THE cultivation of military power is certainly a strange thing for people professedly Christian to urge upon a nation. Ever since the time when the greatest enemy of Christianity led King David to number Israel an object lesson has been before the world teaching that dependence upon military power is wholly contrary to the mind of God.
God would have all people depend upon Him. He is the God of battles, and the cause which is allied with Him will triumph in spite of all the “heavy battalions” of the enemy.
“Put not your trust in princes,” wrote the psalmist, “neither in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” Psalm 146:3. Against the tide of right, the alien armies can no more prevail than could the Assyrians against King Hezekiah, when a single angel from God slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand of their number and a night.
David’s sin and that of the people with him, when Israel was numbered, was that of trusting in their own power. It was the sin of pride, than which nothing separates the soul further from God. In proportion as a nation develops military strength, national pride is fostered, and the spirit of dependence upon God, which is the essential spirit of Christianity, is cast aside. This of course gives rise to a condition which is highly unfavorable to the spread of the gospel with its doctrine of self-denial and humility before God.
This is not a mere theory, it is a truth exemplified in the world to-day, and so much so in Japan that attention is being called to it by religious journals. The Christian Intelligencer says of it:—
“There has been a decline of interest in Christianity in Japan since the successful war in China produced a high degree of national self-confidence among the Japanese. The cry was heard everywhere, ‘Japan for the Japanese.’ One result was religious, and became manifest in a decline in the number of converts to the Christian faith, and a falling off in the membership of the Christian churches. Not a few abandoned Christianity. At the same time the policy of some of the missions was modified. Self-support was more and more insisted on both in relation to churches and schools. Contemporary with these influences has been a perhaps a decline, under the power of an increasing military materialism, in the interest and the prayers of the churches which have established the missions.”
The same feeling prevails in Germany, whose … only recently declared that the “only hold” of the churches against the unbelief of the times, is “the imperial and escutcheon of the German empire.” In its pride of a great military power, the German state has actually put itself in the place of God. And there is not a great military power on the earth that does not embody this anti-Christian doctrine and spirit.
This spirit and that of militarism go together. The cultivation of the one fosters the development of the other. When the church encourages the one she encourages the other, and erects a stumbling-block in her own pathway, barring the way to the accomplishment of her appointed mission in the earth.