The Signs of the Times, vol. 29- Contents
February 10, 1904
“History of Government. VI. Character of Earthly Monarchy” The Signs of the Times 30, 6, pp. 4, 5.
VI. CHARACTER OF EARTHLY MONARCHY.
WE have studied the principles, the origin, and the essential nature of monarchy. Monarchy being the recognized system of government, it was in essence the same everywhere; yet there were varieties of form which, in practise, made the successive monarchies different, and in some things peculiar.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.1
Since, in its very inception, the assertion of monarchy was the assumption of the title and prerogatives of God, it became necessary for the monarch, in supporting this pretension, to separate himself as far as possible from the people, and to surround himself with an atmosphere of exclusiveness and pseudo-divinity; and indeed, personally, to assert divinity. This was the case with Nimrod; and in this also he was imitated by the world-kings, as they also imitated him in the manifestation of the imperial spirit.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.2
This is illustrated more fully in the kings of Egypt than in any other ancient nation. The sun was held to be the great god, and in Egypt the kings professed to be the very impersonation of the sun-god. They claimed identity with the sun-god, and must be addressed as “sun-god.” For instance, Thothmes III., the founder of the Egyptian empire, inscribes himself as “Son of the Sun, Thothes III., Giver of Life, like the Sun forever.” And, again, “Giver of Life like the Sun eternal.” The governors must address the king of Egypt as “The king, my Lord, my Sun-God,” and say, “At the feet of my Lord, my Sun-God, seven times seven I prostate myself.” In the records of Egypt, letter after letter from governors to the king open with the words, for instance, “To the king, my Lord, my Sun-God, I speak, even I, Rib-Adda, thy servant; at the feet of my Lord, my Sun-God, seven times seven do I prostrate myself.” And again, “To the great king, the king of the world, I, the servant of the mighty Lord, to the king, my Lord; at the feet of my Lord, the Sun-God, seven times seven I prostrate myself.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.3
As he was the “giver of life,” the people were supposed to receive from him “the breath of their nostrils.” As, for instance, on a certain occasion it is recorded of the chiefs of a conquered country, making their submission, “Then the chiefs of that land came bringing the usual tribute, adoring the spirits of His Majesty, asking breath for their nostrils of the greatness of His power and the importance of His spirits.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.4
Being so great, he must be beheld by the mass of the people afar off, and was approachable only by the inner ones of the gradation of royal circles. For instance, when one of the kings had decided to establish and build a temple, and wanted to convey to even the royal masons and the sacred sculptors his purpose, he must do it thus: “Then His Majesty ordered that orders should be given to the superintendent of the royal masons, who were with him, and the sacred sculptors.” Here are plainly no less than two, or possibly three, gradations between the king and even the royal masons and sacred sculptors. What, then, must have been the distance between “His Majesty” and the daily toiling masses?SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.5
Not in every monarchical nation or world-empire did the king stand at this extreme of idolatrous “Majesty.” But with Nimrod and the kings of Egypt it was so; and with the kings of Assyria it was hardly less than so. For, eleven hundred years before Christ, Tiglath-Pileser I., of Assyria, published himself as “the powerful king, the king of hosts who has no rivals, the king of the four zones, the king of all kinglets, the king of lords, the shepherd of princes, the king of kings, the exalted prophet.... The faithful shepherd, proclaimed lord over kinglets, the supreme governor whose weapons Assur has predestinated, and for the government of the four zones has proclaimed his name forever.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.6
Two hundred years after this, another king of Assyria proclaimed himself “Assur-natsir-pal, the powerful king, the king of hosts, the king unrivaled, the king of all the four regions of the world, the Sun-God of multitudes of men.... who has overcome all the multitudes of men.... who has established empire over lands, ... the supreme judge.... who has established empire over all the world, ... mightiest among the gods am i.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.7
His son and immediate successor, Shalmaneser II., proclaimed himself, “Shalmaneser, the king of the multitudes of men, high priest of Assur, the powerful king, the king of all the four regions, the Sun-God of the multitudes of mankind, who governs in all countries; the son of Assur-natsir-pal, the supreme priest, etc., etc.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.8
In Babylon and Later Empires.
It does not appear that in the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar this self-exalted “Majesty” was so boastingly proclaimed; but that the spirit of it was manifested there is shown by the scripture, in which king Nebuchadnezzar openly and positively set up his idea against the known idea of the God of heaven. It is further manifested in the instance in which, after king Nebuchadnezzar had completed the building of his great temples and his mighty works in Babylon, he again set himself against the God of heaven in the boast, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the mighty of my power and for the honor of my majesty?”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.9
But Nebuchadnezzar had an experience which humbled his pride and annihilated his self-exaltation, and led him to recognize the true God in truth, and that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.10
But this was all forgotten by the successors of Nebuchadnezzar; and blasphemous defiance of God reached its culminating point that last night of Babylon when there appeared the mystic fingers of a man’s hand over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall: “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.... Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” And in that night of blasphemous defiance of God, Babylon sank forever.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.11
There was in the kingdom of Babylon a feature that, of all the empires of ancient or modern times, is peculiar alone to Babylon; excepting only at the seat of the Babylon of modern times. The king of Babylon required of the subject kings of his world-empire that their thrones should be in Babylon, ranged with the throne of the king of Babylon, and in gradation according to the degree of their importance on their own part, and their favor in his sight.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.12
In the kings of the empire of the Medes and Persians the pride and idolatrous self-exaltation of “His Majesty” was subdued in Darius, the Mede, and Cyrus, the Persian, by their recognition of the true God and their submission to Him. And this self-exaltation never did rise in Persia to anything like the height it had attained in Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, and Shinar. But when in the imperial succession we come to Greece, we find it again in full measure. It was Philip of Macedon who unified Greece and paved the way for Alexander’s imperial succession. And both he and his wife aspired to divinity. She was a bacchanalian devotee, and indulged in the ceremonies of magic and incantation. And Philip was in the very act of celebrating his own divinity when he was slain by the hand of an assassin; for he was at that moment making a grand and majestic entrance into the great and crowded theater, having been preceded only shortly before by a procession of the twelve great gods, and immediately after them the statue of Philip himself as the thirteenth god.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.13
Coming from such a parentage as this on both sides, it is not strange that there should be manifested in their son, Alexander the Great, that insatiable aspiration to be a god which characterized his whole public career.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.14
The same thing was repeated in the monarch of the next world-empire, that of Rome. For when the Roman empire, which weas originally a government of the people, had fallen to a one-man power, the very first one was declared by the representatives of that people to be no more Caius Julius a man, but Divus Julius a god. And they voted that a temple should be built for the worship of him, and they named one of their party to be the priest who should conduct this worship. And then when they murdered him they continued the same thing to the man who succeeded him in the government and made permanent that world-monarchy.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.15
Then when Rome fell and the barbarians of Germany established their ten kingdoms upon her ruin, these all traced the genealogy of their kings to their one great ancestor, the god Woden. The kingly houses all claimed descent from the blood of the gods.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.16
And, when, beyond all this, upon the ruin of Rome and over the monarchies of the barbarian invasions and their final settlement, the bishop of Rome asserted kingship in the church and rose to imperialism in ecclesiastical power, in this also there was continued the old usurpation of the place and power, the title and prerogatives of God; the same persistent idolatrous claim and assertion of the attributes of divinity; and the same old self-exaltation. Only here beyond all heights that ever were before, the pride and self-exaltation of monarchy and imperialism was asserted above all that is called God or that is worshiped, declaring in the face of the avowed exclusive knowledge of the supreme God, that “He is God.”SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.17
Such is the character and course of monarchy on earth. And that the exercise of governmental prerogative by such power as this, from Nimrod to Pius X., must be a persistent succession of despotisms, was in the nature of things a certainty; and that despotism, so persistent and steady that to attempt a story of it would be but a constant repetition as steady as has been this brief story of the nature of monarchy, and far more wearisome.SITI February 10, 1904, page 4.18