THERE are a whole lot of people who, through lack of careful attention in years past, as well as now, utterly fail to understand the position of the AMERICAN SENTINEL in relation to present issues.
These folks think that the AMERICAN SENTINEL is opposed to national expansion, and to imperialism as to territory. This is altogether a mistake: an entire misapprehension of the SENTINEL’S position, its work, and its principals.
As to expansion in itself, the United States might expand to the ends of the earth and the AMERICAN SENTINEL would never have a word to say against it. As for imperialism in territory the Uuited [sic.] States might extend its jurisdiction over the territory of a whole earth and the AMERICAN SENTINEL would never have any occasion to utter a word in opposition.
But when in her expansion and her imperial absorption of territory, the Declaration of Independence must be repudiated, and the Constitution abandoned; when in such a career the fundamental principles of the nation and of natural right, are utterly ignored and when not ignored are scouted; here only and for this cause alone, it is that the AMERICAN SENTINEL enters its protest.
If this nation would simply hold fast in unswerving allegiance, the Declaration of Independence and the National Constitution in letter and in spirit, and should expand to the ends of the earth, then her expansion would be an unmixed blessing to the whole world; as in her original little sphere, and her earlier expansion, and in spite of all other power, she has been a blessing to the whole world. If these vital principles of this nation were held by the nation in unquestioning faithfulness, and its imperialism were only in territory, even though it should embrace the territory of the whole world; that also would be a blessing to the world. And the AMERICAN SENTINEL would be glad of it all; because, to enlighten and bless the whole world with these principles is just what, and only what, this nation was planted for.
Therefore, neither with expansion nor with imperialism in territory, has the SENTINEL ever had anything to do, nor will ever have anything to do. But since it is the indisputable truth that this expansion and imperialism is, in every element and at every step carried on in open and entire repudiation of the Declaration of Independence and in disregard of the plain word as well as the whole spirit of the Constitution; since all the opportunities of expansion and imperialism, are made only occasions for the further abandonment of the vital principles of this nation, which were given for the enlightenment of the world; then it is, and this is why it is, that in the interests of mankind, and in behalf of blessing to the world, the AMERICAN SENTINEL opposes the principles of this expansion and this imperialism: the principles bear in mind—not the things, but the principles.
Thus expansion and imperialism in territory might be extended by this nation to the ends of the earth and made to embrace the whole world; and if the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution were in faithfulness carried with it and through it all everywhere, nobody could rightfully have anything whatever to say against it because it would be only for the blessing of the world. Whereas on the other hand, even though expansion had never reached beyond the limits of the possessions of the original thirteen States, and even though imperialism in territory had never been either heard of or mentioned in this nation; yet if imperialism in principle and in governmental practise had been entertained now; and if the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution had been repudiated as they are now; then every Christian and everybody else who has any regard for self-evident truth and the natural rights of mankind, would, in integrity to principle, be required to say just what the AMERICAN SENTINEL is saying. Any such repudiation of principle by this nation can be but the calamity of the world.
In this misapprehension and misjudging of the SENTINEL by these folks, there is a point that is very strange; that is, how anybody who has ever read the AMERICAN SENTINEL to any extent, can think that its present position and views of the SENTINEL on this subject are in any sense now. In all this the SENTINEL stands precisely where it has always stood, and it says exactly what it has always said. The only thing that is new is the new phase of things that has developed in which are now applied the same things which we have always said. And even this new phase of things is but altogether new: it is in present procedure largely of actual fulfillment of that which long ago we said would certainly come of seed that was then being sown.
This could be proved to the length of pages from the files of the SENTINEL of years past. We shall not attempt to take the space for anything like all of it. In this week’s SENTINEL there is an instance in point: when in the subject of governing without the Constitution, as now being done, we quoted from the columns of the SENTINEL of May 7, 1891, what we then said would certainly come, and which has now actually come. And here is another instance: In the SENTINEL of June 11, 1891, under the heading of “There is Mischief in It,” we discussed certain issues that were then current. In that discussion we were obliged to consider and note the principle and development of a one-man power, and the despotism, in the Roman Republic; and the turning of it by the church power into a religious despotism. It was there and then remarked that by false principles and wrong practises among the people there was developed first that devil despotism which was at last turned into a religious despotism. And now we quote:—
“[Thus there was developed] more and more the despotism of the many, till it was merged in a despotism of three—the first triumvirate—which ended in the despotism of one, whom they murdered, which immediately again by a despotism of three—the second triumvirate—which ended again in the despotism of one—Cesar-Augustus—and the final establishment of the imperial despotism, the most horrible civil despotism that ever was, and which continued until Constantine and the political bishops turned it into the most horrible religious despotism that ever was.
“That was the end of that story then and there, and the perfect likeness to it will be the end of this story now and here.
“And this answers the query of one of our correspondents, as to what business has the SENTINEL, a religious paper, to touch this question which is political. We are persuaded that the SENTINEL has not missed its calling, nor spent its efforts in vain in this respect. The SENTINEL is a religious paper, that is true, and it exists for the sole purpose of exposing to the American people the movement for the establishment of a religious despotism here, after the model of the papacy.
“But no religious despotism can ever be established over a free people. It were literally impossible to establish a religious despotism over the royal freemen who made the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.
“This gradual but steady perversion and subversion of the genuine principles of this Government as established by our forefathers, this steady inculcating of the principles of paternalism, is but sowing the seeds of a despotism—whether of the many, of the few, or of one, it matters not—which at the opportune moment will be joined by the political preachers, and out of the wicked alliance thus formed there will come the religious despotism in the perfect likeness of the one which was before, and against which the continuous efforts of the AMERCAN SENTINEL have ever been and ever shall be directed.
“And that is the reason, and the only reason, yet reason enough, why the AMERICAN SENTINEL, a religious paper, touches this otherwise political question….
“It may be that our correspondents will not agree with us just now; but that matters nothing to us. Five years ago when the SENTINEL first called attention to the movement to establish a religious despotism, we were criticised and pooh-poohed for that more than we are now for calling attention to this surest forerunner of it. But the SENTINEL knew then just what it was doing; and it knows now what it is doing just as well is it did then. Those who objected then, know now that we were right then; and those who object now may know sometime that we were right now; and we shall have known it all the time….
“And we are perfectly willing to trust to the event to demonstrate that the coming religious despotism will be established substantially in the manner here outlined.”
And now 1899 and 1900, this which in June, 1891, we said would come—a one-man power—is coming as fast as the days go by. That which in June, 1891, we were willing to trust to the event to demonstrate, is now January, 1900, being constantly demonstrated before the eyes of the whole world by the steady progress of events that the AMERICAN SENTINEL occupied, and speaks precisely the same things that it has always spoken, when it opposes the abandonment of the Constitution and the repudiation of the Declaration of Independence which are the acknowledged, and even the boasted, accompaniments of this expansion and imperialism of this nation. A. T. J.It is the same way with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and others who are working for religious legislation. They do not all intend to establish a religious despotism, they do not all intend to persecute, but a religious despotism with its attendant persecutions, is in the principle of the thing, and will all appear as surely as they secure what they demand, nor will either the wickedness or the cruelty of the thing be relieved by the fact that they did not intend it.
We say to all, have nothing to do with either the religious or the civil movement. In religion let your dependence be upon God, and not upon the Government. And in civil things, let your dependence be upon your own manly self and not upon a paternal, pampering, coddling, meddling government, which must needs tell you what you shall eat and drink and wear, how long you shall work, when you are tired, when you shall rest, and when you shall be religious.