Our Present Age - The Christian State?

 

Nathaniel West - 1889

 


 

Connected with the delusion of a Millennium in this present age, is the Idea of the so-called "Christian-State"--an idea gotten somewhere, but neither from the Prophets, Christ, or His Apostles. It is one of the false lures of the age. Forgetful of the law of deterioration in the march of empires, seen in the Monarchy-Colossus, and of the succession of the 4 Beasts, each later one inferior to the former, and of the continued Beastly and Metallic character of Gentile government, politics and power, till the Lord come, the admirers of human perfectibility, and priests of Optimist progress, still boast of our "Christianized civilization" as the vancourier of millennial glory ready to burst over all the world. This is a part of the fine arts of "Satan transformed into an Angel of Light," teaching, as he first did, in the Garden, an improvement to man's condition by doubting the Word of God, then denying it,--a science of progress by means of Knowledge gained through transgression, and of Unbelief usurping the place of faith. "Yea, hath God said?" "Ye shall be as God !" Gen. 3:1,5. Subtle Beast,-he always talks so! He dazzles and deceives. He seems righteous and philanthropic. "Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness,"--"deceitful workers,"--"as apostles of Christ," II Cor. 11:13-I5. Professedly Christian men shall do the Devil's work teaching this same method of "progress," and women, too, shall assist to spread the fascination. The very best thing God has given us, His own Word, they will denounce as " Pessimism," teaching an "Optimism" born from its perversion. "Corruptio optimi pessima"; the Corruption of the best is the worst corruption." "Habetur optima pessima"; the worst is esteemed the best." It is the old story, from the Gates of Eden downward, along with the curse, through all history. A varnished lie is worse than naked poison. "Great Babylon," bearing the Christian name, a church at every corner, a preacher on every street, is worse than the Chaldean City whose king was God's rod to "destroy, and make a hissing, and desolation, of Judah" the Messianic State of the old civilization. And worse than Gold-headed Babylon was Iron-egged Rome, though more "advanced" by 600 years. Men seem oblivious of the fact that it was at the very time of the birth of the 4th Beast Christ was born; that it was under the "Empire" of Rome, in its first imperial head, claiming divine honors, "Divus Augustus," and enrolling Judea as a tributary province, that Messiah's manger was made at Bethlehem, and that, down to the present hour, Jerusalem still sits in the dust, trodden and stamped by the Gentile power, the scepter departed from Judah. They seem intent to forget, that though this "Beast" has been christianized full 1500 years, with a wound in its head, it still "lives," and has poured out the blood of God's saints, with more inexcusable guilt than even in its old pagan condition, and that Christendom, to-day, is sinking beneath a weight of transgression unknown to heathen lands. They forget that the "Times of the Gentiles," in which we are living, our Church-Period, are the Times of the 4th Beast or Roman World-Power, divided into various kingdoms; a Beastly and Metallic power, whose essential character, in spite of Christianity, remains unchanged down to the time of its destruction; a materialistic civilization of iron force and will, yet with the weakness of clay in it, pervaded by a spirit of sensuality, and crowned with a false science, and false philosophy, over which Christianity has little or no control.

If we seek for the "Christian State" in Prophecy, we shall seek long, and travel far, before our quest is satisfied. It certainly will not appear in pre-Christian times; not in the Gold, the Silver, or Brass, of the Colossus; not in the Lion, Bear, Leopard, Ram, or HeGoat, among the Beasts. Shall we find it in the Iron and Clay, or in the 4th Beast, the anonymous monster? What prophet, what apostle, speaks to us about the "Christian State?"

With just emphasis, Professor Kubel asks, "Where shall we find, in the Prophets, in Christ, in Paul, or in John, the idea of the Christian State, in this age, as that of the realization of the Kingdom of God ?"[1] With equal emphasis, Professor Bleek asserts that "nowhere in prophecy is the idea of a Principatus Christianorum, sprung from the Gentiles, known to the Times of the Gentiles."[2] And with what unanswerable power has Auberlen shown that the "external Christianization of the World-Power is only the temporary wound of the Beast still unchanged in its heart, anti-christian still, notwithstanding its Christian order, culture, and civilization; a civil structure accepting Christianity externally, the Church accepting the World internally, both parties meeting half-way, the Church and the World making mutual concessions, the Beast Christianized, the Church Bestialized, she the loser, it the gainer, the Beast carrying the Harlot, the bestiality, proud intellectual culture, science, and wealth, of Christendom, leading thousands away from, and preventing others from coming to, the knowledge of Christ !"[3] How forcibly true those words which smite our idol of modern Christian civilization! Herein consists the gigantic lie and narrow mindedness of our generation, that our civilization is thought to be the highest thing, accepted as a surrogate for grace, and for regeneration by the Spirit of the living God. "It is the idol of the modern world."[4] How true the words of Hahn, indorsed by Weber, Gebhardt, Auberlen, Kliefoth, and how many more! that, in the time of the so-called Christian State, " the professing Christian Church becomes Babylon, (Confusion) the Harlot being not merely the City of Rome, nor the Roman Church alone, but all Churches in Christendom, without the Spirit and Life of our Lord Jesus, apostate from moral righteousness, corrupt, lifeless, worldly, seeking the pleasures of the flesh, open to the influence of all false spirits and false teachers, having a name to live, yet governed by the spirit, maxims, policies, and principles, of nature and the world." [5]

"The time comes," says Professor Milligan, " when the Church as a whole will be more carnal than spiritual, more worldly than heavenly. The true members of Christ's flock will be fewer in number than the false. The world will Penetrate into the very sanctuary of God and will not be rooted out until the Judge of all takes to Himself His great Power, and reigns. The longer the Church lasts as an outward institution in the world, the more does she naturally tend to realize the picture of 'Babylon' in the Apocalypse, 'that Great City,' the emblem of the degenerate Church. Babylon is not the Church of Rome in particular. Deeply, no doubt, that church has sinned, and because of this we interpret Babylon as Christian Rome. Yet, the interpretation is false. The Harlot is wholly what she seems. Christian Rome was never wholly, what, on one side of her character she was so largely. She has maintained the truth of Christ as against idolatry, and preferred poverty to splendor in a way Protestantism has never done, and nurtured the noblest types of devotion the world has ever seen. Above all, if at times, she has allied herself with kings. at other times she has the rather trampled kings beneath her feet, as when, in the interests of the poor and oppressed she has taught proud barons and imperial tyrants to quail before her. For deeds like these, her record is not with the Beast but with the Lamb. Babylon cannot be Christian Rome; and nothing has been more injurious to Protestant Churches than the impression that the two were identical, and that, by withdrawing from communion with the Pope, they wholly freed themselves from alliance with the spiritual harlot. Babylon embraces much more than Rome, and illustrations of what she is, lies nearer our own door. Wherever Professedly Christian men have thought the world's favor better than its reproach, esteemed its honors a more desirable possession than its shame, courted ease rather than suffering, self-indulgence rather than self-sacrifice, and substituted covetousness in grasping for generosity in distributing what they had, there the spirit of Babylon has been manifested. In short, we have in the great Harlot-City, neither the Church as a whole nor the Romish Church in particular, but all who profess to be Christ's flock and are not, denying in their lives the main characteristic by which they ought to be distinguished,--viz., that they follow Christ."[6] Such is Christendom apostate from Christ. Such the Church under the so-called "Christian State." Civil government is, indeed, an ordinance of God for the preservation of natural right and social order, and Paul made use of it as such, counseling obedience to Caesar and the "Powers that be," when one was a Nero, both pagan, and the "Christian State" unknown. The "Christian Empire" of Constantine, and the "Holy Roman Empire" of later times, are simply the "Beast" with a wound in his head by means of Christianity, yet alive, while still seeming to be slain. It is part of the Colossus, and no part of the Kingdom of Christ. So is it with the so-called "Christianized World-Power" everywhere, whether that of Kaiser, Czar, King, Queen, or His Majesty, the "People." Its place is in the lower part of the Iron-legs, and in the Clay and Iron Toes. It is precisely where the Mountain-Stone will smite it one day in order to clear the world of its presence, and introduce the Kingdom of Christ. It belongs to the "Ten Horns" out of which the Antichrist will come. It lives and moves, and has its being, in the Interval between the 69th and 70th Weeks of Daniel, and is doomed to destruction. It is that institution of Gentile Sovereignty which, in its most Christian pretension, refuses to recognize God in its Constitution, and glories in the fact that it stands neutral and indifferent, in law, toward the religion of Jesus Christ, protecting equally the most corrupt forms of Christianity and religious Heathenism, with the purest and the best; a State not daring to recognize Jesus Christ, by law, yet boasting of its peerless Christian institutions, licensing brothels, gambling dens, and saloons, by its Christian State Legislation as one of the prudent ways, approved by God, to "reform the world" and "promote the Kingdom of Christ,"-the ad majorem gloriam Dei doctrine which does evil that good may come, "whose damnation is just." In its most Christian portion, the United States, it spends the sum of $900,000,000 per annum, for whisky alone, chief staple in the national revenue, while, on the breast of Europe to-day, no less than 28,000,000 of woman-born, enrolled and armed to the teeth, stand ready to imbrue their hands in each other's blood;--officered, led, inspired, and paid by the "Christian State."[7] The appalling corruption, venality, drunkenness, perjury, betting, pooling, purchase and sale of votes, detraction, libel, and violence, seen in municipal, state, and national elections, and in all Gentile politics; the base and degrading arts and devices employed by Christian men to win office and power, with expectation of plunder besides; the whole spirit and temper of the times; the proverbial dishonesty in all business and all professions; the lust for war in order to make money; the Public Press advertising every hole of vice on earth, pouring out, as from a wide and stenchful sewer, its endless stream of daily filth, into the bosom of every home, and dumping, daily, at every man's door, its endless car-loads of obscene incident and lewd inuendo, scavengered up from all the highways, gutters, slums and palaces, of all lands, until society wades knee-deep in a cesspool of infamy whose atmosphere asphyxiates its life; the prodigious millions invested by Christian men in Sabbath-breaking and crime-increasing corporations; the Titanic schemes of self-aggrandizement; the oppression of the poor; the amounts spent in a gorgeous architecture, a luxurious living, and unstinted pleasures; the heaping up of riches for the last times, and the rage and rush for more; all these have already made even the mention of the name of "Christian-State," a theme for Scurrility, scorn, and contempt. After 1800 years, in spite of all that is good, this is its latest physiognomy, and is but a meager feature of its unspeakable enormity,[8] No! Christendom is not a "Christian-State," albeit there are Christians in it. Its names in God's word, are "Babylon the Great," the "Mother-Harlot," and the "Dwellers on the Earth." Our "Politeuma" is not here. Our "civitas" is one whose "Builder and Maker is God." We are "pilgrims and strangers," in this "Christian-State," if we are Christ's. Our one and only object in praying "for all in authority" is that we may be allowed to lead a godly life, resist the Devil wherever we find him, whether in Church or State, pay the penalty due to true fidelity, labor, suffer, and do God's Will, and "wait for His Son from Heaven." Gigantic is the misconception, to dream that God has given the Church, unable to reform herself, to build the Christian State up to a Kingdom of Christ, or to reform the world. God's wisdom is not so foolish. Neither in the Times decreed upon the Gentiles, nor the Weeks decreed upon the Jews, is the idea of a "Christian State" found anywhere in prophecy. What prophecy aims at is the Kingdom of Christ, first of all in the heart by the power of the Spirit, and next, the Kingdom of Christ as an outward Polity built upon the ruins of Gentile Sovereignty and Gentile Empire, at His Second Coming. Until then, the "Beast" lives! and what we are pleased to call the Christian State, is simply the Christian-Beast, either the Horns of the Beast, or the Toes of the Colossus!-a Beast whose power is in check for the present, but soon to be unchecked[9] and drive Christianity back to the wall. Its wound will then be healed, in proportion as Christianity dies out of Christendom, and Heathenism revives.

The picture of the times of the Church and the State, whether independent of each other, or in union, and of the concurrent operations of the servants of Christ, and of Satan, is given us too vividly in God's word to be misunderstood by any who care to know the truth. It is under the Parable of the Sower, the Missionary activity of the Church is represented, in this present age. It is under the Parable of the Tares the Missionary activity of the Devil, during the same period, is set forth ; and the Christian scholar who will give the world a treatise, with full statistics of the Devil's missions, and stations, their progress and expenditures, in the Christian-State, will do more to set the Word of God, concerning this present age, in its true light, than has yet been done by the one-sided views so constantly presented. It is under the Parable of the Mustard Seed we see the outward extension of the Church to a tree so large and overspreading that even the fowls of the air build convenient nests in its branches, and vultures make its forks their home. It is in the Parable of the Leaven we learn the inward corruption of the Church, by her own act, the Woman secreting false doctrine in the pure truth designed for the children's bread. It is in the Parable of the Nobleman we learn the attitude of the great majority who, during the time of the "Christian State," exult in rebellion against Christ, refusing to acknowledge Him. Wherever millennial glory is, it certainly is not here, in this age! The conversion of the world to Christ is not in this present time! Side by side, the servants of Christ and those of the Devil work on, every handful of wheat accompanied by a hundred handfuls of cockle sown even more widely. The statistics of 1,000,000 Christians, mean the statistics of 10,000,000 not Christians. A handful of wheat scattered on the earth, means three-fourths of it picked up by Satan himself, or scorched by the heat, or choked by the thorns. Tares everywhere, and so abundant and intermingled with the wheat, and so resembling the wheat, that it is perilous to undertake a separation. Surprise indeed! "An Enemy hath done this!" It is the Devil's sleepless missionary enterprise, supported by trade, commerce, agriculture, distilleries, breweries, railroads, politics, science, philosophy, art; a Zizanian Christianity interpreted to mean a Millennial Glory, under the fostering care of the "Christian State!" The picture of the Christian State, on its trading side, is that of a Chamber of Commerce revolting against an absent King. On its agricultural side, it is that of a Wheat Field crowded with cockle. In both it is a vast Area, the "World," under the "god of this world," filled with growing grain, good and bad, in the midst of which is a Colossus, and then a "Beast" having seven heads and ten horns, stamping and goring everywhere, a false prophet at his side preaching lies, the Devil loose and roaring like a lion, ravening wolves prowling for their prey, unclean spirits, "like frogs," repeating their unending croak, the days of Lot and of Noah, millions of men butchering each other, millions more staggering drunk to the ground, palaces of lust and temples of mammon, far as the eye can see, churches also everywhere, and some preachers and pamphleteers applauding the glories of the Millennium! No? The rhetoric of a Millennium of righteousness and peace, in this age, before Christ comes, is the eloquence of falsehood, pleasing to Satan, and offensive to God. Down to the "End," it shall be as it is, until "all things that offend," "panta ta skandala," the bundled crimes of the Christian Church shall be removed, by judgment, from the kingdom, and the polluted " Christian State" be heard of no more! The words of Christ are plain. Upon the World-Acre stands, now, the seed of the Kingdom of Heaven while, side by side, grow the Devil's tares, numerous as they are surprising; nor ever will the glory of the Kingdom come,--be the Christian-State what it may,--until the sickles and the angels have done their work! It is the double-work of Church-missions, and Devil-missions, which, for a time, procrastinates the Advent and the Harvest.

The Holy Spirit, as if anxious to guide us aright, has multiplied pictures of our present age, and of the condition of the Church and times of the Christian State, together. Conquest, territorial acquisition, vast commercial enterprises, immense riches suddenly amassed, mammon-worship, harlotry, libertinism, world philosophy, science, education, culture, iniquity, formalism, love waxing cold, treacheries, infidelity, apostasy, demonic spiritism, missions, revolutions, blind Laodicean optimism, and final judgment. It is the same elsewhere; "false teachers" "seducers, waxing worse and worse," "Satan transformed into an angel of light," "all seeking their own, and not the things that are Christ's," "many walking who are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, who glory in their shame, who mind earthly things," a "persecution" for the godly, "false brethren," "brother betraying brother," intolerance of "sound doctrine," "itching ears," "building, planting, marrying and giving in marriage," "lies," "perjuries," "covenant-breaking," "thefts," "robberies" and "slanders," "perilous times," "gangrene," moral "rottenness," "the wages of unrighteousness," "the way of Cain," "love of self," spiritual "decay," a "name to live yet dead," love of "pre-eminence" in the church, "love of the world," dominion of "the world, the flesh and the devil," "the lust of the eye, of the flesh, and the pride of life,"-while God's true saints, in the "Christian State," are a jeweled "few" like to 7,000 out of 4,000,000, in Elijah's time, or the "remnant" in Isaiah's day, but for whom Israel had been "as Sodom and Gomorrah!"

Already, by hyperbole of expression, we say the gospel has gone to all lands, the Bible been translated into all tongues, and Christianity achieved a substantial victory over Satan's empire. Our vouchers for this, are Paris, London, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Edinboro', Glasgow, Dublin, Boston, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Washington, etc., etc., the paragons of Christendom, like which, if the whole planet were, it would be ripe for the sickle of judgment! Blood-shedding, adulterous, intemperate and mammon-loving, Christendom! Sabbath-breaking too? And this, after 18 centuries, the paraded boast of pre-advent Millennialism ! Blow the trumpet in Bethhaven! What a phalanx of able and scholarly men challenge attention to the fact that, "Not one nation yet, in its general mass, has accepted Christianity, but only individuals, and, relatively to the population, few!" (Thiersch.) If we ask what the prophets looked for, what the Apostles expected, and what John saw in vision, in this state of things, there is but one answer, and that is, not the conversion of the world; but the waxing of Anti-Christianity to its height, in the very midst of Christendom, the crisis, the conversion of Israel and Advent of the Lord to Judgment. It is the one answer, everywhere. Only after Israel has become a Christian Nation, worthy of the name, not before, will the Nations, as such, become Christian. Rev. 15:4; Deut. 32:43. It is the one uniform doctrine in Moses, in the Prophets, in Jesus, in the Apostles. In manner, the most vivid, John distinguishes between those converted before the Advent, i.e. individuals, Jews and Gentiles, and those converted after the Advent, i. e., "Nations," Rev. 3:5, 8, 20; Rev. 15:4

Most striking, in this respect, is the difference of representation in the 7 Epistles, from that in the later part of the Apocalypse; the difference between the Times of the Gentiles and the Times that follow Israel's conversion when Gentile Times are no more! How different the picture of the "Churches" from that of the "Kingdom!" In these Epistles, adumbrating the whole history of Christendom, or the Church-Period, between the 69th and 70th Weeks, we see, even in the first group of 3, Ephesus "fallen from her first love"; Smyrna alone unblamed because still faithful in the fire, and in the prison, Satan still raging, foes blaspheming, and Pergamos, though holding her faith, yet fellowshiping mammon-loving Balaamites, Nicolaitans, and dwelling "in Satan's seat." In the second group of 4, darker still is the scene. The world has Penetrated the Churches, all which have become secular. In Thyatira, it is only a "remnant" we find maintaining the faith. The crowd still fellowship those who "seduce" the servants of Christ to heathenish ways. In Sardis a "few names" are worthy to walk in white. Philadelphia has only a "little power," and is urged to "hold fast." In Laodicea, the world is supreme. Surely, this is not a Millennial picture! And, when come to the 70th Week, it is "Babylon" we see, symbol of the false professing church, ripe for the judgments of God, as it will be when Christ shall come!

But how different the scene in the Age that follows the Advent! How different after Babylon's fall, and Antichrist's doom, and the passing away of Gentile supremacy over the Jew! It is Israel converted, now, all Nations acknowledging Christ, Jerusalem lifted to glory, the Saints awaked from their beds, the Kingdom come, and the Lord, Himself, enthroned over all! And what is made clear as the sun is the fact that this wondrous Accession of the Nations, as such, is the result of the Conversion of Israel, as such, at the second coming of Christ.[10] And, herein, John is in perfect harmony with all other Scripture which affirms the same thing. It is when the "Set Time to favor Zion" has come, and Israel's sons, reclaimed to Christ, "take pleasure in her stones," and "pity her dust," and the Lord shall appear in His glory, "to build up Zion," that, then, "the Nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all Kings of the earth His glory," Ps. 102:13-18. It is when He "breaks in pieces the oppressor," at the close of the 70th Week, and "judges among the poor of the people," that, then, "All Nations fall down and serve Him," Psa. 72:4-13. It is when His "Wondrous works" and "Mighty acts," are known, and His "arm made bare," that, then, "All Nations shall come and worship before Him," Ps. 86:9. So sounds the harp of David[11] Most emphatic is the form and the repetition of this testimony that the Nations of the Planet, as such shall never be Christian Nations in any true sense of the term, acknowledging Christ as their Lawgiver and their Prince, until after Israel as a nation has done the same When Israel is a "nation born in a day." then "the Lord will gather all Nations and they shall come and see His glory in Jerusalem." Isa. 66:18-21. Then "Kings shall be nursing fathers and Queens shall be nursing mothers" to that people, and "all Nations shall say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths," Isa. 44:12-23; 2:1-4. It is when the Lord "brings again Zion" that "all the ends of the earth shall see the Salvation of God," and "together," and "Nations shall come to her light, and kings to her Sunrise," Isa. 32:7-10; 40:4; 50:1. And all this only upon the destruction of the last Antichrist and the deliverance of Israel, at the Coming of Israel's Goel to Zion at the end of Gentile times. Isa. 59:19-2I. It is precisely what the Cithara-Players on the Glassy Sea tell us in Rev. 15:4. The whole Bible from Moses to John is a unit on this question, every prophet, and apostle, and our Lord Himself, denying, point-blank any World-conversion, or any Millennial Kingdom before the Second Advent. Paul's description and distribution of the Dispensations in Romans 9-11, viz., the Patriarchal, before the distinction between Jew and Gentile existed, the Jewish, then the Pre-Millennial Christian, during which the Jewish people, as such, abide in their unbelief, then the Glorious Millennial Age following Israel's Conversion and the Redeemer's coming to Zion, refute this patent folly. The "Nations" of the Earth, whose Register was chronicled when God chose Abraham to be the father of the Jewish people, and "suffered the Gentiles to walk in their own ways," cherishing Israel as his "first born" national son, are now, by Abraham's Seed, reclaimed, and "bless themselves" in the same. Genesis, Chapters 10-12. To place this consummation in the present time is to pervert God's word. John, David, Moses, all the Prophets and Apostles are in harmony here, and the Apocalypse is the combined light of all. The idea of the conversion of the world to Christ, before the Lord's appearing, is unknown to this great book which covers the whole present as well as the future. On the contrary, the masses in this present age, reject the gospel. The field is filled with tares. Even under divine judgments, they only the more "blaspheme," and refuse to "repent," Rev. 9:20, 21; 16;9,11. And this in the "Christian State!" So-called "Culture" and "Civilization" are powerless to teach even decent respect for God! The "Church" becomes a "savorless salt." More and more, the "Christian State" is a tool of Satan. "At the House of God judgment must begin;"-a house trampling the divine ordinance of a godly discipline under foot and preferring respect of persons, numbers, wealth, undisturbed social relations, outward prosperity, peace, business-thrift and corruption, to fidelity, suffering, trial, righteous contention, and loss. We need no Bradlaugh, nor Ingersoll, now, to tell us this. And what the "End" shall be of a Christendom dechristanized, we already know. An impenitent, world-loving Christian is worse than a Christless pagan, harlot, or publican. Gomorrah and Sodom were "not half" as guilty as the Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar burned. Ezek. 16:48-51. Ninevites, Tyre and Sidon, Chorazin, Bethsaida, shall meet a milder fate than the "Christian State" which, like Capernaum, "exalted to heaven shall yet be thrust down to hell!"

 


The Thousand Years. Nathaniel West. Scripture Truth Book Co. No Date. Part XI. Pages 439-457.