February 20, 1896
AFFAIRS in the vicinity of Constantinople and in Asia Minor are more pacific than they were a few weeks ago; but the Eastern Question is not settled, nor will it be until the Turk shall have been driven from Europe.
The real problem that demands solution is not, What shall be the fate of the Turkish Empire? That has long been a foregone conclusion. The Easter Question is, in brief, To whose lot shall Constantinople and the control of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorous fall when the Turk is driven from Europe? Christendom long since decreed the utter destruction of Ottoman supremacy, and could the crowned heads of Europe agree among themselves as to the disposition of the territory of the Sultan, the Turkish Empire could not last a month. Ottoman autonomy exists to-day solely because of the mutual jealousies of the great powers of Europe.
In 1840, the Sultan, Abd-ul-Mejid, who had just come to the throne, finding himself unable to cope successfully with Mehemet Ali, the rebellious Pasha of Egypt, virtually surrendered his sovereignty into the hands of the powers of Europe by accepting their ultimatum in the Egyptian embroglio and transmitting it to the Pasha, who yielded, not to the Sultan but to the powers; since which time Turkey has existed merely by the sufferance of the other nations of Europe, and is well described by the sobriquet, “the Sick Man of the East.” (See 533 on second page.)
Every great power in Europe looks with covetous eyes upon the city of Constantinople. England, Austria, and Russia, especially have each cherished the hope of one day adding to  their possessions this busy mart of the Orient. But hitherto ambition has been restrained by the certain knowledge that the occupation of “Key of the East” by any one of the powers would be the signal for a general European war too awful in its probable consequences to be risked even for such a prize.
Nevertheless the conquest of Turkey, the possession of Constantinople, and the command of the passage between the Mediterranean and the Black Seas have long been the avowed purpose of Russia. Peter the Great cherished this ambition two centuries ago and left it as a sacred legacy to his successors. In his will, the great Czar said:—
Take every possible means of gaining constantinope and the Indies (for he who rules there will be the true sovereign of the world); excite war continually in Turkey and Persia; establish fortresses in the Black Sea; get control of the sea by degrees, and also of the Baltic, which is a double point, necessary to the realization of our project; accelerate as much as possible the decay of Persia; penetrate to the Persian Gulf; reëstablish, if possible, by the way of Syria, the ancient commerce of the Levant; advance to the Indies, which are the great depth of the world. Once there, we can do without the gold of England.
How undeviatingly this policy has been followed by the Czars will appear from an extract from Russian history:—
In 1696, Peter the Great wrested the Sea of Azov from the Turks, and kept it. Next, Catharine the Great won the Crimea. In 1812, by the peace of Bucharest, Alexander I. obtained Moldavia, and the prettily named province of Bessarabia, with its apples, peaches, and cherries. Then came the great Nicholas, who won the right of the free navigation of the Black Sea, the Dardanelles, and the Danube.
Great as were these advances Russian ambition was not satisfied; and in 1853 the Czar attempted to establish “a protectorate over all Christians in Turkey belonging to the Greek Church. This claim not being allowed by the Port, a Russian army entered the Danubian principalities. “After ineffective negotiations war was declared by the Sultan on the 4th of October.” 534
In this, the Crimean war, England and France allied themselves with Turkey; Russia was defeated and lost some territory previously gained; but, in 1870, when all Europe was intently watching the desperate conflict between France and Germany, the Czar announced to the powers that he would no longer be bound by the Treaty of Paris, made in 1856, which excluded his ships and arsenals from the Black Sea; and since that time the Euxine has been practically Russian territory.
But the long-cherish goal of Muscovite ambition had not been reached, and only a few years later eastern Europe was again darkened by an ominous war cloud. Russian intrigue was at work, anmd in 1875 Bosnia and Herzegovina revolted; and in a few months Bulgaria was involved in the rebellion. Servia and Montenegro also took up arms. The atrocities attending the efforts of the Turks to suppress rebellion were such as to excite the indignation of the civilized world. But the resources of European diplomacy were exhausted in fruitless attempts to gain from the Porte some real security for better government in the distracted provinces, and in April, 1877, Russia again declared war.
The neutrality of Austria had been secured by a secret agreement permitting that country to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina, if Russia should extend its influence beyond the Balkans. England would doubtless have interfered [sic.] but the Bulgarian massacres had excited such horror and indignation that Britain was forced to remain neutral. Lord Beaconsfield, then Prime Minister, stipulated, however, that Egypt should not become the scene of hostilities, and that the Russians should not occupy Constantinople, except temporarily. In this way Turkey was left without an active ally, and the following February the Russian army reached the suburbs of the coveted city; but the Czar, knowing that England would not permit him to reap the full fruits of his victory, concluded a treaty of peace with Turkey, March 3, 1878, and shortly withdrew his troops from Ottoman territory.
As a result of the war, several independent and semi-independent principalities were created out of what had formerly been Turkish territory; and in these, Russian influence continued to manifest itself. They have been saved from Muscovite greed only by the influence of England and Austria, made potent by English cannon and Austrian columns.
Russia had gained the Black Sea, but could advance into Asia Minor only by aggressions in Armenia. To this end revolt was encouraged there, until a few months since open rebellion afforded pretext for Mohammedan hate to manifest itself in the massacre of those who bore the name of Christians. This doubtless was the cause of the atrocities which so horrified the world only a few weeks ago. From a human standpoint, only one thing prevented summary interference on the part of the “Christian” powers, and that was jealousy of each other. But God makes even the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder of wrath he restrains. 535 Universal war would greatly retard the progress of the gospel, and so God holds in check these warlike elements until his work is accomplished in the earth. How often during the past twenty years have men said, the final catastrophe can be averted only a few months at most, then universal, devastating war must come. But heavenly messengers restrain the armies of earth. “I saw four angels,” says the inspired penman, “standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he 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 our God in their foreheads.” 536
Many times the speedy dismemberment of Turkey has appeared to be inevitable. But though without friends or allies Turkey has received aid either directly or indirectly in every emergency, and has thus been preserved as a nation; but nobody doubts that the time will come, when, having filled up the cup of its iniquity, the Ottoman power will be swept from the face of the earth.
To the testimony of the unmistakable trend of political events is added the declarations of the Word of God. The prophecy declares plainly that notwithstanding the fact that the Turk has been supported more or less directly in the past by other powers, he will finally be driven from Europe. “He shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain,” says the inspired Word, “yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” 537
“Between the seas in the glorious holy mountain” refers unmistakably to Jerusalem, located between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. Palestine is Turkish territory, and the Mohammedan, equally with the Christian, regards Jerusalem as holy ground. And what is more natural than that driven from Europe and fired by religious fanaticism, the Turk should make the “City of David” his capital?
But such a transfer of the Ottoman seat of government will be no means settle the Eastern Question: it will only change its form. Turkish hate and fanaticism will beget like feelings in “Christian” breasts, and Christendom will demand the expulsion of the Turk from the “Holy City.” “He shall come to his end and none shall help him.” And what then? Let the prophecy answer: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” 538
The seal of the book of Daniel has been broken. Knowledge of the Scriptures, as well as of the arts and sciences, has increased wonderfully, and in the light of the divine Word the present status of the Eastern Question points unmistakably to the soon coming of the “King of kings and Lord of lords” 539 to claim the promise of the Father and to fulfill his word: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 540 “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” 541 And in these events only will be found the final settlement of the Eastern Question.