ConclutionTHE principles exemplified in the Constitution of the United States as respects religion, were first announced by Jesus Christ, and were preached to the world by his apostles and the early Christians. For two hundred and fifty years they were opposed by the Roman empire. But at last that empire was compelled to confess the justice of the principles, and so to acknowledge the victory of Christianity.
Then ambitious bishops and political ecclesiastics took advantage of a political crisis to secure control of the civil power, and in the name of Christianity to pervert the victory which Christianity had so nobly won. This created the papacy, a religious despotism, and speedily wrought the ruin of the Roman empire, and proved a curse to the ages that followed.
Then came Protestantism, casting off the yoke of the papacy, and re-stating the principles of Christianity respecting religion and the State. Yet, from Martin Luther to Roger Williams, in every place and in every form, wherever it was possible, professed Protestantism, following the example of the papacy, seized upon the civil power, and used it to restrict and repress the freedom of the mind, and to persecute those who chose to think differently from the religious majority.
Thus upon a test of ages, by paganism, Catholicism, and false Protestantism, there was demonstrated to the world that any connection between religion and the State is debasing to both; that if the religious power rises superior to the civil power, it is ruinous to the State; and that religious and civil rights are both secure, and religion and liberty go forward together only when religion and the State are separate. And in all this there was demonstrated by every proof, the perfect wisdom and absolute justice of the divine principle enunciated by Jesus Christ, that religion and the State must be entirely separate -- that to Caesar there is to be rendered only that which is Caesar''s, while men must be left free to render to God that which is God''s, according to the dictates of the individual conscience.
In the formation of the government and in the Constitution of the United States, the triumph of the principles of Christianity respecting earthly government, was complete. In their completeness, and by the directing providence of God, these divine principles were thus set forth for an example to all nations. Yet instead of these principles'' having been maintained in their integrity as established by the fathers of the New Republic, there has been allowed or effected by those who came after, a steady encroachment, little by little, of religion upon the State. Each successive encroachment has been made, by the precedent, only a stepping stone to further encroachment, until now the demand is openly, persistently, and even powerfully made, that the government shall formally and officially abandon this fundamental and characteristic principle, and commit itself to the principle of religious legislation -- legislation in behalf of the name and institutions of a professed Christianity -- which is only to commit itself to the principles of the papacy.
If in the discussions preliminary to the establishment of this principle as part of the supreme law of this nation, Madison could say that, "If with the salutary effects of this system under our own eyes, we begin to contract the bounds of religious freedom, we know no name which will too severely reproach our folly,"1 how much more emphatically can the same thing be said upon the experience of more than a hundred years! If in the face of all history on one hand, and this more than a hundred years of experience on the other, such a thing should be done, we may not only ask, What name would too severely reproach our folly? but, What punishment would be too severe for our wickedness? If such a thing should be done, what wonder should there be if this national apostasy should be the signal of national ruin?
And has not the movement to accomplish this purpose attained sufficient prominence to make the prospect of its success worthy the serious consideration of every soul who has any love for the genuine principles of the religion of Jesus Christ, or any regard for the fundamental principles of the government of the United States, or any respect for the rights of mankind? If that which has already been accomplished in this direction is not sufficient to arouse every such person to the most active and earnest diligence in defense of the divine heritage bestowed upon the world by Jesus Christ and bequeathed to us by our Revolutionary fathers, what more can be required to do it?
We have seen the rise, the rapid growth, and the aim, both immediate and ultimate, of the strongest religious combination that could possibly be formed in the United States. And it is evident that the combination will leave no necessary means unemployed to accomplish its purpose. And, indeed, having already the sanction of such an array of religious precedents on the part of the government, and the favor, from powerful sources, of so many distinct pieces of religious legislation, what is to hinder the complete success of the movement in its one chief aim?
It is evident that even now all that remains is to bring the question to an issue where votes shall decide. If it shall be brought to a vote in Congress first, the probabilities are altogether in favor of its being carried. During the Fifty-first Congress, the New York Independent attempted a sort of census of the Sunday standing of members. There was not a majority of the members who replied, but the great majority of those who did reply expressed themselves in favor of the governmental recognition of Sunday sacredness by closing the coming World''s Fair on Sunday.
But even though a vote should fail in a Congress already elected, and the question should be made the issue in a Congressional election, still the probabilities are that the religious combination could secure enough members to carry their scheme in some way to a successful issue. And if the combination can succeed in causing the government to bend to their will in a single point, everything else that they contemplate will follow. If the first step be taken, the last step is then as certainly taken; for the last step is in the first.
Another important consideration that strengthens the probability of the success of the movement, and reveals a most striking and far-reaching result, is the fact that the bond of union, the question of Sunday observance, is not only a national but an international question.
In Europe among the church managers the Sunday question is being made prominent in public affairs, even as it is in the United States. The organized movement began in September, 1876, when there was held at Geneva, Switzerland, the "International Sunday Congress." It consisted of the representative friends of Sunday, from different lands, who met "to report and confer as to the condition of things in their several localities, and to unite in one organization for the promotion of the observance of the Lord''s day." At this congress, there were represented "the Swiss Cantons, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Italy, Roumania, Scotland, England, and the United States," "The German emperor delegated his ambassador to Switzerland -- Count Roder -- to sit as his representative. The king of Wurtemburg and the duke of Baden were also represented. The Vicomte de la Panous, inspector-general of the Orleans Railway; M. L. Charlier, chairman of the Roumanian railways; Messrs. Andre and Arnaud of the Paris and Lyons Railway, represented their several companies. Various societies for home missions sent their directors or prominent members. Members of chambers of commerce, lawyers, bankers, editors, numerous physicians, commercial men, the consuls at Geneva, of Great Britain, the United States, Spain, Brazil, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands, sat as members of the congress, to the number of four hundred. Many other prominent men of Europe, several of the leading railway companies, and various associations, sent communications expressing interest in the movement, among which was a letter of warm sympathy from the Archbishop of Canterbury."
A permanent International Federation was organized. A committee was appointed to formulate a basis and plan of action for the Federation. The first paragraph of the "Declaration of Principles" reads as follows: --
"The Federation founded by the congress held at Geneva, at its meeting of the twenty-ninth of September, 1876, proposes, by the help of God, to labor to restore for the good of all, a better observance of the day of rest, known under the old covenant by the name of the Sabbath, and transferred by the primitive church under the name of the Lord''s day, to the first day of the week in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ."
The Federation called for laws to make Sunday a public holiday, and for its protection as a day of rest; laws for the protection of public worship; laws that will insure a good example of the observance of the day in government offices and in public works; and, "finally, that it shall be provided by law that every concession of special privileges to individuals or companies, shall be accompanied by adequate guarantees in favor of Sunday rest for those employed in their respective enterprises."
In active harmony with the International Federation are the Catholics of Europe, though they carry on their own part of the work in an organization of their own. This organization is patterned after that of the Jesuits for the "Propagation of the Faith." The object as stated is, "To stop the scandal of the profanation of Sunday and the four feasts of obligation." The duties of the members of the Association are as follows: --
"Not to buy on Sundays and feast days, or send others to buy; not to work and not to make others work, to give the preference to merchants, workmen, and manufacturers who neither sell nor work on Sundays; to propagate the Association with zeal and perseverance; to endeavor to secure the closing of stores, shops, and manufacturies on Sunday and feast days; not to be contented with a low-mass on Sundays and feast days, but to be present at high-mass and at the services and instructions of the parish; to avoid travel and parties of pleasure which would occupy the larger part of Sunday or great feast day, and to avoid such great efforts at ordering and cleaning as make a notable increase in the duties of the domestics; and to do each month some good works, such as hearing mass on a week-day, communing, reciting, chaplets, offering one''s labor, etc., in atonement for the profanation of Sunday.
The Association publishes a monthly called the Catholic Sunday. Besides their own publications, the Association uses the Sunday publications of the International Federation. One member of the Association asked the Federal for a thousand of their publications. Another member asked for "several hundreds," saying, "They are Protestant in their origin, but essentially Catholic in their meaning." And then the representative of the Federation naively adds, "We are far from denying this, since for us true Protestantism is the Catholicism of the primitive Christians."2 It was the work of this Catholic Association, which stirred up Mr. Seovel of the National Reform Association to recommend that that organization make repeated advances and suffer rebuffs to gain the co-operation of their Roman Catholic fellow-citizens in this country in behalf of the Catholic Sunday and the enforcement of its observance.
In the San Francisco Bulletin of August 14, 1886, there was given the following notice of the European movement: -- "The agitation in Central and Northern Europe in favor of better observance of the Lord''s day is gaining in breadth and depth. In Alsace-Lorraine two petitions in favor of the reform have lately been circulated. The first one, originating in Roman Catholic circles, has already 140.845 names, but many on this monster petition are Protestants. The second petition was started by the Protestant Pastoral Conference at Strasburg, and has now 6,367 subscribers. In Paris the `Society for the Better Observance of Sunday'' recently offered prizes for the best popular discussion in pamphlet form of the Sunday question, the condition being that only working men were to send in their essays. No less than forty-one manuscripts were received, five of which took prizes."
This is the report of but a single province, and from it there may be gathered some idea of the "breadth and depth" of the movement when all the nations before named are considered. During the Paris Exposition of 1889, there was again held an international congress to consider the question of the world''s Sunday observance.
Another thing which is giving the papacy an opportunity constantly to put itself forward both to magnify itself and to exalt Sunday, is the universal labor troubles. When in March, 1890, the emperor of Germany appointed his "International Labor Conference," he not only appointed the Roman Catholic prince bishop of Breslau, as his personal delegate, but sent a personal letter to the pope, asking him to take an interest in the Conference; to "follow with sympathy the progress of the deliberations;" and to lend his "benevolent support to the work." In reply, the pope took particular pains to remind the emperor of "the teaching of the Catholic Church of which we are the head;" to suggest among other subjects for consideration by the Conference the subject of " rest on the Lord''s day;" and to inform his majesty "the successful solution of a matter of this importance will require, besides the wise intervention of the civil authority, the powerful co-operation of religion and the benevolent intervention of the church." Accordingly, the conference made a demand for Sunday observance a part of its platform.
In his Encyclical of May 15, 1891, on "The Condition of Labor," which was evidently written with an eye toward the United States more than any other country, the pope again takes occasion to declare to all the world that --
"No practical solution of this question will ever be found without the assistance of religion and the church. It is we who are the chief guardian of religion, and the chief dispenser of what belongs to the church; and we must not by silence neglect the duty which lies upon us. . . . We affirm without hesitation that all the striving of men will be vain if they leave out the church. It is the church that proclaims from the gospel those teachings by which the conflict can be put an end to, or at least made far less bitter; the church uses its efforts not only to enlighten the mind, but to direct by its precepts the life and conduct of men;. . . and acts on the decided view that for these purposes recourse should be had, in due measure and degree, to the help of the law and of State authority.
"No man may outrage with impunity that human dignity which God himself treats with reverence, nor stand in the way of that higher life which is the preparation for the eternal life of heaven. Nay, more; a man has here no power over himself. To consent to any treatment which is calculated to defeat the end and purpose of his being, is beyond his right: he cannot give up his soul to servitude; for it is not man''s own rights which are here in question, but the rights of God, most sacred and inviolable. From this follows the obligation of the cessation of work and labor on Sundays and certain festivals. This rest from labor is not to be understood as mere idleness; much less must it be an occasion of spending money and of vicious excess, as many would desire it to be; but it should be rest from labor consecrated by religion."
In times of such difficulties as these, it is with peculiar force that the papacy suggests itself to the minds of rulers and statesmen as the source of the greatest help. In times of anarchy and revolution, when the very foundations of States, and even of society itself, seem to be moved, it is almost instinctively that the European statesman grasps the hand of the papacy. The papacy has passed through revolution after revolution, and complete anarchy itself is no terror to her. She saw the fall of the Roman empire. And as that empire was the "mightiest fabric of human greatness" ever seen by man, so its fall was the most fearful ever seen in history. Yet the papacy not only passed through and survived it all, but she gathered new strength from it all.
When Alaric and Genseric -- Goth and Vandal -- poured destruction upon destruction upon the devoted city, the papacy came forth from it with no weakness upon her, and the wrath of the terrible Attila was turned away by the efforts and the personal presence of the pope. When the floods of barbaric rage swept over all Western Europe, spreading destruction, misery, and anarchy for centuries, instead of disturbing the papacy, it was but her opportunity. The papacy thrives on revolutions; the perplexities of States are her fortune; to her, anarchy is better than order, unless she can rule. Therefore, when revolution is imminent, and anarchy threatens, it is almost instinctively that the European statesman grasps the hand of her who has survived the anarchy of the Middle Ages and the revolutions of fifteen centuries.
But all such advances can end in nothing else than the aggrandizement of the papacy, and its re-assertion of power. For as surely as any person or power enters into negotiations with the papacy upon an equal basis, that person or power will be over-reached. Negotiations backed by force may succeed, but not otherwise, and even then only for a time; because, though a pope may be beaten and die, the papacy lives and works. And "it is impossible to deny that the polity of the Church of Rome is the very masterpiece of human wisdom. . . . The experience of twelve hundred eventful years, the ingenuity and patient care of forty generations of statesmen, have improved that polity to such perfection that, among the contrivances which have been devised for deceiving and oppressing mankind, it occupies the highest place." -- Macaulay.3
The labor problem, as well as the Sunday cause, is an element that is urged as demanding the longed-for union of Protestants and Catholics in the United States. In the New York Evangelist, a leading paper of the Presbyterian Church, of February 9, 1888, "Rev." Charles W. Shields D.D., of Princeton, discussing the question of the re-union of Christendom, maintained that it would not do to insist upon the exclusion of a certain doctrine, for the following reasons: --
"You would exclude the Roman Catholic Church, the mother of us all, the church of scholars and saints, such as Augustine, and Aquinas, and Bernard, and Fenelon; the church of all races, ranks, and classes, which already gives signs of becoming American as well as Roman, and the only church fitted, by its hold upon the working masses, to grapple with that labor problem before which our Protestant Christianity stands baffled to-day. You would exclude also the Protestant Episcopal Church, the beautiful daughter of a beautiful mother."4
Nevertheless, the labor troubles are deepening every-where each succeeding year. As these troubles deepen, the influence of the papacy rises; and as the influence of the papacy rises, the enforced observance of Sunday is more generally and more strongly insisted upon.
But of all the elements that may tend to the exaltation and aggrandizement of the papacy, the one that stands preeminent is the movement for religious legislation in the government of the United States; the movement to commit this government to a connection with religion, to the guardianship of religious institutions, and the enforcement of religious observances, and above all, that institution and observance -- the Sunday.
This government is the only one that has ever been on earth, which, by its fundamental principles and its supreme law, has been in harmony with the word of God as it respects earthly government; the only one that was ever pledged to a distinct and positive separation from religion; and therefore the only government since the papacy arose, that was ever fully separated from the principles of the papacy. Against this the papacy and those who held to her principles, have always protested. They have always insisted that it was an experiment that never could be made to succeed. Yet in spite of it all and in the face of the hoary principles of the mother of harlots, this nation in liberty and enlightenment has been the admiration of all nations, and in progress has been the wonder of the world. And the influence which by these things, and above all by its absolutely free exercise of religious right, this government has exerted upon other nations, has surely and steadily weakened the hold of the papal principles upon them, till even Spain, the home of the Inquisition, has been led to grant toleration.
Now if this government of such glorious principles, shall be subverted, and shall be joined to the religion, and put under the feet, of an imperious hierarchy, and its hitherto splendid powers shall be prostituted to the vile uses of religious oppression and persecution, the reactionary influence upon the other nations will be such as to lift the papacy to such a position of prominence and power as it never before possessed: as much greater than that which it possessed in the midnight of the Dark Ages, as the world is larger now than it was then. In short, this reaction would lift the papacy to the place where the prophecy would be fulfilled that, "Power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations." Rev. xiii, 7.
As surely as this thing shall ever be done, so surely will there be universal persecution. The exaltation of the day of the sun has been the greatest ambition of the spirit of the papacy from its earliest manifestation. And any one who will pause and think a little, will clearly see that the only religious thing there is, in the observance of which all nations agree, is THE SUNDAY. They all likewise agree that its observance should be enforced by law. Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Russia, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Italy, Roumania, Scotland, England, the United States, Denmark, Brazil and other South American States, Scandinavia, Australia, and even Japan -- Catholic, heathen, and so-called Protestant alike -- all agree in the exaltation of Sunday to the highest place in human affairs, and in compelling all to observe it. And in all alike, hatred of a Christian''s observance of the Sabbath of the Lord, adds intensity to the zeal for the "sacredness" of Sunday.
But, we repeat, the Sunday is the institution par excellence of the papacy -- that which "the church" sets forth as the sign of her authority. The keeping of Sunday by Protestants "is an homage they pay in spite of themselves to the authority of the Catholic Church;" so says "the church," and Protestants cannot disprove it. And when the nations exalt Sunday and compel its observance, they thereby cause men to honor, obey, and do homage to, the papacy; the "man of sin" is made once more the fountain of authority and the source of doctrine; all men are compelled, under pains and penalties, to recognize it as such, and so, "All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. xiii, 8.
And further saith the Scripture, "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." Dan. vii, 21, 22.
Of course, in the eyes of those who demand such legislation, and even many others, such proceeding would not be considered persecution. It would only be enforcing the law.
But no State has any right either to make or to enforce any such law. Such a law is wrong in itself; the very making of it is wrong. And to obey such a law is wrong. All that any persecution has ever been, was only the enforcement of the law.5
And what would be the result? Precisely what it was before. As surely as the movement to commit the government of the United States to a course of religious legislation, shall succeed, so surely will there be repeated the history of Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries.
First, by hypocrisy, voluntary and enforced, there will be a general depravity, described by inspiration thus: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. . . . But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." 2 Tim. iii, 1-5, 13.
Second, As before, society will grow so utterly corrupt that there will be no remedy, and only ruin can result.6 The principles, the proposals, and the practices of this movement, are identical with those which characterized that church movement in the fourth century. Two things that are so alike in the making, can be no less alike when they are made. And two things that are so alike in every other respect, cannot possibly be any less alike in the final results. The events of the history have occurred in vain, if this is not the lesson which they teach, and the warning which they give.
By that "mystic symbol of legal government," its Great Seal, the government of the United States stands pledged to "A New Order of Things -- Novos Ordo seclorum;" and by this same symbol, it is declared that "God Has Favored the Undertaking." That God has favored the undertaking is certain, and is manifest to all the world.
Thus God has made the New Republic, the exemplar to all the world, of the true governmental principles. To this nation God has committed this sacred trust. How will the nation acquit itself? how will the nation fulfill this divine obligation? Will it maintain the high position which God has given it before all the nations? or shall it be brought down from its high estate, be shorn of its power and its glory, and, bound and fettered, be led a captive in the ruinous triumph of the papacy? Shall the new order of things prevail? or shall the old order be restored?
These are the living questions of the hour. The fate of the nation and of the world, depends upon the answer. The issue out of which the answer must come, even now hangs in the political balance. The answer itself even now trembles upon the tongue of time.
AND WHAT SHALL THE ANSWER BE?
1 [Page 863] Page 691, this book.
2 [Page 866] Christian Statesman, August 31, 1881.
3 [Page 870] Essays, "Von Ranke."
4 [Page 870] See Rev. xvii, 5: "Upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
5 [Page 873] See pages 162-164 of this book.
6 [Page 873] See pages 512-516, 519 of this book.