Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
PEACE DESIRED, WAR NECESSARY
[Washington, May 25, 1913]
"He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth....Be still and know that I am God."
No one could be more averse to war, on general principles, than myself. I am an extremist in my sentiment for peace. Yet I cannot close my eyes to the facts of history—that practically every blessing has come to the world through war, at the cost of cruel bloodshed. Where would America be today had there been no War of Independence?
Where would the nations of Europe be today if they had not fought to maintain their national liberties?
Where would a refusal to fight land every nation in less than a year?
There is no conflict between this particular and common-sense view of the matter and the teachings of our Savior. Our Master was not addressing nations, but individuals, when He directed that he who is smitten on the one cheek should turn the other, and be non-resistant.
The instructions of Jesus were wholly and solely intended for His disciples, His followers. And they were instructed that they should come out from the world and be separate—a new nation, a holy nation. They were to expect to suffer persecution, even as did their Teacher. They had His personal promise that if they would thus suffer with Him for righteousness’ sake, their reward would be by and by in the Kingdom—then they should sit with Him in His Throne.—
Jesus gave His followers no assurance that a peace policy would be successful and bring them earthly prosperity.
Quite to the contrary, the Scriptures declare that whosoever will live godly shall suffer persecution—yes, must expect to endure persecution, in order to thereby have his loyalty to God demonstrated prior to his acceptance
to the Throne of his Redeemer. "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."—
THE BEATITUDES NOT FOR NATIONS
When Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God," He was not addressing nations, but individuals—a special class of individuals—those who would become His disciples by a full renouncement of all earthly interests. The Redeemer’s declaration respecting nations was the very reverse of His statement respecting His followers. He declared, "Nation shall rise against nation," and there shall be wars.—
I fear that I shall be misunderstood; but there is so much confusion upon the subject that the Truth needs to be stated plainly. And I know of no place more appropriate for its statement than in this capital of the most peace-loving nation on earth—next to China.
The truth is that war is not the disease, but merely a symptom of the disease in the body politic and in the affairs of earth. So long as the disease continues, its outward manifestation, war, is bound to continue. Need I say to you that the disease to which I refer is sin? Sin and war are inseparable. There would be only two ways of inhibiting war:
(1) By converting the world of nations from a condition of hardness of heart, selfishness, sin, to a condition of righteousness, tenderness of heart, generosity; or,
(2) By the establishment of a government or power not swayed by sin, to supervise, overrule and control the affairs of the sinners by superior strength. Is this proposition debatable? It is not. Its basic facts are as sure as mathematics, as certain as that two and two make four.
Various scriptures may be cited corroborating this position, and showing that sin, selfishness, is continually on the warpath, either politically, socially or financially.
The battle has been going on ever since man became a sinner. At one time this selfishness manifested itself in buccaneering, piracy, slavery. At another time policy changed and the leaders of men perceived that they could accomplish more by milder methods, along the lines of politics and ecclesiasticism. Again conditions changed; and the wise perceived that with the coming of mechanical inventions into the world’s affairs human slavery would be unprofitable, and that more could be accomplished with less responsibility by setting the slaves free, and making them work for their own living in competition with machinery. This course was followed.
Next came the era of financial combination, giant trusts and corporations controlling the destinies of the human family, from peasant to king. But with all these changes, war has gone on. It has merely changed its form, merely changed its weapons, merely changed its methods. The basis of all these wars is selfishness; and so long as selfishness continues, war will continue. Success will mean prosperity. Failure will mean oppression.
VARIOUS KINDS OF WAR
You see that I am not limiting warfare to naval engagements, nor to battles fought with guns and swords and charging steeds. I am including in the great warfare all the social, political and financial disturbances and conflicts. They are all battles in which the shrewder minds, as a rule, conquer. And now instead of earth’s war being ended, we see new conflicts begun from new quarters.
having organized, is developing strength more and more each day. It is professedly training for a great conflict or battle. The battle is on; and it already has won some victories, and declares that its warfare against oppressors of every kind is only commencing.
The dull and stupid and ignorant of a century ago, by free schools and educational advantages, have become keen-eyed and keen-witted, and alert to grasp every possible
advantage. Moreover, for a quarter of a century our great colleges have been undermining faith in the inspiration of the Bible, and their influence has extended finally to the masses. These are now declaring their doubts respecting a future life, and their determination that they will grasp at the earliest possible moment the opportunities of the present life, that they may share in the luxuries of the rich and make them common to all. If their program be half carried out, it means the most dreadful war ever known in the world’s history. The Bible describes it as "a Time of Trouble such as never was since there was a nation."—
Since the spirit of war is the spirit of selfishness in action, it corroborates the thought that the world was never more strifeful than at present, never more on the alert for self-gratification; and although we have blessings beyond the dreams of any other day, discontent is more general than ever before and is goading mankind with increasing speed to the greatest of all conflicts.
So long as money has its value and political combinations can hold control, the social structure will remain intact and exercise itself, nation against nation, through fleets and armies. But as soon as the political and financial powers begin to crumble, the warfare will become anarchy, which the Scriptures describe as "every man’s hand against his neighbor."
WHAT IS THE REMEDY?
The leading minds of the world clearly recognize the matter as I have presented it. Only a smile of sympathetic pity greets the proposal of well-intentioned peace men, such as Andrew Carnegie. Not generally have inheritance taxes and income taxes been legalized by those who will suffer by their requirements. Not of good-will, but of necessity, have come many of the reforms of our day. They are concessions wisely made. They will doubtless be followed by still greater concessions, which
also will be wise; yet all the concessions that can be made will not satisfy the appetite of the growing discontent.
Each concession of the favored classes to the masses is like throwing food to a pursuing pack of hungry wolves.
They stop to devour the advantage, but have their appetites thereby whetted for more.
Man’s only remedy is now too late. A complete turning of the hearts of men to God was much more nearly possible fifty years ago, when there was greater faith in the Bible, greater faith in an Almighty Creator. The Higher Critics have done their work well, destroying faith in the only Book for which Divine inspiration can be claimed. Education has done its part and commercialism its part, until the world is on fire with selfish ambition—desire for riches and luxuries—being desirous of obtaining them without cost to themselves.
THE CHRISTIAN’S GLORIOUS HOPE
The picture I am painting you, dear friends, would only harrow you and not be worth while, had I not a good Message of encouragement to give in offset. I will proceed to explain that God has foreknown the course of evil for the Six Great Days of earth’s history—six thousand years—and has prepared for the Great Seventh Day, which will also be a thousand years long. God describes it as the Day, or Epoch, in which Messiah upon the Throne will make all things new.
Many Scriptures may be quoted respecting the evidences of the night of sorrow and sin and strife, and the dawning of the new Day, in which righteousness will be enforced throughout the earth, not only by the word of the King, but by the Divine Power of His Kingdom. The words of the Prophets describing Messiah’s Kingdom as the "desire of all nations" give us the correct thought.
Other Scriptures show that the Time of Trouble now looming up as a cloud before mankind will be such a terrible storm of strife, bloodshed, trouble, that the world
will have its fill and be nauseated. Thenceforth, under the guidance of the new administration of Messiah, the spirit of a sound mind will gradually come to mankind as a whole; and proportionately they will turn to Messiah’s Kingdom in loyal obedience, declaring, as says the Prophet, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us." (
.) Rich and poor of every nation will gradually be made aware of the changed conditions, and all lovers of righteousness will rejoice.
So, then, dear friends, let us not be discouraged if the wars between nations continue or increase, if the strife—political, social, religious and financial—shall rage as never before. Let us think it not strange, but remember that all these are the motions and out-workings of the fallen human heart. The Bible intimates that God is about to give mankind an object lesson respecting the influence of selfishness—a lesson which they will never forget, and which will prove valuable to all eternity.
"BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS"
What we have said should in no way encourage anybody toward selfishness and strife, but to the contrary.
For those who can learn by instruction God’s Word is provided. He who closely follows the instruction of the Scriptures will receive a proportionate blessing. While the Bible is specially addressed to the few, the consecrated, who are the real peacemakers meant by Jesus when He declared, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God," nevertheless in proportion as others recognize the right principle—the principle of justice and mercy, sympathy and compassion—they will proportionately be in harmony with the great King, and proportionately shield themselves from a measure of the trouble of the great Day of Wrath, which is rapidly approaching.
We have only kind words for Mr. Carnegie and his fellows of the Peace Society. We merely forewarn that
their well-meant plans can never carry out; for God is not favorable for peace at the present time and under present conditions. "There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked."—
includes broadly the entire human family; for "there is none righteous, no, not one."
Only a comparatively small number have ceased to be wicked, from the Scriptural standpoint. The only ones justified in God’s sight are those who have gone the full length of the surrender of their hearts to the Redeemer.
These the Scriptures declare have escaped the condemnation that is on the world. These were once "children of wrath," even as all the others are children of wrath.
But alas, the number who have come fully into the family of God is indeed small! Not many have made a full surrender to the Lord. Not many have received Jesus as not only their Teacher but their Redeemer and Exemplar.
The majority, as the Apostle said, are still bound by the Wicked One—still blinded, still deaf in considerable measure, and cannot see afar off, nor appreciate fully the Divine arrangement.
These will have a terrible experience in the approaching Time of Trouble, because they will not understand how and why the Omnipotent Jehovah will allow the storm of human passion and strife to work such terrible havoc in the world—even as they do not understand why the same gracious Creator has permitted the storms and floods, earthquakes, pestilences and famines. The full and satisfactory understanding of these matters is designed to be granted by the Lord only to His faithful few—the disciples of Jesus. Of these He declares, "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence Him; and He will show them His Covenant."—
We are not advocating the cause of any particular Christian denomination or earthly Church. From our viewpoint there is but one Church, which includes all recognized by the Lord as His people. We consider all
such as brethren—whether Catholic or Protestant, black or white, old or young, male or female.
It should not be difficult to discern that the words of Jesus respecting the offering of the other cheek to the smiter could not be applicable to the world, even in a figurative way. Such counsel would be utterly impossible for a natural man to understand. God’s saintliest people have found great difficulty in observing this rule, even when its literalness is ignored and its spirit accepted as His teaching. All such we earnestly exhort to "follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord"—in the sense that none but such will experience the glorious change of the First Resurrection, and be made like the Master—of the spirit nature—and see Him "as He is"—in His glorious spirit condition.
The world will never see Him thus. As the Master declared, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more."—
The Lord’s followers, like Himself, are to be peculiar, and separate and distinct from the world—a New Creation.
They are to be so devoted to the teachings of their Master and so filled with His spirit of love for each other and for all mankind that they would suffer evil and injustice rather than do injury to others. Our Lord Himself was always peaceably disposed and a peacemaker as respects others; and so all of His followers are to be.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
I am waiting, hoping, praying For Messiah’s glorious reign, For I know He’ll rule in justice; Right and truth will triumph then.
Worldly pleasures cannot win me, While I wait for that bright day; Worldly splendor cannot charm me, While its light beams on my way.