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READERS of these columns, and especially such as are familiar with the presentations of the volume entitled "Armageddon," know quite well that it is our opinion that there is a correspondency to be noted between the conditions which will prevail in the days of Noah, prior to the Deluge, and the conditions which will prevail in the days of the Son of Man, prior to the great Time of Trouble, which the Bible declares will symbolically melt, or dissolve, as in a furnace of fire, the social elements of today. We have called attention to the fact that the Giants of Noah's day, according to the Bible, endangered the lives and the happiness of humanity; and that it was our thought that a counterpart of these Giants is to be found in the great institutions and trusts of our day, which have the power to throttle, to strangle humanity.
We have pointed out that much could be said in favor of aggregations of wealth and intellect in mighty combinations, if properly used, not selfishly, but in the interests of the people. We have pointed out that although these Giant corporations have accomplished great good, which could not have been accomplished without their aid or without some Divine interposition, nevertheless, under present selfish conditions, they are a menace to the people.
We should not be misunderstood. We do not mean even to hint that the men at the head of these Giant corporations are inferior to their fellows in sympathy and in wisdom. On the contrary, we believe that they are generally superior, and that had brutish men been at the head of these Giant corporations they long ago would have sought to squeeze the very life out of the people. But, as we have pointed out, there is continually a tendency on the part of all imperfect people toward selfishness, acquisitiveness. That "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" is as true today as ever it was. The people must watch the Giants lest they become autocratic.
The Editor is well aware that apparently much has been done to bind these Giants; and he well knows that they have apparently submitted and apparently acknowledge themselves the creatures, the servants of the people. But he also takes note that this transformation is merely an appearance. This docility is merely affected. The Giants of intellectual and monetary strength have not really surrendered, nor is it in harmony with the laws of human nature to suppose that they would ever capitulate. Instead, they have seemingly acquiesced to the laws and regulations while merely transforming themselves and retaining their power. In several instances they have demonstrated that they are as powerful today as they ever were. And in their behalf it should be acknowledged that much of the legislation enacted against them is mere demagoguerythe work of politicians, intended to curry favor with the people and not for practical use.
We have no sympathy with those who make tirades against the courageous and brainy men who have, along purely commercial lines, done so much to help forward the world's conditionso much to prepare for the Millennium. Instead of being tantalized and hampered, these financial and engineering princes should be appreciated, honored. Then, while honoring them, we should insist upon their reasonable control and supervision by the people through their governmental representatives. If these Giants are necessary and useful, they can be better ruled by love and justice than by nagging and pin-pricking. No doubt it is this very nagging that is producing more and more a spirit of bitterness in the Giantsa feeling that they are not appreciated by some, a feeling that they must teach the people a lesson.
We are not especially finding fault with anybody. We are merely pointing out conditions as they are, and showing how these are shaping themselves and preparing for a great struggle between the Giants and the peoplea struggle in which the people will suffer more than will the Giants. The fault is not with humanity at all. The fault is with the sin, the selfishness, the meanness, which for centuries has had a firm foothold in humanityrich and poor. All are selfish. Each according to his opportunity seems disposed to take advantage. The Giant corporations, we believe, are much more lenient than they would be if they were in the hands of naturally smaller men of lower class.
These Giants are realizing that they have opponents on every hand. They have long contended with the labor unions, and more or less have been compelled to submit. Now, in addition to the unions, they are obliged to contend with the people in governmental legislation, and with new ideas in respect to corporation rights and liberties. These Giants are saying to themselves, The people do not realize how much good we have done, nor what important factors in their welfare we are.
Few of the people realize that the managers and the presidents of our great railroads and large business enterprises are men of powerful mind, any of them well qualified for the highest stations of life, and many of them are earning salaries as great as that of the President of the United States, and solving problems as difficult as those which the President must handle. Few people realize that next to the farming element in importance come the railroads, as respects numbers of employees. And the latter are an increasing army, while the farmers are a decreasing army, because of labor-saving machinery.
Whoever supposes that these long-headed business men intend to sit down and quietly submit to every kind of legislation is deluding himself. The Giants know their own strength. They prefer to hide it rather than to boast of it; but when it comes to a life-and-death struggle they will use it, and terrible will be the effects. The very fact that the people are seeking to bind them arouses them to a more arbitrary exercise of their power. If legislation, for instance, affects to hinder railroads from monopolizing the anthracite and other coal interests, the coal-owning railroads with a snarl of defiance raise the price of coal, and thus give a hint to the consumers that they will need to be thankful if permitted to purchase at all and to keep from freezing.
A more or less preconcerted action has begun on the part of the great railroads and affiliated interests. They have determined that unless they are granted permission to raise their freight rates they will make the restrainers of their liberties pay dearly for it by bringing upon the country financial disaster, reaching losses a thousand times greater than the five per cent. which they demand. It would surely in many respects be wise to placate these Giants with the increase they ask, merely requiring them to render more prompt and efficient service in return.
But will this course of wisdom prevail? Possibly not. If not, we have before us already an illustration and prophecy of what may be expected. Already the railroads have laid off thousands of workmen who have been employed in road construction and repairs. Already they have canceled orders for rails and equipment, which in turn has rendered idle many of the large mills, throwing other thousands out of employment. Already they are cutting down their office forces. All this is done with a certain amount of justification in the fact that they have not been making as much money as formerly. For instance, a great steel corporation's recent report showed a "sad" falling off of revenue and profit, "leaving only $18,000,000 of profit for the quarter;" whereas they had for some time been accustomed to more. In accord with this policy, there has for some time been a gradual curtailing of train service, which is really a safe and sane policy.
We are not complaining, we are not finding fault even; we are merely recording facts, in supporting our contention that these great institutions are really Giants which, if they ever become angry and malicious, may accomplish incalculable injury. Their power and dissatisfaction have already been hinted to the government, which is more or less fearful of the industrial suspension threatened.
On the other hand we have trades unionism, which is only beginning to realize its great power at the polls, and also its physical power through strikes. The threat of the railroad managers partially to suspend business until their demands are met may any day be duplicated by the Giants of labor with their threat of suspension of labor, stoppage of fuel supply, walk-outs, etc. It may be said that these Giants of labor are blind and unwise; but nevertheless it is manifest that they, like the blind Samson of old, are feeling for the pillars which support our present social structure; and that they have in view its wreck and ruin, even though this means also the destruction of their own interests.
How soon these great Giants will enter upon their death struggle, each confident of victory, yet both doomed to destruction, no one can tell. Sure we may be, however, that in the battle of these Giants the masses of mankind will suffer with them in the ordeal.
Looking from the Bible viewpoint, we perceive that these Giants have reached their present size and strength through the light and blessings of the Millennial Morning. Had the veil of gross darkness been lifted a thousand years sooner, these Giants would have developed that much sooner; and their death struggle would have come that much sooner, with its resultant overthrow of present institutions in anarchy. But God would not permit this. It is no part of His Plan to allow human passion utterly to desolate the earth. Hence, He withheld the Morning Light until the Morning time, so that the struggle and its disastrous effects upon human institutions will occur just in advance of the time for the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom, for the control of the world by its spiritual, invisible, but all-powerful King, who is so soon to take unto Himself His great power and reign.Rev. 11:17.
How soon this great catastrophe will engulf the world none is wise enough to say, yet the trouble is discerned and feared by all persons of intelligence, but more particularly by those whose intelligence is guided by the Word of God. The catastrophe may be put off for months or years, but it is sure to come. And we can see how it might be suddenly precipitated. Even as we write, the newspapers are echoing the mutterings and threats of the labor Giants, while the capitalistic Giants are admittedly feeling sour, and are half inclined to give the public a pinch as a mere suggestion of what they could do. It is these hints, suggestions and threats which are likely to lead from bad to worse, producing anger, malice, hatred, strife, and various works of the flesh and of the Devil, as St. Paul intimated.
Whether this great trouble be very near or further afield, the proper course of God's consecrated people is the same"Seek peace and pursue it." And not only so, but we are to be peace-makers and not strife-breeders. When all around men's souls give way, a special opportunity comes to the people of God for pointing their distressed fellow-creatures to the grand blessing which God has provided for the near future, and for re-establishing faith in the Creator and in the future life, and for pointing out that it is to be attained only by those who learn the true lesson of life and who come to love righteousness and to hate iniquity.
We would be inclined to expect this great trouble to break out very soon were it not that the Scriptures apparently indicate that it will be preceded by a very powerful [R5459 : page 148] Church Federation, which will flourish outwardly in unrighteousness and be the first to succumb.
"I can see His coming judgments, as they circle all the earth,
The signs and groanings promised, to precede a second birth;
I read His righteous sentence in the crumbling thrones of earth:
Our King is marching on."