THE Bible forewarns us respecting the character of the great trouble-time everyone sees is approaching rapidly. It tells us it will be different from any trouble of the past. It points out that selfishness will be its basis and that the whole world will be involved—"every man's hand against his neighbor." (Zech. 8:10.) The spirit of the Evil One will possess the world and cause them to be and to act the reverse of those who possess the Spirit of Christ, whose delight it must be to "do good unto all men, especially to the household of faith."
The bitter, vitriolic spirit of the unregenerate heart, when soured and stung to resentment, is well illustrated in the speech of Emma Goldman, the anarchist. She declared in a speech to workingmen, as reported in the public press:—
"Why should workingmen warn their employers when they are about to strike?" she demanded, stamping her foot. "Why should workingmen govern their actions in such cases by moral or ethical considerations? Why should you give notice, time to prepare your own destruction. Oh, I think it is time for workingmen to become unmoral. Your employers will tell you piously that they have been placed by God in the position that they occupy. That is right. You will always find God on the side of the thief and the robber.
"Win your demands quickly by direct action. The striking tailors of Glasgow went back to work with apparent docility, but when they were inside the shops they used their shears to destroy a large quantity of goods until their employers saw the wisdom of yielding.
"Oil workers, striking in a Russian city, when they saw that they were about to be overcome by scabs and militia, burned huge quantities of kerosene, thus striking their employers in their one vulnerable spot, their pockets.
Happily only a few people as yet have so bitter a spirit toward their fellow-men; but it is our expectation that conditions during the next few years will [R4075 : page 311] eventually sour the hearts of thousands to just such a frenzy. Now, comparatively few are so wicked and so desperate; but under favorable conditions such a ferment might develop quickly.
Nor are we to suppose that the wealthy and educated are all saints. The natural mind is in its last analysis under desperate conditions, all that the Scriptures claim—"deceitful and desperately wicked." Education and training assist in the development of moderation and self-control, but it will be seen that brutish ferocity will characterize their conduct also, though it may take a different form.
A hint at the possibilities along the line of capitalistic combination was recently thrown out by The Wall Street Journal, a staid financial sheet which daily visits all the prominent financiers, bankers and brokers, in a semi-humorous article written after the style of "Looking Backward." It is in the form of telegraphic news, dated next year, and begins thus:—
"Washington, D.C., June 10, 1908.—Capital has gone on strike. On Friday, June 12, at 8 o'clock in the morning, practically every wheel in the country will cease to turn. Manufacturing establishments will be closed. Railroad trains will be brought to a standstill, mining will be suspended, banking houses will close their doors and the stock exchange will take an indefinite recess, as in the panic of 1873. Fully 15,000,000 persons, the bread-winners of 15,000,000 families, will be thrown out of employment. It is believed that many of the rich men of the country have gathered their available funds together and have prepared to leave the country."
Then follows the names of the leading bankers, railroad presidents and industrial managers, with an account of a visit by them to President Roosevelt. The reporters are represented as waiting long for a report of the interview, until Mr. Carnegie comes out, saying, "I see my way clear, now, to die poor and undisgraced"; then followed President Baer of the P. & R. RR., referring to Isaiah 66:15.
Then follows the story of the stormy, desperate interview, E. H. Gary representing the iron and steel trades and "all of the 216,000 manufacturing establishments of the United States, representing invested capital of $12,000,000,000." Next President Baer of the railroad interests and Jacob H. Schiff of the banking interests are represented as telling the President that all these interests have decided to stop work.
Then the President makes an impassioned speech. He tells them it is a monstrous, inhuman thing they plan, and says he will call out the army and navy to prevent them from carrying out their threats. Then Harriman asks the President, with "snapping sarcasm," "What can you expect from undesirable citizens?" The President then roasts Harriman and demands of all those who confront him if the conditions of which they complain—hostile legislation, exorbitant demands by the labor unions and socialistic agitation for government ownership by confiscation—are not the outcome of capital's outrageous treatment of the people. Then he tells them that if they will not operate the factories, the railroads and "the various tools of commerce, the people will take your properties and operate them on their own account."
The capitalists at this point paralyze the President by telling him they have formed a union which includes, in addition to all employing capitalists, "the great mass of high-class labor, such as executive heads of departments, experts, scientists, etc., who preferred to throw their lot and portion with the employing capitalists." Henry H. Rogers, after stating this, demands to know whether the people could run the properties if they took them.
An improbable picture this, yet who acquainted with human nature, who that knows the indomitable force and energy of these "captains of industry" will doubt that if not this method some other would be used to "bring the masses to their senses"?—in other words to convince the public of the value of brains in all the affairs of the world.
Selfishness will spur on both sides: each will proudly feel its strength and imagine erroneously that its next stronger show of power will discourage its opponent, until matters will get beyond the control of all human wisdom, counsel and power.
"There is going to be a revolution in this country. The people are going to revolt against the oppressions of the Trusts. There will be a deluge and the streets will run with blood when the people are aroused. The people are finding out gradually about the Trusts, and when they realize a little more fully how they are ruining the chances of the average person there is going to be a revolution. It will be a deluge, I tell you."
On the other side of the question we have Chancellor Day of Syracuse University, N.Y., who discerns that brains are necessary to the world's progress, but nevertheless joins in predictions of coming disaster so clearly set forth in the Scriptures. He says:—
"For some time we have been in the grip of this mighty spasm over corporate wealth and swollen fortunes. These current phrases are from high sources. All of our national ills are being stated in this formula. Down with the rich! Puncture the swollen fortunes! Make the rich poor and all the poor will be rich! Destroy the corporations, hamper them, obstruct them, sue them in the courts! Assail them in the press! Tie the strings of the Lilliputians to them in Congress and bind them, and then the individual can have a chance!
"Make the returns of great businesses sufficiently small and uncertain by petty legislative restrictions and control and we shall not be troubled by the genius of a Rockefeller, a Hill, a Morgan, a Carnegie, an [R4075 : page 312] Armour or a Swift. The little men will be big enough for the little things remaining to be done. It is a crime for several men to exercise the power of giving employment to 50,000 or 150,000 men.
"I predict," he says in conclusion, "that we are passing through an epoch that will stand in future times to our everlasting disgrace and shame. We are phenomenally blessed by providence. We are steadied by the calm confidence and signal ability of the greatest men ever known in the commercial world. But if this mania continues, it is not far on to a crash that will carry down all confidence, confuse all property rights, block the wheels of all progress and wreck not only the millionaire's fortune, but the laborer's cottage. The demand of the hour is control of the controller. Swollen fortunes are a thousand fold less dangerous to our land and people than swollen demagogy."
If all the rich were "saints" according to the Scriptural usage we might blame them for not sacrificing their talents and opportunities and incomes for the welfare of others. But amongst the "saints" are not many rich or great or noble. The rich children of this world, like the poor of the same class, know no consecration to self-sacrifice. Each is doing his best to serve his own best interests as he conceives these. The difference lies in the birth, environment and opportunities. Both wisdom and grace bid the followers of Jesus to think generously of the entire "groaning creation" and rejoice that to all—rich and poor—the Millennial Kingdom of God's dear Son will bring soon after the day of trouble a day of grandest blessings and opportunities.