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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
REV. DR. GORDON'S WAR VIEWS
THE Toronto Globe publishes the following
stirring article from the pen of Rev.
Charles W. Gordon, D.D., widely known
under the pen-name of Ralph Connor. Rev.
Gordon, as Chaplain of the Forty-third
Battalion Cameron Highlanders, has returned
to Canada, bringing back his
wounded brother, Lieutenant A. R. Gordon.
His article in the Globe follows:
BRITAIN SEES SPECTRE OF DEFEAT
"Every one has been dutifully saying that this war is
a serious business, but no man living, not even Kitchener
himself, knew till three months ago just how serious
it was. Kitchener knows now. Asquith knows. Lloyd-George
knows. Bonar Law knows. The labor leaders
of Britain and the labor unions know just how serious,
how deadly serious, this war is. And on London streets
and in London offices, in the drawing-rooms and at
"week-ends," men are asking each other in whispers,
questions they would not dare to ask aloud, and are
getting answers that sometimes give a queer feeling at
their British hearts.
"A serious business indeed is this war. The issue
of it the cheerful and irresponsible Optimist, with his
eye on the past, when wars were waged by men and not
by machines, and when valor, not explosives, won fights,
declares to be assured--only one issue is possible--victory
to our arms. A pleasant man this Cheerful Optimist,
till you notice that his eye is upon the back trail
or in the clouds. When you know him, you damn him
for being a misleading fool. Every man in the Empire
that ought to be listened to sees no hope of victory, absolutely
none, and little hope of a drawn battle, unless
conditions be changed, so as to be utterly different from
those under which the war has been hitherto waged.
"The first impression one got on reaching London,
about two months ago, was that the traditional British
cocksureness had been shattered and had been replaced
by a paralyzing sense of uncertainty. You caught it
everywhere; on the streets, in the hotels, at dinners, in
the House of Commons and in the press--even in the
press! It was not so much what people said, but what
they refused to say. It was the determined and obvious
effort to be cheerful that depressed and disturbed one.
Everybody was saying to his neighbor, 'Cheer up, things
"BLAMES WAR OFFICE FOR STATE OF THINGS
"But everybody, when by himself, refused to cheer
up. He was mostly engaged during those lonely moments
in blaming in his own particular way, something or
somebody, and not the Germans either, but very largely
those in the War Office.
"What was wrong? The fact was simply this: That
the British people were standing and looking with newly-opened
eyes at the spectre of Defeat looming up through
the channel mists; a spectre unlike the traditions of our
dreams, sleeping or waking, in that it refused to disappear,
and wore a shiny helmet. That spectre, unless conditions
were changed, could not be laid, but would take
on a reality of hideousness and permanency for their
children to contemplate for successive generations. There
are people doubtless reading this line who pause to say
'Rot.' But the British people are not saying 'Rot' any
more, and did not say 'Rot' when their eyes were opened
some two months and a half ago. Then the British
people sat up broad awake, and with that superb cool
courage that faces men up to unpleasant and terrible
facts, looked the situation in the eye and began forthwith
to change things.
"ASQUITH MET THINGS IN CHARACTERISTIC WAY
"The Government showed the way. With that fine
power of sacrifice which is the characteristic of the
British statesman Asquith met the crisis, for crisis it was.
It was a bitter, hard day for the Premier, the bitterest
and hardest day of his whole career, but he was equal
to the demand made upon his patriotism. A coalition
government was formed. Then the housecleaning began.
Among other things the War Office was reorganized. A
new department was created with Lloyd-George, that
wonderful, great, little man at its head. Up to this time
the call had been for men, men, and more men. Now to
the nation's ears came a new cry: 'Munitions, munitions
and more munitions.' That 'wonder-working little Welshman'
was onto his job.
"One question still remains to be answered: 'What
is to be the issue of this serious war?' The answer is
plain, so plain that even the erstwhile Cheerful Optimist
can see it. And the answer is this: If the change in
conditions so splendidly initiated be not continued, and
with ever-increasing acceleration, the issue is, DEFEAT.
"APPEAL FOR MUNITIONS
"What then is the immediate duty of Canadians? To
raise large sums of money? Not so much. Old John
[R5765 : page 276] Bull may be safely trusted to look after the financing
of this war. But for Canada two things lie in her hand.
Listen to the insistent iteration of Lloyd-George:
'Munitions and machine guns, munitions and machine
guns!' Let every Canadian wheel that can turn on a
shell be set a-going. Let every Canadian workman and
workwoman that can get to a munition factory or gun
factory get there and with all speed. Shells and more
shells! Machine guns and more machine guns!
"Where British soldiers have two machine guns Germans
have forty. Shells spent with prodigality--even
wasted--mean battalions saved. We have tried fighting
machine guns with men, and have learned our bitter
lesson. Canadian shells and Canadian machine guns
mean the saving of Canadian men. Seriously, soberly,
solemnly let it be said, that unless the Empire can furnish
in overwhelming quantities munitions of war, and in
overwhelming numbers men of war, the bitterness and
humiliation of defeat will be our portion, and the shame
and slavery of an infamous and tyrannous militarism will
be the portion of our children."
SORRY PLIGHT OF THE CLERGY
Ministers of the nominal churches are finding themselves
in a tight place. They are expected to be faithful
to their country, right or wrong. They are expected to
preach the War as the will of God and the going to war
as a meritorious matter that will have Divine reward
and blessing. They must encourage recruiting, in obedience
to the commands of their earthly king, and in violation
of the commands of the Heavenly King, who has
directed them to be peacemakers, and to follow peace
with all men and to do no murder, either under legal
sanction or otherwise.
WHEN THE MISTAKE WAS MADE
Long centuries ago a wrong step was taken by the
bishops of the Church in claiming that they were
Apostolic Bishops--with apostolic powers, the same as
the original Twelve. Later these self-styled "Apostolic
Bishops" (Revelation 2:2) concluded that the people
need not have the Bible, and that they could simplify
matters for the masses by giving them the creeds. They
made their first creed in A.D. 325, and afterwards they
continued to make "worse and more of it," until the
Sixteenth Century. Meantime the Bible was tabooed. At
one time it was almost a sure sign of heresy to be found
reading the Bible; for this implied that the reader was
not fully satisfied with the creeds which the "Apostolic
Bishops" had made for the world. It was during this
time that the horrible doctrines of the Dark Ages were
introduced by our great Adversary.
Then came a change, when the people began to demand
the Bible and to doubt the infallibility of the
"Apostolic Bishops" and their creeds. Early editions of
the Bible were burned publicly, by both Protestant
bishops and Catholic bishops, until the Bible triumphed
and became too thoroughly entrenched in the minds of
the people for this. The period of darkness lasted over
twelve hundred years, the Lamp of God's Word being
absent. Then came various attempts at Bible Study, all
more or less handicapped by the insistence of the bishops
that the Bible must be interpreted by the creeds they had
made. Nor are many out of the darkness yet. We all
feel like saying, with Cardinal Newman:
"Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark and I am far from Home,
Lead Thou me on!"
Only within the past forty years are Bible students
really ignoring all creeds and going straight to the Bible
itself for the light of Divine Truth; and correspondingly
their blessing is increasing. The present great war, as
everybody knows, has been held back for forty years.
The Lord's object in holding it back in the past has
been to favor Bible study. Thus we read: "I saw four
angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding
the four winds of the earth...and another angel...
cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was
given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the
earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed
the servants of God in their foreheads."--Rev. 7:1-3.
It was during that long period of darkness, when the
Lamp of Truth was hidden from the people, that the
"Apostolic Bishops" exalted themselves and separated
from the remainder of the Church--calling themselves
the Church, the Hierarchy, the Clergy, and denominating
the masses the Laity, contrary to the Master's words,
"All ye are brethren," and to St. Peter's words to the
whole Church, "Ye are a Royal Priesthood."
The clergy, having exalted themselves, took another
step, claiming power as well as authority. The claim
went forth that the time had come for the Church to
reign. Accordingly, a chief bishop was named Pontiff,
or Pope, and he and all of his successors were decreed to
be Christ's vicegerents--reigning over the kingdoms of
the world as Christ's representatives. As such, they
commissioned the various kings to rule their people in
Christ's name, thus identifying the various governments
of the world with the Church and making a combined
reign, spiritual and temporal--two parts of God's Empire
on earth, they claimed.
For centuries the Popes had such power that kings
dared not dissent, but found it to their advantage to uphold
the claim of Papacy, submitting everything to Papal
direction. A king might not divorce a wife and marry
another without a special dispensation from the Pope.
The Pope did not respond quickly enough to the wishes
of King Henry VIII. of England in respect to approval
of his marriage to his second wife. Then the king broke
off relations with the Papacy and started a church of
his own--himself the head--authorizing and sanctioning
his bishops, and giving them places in the House of
Lords; they authorizing and sanctioning him, in return,
as the head of the Church of England. Luther did a
similar work for German kings and princes, for the
Swedish, Danish, Finnish, etc. The Greek Catholics,
also dissenting from the Papacy, sanctioned the Russian
Thus we have the fact that present governments of
Europe have been told by the religious systems that they
are God's kingdoms--sanctioned by the Almighty through
His earthly representatives--in some cases the Papacy;
in some, Lutheranism; in some, the Church of England;
in some, the Greek Church.
WHAT A TERRIBLE MUDDLE!
"But," we are told, "that is ancient history. No
educated people believe those things now!" We agree
to this. We doubt if King George really thinks of himself
as the head of Christ's Church on earth and the
Divinely-appointed Defender of the Faith. We doubt if
Kaiser Wilhelm seriously thinks that he is God's special
representative to Lutherans. We doubt if the Czar takes
seriously his claimed relationship to Messiah's Kingdom.
We doubt if Francis Joseph of Hungary takes seriously
the thought that he is the representative of Christ's Kingdom
[R5765 : page 277] under Papal appointment. Nevertheless the theory is
there. It is in the mind of the people.
The preachers of all denominations, in tacitly accepting
these conditions and not reproving them and not
denying them, have in fact approved them; and they have
not told the people that a great mistake was made--that
Christ's Kingdom has never been established in the earth,
but that it is the next thing in order to be expected.
Hence the people are in perplexity. German Christians
are fighting as a part of Christ's Kingdom against Russian
Christians as a part of Christ's Kingdom and against
British Christians as a part of Christ's Kingdom. What
a terrible muddle! And who is responsible, if the preachers
are not, for such ignorance, blindness, superstition?
Meantime, God's Kingdom is coming, just as the
Bible has foretold. The great Time of Trouble is about
to inaugurate the new Reign--Messiah's Reign of Righteousness.
But is not this latter coming as a thief and
as a snare upon the whole world? Is it not true that as
the Apostle foretold, only "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness,
that that Day should overtake you as a thief"?
Meantime also, are not the preachers of the world,
Catholic and Protestant, in a terrible plight? Their
forefathers told humanity that the present governments
are Christ's Kingdoms. These learned men, knowing
well the fallacy of that teaching, have not corrected it.
Now they are in the position of hypocrites. These earthly
kingdoms call upon them to raise the money and the
troops to defend what they have told the people is
Christ's Kingdom. But the Word of God calls upon them
to be peacemakers instead, and to so teach the people.
The people themselves are perplexed. But we may be
sure that when they come to their senses--and they soon
will, in the terrible trouble coming--they will not only
feel incensed against the earthly princes who got them
into the war, but they will doubtless also feel incensed
against the spiritual princes who deceived them into
thinking that they were fighting for Messiah's Kingdom
--when in point of fact, they are opposing it.
The spirit of war and contention seems to be in the
very air that we breathe. The attitude of all Christian
people, and especially of all Bible students, should be
that of peacemakers, in the home, in the shop, in the
store. Let us keep our own heads cool, and thus be
able to assist others to think and act coolly, calmly, in
accord with the Lord's Word. Everything akin to wrath,
anger, evil-speaking and bitterness should, as the Apostle
[R5766 : page 277] says, be put far away from us who seek to be followers
of the Lamb. These same principles apply in very
marked degree to our relationship with brethren in the
Church of Christ. With the brethren, especially, we
should be very long-suffering and willing to surrender
our preferences in the interests of peace, particularly
where no vital principles are involved.
RESULTS OF ONE YEAR OF WAR
In the New York American (August 2nd) B. C.
Forbes summarizes the effects of the present European
War as follows:
"Look on these two pictures--what one year of war
has done for Europe and what one year of peace has
done for the United States:
"One year of war has cost Europe 2,600,000 of her
best human stock, has maimed over 5,000,000 more and
has entailed over 10,000,000 casualties among the men in
the field--the 'casualties' among homes are beyond computation.
"One year of war has added $18,900,000,000 to national
debts, actually, though not admittedly, bankrupting
"One year of war has paralyzed Europe's trade and
turned some twenty millions of productive workers into
twenty millions of destructive workers, while the greater
part of each warring population is engaged in catering
directly or indirectly to the war gods--devils, rather.
"One year of war has laid waste vast territories of
Europe and ruined and rendered homeless perhaps fifty
million human beings, to say nothing of the destruction
of much of the world's most hallowed architecture.
"One year of war, in short, has prostrated and bankrupted
"One year of domestic peace amid the horrors of
Europe's war has raised the United States to the forefront
of the nations of the earth.
"One year of peace has won for us first place in
"One year of peace has won for us first place in
"One year of peace has won for us first place among
the industrial nations of the world.
"One year of peace has transformed us from a borrowing
into a lending nation.
"One year of peace has sped us along the path toward
becoming the financial centre of the world.
"One year of peace has enabled us to feed and succor
millions and millions of innocent, helpless victims of the
war--this last not the least notable of America's achievements
during the blackest year the earth has ever known.
One year of peace, in short, has brought the United
States an infinity of blessings, just as one year of war
has brought Europe an infinity of horrors and disasters."
WILL THE UNITED STATES BECOME INVOLVED?
The article proceeds to query the future and the possibility
of the United States becoming involved. How
strange that such a possibility should be even considered,
in the light of the fact that all of the nations now at war
would be glad to get out of it honorably at almost any
price! The danger is seen along the lines of international
laws and the rights of neutrals. Armed air
craft and submarines have brought new factors into this
war not considered in the laying down of rules of warfare,
not dealt with in the international laws. International
law provides that neutral nations and their commerce
shall not be disturbed, except in the case of blockaded
ports. Any ship entering such a port may be examined.
If owned by the enemy, the vessel and cargo are subject
to confiscation. If owned by a neutral nation, they should
be exempt as respects munitions of war.
Great Britain has violated the rights of the United
States and other neutral nations in respect to these matters.
She has not blockaded the ports actually, but has
declared them blockaded and has seized neutral vessels
anywhere on the high seas and taken them into British
ports, regardless of their cargo not being contraband of
war. American shippers have complained greatly of detention
and loss. They are sure, however, that ultimately
they will get justice--probably when the war is ended.
Great Britain excuses these violations of international
law and agreement by declaring that conditions have
changed, and that it is to her interest to change her
mode of operation. When in the arrangement of international
law she agreed to the provision that food-stuffs
would be free, she had in mind the fact that she needed
to import food-stuffs herself. But later, perceiving that
[R5766 : page 278] the Germans might be starved if free shipments were not
permitted, she concluded that her warfare against the
Germans might be more effective if food supplies were
stopped and the Germans were partly starved.
In the international agreement, cotton is not included
as war material and is not subject to seizure as such.
Great Britain and Germany both agreed to this, because
neither produces cotton. Both purchase it from America
for manufacture of clothing, hosiery, etc. However, conditions
have changed to such an extent that a large portion
of the ammunition used in this war is made of
cotton. Hence the British refuse to allow American
shipments of cotton to go to Germany, either directly or
through neutral countries, and have seized cargoes of it
--contrary to international law, claiming the right to do
this because she has the might--the most powerful navy
--and because she considers it to be necessary to her
speedier crushing of Germany.
The Germans also have violated international law, to
which they agreed. They have announced a blockade of
British ports without having their navy blockading these
ports. This is called a "paper blockade," in the sense
that it is merely announced in print, just as the British
have announced the German blockade in print, without
having vessels actually blockading the German ports.
Germany declares that new conditions (submarines and
air-craft) justify her in violating the laws of nations
and destroying vessels which her submarines cannot take
as prizes into her ports. Her attention has been called
to the fact that this jeopardizes the lives of non-combatants
and neutrals and their proper pursuits. She has
been asked by the United States Government to desist
from this violation of law.
Germany declares that circumstances have altered
cases; that it is necessary for her success and self-preservation
that she shall establish a blockade against
Great Britain as nearly parallel as possible to the one
Great Britain has established against her; and that her
only means of accomplishing this end is in the destruction
of British vessels, which are carrying volunteers,
arms and war munitions of various kinds to Great
Britain, intended for the destruction of Germans and
their homes. Germany regrets her inability, under the
circumstances, to follow international law, to which she
has agreed, and claims justification in the fact that the
British have violated the same law. Germany has agreed,
however, to respect the vessels of neutrals, if assured
that they do not carry munitions of war. She calls attention
to the fact that she notified vessels of neutrals
(in her paper blockade) to keep out of the war zone;
and says that if neutrals travel on ships of the Allies
their lives and property must be at their own risk.
PROPER COURSE OF UNITED STATES
Regardless of where our sympathies would naturally
rest, either by our parentage or by association in life,
all must admit that both parties in this great struggle
are in dire straits, and therefore under great temptation
to violate, as they have done, international law. But how
should the United States meet the situation? Would it
be the wise, the proper, thing to get into an altercation
with any of these nations because of their violation of
the law? If not, how can we protest effectively?
We reply that a dignified and proper course would be
to refuse to have any commercial dealings with the
nations at war so long as they violate the international
law to which they have agreed. We believe that this
would bring both of the great powers to time and put a
stop to the interference with neutrals and their affairs.
Why should the portion of the world that is at peace be
upset and inconvenienced by those at war? It would be
permitted only because the nations at war are powerful.
If the breaking off of commercial dealings with the entire
war zone were accomplished, and Americans and their
goods were kept outside those zones, trouble would be
saved, even if the warring nations did not acquiesce and
give guarantee of the observance of international laws.
Business interests cry out against such a dignified
course, such a fair policy. They exclaim, "This would
spoil the whole business!" We have orders for hundreds
of millions of dollars worth of war materials at splendid
prices, and we would lose all this. Therefore the suggested
policy would never do."
We admit that according to international law the
people of a neutral country may privately manufacture
for warring nations. We admit that such trade is profitable.
Nevertheless it is a permission, and not an obligation, that subjects of neutral nations may, according to
international law, thus deal with belligerent nations. But
that there is no compulsion in the matter is evident from
the fact that our Government has already exercised its
discretion in stopping the sale of war materials to
[R5767 : page 278] Mexico, for instance. It has the same right, and without
infringing neutrality, to stop the sale of war materials
to every nation at war. Such a penalty upon the
violation of international law would be, apparently, the
only way of bringing belligerents to time.
Besides, our overtures to the warring nations and the
prayers of many on their behalf and the sending of supplies,
physicians, nurses, etc., to assist in caring for their
wounded, all have the appearance of pitiable mockery in
the light of the assistance we are rendering for the continuation
of the war through permitting American manufacturers
to sell war munitions to the warring nations,
which are interfering with the rights of all neutrals and
violating international law.
In any event, how foolish it would be that these
United States should get into a controversy with any of
the warring powers, when the whole world is witness to
their folly and when they themselves are wishing most
earnestly that they had kept out of the war.
We cannot appeal to our nation as a nation of Christians,
along the lines of the commands of Jesus; but all
consecrated children of God should remember that there
are but two sides, two banners, two captains. Christians
have enlisted under the banner of the Prince of Peace,
who is opposing the Prince of Darkness, whose fall will
be accomplished in the great time of revolution and
anarchy which the Bible predicts will follow this war,
and which, thank God! will be the doorway to the Millennial
Kingdom and the great blessing which will then
come to the world through it. "For the Elect's sake,
those days [of strife and anarchy] shall be shortened"--
interrupted (Matthew 24:22); for when men shall have
learned the great lesson of what the outcome of selfishness
would be without Divine interposition, God's Power
through Messiah's Kingdom will promptly take control;
and the blessing of the Lord will cause the winds of
strife to cease, as did the Master's words on Galilee
cause a great calm when the storm was at its height.
Meantime, regardless of the course of the world, it
is the duty of the Lord's consecrated people to preserve
unbiased, neutral minds--to look at matters from God's
viewpoint, as far as possible--to sympathize with all and
to join with none--to stand for peace in action, in word,
in thought. "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they
shall be called the children of God."