By  D. M. PANTON, B. A.


The Holy Spirit has cut down through the geological strata of human history so as to lay bare, centuries before, the course of world-empire; or (to vary the figure to His own) He has laid a gigantic Man prone through three thousand years, dissecting him into the Empires to which the Most High has given the right of world-rule.  The head - Chaldea, the breast - Persia; the loins - Greece; the thighs and legs - Rome, culminating in the eastern and western empires, and the outstanding feature of the last phase - the feet - is that while still Roman, and an enormously crushing power, it is mixed, though not blended, with inherent weakness.  At this last stage God’s annihilating Stone is launched on the Image from another world, and replaces world-empire by the Kingdom of God.  Not only does the exact parallel between the actual course of history, and the prophecy as uttered centuries earlier, provide an argument for Divine inspiration impossible to answer, but, even more wonderful, the parallel between the present world-conditions and those foretold in the prophecy for the immediate end affords a proof of the proximity of the Advent unsurpassed.*


[* That Rome (though unnamed) is the Iron cannot be challenged for the prophecy covers all Empire until the Second Advent, and Rome succeeds the three earlier empires and is the greatest of all.]




The last world-empire is iron.  "Iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that crusheth, shall it break in pieces and crush" (Dan. 2: 40).  Law, irresistible law, enforced law both good and bad, has been the characteristic of Rome.  The law of the whole civilized world to-day is Roman Law; and the Roman Church, which aspired to succeed the Empire, has an iron discipline that has made it the most despotic Church in all history. Napoleon, who dreamed of restoring Imperial Rome and therefore christened his infant child ‘King of the Romans,’ when the dream was over comforted himself with the iron for which he was responsible, - "Waterloo will outlast the memory of my forty victorious battles: what will never pass away is my book of laws: my code has had more effect than any civil codes before it."  But in the final phase of world-empire, as described by the Spirit, it is lawless law - that is, a judiciary legalized by enactment, but ruthlessly crushing by means of law neither human nor Divine: "it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet" (Dan. 7: 7).




Simultaneously there appears, side by side with the iron an element fragile, friable, sharply distinct.  "Whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they" - the iron kings and dictators - "shall mingle themselves" - shall study to amalgamate - "with the seed of men" - the proletariat - "but they shall not cleave one to another."  The word rendered ‘men’ is employed in Hebrew and in Chaldean to denote men of an inferior class - the lower orders, the common herd - in contradistinction from the more elevated and noble classes, represented by another word (see Isa. 2: 9; 5: 15; Prov. 8: 4).*  Clay can be hard (that is, despotic) like iron; but it is a political system which, resting on a myriad minds, is inherently unstable, and can crumble in a moment.


[* Barnes.  This is fatal to the theory that the Clay is Israel, and still more fatal is it that before the Feet appear the Clay has (in the Dream) no existence.  Moreover, the ‘kingdom,’ or ‘sovereignty’ is shared by the clay - "it shall be a divided kingdom", (ver. 40), and the ‘sovereignty,’ which is governmental and not financial, is not, and never has been, shared by Israel.  The dictation of the proletariat’ thus becomes a very significant phrase, for the ‘proletariat’ was the lowest class in the community of ancient Rome contributing nothing to the State except its offspring.  No true democracy ever existed before the founding of the United States and the French Revolution.  The Greek and Roman 'republics’ were merely oligarchies ruling troops of slaves, and the rise of even a slave to be Roman Emperor is no more ‘democracy’ than is a blacksmith’s son the creator of Fascism, becoming the most powerful of all modern Dictators.  The French Revolution was probably the ankle of the Image.”]




Now the political world is watching two enormous developments, of which the first is the world-wide revival of the Iron.  "In the old days," says the Prime Minister, "when revolutions broke out, it was crowns that fell, but in recent years a modern revolution brings down democracy."  In all nations the Iron is re-asserting itself.  "To-day," says Sir Ch. Petrie (Spectator, Jan. 10, 1931), "State after State has turned its back upon Democracy, with the result that the older forms of government, which men deemed had been completely superseded, are once more coming into favour."  And it is Rome which has recreated the substance, as well as stamped upon it a name which probably will become universal-Fascism.  "Fascism," says Signor Mussolini, "is the most complete modern form of government. In this obscure, tormented, and vacillating world, safety can come only from the truth of Rome, and from Rome it will come" (Times, Nov, 17, 1932).




The other political portent the world watches with still greater anxiety is an incredible intensification of the Clay. Democracy rapidly ceases to be an ordered party in the State, and becomes a social disintegration, a bitter class-war, a world revolution.  The Throne Room of the Romanoff’s in the Kremlin has become the headquarters of the Third International; and as Rome is the quarry of the Iron, so Moscow is the world’s Clay-yard.  The great Russian, Bulcharin, says:- "Our revolution is a component part of the mighty international revolutionary movement throughout the world, which includes all colonial wars, national revolutions, proletarian risings, and future revolutions, because we have entered an epoch of wars and revolutions.  We here, as a matter of fact, are international revolutionaries.  Have we not said so twenty thousand times?  Our revolution is part of a vast process likely to extend over an enormous period and, though following tortuous and circuitous paths, is marching to its final consummation."




Now the outstanding fact is that so deeply are these violently contending forces embedded in the body politic of every nation that they are set in a death-struggle, so that the last phase of world-politics is precisely that foretold - dominant Iron mixed, but never blended, with insurgent and irreconcilable Clay.  A studied attempt is made by the autocratic forces to unite with demos - "they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another": the two are for ever irreconcilable while it is not in power to exterminate either.*  So then, "there shall be in it" - the Corporative State - "of the strength of the iron" - strength 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 Communism, is constantly checked and curbed and the State endangered.  The Hebrew for divided (ver. 41) "always signifies unnatural or violent division arising from inner disharmony or discord " (Keil): not always open civil war, but a State so much a compound of irreconcilables as to be constantly threatened with disruption.


[* The Nazis’ official title is the National Socialists; Mussolini, an ex-Socialist, has introduced a "guild State which is something between Capitalism and Socialism" (Times, Oct. 18, 1932); and, conversely, the Russian Communists have created one of the iron autocracies of the world.  But the two types are fundamentally hostile, and the blend for ever disintegrates.  Even ‘constitutional’ monarchy - perhaps the best blend of the two ever produced - is now passing. "Up to 1914," says Mr. Hugh Redwood, "Mussolini was a revolutionary Socialist, a Communist with marked anarchist tendencies, representing the extreme left wing of the Italian Socialist movement, and it was he who, in that calamitous year, directed the abortive revolutionary attempt at Ancona and in Romagna which came to be known as ‘Red Week.’"]




Now upon exactly such a world the Advent bursts. "And in the days of those kings" - not kingdoms: the ten kingdomless kings (Rev. 17: 12) who embody the last autocracy vainly attempting to consolidate itself with democracy - "shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed."  The descending Stone shatters both Iron and Clay because all classes from the throne to the slum, impregnated with sin, when entrusted with supreme power, at the last, make of all government an awful miscarriage.  The Divine Kingdom, on the contrary, is in the hands of the Perfect Man, with, as subordinate kings, tested saints from all dispensations:* all that is noble in the Iron - inflexibility, efficiency, strength - together with all that is noble in the Clay - love of the poor, care of the oppressed - constitute the Divine State: above all, the unutterable abomination of wickedness meets its doom.  "With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked" (Is. 11: 4).**


[* "Simple rock is furthest removed from metallic homogeneousness: the grains that compose it, unlike the chemical atoms of the metal, are visible to the naked eye" (J. E. H. Thomson, D.D.). The Stone is cut out of earth ‘without hands’ - a resurrection from divinely riven tombs, beginning with Christ, and accompanying Him in His descent, expanding into an Empire of the world.


** If the Stone is the mystical Kingdom, the Church, the Dream is false, for the First Advent smites the Image before the Empire of Rome, as an empire, existed.  The whole conception of the Church smashing the great world-powers is grotesque and deeply anti-Scriptural; but no imagery could more exactly define the Second Advent than the rush of the Stone through the air, crashing downwards, and shattering the Image at Armageddon.  Cromwell’s Ironsides and the ‘fifth monarchy men’ - regenerate souls whose aim was this, very, Fifth or Divine Empire - attempted what must always be a failure out of the hands of Christ.  The complete reversal, by events, of the ‘conversion of the world’ theory supposed to be in the Dream - for the Stone "fills the whole earth" - will be an earthquake shock for a faith tragically built on an exegesis transparently false.]