DEMOCRACY AND THE END
D. M. PANTON.
"Democracy," says Lord Haldane,
"governs the day, and those who are wise accept
facts, and rejoice in them. After all, democracies are not always
wise: the voice of the people is not always the voice of God. But with
what would you replace the voice of the people? I, for my part, know not."
It is an astounding fact that this harassing perplexity of the modern
statesman, unaware or incredulous of the Stone cut without Hands, was foretold
2,500 years ago, in a vision seen sheer down the course of time. For when
[*Gold, 19.3; silver, 10.51; brass, 8.5; iron, 7.6; clay, 1.9. It is the quality and intensive force of the power, not its immensity of rule, that is indicated: if anything, the latter dominions (as in the image itself) were bulkier than the earlier; and all had the title, though none the actuality, of universal rule.
** Babylon, Nedo-Persia, Greece and Rome have been accepted as the four empires by a majority of the "fathers," by all the expositors of the Middle Ages after Strabo, and by the majority of modern evangelical commentators.]
"Thou, O King Nebuchadnezzar, art the head of gold." Absolute power in the hands of incorruptible goodness, and swayed by adequate wisdom, is the perfection of government: God gave to the Babylonian Empire in its purest and most perfect form.* "All the peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive" (Dan. 5: 19). In fee, in title, God gave Nebuchadnezzar the world: no power on earth could thwart the progress of his arms. But the experiment was quickly disastrous. Self-deification, or Caesar-worship, the acme of human sin, made its immediate appearance (Dan. 3: 1): the first Divine discipline on an emperor, changing an autocracy into madness, failed to warn his successor: "in that night was Belshazzar the Chaldean king slain, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom" (Dan. 5: 30).
[* One Head belongs to the Image throughout:
composite empire followed, the Persian, of inferior autocracy. "After thee shall arise another
kingdom inferior to thee." Two arms - the Mede
and the Persian - but one breast: of silver, not gold; for the monarchy, no
longer absolute, was curbed by powerful nobles. Whom he would, Nebuchadnezzar kept alive; but
Darius, though his heart was set to deliver Daniel, "laboured till the going down of the sun to rescue him"
(Dan. 6: 14) in vain. The
The Greek Empire, "the third kingdom of brass," followed, "which shall bear rule over all the earth,"* Brass, for hardness, far excels silver and gold: so by conquest alone Alexander made an empire so universal that he wept for other worlds to conquer; and the yoke upon the nations became more military and cruel with the lapse of each empire. The Macedonian Empire was the exaltation of intellect: the Greek has been unrivalled in art and letters; there are traces of human thought in which he has never ceased to be supreme. But again the power was decadent and dissolvent: made by force of arms, it quickly decomposed on Alexander’s death, and split up into four kingdoms ruled by his four generals. Sovereign power decayed pari passu with the decay of national righteousness.
[*"The loins of
last Empire, the Roman, arose as iron: "as iron breaketh in pieces" - by beating or crushing -
"and subdueth" - hammering out thin
like tin, so imperial
[* The first empire is one; the second is twofold; the third splits into four; the fourth becomes as ten: perpetual division of power is its own inevitable decay.]
** Each empire, for its own period, has held the world in title, but not in fact. Many decades intervened between the fall of Persia and the rise of Greece, and so between the Greek Empire and the Roman, and six centuries have now passed without a world-emperor: but in each period no rival to universal rule is allowed to arise, a stubborn fact revealed to Hannibal, Mohammed, and Napoleon. So the duration of the world-empires roughly correspond to the proportions of the Image. Head and neck, 12inches - Babylon - B.C. 913 to 539, 374 years; Breast, including arms, 6 inches - Medo-Persia - 539 to 331, 208 years; Stomach, 9 inches - Greece - 331 to 27, 304 years; Legs, from hip to ankle, 41 inches - Rome to the French Revolution - 27 to A.D. 1789, 1816 years; Feet, 4 inches - Democracy - 1789 to [ present time], 313 years (+ 60 years approx. since this tract was written). If so, how near the end!?]
stands revealed in the feet the rise of DEMOCRACY. Clay mingles
with the Iron: "whereas thou sawest the iron mixed
with miry clay" - brittle earthenware, easily shivered - "they" - the monarchs and statesmen - "shall mingle themselves" - as in "king [/Queen]," "lords,"
and "commons," one government -
"with the seed of men," the
People. Seventeen centuries ago a shred commentator foresaw the rise of
democracy in Daniel’s words: - "These events,"
says Hippolytus, "are
in the future, when the Ten Toes of the Image will have turned out to be so
many democracies."* The first
Japanese Diet and the first Russian Duma, two of the
innumerable travails of democracy, graphically reveal the strategic mingling of
the iron and clay. On Feb. 12, 1890, in the Diet of Tokio. "The peers and commons," says Sir Edwin Arnold,
who was present, "with foreheads upon the floor,
knelt in two hemispheres before the Mikado, as the Marquis Ito handed to his
Majesty the first speech from the Throne during a dynasty of two thousand years."
The first Duma
is thus described: "There were 460 deputies
ranged on the left side of the throne-room: while opposite stood the senators
in scarlet and gold, admirals and generals in their dazzling uniforms, the
state council, and the governors of cities. Pale, bald, fat, and
elaborately dressed in many colours, like senile children they stood there:
opposite them were the peasant deputies - thin, alert, and sunburnt, with brown
and hoary heads, dressed like common mankind, the symbol of the new age."
Even the East, the immemorial home of the unmingled Iron, yields to the growing
inroads of the Clay. "No axiom of
international politics," says Lord Cirzon,
"would have been accepted with less dispute than
the belief that devotion to absolutism was so innate and deeply rooted an
institution in the East that whatever change of government it might set up, or
desire, this would not take the form of representative government or democratic
institutions. The change produced has been enormous. Within seven
years of the outbreak of the Russo-Japenese War, we
have seen the Turks in Europe and the Persians in Asia dethroning an absolute
monarch and setting up a Parliamentary Chamber; the Egyptians clamouring for a
similar institution; the Indian Nationalists adopting as their avowed programme
self-government on Parliamentary lines; the Siamese commencing an agitation at
Bangkok: the Filipinos already manipulating with zest the institutions
conferred upon them by America; the Riussian Slavs
(who in the acceptance of autocracy had been more Eastern than the East)
exacting a Duma; and above all - greatest of all
wonders - China starting provincial assemblies, and committing herself to the
summoning of a Parliament in a few years’ time." Even the
Shah, the last of the absolute monarchs of
[* The so-called democracies of
** The majority of modern wars are the creation, not of diplomatists or of statesmen, but of irresistible gusts of popular passion.]
For, even from a civic point of view, it is an amalgamation of the unamalgamatable, and a fountain of unceasing strife. "There shall be in it" - the democratic stage; "of the strength of the iron" - strength of empire, hard, destructive, autocratic, - imperialisms wielding vaster armies and more potent navies than the world has ever known: yet "the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle;" for the iron of imperialism, forcibly blended in every state with the clay of democracy, is constantly checked and curbed and the State endangered. The Iron is a gatling gun, served by a mere handful of trained gunners: the Clay is the unarmed populace, scattering in a moment from the public squares in their thousands, as easily broken as brittle earthenware. Two sovereignties, latently hostile, will rend every state: the sovereignty of the Throne or the Army, and the sovereignty of the People, - "those masters of both Houses," in the words of Mr. A. J. Balfour, "who, by the admission of politicians of all schools, are and ought to be the final arbiters of our national destinies." But the cleavage is irreconcilable: every dynasty will oscillate in the balances until the end: for "they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay." Disastrous weakness, bred of internal and incessant democratic strife,* demoralises the nations until the End. Colossal Man will thus have been tested in every part: absolutism, oligarchy, militarism, democracy - all ranks and classes will have received, and grossly mishandled, world-power: and, for the iniquity of all, the whole collapses in irretrievable ruin - "like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them."**
[* The Hebrew for "divided" (verse 41) "always signifies unnatural or violent division arising from inner disharmony or discord" (Keil).]
[** How unwise,
therefore, how dangerous, for a disciple [of Christ] to meddle in that
which must so soon undergo annihilating judgment! We contribute to the State’s support (
at last arrives the End: God Himself resumes the
supreme world-power, and establishes, UPON [THIS] EARTH, a kingdom of righteousness, in the
person of the true Man, the SON OF MAN. A Stone - a mineral
also, so an empire as literal as the other empires - descends on a sudden [descent] from
Heaven: it collides with the Image in sharp and smashing collision:* the
colossal majesty of human greatness, the entire fabric of human power,
disappears as chaff: and the Stone then waxes great, and fills the whole
earth. It is a universal
kingdom, for it replaces all other kingdoms; a kingdom on earth, for it is "under the whole heaven" (Dan.
7: 27), "and it filled the whole earth;"
a literal Kingdom, for "all the peoples, nations, and languages shall serve Him"
(Dan. 7: 14): it is the Fifth Monarchy of
the world. "Behold there came" - not
with the swaddling-bands of the cradle, but - "with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man" (Dan. 7: 13). It is not the First Advent - that arrived in the first days of the
Legs, and when the Legs were iron, whereas the Stone smites the Image on its
miry Feet (Dan. 2: 34): "in the days of those kings" - the days of the desperate amalgamation of
the iron and the clay - "shall the God of
heaven set up a kingdom," inaugurated
by the Second Advent. "The God of
heaven shall set up a kingdom," not
merely introduce a King: it is not a prophecy of the First
Advent, when Christ came to save, not to destroy; but the day of a violent collision between the Most High and the great
Powers of the world. The Image totally disappears from the
moment of its collision with the Stone: a fact alone decisive that it is not our Lord’s first coming, after
[* "Broken in pieces at one blow" (Keil on verse 35). The Jewish Rabbis acknowledge the Stone to be the Messiah.]
[** Cromwell’s government, probably the only capture and control of a state by converted men which the world has ever known, was mistaken for Christ’s Kingdom by the "fifth monarchy men," who thus logically resorted to force. Quickly disillusioned, they became a hot-bed of sedition, and were all captured and slain.]