BABYLON ARRAIGNED BEFORE THE
The Civil, Social and Ecclesiastical Powers of Babylon, Christendom, Now Being Weighed in the Balances--The Arraignment of the Civil Powers--The Arraignment of the Present Social System--The Arraignment of the Ecclesiastical Powers--Even Now, in the Midst of Her Festivities the Handwriting of Her Doom is Traced and May Be Distinctly Read, Though the Trial is Not Yet Completed.
"THE mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. He shall call to the heavens from above [the high or ruling powers], and to the earth [the masses of the people], that he may judge his [professed] people [Christendom].
"Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel [nominal spiritual Israel--Babylon, Christendom], and I will testify against thee. ...Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee? When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother [the true saints, the wheat class]; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
"Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." Psa. 50:1,4,7,16-22
As the logical consequence of the great increase of knowledge on every subject providentially granted in this "day of preparation" for Christ's Millennial reign, the civil and ecclesiastical [D76] powers of Christendom, Babylon, are now being weighed in the balances of Justice, in full view of the whole world. The hour of judgment having come, the Judge is now on the bench; the witnesses--the general public--are present; and at this stage of the trial the "Powers that be" are permitted to hear the charges and then to speak for themselves. Their cases are being tried in open court, and all the world looks on with intense and feverish interest.
The object of this trial is not to convince the great Judge of the actual standing of these powers; for already we are forewarned of their doom by his "sure word of prophecy"; and already men can read upon the walls of their banqueting halls the writing of the mysterious, but fateful, hand-- "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN!" The present trial, involving the discussion of rights and wrongs, of doctrines, authorities, etc., is to manifest to all men the real character of Babylon, so that, though men have long been deceived by her vain pretensions, they may eventually, through this process of judgment, fully realize the justice of God in her final overthrow. In this trial, her claims of superior sanctity and of divine authority and appointment to rule the world, as well as her many monstrous and contradictory doctrinal claims, are all being called in question.
With evident shame and confusion of face before such a throng of witnesses, the civil and ecclesiastical powers, through their representatives, the rulers and the clergy, endeavor to render up their accounts. Never, in all the annals of history, has there been such a condition of things. Never before were ecclesiastics, statesmen and civil rulers examined, cross-questioned and criticized as now at the bar of public judgment, through which the heart-searching Spirit of the Lord is operating upon them to their great confusion. Notwithstanding their determination and effort to avoid [D77] the examination and cross-questioning of the spirit of these times, they are obliged to endure it, and the trial proceeds.
Babylon Weighed in the Balances
While the masses of men are today boldly challenging both the civil and ecclesiastical powers of Christendom to prove their claims of divine authority to rule, neither they nor the rulers see that God has granted, or rather permitted, a lease of power* to such rulers as mankind in general might choose or tolerate, whether good or bad, until "the Times of the Gentiles" expire; that during this time, God has permitted the world largely to manage its own affairs and take its own course in self-government, to the end that, in so doing, all men might learn that, in their fallen condition, they are incapable of self-government, and that it does not pay to try to be independent either of God or of each other. Rom. 13:1
Only in very recent times have knowledge and education become general. And this has come about by force of providential circumstances, and not by efforts of kings and ecclesiastics. [D78] The printing press and steam transportation have been the chief agencies in promoting it. Prior to these divine interpositions, the masses of men, being to a large extent isolated from one another, were unable to learn much beyond their own experiences. But these agencies have been instrumental in bringing about a wonderful increase of travel and of social and business intercourse, so that all men, of whatsoever rank or station, may profit by the experiences of others throughout the whole world.
Now the great public is the reading public, the traveling public, the thinking public; and it is fast becoming the discontented and clamorous public, with little reverence left for kings and potentates that have held together the old order of things under which they now so restlessly chafe. It is only about three hundred and fifty years since a statute of the English Parliament made provision for the illiterates among its members, in these words--"any Lord and Lords of the Parliament, and Peer and Peers of the Realm having place or voice in Parliament, upon his request or prayer, claiming the benefit of this act, though he cannot read." Of the twenty-six Barons who signed the Magna Charta, it is said that three only wrote their names, while twenty-three made their marks.
Seeing that the tendency of the general enlightenment of the masses of the people is toward a judgment of the ruling powers and not conducive to their stability, the Russian Minister of the Interior proposed, as a check to the growth of Nihilism, to put an end to the higher education of any members of the poorer classes. In 1887 he issued an order from which the following is an extract: "The gymnasia, high schools and universities will henceforth refuse to receive as pupils or students the children of domestic servants, peasants, tradesmen, petty shopkeepers, farmers, and others [D79] of like condition, whose progeny should not be raised from the circle to which they belong, and be thereby led, as long experience has shown...to become discontented with their lot, and irritated against the inevitable inequalities of the existing social positions."
But it is too late in the day for such a policy as this to succeed, even in Russia. It is the policy which the Papacy pursued in the days of its power, but which that crafty institution now realizes would be a failure, and sure to react upon the power attempting it. Light has dawned upon the minds of the masses, and they cannot be relegated to their former darkness. With the gradual increase of knowledge republican forms of government have been demanded, and the monarchial have been of necessity greatly modified by force of their example and the demands of the people.
In the dawning light of the new day men begin to see that under the protection of false claims, supported by the people in their former ignorance, the ruling classes have been selfishly making merchandise of the natural rights and privileges of the rest of mankind. And, looking on and weighing the claims of those in authority, they are rapidly reaching their own conclusions, notwithstanding the poor apologies offered. But being themselves actuated by no higher principles of righteousness and truth than the ruling classes, the judgment of the masses is as far from right on the other side of the question, their growing disposition being hastily to ignore all law and order rather than to consider coolly and dispassionately the claims of justice on all sides in the light of God's Word.
While Babylon, Christendom--the present organization and order of society, as represented by her statesmen and her clergy--is being weighed in the balances of public opinion, her many monstrous claims are seen to be foundationless [D80] and absurd, and the heavy charges against her--of selfishness and of nonconformity to the golden rule of Christ, whose name and authority she claims--have already overbalanced, and lifted the beam so high that, even now, the world has little patience to hear the further proofs of her really antichristian character.
Her representatives call upon the world to note the glory of their kingdoms, the triumphs of their arms, the splendor of their cities and palaces, the value and strength of their institutions, political and religious. They strive to reawaken the old-time spirit of clannish partriotism and superstition, which formerly bowed in submissive and worshipful reverence to those in authority and power; which lustily shouted, "Long live the king!" and reverently regarded the persons of those who claimed to be the representatives of God.
But those days are past: the remains of the former ignorance and superstition are fast disappearing, and with them the sentiments of clannish patriotism and blind religious reverence; and in their place are found independence, suspicion and defiance, which bid fair ere long to lead to world-wide strife--anarchy. The peoples of the various ships of state talk angrily and threateningly to the captains and pilots, and at times grow almost mutinous. They claim that the present policy of those in power is to lure them to the slave markets of the future and to make merchandise of all their natural rights and reduce them to the serfdom of their fathers. And many insist with increasing vehemence upon displacing the present captains and pilots and letting the ships drift while they contend among themselves for the mastery. But against this wild and dangerous clamor the captains and pilots, the kings and statesmen, contend and hold their places of power, shouting all the while to the people, "Hands off! you will drive the vessel onto the rocks!" Then the religious teachers come forward and [D81] counsel submission on the part of the people; and, seeking to emphasize their own authority as from God, they connive with the civil powers to hold the people under restraint. But they, too, begin to realize that their power is gone, and they are casting about for some means to re-enforce it. So they talk of union and cooperation among themselves, and we hear them arguing with the state for more assistance from that source, promising in return to uphold civil institutions with their (waning) power. But all the while a storm is rising, and while the masses of the people, unable to comprehend the danger, continue to clamor, the hearts of those at the helms of the ships fail them for fear of that which they now see must surely come.
The ecclesiastical powers, particularly, feel it incumbent upon them to render up their accounts in order to make the best possible showing; thus, if possible, to restrain the revolutionary current of public sentiment against them. But as they attempt to apologize for the meager good results of the past centuries of their power, they only add to their own confusion and perplexity, and arouse the attention of others to the true condition of affairs. These apologies are constantly appearing in the columns of the secular and religious press. And in marked contrast with these are the fearless criticisms from the world at large of both the civil and ecclesiastical powers of Christendom. Of these the following extracts from floating press reports are samples.
The World's Arraignment of the Civil Powers
"Among all the strange beliefs of the race, there is none stranger than that which made Almighty God select with care some of the most ordinary members of the species, often sickly, stupid and vicious, to reign over great communities under his special protection, as his representatives of earth." New York Evening Post. [D82]
Another journal some years ago had the following, under the caption--"A Poor Lot of Kings:"
"It is stated with some appearance of truth that King Milan of Servia is insane. The king of Wurttemberg is a partial lunatic. The last king of Bavaria committed suicide while mad, and the present ruler of that country is an idiot. The Czar of Russia fills that office because his brother, the natural heir, was adjudged mentally incapable; and the present Czar is afflicted with melancholia since the time of his coronation, and has called to his aid the mental specialists of Germany and France. The king of Spain is a victim of scrofula and will probably not reach manhood. The Emperor of Germany has an incurable abcess in his ear which will eventually affect his brain. The king of Denmark has bequeathed poisoned blood to half a dozen dynasties. The Sultan of Turkey is afflicted with melancholia. There is not a throne in Europe where the sins of the fathers have not visibly descended upon the children, and in a generation or two more there will be neither Bourbon, Hapsburg, Romanoff nor Guelph to vex and rule the world. Blue blood of this kind will not be at a premium in the 1900's. It is taking itself out of the problem of the future."
Another writer for the daily press figured up the cost of royalty as follows:
"The bargain made with Queen Victoria on her accession gives her #385,000 a year, with the power of granting new pensions to the amount of #1,200 a year, estimated to be equal to an annuity of #19,871. This makes a grand total of #404,871 a year for the Queen alone, of which #60,000 is for her privy purse; that is, simply pocket money. The duchy of Lancaster, which still remains under crown management, also pays #50,000 a year into the privy purse. Thus the Queen has #110,000 a year spending money; for the other expenses of her household are provided for by other items of the Civil List. When a gift of #50 or #100 to charity by the Queen is announced, it must not be supposed to come out of the privy purse, for there is a separate item of #13,200 a year for royal bounty, alms and charity. Among the appointments in the royal [D83] household are 20 classed as political, with total salaries of #21,582 a year, the rule being that one man draws the salary and another does the work. The medical department includes 25 persons, from physicians extraordinary to chemists and druggists, all to keep the royal body in good health, while 36 chaplains in ordinary and 9 priests in ordinary minister to the royal soul. The Lord Chamberlain's department includes a wearisome list of offices, among which, all jumbled up with the examiner of plays, the poet laureate and the surveyor of pictures, are the bargemaster, the keeper of the swans, and the keeper of the jewels in the Tower. The most curious office under the head of the Royal Hunt is that of hereditary grand falconer, held by the duke of St. Albans at a salary of #1,200 a year. Probably the Duke does not know the difference between a falcon and a penquin, and never intends to find out. Since her accession Queen Victoria has abolished many useless offices, thereby making a considerable saving, all of which goes into her capacious privy purse.
"Having thus generously provided for the queen, the British nation had to give her husband something. Prince Albert received #30,000 a year by special vote, besides #6,000 a year as field marshal, #2,933 a year as Colonel of two regiments, #1,120 a year as Governor of Windsor Castle, and #1,500 as Ranger of Windsor and the Home Parks. Altogether the Queen's husband cost the nation #790,000 during his 21 years of married life, and begat a large family to be quartered on the nation. Next comes the Empress Augusta of Germany, who draws #8,000 a year, besides having a dowry of #40,000 and #5,000 for wedding preparations. But this liberal allowance is not enough to pay her fare to England to see her mother, for on every such occasion #40 is paid for her passage. When the Prince of Wales attained his majority he received a little matter of #601,721 as a birthday gift, this being the amount of the accumulated revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall up to that period. Since that time he has received an average of #61,232 a year from the Duchy. The nation has also spent #44,651 on repairs to Marlborough House, the Prince's town residence, since 1871; pays him #1,350 a year as [D84] Colonel of the Tenth Hussars; gave him #23,450 to pay his marriage expenses; allows his wife #10,000 a year, and gave him #60,000 for spending money on his visit to India in 1875. Altogether he has drawn #2,452,200 (over $12,000,000) from John Bull's pocketbook up to ten years ago and has been drawing regularly ever since.
"Now for the younger sons and daughters. Princess Alice received #30,000 on her marriage in 1862, and an annuity of #6,000 until her death in 1878. The Duke of Edinburgh was granted #15,000 a year on coming of age in 1866, and an additional #10,000 a year on his marriage in 1874, besides #6,883 for wedding expenses and repairs to his house. This is what he gets for doing nothing but being a Prince. By work as a captain, and lately as an admiral in the navy, he has earned #15,000. Princess Helena, on her marriage to Prince Christian, of Schleswig-Holstein, in 1866, received a dowry of #30,000 and a grant of #7,000 a year for life, while her husband receives #500 a year as Ranger of Windsor Home Park. The Princess Louisa received the same favors as her sister Helena. The Duke of Connaught began life in 1871 with #15,000 a year from the nation and this was increased to #25,000 on his marriage, in 1879. He now holds the command of the Bombay army, with #6,600 a year and valuable perquisites. The Duke of Albany was granted #15,000 a year in 1874, the amount being increased to #25,000 on his marriage in 1882, and his widow receives #6,000 a year. The ill-fated Duke was the genius of the family; and, if he had been an ordinary citizen with average opportunities, could have earned a comfortable living as a barrister, for he was an orator. The Princess Beatrice on her marriage received the usual dowry of #30,000 and an annuity of #6,000. Thus the nation, from the Queen's accession up to the end of 1886, had paid #4,766,083 for the luxury of a Prince Consort, five Princesses, and four Princes, leaving out of account special pocket fares, rent-free residences and exemption from taxes.
"But this is not all. The nation has not only to support the Queen's descendants but her cousins and uncles and aunts. I will only record the amounts these royal pensioners have received since 1837. Leopold I., King of the Belgians, [D85] simply because he married the Queen's aunt, received #50,000 a year until his death, in 1865, a total of #1,400,000 during the present reign. However, he had some sense of decency, for when he became the King of the Belgians in 1834, he had his pension paid over to trustees, stipulating only for annuities to his servants and the keeping up of Claremont House, and when he died the whole amount was repaid into the Exchequer. Not so the King of Hanover, an uncle of the Queen. He took all he could get, which, from 1837 to 1851 amounted at #21,000 a year to #294,000. Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV., drew #100,000 a year for 12 years, or #1,200,000 in all. The Queen's mother the Duchess of Kent, received #30,000 a year from her daughter's accession to her death, a total of #720,000. The Duke of Sussex, another uncle, received #18,000 a year for six years, a total of #108,000. The Duke of Cambridge, uncle No. 7, absorbed #24,000 a year, or #312,000 in all, while his widow, who still lives, has received #6,000 a year since his death, or #222,000 in all. The Princess Augusta, another aunt, had about #18,000 in all. The landgravine of Hesse, aunt No. 3, secured about #35,000. The Duchess of Gloucester, aunt No. 4, got away with #14,000 a year, for 20 years, or #280,000 in all. The Princess Sophia, still another aunt, received #167,000, and the last aunt, Princess Sophia of Gloucester, niece of George III., received #7,000 a year for 7 years, or #49,000. Then the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Queen's cousin, was paid #1,788 a year for 23 years of her reign, or #42,124.
"The Duke of Cambridge, as Commander-in-chief of the British army, with pensions, salary as Commander-in-chief, colonelcies of several regiments and rangership of several parks, large parts of which he has transformed into private game preserves, has received #625,000 of public money. His sister the Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, has received #132,000, and his second sister, "Fat Mary," Duchess of Teck, has taken #153,000. This makes a grand total of #4,357,124 which the nation has paid for the support of the Queen's uncles, aunts and cousins during her reign.
"Besides the amounts given in the Queen's Civil List, the original cost and the cost of maintenance of the four royal [D86] yachts is included in the navy estimates, although legitimately part of the expense of royalty. The original cost was #275,528, and the total cost of maintenance and pay, of allowances and victualling of the crew for ten years was #346,560, a total of #622,088 for this single item.
"To sum up, the Queen's numerous uncles, aunts and cousins have cost #4,357,124; her husband, her sons and her daughters, #4,766,083; herself and her household, #19,838,679; and her yachts #622,088. This makes a total of #29,583,974 [nearly one hundred and fifty million dollars] which the British nation has spent on monarchy during the present reign. [To the year 1888.] Is the game worth the candle? This is a pretty steep price to pay for stability, for it means that the people are taxed to the limit of their powers to keep in idleness a number of persons who would do more good to the country if they were earning an honest living."
The spectacular coronation of the Czar of Russia was a marked illustration of royal extravagance, designed, as are all the flaunting plumes of royalty, to impress the masses of the people with the idea that their rulers are so far above them in glory and dignity as to be worthy of their worship as superior beings, and their most abject and servile obedience. It is said that the great display of royalty on this occasion cost $25,000,000.
Upon this extravagance, so in contrast with the wretched conditions of its peasant millions, with whose miseries the whole world became so well acquainted during the famine of 1893, we extract from the comments of an English journal, The Spectator, as follows:
"It is difficult to study the accounts of the preparations for the Russian coronation, which read as if they ought to be printed in gold upon purple silk, without a sensation of disgust, more especially if we read at the same time the descriptions of the massacres of Armenians whom the Russians have refused to protect, although they had the power. We can, with an effort, call up the marvelous scene presented in Moscow, with its Asiatic architecture and gleaming [D87] cupolas, its streets full of gorgeous European uniforms and more gorgeous Asiatic dresses, white Princes in red, yellow Princes in blue, brown Princes in cloth of gold, the rulers of tribes from the far East, the Dictator of China, and the brown Japanese General before whom that Dictator has fallen prone, side by side with members of all reigning Houses in Europe, and representatives of all known Churches except the Mormon, of all the peoples who obey the Czar--there are, we believe, eighty of them--and of every army in the West, all moving amidst regiments endless in number and varieties of uniform, and through millions of humble folk--half Asiatic, half European--filled with excitement and with devotion to their earthly lord. We can anticipate the roar of the endless crowds, the choruses of the multitudinous monks, the salvoes of artillery, which are repeated from station to station till throughout the whole north of the world, from Riga to Vladivostock, all men hear at the same moment of time that the Czar has placed the crown upon his head. The Englishman studies it all as he would study a poem by Moore, and finds it at once gorgeous and sickly. Is not this too grandiose for grandeur? Is it not rather of the opera than of life? Is there not something like guilt, in an Empire like Russia, with its millions upon millions of suffering people, in the gigantic expenditure which produces these purple effects? Five millions sterling for a ceremonial! Is there a principle upon which an expenditure like that can even be plausibly justified? Is it not the waste of a Belshazzar, the display of an almost insane pride, a pouring out of treasure as Oriental kings sometimes pour it out, solely to excite an emotion of glory in one oversated mind? Nothing could induce an Englishman to vote such a sum for such an object, and England could spare the money at least ten times as readily as Russia.
"Yet it may be feared that those who rule Russia are wise in their generation, and that this reckless outlay of energy and treasure secures a result which, from their point of view, is an adequate return. The object is to deepen the Russian impression that the position of the Czar is in some way supra-natural, that his resources are as limitless as his power, that he stands in some special relation to the Divine, [D88] that his coronation is a consecration so solemn and with such meaning for mankind that no external display to make it visible can be excessive, that mankind may be summoned to gaze without derogation, that the momentary hush of peace which has been so carefully spread throughout the Northern world is caused not by order but by expectation of an adequate event. And the ruling Russians believe that the result is attained, and that the impression of the coronation equals throughout the Empire the impression of a victory which would cost as much in money and much more in tears. They repeat the ceremonial on every devolution of the throne, with an ever-increasing splendor and vastness of design, corresponding to the increase of Russian position, marked just now, as they think, by the sullen retrogression of Japan, by the submissiveness of China and by the crawling servility of the ruler of Constantinople. They even believe that the coronation increases their master's prestige in Europe, that the grandeur of his Empire, the multitude of his soldiers, his possession of all the resources of civilization as well as of all the resources of a barbaric Power, is borne more closely home to the collective mind of the West, and increases the dislike which is there to face the great Northern Power. In Berlin, there is, they think, a deeper shiver at the thought of invasion, in Paris more exultation as men remember the Alliance, in London a longer pause as her statesmen meditate, as they are always meditating, how next the march of the glacier may be stayed or turned aside. Can any one assert with confidence that they are wholly wrong, or that for a year the diplomacy of Russia will not be bolder in consequence of the national festival, the resistance of those who resist more timid because they have seen, at least with their mental eyes, a scene which might perhaps, if brevity were sought, be best described as the review of an Empire held within the walls of its capital, or the march past of Northern Europe and Asia in honor of its Commander-in-Chief?
"It may be misleading, but of this we feel assured, that scenes like that presented at this coronation form one of the risks of the world. They must tend to demoralize its most [D89] powerful man. Of the present Czar no one knows anything, except, says one who was thrown into close contact with him, that he is 'a man of deep emotional feeling;' but he must be more than the ordinary mass, if he, a descendant of Alexander I who signed the Treaty of Tilsit, can feel himself for days the center of that coronation scene, can, in fact, be worshiped as if he reigned in Nineveh, without dreaming dreams; and king's dreams are usually of dominion. There is an intoxication of rank, we take it, as well as an intoxication of power, and the man on whom every eye is fixed, and before whom all princes seem small, must be of temperate mind indeed if he does not at moments swell with the conviction that he is first among mankind. The rulers of Russia may yet find that, though in raising their Czars so high they have strengthened loyalty and deepened obedience, they have dissolved the power of self-restraint which is the necessary defense of the mind."
But the fact that these rulers of so-called Christian Kingdoms are as a whole devoid of true Christian sentiments are as a whole devoid of true Christian sentiments and lacking in even human sympathy is abundantly proved by the fact that, while wealth is squandered like water in the support of royalty and its vain pomp and show, and while millions of soldiers and sailors, and a most marvelous military armament are at their command, they heard unmoved the cries of the poor Armenian Christians, whom the Turks were torturing and killing by the tens of thousands. The wonderful armies evidently are not organized for humanity's sake, but for the merely selfish purposes of the political and financial rulers of the world; viz., to grasp territory, to protect interests of bondholders, and to fly at each other's throats, inflamed with murderous spite, whenever a good opportunity is seen to enlarge their empires or to increase their wealth.
In marked contrast with this royal extravagance which prevails, to some extent in every country where a royal family is maintained, is The Enormous Indebtedness of European Countries. [D90]
"The Economiste Francais published an elaborate article, by M. Rene Stourm, on the Public Debt of France. The most usual estimate of the capital of the debt is said to be $6,400,000,000. The most moderate estimates place it a few millions lower. M. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu figures it at $6,343,573,630. The result of M. Stourm's computation is a total of $5,900,800,000 with the qualification, however, that he has omitted $432,000,000 of life annuities, which other economists have treated as part of the capital of the debt. The annual charge for interest and sinking fund, on the entire debt, including the life annuities, is $258,167,083. Of the funded debt $2,900,000,000 are perpetual 3 per cents, $1,357,600,000 perpetual four and a half per cents, and $967,906,200 redeemable bonds of various descriptions. Annuities to divers companies and corporations of $477,400,000, and $200,000,000 of floating debt, make up the balance of M. Stourm's total. This is by far the heaviest burden borne by any nation on the globe. The nearest approach to it is the debt of Russia, which is stated at $3,605,600,000. England is next, with $3,565,800,000, and Italy next, with $2,226,200,000. The debt of Austria is $1,857,600,000, and of Hungary $635,600,000. Spain owes $1,208,400,000, and Prussia $962,800,000. These are the figures of M. Stourm. None of these nations, excepting England and Prussia, raise sufficient revenue to guarantee a permanent equilibrium of the budget, but France is the most heavily burdened of them all, and the increase of her debt has been the most rapid in the recent past and is the most threatening of the future.
"In conclusion M. Stourm says: 'We refrain from dwelling upon the afflicting reflections which the result of our labor awakens. Under whatever aspect we regard these 29 1/2 milliards, whether in comparison with the debts of other countries or with our own debt of ten or twenty years ago, they appear like a summit of unknown height, surpassing the limit which any people of the world, at any epoch, have supposed attainable. The Eiffel Tower will be their veritable counterpart; we dominate our neighbors' and our history with the height of our debt,...in the presence of which it is time that our country felt patriotic fright.'" [D91]
The London Telegraph once published the following resume of the national financial outlook:
"Impecuniosity hangs like a dark and almost universal cloud over the nations of Europe. Times are very bad for the Powers all round, but worst of all for the small ones. There is hardly a nation on the Continent whose balance-sheet for the departed year does not present a gloomy outlook; while many of them are mere confessions of bankruptcy. Careful reports upon the financial conditions of the various States exhibit a struggle in the several exchequers to make two ends meet which has never been so general. The state of things is indeed almost world-wide; for, if we look outside our own Continent, the United States on one hand, and India and Japan, with their neighbors, on the other, have felt the prevalent pinch...
"The Great Republic is too vast and resourceful to die of her financial maladies; though even she is very sick. Great Britain, too, has a deficit to face in the coming Budget, and has sustained costly, perhaps irreparable, losses by the mad business of the coal strike. France, like ourselves and America, is one of the countries which cannot well be imagined insolvent, so rich is her soil and so industrious are her people. Her revenue, however, manifests frequent deficits; her national debt has assumed stupendous proportions, and the burden of her Army and Navy well-nigh crushes the industry of the land. Germany must also be written in the category of Powers too solid and too strong to suffer more than temporary eclipse. Yet during the past year it is computed that she has lost #25,000,000 sterling, which represents about half the national savings. Much of this loss has been due to German investments in the stocks of Portugal, Greece, South America, Mexico, Italy and Servia; while Germany has also sharply felt the confusion in the silver market. The burden of her armed peace weighs upon her people with a crushing load. Among the Powers which we are grouping together as naturally solvent, it is striking to find that Austria-Hungary has the best and happiest account to give...
"When we turn aside from this great group and cast our eyes on Italy, there is an example of a 'Great Power' well-nigh [D92] beggared by her greatness. Year by year her revenue drops and her expenditures increase. Six years ago the value of Italy's external commerce was 2,600,000,000 francs; now it has fallen to 2,100,000,000. She must pay #30,000,000 sterling as interest on her public debt, besides a premium for the gold necessary. Her securities are a drug in the market; her prodigious issue of bank notes has put silver and gold at fancy prices. Her population is plunged in a state of poverty and helplessness almost unimaginable here, and when her new Ministers invent fresh taxes sanguinary riots break out.
"As for Russia, her financial statements are shrouded in such mystery that none can speak of them with confidence; but there is little reason to doubt that only the bigness of the Czar's empire keeps it from becoming bankrupt. The population has been squeezed until almost the last drop of the life-blood of industry is extracted. The most reckless and remorseless Financial Minister scarcely dares to give the screw of taxation another half-turn.
"A moderate and accurate native authority writes about the situation in Russia in the following words:
"'Every copeck which the peasant contrives to earn is spent, not in putting his affairs in order, but in paying up arrears in taxes...The money paid by the peasant population in the guise of taxes amounts to from two-thirds to three-fourths of the gross income of the land, including their own extra work as farm laborers.' The apparent good credit of the government is sustained by artificial means. Close observers look for a crash alike in the social and financial arches of the empire. Here, too, the stupendous incubus of the armed peace of Europe helps largely to paralyze commerce and agriculture. The example of Portugal lies outside our purview; for, though the once famous kingdom if a defaulter, her unfortunate position is certainly not due to military ambition or to feverish expenditures. Greece, however, although insignificant among the Powers with her population of two millions, affords a glaring instance of the ruin to which financial extravagance and inflated designs will bring a nation. The 'great idea' has been the curse of little Greece, and we have recently seen her driven to shirk the load of her public debt by an act of absolute [D93] dishonesty, only partially suspended in face of the protests of Europe. The money wasted on her 'Army and Navy' might as well have been thrown into the sea. Politics have become with her a disease, infecting her best and most capable public men. With a common people too educated to work; university students more plentiful than bricklayers; public debts and private debts which nobody ever means to pay; a sham Army and Navy, eating up funds; dishonesty made a principle in politics; and secret plans which must either mean more loans or a corrupt and perilous bargain with Russia--these things characterize contemporary Greece.
"Looking the Continent all round, therefore, it cannot be denied that the state of things as regards the welfare of the people and the national balance-sheets is sorely unsatisfactory. Of course one chief and obvious reason for this is that armed peace which weighs upon Europe like a nightmare, and has turned the whole Continent into a standing camp. Look at Germany alone! That serious and sober Empire! The Army Budget rose there from #17,500,000 sterling in 1880 to #28,500,000 in 1893. The increase under the new Army Defense Act adds #3,000,000 sterling a year to the colossal mass of Germany's defensive armor.
"France has strained her strength to the same point of proximate collapse to match her mighty rival. It is needless to point out the terrible part which these war insurances bear in the present popular distress of Europe. Not merely do they abstract from profits and earnings the vast sums which buy powder and shot and build barracks, but they take from the ranks of industry at the commencement of their manly force millions of young workmen, who are also lost for the same periods to the family and the reinforcement of populations. The world has not yet invented a better clearing-house for the international cheques than the ghastly and costly Temple of war."
But notwithstanding the heavy indebtedness and financial embarrassment of the nations, it is estimated by able statisticians that the actual cost to Europe of the various army and navy budgets, the maintenance of garrisons and the loss of industrial labor by the withdrawal of men from [D94] productive industry, may be reasonably taken as $1,500,000,000 per annum, to say nothing of the immense loss of life, which in twenty-five years of the past century (from 1855 to 1880) is stated at 2,188,000, and that amidst horrors which beggar description. Mr. Charles Dickens has very truthfully observed that:
"We talk exultantly, and with a certain fire, of 'a magnificent charge!' of 'a splendid charge!' yet very few will think of the hideous particulars these two airy words stand for. The 'a splendid charge' is a headlong rush of men on strong horses, urged to their fullest speed, riding down and overwhelming an opposing mass of men on foot. The reader's mind goes no further; being content with the information that the enemy's line was 'broken' and 'gave way.' It does not fill in the picture. When the 'splendid charge' has done its work and passed by, there will be found a sight very much like the scene of a frightful railway accident. There will be the full complement of backs broken in two, of arms twisted wholly off, of men impaled upon their own bayonets, of legs smashed up like bits of firewood, of heads sliced open like apples, of other heads crunched into soft jelly by iron hoofs of horses, of faces trampled out of all likeness to anything human. That is what skulks behind a 'splendid charge.' This is what follows, as a matter of course, when 'our fellows rode at them in style,' and 'cut them up famously.'"
"Picture to yourselves," says another writer, "the toiling millions over the whole face of Europe, swarming forth day by day to their labor, working ceaselessly from early morn to dewy eve, in the cultivation of the soil, in the production of fabrics, in the exchange of commodities, in mines, factories, forges, docks, workshops, warehouses; on railways, rivers, lakes, oceans; penetrating the bowels of the earth, subduing the stubbornness of brute matter, mastering the elements of nature, and making them subservient to human convenience and weal, and creating by all this a mass of wealth which might carry abundance and comfort to every one of their homes. And then imagine the hand of power coming in and every year sweeping some six hundred [D95] millions of the money so laboriously earned into the abyss of military expenditure."
The following from the Harrisburg Telegram is also to the point:
"It costs the 'Christian' nations of Europe something to illustrate their notion of 'peace on earth and good will to men.' That is, it costs them something to keep themselves all ready to blow one another into small fragments. Statistics published in Berlin show the amount of military expenditures of the great powers during the three years 1888, 1889, 1890. The following expenditures in round figures are given: France, $1,270,000,000; Russia, $813,000,000; Great Britain, $613,000,000; Germany, $607,000,000; Austria-Hungary, $338,000,000; Italy, $313,500,000. These six powers have expended altogether $3,954,500,000 for military purposes in three years, or at the rate of more than $1,318,100,000 a year. The total for the three years considerably exceeds the national debt of Great Britain, and is nearly large enough to pay the interest-bearing debt of the United States three times over. The corresponding expenditure in the United States has been about $145,000,000, exclusive of pensions. If we should add these our total expenditure would be swelled to about $390,000,000."
"According to the estimates of French and German statisticians, there have perished in the wars of the last thirty years 2,500,000 men, while there has been expended to carry on those wars no less than $13,000,000,000. Dr. Engel, a German statistician, gives the following as the approximate cost of the principal wars of the last thirty years: Crimean war, $2,000,000,000; Italian war of 1859, $300,000,000; Prusso-Danish war of 1864, $35,000,000; War of the Rebellion (North), $5,100,000,000; South, $2,300,000,000; Prusso-Austrian war of 1866, $330,600,000; Franco-German war of 1870, $2,600,000,000; Russo-Turkish war, $125,000,000; South African wars, $8,770,000; African war, $13,250,000; Servo-Bulgarian war, $176,000,000.
"All these wars were murderous in the extreme. The Crimean war, in which few battles were fought, cost 750,000 [D96] lives, only 50,000 less than were killed or died of their wounds North and South during the war of the Rebellion. The Mexican and Chinese expeditions cost $200,000,000, and 85,000 lives. There were 250,000 killed and mortally wounded during the Russo-Turkish war, and 45,000 each in the Italian war of 1859, and the war between Prussia and Austria."
In a letter to Deputy Passy of Paris, the late Hon. John Bright, member of the English Parliament, said:
"At present all European resources are swallowed up in military exigencies. The people's interests are sacrificed to the most miserable and culpable fantasies of foreign politics. The real interests of the masses are trodden under foot in deference to false notions of glory and national honor. I cannot help thinking that Europe is marching toward some great catastrophe of crushing weight. The military system cannot indefinitely be supported with patience, and the populations, driven to despair, may possibly before long sweep away the royalties and pretended statesmen who govern in their names."
Thus the judgment of the civil powers is going against them. Not only is the press thus outspoken, but the people everywhere are loudly talking and clamoring against the powers that be. The unrest is universal, and is becoming more and more dangerous every year.
The World's Arraignment of the Present Social System
Christendom's social system is also under inspection--its monetary regulations, its financial schemes and institutions, and, growing out of these, its selfish business policy, and its class-distinctions based mainly on wealth, with all that this implies of injustice and suffering to the masses of men--these are as severely handled in the judgment of this hour as the civil institutions. Witness the endless discussions on the silver question, and the gold standard, and the interminable disputing between labor and capital. Like surging waves of the sea under a rising wind, sound the concerted [D97] mutterings of innumerable voices against the present social system, particularly in so far as it is seen to be inconsistent with the moral code contained in the Bible, which Christendom, in a general way, claims to recognize and follow.
It is indeed a notable fact that in the judgment of Christendom, even by the world at large, the standard of judgment is the Word of God. The heathen hold up the Bible, and boldly declare, "You are not as good as your book." They point to its blessed Christ, and say, "You do not follow your pattern." And both the heathen and the masses of Christendom take up the golden rule and the law of love, wherewith to measure the doctrines, institutions, policy and general course of Christendom; and all alike testify to the truth of the strange handwriting on her festive walls--"Thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting."
The world's testimony against the present social system is heard everywhere in every land. All men declare it to be a failure; the opposition is increasingly active, and is spreading alarm all over the world, "terribly shaking" all confidence in existing institutions, and ever and anon paralyzing industry with panics, strikes, etc. There is not a nation in Christendom where the opposition to the present social arrangements is not pronounced, obstinate and increasingly threatening.
Says Mr. Carlyle, "British industrial existence seems fast becoming one huge prison-swamp of reeking pestilence, physical and moral, a hideous living Golgotha of souls and bodies buried alive. Thirty thousand needle-women working themselves swiftly to death. Three million paupers rotting in forced idleness, helping said needle-women to die. These are but items in the sad ledger of despair."
From another paper called The Young Man, we clip the following article, headed, "Is the World Growing Better?" It says: [D98]
"Strong men, eager for honest toil, are enduring the agonies of hunger and exposure, and in many cases the additional sorrow of beholding the sufferings of their families. On the other hand, overwhelming wealth is often allied with avarice and immorality; and while the poor starve by inches, the rich, to a large extent, ignore the needs of their brethren, and are only solicitous that Lazarus should not become inconveniently prominent. Thousands of young men are forced to slave in stuffy shops and cheerless warehouses for seventy and eighty hours a week, with never an interval for physical or mental recreation. At the East End women sew shirts or make matchboxes all day for a wage which is insufficient for the rent of a bed--not to speak of a separate room--and are often compelled to choose between starvation and vice. At the West End whole thoroughfares are in the possession of the rouged and painted sirens of sensuality and sin--every one a standing rebuke to the weakness and wickedness of man. As for the young men, thousands are gambling themselves into jail or drinking themselves into early graves; and yet every respectable newspaper is occupied with long reports of horse races, and Christian (?) Government permits a public house to be planted at the corner of every street. Sin is made easy, vice is made cheap, trickery prevails in trade, bitterness in politics and apathy in religion."
The Philadelphia Press some time ago published the following:
"Danger Ahead! There is no doubt about it that New York is divided into two great classes, the very rich and the very poor. The middling classes of reputable, industrious, fair-to-do people are gradually disappearing, going up in the scale of worldly wealth or down into poverty and embarrassment. It seems unquestioned that between these classes exists, and is rapidly growing, under intentional fostering of evil men, a distinct, pronounced, malignant hatred. There are men here who are worth $10,000,000 and $20,000,000, of whom you know nothing. I know one lady, living in a magnificent house, whose life is as quiet as that of a minister should be, who has given away not less than $3,000,000 in five years, whose benefactions prior to her [D99] death will reach not less than $7,000,000, who has in her home paintings, statuary, diamonds, precious stones, exquisite specimens of gold and silver, with costly works of every imaginable art, an inside estimate of which is $1,500,000, and she is not as rich as many of her neighbors by several million dollars. There are men here who twenty years ago sold clothes on Chatham street, who today live at an annual expense of $100,000, who wear jewels costing in reasonable stores $25,000.
"Come with me in a Madison avenue car any day, rain or shine, between the hours of ten o'clock in the morning and 5 or 6 in the afternoon, and I will find you car after car closely packed with ladies in whose ears are diamonds worth from $500 to $5,000 each, on whose ungloved hands, red and fluffy, sparkle fortunes. Walk with me from Stewart's old store, at the corner of Ninth street and Broadway to Thirtieth street and Broadway any day. I do not mean Sundays, holidays, or special occasions, but all times, and I will show you on block after block women in sealskin circulars down to their heels, worth from $500 to $1,000 each, with diamond earrings and with diamond finger rings, and other precious stones as well, carrying in their hands dainty pocket books stuffed with money. They represent the new rich with which New York is filling up.
"On that same street, at that same time, I can show you men to whom a dollar would be a fortune, whose trousers, torn and disgraceful in their tatters, are held about their pinched waists by ropes or twine or pins, whose stockingless feet shuffle along the pavement in shoes so ragged that they dare not lift them from the pavement, whose faces are freckled, whose beards are long and straggling, as is their hair, while their reddening hands taper at the nails like claws. How long before those claws will fasten on the newly rich? Make no mistake about it, the feeling is born, the feeling is growing, and the feeling, sooner or later, will break forth.
"Only last night I walked through Fourteenth street, on which there are but few residences left, and in front of one, leading from the door to the curbstone, was a canopy, under which charmingly attired ladies, accompanied by their escorts, went from their carriages to the open door, through [D100] which floods of light and sounds of music came. I stood with the crowd, a big crowd, a moment, and there was born this idea of an inevitable outbreak unless something was done, and speedily done, to do away with the prejudice which not only exists, but is intentionally fostered, against the very rich by the very poor. It would make you shudder to hear the way the women spoke. Envy, jealousy, malignant ferocity, every element needed, was there. All that is wanted is a leader."
The world is contrasting with the horrid conditions of the Sweater System of human slavery and with the miseries of the vast army of people out of work, and another vast army of underpaid workers, the luxury and extravagance of immense wealth, as did a London journal some time ago-- thus:
"A Millionaire's Modest Home. We learn from New York that Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the New York millionaire and railway king, has just opened his new palace with a grand ball. This modest home, which is to shelter about ten people during six months of the year, and to remain closed during the other six, stands at the corner of Fifty-seventh street and Fifth Avenue, and has cost its owner #1,000,000. It is of Spanish design outside, built of grey stone, with red facings, turrets and battlements. It is three stories high with a lofty attic. The ball room is the largest private ball room in New York, being 75 ft. long by 50 ft. wide, decorated in white and gold, Louis xiv. style. The ceiling cost a fortune, and is made in the form of a double cone, covered with painted nymphs and cupids. Round the cornice are delicately modeled flowers, each with an electric light in its heart, while an immense crystal chandelier hangs from the centre. The walls on the night of the opening ball were covered from floor to ceiling with natural flowers, at a cost of #1,000; and the entertainment is said to have cost the host #5,000. Adjoining the mansion is the most expensive garden for its size in the world, for although it is only the size of an ordinary city lot, the sum of #70,000 was paid for it, and a house which had cost #25,000 to build was torn down to make room for the few flower beds." [D101]
A San Francisco, Calif., journal, Industry, published the following comment on the extravagance of two wealthy men of this country:
"The Wanamaker dinner in Paris, and the Vanderbilt dinner at Newport, costing together at least $40,000, perhaps a good deal more, are among the signs of the times. Such things presage a change in this country. This, which is only typical of a hundred more cases of like ostentatious money show, may well be likened to a feast in Rome before the end came, and the luxury in France that a century ago was the precursor of a revolution. The money spent annually by Americans abroad, mostly for luxury and worse, is estimated at a third as much as our National revenue."
The following very interesting bit of information, quoted in the National View, is from Ward McAllister, once a great New York Society leader:
"The average annual living expenses of a family of average respectability, consisting of husband and wife and three children, amounts to $146,945, itemized as follows: Rent of city house, $29,000; of country house, $14,000; expenses of country house, $6,000; indoor servants' wages, $8,016; household expenses, inclusive of servants' wages, $18,954; his wife's dressing, $10,000; his own wardrobe, $2,000; children's clothing and pocket money, $4,500; three children's schooling, $3,600; entertaining by giving balls and dances, $7,000; entertaining at dinner, $6,600; opera box, $4,500; theater and supper parties after theater, $1,200; papers and magazines, $100; jeweler's running account, $1,000; stationery, $300; books, $500; wedding presents and holiday gifts, $1,400; pew in church, $300; club dues, $425; physician's bill, $800; dentist's bill, $500; transportation of household to country and return, $250; traveling in Europe, $9,000; cost of stables, $17,000."
Chauncey M. Depew is quoted as having said:
"Fifty men in the United States have it in their power by reason of the wealth they control, to come together within twenty-four hours and arrive at an understanding by which every wheel of travel and commerce may be stopped from revolving, every avenue of trade be blocked and every electric [D102] key struck dumb. Those fifty can control the circulation of the currency and create a panic whenever they will."
The World's Judgment of the Ecclesiastical Powers
The criticism of Ecclesiasticism is fully as severe as that of Monarchy and Aristocracy; for they are recognized as one in interest. Of these sentiments the following will serve as illustrations.
The North American Review some years ago contained a brief article by John Edgerton Raymond, on "The Decline of Ecclesiasticism." Describing the forces which are opposed to the church, and which will eventually accomplish its overthrow, he said:
"The Christian Church is in the midst of a great conflict. Never since the organization of Christianity have so many forces been arrayed against her. What certain theologians are pleased to call the 'world power' was never stronger than it is today. No longer is the church opposed by barbaric races, by superstitious philosophers, by priests of mythical religions, but by the highest culture, the deepest learning and the profoundest wisdom of enlightened nations. All along the line of her progress she is resisted by the 'world power,' which represents the highest attainments and the best ideals of the human mind.
"Nor are all her opponents found beyond the pale. Within her solemn shades, robed in her vestments, voicing her commands, representing her to the world, stand many who are ready to cast off her authority and dispute her supremacy. Multitudes who yet obey her decrees are beginning to question; and doubt is the first step towards disobedience and desertion. The world will never know how many honest souls within the church groan in spirit and are troubled, yet keep a seal upon their lips and a chain upon their tongues 'for conscience sake,' lest they 'cause their brother to offend.' They are silent, not for fear of rebuke, for the time has gone by when to speak freely was to suffer persecution, and when to suggest that the church [D103] might not be infallible was to be accused of infidelity."
He says the demand is not for a new gospel, but for an old gospel with a new meaning:
"Everywhere the demand is made for a more literal and faithful proclamation of the precepts of the founder of Christianity. 'The Sermon on the Mount' is to many the epitome of divine philosophy. 'Preach it! preach it!' cry reformers of every school everywhere; 'not only preach it, but exemplify it!' 'Show us,' they say, 'that your practices conform to these precepts, and we will believe you! Follow Christ, and we will follow you!'
"But just here lies the controversy. The church professes to teach the precepts of Christ, to preach his gospel. The world listens, and replies: 'You have perverted the truth!' And behold the spectacle of an unbelieving world teaching a believing church the true principles of her religion! This is one of the most striking and significant signs of the age. And it is altogether new. The world has been familiar from the beginning with the retort: 'Physician, heal thyself.' But only in modern times have men ventured to say: 'Physician, let us prescribe the medicine!'
"When the poor and needy, the oppressed and sorrowing, who are taught to look to heaven for future recompense, saw holy priests and favored princes robed in purple and fine linen and faring sumptuously every day; saw them laying up treasures on earth in defiance of moth and rust and thieves; saw them, with easy consciences, serving God and mammon, they began to doubt their sincerity.
"And presently they began to affirm that all truth does not dwell under a church spire, that the church is powerless; that she cannot prevent misfortune, cannot heal the sick, cannot feed the hungry and clothe the naked, cannot raise the dead, cannot save the soul. Then they began to say that a church so weak, so worldly, could not be a divine institution. And soon they began to desert her altars. They said: 'To deny the infallibility of the church, the efficacy of her ordinances, or the truth of her creeds, is not to deny the efficacy of religion. We are not at war with Christianity, but [D104] with the church's exposition of Christianity. Reverence for divine truth is compatible with the most profound contempt for ecclesiasticism. For the sublime Person who trod the earth, whose touch was life and whose smile was salvation, we have only veneration and love, but no longer for the institution that claims to represent him.
"The church denounces her accusers as unbelievers, and goes on her way amassing treasure, building temples and palaces, making compacts with kings and covenants with mighty men, while the forces arrayed against her are increasing in numbers and power. She has lost her supremacy, her authority has passed away. She is but a sign, a shadow. And it is impossible for her to regain her lost ascendancy, or to return to her throne. Dreams of her universal dominion are a delusion. Her scepter has been broken forever. Already we are in a transition period. The revolutionary movement of the age is universal and irresistible. Thrones are beginning to totter. A volcano smoulders beneath the palaces of kings, and when thrones topple over, pulpits will fall.
"There have been revivals of religion in the past, more or less local and temporary. There is yet to be a revival of religion which is to be world-wide--a restoration of faith in God and love for man--when the brightest dreams of universal brotherhood shall be realized. But it will come in spite of, rather than through, the church. It will come as a reaction against ecclesiastical tyranny; as a protest against mere forms and ceremonials."
In an article in The Forum of October, 1890, on "Social Problems and the Church," by Bishop Huntington, we have his comment on a very notable and significant fact, as follows:
"'When a great mixed audience in one of the public halls in New York cheered the name of Jesus Christ and hissed the name of the church, it settled no question, solved no problem, proved no proposition, expounded no Scripture, but it was as significant as half the sermons that are preached.' He then referred to the fact that the time was [D105] when the people heard the words, 'Christ and the church,' with reverent silence if not with enthusiastic devotion, and then remarked: 'Only in these latter days when workingmen think, read, reason and reflect, does a promiscuous crowd rudely, rather than irreverently, take the two apart, honoring the one and scouting the other.'"
Other significant expressions through the press, of the popular judgment, are as follows:
"The Catholic Review and some other papers insist that there should be 'religious instruction in the prisons.' That's right. We go further than that. There should be religious instruction in other places besides the prisons--in the homes, for instance, and in the Sunday schools. Yes, we will not be outdone in liberality, we favor religious instruction in some churches. You can't have too much of a good thing if you take it in moderation."
"The Chaplain of a certain penitentiary said that twenty years ago only about five percent of prisoners had previously been Sunday school pupils, but that now seventy-five percent of actual and suspected criminals have been such. A certain pastor also gives an account of an inebriate asylum where the percent is eighty, and another of fallen women where all have been in Sunday schools. The press comment on these facts was that the term formerly applied to the school, 'the nursery of the church,' is getting to be a ghastly satire. What shall be done?"
In the discussions with reference to the opening of the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, on Sundays, the following was elicited:
"Some Comfort Left. If the worst comes to the worst and fairs, like theaters and saloons, are opened on Sundays in Chicago, it is a very comforting reflection that not a single American citizen is obliged to go. Nobody is worse off in this respect than were the apostles and the early Christians. They were not allowed the use of a policeman or of the Roman legions for the purpose of propagating their opinions and compelling their neighbors to be more godly than they [D106] wanted to be. And yet it was that primitive Christianity with no aid from the State--nay, a Christianity persecuted and suffering--which really conquered the world."
In the general commotion of these times, many in the church as well as in the world are greatly perplexed and bewildered by the great confusion. The sentiments of such were clearly voiced some time ago in the New York Sun, which said:
"The question, 'Where are we?' 'Where are we?' is becoming a pregnant religious one. Professors sit in the chairs of seminaries teaching doctrines far enough removed from the originals to make the ancient benefactors turn in their graves; clergymen sign pledges on ordination which they probably know the administrator does not believe himself; the standards are in many cases only the buoys which show how far the ships of the churches have gotten away from the mapped out channels. It is the age of 'go as you please,' of 'every man for himself,' and all that. Nobody knows where it is all to end, and those who are interested most seem to care the least."
Not only are the conduct and influence of the churches thus severely criticised, but their most prominent doctrines also. Note, for instance, how the blasphemous doctrine of eternal torment for the great majority of our race, by which men have long been held in control through fear, is similarly slurred by the thinking public. On this subject the clergy begin to see a very urgent necessity for emphasis, in order to counteract the growing sentiments of liberalism.
The Rev. Dr. Henson of Chicago some time ago ventilated his views of this subject; and as reporters interviewed other clergymen with reference to it, their flippant, heartless, jesting way of dealing with a subject about which they evidently know nothing, but which they claim to believe involves the eternal interests of millions of their fellowmen, was indeed worthy of the persecuting spirit of Romanism. [D107]
Rev. Dr. Henson said, "The hades of the New Version is only hell in disguise; death is death though we call it sleep, and hell is hell though we call it hades; hell is a reality, and is infernally horrible. In hell we shall have bodies. The resurrection of the body implies place and implies physical torment. But physical is not the worst. Mental pain, remorse, anticipation, that makes the soul writhe as the worm writhes on glowing embers, is the worst; and this sinners will have to suffer. Thirst with no water to quench; hunger with no food to satisfy; a knife thrust into the heart, but to be thrust there again--endless, awful. This is the hell we have to meet. Death offers a release from life's treadmill, but there is no relief in hell."
What impression did the "Doctor's" sermon make? Perhaps one may judge from the following interviews of reporters and ministers next morning:
"'What do you think of hell, and are we all going to be baptized in a lake of molten brimstone and pig-iron if we do not mend our ways?' said a reporter to Prof. Swing, one of Chicago's famous preachers. Then it was that Prof. Swing laughed a hearty side-splitting laugh, until his rugged cheeks became as rosy as a school girl's. The eminent preacher drums a tattoo on the edge of an inlaid table, and the chimney on his little study lamp rattles and seems to laugh too. 'In the first place,' said he, 'I suppose you realize that this subject of hell and future punishment is something about which we actually know very little. Now, my method for making everything harmonize in the Bible is to spiritualize it. My idea is that the punishment will be graded according to the sins; but as the next world is to be spiritual, so must the rewards and punishments be spiritualized.'
"The Rev. M. V. B. Van Ausdale laughed when he read a report of Dr. Henson's sermon, and said: 'Why, he must be right. I have known Dr. Henson for some time, and would vote for him with my eyes closed. We admit, all of us, that there is a hell or a place of retribution, and it combines all the properties assigned to it by Dr. Henson.'
"Dr. Ray had seen the sermon in print and thought Dr. [D108] Henson expressed the same views he himself would take on the subject.
"The Congregational ministers, assembled at the Grand Pacific in regular session, with doors closed and securely sentried, admitted an Evening News reporter who, after the meeting ended, propounded the query: 'Have you read or heard about Dr. P. S. Henson's sermon on hell, preached last night?'
"An interested spectator during the meeting was Dr. H. D. Porter, of Peking, China. He arose early this morning, and read in the papers Dr. Henson's sermon in brief. He said, "I do not know Dr. Henson, but I think the sentiments attributed to him are about right. Over in China I shall not preach the brimstone and real physical torture, nor shall I say hell will be a place where all sufferings of a real nature will give place to intense mental suffering and anguish of mind alone, but I will take the medium view, which portrays hell as a place of retribution, combining the physical and mental suffering and embodying the principles generally accepted by modern ministers.'
"Another stranger, the Rev. Spencer Bonnell, of Cleveland, O., agreed with Dr. Henson in every detail. 'There is coming a time,' he said, 'when some universal ideas of hell should be advanced, so as to bring all minds into a state of equilibrium.' The Rev. H. S. Wilson had little to say, but admitted that he agreed with Dr. Henson. The Rev. W. A. Moore expressed the same sentiments.
"The Rev. W. H. Holmes wrote: 'Dr. Henson is a brilliant preacher who understands well his own positions and is able to express them clearly and pointedly. This abstract indicates that he gave the people, as usual, a very interesting sermon. His positions therein were generally well taken. About the body of flesh I do not know--'
"'You do not know?'
"'No. A man might die and find out for certain.'
"The Baptist ministers think that Dr. Henson's orthodox sermon on hell was just about the right thing, and those who discussed it at the morning meeting praised it warmly. [D109] An Evening News reporter showed the report of the sermon to a dozen of the ministers, but while all of them said they agreed with the sermon, but four were found who would discuss it at all. The Rev. C. T. Everett, publisher of the Sunday-School Herald, said that the views as expressed by Dr. Henson were generally held by Baptist ministers. 'We teach eternal and future punishment for the sins of this world,' he said, but as for the real hell of fire and brimstone, that is something that is not talked of to any great extent. We believe in the punishment and know it is severe, but a great many of us realize that it is impossible to know in what way it is given. As Dr. Henson says, it is only brutish men who think that hell implies physical punishment altogether; mental pain is the worst, and this poor sinners will have to suffer. Dr. Perrin said, with great emphasis, that it was almost useless to deny that whatever Dr. Henson preaches would be found in the Bible, and just about right.
"The Rev. Mr. Ambrose, an old-time minister, was greatly pleased with the sermon. He believed every word of what Dr. Henson had said about future torment for poor sinners. 'Hell is what most Baptist preachers believe in,' he said, 'and they preach it, too.'
"The Rev. Mr. Wolfenden said he had not seen the report of the sermon, but if there was anything in it about a hell of future punishment he agreed with the Doctor, and he thought most Baptist ministers held the same views, although there were a few who did not believe in hell in the strict orthodox sense.
"From what the reporter gathered it is safe to say that, should the question come to an issue, the Baptist ministers would not be at all backward in supporting every argument for Dr. Henson's real, old-fashioned, orthodox hell."
The clergy thus express their views, as if the eternal torture of their fellowmen were a matter of only trivial consequence, to be discussed with flippant jest and laughter, and declared as truth without a particle of evidence or Bible investigation. The world marks this presumptive arrogance, and draws its own conclusions in the matter. [D110]
The Globe Democrat says: "Good news comes from New York that the American Tract Society proposes to call in the pabulum it has offered for the last fifty years, and revise its religion altogether. The fact is the world has outgrown the redhot and peppery dishes that suited the last generation, and it is quite beyond the power of a very few solemn gentlemen to produce a reaction. The churches also are ambling along pleasantly with the rest of the world, preaching toleration, humanity, forgiveness, charity and mercy. It may be all wrong, and that these prophecies of a blue-black sort are just the proper thing for us to continue to believe and read, but then the people don't, and won't."
Another journal states:
"Dr. Rossiter W. Raymond, in opposing sending contributions to the American Board of Foreign Missions, said pretty energetically: 'I am sick and tired of going to the American Board in sufferance to aid in supporting missionaries who believe out and out in the damnation of all the heathen and that damnable heresy that God doesn't love the heathen. I am tired of the whole miserable humbug, and I won't give a cent to spread the news of damnation. I won't let the doctrine be disseminated by my money. That God is love is good news, but it is made stale old stuff by these men who drag a Juggernaut car over the heathen and want us to feed the beasts that haul it. It is my Christian duty not to give to any concern that will teach the heathen that their fathers went to hell."
We thus see the present order of things trembling in the balances of public opinion. The appointed time for its overthrow having come, the great Judge of all the earth lifts up the scales of human reason, points to the weights of truth and justice, and, turning up the light of increasing knowledge, invites the world to test and prove the righteousness of his decision in condemning to destruction the hollow mockery of Christendom's false pretensions. Gradually, but rapidly, the world is applying the test, and in the end all will arrive at the same decision; and as a great millstone, Babylon, [D111] the great city of confusion, with all her boasted civil and ecclesiastical power, and with all her assumed dignity, her wealth, her titles, her influence, her honors, and all her vain glory, will be cast into the sea (the restless sea of ungovernable peoples) to rise no more. Rev. 18:21; Jer. 51:61-64
Her destruction will be fully accomplished by the end of the appointed "Times of the Gentiles"--1915. Events are rapidly progressing toward such a crisis and termination. Though the trial is not yet completed, already many can read the handwriting of her doom--"Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting!" and by and by the fearful doom of Babylon, Christendom, will be realized. The old superstitions that have long upheld her are fast being removed: old religious creeds and civil codes hitherto reverenced and unhesitatingly endorsed are now boldly questioned, their inconsistencies pointed out, and their palpable errors ridiculed. The trend of thought among the masses of men, however, is not toward Bible truth and sound logic, but rather toward infidelity. Infidelity is rampant, both within and outside the church nominal. In the professed Church of Christ the Word of God is no longer the standard of faith and the guide of life. Human philosophies and theories are taking its place, and even heathen vagaries are beginning to flourish in places formerly beyond their pale.
Only a few in the great nominal church are sufficiently awake and sober to realize her deplorable condition, except as her numerical and financial strength is considered, the masses in both pews and pulpits being too much intoxicated and stupefied by the spirit of the world, so freely imbibed, even to note her spiritual decline. But numerically [D112] and financially her waning condition is keenly felt; for with the perpetuity of her institutions are linked all the interests, prospects and pleasures of the present life; and to secure these the necessity is felt of keeping up a fair showing of fulfilling what is believed to be her divine comission--to convert the world. Her measure of success in this effort we will note in a succeeding chapter.
While we thus see Babylon arraigned to answer for herself in the presence of an assembled world, with what force does the Psalmist's prophecy of this event, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, recur to the mind! Though God has kept silence during all the centuries wherein evil triumphed in his name and his true saints suffered persecution in multiplied forms, he has not been oblivious to those things; and now the time has come whereof he spoke by the prophet, saying, "But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Let all who would be awake and on the right side in these times of tremendous import mark well these things and see how perfectly prophecy and fulfilment correspond.