to bring light to many young men whom the distractions of business and pleasure have hitherto monopolized.
"The Church's principal supporters are prominent business men, and they are equally delighted. They say that the opposition churches in the neighborhood must follow suit or 'go out of business.' The treasurer said the fact was sufficient that the offertory showed a 150 per cent. increase over the corresponding Sunday of last year."
The difficulty with Christian people in general is their misunderstanding of the divine plan, with the thought which is so general amongst them, that an outward moral gloss and membership in some of the sectarian churches is what the Lord is seeking and approves. The enterprising Church members, with a measure of good intention, resort to Trilby shows, raffles, chances, and various methods that are somewhat shady for the raising of money, or, as in the above case, for the increase of their attendance. What they all should see is that the Lord "seeks such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23.) And the call is not to an outward gloss of morality, nor to an earthly Church membership, but a call to saintship, to full consecration of heart and life to the Lord, and these, as the Lord himself forewarned us, will be but a little flock, amongst them not many wise, great, learned or noble according to the course of this world.
But the friends of the various denominations ask, How then would the world be converted and the Millennium be ushered in? We answer that the conversion of the world and the bringing in of the Millennium are matters beyond human power. With all the stooping to worldly methods and ignoble practices, there are twice as many heathen today, after a hundred years of the most noted missionary effort the world has ever known, as there were a century ago. The natural increase of the human family operates effectively to stop any thought of a conversion of all the heathen—we are getting farther from such a possibility every day. But even if the heathen were all converted to the condition of the Church members of Christendom we are all witnesses that the work of conversion would need to be repeated, because surely amongst Church members God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. The vast majority of them have no wish for God's will to be done in them, but rather are walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit. The real hope is in the divine plan: the selection now of the little flock to be the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, and the work for the world to begin after the marriage of the Lamb has taken place at the second coming. Then the Spirit and the glorified Bride will say, "Come," and whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely. Then Satan will be bound and all the families of the earth be blessed with the uplifting influences that will then be world-wide and ocean-deep—the knowledge of the Lord.