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    March 3, 1887

    “The Papacy and Peace” The Signs of the Times 13, 9, p. 134.

    IN the midst of the alarms of a great European war, the Papacy, as might be expected, is constantly strengthening itself, increasing its prestige, and enlarging its power. The relations established last year between Bismarck and the Pope were only the prelude to more important movements on the part of both Germany and the Papacy, and each one has been a stepping-stone to the steady aggrandizement of the Papacy. And now that the German Parliament refuses to vote the assurance of war supplies and forces for seven years, the Papacy throws all its influence into the scale in favor of Bismarck and the emperor and all their demands for war materials, and for the establishment of the forces upon the strongest possible war footing. Official letters have been sent by the Pope instructing the Catholics in Germany and the Parliament to support the Government demands, and thus he makes complete his alliance with Germany, and his position secure so far as Germany is concerned.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.1

    For about two years, or perhaps more, the relations between France and the Papacy have been at a pretty high tension; but now on account of the threatening aspect of affairs, France is making advances which the Papacy receives very cordially and graciously, as a matter of course, and at the same time very condescendingly grants favors that amount to nothing, and concessions that cost her nothing.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.2

    The Papacy has also made overtures to Russia. But as her proffers were rather too extravagant, the Czar would not entertain them at all. We have no doubt, however, that there will be such modifications that, in some way, the connection will be secured. As for Austria and Spain, the Pope owns them bodily, almost.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.3

    All these negotiations, too, are entirely in the interests of peace! That is, if Germany cannot be placed upon the strongest possible war footing for seven years, there will be war before seven years pass. Therefore, as a “distinguished prelate” stated is, Prince Bismarck “quite unofficially” dropped the merely casual remark that “if the Pope will speak the word now in favor of the Septenate, he will be helping to keep the peace.” And “so with purely peaceful views, the holy father thought it right to speak.”SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.4

    Yet as “purely peaceful” as his views may be, there is one thing that the Pope has in view in it all, and that is the re-establishment of the power of the Papacy, especially in Italy. Said the aforesaid “distinguished prelate,” “The Vatican had serious reasons to believe its intervention would improve the position of the Holy See, especially in its relation with Italy.” That is the one grand view that underlies and pervades all the Pope’s “peaceful views;” it is to make firm his alliance with all these other powers, and then by their united power bring such a pressure upon Italy that she shall be compelled, in one way or another, to recognize the sovereignty of the Papacy, and consent to the restoration of its power. And if such a result can only be accomplished in the end by a general European war, then into such a war all Europe will be plunged without a moment’s hesitation. And such is the purity of the peaceful views with which “the holy father thought it right to speak,” and with which he labors everywhere and in all things in the interests of “peace.” The movements and the workings of the Papacy just now are an important study.SITI March 3, 1887, page 134.5

    J.

    “‘The Lord Saw It, and It Displeased Him’” The Signs of the Times 13, 9, pp. 136, 137.

    IN the three preceding numbers of the SIGNS we have referred to the fact and to the means of the defeat of justice that now prevails so extensively throughout the land. It is the estimate of one of the leading criminal lawyers of the country, that not over one-fifth of the criminals at the present day are ever punished. The other four-fifths either escape arrest, or else escape conviction through the devious course by which Justice is now compelled to thread her way, and which we have in a measure pointed out. But whether it be through the complaisance of judges, the incompetence of jurors, or the chicanery of criminal lawyers, that the criminals are allowed to escape the penalties justly due their crimes, not the least of the fault for it all lies with society itself.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.1

    There is pervading the whole body of society an undercurrent of sympathy with crime and for criminals, and this undercurrent is constantly coming nearer the surface, and is fast becoming so much more than an undercurrent that it may fairly be counted as a part of the main current itself of human affairs. Crime is looked upon rather as a disease than as turpitude, as a misfortune rather than a fault; and the criminal unfortunate rather than guilty, and so “ought to be pities rather than punished.” The great and more horrible the crime, so much the more sympathy is aroused for the criminal. A cold-blooded and deliberate murder may be committed, yet instead of showing horror at the dreadful crime, women will pet and pamper the bloody villain, fill his cell with flowers, and decorate it with costly bouquets; reporters will fill columns of the papers with the full report of his life, and the smallest details of his crime. If by chance he is at last convicted, all these attractions are increased; petitions are industriously circulated imploring executive clemency, and perhaps pardon, and if all this proves unavailing, he is sent out of the world in a halo of glory.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.2

    If it happens to be a crime against the very existence of society itself—as that of the Chicago Anarchists—then the sickly sentimentalism culminates in the marriage of the marriageable criminal, and the effort at conviction is successfully opposed by throwing the whole subject into politics, and making the legislative machinery work the perversion of the judicial. These are facts, and they are worth the serious consideration of all who have any regard for the pure principles of justice and social order; for society and such things as these cannot long exist together. Ere these things continue long, violence and anarchy will inevitably usurp full sway.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.3

    Another, and most palpable proof of the prevailing sympathy with crime is the fact, and the necessity too, of the organization of “Law and Order Leagues” in many of the States and large cities. Not that these leagues are themselves in sympathy with crime—far from it—but the very fact that their existence is necessary proves that in the body of society sympathy or condolence with crime does prevail; for the regularly and legally established machinery of the State is the power of society. And when this power has become so impotent that extra-legal and irresponsible bodies are made necessary to the proper administration of the law, this of itself demonstrates that in the great body of society sympathy and tacit agreement with crime prevail more than does opposition to it. Says the Providence (R.I.) Journal:SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.4

    “There is something rotten in the State of Denmark when an ultra-legal, self-constituted, irresponsible body of men is necessary to the enforcement of law, which, being the voice of the State, is theoretically upheld, sustained, and maintained by the machinery of the State. The State is sovereign. It declares the law; it provides courts, police, jails. It undertakes to carry out its own proclaimed will. It can, in the last resort, summon every one of its citizens to enforce its law. Is not this enough? Theoretically, yes. But not enough in regard to certain laws, because the officers of the law will not enforce the law; and because the apathy, or the opposition of the people to the law, permits this infidelity to authority to be open and efficient. The fact of the existence of a Law and Order League is a reproach either to the legislators or to the people. No law should be passed which is not sensible and just. No law should be violated with impunity. And here again we strike deeper than law or league. It all comes back at last, as in the matter of education, to the judgment and conscience of the community. Unless these are sound, nothing will much avail.”SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.5

    The Journal is right; it does indeed all come back at last to the judgment and conscience of the community. And when we reach this point we strike the tap-root, in more senses of the word than one, of the whole difficulty which we in these articles have been discussing. Upon what basis, by what standard, and by what means are the judgment and conscience of the community formed or regulated? There can be but one answer to the question as to the basis, and the standard upon which, and by which, the judgment and the conscience of the community ought to be formed. That answer is, The law of God. That is the basis of all judgment, and the standard of every conscience. Every judgment that does not conform to the law of God is a wrong judgment, and any conscience that will not yield to the dictates of that law is an evil conscience.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.6

    But although there is but this one answer to the question as to the basis upon which the judgment and conscience of the community ought to be formed, it is certain that the law of God is not the basis upon which they are formed. While murder, and theft, and adultery, and lying, are rife on every hand, an assembly of Methodist ministers gravely discuss the exceedingly grave and important question as to where Cain got his wife! The Congregationalists discuss the question as to whether there is or is not a probation after death for those who in this life “have not had a fair chance;” and those of other denominations discuss questions of equally living and instant importance with these. But take the whole year of 1886—undoubtedly a year of more violence and iniquity than any other in the history of the country, except perhaps in time of war—and in all that year, in all the leading pulpits of all the leading denominations in the land, how many sermons were heard from the text, “Thou shalt not kill”? how many from the text, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”? or from the text, “Thou shalt not steal”? or “Thou shalt not bear false witness”? In short, from all these pulpits, how many sermons were delivered in which the law of God in its majesty and integrity was pressed upon the judgment, and urged upon the conscience of the community? We are satisfied that each of our readers can readily tell how much such he heard in that year, and by his own experience he can judge of the experience of other people in this direction.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.7

    The truth is that the law of God is not dealt with in any such way in those places. But when by others there is an endeavor to bring up the judgment and conscience of the community strictly to the standard of that law, the popular pulpit most generally makes use of its conspicuous position to oppose the law of God, and to satisfy the judgment, and ease the conscience of the community, with the idea that the law is abolished. And as “they that forsake the law praise the wicked” (Proverbs 28:4), the inevitable result is that wickedness is increased, the conscience is dulled, the truth is forsaken, and crime walks abroad.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.8

    And yet there is a pretense of preaching the gospel. But when the law of God is forsaken, or opposed in the preaching, the gospel is robbed of its power. The gospel is God’s effort to save sinners, but it is only by the law that sin is made known. “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20); the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation.” Romans 1:16. Said Adam Clarke, “They that preach only the gospel to sinners, heal ‘the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly.’” John Wesley said that those who leave out the law, and preach only the gospel; those who leave out the condemnation that is upon men because of the transgression of the law of God, and preach only the love of Jesus, will find that soon even that will lose its effect upon men. That is the truth, and if John Wesley could travel through our land in this year of the nineteenth century, he would see the very result which he described.SITI March 3, 1887, page 136.9

    Men will stand in opposition to the law of God, and preach directly that it is abolished, and then go about to get up a revival of religion! And many of the most successful revivalists are the most decidedly opposed to the law of God. Of course they have revivals, but what do the revivals amount to? Some of these revivalists may, like the most popular one just now, succeed in getting the people ashamed of their meanness. But to be ashamed of a piece of meanness is not that godly sorrow for sin, which leads to repentance. In all the revivals of the present day, where is that deep contrition and sorrow before God, because of sin against him, that attended the preaching of Wesley and Whitfield and Edwards and Asbury and Finney? It is not found there, and it never will be found there, till the law of God is given the place that belongs to it in all such work; till by it men are shown their utterly ruined and lost condition, with no hope but the cross of Christ. Then men will delight in the law of God, as well as to rejoice in the love of Christ; and they will glory in the cross of Christ because that by the sacrifice of the cross they are redeemed from the curse of the law.SITI March 3, 1887, page 137.1

    But instead of this, the gospel that is most prevalently preached nowadays, is fast becoming, if it has not already become, hardly anything more or less than a gospel of religious sentimentalism. It creates a Christianity of sentimentalism, instead of building up a Christianity of vigorous, stalwart righteousness before God and men. The great standard of justice and righteousness is not held before men as a mirror that they may see themselves as they really are. It is all love and mercy, without the justice of God, that is preached. We would not that the love and mercy of God should be preached less, but his law and justice more. The gospel of Christ was given to the world that God might be just, and justify the transgressor of his law, who will believe in Jesus. God’s justice is guarded as well as manifested in the gospel of Christ, and whenever a gospel is preached which does not contemplate the justice of God, then is it not the gospel of Christ.SITI March 3, 1887, page 137.2

    Thus by forsaking the law of God, and accepting the gospel of sentimentalism, the judgment and conscience of society are lowered to that degree that of a truth “judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.... And he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey; and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him.” But although the Lord is displeased at it, where are the chances or the prospects of a reform?SITI March 3, 1887, page 137.3

    J.

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