The Battle of Armageddon
by Charles Taze Russell
The Approaching Trouble Variously Symbolized by the Prophets–Typified in Israel’s Fall, A.D. 70, and in the French Revolution–Its General Character and Extent–The Lord’s Great Army–“The Worst of the Heathen”–“The Time of Jacob’s Trouble”–His Deliverance–The Discomfiture of Gog and Magog.
“For lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name [“Christendom”–“Babylon”];…I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts… The Lord will call aloud from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall cry out very loudly over his [nominal] habitation [Christendom]; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
“A tumultuous noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he holdeth judgment over all flesh: he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord.
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the farthest ends of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered nor buried: they shall be dung upon the ground.” `Jer. 25:29-38` SO COMPLEX and peculiar will be the conflict of this Day of Vengeance that no one symbol could describe it. In the Scriptures, accordingly, many forceful symbols are used, such as battle, earthquake, fire, storm, tempest and flood. <528>
It is the “Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty,” when he shall gather the nations and assemble the kingdoms to pour upon them his indignation, even all his fierce anger; for the Lord of hosts himself mustereth the hosts of the battle. `Rev. 16:14`; `Zeph. 3:8`; `Isa. 13:4`
It is “a Great Earthquake such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great,” which shall “shake, not the earth only, but also heaven.” `Rev. 16:18`; `Heb. 12:26`
It is “The Fire of Jehovah’s Jealousy, which shall devour all the earth.” Both the present heavens (the ecclesiastical powers of Christendom) and the earth (the social organization under both church and state influence) are reserved unto fire against this day of judgment. “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements [of present ecclesiasticism] shall melt with fervent heat; the earth [society] also and the works that are therein shall be burned up…The heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved.” All the proud and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and this fire shall burn them up. It shall leave them neither root nor branch. `Zeph. 3:8`; `2 Pet. 3:10,12`; `Mal. 4:1`
“His way is in the Whirlwind and in the Storm.” “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?” `Nahum 1:3,6,7`
“Behold, it cometh mighty and strong from the Lord, as a Tempest of Hail and a Destroying Storm, as a Flood of Mighty Waters overflowing, and shall cast down to the earth with power the crown of pride.” “He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers…The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth [symbols of the entire present order of things] is burned at his presence; yea, the world and all that dwell therein…With an overrunning flood will he make an utter end of the place <529> thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.” `Isa. 28:2`; `Nahum 1:4,5,8`
That these are not to be literal floods and fires, destructive of our planet Earth, and its population, is evident from the statement (symbolic) that the present order of things, when destroyed, will be followed by a new order–“a new heavens [ecclesiasticism, God’s glorified Church] and a new earth [human society reorganized under God’s Kingdom on a basis of love instead of selfishness].” Referring to that new order of things after the fire of God’s retributive vengeance shall have burned up present evils, God, through the Prophet, says: “Then will I turn to the people a pure language [the truth], that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” `Zeph. 3:9`
Two Remarkable Types of the Impending Catastrophe
But let no one conclude because these various descriptions are not literal, but symbolic, that they may therefore represent merely a battle of words, a quaking of fear, or a trivial storm of human passion. For though controversy, and words of passion and arguments will be and are among the weapons used in this battle, especially in the beginning of it, yet it will not end with these. Every prophetic detail indicates that before it ends it will be a most sanguinary conflict, a fierce and terrible storm. We have already observed* the typical character of the great tribulation which came upon fleshly Israel in the end of the Jewish age; and now, having come to the parallel period–the harvest of the Gospel age, we see all the indications of a similar, though much greater trouble, upon “Christendom,” its antitype. While the judgments visited upon Judea and Jerusalem ———- *Chap. 3, and Vol. II, Chap. 7. <530> were terrible in the extreme, they were only on a small scale as compared with the great tribulation, now fast approaching, upon Christendom, and involving the whole world.
The Roman army and regular warfare caused but a small portion of the trouble in the end of the Jewish age, noted as the most terrible on the pages of history, and approached only by the French Revolution. It sprang mainly from national disintegration, the overthrow of law and order –anarchy. Selfishness apparently took complete control and arrayed every man against his neighbor–just as is predicted of the coming trouble upon Christendom (in the midst of which the great spiritual temple, God’s elect Church, will be completed and glorified). “Before those days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast [see margin]; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in, because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbor.” `Zech. 8:9-11`
That times have not so changed as to make such a calamity either impossible or improbable in our day is too manifest to require proof. But if any should be inclined to doubt it, let them call to mind the great Revolution that only a little over a century ago brought France to the verge of social ruin and threatened the peace of the world.
Some have the erroneous idea that the world has outgrown the barbarities of earlier days, and they rest in fancied security and assume that such calamities as have occurred in the past could not befall the world again; but the fact is that our twentieth century refinement is a very thin veneer, easily peeled off: sound judgment and an acquaintance with the facts of even recent history and with the present feverish pulse of humanity are sufficient to guarantee the possibility of a duplication of the past, even without the sure word of prophecy, which foretells a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. <531>
In the symbolic language of Revelation, the French Revolution was indeed a “great earthquake”–a social shock so great that all “Christendom” trembled until it was over; and that terrible and sudden outburst of a single nation’s wrath, only a century ago, may give some idea of the fury of the coming storm, when the wrath of all the angry nations will burst the bands of law and order and cause a reign of universal anarchy. It should be remembered, too, that that calamity occurred in what was then the very heart of Christendom, in the midst of what was regarded as one of the most thoroughly Christian nations in the world, the nation which for a thousand years had been the chief support of Papacy. A nation intoxicated with Babylon’s wine of false doctrines in church and state, and long bound by priestcraft and superstition, there vomited forth its pollution and spent the force of its maddened rage. In fact, the French Revolution seems referred to by our Lord in his Revelation to John on Patmos as a prelude to, and an illustration of, the great crisis now approaching.
It should be observed also that the same causes which operated to bring about that great calamity, are now operating to produce a similar, but far more extensive revolution, a revolution which will be world-wide. The causes of that terrible convulsion have been briefly summed up by the historian as follows:*
“The immediate and most effective cause of the French Revolution must be referred to the distresses of the people and the embarrassments of the government occasioned by the enormous expenses of the war in which France supported the independence of the American colonies. The profligacy of the court, the dissensions of the clergy, the gradual progress of general intelligence, the dissemination of revolutionary principles occasioned by the American contest, and the long established oppressions to which the ———- *Campaigns of Napoleon, p. 12. <532> masses of the people were subjected, all contributed to the same effect…Exhausted by oppression, irritated by the continual presence of insulting tyranny, excited to resentment of their wrongs, and instructed in the knowledge of their rights, the people of France awakened to one universal spirit of complaint and resentment. The cry of Liberty! resounded from the capital to the frontiers, and was reverberated from the Alps to the Pyrenees, the shores of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Like all sudden and violent alterations in corrupt states, the explosion was accompanied by evils and atrocities, before which the crimes and the miseries of the ancient despotism faded into insignificance.”
Says another historian:*
“First among the causes of the revolution in France was the hostility felt toward the privileged classes–the king, the nobles and the clergy–on account of the disabilities and burdens which law and custom imposed on the classes beneath them.
“The Land–Nearly two-thirds of the land in France was in the hands of the nobles and of the clergy. A great part of it was illy cultivated by its indolent owners. The nobles preferred the gayeties of Paris to a residence on their estates. There were many small land-owners, but they had individually too little land to furnish them with subsistence. The treatment of the peasant was often such that when he looked upon the towers of his lord’s castle, the dearest wish of his heart was to burn it down with all its registers of debts [mortgages]. The clergy held an immense amount of land, seigniorial control over thousands of peasants, and a vast income from tithes and other sources. In some provinces there was a better state of things than in others; but in general, the rich had the enjoyments, the poor carried the burdens.
“Monopolies–Manufactures and trades, although encouraged, were fettered by oppressive monopolies and a strict organization of guilds.
“Corrupt government–The administration of government was both arbitrary and corrupt.
“Loss of respect for royalty–Respect for the throne was lost. ———- *Universal History (by Prof. Fisher, of Yale College), p. 497. <533>
“Abortive Essays at Reform–The efforts at political and social reform in France and in other countries, emanating from sovereigns after the great wars, produced a restless feeling without effecting their purpose of social reorganization.
“Political Speculation–The current of thought was in a revolutionary direction. Traditional beliefs in religion were boldly questioned. Political speculation was rife. Montesquieu had drawn attention to the liberty secured by the English constitution. Voltaire had dwelt on human rights. Rosseau had expatiated on the sovereign right of the majority.
“Example of America–Add to these agencies the influence of the American Revolution, and of the American Declaration of Independence, with its proclamation of human rights, and of the foundation of government in contract and the consent of the people.”
In all those leading causes which culminated in the terrors of the French Revolution we see a strong resemblance to similar conditions today which are rapidly and surely leading to the foretold similar results on a world-wide scale. Mark the growing animosity between the privileged classes (royalty and aristocracy) and the working classes, the discussions of the rights and wrongs of the people, and the decline of respect for both civil and ecclesiastical authority. Note also the revolutionary current of popular thought and expression–the increasing dissatisfaction of the masses of the people with the ruling powers and the institutions of government. And if the American Declaration of Independence with its proclamation of human rights and of the foundation of government in contract and the consent of the people, inspired the masses of the French with a desire for liberty and independence, it is not surprising that the successful experiment of this government of the people and by the people, for a century past, and the measure of liberty and prosperity here enjoyed, are having their effect upon the peoples of the old world. The ever-continuous tide of <534> emigration from other countries to this country is another evidence of the impression which this experiment has made upon the peoples of other nations.
And yet, the liberty and prosperity here enjoyed are far from satisfactory to the people here. They crave a still better condition and are seeking measures to attain it. Nowhere throughout Christendom does this determination assert itself more positively and boldly than here. Every man is on the qui vive to assert his real or fancied rights. The trend of thought here, as elsewhere, is in the current of revolution, and is daily becoming more so.
The French Revolution was a struggle of a measure of light against gross darkness; of the awakening spirit of liberty against long established oppression; and of a measure of truth against old errors and superstitions, long encouraged and fostered by civil and ecclesiastical powers for their own aggrandizement and the people’s oppression. And yet, it exhibited the danger of liberty unguided by righteousness and the spirit of a sound mind. (`2 Tim. 1:7`) A little learning is indeed a dangerous thing.
One of Charles Dickens’ stories, the scene of which is laid in the troublous times of the French Revolution, begins thus, and aptly fits the present time, as he suggests:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way; in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
While we see the same causes operating throughout the world today, to produce similar results on a more extended <535> scale, we cannot console ourselves with ideas of fancied security, and proclaim Peace! Peace! when there is no peace; especially in view of the warnings of prophecy. In the light of the foretold character of coming events of this battle, we may regard the French Revolution as only the rumbling of distant thunder, giving warning of an approaching storm; as a slight tremor preceding the general earthquake shock; as the premonitory click of the great clock of the ages, which gives notice to those already awake that the wheels are in motion, and that shortly it will strike the midnight hour which will end the present order of affairs and usher in a new order–the Year of Jubilee, with its attendant commotion and changes of possession. It did arouse the whole world and set in operation the mighty forces which will eventually utterly overthrow the old order of things.
When the conditions are fully ripe for the great Revolution a most trivial circumstance may serve as a match to set on fire the present social structure throughout the whole world; just, for instance, as in the case of the French Revolution, the first overt act, it is said, was the beating on a tin pan by a woman whose children were hungry. Soon an army of mothers was marching to the royal palace to ask for bread. Being refused, they were joined by the men, and soon the wrath of the nation was kindled and the flames of revolution swept the whole land.
And yet, so oblivious was royalty to the conditions of the people, and so surrounded with plenty and luxury, that, even when these outbreaks came, the queen could not comprehend the situation. Hearing from her palace the commotion of the mob, she inquired what it meant, and being told that the people were clamoring for bread, she replied, “It is foolish for them to make such an ado about bread: if bread is scarce, let them get cake, it is cheap now.” <536>
So striking is the similarity of the present to those times, that the alarm is being sounded by many thoughtful discerners of the signs of the times, while others cannot realize the situation. The cries which preceded the French Revolution were as nothing in comparison to the appeals now going up from the masses all over the world to those in power and influence.
Said Prof. G. D. Herron, of Iowa College, some years ago:
“Everywhere are the signs of universal change. The race is in attitude of expectancy, straitened until its new baptism is accomplished. Every nerve of society is feeling the first agonies of a great trial that is to try all that dwell upon the earth, and that is to issue in a divine deliverance [though he fails to see what the deliverance will be, and how it will be brought about]. We are in the beginning of a revolution that will strain all existing religious and political institutions, and test the wisdom and heroism of earth’s purest and bravest souls…The social revolution, making the closing years of our century and the dawning years of the next the most crucial and formative since the crucifixion of the Son of Man, is the call and opportunity of Christendom to become Christian.”
But, alas! the call is not heeded; indeed is not really heard by any but a helpless minority in power, so great is the din of selfishness and so strong are the bonds of custom. Only the agonies of the coming great social earthquake–revolution –will effect the change; and in its dread course nothing will be more manifest than the signs of the just retribution which will reveal to all men the fact that the just Judge of all the earth is laying “judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet.” `Isa. 28:17`
The retributive character of the great tribulation upon fleshly Israel in the harvest of the Jewish age was very marked; so also was that of the French Revolution; and so it will be manifest in the present distress when the climax is reached. The remarks of Mr. Thomas H. Gill, in his work, <537> The Papal Drama, referring to the retributive character of the French Revolution, suggest also the retributive character of the coming trouble upon Christendom as a whole. He says:
“The more deeply the French Revolution is considered, the more manifest is its pre-eminence above all the strange and terrible things that have come to pass on this earth… Never has the world witnessed so exact and sublime a piece of retribution…If it inflicted enormous evil, it presupposed and overthrew enormous evil…In a country where every ancient institution and every time-honored custom disappeared in a moment; where the whole social and political system went down before the first stroke; where monarchy, nobility and church were swept away almost without resistance, the whole framework of the state must have been rotten: royalty, aristocracy and priesthood must have grievously sinned. Where the good things of this world– birth, rank, wealth, fine clothes and elegant manners– became worldly perils, and worldly disadvantages for a time, rank, birth and riches must have been frightfully abused.
“The nation which abolished and proscribed Christianity, which dethroned religion in favor of reason, and enthroned the new goddess at Notre Dame in the person of a harlot, must needs have been afflicted by a very unreasonable and very corrupt form of Christianity. The people that waged a war of such utter extermination with everything established, as to abolish the common forms of address and salutation, and the common mode of reckoning time, that abhorred ‘you’ as a sin, and shrank from ‘monsieur’ as an abomination, that turned the weeks into decades, and would know the old months no more, must surely have had good reason to hate those old ways from which it pushed its departure into such minute and absurd extravagance.
“The demolished halls of the aristocracy, the rifled sepulchres of royalty, the decapitated king and queen, the little dauphin so sadly done to death, the beggared princes, the slaughtered priests and nobles, the sovereign guillotine, the republican marriages, the Meudon tannery, the couples tied together and thrown into the Loire, and the gloves made of <538> men’s and women’s skins: these things are most horrible; but they are withal eloquent of retribution: they bespeak the solemn presence of Nemesis, the awful hand of an avenging power. They bring to mind the horrible sins of that old France; the wretched peasants ground beneath the weight of imposts from which the rich and noble were free; visited ever and anon by cruel famines by reason of crushing taxes, unjust wars, and monstrous misgovernment, and then hung up or shot down by twenties or fifties for just complaining of starvation: and all this for centuries! They call to remembrance the Protestants murdered by millions in the streets of Paris, tormented for years by military dragoons in Poitou and Bearn, and hunted like wild beasts in the Cevennes; slaughtered and done to death by thousands and tens of thousands in many painful ways and through many painful years…
“In no work of the French Revolution is this, its retributive character, more strikingly or solemnly apparent than in its dealings with the Roman Church and Papal power. It especially became France, which after so fierce a struggle had rejected the Reformation, and perpetuated such enormous crimes in the process of rejection, to turn its fury against that very Roman Church on whose behalf it had been so wrathful,…to abolish Roman Catholic worship, to massacre multitudes of priests in the streets of her great towns, to hunt them down through her length and breadth, and to cast them by thousands upon a foreign shore, just as she had slaughtered, hunted down and driven into exile hundreds of thousands of Protestants;…to carry the war into the Papal territories, and to heap all sorts of woes and shames upon the defenseless Popedom…The excesses of revolutionary France were not more the punishment than the direct result of the excesses of feudal, regal, and Papal France…
“In one of its aspects the Revolution may be described as a reaction against the excesses, spiritual and religious, of the Roman Catholic persecution of Protestantism. No sooner had the torrent burst forth than it dashed right against the Roman Church and Popedom…The property of the Church was made over to the state; the French clergy sank <539> from a proprietary to a salaried body; monks and nuns were restored to the world, the property of their orders being confiscated; Protestants were raised to full religious freedom and political equality…The Roman Catholic religion was soon afterwards formally abolished.
“Bonaparte unsheathed the sword of France against the helpless Pius VI…The Pontiff sank into a dependent… Berthier marched upon Rome, set up a Roman Republic, and laid hands upon the Pope. The sovereign pontiff was borne away to the camp of infidels…from prison to prison, and was finally carried captive into France. Here… he breathed his last, at Valence, where his priests had been slain, where his power was broken, and his name and office were a mockery and a byword, and in the keeping of the rude soldiers of the commonwealth, which had for ten years held to his lips a cup of such manifest and exceeding bitterness ….It was a sublime and perfect piece of retribution, which so amazed the world at the end of the eighteenth century; this proscription of the Romish Church by that very French nation that slaughtered myriads of Protestants at her bidding; this mournful end of the sovereign pontiff, in that very Dauphine so consecrated by the struggles of the Protestants, and near those Alpine valleys where the Waldenses had been so ruthlessly hunted down by French soldiers; this transformation of the ‘States of the Church’ into the ‘Roman Republic’; and this overthrow of territorial Popedom by that very French nation, which, just one thousand years ago, had, under Pepin and Charlemagne, conferred these territories.
“Multitudes imagined that the Papacy was at the point of death, and asked, would Pius VI be the last pontiff, and if the close of the eighteenth century would be signalized by the fall of the Papal dynasty. But the French Revolution was the beginning, and not the end of the judgment; France had but begun to execute the doom, a doom sure and inevitable, but long and lingering, to be diversified by many strange incidents, and now and then by a semblance of escape, a doom to be protracted through much pain and much ignominy.”
We must expect that the approaching trouble will be no <540> less bitter and severe than these two illustrations, but rather more terrible as well as more general; because (1) present day conditions render each member of the social structure more dependent than ever before, not only for new and increased comforts and luxuries, but also for the very necessities of life. The stoppage of the railroad traffic alone would mean starvation within a week in our large cities; and general anarchy would mean the paralysis of every industry dependent on commerce and confidence. (2) The Lord specially declares that the coming trouble will be “such as was not since there was a nation”–nor ever shall be hereafter. `Dan. 12:1`; `Joel 2:2`; `Matt. 24:21`
But while there is no hope held out that this trouble can be averted, there are instructions given in the Scriptures to such individuals as would hide from the coming storm.
(1) The faithful of the Church are promised deliverance before the full force of the storm breaks. (2) All who love justice and pursue peace should diligently set their house in order, as directed by the Word of the Lord, which says– “Before the decree is brought forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before yet there be come over you the day of the anger of the Lord, seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth who have fulfilled his ordinances: seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” `Zeph. 2:2,3`
That all such may be awakened to the situation the Prophet Joel calls upon those who see these things to sound an alarm, saying, “Blow ye the trumpet, sound an alarm in my holy mountain [Christendom–professedly the holy mountain or kingdom of the Lord], let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.” (`Joel 2:1`) “Upon the wicked,” says the Psalmist, God “shall rain snares, fire and brimstone [symbols of trouble and destruction] and a horrible tempest: this <541> shall be the portion of their cup; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” `Psa. 11:3-7`
The battle of this great day of God Almighty will be the greatest revolution the world has ever seen because it will be one in which every principle of unrighteousness will be involved; for as truly in this judgment of the nations, as in the judgment of individuals, “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known.” (`Matt. 10:26`) Behold, how, even now, the searchlight of general intelligence is discovering the secret springs of political intrigue, financial policies, religious claims, etc., and how all are brought to the bar of judgment, and by men, as well as by God, declared right or wrong as judged by the teachings of the Word of God–by the golden rule, the law of love, the examples of Christ, etc., all of which are coming into such remarkable prominence in the discussions of these times.
The battle of the great day, like every other revolutionary war, has its stages of gradual development. Back of every indication of strife are the inspiring causes, the real or fancied national and individual wrongs; next comes a keen appreciation of those wrongs by those who suffer from them; then generally follow various attempts at reform, which, proving abortive, lead to great controversies, wars of words, divisions, strife of opinions, and finally to revenge and strife of arms. Such is the order of the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty. Its general character is that of a struggle of light against darkness, of liberty against oppression, of truth against error. Its extent will be worldwide –peasant against prince, pew against pulpit, labor against capital: the oppressed in arms against injustice and tyranny of every kind; and the oppressors in arms for the defense of what they have long considered to be their rights, even when seen to be encroachments upon the rights of others. <542>
The Lord’s Great Army
In previous chapters we have noted the work of preparation for the conflict of this evil day–the organizing, equipping and drilling of immense armies, the building of great navies, the invention of new and wonderful engines of war, the making of new and powerful explosives, and the draining of the national resources in every land for purposes of military equipment; and we have noted the mutterings of the angry nations as they all stand armed to the teeth, scowling upon one another.
As we view these millions of armed and disciplined warriors we inquire, Which of all these mighty hosts is that army to which the prophets point as the Lord’s great army? Can the prophetic references be to any of these? And if so, in what sense could they be considered the Lord’s army, since none of them are actuated by his spirit? Or can this reference be to the people of God, the soldiers of the cross, whose weapons are described by the Apostle Paul as not carnal, but mighty, through the pulling down of strongholds? (`2 Cor. 10:3-5`) Can it be that “the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God” (`Eph. 6:17`), in the hands of the people of God, who are filled with his spirit, shall accomplish the great work of overthrowing all the kingdoms of this world and giving them to Christ for an everlasting possession?
Would that it might be so! but that such will not be the case we have already seen, both from the prophetic foreview and from the signs of the times. On the contrary, the protests and the warnings of the righteous are steadily ignored by the world, and the nations walk on in darkness, and in consequence all the foundations of the earth (of the present social structure) are out of course (`Psa. 82:5`), so endangering <543> the whole social superstructure which is now being terribly shaken. “We would have healed Babylon,” says the prophet, “but she is not healed; forsake her [‘Come out of her my people’–`Rev. 18:4`]; for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.” `Jer. 51:9`
It is evidently not the saints who are to constitute the Lord’s great army, referred to by the prophets, for the overthrow of the kingdoms of this world: nor are the weapons of their warfare sufficient to this end. Their weapons are indeed mighty, as the Apostle says, among those who are influenced by them. Among the true people of God, who diligently apply their hearts unto instruction, his Word is sharper than any two-edged sword, truly “casting down imaginations [human reasonings] and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into capitivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (`2 Cor. 10:4,5`); but not so do the weapons of this warfare operate upon the world. The army of the saints is, moreover, not a “great army,” but a “little flock,” as our Lord himself designated it. Compare `Luke 12:32`; `Joel 2:11`.
Hear the prophetic description of this army:
“A great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like; neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness, yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots, on the tops of mountains [kingdoms] shall they leap; like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
“Before their face the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty <544> men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks. And they do not press one another; every one on his beaten track do they go forward: and they pass through between warlike weapons, and change not their purpose. Into the city they hasten forward; they shall run upon the wall; they shall climb into the houses; through the windows they make their entrance like a thief. The earth [the present social order] shall quake before them: the heavens [the ecclesiastical powers] shall tremble: the sun and the moon [the illuminating influences of the gospel and of the Mosaic law] shall be dark [general infidelity having become widely prevalent], and the stars [the apostolic lights (`Rev. 12:1`) shall be obscured] shall withdraw their shining [the dark night will have come wherein no man can labor– `John 9:4`; `Isa. 21:9,11,12`]. And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army; for his camp is very great; for he is strong that executeth his word; for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can abide it?” `Joel 2:2-11`
This army of the Lord must face the terrible conditions of the evil day, when the dread elements now preparing for the conflict, the fire, shall have reached the climax of readiness. This army it is that under the Lord’s overruling providence will overthrow the throne of kingdoms and destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations. (`Hag. 2:22`) But where is there such an army? Will it be the German army? the French, the English, the Russian or the United States army? So great an army as is here described by the Prophet, and one which is to accomplish such marvelous things, and that, as indicated, within the few years that yet remain of this notable harvest period, is probably in existence at the present time, and under some course of preparation for the coming work of carnage. The description of the Prophet is not of an undisciplined mob, which might be easily dealt with by those educated in the arts of war; but it is of a mighty host under a high degree of discipline. <545>
Where, then, we inquire, is there such an army, under present instruction and training? an army before which the earth [society] shall quake and the heavens [ecclesiasticism] shall tremble (`Joel 2:10`); which shall boldly array itself against the conservative forces of Christendom, both civil and ecclesiastical, and hope even to cope with its present strength? Where is the army that in the near future will dare deny Christendom’s time-honored doctrines, its statecraft and priestcraft? that will sullenly ignore all its anathemas, spurn its orders, and hurl back its thunderbolts of authority and organized power? that will face the roar of its Vesuvian artillery, defy its missiles of shot and shell, plow through its fleets of naval armaments, and, snatching the diadems from crowned heads, topple the kingdoms into the midst of the sea? that will set the heavens on fire, and melt the earth with fervent heat, thus making one vast universal wreck of the old order of things as predicted by the prophets?
That such an army is coming into existence and preparing for the desperate conflict we are none the less forcibly assured by the signs of the times than by “the sure word of prophecy.” And it is the recognition of this fact (without any reference to or knowledge of the word of prophecy that is now filling the heart of Christendom with fearful foreboding, and impelling statesmen everywhere to take extraordinary measures for protection and defense.
But in these very measures for self-defense devised by “the powers that be,” there is probably a snare which they do not realize. The armies upon which they depend for defense, be it remembered, are the armies of the common people: these millions of disciplined warriors have wives and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and cousins and friends in the ranks of the common people, with whose interests their own are linked by nature’s strong ties; <546> and their service of thrones and kingdoms is only secured by imperative orders, and made endurable by a remuneration which they are fast coming to consider as no satisfactory compensation for the hardships and privations which they and their families must undergo, not to mention perils to life and limb and health and fortune. Year by year these armed hosts are less and less infatuated with the “glory” of war, more keenly alive to its sufferings and privations, and less and less devoted to the sovereign powers that command their services, while the armies of toilers, of the common people at home, are becoming more and more irritated and dissatisfied with their lot, and more and more apprehensive of the future.
All of these things are indications of at least a possibility that in the crisis approaching the mighty armed and disciplined hosts of Christendom may turn their power against the authorities that called them into being, instead of to uphold and preserve them. That such a possibility has not been entirely unthought of by the rulers is witnessed by the fact that in Russia, when the famine prevailed, and led to riots among the common people, the facts concerning it were diligently kept from their friends and brothers in the Russian army, and the soldiers detailed for the suppression of the riots were from remote districts.
Just what conditions and circumstances will be used of the Lord as his “voice” of command to marshal this mighty army we may not now be able to clearly surmise; but we live in a day which makes history rapidly; and on general principles it would not be unreasonable to expect movements in this direction at any time. But in our previous studies (Vols. II and III) we have seen that God has a set time for every feature of his plan, and that we are even now in this “Day of Vengeance,” which is a period of forty years; that it began in October, 1874, and will end very shortly. The ominous years already past of this “day” have certainly <547> laid a broad and deep foundation in church, in state, in finances and in social conditions and sentiments for the great events predicted in the Scriptures. These are already overshadowing the world, and are as sure to come as that they are foretold. A very few years would seem to be abundant space for their full accomplishment. Already “men’s hearts are failing them for fear and for looking after [forward to] those things coming upon the world.”
The prophecies brought to our attention and publicly proclaimed since the beginning of this “Day of Vengeance” are rapidly culminating; and, as shown in the preceding chapters, all men are able to see something of the dark outlines of the trouble coming closer and closer until now, apparently, society is like a tinderbox all ready for the match–like a powder magazine, ready for explosion any moment–like an organized army, ready for the assault at the word of command. But Shakespeare truly wrote:
“There is a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough hew them how we will.”
Mankind in general is unconscious of the Lord’s interest in this battle: and almost all the contestants gird on the armor for personal and selfish interests in which they rightly realize the Lord could not share; and hence, while all on every side are ready to invoke the Lord’s blessings, few count on it–all seem to rely upon themselves–their organization, numbers, etc. None will be more surprised than the “powers of the heavens,” the great ones of present ecclesiastical control, who, going about to establish a plan of their own for the Lord, have neglected his plan as revealed in his Word. To these the Lord’s work of the next few years will indeed be a “strange work.” Hear the Lord’s Word on this subject:
“The Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be <548> wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act… For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption [an expiration, a consummation] even determined upon the whole earth.” `Isa. 28:21,22`
The social system, “the earth,” “the elements,” “the course of nature,” cannot be set on fire until the Lord permits the match to be struck: the great decisive battle cannot begin until the great “Michael,” “the Captain of our salvation,” stands forth and gives the word of command (`Dan. 12:1`), even though there will previously be frequent skirmishes all along the lines. And the great Captain informs his royal legion, the Church, that the catastrophe, though imminent, cannot occur until “the King’s Own,” the “Little flock,” “the Elect,” have all been “sealed” and “gathered.”
Meantime let us remember the Apostle’s inspired description of this trouble–that it will be as travail upon a woman with child, in spasms or throes of trouble, with shortening intervals between. It has been just so thus far; and each future spasm will be more severe, until the final ordeal in which the new order will be born in the death-agonies of present institutions.
In asmuch as the Lord has generally let the world take its own course in the past six thousand years–except in the case of Israel–his interference now will seem all the more peculiar and “strange” to those who do not understand the dispensational changes due at the introduction of the seventh millennium. But in this “battle” he will cause the wrath of men (and their ambition and selfishness) to praise and serve him, and the remainder he will restrain. With much long-suffering he has permitted the long reign of sin, selfishness and death because it could be overruled for the trial of his elect Church, and in teaching all men “the exceeding <549> sinfulness of sin.” But seeing that the world in general despises his law of love and truth and righteousness, he purposes a general discipline before giving the next lesson, which will be a practical illustration of the benefits of righteousness, under the Millennial Kingdom of his dear Son.
While the Lord forbids his people to fight with carnal weapons, and while he declares himself to be a God of peace, a God of order and of love, he also declares himself to be a God of justice, and shows that sin shall not forever triumph in the world, but that it shall be punished. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” (`Rom. 12:19`; `Deut. 32:35`) And when he rises up to judgment against the nations, taking vengeance upon all the wicked, he declares himself “a man of war” and “mighty in battle,” and having a “great army” at his command. And who can give assurance that the multitudes who now compose the marshalled hosts of Christendom will not then constitute the great army that will throw its mighty force against the bulwarks of the present social order. `Exod. 15:3`; `Psa. 24:8; 45:3`; `Rev. 19:11`; `Isa. 11:4`; `Joel 2:11`
“The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea roar: he shall prevail against his enemies.” The cry and roar of his great army, and their success in accomplishing his purpose of revolution, he thus attributes to himself; because they are accomplishing, though ignorantly, his work of destruction. He says: “I have long time holden my peace; I have been still and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman: I will destroy and devour at once.” `Isa. 42:13,14`
But in the Scriptures there are also intimations that there may be others beyond the revolting hosts of Christendom who will also form a part of the Lord’s great army. And the Lord, through the Prophet Ezekiel, referring to this same time, and to the approaching calamities of Christendom, says: <550>
“And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil: and they shall pollute it…Make a chain [bind, unite them together; let them make a common cause], for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city [Babylon, Christendom] is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the great to cease, and their honored places [their sacred places, their religious institutions, etc.] shall be defiled.” `Ezek. 7:13-24`
This may be understood to signify that the uprising of the masses of Christendom in anarchy will, during the prevalence of lawlessness, be so extremely brutal and savage as to outrival the barbarities of all heathen invasions– as was the case in the French Revolution. Or it may signify an uprising of the peoples of India, China and Africa against Christendom–a suggestion already made by the public press anent the revival of Turkey and the uprising of the millions of Mahometans. Our opinion, however, is that “the worst of the heathen” are those in Christendom who are “without God” and without Christian sentiments or hopes; who hitherto have been restrained and held in check by ignorance, superstition and fear, but who in the dawn of the twentieth century are rapidly losing these restraining influences.
The Lord, by his overruling providence, will take a general charge of this great army of discontents–patriots, reformers, socialists, moralists, anarchists, ignorants and hopeless–and use their hopes, fears, follies and selfishness, according to his divine wisdom, to work out his own grand purposes in the overthrow of present institutions, and for the preparation of man for the Kingdom of Righteousness. For this reason only it is termed “The Lord’s great army.” None of his saints–none who are led by the spirit of God as sons of God are to have anything to do with that part of the “battle.” <551>
The Conditions of This Battle Unprecedented
According to the predictions of the prophets the conditions of this battle will be without historic precedent. As already suggested, this final struggle is graphically portrayed in symbols in the forty-sixth Psalm. (Compare also `Psa. 97:2-6`; `Isa. 24:19-21`; `2 Pet. 3:10`.) The hills (the less high, less autocratic governments) are already melting like wax; they still retain their form, but as the earth (society) gets hot they yield to its requirements, little by little coming down to the level of popular demand. Great Britain is a good illustration of this class. High mountains (representing autocratic governments) will be “shaken” by revolutions, and ultimately “carried into the midst of the sea”–lost utterly in anarchy. Already “the sea and the waves roar” against the bulwarks of the present social system: ere long the earth (the present social structure) will reel and totter as a drunken man, vainly endeavoring to right itself, maintain a footing and re-establish itself: by and by it will be utterly “removed,” to give place to the “new earth” (the new social order) wherein righteousness, justice, will prevail.
It will be impossible to re-establish the present order, (1) because it has evidently outlived its usefulness, and is inequitable under present conditions; (2) because of the general diffusion of secular knowledge; (3) because the discovery that priestcraft has long blinded and fettered the masses with error and fear will lead to a general disrespect for all religious claims and teachings as of a piece with the discovered frauds; (4) because religious people in general, not discerning that God’s time has come for a change of dispensation, will ignore reason, logic, justice and Scripture in defending the present order of things.
It will be of little consequence then that the ecclesiastical heavens (the religious powers, Papal and Protestant) will <552> have rolled together as a scroll. (`Isa. 34:4`; `Rev. 6:14`) The combined religious power of Christendom will be utterly futile against the rising tide of anarchy when the dread crisis is reached. Before that great army “all the host of heaven [the church nominal] shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll [the two great bodies which constitute the ecclesiastical heavens; viz., Papacy and Protestantism, as the two distinct ends of the scroll are even now rapidly approaching each other, rolling together, as we have shown]; and all their host shall fall down [fall off, drop out; not all at once, but gradually, yet rapidly] as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree” (`Isa. 34:4`); and finally these “heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements [of which they are composed] shall melt with fervent heat.” `2 Pet. 3:12`
“While they be folden together as thorns [for Protestantism and the Papacy can never perfectly assimilate; each will be a thorn in the other’s side], and while they are drunken as drunkards [intoxicated with the spirit of the world], they shall be devoured [they shall be overwhelmed in the great tribulation, and, as religious systems, be utterly destroyed] as stubble fully dry”; for the Lord “will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Blessed promise! “For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch [for further development].” `Nahum 1:9,10`; `Mal. 4:1`
“The Time of Jacob’s Trouble”
While the trouble and distress of this day of the Lord will be first and specially upon Christendom, and eventually upon all nations, the final blast, we are informed by the <553> Prophet `Ezekiel (38:8-12)`, will be upon the people of Israel regathered in Palestine. The prophet seems to indicate a much larger gathering of Israel to Palestine within this harvest period than has yet taken place. He represents them as gathered there out of the nations in great numbers, and, with considerable wealth, inhabiting the formerly desolate places; and all of them dwelling safely at the time when the rest of the world is in its wildest commotion. `Ezek. 38:11,12`
All men are witnesses to the fact that such a gathering of Israel to Palestine is begun, but it is quite manifest that their exodus from other lands will have to receive some great and sudden impulse in order to accomplish this prophecy within the appointed time. Just what that impulse will be remains yet to be seen; but, that it will surely come is further indicated by the words of the Prophet `Jeremiah–16:14-17,21`.
“Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north [Russia?], and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold I will send for many fishers, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways; they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes…I will cause them to know my hand and might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah.”
That the Lord is abundantly able to accomplish this we have no doubt. In every nation the question, “What shall be done with the Jew?” is a perplexing one, which, in some crisis of the near future brought about suddenly by the Lord’s overruling providence, will doubtless lead, as indicated by the prophet, to some concerted action on the <554> part of the nations for promptly conveying them to the land of promise. And, as they went out of Egypt in haste, with their cattle and goods, and aided by the Egyptians who said, “Rise up and get you forth from among my people,…also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone”; and as the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they gave them whatsoever they required, of silver and gold and raiment (`Exod. 12:31-36`), so in the next exodus, foretold by the prophets, they will not be sent away empty, but apparently some pressure will suddenly be brought to bear upon the nations which will result thus favorably to Israel, so fulfilling the above prophecy of Ezekiel.
This enterprising race, once re-established in the land of promise, and thus separated, for a time at least, from the distress of nations so prevalent everywhere else, will quickly adapt itself to the new situation, and the hitherto desolate places will again be inhabited.
But yet one more wave of anguish must pass over that chastened people; for, according to the prophet, the final conflict of the battle of the great day will be in the land of Palestine. The comparative quiet and prosperity of regathered Israel near the end of this day of trouble, as well as their apparent defenseless condition, will by and by stimulate the jealousies of and invite their plunder by other peoples. And when law and order are swept away Israel will finally be besieged by hosts of merciless plunderers, designated by the prophet as the hosts of God and Magog (`Ezek. 38`), and great will be the distress of defenseless Israel. “Alas!” says the prophet Jeremiah, “for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” `Jer. 30:7`
As one man the hosts of God and Magog are represented as saying, “I will go up to the land of unwalled villages, I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them <555> dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” “Thou wilt go,” says the prophet, “to take a spoil and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods and that dwell in the midst of the land.” (`Ezek. 38:11-13`) The prophet foretelling these events as though addressing these hosts, says, “Thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts [Europe and Asia are north of Palestine], thou and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days [apparently the closing scene of the day of trouble], and I will bring thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee [set apart, distinguished as thy conqueror], O Gog, before their eyes.” `Ezek. 38:15,16`
In the midst of the trouble God will reveal himself as Israel’s defender as in ancient times, when his favor was with them nationally. Their extremity will be his opportunity; and there their blindness will be removed. We read, “For I will gather all nations [as represented in the hosts of Gog and Magog] against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as when he fought in the day of battle.” (`Zech. 14:2,3`) `Isaiah (28:21)`, referring to the same thing, instances the Lord’s deliverance of Israel from the Philistines at Perazim, and from the Amorites at Gibeon, saying, “For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon.” See `2 Sam. 5:19-25`; `1 Chron. 14:10-17`; `Josh. 10:10-15` –how God was not dependent upon human skill or generalship, but fought his battles in his own way. So in <556> this great battle God will bring deliverance in his own time and way.
In `Ezekiel’s prophecy (38:1-13)` the Lord names the chief actors in the struggle in Palestine; but we may not be too positive in our identifications. Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomar, Togomar, Javan and Tarshish were names of children of Noah’s son Japheth–supposed to be the original settlers of Europe. Sheba and Dedan were descendants of Noah’s son Ham–supposed to be the original settlers of northern Africa. Abraham and his posterity (Israel) were descendants of Noah’s son Shem, and are supposed to have settled Armenia–Western Asia. (See `Gen. 10:2-7`.) This would seem to indicate in a general way that the attack will come from Europe–the “north quarters”–with allied mixed peoples.
The overwhelming destruction of these enemies of Israel (bringing the end of the time of trouble and the time for the establishment of God’s Kingdom) is graphically described by the Prophet `Ezekiel. (38:18 to 39:20)` It can be compared only to the terrible overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts, when essaying to repossess themselves of Israel, whom God was delivering. In this particular also Israel’s deliverance is to be “according to [like] the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt”–“marvelous things.” `Micah 7:15`
After describing that the coming of this army from the north quarters against Israel (regathered to Palestine “in the latter day,” “having much goods” and “dwelling peaceably”) will be suddenly, and “as a cloud to cover the land” (`Ezek. 38:1-17`), the message is, “Thus saith the Lord God, Art thou he of whom I have spoken in olden time by my servants, the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years, that I would bring thee against them?” The Lord then declares his purposed destruction of the wicked host; and the description seems to indicate that it will be accomplished by an outbreak of jealousy, revolution <557> and anarchy amongst the various elements composing the great mixed army: a revolution and strife which will involve whatever may still remain of the home governments of the various peoples, and complete the universal insurrection and anarchy–the great earthquake of `Revelation 16:18-21`
The testimony of all the prophets is to the effect that the power of God will be so marvelously manifested in Israel’s deliverance, by his fighting for them (incidentally for all), with weapons which no human power can control–including pestilence and various calamities–poured upon the wicked (Israel’s enemies and God’s opponents) until speedily all the world will know that the Lord has accepted Israel again to his favor, and become their King, as in olden times; and soon they as well as Israel will learn to appreciate God’s Kingdom, which shall speedily become the desire of all nations.
The Prophet `Ezekiel (39:21-29)`, as the Lord’s mouthpiece tells of the glorious outcome of this victory, and the results to Israel and to all the world, saying:
“And I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgments that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. And the house of Israel shall acknowledge that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward. And the nations shall know that for their iniquity did the house of Israel go into exile: because they trespassed against me [in rejecting Christ–`Rom. 9:29-33`]: therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies [for all the centuries of the Christian dispensation; and] so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness, and according to their transgressions, have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.
“Therefore [now that this punishment is completed], thus saith the Lord God, Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel [living and dead, the “times of restitution” having <558> come–`Acts 3:19-21`], and will be jealous for my holy name; after that they have [thus] borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the Gentiles, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations. Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be exiled among the nations, but gather them now unto their own land, and leave none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the sunrising. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord [throughout the Gospel age–at the hands of Spiritual Israel] shall lift up a standard against him. And the Deliverer shall come to Zion [the Church, “the body of Christ”] and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” `Isa. 59:19,20`. Compare `Rom. 11:25-32`.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” But “who can stand before his indignation, and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?…He will make an utter end [of iniquity]: oppression shall not rise up the second time.” `Nahum 1:7,6,9`
Thus by the battle of the great day of God Almighty the whole world will be prepared for the new day and its great work of restitution. Though the waking hour be one of clouds and thick darkness, thanks be to God for his blessed assurance that the work of destruction will be “a short work,” (`Matt. 24:22`), and that immediately after it the glorious Sun of Righteousness will begin to shine forth. “The earth [the present old social structure] shall [thus]… be removed like a cottage” (`Isa. 24:19,20`), to clear the way for the new building of God, the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. `2 Pet. 3:13`; `Isa. 65:17` <559>
Since the foregoing is in type, an article in an old N. Y. Tribune (June 26, 1897), quite to the point, has come to our notice. It is so fully in accord with our suggestions respecting “the Lord’s great army” now in preparation, that we make room for an extract, as follows:
“Crown or People?
What Some Armies of Europe May Be Asked to Choose Between in the Near Future
“Less than forty years ago troops, in obedience to the commands of their sovereigns, turned their guns upon the people, and shot and bayoneted men, women and even children until blood flowed like water in the streets of Berlin, Vienna, and many other of the capitals of the Old World. It was not a mere mob of tramps and toughs with whom the military was called upon to deal, but well-to-do and highly educated citizens–professional men, merchants, manufacturers, politicians and legislators–in fact, all that element which goes to make up what is known in the Old World as the ‘Bourgeoisie’ and middle classes, who were endeavoring to secure the political rights solemnly promised to them by the terms of the constitutions decreed by their respective rulers, but which the latter declined to put into force until compelled by the people.
Brought to the Front in Italy
“Would the troops, if called upon today to fire upon their fellow-countrymen, manifest similar obedience to the behest of the ‘Anointed of the Lord?’ That is a question which at the present moment is occupying to a far greater degree than people in this country might be inclined to believe the attention of the crowned heads of Europe, and it has within the last few days been brought before the public through a resolution submitted to the Italian Parliament providing for the substitution of the word ‘national’ for that of ‘royal’ in the official description of the army. The arguments put forward by the supporters of the motion, which was eventually defeated by the Ministerial party, which possesses a <560> majority in the Legislature, were not only logical, but also powerful, and cannot fail to appeal strongly to the people of Italy, as well as every other civilized nation, and must assuredly have afforded very serious grounds for reflection to King Humbert and to his brother and sister monarchs.”
[The article points out that, without special commotion, the command of the English army had within the preceding three years been given to Parliament, as represented in the Minister of War, whereas previously the army had been directly attached to the crown by reason of its commander being a prince of the royal blood, who held his office as the Queen’s representative. The Queen, it appears, and not unnaturally, sought for a considerable time to retain this remaining prop of sovereignty, but without avail. In France, also, the jealousy of the people for the control of the army is shown by the fact that the appointment of a general as commander-in-chief was refused, and the control held in the hands of a changeable Secretary of War, who represents the party put in power by the ballots of the people. The article proceeds:]
A Conflict Imminent in Germany
“A conflict of this kind is no longer regarded as imminent in Italy. But it cannot be denied that something of this nature is apprehended in Germany, and more especially in Prussia, where monarch and people are daily drifting further apart. That Emperor William anticipates some such struggle is apparent from all his recent utterances whenever he has occasion to address his troops, notably at Bielefeld last week, his favorite theme being the duty of the soldiers to hold themselves ready to defend with their life’s blood their sovereign and his throne, not so much against the foreign foe as against the enemies within the frontiers of the empire, and of the kingdom. In presiding at the ceremony of the swearing in of the recruits, he never fails to remind them that their first duty is toward himself, rather than to the people who pay them, and he is never tired of expatiating <561> on what he describes as the ‘King’s cloth’; that is to say, the uniform, which he, like many other sovereigns, chooses to regard as the livery, not of the State nor of the Nation, but of the monarch, to whom the wearer is bound by special ties of allegiance, loyalty and blind, unquestioning obedience. Nor must it be forgotten that in all instances of dispute and strife between civilians and military men the Emperor always upholds the latter, even when they are shown to be the aggressors, and actually to the extent of either pardoning or commuting the always lenient sentences that have been inflicted upon officers who, while drunk, have seriously wounded, and in some cases killed, unarmed and inoffensive civilians.
Attitude of the German Army
“What will be the attitude of the army should the anticipated struggle between Crown and people take place? In court and official circles at Berlin it is believed that the Emperor will be able to rely upon his troops. But this opinion is in no way shared by the people themselves, nor yet by the leading German politicians of the day. The rank and file of the army is no longer composed, as in former days, of ignorant boors, unable either to read, write or even think for themselves, but of thoughtful, well-educated men, who have been taught at school what are the rights and constitutional prerogatives for which their grandfathers and fathers fought in vain. They know, too, enough of history to appreciate the fact that in every struggle between the Crown and the people it is always the latter that has ended by carrying the day.” <562>
The Wrath of God
“The wrath of God is Love’s severity
In curing sin–the zeal of righteousness
In overcoming wrong–the remedy
Of Justice for the world’s redress.
“The wrath of God is punishment for sin,
In measure unto all transgression due,
Discriminating well and just between
Presumptuous sins and sins of lighter hue.
“The wrath of God inflicts no needless pain
Merely vindictive, or himself to please;
But aims the ends of mercy to attain,
Uproot the evil and the good increase.
“The wrath of God is a consuming fire,
That burns while there is evil to destroy
Or good to purify; nor can expire
Till all things are relieved from sin’s alloy.
“The wrath of God is Love’s parental rod,
The disobedient to chastise, subdue,
And bend submissive to the will of God,
That Love may reign when all things are made new.
“The wrath of God shall never strike in vain,
Nor cease to strike till sin shall be no more;
Till God his gracious purpose shall attain,
And earth to righteousness and peace restore.”