From being a republic, Rome was converted into a military empire. The cause of this conversion is of remarkable interest to the people of the United States. This cause is well understood by all students of history, and has been stated in a few masterly sentences by James Anthony Froude:—
“In virtue of their temporal freedom the Romans became the most powerful nation in the known world; and their liberties perished only when Rome became the mistress of conquered races, to whom she was unable or unwilling to extend her privileges…. If there is one lesson which history clearly teaches, it is this, that free nations can not govern subject provinces. If they are unable or unwilling to admit their dependencies to share their own constitution, the constitution itself will fall in pieces from mere incompetence for its duties.”
Rome became imperial because she was unable or unwilling to extend the privileges of her constitution to the nations which she conquered. This was the cause of her imperialism. The result to the Roman people themselves was that “their own liberties perished.” In refusing the privileges of her constitution to the peoples whom she had conquered, Rome denied a fundamental law of her own governmental being, and nothing else could logically follow but ruin of her government, of her constitution; that is, the ruin of the republic of Rome.
To-day the republic of the United States is coursing over the same track to the same goal. But when the tape at the end of the track is reached, the dead line of republican life will have been passed. The nation is riding for a fall just as certainly as did ancient Rome, that other great republic of the West. The one lesson which history teaches, “that free nations can not govern subject provinces,” is now being ignored and scoffed at, as if it were the veriest fairy-tale, totally unworthy of contemplation by reflective and intelligent minds. It is now being seriously urged that this nation is not “unwilling,” but only “unable,” to extend her privileges to the “conquered races.” This inability is said to be caused, not by any inherent weakness or lack upon the part of the conqueror; but because of the conditions and circumstances of the conquered. Precisely the same thing was argued in the Roman times; but such arguments availed nothing to prevent loss of liberty to the people of Rome themselves, and ruin to her constitution. Rome violated a natural law of her being, and all violations of natural law, governmental as well as physical, bring, by nature, punishment upon the transgressor In the Declaration of Independence this nation declared that she “assumed among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitled her.” The very foundation stones of this nation then are laid in natural law. That natural law is “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The United States is now engaged in a war, the avowed purpose of which is to deprive a poor people of “liberty,” their “unalienable right.” But the natural law by means of which this nation came into existence and being declares that “to secure this right,”—liberty,—“governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But now, the government of the United States is being “instituted among men,”—the Filipinos,—not to “secure” to them, but to “deprive” them of their “rights.” If this is not the violation of a natural law of our own national being, then there never has been such a thing in the history of the world.
“To balance, therefore, the power of Macedon, and to dispossess Philip of the aid which he flattered himself he should receive from the Greeks, which, indeed, had they united all their forces with his, in order to oppose this common enemy, would perhaps have made him invincible with regard to the Romans; in this view, I say, this latter people declared loudly in favor of those republics, made it their glory to take them under their protection, and that with no other design in outward appearance than to defend them against their oppressors; and further to attach them by a still stronger tie, they hung out to them a specious bait (as a reward for their fidelity); I mean liberty, of which all the republics in question were inexpressibly jealous; and which the Macedonian monarchs had perpetually disputed with them. PRUS 152.1
“The bait was artfully prepared, and swallowed very greedily by the generality of the Greeks, whose views penetrated no farther. But the most judicious and most clear sighted among them discovered the danger that lay concealed beneath this charming bait; and accordingly they exhorted the people from time to time, in their public assemblies to beware of this cloud that was gathering in the west, and which, changing on a sudden into a dreadful tempest, would break like thunder over their heads, to their utter destruction. PRUS 152.2
“Nothing could be more gentle and equitable than the conduct of the Romans in the beginning. They acted with the utmost moderation toward such states and nations as addressed them for protection; they succored them against their enemies, took the utmost pains in terminating their differences, and in suppressing all commotions which arose among them, and did not demand the least recompence from their allies for all these services. By this means their authority gained strength daily, and prepared the nations for entire subjection. PRUS 152.3
“And, indeed, upon pretense of offering them their good offices, of entering into their interests, and of reconciling them, they rendered themselves the sovereign arbiters of those whom they had restored to liberty, and whom they now considered, in some measure, as their freedmen. They used to depute commissioners to them, to inquire into their complaints, to weigh and examine the reasons on both sides, and to decide their quarrels; but when the articles were of such a nature that there was no possibility of reconciling them on the spot, they invited them to send their deputies to Rome. Afterward, they used, with plenary authority, to summon those who refused to be reconciled, obliged them to plead their cause before the senate, and even to appear in person there. From arbiters and mediators being become supreme judges, they soon assumed a magisterial tone, looked upon their decrees as irrevocable decisions, were greatly offended when the most implicit obedience was not paid to them, and gave the name of rebellion to a second resistance; thus there arose, in the Roman senate, a tribunal which judged all nations and kings, from which there was no appeal. This tribunal, at the end of every war, determined the rewards and punishments due to all parties. They dispossessed the vanquished nations of part of their territories, in order to bestow them on their allies, by which they did two things from which they reaped a double advantage; for they thereby engaged in the interest of Rome such kings as were in no way formidable to them, and from whom they had something to hope; and weakened others, whose friendship the Romans could not expect, and whose arms they had reason to dread. PRUS 152.4
“We shall hear one of the chief magistrates in the republic of the Achaians inveigh strongly in a public assembly against this unjust usurpation, and ask by what title the Romans are empowered to assume so haughty an ascendent over them; whether their republic was not as free and independent as that of Rome; by what right the latter pretended to force the Achaians to account for their conduct; whether they would be pleased, should the Achaians, in their turn, officially pretend to inquire into their affairs, and whether matters ought not to be on the same footing on both sides? All these reflections were very reasonable, just, and unanswerable; and the Romans had no advantage in the question but force.
“They acted in the same manner, and their politics were the same in regard to their treatment of kings. They first won over to their interest such among them as were the weakest, and consequently the least formidable; they gave them the title of allies, whereby their persons were rendered in some measure sacred and inviolable; and it was a kind of safeguard against other kings more powerful than themselves; they increased their revenues, and enlarged their territories, to let them see what they might expect from their protection. It was this which raised the kingdom of Pergamus to so exalted a pitch of grandeur.
“In the sequel the Romans invaded, upon different pretenses, those great potentates who divided Europe and Asia, and how haughtily did they treat them, even before they had conquered! A powerful king, confined within a narrow circle by a private man of Rome, was obliged to make his answer before he quitted it; how imperious was this! But then how did they treat vanquished kings? They command them to deliver up their children, and the heirs to their crown, as hostages and pledges of their fidelity and good behavior; oblige them to lay down their arms; forbid them to declare war, or conclude any alliance, without first obtaining their leave; banish them to the other side of the mountains; and leave them, in strictness of speech, only an empty title, and a vain show of royalty, divested of all its rights and advantages.
“We are not to doubt but that Providence had decreed to the Romans the sovereignty of the world, and the Scriptures had prophesied their future grandeur; but they were strangers to those divine oracles; and besides, the bare prediction of their conquest was no justification of their conduct. Although it be difficult to affirm, and still more difficult to prove, that this people had from their first rise formed a plan, in order to conquer and subject all nations, it can not be denied but that, if we examine their whole conduct attentively, it will appear that they acted as if they had a foreknowledge of this, and that a kind of instinct determined them to conform to it in all things.
“But be this as it will, we see by the event, to what this so much boasted lenity and moderation of the Romans was confined. Enemies to the liberty of all nations, having the utmost contempt for kings and monarchy, looking upon the whole universe as their prey, they grasped, with insatiable ambition, the conquest of the whole world; they seized indiscriminately all provinces and kingdoms, and extended their empire over all nations; in a word, they prescribed no other limits to their vast projects, than those which deserts and seas made it impossible to pass.”
The expansion fever which laid such firm hold upon the people of the Roman republic has come upon the people of the republic of the United States. In both cases the game of the despoliation of nations and peoples has opened with a war “solely in the cause of humanity.” In the former instance, the Romans did declare the people of the small Greek republics free and independent. The United States has not yet even done this much. The republics of Greece never became free. The “war for humanity” never gave them their liberty. They soon found, and that to their bitter disappointment, that they had only exchanged masters, and that the little finger of Rome was thicker than the loins of Philip of Macedon, and that if the king had chastised them with whips, the republic chastised them with scorpions. They soon found to their intense sorrow that in the “war for humanity” there had been a transfer made, and that they had been the subject of barter. It did not take them long to discover that they had only acquired a slavery more abject and complete than that which they had endured under their previous ruler. It was as much more complete as Rome was more powerful than Macedon.
Rome never withdrew her foot from the Greek states, and it is even now doubtful whether the United States will ever withdraw from Cuba. Recent public utterances indicate that a great change of sentiment is sweeping over the country on this point. At the meeting of the members of the Associated Press, held in Chicago, May 18, 1899, in the star speech of the evening, St. Claire McKelway, editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, said:—
“There is no newspaper which believes that we are in Porto Rico ever to get out. We are there to stay. There is none which believes that we are in Cuba to get out-soon. I think we will stay there about as long as Great Britain will stay in Egypt, and that Great Britain will stay in Egypt about as long as the Anglo-Saxon race has a habit of staying where it settles down. I am willing to differ from my brethren on this subject, but as my estimate has been only comparative, perhaps there is less room for difference than might superficially appear. The duration of our stay in the Philippines is prodigiously debated. While the debate goes on, we stay. If the debate coincides with our stay, I think it will be a protracted debate.”
This is a good description of the territory of Rome’s expansion, and what she did with it, when once it fell into her possession. The next question that calls for solution is, How did Rome get started in her “expansion policy”? The answer is short, simple, and, with the sound of recently uttered phrases still ringing in our ears, perhaps familiar: the expansion of Rome, which also means the imperialism of Rome, began in a “war for humanity, in the cause of humanity, solely for humanity.” This is the story.
The parallel or analogy between that war “solely for humanity” and the one through which the United States has just passed, is quite complete. The little republics of Southern Greece stood related to Philip of Macedon much the same as Cuba, Porto Rico, and other places stood related to Spain at the time when this nation, “solely in the cause of humanity,” declared war in their behalf. And, moreover, it may not be out of the way to compare “the barbarous tribes on the north and west of Macedonia,” who were led to join the confederacy, and whose irruptions served to distract the councils and forces of Philip,-it may not be out of the way to compare-these to Aguinaldo and his “barbarous” hordes of Negritos, who, by a United States consul and a commodore of the United States navy, were led to “join the confederacy,” and whose “irruptions served to distract the councils and forces of Spain.”
At the battle of Cynocephale, in 197 b. c., Philip was signally defeated, his country was exposed to invasion, “and he was reduced to accept peace on such terms as the Romans thought proper to dictate.”
“These, as usual, tended to cripple the power of the vanquished party, and at the same time to increase the reputation of the Romans, by appearing more favorable to their allies than to themselves.
“Philip was obliged to give up every Greek city that he possessed beyond the limits of Macedonia, both in Europe and in Asia; a stipulation which deprived him of Thessaly, Achaia, Phthiotis, Perrhæbia, and Magnesia, and particularly of the three important towns of Corinth, Chalcis, and Demetrias, which he used to call the fetters of Greece.” In other words, Philip of Macedon lost all his outlying dependencies; and this is just about what happened to Spain at the treaty of Paris. Both alike were stripped of by far the greater part of their territory outside of the home land.
“All these states were declared free and independent, except that the Romans (pretending that Antiochus, king of Syria, threatened the safety of Greece) retained, for the present, the strong places of Chalcis and Demetrias in their own hands.”
The war had been waged by Rome at an infinite cost of blood and treasure to herself. Freely she had sacrificed the blood of her sons, and caused the tears of her daughters to be shed, in this war, “solely for humanity.” She had marshaled her armies, and mobilized her fleets, put the former in the field, and the latter in the sea, solely and only for the purpose of bringing liberty to these small and distressed dependencies, the little sister republics, who were struggling for their freedom. She asked no money nor land for all this; her cup of joy was full to the overflowing, because she had done such a great act of disinterested kindness “in the cause of humanity.” In a striking proclamation she published to the world the liberty of these people, won by her valor at arms, and freely given to them:—
“The senate and people of Rome, and Titus Quintius the general, having conquered Philip and the Macedonians, do set at liberty from all garrisons, imposts, and taxes, the Corinthians, the Locrians, the Phocians, the Phthiot-Achaians, the Messenians, the Thessalians, and the Perrhebians, declare them free! and ordain that they shall be governed by their respective customs and usages.
“Then followed the memorable scene at the Isthmian games, when it was announced to all the multitude assembled on that occasion, that the Romans bestowed entire freedom upon all those states of Greece which had been subject to the kings of Macedonia. The Greeks, unable to read the future, and having as yet had no experience of the ambition of Rome, received this act with the warmest gratitude; and seemed to acknowledge the Romans in the character they assumed, of protectors and deliverers of Greece.”
Excerpt Adapted From The Book 📚 The Perils of The Republic of The United States of America by Percy Magan Tilson,1899… Chapter In the Trail of Rome.
Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendency, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which has been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery, and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed.
The defenders of popery declare that the church has been maligned; and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarism of the times, and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.
Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished, this claim has been affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. As Rome asserts that she “never erred, and never can err,” how can she renounce the principles which governed her course in past ages?
The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas, she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now imposed by secular governments be removed, and Rome be re-instated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution.
A recent writer Josiah Strong, D.D., In “Our Country,” pp. 46-48. speaks thus of the attitude of the papal hierarchy as regards freedom of conscience, and of the perils which especially threaten the United States from the success of her policy:—
“There are many who are disposed to attribute any fear of Roman Catholicism in the United States to bigotry or childishness. Such see nothing in the character and attitude of Romanism that is hostile to our free institutions, or find nothing portentous in its growth. Let us, then, first compare some of the fundamental principles of our government with those of the Catholic Church.
“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience . Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX., in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience, are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a State.’ The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’
“The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O’Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.'” “The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.'”
“Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord the pope, or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.'”
It is true that there are real Christians in the Roman Catholic communion. Thousands in that church are serving God according to the best light they have. They are not allowed access to his Word, and therefore they do not discern the truth. They have never seen the contrast between a living heart-service and a round of mere forms and ceremonies. God looks with pitying tenderness upon these souls, educated as they are in a faith that is delusive and unsatisfying. He will cause rays of light to penetrate the dense darkness that surrounds them. He will reveal to them the truth, as it is in Jesus, and many will yet take their position with his people.
But Romanism as a system is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period in her history. The Protestant churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. The Roman Church is far-reaching in her plans and modes of operation. She is employing every device to extend her influence and increase her power in preparation for a fierce and determined conflict to regain control of the world, to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done. Catholicism is gaining ground upon every side. See Appendix, Note 10. See the increasing number of her churches and chapels in Protestant countries. Look at the popularity of her colleges and seminaries in America, so widely patronized by Protestants Look at the growth of ritualism in England, and the frequent defections to the ranks of the Catholics. These things should awaken the anxiety of all who prize the pure principles of the gospel.
Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery; they have made compromises and concessions which papists themselves are surprised to see, and fail to understand. Men are closing their eyes to the real character of Romanism, and the dangers to be apprehended from her supremacy. The people need to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty GC88 563.1 – GC88 566.1
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