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"The prospects with which 1914 opens are nowhere encouraging. Unrest prevails in every quarter of the habitable globe—from China to Peru. The difficulties of Great Britain are as great as, if not greater than, those of her neighbors, and her means of defense are less, for her Constitution has been deliberately destroyed to serve the cause of party.
"The House of Lords is only retained to supply the Radical Party with money for electioneering purposes. The House of Commons is muzzled and gagged, and the salaried representatives of the constituencies serve the electorate or earn their salaries, not with their brains or their judgment, but with their legs; they walk into the voting lobbies whenever the Government Whips give them their orders. Legislation is a mere question of shoe leather.
"Now a new danger looms before us. It looks as if the problem of naval defense would be shirked, that a body of men led by persons with ostentatiously German names may continue the support of the Radical Party. And meanwhile by assiduous appeals to envy, hatred and greed, Ministers have spoiled the temper of the nation. The nation is not only out of temper, but in an ugly temper."—London Daily Mail.
The foregoing shows some of the troubles of worldly princes and aristocracy. We cannot avoid a feeling of deep sympathy for the aristocracy in their present conditions. Jesus long ago foretold the conditions of our day, saying, especially of the rich and titled, "Men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth"—upon society. Special privileges have so long been enjoyed by the aristocracy that it is only natural that they should feel that these privileges are theirs by Divine right.
On the other hand, the world of mankind are learning how the control of the earth came into the possession of so few people in olden times. They are learning that in less civilized times the better educated and more influential gradually gathered property and titles into their own hands. These have been transferred to their children from generation to generation, and laws have been framed which recognize their titles, until now any other laws which in any measure abrogate the title, or limit the special privileges, are felt to be unjust, ungodly—robbery.
Much could be said on both sides of the question. It is ours to consider God's view of the situation and the relationship of the whole to the Golden Rule—the Divine Law. Viewing matters from this standpoint, the majority can agree that even if there was an excuse in the past for the usurpation of titles, privileges and possessions of land, those privileges would cease with changed conditions. In other words, if there was in the past a time when the masses of the people were too ignorant or too superstitious to appreciate self-government and to exercise it properly, and if at that time it was in the interest of all that the land and the privileges were seized by the more fit of the race for the general welfare, this did not mean that matters must so continue forever. It did mean, rather, that with general education and general fitness for self-government all such privileges should be relinquished or abrogated.
To state the matter in different terms: If the educated in times past believed that they followed the Golden Rule in seizing land and authority, the same Golden Rule would demand that their power be used in the public interest and welfare—that the public be educated and that, as the masses became capable of self-control, power and authority should be gradually delivered to them. The whole question, according to this standard of the Golden Rule, would therefore be, Have the masses yet attained that degree of development which would permit them to handle their own, or should the aristocracy continue to handle it for them under the plea that the public is not competent—not wise enough to manage its own estate?
Whenever the majority of the people reach the conclusion that they are competent to manage their estate, and whenever they learn that God gave the earth and its fulness not to the few, but to the many—then the people will take up their own inheritance and exercise their own control; and in that proportion the titles of lords, nobles, dukes, kings and emperors will be merely empty reminders of a darker time. Thenceforth, either by Parliaments or Congresses, the people will manage their own affairs, using the ballot for that purpose.
This condition of things, which has been coming upon the world gradually, is evidently quite right, quite in accord [R5448 : page 132] with the Golden Rule. True, it would have appeared nobler had the titled aristocracy voluntarily surrendered to the people their rights. But we must remember that all mankind are innately selfish, and hence disposed to look upon matters from the standpoint of their own personal interest and that of their families. It has been fortunate for the world's peace that this turning of their rights over to the people has been proceeding gradually, rather than by violent revolution. Inch by inch the people have been taking back their rights, in proportion as they became intelligent enough to appreciate them. Perhaps sometimes in their zeal, they desired too much or sought to grasp too much, or at least sought to grasp more than they were qualified to use wisely.
No wonder if many of the aristocracy feel deeply grieved, as does the Duke of Bedford. No wonder if many of them have dark forebodings respecting the future. No wonder if it seems to them as if justice is being violated. They have lost the proper perspective of the situation. They fail to see that as elder brothers to the remainder of the race, they should recognize that the masses are no longer "like dumb, driven cattle." They should recognize that a great awakening has come within the last century, and they should be as anxious to turn over the inheritance to their brethren as the latter are anxious to receive it.
The political battle which has been in progress in Great Britain in recent years, and especially within the past two years, is exciting the astonishment of the world. Kings and princes and nobles are in alarm, fearful of the results. The Bible alone makes the situation clear. It alone shows us that the wonderful changes of our day are incidental to the transfer of the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
We should not be misunderstood, however: We have no thought that the change of parties or of party leaders or of party policies in Great Britain, or in any other nation, will make that nation a holy nation, a member of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, we have no reason to believe that Socialists as a whole would or could give the world the blessing of perfect earthly government, establish human rights, etc. On the contrary, we are to remember that while kings and princes have ruled sometimes with a heavy hand, nevertheless, in recent years at least, they have found it necessary to give the people and their interests greater consideration than ever before; and that their experience and their education doubtless qualify them above the average of their fellows for the management of large questions of national import.
Besides, the sudden change would involve not only great hardship to these lords of the land, but probably great distress and hardship to the masses as well. Indeed, this is just what the Bible points out to us. We are living in the time of Christ's presence. The selection of the Church of Christ to be the Bride-Consort in the Kingdom is nearly completed. The Kingdom will, therefore, soon be established. But those possessed of the power and authority, not realizing this, are holding fast to all that was seized by their forefathers under different conditions.
To our understanding, the Bible teaches that this conflict of interests is about to precipitate a great Time of Trouble, the like of which never was before. (Daniel 12:1.) Nobody wants the trouble, everybody will be injured by it, and yet everybody is rushing toward it. Both the aristocracy and the masses are goaded on by fear. The former fear the loss of their earthly all; the latter perceive that the money of the world, and the land, the basis of all wealth, are in possession of the aristocracy.
The masses realize that, with the bountiful blessings which God has been pouring out upon the world during the past century through increase of knowledge and invention, the world is becoming fabulously rich; and that these riches are gravitating toward the same hands that control the land. They are fearful that if they do not improve the opportunities now passing, they or their children will in time again become slaves or serfs. Hence the turmoil of speech and the conflict between classes, which are hurrying us toward the vortex of the great Armageddon.—Revelation 16:16.
Although we are powerless to hinder either party, we are deeply interested in both, and sympathetic toward both; our own best consolation and the best which we can [R5449 : page 132] offer to either party of the strife is that which we get from the Bible. It tells us that in the darkest hour, when human passion will have reached its climax in anarchy, there still will be hope—the brightest of all hopes. Following the dark hour of trouble will come the glorious sunrise of the Millennial Kingdom, scattering earth's ignorance and superstition. Then the Kingdom, taking a firm hold upon the race, will properly conduct humanity to the full heights of perfection lost in Eden, but redeemed for all at Calvary. With such a hope we may well possess our souls in peace, awaiting so glorious an outcome of the Divine Plan.
Although we are not to be active in the strife on either side, we cannot be without deep interest in both sides; and we must, to the extent of our opportunities and influence, tell the good tidings of the coming Kingdom to as many of the warriors in that battle as may have the hearing ear. To whatever extent they shall be able to hear, to believe, they will have blessing, peace, comfort. It is the portion of the Church to be faithful to the principles of the Divine character and to make known the Divine Program, to bind up all the broken-hearted with the blessed Message of Divine mercy and to teach all the lesson of patient endurance, loyalty and faithfulness. It is ours, as the Apostle says, to "do good unto all men, but especially unto them who are of the Household of Faith."
Whether or not the climax of this trouble should be reached in 1915, is not for us to say. We should even have no wish on the subject, except that God's will shall be done. As we note the rapid changes which have taken place in the public sentiment in Great Britain within the past year, we cannot doubt that if the Gentile Times expire with the close of this year, 1914, a very short period might accomplish the full inauguration of the Day of Wrath, in which, as foreshown in Bible imagery, the ecclesiastical heavens and the political earth will be consumed in a wild revolution of human passion, which will thoroughly melt, or disintegrate, the elements composing the present order of things—the social element, the political element, the financial element, the ecclesiastical element. We know, however, that the great God of Love is so wise that He has known long in advance every feature of the great conflict and conflagration; and that His arrangements are ample for the arrest of the trouble in due time, by the establishment of the Kingdom of His dear Son with great and glorious power.
We had expected that if the Gentile Times should end with the present year, this would surely mean that all the Bride class would participate in the First Resurrection change from earthly conditions to Heavenly conditions before the end of the present year. Although this was not stated positively, it was pointed out to be the logical conclusion. [R5449 : page 133] Now it does not look so. We see Scriptures which are not yet fulfilled and which, we are convinced, could not find accomplishment before the end of this year.
Of course, our conviction along this line is no stronger than it previously was in the opposite direction. Of course, with God all things are possible. Of course, the Scriptures most distinctly tell us that the catastrophe will come suddenly—"as travail upon a woman with child"—at a moment as unexpected to the mother as to others. Hence it is not impossible that all of our expectations may be realized before the end of this year. We consider, however, that this is highly improbable. We desire all of our readers to know this, whatever influence it may have upon their plans and arrangements.
As for the Editor, he will be just as pleased to have the Lord's will done in the one way as in the other. Indeed, if allowed to have a voice in the deciding of the matter, we would feel afraid to exercise such a privilege. The poet has expressed the thought, saying:
If the year shall pass without a special manifestation of Divine favor toward the Church in the way of resurrection change from earthly to spiritual nature, we shall know that we erred in judgment in respect to the time when this glorious event might be expected. The great fact would still remain, however, that the hope of the Church of God is the resurrection change, "when this mortal shall put on immortality"—"changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." If it be the Divine arrangement that we should remain longer this side the veil, we doubt not that He will have some service for us to perform here. And whether our service be on this side of the veil or on the other side, we should be fully content, knowing that He is too wise to err; nor should we lament our misunderstandings. Rather, we should be glad and rejoice, and continue active in the Divine service, as glad to serve on one side of the veil as on the other, with the assurance that God's will is being done in us.
There is still a possibility that we have made no mistake in respect to the time, but have erred in respect to the things expected. For instance, it may be that the Times of the Gentiles do expire with the present year, but that the Lord will not dispossess them nor take from them their earthly dominion so quickly as we had anticipated. Considering that they have been in power for 2,520 years, dispossession in one year might seem very sudden—indeed, to accomplish it in five, or ten, or twenty years, might seem not an unreasonable time.
Germany is being overwhelmed with a deluge of infidelity, unparalleled in its entire history. The Monist Federation is endeavoring to draw together the cultured strata of the people into a solid phalanx against Christianity. The Social Democrats are pushing the general masses into a fanatical hatred of Church and State, and in the pulpits a Liberalism is spreading, which is almost utterly devoid of the Spirit of the Gospel.
While in believing circles earnest efforts are being put forth for individual salvation, and Mission Work is being done amongst the people, to stem the destructive tide, it becomes more evident every day, that "the State Church is doomed in her struggle with Infidelity."
General strike against the Church is the latest slogan. The "No-Creeders" (Monists) in league with the Socialists, convened mass meetings in Berlin, Brunswick and Saxony, in which every means of incitation was employed in an appeal toward a secession from the State Church. At these meetings over 1,300 persons signed a declaration announcing their intention to secede from the Church. Four thousand more followed, and according to judicial court-records received towards the end of December, 17,000 secessions took place in December up to the 23d, and the day after Christmas 8,000 more announced their intention. These are alarming figures!
The following press reports may serve as a typical illustration of the mode of procedure in such meetings. Said Dr. Liebknecht: "The Church (especially the Prussian State Church) is not a religious, but a purely political Institution. She constitutes a blasphemy against the claims of early Christianity. She does not aim at the closer Union and Development of man with man, but is a conscious instrument of the Ruling Class for the oppression of the Masses, and blandly supports the Capitalistic Element under the protection of the State. As such the Church is additionally a bulwark of militarism. On the other hand, the so-called Christian Prussian State is merely a state of Classes, reared upon the canonization of those 'treasures which moth and rust corrupt.' To belittle this Prussian State is therefore our aim. One means to that end is a strike en masse, which is inevitable.
"In the meantime, however, the 'Church Boycott' is a still more convenient and none the less effective means as a political onslaught. Thereby the Church can eventually be starved financially. Whoever has severed with the Church at heart, and continues to remain in her, is a hypocrite. Come out of the Prussian Military Church! Away from the Church and thus from the Prussian Feudal State!" Thundering applause followed this reasoning.
The second Socialist speaker of the day summed up the matter thus: "Whoever does not secede from the Church, with which he has nothing in common, is a scoundrel! Every Socialist must secede, for the Church combats Socialism by every available means."
The Post writes: "We attended one of the twelve Mass Meetings convened by the 'No Creeders.' We looked forward beforehand to an uncomfortable evening. Nor shall we say anything respecting the vitriolic remarks of the two speakers, who had not a single commendatory word for the Church, and seemed to know only Clerics, but no Ministers. The painful fact was more than apparent, that Socialism is merely another name for Infidelity. But one thing really horrified us: Such a degree of vulgarity, such degeneracy of mind, we had not deemed possible! Without exception, every one who even by vague allusion, ventured to take a stand for his Church was howled down, hissed from the rostrum and subjected to filthy invectives. While appealing to the true, inner sentiments of man, supposing that every man must at least hold a faith in something higher, 'Whew'! burst from a thousand throats, piercing whistles were given, and loud hoots and guffaws greeted such an accession. It seemed as if one were in an assembly of criminals, and not amongst men of feeling and sense.
"To illustrate: When a minister ascended the platform, the following was heard, 'He looks it'! 'Old Sky-pilot'! And from another part of the hall the same evening we heard the following words aimed at the ministers: 'Damned Rags'! 'Pig-priests'! A gentleman who interrupted was yelled at 'Rous mit the Parsonface'! At one time a vulgar interjection reached our ears, one from the 'underworld,' wholly unfit for print.
"The ministers had been invited. A few courageous men ran the gauntlet, and undertook the difficult task of obtaining a hearing amidst these roaring waves. Then one of them ascended the rostrum, a spirited character, whose mild facial expression alone invited reconciliation; with quiet, well-weighed words (Pastor Le Seur from Gross Lichterfeld, Berlin), attempted to make clear to the assembly the seriousness of the problem, with which unscrupulous agitators were here playing football. He frankly admitted that the State Church manifested serious faults. He withdrew amidst a flood of derision, ridicule and insults. Then came a woman of the working class. She yelled to the ministers, who stood close to the speaker's chair: 'I can believe in ten thousand devils in this world, but not in your God, Sir Pastor!' And the masses yelled applause."
In the Vossische Zeitung, Prof. Oswald, President of the Monist Federation, expressed the aim which he pursues in the Secessional Movement, as follows: "Thus far all attempts for emancipation from Church Rule through Science have been confined to the comparatively small 'Upper Strata' of the cultured. The present movement is characterized, in that it takes hold, not only of the influential, but an exceedingly large number of our people, amongst Organized Labor. If the present movement assumes the proportion of an avalanche, which is very probable, in a short time it will be no more a question of thousands or tens of thousands, but of millions."
In an article, "Decay of the State Church," Die Welt writes in conclusion: "The rule of the 'Liberals' incites the 'Positives' to leave the State Church. While on the other side, 'Indifferents' are leaving in ever-increasing numbers. As a result, we may finally reach a state of things in Berlin, when the State Church will collapse."—Translation from Der Apologete, Cincinnati, Ohio.