VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
AS THE hour draws near, indicated by the prophetic hands of the great clock of the ages, when "Gentile Times" shall end and God's Kingdom shall take control of earth's affairs, with the natural seed of Abraham as its earthly representatives, in the Land promised to Abraham (Acts 7:5), every intelligent student of prophecy naturally watches the events bearing upon the promised land and the covenant people.
It is just about a year since Dr. T. Herzl, a learned Hebrew of Vienna, published his book advocating the foundation of a "Jewish State," in Palestine, the old homestead, as the only practical solution of the "Jewish question." His views, now known as "Zionism," have been taken up by leading Jews and Jewish journals the world over, and while some opposition has been aroused it is wonderful how general is the Jewish sentiment in favor of the project.
Rabbi Stephen Wise, of New York, says of the movement:--
"The Zionists here and everywhere, however, are thinking of the homeless in Israel. Ours it is to plan and toil, not for ourselves alone, but even for those whose existence is threatened by the passions and prejudices of the different peoples among whom their lots are cast. Have we not witnessed the oft-repeated triumphs of 'scientific' anti-Semitism at the German polls? Few are the nations which are wholly friendly to the Children of the stock from which sprang Jesus of Nazareth.
"Enlightened and God-fearing Christendom will marvel at the spectacle of a comparatively small band of heroes venturing upon a task of appalling magnitude. Were all Christendom truly Christians, there were little or no need of this movement. But Zion must be rebuilt, because the law that went forth therefrom hath not prevailed among all of its professors. In the meanwhile I doubt not that the American people will, with characteristic admiration for personal and national heroism, applaud and God-speed the hardy and hopeful upbuilders of a new Zion."
Dr. Moses Gaster of London, Chief Rabbi of the "Sephardim" Jews of all Southern Europe, said recently, respecting Dr. Herzl's Zionist proposition:--
"I feel a very keen interest in the scheme, dating back from the time when I was living in Roumania, and was instrumental in founding the first Jewish colony in Palestine. I have always cherished the conviction that the future of the Jewish race lies there, and nowhere else. I regard Dr. Herzl's scheme not as a politico-economical idea, but rather as a religious one. It is impossible to divorce such a plan from the religious ideals which underlie it. On the practical details he has developed I refrain from pronouncing an opinion, because it is impossible to say what form the movement will assume when once the masses are stirred with enthusiasm. I presided some months ago at a mass meeting of fifteen hundred East End London Jews, and nothing could have exceeded the enthusiasm at Dr. Herzl's appearance. It is the masses that decide such questions."
Delegates representing Jewish societies in all parts of the world have already been chosen, to meet August 25th in the city of Munich, Germany, to consider the most practical steps to be taken for the attainment of the aims of Zionism. The following prominent Jews are in charge of the convention,--Dr. T. Herzl, Max Nordau, C. Montefiore, Dr. DeHaas.
How remarkable that such a movement should take place at the present time! When in 1878 we pointed out that according to prophecy the set time for the return of divine favor to Israel was then due to begin, and that the beginning was in the putting of Egypt [R2176 : page 192] and Palestine measurably under British protection by the Berlin Conference, the idea was scouted by many. When we declared that the return of Israelites to Palestine was the next step, the Jews themselves scoffed, declaring that to be an absurdity: that the Jew in Germany was a German, in England an Englishman and in the United States an American, and so elsewhere the world over.
When the Russian persecution drove thousands to seek other homes, Palestine was spurned as a barren land. Baron Hirsch, the German millionaire, started with lavish expenditure a new land of promise in Argentina, South America; and wealthy American Hebrews helped their brethren by thousands to the United States. But some of the poorest Russian Jews looked longingly to Palestine and went thither--to find the land dry and barren enough. However, for these God raised up friends in Sir Moses Montefiore and Baron Rothschild who, seeing their destitution, pitied them and started Industrial Schools and Experimental Gardens for their instruction, hospitals for the sick, etc.
Then came the decree of the Sultan that no more Jews be permitted to settle in Palestine; and shortly the Russian persecution abated, and a few years of quiet followed in which affairs have been developing and the Jews have learned certain lessons. (1) The Argentine colony, backed by millions and under seemingly most favorable conditions, has not been a success but a great failure, financially and every way. The Jews colonized there are dissatisfied. (2) The Jews brought to the United States have succeeded only fairly well. (3) The Jews who went to "barren" Palestine have prospered phenomenally. As if by magic the land became more fruitful and happy, and gives evidence of a permanent revival. As a result the eyes of all Israel are turned Zionward, and their watchword is Zion! Zion! Verily, O Lord--"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." Surely, in this we have another distinct evidence that we are in "the Day of Jehovah."-- See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. 15.
Seeing this trend of events with Israel, we look in another direction to see in what way the Lord will open the gates to permit their return. And as we can now see a providence and blessing in the retarding of their emigration for a time, until the divine favor upon the land should center upon it the interest of all Jews, we shall expect ere long to see the doors opened wide, [R2177 : page 192] and that many not only of the poor, but also of the rich of Israel will seek Palestine as a home. We do not expect, however, as the Zionists do, that they will succeed speedily in organizing an independent Jewish state. This cannot be until the full end of Gentile Times--in the end of A.D. 1914. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., Chap. 4.
Turkey still rules over Palestine, and her success in the war with Greece has emboldened her to feel a greater independence than she has felt for nearly a century. She is concentrating troops in Europe from her Asiatic provinces, and the great powers fear a war, while all are striving for peace. The Grand Vizier of the Empire, the Sultan's Prime Minister, has recently expressed himself as follows, as reported by the London Standard:--
"My great age, and the confidence shown in me by appointing me the Grand Vizier of so glorious a Caliph, emboldens me to submit to your Majesty my views on the question of the day. The successes of our soldiers over their enemies have so revived the ardor of the nation that an important portion of it, which was previously alienated from you, has now been won back. The whole of Islam is, therefore, one soul and one body, and stands around your throne in an invincible phalanx. Sire, look upon the Powers of Europe as enemies, who are plotting the destruction of Turkey. If, in the present circumstances, we yield to European pressure, not only shall we have done nothing to ensure our existence, but we shall alienate our Mussulmans. Therefore I implore your Majesty, for the sake of your victorious ancestors, to retain Thessaly. If you seize this opportunity, you are destined to revive the ancient prowess of the great Sultans of the past. During your glorious reign there have been several questions which Europe laid stress upon, and on which you refused to be dictated to, such as the Armenian question and others. What was the result? You gained the victory. Let these examples guide you in the matter of Thessaly, but if my views are unpalatable to your Majesty, I beg you to accept my resignation."
Various jealousies and differences of interest hinder the great powers of Europe from uniting determinedly on any policy respecting Turkey. Austria would take the side of Turkey rather than permit Russia to gain too much by absorbing it. Russia would take sides with Turkey rather than let Austria absorb it, etc., etc.
There are not lacking other sources of European complication which some consider much more dangerous to peace. For instance, the German Emperor is credited with desiring to form a European combination against Great Britain, to hinder further extension of her empire, if not to reduce it. English journals have for some months been urging for a larger and more efficient British army, to repel feared foes. The balance of power is held by France, and British statesmen are alarmed at the growing intimacy between France and Germany. It is even claimed by some writers that the volatile French admire in Emperor William II. the very qualities of show and bombast and autocracy which Englishmen and Americans consider to be his weaknesses.
The London Spectator says:--
"The German Emperor is credited with a project [R2177 : page 193] for uniting the whole Continent in a war with England, which--says one scribe supposed to be inspired--'could afford to each power engaged a magnificent compensation.' The league is to be for plunder....Emperor William II. is almost as formidable an enemy as Napoleon, and we do not feel sure that he will not ultimately succeed in organizing a coalition of some kind the motto of which will be Delenda est Carthago....We shall not have a long warning if a crisis comes."
Another influential journal says:--
"The Emperor of Germany will have to be reckoned with whether in Africa or Europe, and in the stirring developments that are pending it is not to St. Petersburg, Paris, or London that one must look for a clew, but to Berlin.
An Amsterdam journal, Handelsblatt, voices the sentiments of many of the intelligent of America. It says:--
"It seems to us that a coalition against England is in formation not unlike that created by Napoleon I., and that England assists in the work by estranging her friends [by her colonial and financial policies] and leaving her army in its present condition. We hope we are mistaken. Nothing more horrible could be imagined than a victory of the autocrats over free England and her noble people. For, after all, that people remains one of the wonders of the world, be its Government ever so blind."
But Great Britain has able statesmen who doubtless will guard her interests and conciliate France and Russia. However, we see various national complications possible, any one of which would be tolerably certain to affect the future of Palestine and open its gates to the natural seed of Abraham,--preparatory to its becoming the Capital of the world.
But whether it comes peaceably or by war, we expect Palestine to be open to Israel in less than five years. Nor do we expect that any war that might occur (for we do not anticipate a great war) would be the predicted great turmoil that will wreck the present social order.
THE DIAMOND JUBILEE.
The whole world has echoed and reechoed joyous congratulations to England's Queen, jubilating the sixtieth year of her reign. Literary men have striven with each other to see how much could be said in praise of the lady and of her reign. The period of reign has even been styled "The Victorian Age"--after the olden style; as for instance "The Augustan Age" was a term applied to the reign of Augustus Caesar.
We have great respect for the royal lady and great appreciation of the blessings of the past sixty years; but we are far from supposing that the latter were dependent upon the former. In the days of the Caesars one man could and did do much to impress his imperial character for good or for bad upon the art, the literature, the finances, the morals and everything pertaining to his reign. Hence there was a propriety in associating the ruler and the epoch as in the term,-- "Augustan Age." But this is not true to-day--especially not in Victoria. Indeed, the lady and the nation are to be congratulated that she did not attempt to stamp her personality and will upon the affairs of the great nation of which she is the nominal head and ruler, as William II. is evidently attempting to stamp his personality upon Germany.
Great credit is due Queen Victoria for not attempting to rule the British Empire in any particular. Contenting herself with being a figure-head of royalty, she has done the very best thing for these times, in leaving the rule, the government, wholly in the hands of Parliament, the representatives of the people;--so far as we recall not even once exercising royal prerogatives, of veto, etc. Any king on the same throne, who would have stamped no personality upon his epoch, would have been despised by his subjects as lacking character; but sex-chivalry permits that in the Queen non-intervention in the government and non-personality of reign shall be esteemed graces. Had a man been on the throne, all of his subjects would have insisted that he have some policy of his own, and among people like the English and Americans, as soon as it would be declared it would arouse those of different views as enemies and opponents. This would have led long ago either to imperialism and less liberty as in Germany, or else to a republican form of government, as in France and the United States.
No; the blessings of the past sixty years are not to be credited to kings and queens, nor to republics, but to God. As already pointed out in MILLENNIAL DAWN, the great prophetic period termed "The Day of His Preparation," began in 1799 and will end with 1914: and it is the advancement of this "day" and the light which God provides, necessary for its work, that has brought the wonders of the present, and is rapidly now bringing on the conditions for the great time of trouble, for the overthrow of present imperfect conditions and the establishment of the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
THE WEST POINT CHURCH.
The permit to proceed with the construction of the Roman Catholic church on Government property contiguous to the West Point Military School has been cancelled. The question of the authority of the Secretary of War, under the constitution, was referred to Attorney General McKenna (a Roman Catholic) who, much to the disappointment of Roman Catholics, decided that the Secretary of War has no right to permit the erection of any building for sectarian purposes, at [R2177 : page 194] West Point. The Constitution certainly guards carefully against union of Church and State.
Many great Americans seem to have foreseen danger along this line. President Grant said,--"Keep Church and State forever separate." President Jackson said,--"It is wicked and tyrannical to compel any man to support a religion in which he does not believe." President Garfield said,--"The divorce between Church and State should be absolute." Benjamin Franklin said,--"A religion that depends on the State for support is, for that reason, a bad religion."
Nevertheless, we believe a practical union, or at
least a cooperation, is approaching, the result of which
will be injurious to religious sentiments not prominent,
popular and influential.
[R2178 : page 194]
CHURCH UNION PROGRESSING.
The English Church, having been rebuffed by the pope, is making progress with the Greek Church of Russia. We noted the attendance of the Bishop of London at the Czar's coronation in full mediaeval regalia of gaudy robes, cap, mitre, pastoral staff, episcopal ring, etc., and later the visit of the Archbishop of York to Russia, presumably in the interest of union between the Greek and English churches. Now we notice that the Greek Church has sent the Archbishop of Finland to attend, as its representative, the ceremonies of the Queen's Jubilee, and in addition to attend the Lambeth Conference, which meets shortly in the interest of Church Union.
As an olive-twig to the "Nonconformists," as Protestants in general are designated in Great Britain, Rev. Dr. Barret was invited to and did "read the Scripture lesson" at the Jubilee Service. This, however, as some Churchmen point out, does not signify a recognition of nonconformist ministers as being duly ordained; for any "layman" might be called upon for that service under English Church rules.
Alas! how little the real ordination, the real ministry, the real union, and the real Church are understood; --how sadly and blindly all these questions are confused by the "Babylonians."