Overland Monthly / OV218 - Pastor Russell Not a "Socialist"

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OV218 PASTOR RUSSELL NOT A "SOCIALIST"

His Observations on Condition in the Orient Gained on his Recent "Round the World Trip"

BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn and London Tabernacles

ON BEING asked recently for an interview on Socialism, by the representative of a Socialist paper, Dr. Russell, the well known pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York, replied: "But I am not a Socialist; indeed, I am an opponent of Socialism as being impractical at the present time. I am not even a ‘Christian Socialist.’ I hold that Jesus and His Apostles did not teach Socialism or social equality. They taught, ‘Render honor to whom honor is due;’ ‘Love the brethren, honor the king;’ ‘Servants, obey your masters.’ "Even the partial attempt at Communism or Socialism in the early Church, when they ‘had all things common,’ was a mistake. It was not authorized by the teachings of Jesus. It was an expression of the mutual love of the brethren. It was permitted, to illustrate the ideal condition of the future, for which even the saintly are not now prepared.

"I hold that Messiah’s Kingdom must first be established and in control before Socialism will be a blessing or a possibility. Selfishness is so deeply entrenched in the human heart that Socialism in full can be only a theory, an unattainable ideal in the present time. Of course, I do not include combinations of Individualism and Socialism along the lines of railways, telephones, gas and electric supply, schools, etc. In view of these divergences, you surely have come to the wrong man for an interview," said Pastor Russell.

"You are quite wrong, Pastor," replied the newspaperman. "We do know your position quite well, but while we do not take your view of matters, we do recognize you as a man of great honesty and fearlessness. Your reputation in these respects is world-wide.

Socialism not only respects the motto, ‘Live and let live,’ but it has another, ‘Think and let think.’ Socialism is quite strong enough to-day to be fearless. Besides, you do believe in Socialism—that Messiah’s Kingdom will establish later what we now advocate.

"My journal desires your views on social conditions as you observed them on your recent world tour. Your Christian character, your freedom from sectarian bondage, your alertness to all that is transpiring in this, our wonderful day, as well as your moral courage, make your conclusions valuable to us and to all thinkers. Besides, many of our comrades have your books and possibly know more of your views than you might surmise—even if we do not agree with your views regarding Socialism."

"I thank you for your compliment," answered the pastor. "It seems to me that no one should be other than honest—especially a minister of the Gospel of Christ. What items would most interest your readers?"

"We would like to have some word on conditions in India, China, Japan and the Philippine Islands. We know much regarding conditions at home and in Europe, but will not object if you include interesting items of your observations in Christendom also."

OV219 India Seething and Restless.

"Our party spent nearly a month in India," began Pastor Russell. "We had excellent opportunities for getting in touch with its peoples. They are mostly inoffensive, but besotted with superstition. They are just awakening to realize their lack of education.

A fresh appeal for education for the masses has been made to the government this very year. They see that the wealth is in the hands of the whites, and all offices and positions of trust. They charge that they are being exploited to make the British wealthy. Secretly they are angry. If they could get munitions of war, India would be aflame with war against their white rulers. But no one is permitted to have arms of any sort except upon a specially issued license. And, of course, licenses are rarely granted, except to the whites.

"I could see no hope for their getting free from the British even if they could do better for themselves, which I doubt. I addressed whites and natives some sixteen times, exhorting all to seek God in His righteousness and to patiently wait for Messiah’s Kingdom, which God promises will right all the injustices of earth. In Madras I learned of a recent incident which implies that the natives are bitter and premeditating vengeance on the whites: a native woman treated a white woman rudely in a street car.

The white woman reproved the native, and got the reply: ‘We will spit into your white faces before long.’ "China is a most interesting country. Its people are quite intelligent in a civilization of their own, very different from ours. Finally, they are awake to the fact that this is to their disadvantage. The revolution now in progress is not merely a political one—it embraces everything social and religious as well. Noted in the past for their docility, which allowed the Manchus to rule them for centuries (as the British are now ruling India) they are now ablaze with the revolutionary spirit.

"It is to be hoped that the Chinese will be allowed to reorganize their own government.

It is to be feared that they will get five foreign masters instead of the one (Manchus) and less sympathetic.

"China has a trades unionism all her own. No other land under the sun is so completely ruled along these lines, though the workmen of the United States are following closely of late. In China every trade has its guild, with iron-clad rules, to violate which often means death. Even the pirates are thus combined and ruled. If civil war in China ever gets under way, these guilds will make matters terrible indeed. ‘Every man’s hand will be against his neighbor,’ just as the Bible describes.

Uncle Sam as a Civilizer.

"The Filipinos for centuries, degraded with superstitions and ignorance, are now awake. Nowhere has the white man and his civilization done more for his dark-skinned brother than in the Philippines. In the short time since the American occupation following the Spanish war, that people has seen the great light of civilization and is approaching it with rapid strides.

"One thousand American school teachers originally sent there are now supplemented by six thousand native teachers. The Filipinos are not yet fit for full self-government: no more so than a bright boy of twelve years would be fit. However, an American has just cause to feel proud of the noble work of a ‘big brother’ that has been done by our government—along strictly secular lines, without prejudice to any religion.

"Yet the Filipinos are not happy, contented, thankful! Judging our government by others, measuring others by themselves, they selfishly fear for the future. Doubtless, did the opportunity offer, they would be ready to murder their educators and benefactors, for fear of the future, which they distrust.

OV220 The Practical Japanese.

"As a race, the Japanese seem inferior to the Chinese. Yet in some important respects they are superior. They are more practical!

They have great common sense! A little nation of little people suddenly awakened to civilization, they have matched and anticipated the so-called ‘Christian’ nations in their Christian game of War. No wonder if their little heads swelled with pride. The wonder is that they show so great moderation, so little bluster and boastfulness.

"A happy, peaceable, contented, loving people by nature, they are grafting on civilized lust for wealth and feeling the pinch of competition in every direction. Discontent, strikes, etc., are growing. Ere long the happy little brown men will be unhappy and strifeful under the influence of our Western Civilization. During our visit at Tokio their street railway employees went on strike. What was the cause? A conflict between selfishness and justice "It had been announced that the surplus earnings of the railway, over and above a certain dividend on its capital, would be paid over to its employees as a bonus or supplement to their wages. The comparatively few officers took more than half of the bonus and gave over the remainder to the many conductors and motormen to divide among themselves. The selfish injustice was resented by the strike until a more equitable adjustment was arranged.

Secret of the Discontent.

"Knowledge is the mainspring of our present day unrest and discontent—everywhere machinery and science are producing wealth as never before in the world’s history.

The very sight of gold brings the thirst of avarice. Everybody wants to get rich—quick "The Bible tells that God purposes shortly to remove the curse and make the whole world rich with the bounties of Paradise restored. But Christians, with more Bibles than ever, are not Bible students, and do not know of God’s gracious promises to the world—to be ushered in as soon as the elect Church shall have been glorified. Besides, the ‘Higher Critics’ have been busy undermining faith in the Bible for the past fifty years. Hence little faith in its inspiration remains.

"Without a better hope, education merely spurs on the whole world to chase the golden butterfly of wealth. Already the struggle to grasp it is like a football scrimmage in which many are exhausted, some being wounded and others being killed.

"But, alas! The chase for wealth, and angry battling on its account, are only begun, as all may see. The Bible alone foretells its awful severity—that ‘unless those days should be shortened no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened,’ they will be cut short by the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom, God’s ‘elect’ instrumentality for the overthrow of Sin and the establishment of righteous and Messianic Socialism. But up to that time of Divine interference, it will be as the Bible foretells, ‘A time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation’—’nor ever shall be afterward.’ —#Da 12:1; #Mt 24:21.."wealth is good as a servant, but Mammon worship is demonizing. Knowledge is a priceless boon to the heart and head in tune with the Infinite One; but to others it is a doubtful blessing.

"This is the source of the trouble which is becoming more general as the days go by.

Knowledge is reaching hearts and heads that are unwise rather than wicked, that have no knowledge of the Supreme and His purposes and promises. It requires much more grace to do right after one learns how to do wrong successfully. And it is so much more easy to contend and even to fight for Justice than to practice Justice in the little affairs of our own lives.

"In Great Britain we have examples of increased knowledge working trouble.

OV221 The railway servants, dock laborers and coal miners there have awakened to a realization of their importance to Society. They see that without their services the people would freeze or starve to death. They struck for a reasonable living wage. They succeeded, and their success alarmed the upper classes and encouraged themselves.

"The strikes were settled, but the men are still not satisfied. They are faring better than did their fathers in the same grades of labor, but they know of the change that has come to the world, through increased wealth. They declare that they will strike again, and do so without warning. Having no faith in Messiah’s coming Kingdom, they say: ‘If we submit we will be ground down into the mire; and our children’s children would become serfs, slaves or worse.’ "Conditions are similar in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Russia and here at home. Civilization is sleeping beside a great volcano which gives every evidence that it will speedily be in eruption.

"The terror of that hour none can appreciate except from the standpoint of God’s Word!

The Bible pictures the strife at hand as demonical. Human sympathy will be swallowed up by human passion; selfish passion will burn, because the hoped-for easy victory will not come!

"To-day Capital and Labor are each serene, because each believes that it possesses the power to bring the other to its senses—to put upon the other a final quietus. Some trust in the ballot, others in the power of money to suspend business and let the people starve into submission. Others trust in their power to stop coal, and transportation of food, etc., until starvation settles the question for all time.

"Each miscalculates the resources of the other. All together they will be disappointed—only anarchy and terrible trouble will result, until Christ’s Kingdom shall settle the strife—and thus ‘The desire of all nations shall come.’"

A LITTLE WHILE

A LITTLE while, our warfare shall be over; A little while, our tears be wiped away; A little while, the power of Jehovah Shall turn our darkness into gladsome day.

A little while, the fears that oft surround us Shall to the memories of the past belong; A little while, the love that sought and found us Shall change our weeping into Heaven’s glad song.

A little while! ‘Tis ever drawing nearer—The brighter dawning of that glorious day.

Blest Savior, make our spirit’s vision clearer, And guide, O guide us in the shining way A little while, O blessed expectation!

For strength to run with patience, Lord, we cry; Our hearts up-leap in fond anticipation; Our union with the Bridegroom draweth nigh.