The Peace and Disarmament Conference has met, deliberated, and come to a close. Many are of the opinion that something has been accomplished; but in reality nothing of real worth or merit has been accomplished. That anything of real worth or merit should have been accomplished is impossible in the very nature of things. Many are saying that the time has come when strong nations shall “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against a nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his own vine, and under his fig-tree.” 3
The advent of the United States in the Orient will not tend to amity, but rather to animosity. This was cleverly stated by Lord Salisbury, when at the last lord mayor’s banquet, he said the “appearance of the United States as a factor in Asiatic affairs is likely to conduce to the interests of Great Britain, but might not conduce to the interests of peace.” It can not possibly conduce to the interests of peace, for the very reason that in entering the Orient this nation has deserted her policy of peace, and has adopted in principle, at least, the bellicose spirit; she has now departed from that doctrine of the “father of his country,” which, if it never brought to her military glory, most certainly has been the cause of her material greatness. The words in the “Farewell Address” are a pearl of great price. They may be familiar, but they can not too often be recalled:—
“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government….
“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.
“Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations or collisions of her friendships or enmities.
“Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a very different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take suck an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interests, guided by justice, shall counsel.
“Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
But all the nations interested in the Chinese and Oriental problem in general are continually making and breaking alliances. This is absolutely necessary in the very nature of things. One nation may on account of its own internal policy and traditions desire to keep aloof from the others; but when combinations are formed against it, there is no other choice but to join forces with some other power. England has been, more than any other nation, perhaps, friendly to the idea of having the United States in the Oriental caldron. Many think that this friendship will conduce to peace, but that it can not possibly do this is clearly set forth by Carl Schurz in his address before the convocation of the Chicago University last January:—
“If we take those new regions, we shall be well entangled in that contest for territorial aggrandizement which distracts other nations and drives them far beyond their original design. So it will be inevitably with us. We shall want new conquests to protect that which we already possess. The greed of speculators working upon our government will push us from one point to another, and we shall have new conflicts on our hands, almost without knowing how we got into them. It has always been so under such circumstances, and always will be. This means more and more soldiers, ships, and guns. PRUS 169.3 – PRUS 171.4
The Protestant world today see in the little company keeping the Sabbath a Mordecai in the gate. His character and conduct, expressing reverence for the law of God, are a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling upon His Sabbath; the unwelcome intruder must by some means be put out of the way.
The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law. Satan will excite indignation against the humble minority who conscientiously refuse to accept popular customs and traditions. Men of position and reputation will join with the lawless and the vile to take counsel against the people of God. Wealth, genius, education, will combine to cover them with contempt. Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith. By false representations and angry appeals they will stir up the passions of the people. Not having a “Thus saith the Scriptures” to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law. Those who fear God cannot accept an institution that violates a precept of the Decalogue. On this battlefield comes the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error. And we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Now, as in the days of Mordecai, the Lord will vindicate His truth and His people.
By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.
As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God’s forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation’s iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return. The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress which prophets have described as the time of Jacob’s trouble. The cries of the faithful, persecuted ones ascend to heaven. And as the blood of Abel cried from the ground, there are voices also crying to God from martyrs’ graves, from the sepulchers of the sea, from mountain caverns, from convent vaults: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” 5T 450.1 – 5T 451.2
One by one the silent artillery of time sweeps us from the scenes of life’s strife. Short is the span of vital breath; quick comes the hour when our feeble forms are laid to molder in the dust. Soon we are forgotten. But the deeds which we have done are undying; they live on through all time as monuments of our greatness or our folly. The verdict of history is seldom unjust, and at its bar, as the cycles of the century speed on, we are all arraigned for trial. It was the task of our political forefathers, and nobly they performed it, “to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to up-rear upon its hills and its valleys a political ‘edifice of liberty and equal rights;’ ‘t is ours only to transmit these-the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation-to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task, gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.
“How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow?—Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us, it must spring up among us; it can not come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide .”
These were the words of the immortal Lincoln. Now the crisis has been reached; the hour of temptation is here. Will it be a stepping-stone, or will it be a stumbling-block? Present proceedings indicate the latter. The burning question blazes up before us now: As a nation of freemen shall we live through all time, or shall we die by suicide? The heavenly seraph holds the scale in which the state is swinging. We are a spectacle not only unto the world, and to angels, and to men, but the ever-watchful eye of the Most High, who ruleth in the kingdom of men, is riveted upon the trembling indicator, nervously made to quiver on its course as events of weal or woe affect it. Which way the tide of our destiny shall set is now for us to decide. Once more let it be said that this is wholly a matter of choice, and not in any way a question of chance. The manifest destiny of the nation waits upon the actions of men, while expectancy sits on the brow of the universe. PRUS 135.5 – PRUS 136.3
As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them. GC 608.2
Even in the Adventist Church: We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.—Selected Messages 1:122 (1887). LDE 156 – LDE 156.2