R0991-2 The Real Danger

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“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”—Prov. 16:18

The real danger to society at present is not from an uprising of a small handful of anarchists to overthrow law and order, but to the surprise of many let us say, the real danger now, is from friends of the law and order. The success of the law and its servants in properly and deliberately putting down these enemies of the law, will tend toward haughty austerity on the part of many, who feeling, that a large majority favor the law, will be less conciliatory in their dealing, less cautious and considerate of the feelings and equitable rights of others, and more disposed to invoke the arm of the law to their aid whenever possible.

It will be conceded that all the wealthy and all those mechanics and artisans in “comfortable circumstances,” are on the side of law and order, and with them are the masses of meagerly educated peace-loving laborers, whose well balanced minds grasp the fact that the educated and skilled artisan and capitalistic energy are necessities, without which they would sink back from present comfort, and advantages, and opportunities of advancement, into the comfortless barbarism of our ancestors. The present victory at Chicago, is the victory of all these over their common enemy, anarchism. But so surely as the feeling of strength shall harden the hearts of the capitalists or employing element of this class, and make them less considerate of the other members of the same class—employees—so surely will the majority of these laborers be gradually driven into opposition, not only to their employers, but also to all laws which do not favor their own selfish interests.

In order that laws shall be respected by the majority, they must be based, not on selfishness, but on justice. And as from time to time, under changing circumstances and increasing knowledge, laws are found to be unjust toward any, all should submit to justice, and such laws should be changed. But as already pointed out in chapter XV. of Millennial Dawn, selfishness will rule on both sides, and will divide the at present law abiding masses of the people and result in the very anarchy now seemingly throttled.

While admitting that labor strikes are generally evils, which oftenest bring loss rather than gain to those who engage in them, and to others dependent upon them, and while admitting that selfishness and injustice often lie at the bottom of trades-unions, we are ready to admit that sometimes they may be necessary, to obtain justice.*

*To protect each other’s interests under existing conditions it seems as proper for men to combine their talents in a trade union as to co-operate in a joint stock company for trade or manufacture; but for either a trade union or a joint-stock company to attempt selfishly to serve its own interest by forcing others out of trade, or out of employment is contrary to both human and divine laws, and is grossly unjust. For this reason conscientious, righteousness-loving children of God must there draw the line and have no part in intimidating or injuring others, however necessary or expedient for their own interests such a course might appear.

The employing class, blinded partially by selfishness so that they are unable to see the necessity and justice of self-protection by organization, on the part of the employed class, associates in mind and in private conversation (though not often publicly) all trades-unionists with anarchists; and they think of the victory over anarchism at Chicago, as a victory over trades-unionists in general. They think they see in the very general failure of strikes during this year, and finally the hanging of the anarchists, evidence of the power of capital over all opposition, and many now claim that the “heroic treatment” of crushing out opposition, strikes, etc., is the only sure, and the best plan, and that the holding of conferences, attempts to arbitrate or conciliate etc., only stimulate the employed to ask more and unreasonable things. (And this last point is too true.)

The splitting of labor organizations into factions, and contentions between these now imminent, threatens two dangerous results: First, the effect will be to strengthen the hand of capitalists, permitting selfishness to have the greater control of their consciences and conduct, making them sometimes haughty and inconsiderate of the interests and rights of others: Secondly, the effect upon laborers, artisans, etc., will be to discourage them from present hopes of legally, at the ballot-box, by united effort, obtaining such changes of laws as changing circumstances, conditions, inventions, etc., may dictate to be just. The result of this despair will be bad. It will change many of these, at present law-upholding people, into law-opposers—anarchists. Thus we see the danger of the present moment, from an opposite quarter to that from which it is generally looked for.

In proof of what we here predict, we cite a few instances which have come under our own observation here in Pittsburg, which surely we are justified in considering as samples of the general sentiment of the land.

(1) On the day of the execution of the anarchists a prominent banker remarked to the writer, that he was glad to see law and order vindicated. To this we assented, but when he proceeded to class as part and parcel of the same victory the political defeat at the polls of the “United Labor Party” in New York, we had to differ. So positive were the gentleman’s expressions that discussion on that subject seemed to be useless, and only calculated to make him regard any who might differ with him as anarchists also.

(2) The Sunday following the execution of the anarchists at Chicago, witnessed a conflict between various political and labor societies, and the police and military authorities in the city of London, England, occasioned by the prohibition of a public meeting, which according to custom the labor societies attempted to hold, and which they evidently thought they had a right to hold under the existing English laws. Without discussing the merits of this case we wish merely to note that in referring to it some of the journals of this city gave evidence that their views on the subject of labor organizations and anarchism are warped in the manner indicated above. They declared that Chicago had given London a practical lesson in how to deal with anarchists, and that the firmness of the police and military at London showed that they were equal to any emergency. And we doubt not these journals voiced the sentiments of their owners and of a very large class of readers. Others would read in the telegraphic column, that many of those who attempted to hold the London meetings were there as labor organizations, who carried banners claiming that they were almost starving, and wanted not charity, but work, whereby to honestly provide for their families;

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and urging upon the government to enact some laws or start some public works, whereby they might be kept from starvation, without being compelled by necessity to violate law and order, by confiscating a part of the surplusage of the luxurious aristocracy, to obtain life’s necessities for those in need.* As the

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comfortable American mechanic and laborer reads this, and the editorial comment on it which speaks of artisans as anarchists, he against his will is forced to conclude that in the opinion of his fellow citizens, as voiced by the Press, all wage-workers are counted as anarchists. This is what the executed anarchists tried to instill into them, viz.: that all physical laborers are of one brotherhood, and all mental laborers of another; and that the former should all be anarchists and oppose the latter. They resisted the imputations and doctrines of anarchy only to find that many of their law-abiding fellow citizens more comfortably fixed in life, are in array against them, and name and treat them as anarchists. They are not slow to feel an angry resentment rising within them against those who would perforce classify and name them with anarchists, and they quickly draw the inference, that should business here become depressed as it is in England, and should they desire to use lawfully their right of free speech, to make known their necessities, they too would be dispersed by force, publicly branded “anarchists,” and ultimately forced—by necessity perhaps—to aid the anarchy of which at first they were unjustly accused.

*We are convinced that this is not a fancy sketch as some here might be inclined to think, for a letter written a few days before this conflict by a WATCH TOWER reader living in England who himself has been out of work for some time and is selling “Dawn” wherever he can, to spread the truth and help sustain his family until he can get paying work, says that the destitution is very great among the poor, many of whom he says can get no work and have no idea where the next meals victuals will come from. He can sell but a few copies a week, and the rich will not purchase nor even receive him.

(3) Another illustration of the haughtiness which the triumph of law over the anarchists has called forth, is reported in the secular journals of this city from the pulpit. It but illustrates the spirit which has always been at the bottom of intolerance and persecution—that “might makes right.” It was under this same spirit that thousands of lives were sacrificed in the past, and illustrates how willingly the speaker would, if he could, not only be a pope to decide what men must think, but how he would forcibly silence, excommunicate, and anathematize, all who would not harmonize with his ideas. Rev. N. Woodside, of the First Reformed Presbyterian church, of Pittsburg, was the speaker, and his subject was “Protection from Ecclesiastical Anarchists.”

He said, as reported in The Times:—

“Ecclesiastical anarchists should not be allowed to come in and change the existing order and laws of the Church. They have undertaken to authoritatively preach the Gospel without being ordained. In this they are impeaching the wisdom of Jesus Christ. They administer the sacrament in direct opposition to divine law. The speaker did not care who these expressions hit.”

“These ecclesiastical anarchists must be suppressed, for, there is an effort being made on the part of some to destroy the good order that has existed in Christ’s Church.”

“I want you to stand out against all this anarchy. We must publish the names of these Church anarchists through the newspapers so that all the world may know them—these men who go about from church to church ingratiating themselves into the good graces of leading members and destroying the good order of the Church.”

We know not to whom this gentleman referred, nor does it matter; it is the principle that we are discussing. Seeing the arm of the law successful against the anarchists, he greatly desires to use the same, or any other power against those who dare to think for themselves, or to read the Bible without his glasses or his permission. To begin this persecution, and lay a foundation for some further steps, when action may be more possible, he brands those he hopes yet to destroy or silence for ever, as anarchists.

We are not personally acquainted with the gentleman, but from his use of the word we doubt if he appreciates the meaning of the word anarchists, or understands upon what grounds the political anarchists were condemned and executed. The anarchists were executed, not because they held different views on political economy, from the majority—that is not a crime in this age—nor because they expressed their views,—which all have a perfect right to do in this age and land—but they were executed because they went beyond these rights, and threatened and took the lives of others. So, if the lives of members of Mr. Woodside’s church have been threatened or taken, or if their property has been destroyed or menaced, let the guilty persons be treated as felons and anarchists, and let them upon similar conviction, be dealt with according to law.

But this is not the trouble; no, we understand the gentleman perfectly. Thank God we have not met many with such sentiments, but we read of them in history. The gentleman has merely adopted a new name for his enemies, those whom he regards as heretics, stigmatizing them as “ecclesiastical anarchists,” that thereby he may draw upon them some of the deserved reproach which attaches to that name in the estimation of all order-loving people, and thus to awaken an uncharitable, unchristian, persecuting spirit.

The same heart and tongue if in the place of influence a few centuries ago, instead of saying “These ecclesiastical anarchists must be suppressed,” would have worded it, “Burn the heretics!”—”Establish an Inquisition!”

Using the gentleman’s newly applied name “ecclesiastical anarchist,” as the synonym for “heretic,” let us remind him of a little scrap of church history, which, if he ever knew, he has evidently forgotten, viz:—that when his forerunners started to think for themselves and left the “Covenanters,” calling themselves “Reformed Presbyterians,” they were counted “ecclesiastical anarchists” (heretics); and were also accused of “destroying the good order of the church.” To go back still further, we find that the “Covenanters” also began, by a few men thinking and teaching contrary to the teachings of the Episcopal Church from which it broke off, and these too were counted “ecclesiastical anarchists” (heretics) by those whom they left. Going further still into the past (and that not three and a-half centuries ago), the Episcopal Church, or Church of England, broke off from the Roman Catholic Church, and all its members were cursed as (heretics) “ecclesiastical anarchists.”

Each of these in turn, has been told by those they left, that they were “in direct opposition to the divine law,” and that they were “destroying the good order of the church” etc. And the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches from which they came out, to this day declare that no one can “authoritatively preach the gospel without being ordained” by them. Thus we see that Mr. Woodside is an “ecclesiastical anarchist” of the very sort his words condemn. Scraps of history are very useful as antidotes for pulpit-rabies.

Thus we have shown evidence from the Press, the Pulpit and the Bank, that the danger is not from present real anarchists, but rather that over-confidence, pride and tyranny on the part of some will ultimately force the issue and compel anarchism. As for the ecclesiastical intolerance we have long ago pointed out the probability of an offensive and defensive combination of all the large denominations of Christendom for the suppression of “growth in grace and knowledge” beyond their lines—somewhat on the order of the present “Evangelical Alliance.” Our study of the Scriptures which are “able to make us wise,” prepares us for the time and events Mr. Woodside longs for, when, by an ecclesiastical combination, all small companies of independent thinkers will be “suppressed.” In the Scriptures we read the fact that the great ones in politics, finances and ecclesiastical affairs, will consolidate their power for a time, but the haughty, proud and unjust shall fall, and terrible will be the fall.

The events of our day show that these things are drawing nigh, and though we pen these words of warning, we have no hope of altering the course which God has foretold, but will be satisfied, if we shall help the few, the little flock scattered abroad, to discern the times and be on the Lord’s side, the side of right; and prepare them to endure hardness as good soldiers of our Master, who indeed peaceable as a lamb, was also considered an “ecclesiastical anarchist” by the Chief Priests and “orthodox” religionists of his day. He too whom God had anointed with his spirit also, to preach the gospel, was demanded of the Pharisees, “Who gave thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23.) The Apostles’ authority also was questioned by the same class, and they were cast into prison for daring to preach without permission of the Chief Priests.—Acts 5:17,18,26-28,41,42. Should the time of persecution ever again come, let all continue to preach as did the early church, asking no other authority than the command of the Lord. Acts 11:19. All the spirit anointed are members of the “Royal Priesthood.” “Ye should show forth the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 1:9) and “ought to be teachers.”—Heb. 5:12.

But it is not needful here, to go to the Scriptures to prove that all who have the Spirit of Christ, are not only authorized and commanded by him, the true head of the Church, to preach, but having the spirit of the gospel within them, they cannot refrain from declaring the gracious goodness of God and his glorious plan of salvation.


— December, 1887 —