January 7, 1897
TO-DAY the AMERICAN SENTINEL enters upon its twelfth year’s work. Every one who has watched the court of events during these eleven years, knows that the call for this work is more urgent than ever before.
When the first number of the AMERICAN SENTINEL was issued in January, 1886, who, however well informed, would have supposed that in only eleven years the movement to make the United States Government “Christian,” and the “Christian religion” a national thing, would have become so all-pervading and so popular as it is?
Then there was but one small sect that was working to this bad end. That movement was weak, and unpopular almost everywhere. All the principles and precepts of the Government were positively against it.
Now the movement is powerful and popular almost everywhere. And in spite of principle and precept, the Government of the United States has been turned bodily in its favor, with notice from the National Executive that “all will have to accept the situation,” and “face the music.” In more than one way that is a complete revolution.
WHAT IS THE SITUATION
Let us glance at original principles, that we may the better understand what the situation is, that “all will have to accept.”
Everybody knows that upon principle, and by express provision of the supreme law, the Government of the United States was established not only without any recognition of religion, but with the exclusion of religion, and specifically the Christian religion. This was done, too, because of respect to the Christian religion—“that the infinite Spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom, and purity, and power,” and that here there might be no encroachments upon the prerogatives of God.
Thus the Government of the United States was established in truth upon the Christian basis: in that its fundamental principles and supreme law were in exact harmony with the provisions announced by Jesus Christ with respect to the total separation that should be maintained between His religion and the jurisdiction of the State, between the kingdom of God and the governments of this world.
Thus America became to all the world “the classical land” of religious liberty. Therefore no step could ever be taken against this order of things in the Government, without attacking religious liberty: no thing could ever be done toward governmental recognition of the Christian religion, without being against the plain word of Christ, as well as against the fundamental principles and the supreme law of the Government itself.
This was all plain enough to all who cared to consider that the principles of Christ and the good of mankind were of more importance than their own opinions. And this is why the American people have been so slow to believe that there could be any danger to religious liberty, any danger of the establishment of a national religion, in this country; they would not believe that there could ever be enough people in this country who would become antichristian, to change the order of things in which the Government of the United States was founded, and which it represented to all the world.
By the year 1886, however, those who established the AMERICAN SENTINEL considered that there was sufficient indications of this approaching danger to justify the publishing of a paper which should be devoted to the maintenance of the principles of Christianity represented in the fundamental principles and the supreme law of the Government of the United States; while at the same time it should watch closely to detect and expose every motion that might be made toward securing the governmental recognition of religion.
In 1892, the Supreme Court of the nation committed the judicial department of the Government to the  recognition of the “Christian religion” as a governmental thing by declaring that “organic utterances” and the “meaning” of the Constitution prove that “this is a Christian nation,” in accordance with original documents whose “purpose” was “the establishment of the Christian religion” in this country. And by another decision in 1895, the Court has shown that it adheres to this doctrine.
In 1892, also, Congress committed the legislative department of the Government not only to the recognition of the “Christian religion” as a governmental thing, but to the recognition of that particular phase of it that is represented in Sunday observance: and in 1893, by direct action, confirmed that which is had done in 1892.
In 1892, the President of the United States committed the executive department of the Goverment [sic.] to the recognition of the “Christian religion” as a governmental thing by approving the action of Congress. In addition to this, in 1896, the President of the United States, in a Thanksgiving proclamation, again committed the executive department of the Government, specifically, to the “Christian religion” as a governmental thing; and shortly afterward followed it up with the ominous declaration that “this is a Christian nation, and it is only a question of time when all will have to come to accept the situation.”
Now it is undeniable that these three departments—the legislative, the judicial, and the executive—are the Government of the United States. It is also undeniable that these three departments have, by repeated action, committed themselves to the recognition of the “Christian religion” as a governmental thing. It is therefore also undeniable that in spite of the plain words of Jesus Christ; and in spite of the fundamental principles and the supreme law of the nation; the Government of the United States has been dragged into the recognition of the “Christian religion;” and in the antichristian sense in which such a term is always used, has been made a “Christian government.”
What more could possibly be necessary to the accomplishment of such a thing? Was it essential that all three branches of the Government should take such step, in order that it might truly be said that the Government had done it? All three have definitely and intentionally taken such step. Was it essential that all three branches of the Government should by repeated action take such step, in order that it might truly be said that the Government had done it? All three, by repeated action, have done it. And, as though to put a climax to the whole scheme, the President gives notice not only that “this is a Christian nation,” but that it is only a question of time when “all will have to accept the situation,” and “face the music.”
Yet this is not to say that all has been done that will be done. Not by any means: for such evil tide once a-flowing, will not cease until it shall have overflown, reached even to the neck, and filled the breadth of the land. This is to say, however, what cannot be disproved, that the particular, the essential, thing of the recognition of a governmental national religion, has been accomplished by the Government of the United States. And when more shall have been done in this direction, it matters not what it may be, it is impossible for it to be the doing of any new thing. All that it can possibly be is but the enlarging and deepening of the thing that has already been done.
PECULIARITIES OF THE SITUATION
In view of all this that has certainly been done, it is remarkable how the great mass of the people of the United States do “accept the situation.”
Practically, the whole religious element of the nation accepts the situation, because it is glad to have it so. This element not only accepts the situation, but will do all in its power to emphasize President Cleveland’s pronunciamento that all “will have to accept” it.
The vast majority of those who are not confessed, of the religious element, tamely accept the situation because they do not believe that the issue is of sufficient importance to justify them in taking a course that will subject them to the sneers, the scoffs, and the ostracism: both business and social, that are so largely dealt out to all who choose to let it be known that they do not accept the situation.
Looking at the situation as it really is to-day, in contrast with the situation that our fathers created when they established the National Government and fixed the supreme law, a person is driven to the supposition that the great mass of the people of the United States to-day must think that our fathers made a great mistake when they carried on such a long and earnest contest against any governmental recognition of the “Christian religion.”
There is certainly a great mistake somewhere in the issue. If our fathers were right in establishing the Government and fixing the supreme law, with the express exclusion of any recognition of the Christian religion, then these men to-day cannot be right in dragging the whole Government into express recognition of the “Christian religion.” And if these men are right to-day in giving express governmental recognition to the “Christian religion,” then assuredly our fathers were wrong in expressly excluding the Christian religion from governmental recognition.
These two things cannot stand together. One of them must inevitably be wrong. And to “accept the situation” as it is to-day, and as the President of the United States says it “will have to” be accepted, is to say that our fathers were wrong in excluding the Christian religion from governmental recognition. But to say, or tacitly to admit, or “to accept the situation which argues, that our fathers were wrong in this, is to go further back than that point. The leading writer of the history of the United States has well said that the exclusion of religion from governmental recognition was  “the logical consequence of either of the two great distinguishing principles of the Reformation, as well of justification by faith alone as the equality of all believers.”
To “accept the situation” then as it is to-day, is to allow that our fathers were wrong in creating the situation which they labored so hard to create. And to allow that they were wrong in this, is to argue that the Reformation, in its two great distinguishing principles, was wrong. And to do that is to occupy distinctly papal ground.
Nor yet is this all. We have shown that the situation which was created by our fathers in the total separation of the Christian religion from governmental recognition, is precisely the situation which the words of Christ declare that governments should occupy. And our fathers caused this Government to occupy that situation because of their respect for the words of Christ which demanded it; and because of deference to “the principles upon which the gospel was first propagated.”
To “accept the situation” then as it is to-day in the Government of the United States respecting the “Christian religion,” and which President Cleveland says “will have to” be accepted, is not only to allow that our fathers were wrong in excluding the Christian religion from governmental recognition, but it is also to argue that the principles upon which the gospel was first propagated, and even the very words of Christ, are wrong. And to do that, is to take the position of antichrist.
And that is the situation as it is to-day.
THE TWO SITUATIONS
There are then, in fact, two situations before the people of America to-day: First, the situation which was created by our fathers, when, by the fundamental principles and the supreme law of the Government, and according to the words of Christ and the principles upon which the gospel was first propagated, they excluded the Christian religion from governmental recognition. Secondly, the situation upon which the gospel was first propagated; and in spite of the fundamental principles and the supreme law of the Government; has been created to-day by the repeated governmental recognition of the “Christian religion.”
These are the two situations that are before the people of the United States to-day. The first is Christian, the second is antichristian. And “it is not a theory, but a condition, which confronts us.” For the President has plainly said, and there are multitudes who are ready, by whatever means, to make the saying effective, that “all will have to accept the situation” as it has been created lately—the antichristian situation.
Calmly and deliberately, and in the fear of Christ, we say that we will not “have to” accept the situation. We will not “have to” do it, simply because we will not do it. Not only this, but we are going to oppose it with all our might—not on the field of carnage nor with weapons of carnal warfare; but as our fathers did, in the field of public opinion, with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” “with sufferings and the Cross.” There are thousands of us now, and there are going to be thousands upon thousands of us before the contest is over, who will not “accept the situation,” who will not “face the music.”
Christ or antichrist—that is the question, Choose ye. As for us and our house, we choose Christ, the principles upon which the gospel was first propagated, the two great distinguishing principles of the Reformation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States. “Come with us and we will do thee good, for God has spoken good concerning Israel.”
IN the Christian Statesman, of December 19, 1896, Rev. J. N. Leiper, reporting the visit of the Anti-Saloon League to President Cleveland, a short time before, adds the following; and the italics are his own:—
“After this ceremony was over, the writer went back to the President, and, in the presence of a few others, said: ‘Mr. President, I most earnestly thank you for the recognition of your Saviour and mine in your Thanksgiving proclamation.’ I write this incident in order to give the President’s reply, which deserves to be remembered by all citizens. After referring to the fact that he had been criticised for it by the Jews and some others, he remarked: ‘We are a Christian nation, and we may as well face the music.’”
That statement of the President’s does certainly “deserve to be remembered by all citizens,” and by all others in the country. Indeed, there is not much likelihood that they will have much opportunity to forget it. The real question is, Will they “face the music”?