THE Apostle Paul, addressing the Christian Church at Corinth, wrote: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
The Christian’s warfare is different in its weapons, its nature, and its results, from that warfare which is “after the flesh.” As the text declares, the Christian does not war “after the flesh,” yet his warfare is not one-sided and incomplete, but is directed against every foe that can oppose him. It is the only warfare that needs to be conducted in this world.
But it is not the kind of warfare that the world most generally sees and for which the greatest preparations are made, even by those who profess to be Christians; and in the light of the word of God spoken by Paul, how wickedly absurd appears the idea so commonly advanced by certain would-be reformers, that the leading civilized nations of the earth, which manifest a regard for religion, are Christian. By a mere comparison with pagan nations, it is plainly evident that the so-called Christian nations of our day are no more Christian in character than are those of “darkest Africa.” Such a comparison we find in the New York Sun of Oct. 25. The Sun says:—
A delegate to the Convention of the American Board of Foreign Missions gave warning that if China were not speedily Christianized, she would endanger the civilized nations by raising vast hordes of fighters able to swoop down upon them. Brother Hyde does not seem to have thought of the fact that it is the Christianized nations of Europe which keep the vast hordes of fighters and do most of the fighting. In view of the armed millions and the many wars of the great powers of Christendom, we do not see how he can believe that the Christianization of China would prevent her from raising great fighting armies. When Christianized, she would probably want to keep up with European Christendom, in which case her armies would be larger than the combined armies of Russia, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, and England,—all Christian countries.
The Ying Ping, or national army of pagan China, added the other Chinese armies, is smaller, in proportion to the population from which it is drawn, than the army of any of the Christian countries of Europe. The army needed in pagan India is small as compared with that needed in Christian Germany. Japan, since she adopted the customs of Christian nations, has raised an army far greater than she ever had before.
It is the Christian countries, not the pagan ones, that have set the example of maintaining gigantic military establishments. There have been ten times, or twenty, or a hundred times, more fighting and bloodshed in Christian Europe within the past century than in pagan China, though the population of China is probably greater than that of all Europe.
We do not see, therefore, how it can be supposed that the Christianization of China, if China after her Christianization shall follow the example of the Christian powers, is to prevent her from raising armies as big as Christian armies, and as savage on the field of battle as Christian armies.
The pagan races of continental Asia are far more peaceful than the Christian races of continental Europe.
The Christian English, French, Dutch and Spaniards have butchered untold numbers of pagan Asiatics. It is possible that the Christianization of the Asiatics might be the means of leading them to retaliate upon their Christian enemies in Europe. If China shall ever be Christianized, and shall then put in the field armed hordes equal to those of Christian Europe, and able to fight as hard and as long as the Christians, she will be the foremost military power in the world.
We suppose that the Sun here uses the terms, “Christian” and “Christianization” in sarcasm. But the trouble is that through the prevailing low conception of Christianity, mere civilization is mistaken for it by very many minds. The degree of civilization which prevails to-day is indeed largely due to the influence of Christianity, and civilization is very good so far as it goes; but it falls infinitely short of being Christianity itself.
The Scriptures tell us something about a real Christian nation. We learn from it that a Christian nation will be saved from earth in the kingdom of God. Speaking of the time when the Lord God will “swallow up death in victory” and will “wipe away tears from off all faces,” when his people will say, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us,” the prophet says: “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth, may enter in.” Isaiah 26:1, 2. And, as we also learn from the Scriptures, the “truth” must be kept by each individual, for himself, in his own heart, to secure his entrance into the “strong city” of God’s salvation. So that the only “Christian nation on earth is the “nation” of those who, among all peoples and in all climes, keep the truth of God in their hearts.