D. M. PANTON
LAWLESSNESS is a deep antagonism to law, all law, and especially Divine law: it is an appeal to force, not law; and it is preceded by a weakening of all authority-parental, scholastic, civic, national, moral, and Divine. Scripture reveals that the supreme sin at the end will be lawlessness. Translating the Greek exactly as it is, our Lord foretold that, at the end, "because lawlessness shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24: 12) - that is, lawlessness will undermine the Church; and He foretold that He would say to latter-day sinners, - "Depart from me ye that work lawlessness” (Matt. 7: 23) ; and so also He says that at his Advent His angels will "gather out of his kingdom those that work lawlessness" (Matt. 13: 41).
Modern statesmen, who have charge of public order, are naturally sensitive to the ever deepening lawlessness. Before the first World War Lord Balfour said:- "I remember a good many years ago Mr. Gladstone telling me that the problems that would have to be solved by my generation were far more intricate and difficult than those that had to be solved by the generation of which he was one of the most distinguished representatives. Mr. Gladstone, I suppose, was about forty years older than myself. I suppose about the same difference of years separates me from the great bulk of those I now address, and I say to you what Mr. Gladstone said to me. I say to you, that the problems which your generation will have to solve are more difficult even than the problems that have fallen for solution to the generation of which I am a member." Much more can we say the same thing today. A former Archbishop of Canterbury said:- "There has grown up of late years a distinct change of attitude towards the laws of the land; I do not think it can be denied that in recent years the sense of the reverence of law - to law as law - has become weakened in a curious degree." Mr. Bonar Law said: "I believe that one of the worst signs of the times is a loss of respect for the authority of the law."
It is exceedingly instructive that the first open profession of lawlessness - the Anarchists - began in Russian origin. Prince Kropotkine said: "Instead of inanely repeating the old formula, 'Respect the law', we say, 'Despise law and all its attributes'. In place of the cowardly phrase, 'Obey the law', our cry is, 'Revolt against all laws'!" So Lavaleye's Contemporary Socialism, p. 202:- “We wish to destroy all States and all Churches, with all their institutions and laws, religious, political, judicial, magisterial, academical, economical, and social." The Russian founder of Anarchism, Bokunine, says (Lavaleye's Contemporary Socialism, p. 204):- "The Revolutionist despises and detests existing morality. Between him and society there is war - war to the death, incessant, irreconcilable. So much the worse for him if he has in this world any ties of relationship, of friendship, of love. He must live in the midst of society, feigning to be what he is not; he must penetrate everywhere. Poison, poignard, running noose - the revolution sanctifies all means without distinction" (Lavaleye's Contemporary Socialism, p. 204). Marriage, the social foundation of every State, is rejected by all Anarchists. In the words of Carlyle a century ago:- "Is not Anarchy, or the Rule of what is baser over what is nobler, the one life's misery worth complaining of, and in fact the abomination of abominations, springing from and producing all others whatsoever?" *
[* The word ‘Anarchy’ is now scarcely ever used, nor its successor ‘Nihilism’; but its whole force is now in Communism which is threatening all the governments of the world.]
Lawlessness naturally involves the abolition of God, the source and fountain of all law. Stepniak says:- "Absolute Atheism is the sole inheritance that has been preserved intact by the new generation, and I need scarcely point out how much advantage the modern revolutionary movement has derived from it" (Underground Russia, p. 7); or as Karl Marx, the founder of the Communism which is now sweeping the world, expresses it:- "The idea of God must be destroyed: the true root of liberty, equality, culture is Atheisrn." So Lenin, the creator of the Soviet, says:- "Religion is one of the worst forms of spiritual oppression. Our propaganda must include Atheism." "If God existed," says Bukunine, "it would be necessary to abolish Him." "By precipitating from the heights of the heavens Him from Whom all power is reputed to descend, societies unseat also all those who reigned in His name" (Messrs. Caflero and Reclus, God and the State, p. 4).
The Lawless One
But the extraordinary fact is that lawlessness, while it is atheism towards Jehovah, is worship of its own gods. The Satanic growth of Lawlessness has a very definite aim and goal. Lawlessness will culminate in the Lawless One - an embodiment and perfection of anarchy; an abrogator of all law, in order to impose his own; a monarch whom the Old Testament calls "the wilful King," and the New Testament (2 Thess. 2: 8, R.V.), "the Lawless One." "And the King shall do according to his will and shall exalt himself above every God; for he shall magnify himself above all" (Daniel 11: 36): "And he shall think to change the time and the law" (Daniel 7: 25). Now the drift of Imperialism all over the world towards this fearful issue is supremely revealed by an utterance of the late Kaiser, truly called by Lord Cromer an "astounding" utterance:- "There is only one law, and that is my law" (Spectator, July 31, 1915). As far back as seventy years ago, Dean Vaughan said:- "The reign of lawlessness is begun ; though a few years, or a few tens of years, may yet intervene before the actual unveiling of the Lawless One."
One example will be sufficient of this astounding drift of lawlessness. Even seventy years ago this was written of a young Anarchist. "Lassalle is looked upon by his disciples as the Messiah of Socialism. After his death they venerated him as a demi-god. To them he is the object of a real worship. They do not hesitate even to compare him to Christ. The impression is so profound that numbers of people believed, and still believe (in 1883) that he did not die, and that he will come again in his glory, to preside over the great revolution and reorganization of society” (Lavaleye's Contemporary Socialism, p. 54). So modern Anarchism is acting as a dissolvent on Divine Law, and yet concurrently building a platform for the worship of the Lawless One: the very revolt against law is preparing the world to receive his lawlessness as its final and supreme law.
The Wrath of God
Jude's unutterably awful description of the corruption in the closing days begins with its lawlessness: "These set at naught dominion" - destroy every form of government - "and rail at dignities" (Jude 8) - whether civil or ecclesiastical: a lawlessness which holds all authority in contempt, and creates a volcano of revolution. Their doom foretold is one of the most extraordinary prophecies in the Bible. Five thousand years before they exist, today's anarchists are directly warned of the Second Advent. “To THESE also Enoch prophesied" - not of them, but to them - "saying, Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment upon all" (ver. 14, R.V.). The warning is explicit: what army can fight angels who cannot be shot, and who cannot even be bruised by an atomic bomb? And with extraordinary appropriateness the prophesy is given by the embodiment of all rapture, Enoch, who was caught up from earth before the whole human race was wiped off the earth; thus signalling to us that if we too are to be translated, our whole soul must be poured out, like that of Enoch, in, warning of the awful judgments that are on the threshold.
our Lord returns and stamps it out, there is only one effective antidote to
lawlessness - grace. It is exquisitely
expressed in a recent incident. In the
Communist rising in