THE AMERICAN SENTINEL is not going into politics. We make this statement for the benefit of some readers of this paper who see nothing beyond a question of politics in the new national policy of “expansion,” and therefore have thought that in opposing this policy the SENTINEL was going off into politics and away from the path of its appointed work.
The fact that this policy has been warmly discussed in the political arena, does not make of it a mere political question. The Sabbath question has been discussed in the political arena, and will be discussed there again; but the SENTINEL has spoken on that question for years without going into politics. The principles underlying this question, and the question of “expansion,” are broader than politics; and to contend for these principles it is not at all necessary to stand under any political banner.
The AMERICAN SENTINEL affirms that religious liberty is both Christian and Constitutional. It has affirmed this from the first. But in contending for religious liberty as a Constitutional thing the SENTINEL has never gone into politics. Nor is it, in opposing the “expansion” policy, doing anything else than contending for Constitutional liberty.
The AMERICAN SENTINEL has from the first contended for the principles of liberty embodied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In the enactment and enforcement of religious laws these principles of liberty have been denied and set aside, and the SENTINEL has opposed such laws as being contrary to the Constitution and the principles of free government. In the policy of imperialism these principles are no less truly set aside; and the SENTINEL cannot contend for them without opposing that policy.
“It doesn’t make any particular difference to us”—so  say some readers of the SENTINEL—“whether the United States annexed the Philippine Islands or not.” We ask all such whether it makes any difference to them if the United States, in annexing those islands, repudiates those foundation principles of government under which they have enjoyed civil and religious liberty hitherto, and which alone promise them that liberty for the future.
When those principles of republicanism shall have been repudiated—it matters not in what way—republican government in the United States will be at an end, and nothing in American government will be left to which appeal can be made against civil or religious oppression.
The policy of imperialism involves a complete repudiation of the principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Imperialism says not “the consent of the governed,” but “the consent of some of the governed.” That doctrine is as true in one part of the earth as in another; it is as true in the United States as in the Philippine Islands. If it is practiced in the one place, it must also prevail in the other.
When some years ago a tide of religious persecution arose in this country, through the enactment and enforcement of Sunday laws, a coming crisis was betokened in American government. That was a startling thing, and the AMERICAN SENTINEL was established to endeavor to prepare the people to meet the issue. There was a movement which, if it continued, would finally involve a national repudiation of those principles of free government under which the people of this country had enjoyed civil and religious liberty. But even more startling is it when now, within a single year, that national repudiation of those principles has all but come. We now know, as we did not before, to what extent the nation has drifted away from the principles of freedom toward those of despotism, and how near we are to the complete fulfillment of what has been predicted of it.
We had thought that every reader of the SENTINEL understood that it was the mission of the SENTINEL to contend for these principles, and to warn against the consequences of repudiating them. We are surprised therefore to find there are any readers of the SENTINEL who, when the principle of government by the consent of the governed is directly repudiated, do not see that the SENTINEL ought to say anything about it. We can only conclude that, as concerns their own interests and the interests of others in the issues before them, such persons are asleep.
But “Not it is high time to awake out of sleep.” Romans 13:11.