BY PASTOR C. T. RUSSELL
Written April 1911, for the Columns of the Overland Monthly THE CHINESE Empire, somnambulistic for centuries, is rubbing its eyes and getting truly wide awake. One of the most pronounced evidences of this awakening is the proposition to introduce the English language through the use of American school books and teachers. Another evidence is in the unifying of the empire the more through drawing together various great sections which heretofore have had too great independence for the national welfare. The third, and really one of the most important evidences of moral awakening, is the stand that is being made for temperance. The intemperance, the intoxication which for a long time has been wrecking the Chinese is the use of opium. The Chinese are realizing that their whole national life and manhood is being undermined by the pestilential influence of this narcotic. They have gotten to the place of enacting laws against the manufacture of opium and against its cultivation in the poppy flower. More than this, they are praying about the matter. They are not praying to their gods, which they realize are unable to assist them; they are not praying to the God of the Christians and Jews, for they know little or nothing about him, except that they are told that he has a great fiery furnace into which their beloved ancestors have been thrown to suffer an eternal torture, and they, of course, would not think of importuning such a heartless god for relief from the opium evil.
Chinese Petitions Go to Great Britain.
The Chinese feel that they are themselves responsible for what opium is produced in their own land, and they are willing to take the responsibility for this and have made laws for its restraint. What they are praying about is, the opium imports which last year amounted to five million pounds of the horrible, soul-blighting stuff. A monster petition has been gotten up setting forth the evils of opium and how it is cursing their land and their people. This petition, signed by over two hundred thousand Chinese, forwarded to Great Britain, asking for aid, for relief, it is hoped may bring relief. But who is Great Britain that this prayer of the Chinese on their own behalf, and as they say in the petition on behalf of the four hundred millions of their nation? Why should the petition, the prayer of these people, be addressed to Great Britain? What do they know about Great Britain? Ah! they have missionaries who have brought them Bibles from the British and Foreign Missionary Societies. They have learned that Great Britain is one of the mightiest nations of earth. They have heard of her churches and their splendid choirs and their robed ministers and bishops and the House of Lords of which these bishops form a part, and the great British King who is the head of the Church as well as the Nation. They have heard that his kingdom is the kingdom of Messiah—that Messiah
OV141 the Son of God appeared on earth nearly nineteen centuries ago and established His kingdom, and that His kingdom to-day is represented by such nations as Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, etc. These kingdoms of Messiah, they are told, have reached a very high degree of development in their home lands, and are commissioned to conquer the Chinese and all other heathens, and to make them part of Messiah’s Kingdom. The poor Chinese are perplexed.
They have devil gods of their own, but they try to rid themselves of these. Our ordinary fire-crackers are manufactured by them for home consumption for the very purpose of driving out evil spirits; but the god of these Christians, they cannot understand Him. According to the missionary, God holds out eternal torture or eternal life, and He has great Kingdoms on earth which represent His Government.
These Kingdoms have manufactured most wonderful ships of steel, armed with cannon great and small which in a single discharge hurl tons of metal for miles for the destruction of life and property. They have seen these ships in their own ports, these ships which represent Messiah’s Kingdom. They have heard their sailors, as representatives of that Kingdom, swear most blasphemous oaths. Their ambassadors afar have told them of the mighty power of these nations, and that sometimes one section of Messiah’s Kingdom goes to war with another section of it, at a cost of millions of money and thousands of lives. Is it any wonder that the poor Chinese are confused and find it difficult to understand much about the Christians’ God? And that Messiah’s Kingdom is divided into quarreling portions—divided against itself? It is no wonder!
The Opium War and Treaty.
But it is not merely because Great Britain has more ships and more powerful guns than has any other section of Messiah’s Kingdom that the Chinese are making their prayer to Great Britain that the importation of opium may be stopped, and that their people may be spared from the awful consequences of this intoxicant. Rather they petition Great Britain because a little more than a half a century ago, when they desired to regulate the opium traffic and to keep the trade in their own hands, the British branch of Messiah’s Kingdom made war upon them, seized one of their principal ports and hold it yet, and at the muzzles of great guns compelled the somnambulistic Chinese to enter into a treaty by which the British would have the right to bring into China for sale to the natives as much opium as they desired. It is relief from this treaty contract under which five million pounds of opium per year are introduced into their land that the Chinese pray to be relieved. Fifty odd years ago they made a similar prayer to the grandmother of the present king, Queen Victoria the Good, when she was head of the Church and Kingdom, and principal representative of Messiah in the earth; but, through her, Messiah’s Government refused the cry. The Chinese are hoping that Messiah’s Government may be somewhat more lenient now through its present representative, King George, and hence the prayer of the four-hundred millions of China to him.
The Root of All Evil.
But what religious or philanthropic motive did Great Britain (Messiah’s chief representative empire) seek to promote, when it forced the opium treaty upon China? Ah, it is needless to tell the story. It was money—the love of money, which lay at the foundation of that gross injustice which has done a hundred-fold more harm to the Chinese than all the Christian missionaries have done them good. But does the British Government deal in opium? Surely not. The British Government is interested merely in the peace and welfare of China and the whole world. It is a philanthropic
OV142 Government surely. It builds its great Dreadnaughts for the very purpose of blessing mankind, does it not? Alas, things are not always as they seem. It is a beautiful theory that all the armies and navies are sustained simply and solely for the preservation of the world’s peace. In reality they are built and maintained that the owners may hold to themselves special rights and privileges and opportunities for wealth which they fear to lose to others. The secret of British interest in opium is British interest in India, from which the five million pounds of opium annually come, and which bring to India millions of pounds sterling, the life blood of the Chinese. But why is Great Britain interested in India? Is this another of her philanthropies? We cannot dispute that with the British sway in India has come a certain amount of good Government which has brought a certain amount of blessing. But neither can it be disputed that the British rule in India is not purely a philanthropic affair, but a selfish one, and that it has carried with it much misery to millions of lovers of opium among the lower classes of India as well as of China.
India has been exploited for the benefit of the wealthy Britons. The Government there established has not had for its chief aim philanthropy, but the protection of British interests, British investments. True, the British have not been outwardly unjust in their treatment of the natives of India, as have some other branches of (so-called) Messiah’s Kingdom been toward other heathen peoples, not so barbarous, for instance, as was the late Belgian king toward his subjects in the Congo district of Africa. He, as a representative of Messiah’s Kingdom, it has been proven, caused the poor natives to be maimed and frequently put to death for lack of proper diligence in bringing in crude rubber from the forests wherewith to augment the millions of money in the king’s treasury. Much more moderately, much more wisely, much more humanely, have the British representatives of Messiah’s Kingdom dealt with the poor heathen of India. Indeed, it was to provide them an income, so that they in turn might make rich their protectors and rulers in far-off Britain that India’s opium was forced upon the Chinese, and is still being forced upon them.
Why no Chinese Resistance?
Why do not the Chinese refuse to permit the landing of opium at their ports?
Because the British would claim that this was a violation of the treaty. And why not violate the treaty and make a new one, or do without a treaty altogether—as other great powers would do? Because, as the Chinese well know, the British fleet would be gathered to their harbors, and the guns of this representative of Messiah’s Kingdom of peace on earth and good-will toward men would blow millions of the poor Chinese into eternity and destroy all of their coast cities in revenge for the breaking of the treaty. But why do not the Chinese appeal to other notable divisions of Messiah’s Kingdom? To Germany, to Austria-Hungary, to France, etc.
Why do they not tell these of their troubles and ask them to use their persuasive powers and great guns to compel the British to do them justice and grant them liberty? Ah! the answer is, that all these departments of Messiah’s Kingdom have similar records or worse, each according to its size and opportunity. And those which have not already seized some of the heathen people to suck their life blood in the shape of trade are only awaiting favorable opportunities. Indeed, of all these so-called branches of Messiah’s Kingdom, the British division is perhaps one of the most gracious and considerate.
What Must the Chinese Do?
The Chinese must wait for the true Kingdom of God, the true Kingdom of Messiah, of which they know nothing
OV143 as yet, of which the missionaries have not told them because the missionaries themselves are confused on the subject also. The hope of the Chinese and the hope of the whole world waits for the fulfillment of the great divine promise made to Abraham: "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Three thousand years have passed since that promise was made, and yet it is the only hope of the world, and it has not yet had fulfillment. —#Ga 3:29.
Thank God that a start has been made toward the fulfillment of that great promise. Thank God, a redeemer appeared amongst man whose sacrificed life is a sufficiency for the satisfaction of justice on behalf of the sins of the whole world, having passed under condemnation through one man’s disobedience may surely be released from condemnation through the sacrificed obedience of "the Man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." But this sacrifice of Jesus was accomplished nearly nineteen centuries ago, says one. Where are the blessings which were to follow? Why have not all the families of the earth been blessed?
We reply that, following the resurrection and exaltation of the Redeemer centuries ago, there have come to mankind, flowing through his words and teachings, an increase of light and blessing, civilizing and humanizing in its influence. But aside from this, his words have been received here and there into the hearts of some of these who have been transformed by the renewing of their minds, and begotten again by the Holy Spirit, and Scripturally styled "new creatures in Christ Jesus."
The class as a whole, as foretold, is but a "little flock." The first members gathered were Jews, but during the centuries here and there, the fore-ordained number has been in process of completion, its members all saints being gathered from every nation under heaven. Shortly, very shortly, we believe—this fore-ordained number will be completed, and will experience a resurrection similar to that experienced by our Redeemer. Thenceforth they will be like Him and with Him on the spirit plane of existence—"far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named." That resurrection of glory will mark a great change in earth’s affairs.
That spiritual class of saintly ones, from Jews and Gentiles, will represent Jehovah’s blessing through Abraham’s seed. Forthwith these, as the Messiah, head and members will be established in power and great glory. The dominion of earth will be given into the hands of this great Messiah, as per the second Psalm. The great time of trouble immediately following the transfer of earth’s dominion will bless the world by the overthrow of all the injustice of the present time and by the establishment of righteousness upon a permanent basis backed by divine power.
The Scriptures declare that Messiah’s Kingdom will cause all oppression to cease.
Every good impulse will be cultivated, and every noble desire will be assisted, and a great resurrection or uplifting of the race will ensue. Oppressors and oppression will be overthrown, and the blind eyes of those who do evil and think that they do good will be opened. The prayer of the Chinese and of all others oppressed will be heard and be answered by the true Kingdom of Messiah. Mammon no longer will reign, but will be dethroned suddenly and permanently. Instead of present ignorance, superstition, pride, ambition and selfishness will be reared the glorious dominion of righteousness. Israel, long outcast from Divine favor, will, according to the Scriptures, be the first people ready to enter into and co-operate with the Messianic Government. Consequently they will be the first to be blessed by it, but not the last; for through them the natural seed of Abraham, will proceed the blessing from the spiritual seed to every nation, people, kindred and tongue.—#Ga 3:29.