BABYLON BEFORE THE GREAT COURT
The Civil Powers in Trouble, Seeing the Judgment is Going Against Them--In Fear and Distress They Seek Alliance One with Another, and Look in Vain to the Church for Her Old-Time Power--They Increase Their Armies and Navies--Present War Preparations--The Fighting Forces on Land and Sea--Improved Implements of War, New Discoveries, Inventions, Explosives, Etc.--Wake Up the Mighty Men; Let the Weak Say, I am Strong; Beat Plowshares into Swords and Pruning Hooks into Spears, Etc.--The United States of America Unique in her Position, Yet Threatened With Even Greater Evils than the Old World--The Cry of Peace! Peace! When There is no Peace.
"FOR these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled...Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
"Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain...For our God is a consuming fire." Luke 21:22,25-27; Heb. 12:26-29
That the civil powers of Christendom perceive that the judgment is going against them, and that the stability of their power is by no means assured, is very manifest. Disraeli, when Prime Minister of England, addressed the British Parliament, July 2, 1874 (just in the beginning of this [D114] harvest period or judgment (day), saying, "The great crisis of the world is nearer than some suppose. Why is Christendom so menaced? I fear civilization is about to collapse." Again he said, "Turn whatever way we like, there is an uncomfortable feeling abroad, a distress of nations, men's hearts failing them for fear...No man can fail to mark these things. No man who ever looks at a newspaper can fail to see the stormy aspect of the political sky that at present envelops us...Some gigantic outburst must surely fall. Every cabinet in Europe is agitated. Every king and ruler has his hand on his sword hilt;...we are upon times of unusual ghastliness. We are approaching the end!"
If such was the outlook as seen in the very beginning of the judgment, how much more ominous are the signs of the times today!
From an article in the London Spectator, entitled "The Disquiet of Europe," we quote the following:
"To what should we attribute the prevailing unrest in Europe? We should say that though due in part to the condition of Italy, it is mainly to be ascribed to the wave of pessimism now passing over Europe, caused partly by economic trouble and partly by the sudden appearance of anarchy as a force in the world. The latter phenomenon has had far greater influence on the Continent than in England. Statesmen abroad are always anticipating danger from below--a danger which bomb-throwing brings home to them. They regard the anarchists as, in fact, only the advancing guard of a host which is advancing on civilization, and which, if it cannot be either conciliated or defied, will pulverize all existing order. They prophesy to themselves ill of the internal future, the existing quiet resting, as they think, too exclusively on bayonets. Judging the internal situation with so little hope, they are naturally inclined to be gloomy as to the external one, to think that it cannot last and to regard any movement...as proof that the end is approaching rapidly. In fact, they feel, in politics the disposition toward pessimism which is so marked in literature [D115] and society. This pessimism is for the moment greatly deepened by the wave of economic depression."
The following from another issue of the same journal is also to the point:
"THE TRUE CONTINENTAL DANGER--M. Jules Roche has given us all a timely warning. His speech of Tuesday, which was received in the French Chamber with profound attention once more reminded Europe of the thinness of the crust which still covers up its volcanic fires. His thesis was that France, after all her sacrifices--sacrifices which would have crushed any Power less wealthy--was still unprepared for war; that she must do more, and above all, spend more, before she could be considered either safe or ready. Throughout he treated Germany as a terrible and imminent enemy against whose invasion France must always be prepared, and who at this moment was far stronger than France. Under his last Military Bill the Emperor William II (said M. Roche) had succeeded not only in drawing his whole people within the grip of the conscription, but he had raised the army actually ready for marching and fighting to five hundred and fifty thousand men, fully officered, fully equipped, scientifically stationed--in short, ready whenever his lips should utter the fatal decision which his grandfather embodied in the two words 'Krieg-Mobil.' France, on the contrary, though the net of her conscription was equally wide, had only four hundred thousand men ready, and to save money, was steadily reducing even that proportion. In the beginning of the war, therefore, which now usually decides its end, France, with enemies on at least two frontiers, would be a hundred and fifty thousand men short, and might, before her full resources were at her Generals' disposal, sustain terrible or even fatal calamities. The deputies, though far from devoted to M. Jules Roche, listened almost awe-struck, and Mr. Felix Faure has decided that, for the first time in six years, he will exert a forgotten prerogative granted to the President of the Republic, and preside at the meeting of the Supreme Military Council, to be held on March 20th. He evidently intends, as a trained man of business, to 'take stock' of the military situation, to [D116] ascertain clearly what France possesses in the way of guns, horses and men ready to move at once on an alarm, and if he finds the stock insufficient, for the great market, to insist on purchasing some more. Rich as the firm is, he may find its capital insufficient for that enterprise, these collections of fresh stock being costly beyond measure; but, at all events, he intends to know the precise truth.
"M. Faure is a sensible man; but what a revealing light does his action, following on M. Roche's words, throw on the situation in Europe! Peace is supposed to be guaranteed by the fear of war; and yet the moment war is openly mentioned, the preparations for it are seen to be, now as much as at any time since 1870, the first preoccupation of statesmen. We know how little resistance the German Emperor encountered last year in securing the changes which so alarmed M. Jules Roche. The people hardly liked them in spite of the immense bribe of a reduced term of service, and they did not like paying for their cost; but they recognized the necessity; they submitted; and Germany is now ready for war at twenty-four hours' notice. France will submit also, however despairingly, and we shall see preparations made and moneys voted, which, but for an overpowering sense of danger, would be rejected with disgust. The French, even more than the Germans, are tired of paying, but for all that they will pay, for they think that on any day an army stronger than their own may be marching upon Paris or on Lyons. The philosophers declare that the 'tensions' between France and Germany has grown perceptibly lighter, the diplomatists assert that all is peace; the newspapers record with gratitude the Kaiser's civilities; France even takes part in a ceremonial intended to honor Germany and her navy; but all the same the nation and its chiefs are acting as if war were immediately at hand. They could not be more sensitive, or more alarmed, or more ready to spend their wealth, if they expected war as a certainty within a month. Nothing, be it remembered, has occurred to accentuate the jealousy of the two nations. There has been no 'incident' on the frontier. The Emperor has threatened no one. There is no party even in Paris raging for war. Indeed, Paris seems to have turned its eyes away from Germany, and to [D117] be emitting glances, fiery at once with hate and greed, in the direction of Great Britain. And, finally, there has been no sign or hint of sign in Russia that the new Czar wishes war, or apprehends war, or is specially preparing for war; and yet the least allusion to war shows Germany prepared to the last point, and France alarmed, furious, and disturbed lest she should not be prepared also. It is not any 'news' which is in question; it is the permanent situation which happens, almost accidentally, to be discussed; and it is at once admitted on all hands that this situation compels Germany and France to be ready for a war of invasion at twenty-four hours' notice. 'Double your tobacco tax, Germans,' cries Prince Hohenlohe this week, 'for we must have the men.' 'Perish economy,' shrieks M. Roche, 'for we are a hundred and fifty thousand men short.' And observe that in neither country do these exhortations produce any panic or 'crash' or notable disturbance of trade. The danger is too chronic, too clearly understood, too thoroughly accepted as one of the conditions of life, for anything of that kind; it is always there; and only forgotten because men grow weary of hearing one unchanging topic of discourse. That is the most melancholy fact in the whole business. There is no scare in Germany or France about war any more than there is scare in Torre del Greco about Vesuvius, nothing but a dull acknowledgment that the volcano is there, has been there, will be there unchanged until the eruption comes.
"We do not suppose that anything will happen immediately in consequence of M. Jules Roche's speech, except more taxes, and possibly the development of a wrinkle or two on the President's forehead, for he will not like all the results of his stock-taking, and he has been trained to insist that the needs of his business shall be provided for, but it is well that Europe should be reminded occasionally that for rulers and politicians, and even nations, there can be at present no safe sleep; that the ships are steering amidst icebergs, and watch must be kept without a moment's cessation. One hour's neglect, a crash, and an ironclad may founder. It seems a hard situation for the civilized section of mankind, to be eternally asked for more forced labor, a larger slice of wages, a greater readiness to lie out in the [D118] open with shattered bones; but where is the remedy to be found? The peoples are wild to find one, the statesmen would help them if they could, and the kings for the first time in history look on war with sick distaste, as if it had no 'happy chances' to compensate for its incalculable risks; but they are all powerless to improve a position which for them all bring nothing but more toil, more discomfort, more responsibility. The single alleviation for the peoples is that they are not much worse off than their brethren in America, where without a conscription, without fear of war, without a frontier in fact, the Treasury is overspent as if it were European, the people are as much robbed by currency fluctuations as if they were at war, and all men are as carestricken as if they might be summoned at any moment to defend their homes. There has been nothing like the European situation in history, at least since private war ceased, and but that we know the way of mankind, we should marvel that it ever escaped attention; that the peoples should ever be interested in trivilialities, or that a speech like that of M. Jules Roche should ever be required to make men unclose their eyes. 'We have two millions of soldiers,' says M. Jules Roche, 'but only four hundred thousand of them are idling in barracks, and that is not enough by one hundred and fifty thousand men,' and nobody thinks that anything but startingly sensible; and the representatives of the people look gravely attentive, and the Head of the States snatches up a forgotten weapon to compel the heads of the army to tell him what Frenchmen call the 'true truth.' We do not belong to the Peace Society, being unable to believe in Utopias; but even we are driven to think sometimes that the world is desperately foolish, and that anything would be better--even the surrender of Elsass-Lothringen by Germany or of Alsace-Lorraine by France--than this never-ending and resultless mortgaging of the future in obedience to a fear which those who act on it all proclaim with one voice to be chimerical. It is not chimerical, and they only say so to be civil; but could it not be ended before ruin comes?"
The following is an extract from an address by Jas. Beck, [D119] Esq., of the Philadelphia Bar, published in The Christian Statesman. The subject of the address was "The Distress of Nations"--viewing the past century in retrospect.
"Our own century, commencing with the thunder of Napoleon's cannon on the plains of Marengo, and drawing to its close with similar reverberations from both the Orient and Occident, has not known a single year of peace. Since 1800 England has had fifty-four wars, France forty-two, Russia twenty-three, Austria fourteen, Prussia nine--one hundred and forty-two wars by five nations, with at least four of whom the gospel of Christ is a state religion.
"At the dawn of the Christian era, the standing army of the Roman Empire, according to Gibbon, numbered about four hundred thousand men, and was scattered over a vast extent of territory, from the Euphrates to the Thames. Today the standing armies of Europe exceed four millions, while the reserves, who have served two or more years in the barracks, and are trained soldiers, exceed sixteen millions, a number whose dimensions the mind can neither appreciate nor imagine. With one-tenth of the able-bodied men on the Continent in arms in time of peace, and one-fifth of its women doing the laborious, and at times loathsome, work of man in the shop and field, one can sadly say with Burke, 'The age of chivalry has gone...The glory of Europe has departed.' In the last twenty years these armies have been nearly doubled, and the national debt of the European nations, mainly incurred for war purposes, and wrung from the sweat of the people, has reached the inconceivable total of twenty-three thousand millions of dollars. If one is to measure the interests of man by his expenditures, then assuredly the supreme passion of civilized Europe in this evening of the nineteenth century is war, for one-third of all the revenues that are drained from labor and capital is devoted to paying merely the interest on the cost of past wars, one-third for preparations for future wars, and the remaining third to all other objects whatsoever.
"The spear, the lance, the sword, the battle-axe have been put aside by modern man as playthings of his childhood. We have in their stead the army rifle, which can be [D120] fired ten times without reloading and can kill at three miles, and whose long, nickel-plated bullet can destroy three men in its course before its work of destruction is stayed. Driven as it is by smokeless powder, it will add to past horrors by blasting a soldier as with an invisible bolt of lightning. Its effectiveness has practically destroyed the use in battle of the cavalry. The day of 'splendid charges' like that of Balaklava is past, and Pickett's men, if they had to repeat today their wondrous charge, would be annihilated before they could cross the Emmitsburg road. The destructive effects of the modern rifle almost surpass belief. Experiments have shown that it will reduce muscles to a pulp, and grind the bone to powder. A limb struck by it is mangled beyond repair, and a shot in the head or chest is inevitably fatal. The machine gun of today can fire eighteen hundred and sixty shots a minute, or thirty a second, a stream so continuous that it seems like a continuous line of lead, and whose horrible noise is like a Satanic song. A weapon of Titans is the modern twelve-inch cannon, which can throw a projectile eight miles and penetrate eighteen inches of steel, even when the latter is Harveyized, a process by which the hard surface of the steel is carbonized so that the finest drill cannot affect it. Of the present navies with their so-called 'commerce destroyers,' nothing need be said. Single ships cost four millions dollars to build, and, armed with steel plates eighteen inches thick, can travel through water with their engines of eleven thousand horsepower at a rate of twenty-four miles an hour. One such vessel could have scattered the combined Spanish, French and English fleets, numbering over one hundred ships, at Trafalgar, like a flock of pigeons, or put the Spanish Armada to flight like a hawk in a dovecote; and yet in the unceasing warfare of arms and armament these leviathans of the deep have been instantaneously destroyed, as with a blast of lightning, by a single dynamite torpedo.
"If these preparations for war, which cover our waters and darken our lands, mean anything, they indicate that civilized man is on the verge of a vast cataclysm, of which he is apparently as unconscious as were the people of Pompeii on the last, fatal day of their city's life, when they witnessed [D121] with indifference the ominous smoke curl from the crater's mouth. Our age has sown, as none other, the dragon's teeth of standing armies, and the human grain is ripe unto the harvest of blood. It needs but an incendiary like Napoleon to set the world on fire.
"To deny that such is the evident tendency of these unprecedented preparations is to believe that we can sow thistles and reap figs, or expect perennial sunshine where we have sown the whirlwind. The war between China and Japan, fought only in part with modern weapons, and with men who but imperfectly understood their use, in no way illustrates the possibilities of the future conflict. The greatest of all war correspondents, Archibald Forbes, has recently said, 'It is virtually impossible for any one to have accurately pictured to himself the scene in its fullness which the next great battle will present to a bewildered and shuddering world; we know the elements that will constitute its horrors, but we know them only as it were academically. Men have yet to be thrilled by the weirdness of wholesale death, inflicted by missiles poured from weapons, the whereabouts of which cannot be ascertained because of the absence of powder smoke.' He concludes, 'Death incalculable may rain down as from the very heavens themselves.' When we recall that in one of the battles around Metz the use of the mitrailleuse struck down 6,000 Germans in ten minutes, and that at Plevna, in 1877, Skobelleff lost in a short rush of a few hundred yards 3,000 men, and remember that the mitrailleuse and needle gun have since quintupled in their capacity for destruction, the prospect is one at which the mind stands aghast and the heart sickens. Suffice it to say that the great strategists of Europe believe that the future mortality of battles will be so great that it will be impossible to care for the wounded or bury the dead, and many of them will carry as a necessary part of military equipment a moving crematorium to burn those who have fallen in battle.
"You may suggest that this dreadful visitation will pass over peaceful America, as the angel that slew the first-born of Egypt spared the bloodsplashed portals of the Israelites. God grant that it prove so! Whence, however, is our assurance? [D122] So wonderfully have steam and electricity united men in a community of thought, interest and purpose, that it is possible, that if a great continental war should come, in which England would almost necessarily become involved, before it would be ended, the civilized world might be lapped in universal flame. Apart from this, upon the world's horizon is now discernible a cloud, at present no bigger than a man's hand, but which may some day overcast the heavens. In the Orient are two nations, China and Japan, whose combined population reaches the amazing total of five hundred millions. Hitherto these swarming ant-hills have been ignorant of the art of war, for it is strangely true that the only two countries, which since the birth of Christ have experienced in their isolation comparative 'peace on earth,' are these once hermit nations upon whom the light of Christianity had never shone. But thirty years ago a mere handful of Englishmen and Frenchmen forced their way, at the point of the bayonet, to Peking. All this is changed. Western civilization has brought to the Orient Bibles and bullets, mitres and mitrailleuses, godliness and Gatling guns, crosses and Krupp cannon, St. Peter and saltpetre: and the Orient may some day say with Shylock: 'The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it will go hard, but I will better the instruction.' Already they have learned the lesson so well as to play with deadly effect the awful diapason of the cannonade. Let once the passion for war, which distinguishes the Occident, awaken the opulent Orient from its sleep of centuries, and who shall say that another Genghis Khan, with a barbaric horde of millions at his back, may not fall upon Europe with the crushing weight of an avalanche?
"It may be argued, however, that these preparations mean nothing and are guarantees of peace, rather than provocative of war, and that the very effectiveness of modern weapons makes war improbable. While apparently there is force in this suggestion, yet practically it is contradicted by the facts, for the nations that have the least armies have the most peace, and those who have the largest forces tremble on the verge of the abyss. Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and the United States live in substantial [D123] amity with the world, while France, Russia, Germany, Austria and Italy, armed to the teeth and staggering under their equipments, are forever scowling at each other across their frontiers. In them is found the vast magazine of martial spirit and international hatred whose explosion requires but the spark of some trivial incident. Thus when the Empress Augusta recently visited Paris for pleasure her presence alarmed the world, caused prices to fall upon the bourses and exchanges and hurried an earnest and nervous consultation of all European cabinets. A single insult offered to her by the most irresponsible Parisian would have caused her son, the young German Emperor, to draw his sword. It was thus in the power of the idlest street gamin to have shaken the equilibrium of the world. What a frightful commentary upon civilization that the prosperity, and even lives, of millions of our fellow-beings may depend upon the pacific sentiments of a single man!
"No fact can be more clear than that humanity is at the parting of the ways. The maximum of preparation has been reached. In Europe men can arm no further. Italy has already fallen under the burden of bankruptcy thereby occasioned, and may be at any day plunged into the vortex of revolution. Many thoughtful publicists believe that the European nations must therefore either fight or disarm. Well did the Master predict: 'Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity...Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.'"
The following from The New York Tribune of May 5, 1895, showed how some of the reigning sovereigns of Europe regarded the situation:
"KINGS WHO WANT TO RETIRE TO PRIVATE LIFE. Abdication seems to be in the air. At no time since the eventful years of 1848-49, when the whole of Europe may be said to have been in open insurrection against the mediaevally autocratic tendencies of its rulers, have there been so many reigning sovereigns who are declared to be on the point of abandoning their thrones. In 1848 the monarchs were mostly princes born in the previous century and reared within the influence of its traditions, utterly incapable, [D124] therefore, of comprehending such new-fangled notions as popular government and national constitutions. Sooner than to lend their names to any such subversive ideas, which they regarded as synonymous with sanguinary revolution of the character that brought Louis xvi. and Marie Antoinette to the scaffold, they preferred to abdicate; and it was during those two eventful years that the thrones of Austria, Sardinia, Bavaria, France and Holland were vacated by their occupants. If today, half a century later, their successors desire in their turn to abdicate, it is that they, too have become firmly convinced that popular legislation is incompatible with good government--that is, as viewed from the throne--and that it is impossible to reconcile any longer two such diametrically opposed institutions as Crown and Parliament. In this perhaps, they are not far wrong; for there is no doubt that the development of popular government in the direction of democracy must naturally tend to diminish the power and prestige of the throne. Every new prerogative and right secured by the people or by their constitutional representatives is so much taken away from the monarch; and as time goes by it is becoming more and more apparent that, from a popular point of view, kings and emperors are superfluous, an anachronism, mere costly figureheads whose very weakness and lack of power render them an object of ridicule rather than of reverence, or that they constitute serious obstacles to political, commercial and even intellectual development. Indeed, there seems to be no place left for them in the coming century unless it be that of mere social arbiters, whose power is restricted to the decreeing of the laws of fashion and of conventionality, and whose authority is exercised not by virtue of any written law, but merely by means of tact.
"Of the sovereigns reported to be on the eve of abdication we have in the first place King George of the Hellenes, who declares himself sick and tired of his uncomfortable throne, and does not hesitate to declare that, the very atmosphere of Greece having ceased to be congenial to him, he is anxious to surrender as soon as possible his scepter to his son Constantine. He is no longer in touch with his subjects, has no friends at Athens save visitors from abroad, [D125] and is constantly forced by the somewhat disreputable policy of the Cabinets that succeed one another with such rapidity in his dominion to place himself in an awkward and embarrassing position with regard to those foreign courts to which he is bound by ties of close relationship.
"King Oscar is also talking of resigning his crown to his eldest son. In his case there is not one but there are two Parliaments with which to contend; and as that at Stockholm is always in direct opposition to that at Christiania, he cannot content the one without offending the other, the result being that Norway and Sweden are now according to his own assertions, on the point of civil war. He is convinced that the conflict between the two countries is bound to culminate in an armed struggle, rather than countenance which he has determined to abdicate. He declares that he has done his best, like King George of Greece, to live up to the terms of the Constitution by virtue of which he holds his scepter, but that it is absolutely impossible to do so any longer, and that it is a question with him either of violating his coronation oath or of stepping down and making way for his son.
"Then, too, there is King Christian of Denmark, who, at the age of eighty, finds himself, as the result of the recent general election, face to face with a National Legislature in which the ultra-Radicals and Socialists, hostile to the throne, possess an overwhelming majority, out-numbering the moderate Liberals and the infinitesimal Conservative party combined by three to one. He had been led to believe that the bitter conflict which has been raging between Crown and Parliament in Denmark for nearly twenty years had come to an end last summer, and that, after he had made many concessions with the object of settling all differences, everything would henceforth be plain sailing. Instead of this he now finds arrayed against him an overpowering majority in Parliament, which has already announced its intention of enforcing what it regards as popular rights and of exacting compliance on the part of the Crown with its conception of the terms of the Constitution. Broken by age and infirmity, shaken by the illness of his strong-minded wife, who has been his chief moral support throughout his reign, and deprived, too, of the [D126] powerful backing of his son-in-law, the late Emperor Alexander of Russia, he feels himself no longer capable of coping with the situation, and announces that he is about to make way for his son.
"To these three kings must be added the name of King Humbert of Italy, who is forced to submit to a Prime Minister personally abhorrent both to himself and to the Queen, and to lend his name to a policy of which he disapproves at heart, but which accords with the views of the Legislature. It is no secret that the whole of his private fortune is already invested abroad, in anticipation of his abandonment of the Italian throne, and that he finds more intolerable than ever a situation which compels him to surround himself with people uncongenial to him and to his consort, and to remain in a position toward the Church which is not only diametrically opposed to the sincere religious feelings of the Queen and of himself, but likewise places the reigning house of Italy in a very awkward and embarrassing position with regard to all the other courts of the Old World. King Humbert is a very sensitive man and keenly alive to the many slights to which he has been subjected by all those foreign royalties who, on coming to Rome, have pointedly abstained from calling at the Quirinal for fear of offending the Vatican.
"Had it not been for Queen Marie Amelie of Portugal, a strong-minded woman like her mother, the Countess of Paris, King Carlos would have long since relinquished the throne to his son, with his younger brother as Regent, while King Charles of Roumania and the Prince Regent of Bavaria are each credited with being on the eve of making way for their next of kin. Finally there is Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria, who has been strongly urged by his Russophile friends to abdicate, they undertaking to have him re-elected under Muscovite protection. But he has thus far refrained from yielding to their solicitations, realizing that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip, and that, if he were once voluntarily to surrender his crown, many things might interfere to prevent his recovering possession thereof.
"Thus, taking one thing and another, the cause of the people, from their own point of view, is not likely to be in [D127] any way improved or furthered by the impending abdications, which, on the contrary, will probably involve a renewal of the struggle of fifty years ago for constitutional right and parliamentary privileges."
Noisy demonstrations of Socialism in the German Reichstag, the Belgian Parliament and the French Chamber of Deputies were by no means calculated to allay the fears of those in authority. The German Socialist members refused to join in a cheer for the Emperor at the instance of the President, or even to rise from their seats; Belgian socialists in reply to a proposal of cheers for the king, whose sympathies were understood to be on the side of aristocracy and capital, cried, "Long live the people! Down with the capitalists!" and French members of the Chamber of Deputies, disappointed in a measure tending to favor the Socialist cause, declared that revolution would yet accomplish what was peaceably asked, but refused.
It is significant, too, that a bill tending to check the growth of Socialism in Germany, which was introduced in the Reichstag, failed to become a law; the reasons for the rejection of the bill being as follows, as reported by the press:
"The recent rejection by the Reichstag of the 'anti-revolution bill,' the latest measure elaborated by the German government to combat Socialism, makes an interesting chapter in the history of a nation with which, despite differences of language and institutions, we ourselves have much in common.
"It is now many years since attention began to be attracted to the remarkable increase of the Socialistic party in Germany. But it was not until 1878, in which two attempts were made upon the life of the Emperor, that the government determined upon repressive measures. The first law against the socialists was passed in 1878 for a period of two years, and was renewed in 1880, 1882, 1884, 1886.
"By this time additional legislation was deemed necessary, and in 1887 Chancellor Bismarck proposed to the [D128] Reichstag a new law which gave the authorities the power to confine the socialistic leaders within a given locality, to deprive them of their rights as citizens, and to expel them from the country. Parliament declined to accept the chancellor's proposals; it contented itself by renewing the old law.
"It was now hoped in some quarters that the occasion for further repressive legislation would pass away. But the continued growth of the Socialistic party, the increased boldness of its propaganda, together with the occurrence of anarchistic outrages in Germany and other parts of Europe, impelled the government to further intervention. In December, 1894, the emperor intimated that it had been decided to meet with fresh legislation the acts of those who were endeavoring to stir up internal disorder.
"Before the end of that year the anti-revolution bill was laid before the popular assembly. It consisted of a series of amendments to the ordinary criminal law of the country, and was proposed as a permanent feature of the criminal code. In these amendments, fines or imprisonment were provided for all who, in a manner dangerous to the public peace, publicly attacked religion, the monarchy, marriage, the family, or property, with expressions of abuse, or who publicly asserted or disseminated statements, invented or distorted, which they knew, or according to the circumstances, must conclude to be invented or distorted, having in view to render contemptible the institutions of the state or the decrees of the authorities.
"The new law also contained provisions of similar character aimed at the socialistic propaganda in the army and navy.
"Had the opposition proceeded only from the Socialists in and out of Parliament, the government would have carried its bill in triumph. But the character of the offenses specified, together with the extent to which the interpretation of the law was left to police judges, awoke the distrust, even the alarm, of large sections of the people, who saw in its provisions a menace to freedom of speech, freedom of teaching, and freedom of public assembly.
"Accordingly, when the Reichstag took up the consideration [D129] of the measure, a movement began the like of which is not often seen in the fatherland. Petitions from authors, editors, artists, university professors, students and citizens poured into Parliament until, it is asserted, more than a million and a half protesting signatures had been received.
"Great newspapers like the Berliner Tageblatt forwarded to the Reichstag petitions from their readers containing from twenty thousand to one hundred thousand names. Meanwhile the opposition of four hundred and fifty German universities was recorded against the bill at a mass-meeting of delegates held in the capital.
"The rejection of a measure thus widely opposed was inevitable, and the Socialist party will doubtless make the most of the government defeat. Yet the Reichstag condemned the bill, not because it was aimed at the Socialists, but because, in striking at anarchical tendencies, the measure was believed to endanger the rights of the people at large."
In London it is said that Socialism is constantly gaining ground while Anarchism is apparently dead. The Independent Labor Party, which was the greatest power of organized labor in England, is now avowedly a socialistic organization. It expects a bloody revolution to come ere long, which will result in the establishment of a Socialistic republic upon the ruins of the present monarchy.
Noting these facts and tendencies, it is no wonder that we see kings and rulers taking extra precautions to protect themselves and their interests from the threatening dangers of revolution and world-wide anarchy. In fear and distress they seek alliance one with another, though so great is their mutual distrust that they have little to hope for in any alliance. The attitude of every nation toward every other nation is that of animosity, jealousy, revenge and hatred, and their communications one with another are based only upon principles of self-interest. Hence their alliances one with another can only be depended upon so long as their selfish plans and policies seem to run parallel. There is no [D130] love or benevolence in it; and the daily press is a constant witness to the inability of the nations to strike any line of policy which would bring them all into harmonious cooperation. Vain is the hope, therefore, to be expected from any coalition of the powers.
Ecclesiasticism No Longer a Bulwark!
Realizing this as they do, to some extent at least, we see them anxiously looking to the church (not the faithful few saints known and recognized of God as his church, but the great nominal church, which alone the world recognizes) to see what of moral suasion or ecclesiastical authority can be brought to bear upon the great questions at issue between the rulers and the peoples. The church, too, is anxious to step into the breach, and would gladly assist in restoring amicable relations between princes and peoples; for the interests of the ecclesiastical aristocracy and the civil aristocracy are linked together. But in vain is help looked for from this source; for the awakened masses have little reverence left for priestcraft or statecraft. Nevertheless, the expediency of soliciting the aid of the church is being put to the test. The German Reichstag, for instance, which, through the influence of Prince Bismarck, banished the Jesuits from Germany in 1870, deeming them inimical to the welfare of Germany, afterwards repealed the measure, hoping thus to conciliate the Catholic party and gain its influence in support of the army measures. A significant remark was made on the occasion of the debate of the question, which, though it will prove most true as a prophecy, at the time served only to convulse the house with laughter. The remark was that the recall of the Jesuits would not be dangerous, since the deluge (Socialism--Anarchy) was sure to come soon and drown them too. [D131]
In the attempted reconciliations of the king and government of Italy with the Church of Rome the motive has evidently been fear of the spread of anarchy and the prospects of social warfare. With reference to this Premier Crispi, in a notable speech beginning with a historical review of current Italian politics, and closing with a declaration as to the social problems of the day, especially the revolutionary movement, said:
"The social system is now passing through a momentous crisis. The situation has become so acute that it seems absolutely necessary for civil and religious authority to unite and work harmoniously against that infamous band on whose flag is inscribed, 'No God, no king!' This band, he said, had declared war on society. Let society accept the declaration, and shout back the battle-cry, 'For God, king and country!'"
This same fearful foreboding on the part of the civil powers throughout all civilized nations is that upon which is based the recent conciliatory attitude of all the civil powers of Europe toward the Pope of Rome, and which now begins to look quite favorable to his long-cherished hope of regaining much of his lost temporal power. This attitude of the nations was most remarkably illustrated in the costly gifts presented to the Pope, on the occasion of the Papal Jubilee some years ago, by the heads of all the governments of Christendom. Feeling their own incompetency to cope with the mighty power of the awakening world, the civil authorities, in sheer desperation, call to mind the former power of Papacy, the tyrant, which once held all Christendom in its grasp; and though they hate the tyrant, they are willing to make large concessions, if by this means they may succeed in holding in check the discontented peoples.
Many acknowledge the claim so earnestly set forth by the Roman Catholic Church, that it will be the only reliable bulwark against the rising tide of Socialism and Anarchism. [D132] In reference to this delusion a former member of the Jesuit order, Count Paul von Hoensbrouck, now a convert to Protestantism, points to Catholic Belgium and the progress of Social Democracy there to show the hopelessness of any help from that quarter. In his article which appeared in the Preussische Jahrbuch, Berlin, 1895, he said:
"Belgium has for centuries been Catholic and Ultra-montane to the core. This country has a population of more than six millions, of whom only fifteen thousand are Protestant and three thousand Jews. All the rest are Catholic. Here is confessional solidity. The Catholic church has been the leading factor and force in the life and history of Belgium, and here she has celebrated her greatest triumphs and has again and again boasted of them. With some few exceptional cases she has controlled the educational system of the country, especially the elementary and public schools...
"Now, how has Social Democracy fared in Catholic Belgium? This the last elections have shown. Nearly one-fifth of all the votes cast have been given for the candidates of the Social Democrats, and we must remember that on the side of non-Socialistic candidates are found a great many more 'plural votes' than on the side of the Social Democrats --it being the rule in Belgium that the wealthy and educated exercise the right of 'plural votes,' i.e., their votes are counted two or three times. The Ultra-montanes indeed claim that this increase in the Socialistic vote is to be attributed to the growth from the Liberal Party. To a certain extent this is the case, but the claims of the Clericals that it is the bulwark against Socialism, irreligion and moral degeneracy thereby become none the less absurd. Whence did these Liberals come, if the Catholic church is the physician for all the ills the state and society are heir to?
"Catholicism can save the people as little from 'Atheistic Liberalism' as it can from Social Democracy. In the year 1886 a circular letter was sent to representative men in all the different stations in life with questions pertaining to the condition of the workingmen. Three-fourths of the replies [D133] declared that religiously the people 'deteriorated,' or 'had disappeared altogether,' or 'Catholicism was losing its hold more and more.' Liege, with its thirty-eight churches and thirty-five cloisters returned a hopeless answer; Brussels declared that 'nine-tenths of the children are illegitimate, and immorality beyond description.' And all this is so, although the Belgian Social Democrat, in so far as he has attended a school at all, has been a pupil in the Catholic Ultra-montane public schools, and in a country in which each year more than half a million Catholic sermons and catechetical lectures are delivered. The country which, with right and reason has been called the 'land of cloister and the clergy,' has become the Eldorado of Social Revolution."
Extravagant Preparations for War
The fear of impending revolution is driving every nation in "Christendom" to extravagant preparations for war. A metropolitan journal says, "Five of the leading nations of Europe have locked up in special treasuries 6,525,000,000 francs for the purpose of destroying men and material in war. Germany was the first of the nations to get together a reserve fund for this deadly purpose. She has 1,500,000,000 francs; France has 2,000,000,000 francs, Russia, despite the ravages of cholera and famine, 2,125,000,000 francs; Austria, 750,000,000 francs; Italy, the poorest of all, less than 250,000,000 francs. These immense sums of money are lying idle. They cannot or will not be touched, except in case of war. Emperor William of Germany said he would rather that the name of Germany be dishonored financially than touch a single mark of the war fund."
Even as early as 1895 the U.S. War Dept.'s prepared figures showed the size of the armies of foreign countries as follows: Austro-Hungary, 1,794,175; Belgium, 140,000; Colombia, 30,000; England, 662,000; France, 3,200,000; Germany, 3,700,000; Italy, 3,155,036; Mexico, 162,000; [D134] Russia, 13,014,865; Spain, 400,000; Switzerland, 486,000. It costs $631,226,825 annually to maintain these troops.
The militia force of the United States, as reported by the Secretary of War to the House of Representatives in the same year aggregates a body of 141,846 men, while its available, but unorganized, military strength, or what, in European countries, is called the "war footing" of the country, the Secretary places at 9,582,806 men.
Said a correspondent for the New York Herald, having just returned from a tour in Europe:
"The next war in Europe, come when it may, will be of a destructive violence unknown up to this day. Every source of revenue has been strained, if not drained, for the martial effect. It would be idle to say that the world has not yet seen the like, because never before has it had such destructive warlike means. Europe is a great military camp. The chief Powers are armed to the teeth. It is the combination of general effort, and not for parade or amusement. Enormous armies in the highest condition of discipline and armed to perfection, leaning on their muskets or bridle in hand, are waiting in camp and field for the signal to march against each other. A war in Europe settles only one thing definitely, and that is the necessity for another war.
"It is said that large standing armies are guarantees of peace; this may be so for a time, but not in the long run: for armed inactivity on such an enormous scale involves too many sacrifices, and the heavy burdens will inevitably force action."
Modern Implements of War
A correspondent of the Pittsburgh Dispatch writes from Washington, D.C.:
"What a ghastly curiosity shop are the stores of arms and projectiles and warlike models of all kinds in various nooks and corners of the War and Navy Departments! They are scattered and meager by comparison, to be sure, but they are enough to set the most thoughtless a-thinking as to [D135] what we are coming to, and what will be the end of the wonderful impetus of invention in the direction of weapons for the destruction of human kind. All that we possess up to this time, in this our new country, in the way of examples of such invention, would hardly compare in interest or volume with a single room of the vast collection in the old Tower of London, but it is enough to tell the whole story. To look at all this murderous machinery one would think the governors of the world were bent on the extermination of the human race, instead of its improvement and preservation.
"Along with the modern inventions which enable one man to kill 1,000 in the twinkling of an eye are the crude weapons of those simpler days when men fought hand to hand in battle. But we need not refer to them to illustrate progress in the art of warfare. Even the machinery used in the very latest of the great wars is now antiquated. Were a new civil war to begin tomorrow in the United States, or were we to become involved in a war with a foreign country, we would as soon think of taking wings and battling in the air as to fight with the weapons of a quarter of a century ago. A few of the guns and ships which came into vogue towards the closing days of the war, remodeled and improved almost out of their original shape, might be employed under some conditions, but the great bulk of the murderous machinery would be supplanted with entirely new inventions, compared with which the best of the old would be weak and wholly powerless. I never was more forcibly reminded of this progress in the domain of the horrific than yesterday when on an errand to the Navy Department I was shown the model and plans of the new Maxim automatic mitrailleuse. It (and the Maxim gun with other names) is certainly the most ingenious and the wickedest of all the curious weapons of warfare recently invented. It is the intention to manufacture them up to the size of a six-inch cannon, which will automatically fire about 600 rounds in a minute. This, of course, has been exceeded by the Gatling and other guns, carrying very small projectiles, but these, compared with the Maxim, are cumbersome to operate, require more attendants, are much heavier and far [D136] less accurate. One man can operate the Maxim gun, or one woman, or one child, for that matter, and after setting it going the gunner can stroll away for a quick lunch while his gun is engaged in killing a few hundred people. The gunner sits on a seat at the rear of the gun behind his bullet proof shield, if he desires to use one. When he wants to mow down an army in a few minutes he simply awaits till the aforesaid army gets into a position favorable for his work. Then he pulls a crank which fires the first cartridge, and the work of the automatic machinery begins. The explosion of the first cartridge causes a recoil which throws the empty shell out of the breach, brings another shell into place and fires it. The recoil of that explosion does a similar service, and so on to infinity. It is murder in perpetual motion.
"One of Mr. Maxim's inventions is called the 'riot gun,' a light little affair that can be transported in one's arms with enough ammunition to drive any ordinary mob out of the streets or out of existence. It is curious how all of the most recent inventions in this line look toward a certainty of riotous mobs. Since when did the inventor turn prophet? Well, this 'riot gun' can be worked at the rate of ten murderous shots a second, with the gunner all the time concealed, and in perfect safety, even from a mob armed with guns or even pistols, provided that same mob does not conclude to make a rush and capture gun and gunner. It seems to be expected by inventors like Mr. Maxim that modern mobs will stand in the streets to be shot down without acting either on the defensive or the aggressive, and that they will not stand around safe corners with bombs, or blow up or burn a city in their frenzy. However this may be, he has done all he can in the way of a gun for mobs. This little weapon can carry enough ammunition with it to clean out a street at one round, and in a few seconds, and it can be operated from walls or windows with as great facility as in the open street. With a twist of the wrist it can be turned up or down on the point of its carriage, and made to kill directly above or below the gunner without endangering the life or limb of that devotee of the fine art of murder.
"While this is one of the latest and most destructive of the [D137] recent inventions, it by no means follows that it is the last or most effective that will be contrived. It gradually dawns on the mind of one whose attention is called to this matter that we are but well begun in this thing. We have been trying to keep pace in the matter of defenses with the progress of the means of effective attack, but in vain. No vessel can be constructed to float that will withstand an explosion of the modern torpedo. No nation is rich enough to build forts that cannot be destroyed in a short time with the latest and most villainous form of dynamite projectile. Balloons can now be steered with almost the same facility as a vessel in the water, and will be extensively used, in the wars soon to occur, for the destruction of armies and forts. Death-dealing machinery is being made so simple and inexpensive that one man can destroy an army. If the strong are more fully equipped to destroy the weak, on the other hand the weak may easily be made strong enough to destroy the strongest. On both sides war will mean annihilation. The armies of the land, the monsters of the sea and war cruisers of the air will simply wipe each other out of existence if they come to blows at all."
But there is a still more recent improvement. The New York World gives the following account of the gun and powder:
"Maxim, the gun maker, and Dr. Schupphaus, the gunpowder expert, have invented a new cannon and torpedo powder, which will throw a huge cannon-ball full of explosives ten miles, and where it strikes it will smash into kindling-wood everything within hundreds of feet.
"The discovery is called the 'Maxim-Schupphaus system of throwing aerial torpedoes from guns by means of a special powder, which starts the projectile with a low pressure and increases its velocity by keeping the pressure well up throughout the whole length of the gun.' Patents on the system have been taken out in the United States and European countries.
"The special powder employed is almost pure gun cotton, compounded with such a small percent of nitro-glycerine [D138] as to possess none of the disadvantages of nitro-glycerine powders, and preserved from decomposition through a slight admixture of urea. It is perfectly safe to handle, and can be beaten with a heavy hammer on an anvil without exploding. The secret of its remarkable power lies in a single mathematical truth which no one had previously thought of. High explosive powder is now loaded into cannon in the form of strips, small cubes or solid cylindrical rods from one-half to three-fourths of an inch in diameter, several feet in length and looking like a bundle of sticks of dark beeswax. When the powder is touched off the ends and circumference of each rod of powder ignite instantaneously and burn toward the center.
"The volume of gases generated by combustion grows constantly less, because the burning surface is less, and as it is the volume of gas which gives velocity to the projectile shot from the gun, a loss of velocity is the inevitable result. The projectile does not go so far as it would if the pressure of the gases had increased, or had at least been maintained.
"In each piece of the Maxim and Schupphaus powder is a lot of small holes running through the entire length of the rod. When the powder is ignited the flame spreads instaneously not only over the circumference of each rod, but throughout the perforations as well. These little holes are burnt out with such rapidity that the difference in the volume of explosive gases generated at the beginning and at the end of the bore of the gun is about in the ratio of sixteen to one.
"The projectile therefore leaves the gun with terrific velocity, and each little hole in the rods of the powder does its share toward hurrying it on its mission of destruction miles away from the scene. With a big gun the havoc wrought by this new wonder of modern ordnance would be incalculable. This new death-dealing powder has been fired in field-guns and in the heavy coast-defense rifles at Sandy Hook with surprising results. From a ten-inch gun loaded with 128 pounds of this powder, a projectile weighing 571 pounds was thrown eight miles out to sea. The pressures on the rods of powder were more uniform than any yet recorded, which is a most important point in deciding the [D139] value of a high explosive powder. Without uniform pressures accuracy of aims is impossible.
"The big gun which Messrs. Maxim and Schupphaus propose to construct will be a twenty-inch gun, especially adapted for coast defense. This gun will show some peculiarities. It will not be built up, that is, composed of many pieces of steel bound together, but will consist of a single thin steel tube about thirty feet long, with walls not over two inches in thickness, in marked contrast with the mortars whose walls are made eight or ten inches thick in order to resist the pressure of the discharge. The recoil of the gun will be offset by hydraulic buffers underneath, containing water and oil. A twenty-inch gun of this type, using the new powder, could be planted at the entrance to New York harbor, either in Ft. Washington or Ft. Wadsworth and command the entire sea for a radius of ten miles. So uniform are the pressures and velocities obtained that a wonderful accuracy of fire is possible. It would only be necessary to train the gun upon any ship sighted by the range-finder within this radius to insure its complete destruction. The quantity of explosives thrown would be sufficient to sink a man-of-war if the projectile exploded in the water within fifty feet of its side. At one hundred and fifty feet the concussion of a five hundred pound projectile would be severe enough to cause dangerous leaks and disable a ship."
Dr. R.J. Gatling, the inventor of the wonderful machine gun that bears his name, said, with reference to the new invention of smokeless powder:
"People are not yet educated to appreciate the enormous revolution in future warfare caused by the invention of smokeless powder. Already it has made obsolete between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 of muskets in Europe, that were built to shoot black powder, not to speak of the millions of cartridges, all of which the countries possessing would be willing to sell for a song. Here is a vast sum of wasted capital, but it is the inevitable result of progress. Our army guns in this country will soon be in the obsolete category, for to keep pace with the rest of the world we will have to adopt smokeless powder, too. A gun loaded with it will send a bullet [D140] just twice as far as the black powder does. Again, the new invention changes military tactics entirely, for in the battles of the future troops will never display themselves en masse to the enemy. Open fighting, as has been customary through all the ages, is a thing of the past, for it would mean utter annihilation. If smokeless powder had been in use during the late civil strife, the war between the States would not have lasted ninety days.
"'What is the difference between a raped firing gun and a machine gun?'
"A rapid firing gun doesn't begin to fire with the rapidity of a machine gun. The former is usually of one barrel, and is loaded with shells. It is a great gun for torpedo boats, but fifteen times to the minute is pretty good time for one of them. A machine gun of the Gatling type has from six to twelve barrels, and with three men to operate, practically never ceases firing, one volley succeeding another at a speed of 1,200 discharges per minute. These three men can do more killing than a whole brigade armed with old-fashioned muskets."
A writer in the Cincinnati Enquirer says:
"The physiognomy of the next war, whenever it happens, will assume features entirely new, and so horrible as to leave forever the reproach of barbarism engraved upon the brow of civilization. The new military organizations which have quadruplicated the armies, the smokeless and terrible new powder that nothing can resist, the present fulminant artillery and rifle magazine which will now down the armies like a tornado shakes down the apples of a tree, the balloon observatories and balloon batteries which will drop masses of powder on cities and fortresses, laying them waste in a short time and much more effectively than a bombardment; the movable railways for artillery, the electric light and telephone, etc., have reversed all tactics of warfare. The next war will be conducted upon an entirely different system, unexperimented on as yet, and from which will arise great surprises. 'We arm for defense and not for offense,' says every power; 'our strength is our safeguard: it imposes peace on our neighbors and inspires all with the respect due us.' [D141]
"But every power follows on the same policy, which is equivalent to saying that all that formidable, murderous display is directed to only protect peace from the clutches of war. Though this be the climax of irony, I sincerely believe it, because it is evident, and I think peace well guarded against war by the very instruments of the latter, or rather by the apprehension caused by their magnitude and ugliness. But those unrelenting armaments are like an ever-absorbing vortex into which the public fortune is drifting, and going, as it were, to fill up a fathomless volcano in the form of an explosive substance. Strange as it may be, this is the true situation. Europe is lying upon a vast volcano dug out by herself, and which she laboriously fills up with the most dangerous element. But conscious of its danger, she diligently keeps all firebrands away from the crater. But whenever her caution relaxes and the explosion occurs, mind this, the entire world will feel the shock, and shudder. Barbarism will exhibit so much ugliness that a universal curse will spread from one nation to another, and will cause the peoples to devise some means more worthy of our time to settle international affairs, and war will be buried by her own hands beneath the ruins she will have raised."
Another Peace-Compelling Gun
Wake up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near. Gather ye together in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (the valley of death). Let the weak say, I am strong. Beat your pruning-hooks into spears and your plowshare steel use for swords. Joel 3:10
What it will by and by mean to go to war may be guessed at from the description of the gun given below. In connection with this preparation for war between nations let us not overlook the fact that governments and generals are becoming afraid of their troops. As the militia declined to serve in Ohio in connection with the strike disturbances, and as the marines rebelled against the government in Brazil, and the soldiers of Portugal against their generals, so it may soon be in every land in the world.
Germany with her great army is becoming fearful because [D142] Socialism is gradually making its way amongst the soldiers. And even in Great Britain it was recently found necessary to disarm some of the militia or yeomanry. The secret of all this insubordination is knowledge, and behind the knowledge lies education, and behind education the printing press and God's wonderful enlightening power, lifting the veil of ignorance and preparing mankind for the great day of Messiah with its prelude of trouble.
We wondered some time ago how the insurrection, such as the Scriptures seem to imply, could ever sweep over the whole earth; how anarchy could break loose in spite of all the combined power and influence of capital and civilization opposed to it. But now we see that education (knowledge), is preparing the way for the world's great disaster, which the Scriptures seem to indicate may be expected within the next few years. Now we can see that the very men who have been trained to use the most up-to-date apparatus for the destruction of human life may be found amongst those who have the charge and care of the armories and ammunitions of war. Following is the article referred to:
"This gun, weighing less than twenty pounds, and manipulated like an ordinary fowling piece, pours out a stream of bullets when in action at the rate of 400 shots per minute. The new arm is called the Benet-Mercier, and is of French invention. It has a stock that is placed against the shoulder. In action the soldier lies on the ground, resting the gun on two supports. This gives an advantage in safety over the Hiram Maxim rapid-firing model, since the operator of that gun is compelled to stand in feeding it. This brings him into full sight of the enemy--or rather it brings all three men into sight, for three are required for the manipulation of this heavier weapon."
The prophecy of Joel (3:9-11)is surely being fulfilled in the wonderful preparations for war now being made among the nations. Prophetically, he voiced the sentiments [D143] of these times, saying, "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves and come, all ye nations, gather yourselves together round about." Is not this the world-wide proclamation of the present time? Are not the mighty and the weak all nerving themselves for the coming conflict? Is not even the professed church of Christ marshalling the young boys and inspiring them with the spirit of war? Are not the men who otherwise would be following the plow and pruning the trees forging and handling instead the weapons of war? And are not the nations all assembling their mighty hosts and draining their financial resources beyond the powers of long endurance, in order thus to prepare for the exigencies of war--the great trouble which they see fast approaching?
The United States Unique in Her Position, Yet
Threatened with Even Greater Evils Than the Old World
The position of the United States of America among the nations is unique in almost every respect; and so much so that some are inclined to regard this country as the special child of divine providence, and to think that in the event of world-wide revolution it will escape. But such fancied security is not consistent with sound judgment, in view of either the signs of the times or the certain operations of those just laws of retribution by which nations, as well as individuals, are judged.
That the peculiar circumstances of the discovery of this continent and the planting of this nation on its virgin soil, to breathe its free air and develop its wonderful resources, was a step in the course of divine providence, the thoughtful and unbiased cannot doubt. The time and circumstances [D144] all indicate it. Emerson once said, "Our whole history looks like the last effort by Divine Providence in behalf of the human race." He would not have said that, however, had he understood the divine plan of the ages, in the light of which it is quite clear that it is not a "last effort of divine providence," but a well defined link in the chain of providential circumstances for the accomplishment of the divine purpose. Here has been afforded a refuge for the oppressed of all lands from the tyranny of civil and ecclesiastical despotism. Here, separated from the old despotisms by the vast ocean wilderness, the spirit of liberty found a breathing place, and the experiment of popular government became a reality. Under these favoring circumstances the great work of the Gospel age--the selecting of the true Church--has been greatly facilitated; and here we have every reason to believe the greatest harvest of the age will be gathered.
In no other country could the blessed harvest message-- the plan of the ages and its times and seasons and privileges --have been so untrammeled in its proclamation and so widely and freely heralded. And nowhere, except under the free institutions of this favored land, are so many minds sufficiently released from the fetters of superstition and religious dogmatism as to be able to receive the truth now due, and in turn to bear its good tidings abroad. It was, we believe, for this very purpose that the providence of God has been, in a measure, over this country. There was a work to be done here for his people which could not so well be done elsewhere, and therefore when the hand of oppression sought to throttle the spirit of liberty, a Washington was raised up to lead the impoverished but daring liberty-lovers on to national independence. And again when disruption threatened the nation, and when the time had come for the liberation of four millions of slaves God raised up another [D145] brave and noble spirit in the person of Abraham Lincoln, who struck off the shackles of the enslaved and preserved the unity of the nation.
Yet the nation, as a nation, has not, and never had, any claims upon divine providence. The providential overruling in some of its affairs has been only in the interests of the people of God. The nation, as a nation, is without God and without hope of perpetuity when, through it, God shall have served his own wise purposes for his people--when he shall have gathered "his elect." Then the winds of the great tribulation may blow upon it, as upon the other nations, because, like them, it is one of the "kingdoms of this world" which must give place to the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
While the conditions of the masses of the population here are much more favorable than those of any other land, there is an appreciation of comfort and of individual rights and privileges here among the poorer classes which does not exist to the same extent in any other land. In this country, from the ranks of its humblest citizens, imbued with the spirit of its institutions--the spirit of liberty, of ambition, of industry and intelligence--have come many of the wisest and best statesmen--presidents, legislators, lawyers, jurists and distinguished men in every station. No hereditary aristocracy here has enjoyed a monopoly of offices of trust or profit, but the child of the humblest wayfarer might aspire to and win the prizes of honor, wealth and preferment. What American schoolboy has not been pointed to the possibilities of his one day becoming president of the country? In fact, all the attainments of great men in every rank and station have been viewed as the future possibilities of the American youth. Nothing in the spirit of its institutions has ever checked such ambition; but, on the contrary, it has always been stimulated and encouraged. The influence of these open avenues to the highest and to all the intermediate [D146] positions of honor and trust in the nation has been to the elevation of the whole people, from the lowest strata upward. It has stimulated the desire for education and culture, and as well all the demands of education and culture. The free school system has largely met this demand, bringing all classes into intelligent communication through the daily press, books, periodicals, etc., thus enabling them, as individuals, to compare notes and to judge for themselves on all questions of interest, and accordingly to wield their influence in national matters by the use of the ballot.
A sovereign people, thus dignified and brought to an appreciation of the rights of manhood, is therefore naturally one of the first to resist, and that most determinedly, any apparent tendencies to curb its ambition or to restrain its operations. Even now, notwithstanding the liberal spirit of its institutions and the immense advantages they have conferred upon all classes of the nation, the intelligence of the masses begins to discern influences at work which are destined are long to bring them into bondage, to despoil them of their rights as freemen and to deprive them of the blessings of bountiful nature.
The American people are being aroused to a sense of danger to their liberties, and to action in view of such danger, with the energy which has been their marked characteristic in every branch of industry and every avenue of trade, though the real causes of their danger are not clearly enough discerned by the masses to direct their energies wisely. They only see that congested wealth is impoverishing the many, influencing legislation so as to still further amass wealth and power in the hands of the few, and so creating an aristocracy of wealth whose power will in time prove as despotic and relentless as any despotism of the Old World. While this is, alas! only too true, it is not the only [D147] danger. A religious despotism, whose hateful tyranny can best be judged by the records of the past days of its power, also threatens this country. That danger is Romanism.* Yet this danger is not generally discerned, because Rome is making her conquests here by cunning art and base flattery. She professes great admiration for the free institutions and self-government of the United States; she courts and flatters the Protestant "heretics" who form so large a proportion of the intelligent population, and now calls them her "separated brethren," for whom she has an "undying affection"; and yet, at the same time, she lays her clammy hand upon the public school system, which she is anxious to turn into an agent for the further propagation of her doctrines and the extension of her influence. She is making her influence felt in both political and religious circles, and the continuous tide of immigration to this country is largely of her subjects.
But alas! the remedy which the masses will eventually apply will be worse than the disease. When the social revolution does come here, it will come with all the turbulence and violence which American energy and love of liberty can throw into it. It is by no means reasonable, therefore, to expect that this country will escape the fate of all the nations of Christendom. Like all the rest, it is doomed to disruption, [D148] overthrow and anarchy. It also is a part of Babylon. The spirit of liberty fostered here for several generations, already threatens to run riot with a vehemence and speed unequaled in the old world, and unrestrained by the more potent agencies of the monarchical governments.
That many men of wealth see this, and to some extent fear that the threatening troubles may culminate here first, is manifest from various indications, of which the following, from The Sentinel, Washington, D.C., of some years ago, is an illustration:
"EMIGRATING FROM THE UNITED STATES--Mr. James Gordon Bennett, owner of the New York Herald, says the National Watchman, has resided so long in Europe as to be considered an alien. Mr. Pulitzer, owner of the New York World, it is said has taken up his permanent residence in France. Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire iron king, has bought a castle in Scotland and is making it his home. Henry Villard, the Northern Pacific Railroad magnate, has sold his holdings and gone permanently to Europe with about $8,000,000. W. W. Astor has removed from New York to London, where he has bought a magnificent residence, and made application to become a British subject. Mr. Van Alen, who recently secured the ambassadorship to Italy by a $50,000 contribution to the Democratic campaign fund, is a foreigner to all intents and purposes, and declares this country unfit for a gentleman to live in."
But in vain will protection and security be sought under any of the kingdoms of this world. All are now trembling with fear and alarm, and realize their inability to cope with the mighty, pent-up forces with which they will have to deal when the terrible crisis arrives. Then indeed "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low." "In that day [now so very close at hand--'even at the door'] a man shall cast his idols of silver and his idols of gold...to the moles and to the bats, and to [D149] go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth." Isa. 2:17-21
Then "All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water. They shall also gird themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them, and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads. They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed. Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord." Ezek. 7:17-19
Of little avail will be the protection which any government can provide, when the judgments of the Lord and the fruits of their folly are precipitated upon them all. In their pride of power they have "treasured up wrath against the day of wrath:" they have selfishly sought the aggrandizement of the few, and have been heedless of the cries of the poor and needy, and their cries have entered into the ears of the Lord of armies, and he has espoused their cause; and he declares, "I will punish the world for their evil and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." Isa. 13:11,12
Thus we are assured that the Lord's overruling providence in the final catastrophe shall bring deliverance to the oppressed. The lives of multitudes will not then be sacrificed nor will the inequalities of society that now exist be perpetuated.
Truly this is the predicted time of distress of nations with perplexity. The voice of the discontented masses is aptly symbolized by the roaring of the sea, and the hearts of thinking men are failing them for fear of the dread calamity which all can now see rapidly approaching; for the [D150] powers of heaven (the present ruling powers) are being terribly shaken. Indeed some, instructed by these signs, and calling to mind that scripture, "Behold, he cometh with clouds," are already beginning to suggest the presence of the Son of man, although they greatly misapprehend the subject and God's remedy.
Said Prof. Herron in a lecture given in San Francisco on "The Christian Revival of the Nation"--"CHRIST IS HERE! AND THE JUDGMENT IS TODAY! Our social conviction of sin-- the heavy hand of God on the conscience--shows this! Men and institutions are being judged by his teachings!"
But amidst all the shaking of the earth (organized society) and of the heavens (the ecclesiastical powers) those who discern in it the outworking of the divine plan of the ages rejoice in the assurance that this terrible shaking will be the last that the earth will ever have or need; for, as the Apostle Paul assures us, it signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken--the overturning of the whole present order of things--that those things which cannot be shaken --the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of light and peace--may remain. For our God is a consuming fire. In his wrath he will consume every system of evil and oppression, and he will firmly establish truth and righteousness in the earth.
The Cry of "Peace! Peace! When There Is No Peace"
But notwithstanding the manifest judgment of God upon all nations, notwithstanding the fact that the volume of testimony from multitudes of witnesses is pressing with resistless logic against the whole present order of things, and that the verdict and penalty are anticipated with an almost universal dread, there are those who illy conceal [D151] their fears by cries of "Peace! Peace!" when there is no peace.
Such a proclamation, participated in by all the nations of Christendom was that which was issued from the great naval display on the occasion of the opening of the Baltic Canal. The canal was projected by the grandfather of the present German Emperor, and the work was begun by his father, for the benefit of Germany's commerce, as well as for her navy. The present Emperor, whose faith in the sword as a never failing remedy for the interruptions of peace, and whose accompaniments of cannon and gunpowder are equally relied upon, determined to make the opening of the finished canal the occasion of a grand international proclamation of peace, and a grand display of the potentialities upon which it must rest. Accordingly, he invited all the nations to send representative battleships (peace makers) to the great Naval Parade through the Baltic Canal on June 20, 1895.
In response to that call there came more than a hundred floating steel fortresses, including twenty giant "battleships," technically so-called, all fully armed, and all capable of a speed of at least seventeen miles an hour. "It is difficult," said the London Spectator, "to realize such a concentration of power, which could in a few hours sweep the greatest seaport out of existence, or brush the concentrated commercial fleets of the world to the bottom of the ocean. There is, in fact, nothing on the seaboard of the world which could even pretend to resist such a force; and Europe, considered as an entity, may fairly pronounce herself at once unassailable at sea and irresistible...The fleet assembled at Kiel was probably the highest embodiment possible of power for fighting, provided that the fight shall never last longer than its explosive stores." [D152]
The cost of the vessels and their armaments amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars. One salute, fired simultaneously by 2,500 guns, consumed in an instant thousands of dollars worth of powder; and the entertainment of the distinquished guests cost the German people $2,000,000. The speeches of the German Emperor and foreign representatives dwelt on "the new era of peace" ushered in by the opening of the great canal and the cooperation of the nations in the demonstration. But the fair speeches, and the mighty roar of cannon by which the kings and emperors proclaimed Peace! Peace! with threats of vengeance to any who refuse it upon their terms, were not interpreted by the people as the fulfilment of the prophetic message of "Peace on earth and good will toward men." It had no soothing effect upon the socialist element; it suggested no panacea for the healing of social disorders, for lightening the cares or reducing the burdens of the masses of the poor and unfortunate; nor did it give any assurance of good will on earth, nor indicate how good will could be secured and maintained, either between nation and nation, or between governments and peoples. It was therefore a grand farce, a great, bold, national falsehood; and it was so regarded by the people.
The London Spectator voiced the sentiments of thinking people with reference to the display in the following truthful comment:
"The irony of the situation is very keen. It was a grand festival of peace and constructive industry, but its highest glory was the presence of the fleets prepared at great sacrifice of treasure and of energy solely for war and destruction. An ironclad has no meaning, unless it is a mighty engine for slaughter. There is but one phrase which describes fully the grandeur of that 'peaceful' fleet, and that is that it could in a day destroy any port on earth, or sink the commercial navies of the world, if gathered before it, to the bottom of [D153] the sea. And what depths of human hatred were concealed under all that fair show of human amity! One squadron was French, and its officers were panting to avenge on that exultant Emperor the dismemberment of their country. Another was Russian, and its Admirals must have been conscious that their great foe and rival was the Power they were so ostentatiously honoring, and had only the day before broken naval rules to compliment the Emperor's most persistent and dangerous foe. A third was Austrian, whose master has been driven out of the dominion which has made the canal, and jockeyed out of his half-right in the province through which the canal in its entire length winds its way. And there were ships from Denmark, from which Holstein had been torn by its present owners, and from Holland, where every man fears that some day or other Germany will, by another conquest, acquire at a blow, colonies, commerce and a transmarine career. The Emperor talked of peace, the Admirals hoped for peace, the newspapers of the world in chorus declare that it is peace, but everything in that show speaks of war just past, or, on some day not far distant, to arrive. Never was there a ceremonial so grand in this world, or one so penetrated through and through with the taint of insincerity."
The New York Evening Post commented as follows:
"In the very gathering of war-vessels there is manifest a spirit the reverse of peace-loving. Each nation sends its biggest ships and heaviest guns, not simply as an act of courtesy, but also as a kind of international showing of teeth. The British navy despatches ten of its most powerful vessels merely as a sample of what it has in reserve, and with the air as of one saying, 'Be warned in time, O ye nations, and provoke not the mistress of the seas.' French and Russian squadrons, in like manner, put on their ugliest frown lest host William should presume upon the jollification to make too friendly advances. Our own American ships join the fleet with the feeling doubtless animating many an officer and sailor on board that it is time the haughty Europeans learned that there is a rising naval power across the sea which they had better not trifle with. [D154]
"An especial air of bouffe attaches to the presence of the French and Russians. As lovers of international peace, especially as lovers of Germany, they are truly comic. Fury over the thing in some parts of France is great...
"But the most striking insincerity of all is to be found in the opening of the Kiel canal itself. It is dedicated to 'the traffic of the world.' Hence its international significance, hence all the rejoicing and glorification. But what do Germany and France and the other continental Powers really think about the traffic of the world? Why at this very moment, as for twenty years past, they are straining every nerve to fetter and hinder and reduce as far as possible the free commercial intercourse of nations...Until this proscriptive spirit of commercial hostility and jealousy passes away, or wears itself out through sheer absurdity, you may open as many inter-oceanic canals as you please, but you cannot persuade sensible people that your talk about their significance for international good feeling and the general love of peace is anything but a bit of transparent insincerity."
The Chicago Chronicle said:
"It is the purest barbarism, this pageant at Kiel. Held in celebration of a work of peace, it assumes the form of an apotheosis of war. Mortal enemies gather there, displaying their weapons while they conceal their enmity behind forced friendliness. Cannon planned for war are fired for courtesy. The Emperor himself eulogizes the display of armaments. 'The iron-armed might which is assembled in Kiel harbor,' he said, 'should at the same time serve as a symbol of peace and of the cooperation of all European peoples to the advancement and maintenance of Europe's mission of civilization.' Experience controverts this theory. He who has a gun wishes to shoot with it. The nation which is fit for war wants to make war. The one serious menace to European peace today is the fact that every European nation is prepared for war.
"The digging of the Kiel canal was a distinct service to civilization; the manner of its celebration is a tribute to barbarism. It was dug, theoretically, to encourage maritime commerce, and most of the vessels gathered to celebrate its [D155] completion were of the type known as commerce destroyers."
According to The St. Paul Globe, royalty and privilege rather than industry, were on exhibition at Kiel. It said:
"What is the place of a fleet of ironclads today in the advancement of civilization? What pirate fleets are there to be swept from the high seas? What inferior and savage nation exists to whom we might convey an illuminating influence of modern civilization by casting upon it the searchlights of a squadron of war-ships? There is but one assault at this moment in which the nations might unite their forces heartily on the plea that they were working for modern civilization. Yet not one of the governments represented at Kiel would dare to propose an armed alliance with the others for the purpose of chasing out of Europe the hideous and cruel Turk.
"Would a conflict between the splendid ironclads, or any two of the nations represented at Kiel, aid in any way the cause of civilization? Are not these armaments, on the contrary, the relics and witnesses of surviving barbarism? The most savage features of any nation are its munitions of war. The purpose of most of those which Europe provides in such profusion by taxes upon a burdened people is to keep those people themselves in humble subjection to the powers above them."
The "Pageantry of Oppression," is what The Minneapolis Times called the Kiel naval pageant, upon which it commented as follows:
"The fact that the opening of this magnificent waterway is valued more for its military than for its commercial advantages, and that it was celebrated by the booming of ordnance from the assembled war fleets of the world, is an indictment of civilization. For if the so-called 'civilized' nations of the world need such vast enterprises for military operations and such enormous navies as are now maintained at the expense of the people, then the human nature of the Caucasian race has not improved in the least since the time of Columbus or by the great discovery he made. If such navies are necessary, then liberty is impossible and despotism is a condition necessary for the human race." [D156]
This loud and united cry of the nations, through their representatives, of "Peace! Peace! when there is no peace," calls forcibly to mind the word of the Lord through the Prophet Jeremiah, who says:
"From the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one practiseth falsehood. And they heal the breach of the daughter of my people very lightly, saying, Peace! Peace! when there is no peace. They should have been ashamed because they had committed an abomination; but they neither felt the least shame, nor did they know how to blush: therefore shall they fall among those that fall; at the time that I punish their sin shall they stumble, saith the Lord." Jer. 6:13-15
This great international proclamation of peace bearing on its very face the stamp of insincerity, is a forcible reminder of the words of John G. Whittier which so graphically describe the present peace conditions:
"'Great Peace in Europe! Order reigns
From Tiber's hills to Danube's plains!"
So say her kings and priests; so say
The lying prophets of our day.
"Go lay to earth a list'ning ear;
The tramp of measured marches hear,
The rolling of the cannon's wheel,
The shotted musket's murd'rous peal,
The night alarm, the sentry's call,
The quick-eared spy in hut and hall,
From polar sea and tropic fen
The dying groans of exiled men,
The bolted cell, the galley's chains,
The scaffold smoking with its stains!
Order--the hush of brooding slaves!
Peace--in the dungeon vaults and graves!
Speak, Prince and Kaiser, Priest and Czar!
If this be peace, pray, what is war?
"Stern herald of Thy better day,
Before Thee to prepare Thy way
The Baptist shade of Liberty,
Gray, scarred and hairy-robed must press
With bleeding feet the wilderness!
O that its voice might pierce the ear
Of priests and princes while they hear
A cry as of the Hebrew seer:
Repent! God's Kingdom draweth near."