ONE of the notable events of our day was the recent peace-demonstration on the occasion of the opening of the Baltic canal. The canal was projected by the grandfather of the present German Emperor and begun by his father; and, as intended, it will doubtless be of great benefit to Germany's commerce as well as to her navy. The German Emperor determined to make the occasion of its opening a forcible reminder of the blessings of peace on earth and good will toward men, and invited all the great governments of "Christendom," and Turkey as well, to send to it their representative battle-ships or peace-makers.
They came: over a hundred of the most awful engines of war; and they made, as they steamed through the canal, the most remarkable exhibition of the kind ever witnessed on earth. The cost of the vessels and their armament represented hundreds of millions of dollars; and one salute fired simultaneously by 3,500 guns consumed in an instant thousands of dollars' worth of powder, and produced, as it were, a voice of mighty thunder such as never before was heard. Of course, while telling them that this was a peace -demonstration, the Emperor feasted his guests royally. He could well afford to do so, for the people would foot the bill, which in this case is stated to have been in round figures $2,000,000.
As the eye of the mind beholds the pageant we inquireWho are these Christian nations? And for what purpose have they built these floating fortresses? Are they to defend civilization and Christianity from barbarous foes seeking their destruction? No; the barbarian savages never dreamed of such death-dealing devices. It was not the fear of these that led to the construction of these vessels. Perhaps there once were such savages, and mayhap these are the vessels by which they were conquered long ago, and therefore they are symbols of peace and good will toward civilized man? No; not one vessel in the entire number had ever been in battle: they were all new vessels of the most modern type. Vessels launched ten years ago would be too antiquated for such a naval parade; indeed would be almost useless in warfare against one of these modern vessels. Why then were hundreds of millions spent in building these vessels? and why are other millions spent annually in keeping them manned, armed and provisioned for war?
Ah! the only answer is that the name Christian, as applied to nations, is a mistake. Although Christianity has done much for the nations of Europe and Americabringing them civilization and a measure of liberty and some ideas of justice and decencyit has not converted them as a whole, nor more than a small minority. To many it has merely brought enlarged ambitions of selfishness which are scarcely restrained by public weal and sentiment. The nations have not been converted from principles of selfishness to principles of love: and none know this better than the rulers. They know that they dare not trust each otherthat if one got much more power than the other, so that she dared to do it with impunity, she would not hesitate to steal away their liberties for her own gain; "might would make right." Hence it is a race for power, for self-defence against each other. Such a peace evidently rests upon a poor foundation.
How much the world needs a general government, a good government, a righteous government, a paternal government, that would really "speak peace to the nations" and bid them spend time and treasure and blood in a nobler cause than destroying one another financially and literally. Six thousand years of experience proves that such a government cannot be organized amongst the fallen sons of Adam. For even though a few might be found able and willing to [R1838 : page 164] do their best, their efforts would be handicapped by others seeking to do their worst while deceiving the people and posing before them as patriots. And even the best intentioned would be in great danger of being corrupted by power.
But as God's people read the great, divine plan of the ages they see that God has for centuries been selecting and preparing, under Christ their head, a peculiar people, "a royal priesthood," who, with Christ their Chief Priest, shall shortly rule and bless and help up, out of sin, degradation and death, all the families of earth. They pray for that promised Kingdom of God"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." They realize that when God's Kingdom is in control, the present implements of human destruction will be of no further value, and human energies will be otherwise invested. But first the great battle of the Great Day of God Almighty must be fought. The nations realize faintly, even while they cry, "Peace, peace," that a conflict impends: and hence in the language of Scripture the weak are saying, "I am strong." (Joel 3:10.) This is the real meaning of the naval display at Kiel. The nations desire to impress each other with their strength, hoping thus to put off the evil day of war.
But the world in general is not deceived by the cries of Peace! Peace! Even though they do not see the glorious outcome as we see it, they see the "battle," the "irrepressible conflict," and know the real meaning of the recent peace-demonstration. We quote from the London Spectator as follows:
"And yet 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 vast sacrifices of treasure and of energy solely for war and for 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 this 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 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 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."
We noticed not long since that in France some of the theaters were presenting scenes from the New Testament. Now a "Sacred Opera," Christ, composed by the celebrated pianist, Anton Rubinstein, now deceased, is being presented at the City Theater of Bremen, Germany.
The tone is reverent, the building is hung with dark drapery, and no applause is permitted. The prologue opens with a shepherd scene in which the wondrous star appears over the manger. Soon the heavens open and the Annunciation angel appears surrounded by a heavenly host and declares the Redeemer's birth, when follows the joyful song, "Glory to God in the highest, Peace on earth, good will toward men." The music changes, a Moorish king and retinue appears, then one from the North, and finally a third from India. Each sings of his own greatness, but also of that longing which the whole world feels for something better. The door of the manger opens and the infant Jesus with his mother and Joseph are seen in a flood of light.
Then follow scenes in our Savior's life:his baptism at Jordan, by John, who preaches the Kingdom of Heaven at hand, and who salutes Jesus as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world; the temptation in the wilderness, in which our Lord is represented in white garments, while Satan is represented behind him in black garb, etc. Scene 3 represents the sermon on the mount. (Matt. 5.) As each beatitude falls from the lips of the great Teacher, the disciples repeat quietly the word, "Blessed." But presently when the hungry clamor for bread, the miracle of the loaves and fishes is represented, followed by the awakening of the son of the widow of Nain.
Another scene represents our Lord driving the tradesmen and money-changers out of the temple, saying, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves." The scene shows the buyers, sellers, children, etc., in oriental dress, scurrying across the stage before the scourge of small cords. Then Caiaphas and the Pharisees appear, demanding his authority and taunting him. Our Lord's answers are given in dignified form, tone and music.
Then follows the scene of the Last Supper; Gethsemane's agony; the trial before Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate; the latter represented with great dramatic effect, followed [R1839 : page 164] by the dragging away of the Master to execution. The crucifixion scene is omitted because the stage is insufficient in size. A scene representing Judas' remorse is brought in and the whole concludes with a representation of St. Paul preaching in bold strains the gospel of the cross of Christ.
It is truly remarkable that worldly men, we presume as a financial speculation, are finding that the common people are hungering for the gospel of the Son of God, while the preachers of various denominations declare that they cannot attract them with grand organs, and singers, and free seats, and essays upon science, art, politics, etc., which contain but little food for the soullittle of the [R1839 : page 165] bread of everlasting life. Thus while the colleges and churches are explaining away our Lord's miraculous birth and all of his miracles, God finds defenders and mouthpieces for his truth, even amongst non-professors.
The latest development of Protestant union is called "The League of Catholic Unity," which, acting along the lines laid down in 1888 at the Lambeth (England) Conference, sets forth the following four rules as the basis of union:
A splendid specimen of Roman Catholic love for Protestantism, the Bible, the American flag and the Public School, was given in the great city of Boston, on July 4. Boston (like New York and several other large cities in the United States) has a large foreign population, and hence the Roman Catholics, under the name of the Democratic party have had control of the city government for years.
It is usual for Patriotic orders to celebrate by parade, etc., the Nation's birth, and this was done by the Patriotic Sons of America and the "American Protective Association," unsectarian organizations whose special object is the preservation of American liberties, and especially the protection of the Public School from the hostile attacks of Romanists. The R.C. Board of Aldermen refused permission to take along a "float" representing a New England school house, and two of their number, knowing the loving and liberal spirit of their supporters, prophesied trouble and it is believed encouraged it by their utterances, so that their expectations were realized. But the A.P.A. people thought that they should cling to a shred of liberty on the day of its celebration and obtained the Governor's consent and that of the Police Commission, which is of his appointment, and did parade as intended.
The parade was to emphasize the value of the public schools as nurseries of freedom; and a miniature "Red School House," of the pattern general throughout New England, led the procession guarded by 300 policemen. It was mounted on wheels and drawn by horses covered with American colors. At its door stood a man dressed with striped pants and starry coat, representing "Uncle Sam," the promoter and protector of the public school system. At one of its windows stood the Rev. H. F. H. Miller, a Baptist minister, with an open Bible before him resting upon an American flag; and near him stood Prof. H. H. Lincoln, the first and for forty years a school teacher in East Boston.
The procession got along fairly well until Saratoga street was reached, when the mob, which lined the sidewalks hooting and using vile and insulting language, grew aggressive. The minister and the Bible were the mark for tobacco quids and gobs of mud. As the school house was known to be the chief objection, the police were massed near it; but when the school house and police were past the mob of Romanists closed in upon the rear of the procession with most foul and insulting language, and women joined in spitting upon and striking the marchers. The mob cut off the rear of the procession, assaulting it with stones, etc. The result was two killed and many wounded severely. Of course the decent people of Boston are all hurt by the wound given to the fame of their city.
The lesson is that however much the pope and his cardinals and bishops and Protestant ministers may desire unity between their system and Protestantism, the fact remains that there is a wide gulf of bitter feeling between their people and all the institutions of liberty. Poor creatures, they are so blinded by priestcraft and superstition that they are scarcely accountable. Thank God! the time is not far distant when they shall all "come to a knowledge of the truth" under the instruction of the "royal priesthood." Then the blind eyes shall be opened, and no doubt many will be saved by the Redeemer from their present malicious, antichristian, murderous spirit, which surely is unfit for any place in or under the Kingdom of God's dear Son.1 John 3:15.
While God's consecrated saints should see all this clearly, they are to take no part in such parades and battles. We have a greater battle and labor: a battle with spiritual wickedness and an overcoming of our own carnal tendencies. The world will fight its own battles, some on each side, but we must wait for the salvation that shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.