Chapter 02 – The Government of Man – The Government of God
We will now turn our attention a little to the government of man, and see how that will compare with the foregoing, for man stands at the head of this beautiful creation; he is endued with intelligence and capacity for improvement; he is placed as a moral agent, and has the materials put into his hands to work with, the works of his Father as a pattern, the conduct of many of the inferior creation as an example—and might make the earth a garden, a paradise, a place of uninterrupted happiness and felicity, a heaven below. And if God had not delegated this moral agency and power to man, and thus given him the privilege, in part, of being the arbiter of his own destiny, such it would have been to this day, like the Eden from which he was ejected because of his transgression. For he had everything placed within his power, and was made lord of the creation. The beasts, birds, fish, and fowl, were placed under his control; the earth yielded plenty for his wants, and abounded in fruits, grain, herbs, flowers and trees, both to satisfy his hunger, and to please the sight, taste, and smell. The fields waved with plenty, and produced a perennial harvest. The fruits teemed forth in all their luscious varieties to satisfy his most capacious desires. The flowers, in all their gaiety, beauty, and richness, delighted the eye; while their rich fragrance filled the air with odoriferous perfumes. The feathered tribes, with all their gorgeous plumage and variety of song, both pleased the eye, and enchanted and charmed the ear. The horse, the cow, and other animals, were there to promote his happiness, supply his wants, and make him comfortable and happy. All were under his control, to contribute to his happiness and comfort, supply his most extended desires, and to add to his enjoyment; but with all these privileges what is his situation?
With celestial blessings within his reach, he has plunged down to the very verge of hell, and is found in a state of poverty, confusion, and distress. He found the earth an Eden—a paradise; he has filled it with misery and woe, and has made it comparatively a howling wilderness. And let us not blame Adam alone for this state of things; for after his ejection from Paradise, the earth was sufficiently fertile to satisfy all the desires of man with moderate industry, and is at the present day, if it were not for the confusion that exists, and if men were properly situated, and its resources developed. But more of this anon.
At present we will examine some of these evils, and then point out their cause, and the remedy.
We find the world split up and divided into different nations, having different interests, and different objects; with their religious and political views as dissimilar as light and darkness, all the time jealous of each other, and watching each other as so many thieves; and that man at the present day (and it has been the case for ages), is considered the greatest statesman, who, with legislation or diplomacy, can make the most advantageous arrangement with, or coerce by circumstances, other nations into measures that would be for the benefit of the nation with which he is associated. No matter how injurious it might be to the nation or nations concerned, the measure that would yield his nation an advantage, might plunge another in irremediable misery, while there is no one to act as father and parent of the whole, and God is lost sight of. What is it that the private ambition of man has not done to satisfy his craving desires for the acquisition of territory and wealth, and what is falsely called honor and fame?
Those private, jarring interests have kept the world in one continual ferment and commotion from the commencement until the present time; and the history of the world is a history of the rise and fall of nations—of wars, commotions, and bloodshed—of nations depopulated, and cities laid waste. Carnage, destruction, and death, have stalked through the earth, exhibiting their horrible forms in all their cadaverous shapes, as though they were the only rightful possessors. Deadly jealousy, fiendish hate, mortal combat, and dying groans, have filled the earth, and our bulwarks, our chronicles, our histories, all bear testimony to this; and even our most splendid paintings, engravings, and statuary, are living memorials of bloodshed, carnage, and destruction. Instead of men being honoured who have sought to promote the happiness, peace, and wellbeing of the human family, and greatness concentrating in that, those have been generally esteemed the most who produced the most misery and distress, and were wholesale robbers, ravagers, and murderers.
And from whence come these things? Let the apostle James answer: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not—ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James iv. 1-3.) Here is evidently a lack of that consummate wisdom, that moral and physical control, that parental power which balances the universe, and directs the various planets. For let the same recklessness, selfishness, individuality, and nationality there be manifested, and we should see the wildest confusion.
Man has come in contact with man, morally, physically, religiously, and nationally, from the foundation of the earth. If God’s works had done so, what tumult and ruin there would have been in the immensity of space! Instead of the order that now prevails, man would have been sometimes frozen to death, and at other times burned up; one or two seasons of irregularity, even in climate, would depopulate the earth. But what if the planets, irrespective of the power by which they are controlled, were to rush wildly through space, and, with their mighty impetus dash against each other? “What fearful consequences would ensue.” There would be “system on system wrecked, and world on world.” What terrible destruction and ruin! We have read of earthquakes destroying countries, of wars depopulating nations—of volcanoes overwhelming cities, and of empires in ruin; but what would the yawning earthquake, the bellowing volcano, the clang of arms, or a nation’s distress, be in comparison to a scene like this? System would be shattered with system; planet madly rush on planet; worlds, with their inhabitants, would be destroyed, and creations crumble into ruins. There would be truly a war of planets, “a wreck of matter and a crash of worlds.” These, indeed, would be fearful results, and shew plainly the distinction between the beautiful order of God’s work, and the confusion and disorder of man’s. God’s work is perfect—man’s imperfect. The one is the government of God, and the other that of man.
We notice the same mismanagement in the arrangement of cities and nations. We have large cities containing immense numbers of human beings, pent up, as it were in one great prison-house, inhaling a foetid, unwholesome atmosphere, impregnated with a thousand deadly poisons; millions of whom, in damp cellars, lonely garrets, and pent up corners, drag out a miserable existence, and their wan faces, haggard countenances, and looks tell but too plainly the tale of their misery and wretchedness. A degenerate, sickly, puny race tread in their steps, inheriting their fathers’ misery and distress.
If we notice the situation of the nations of Europe at the present time, we see the land burthened with an overplus population, and groaning beneath its inhabitants, while the greatest industry, perseverance, economy, and care, do not suffice to provide for the craving wants of nature. And so fearfully does this prevail in many parts, that parents are afraid to fulfil the first great law of God, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth;” and by desperate circumstances are almost forced to the unnatural wish of not propagating their species; while, corrupted with a correspondent depravity with that which reigns among nations, they are found using suicidal measures to prevent an otherwise numerous progeny from increasing their father’s misery, and inheriting his misfortunes. And yet, while this is the case, there are immense districts of rich soil, covering millions of square miles, inhabited only by a few untutored savages, or the wild beast of the forest; and such is the infatuation of man that in many districts of country, which were once the seats of the most powerful empires, and where flourished the mightiest nations, there is nothing but desolation and wildness. Such are Nineveh and Babylon, on the Asiatic Continent; and Otolum, and many others discovered by Stephens and Catherwood, in Central America; and recently discovered ruins—unequalled in the old world—a little above the head of the California Gulf. Not only their cities, but their lands are desolate, deserted, and forsaken, and the same evils that once existed there are transferred to another soil, all bespeaking plainly that we want a great, governing, ruling principle to regulate the affairs of the world, and assist poor, feeble, erring humanity.
Again, if we examine some of the details of these evils, we shall see more clearly the importance and necessity of a change. Nearly one-third, speaking in general terms, of the inhabitants of the earth are engaged in a calling that would be entirely useless if the world were set right.
If men and nations, instead of being governed by their unruly passions, covetous desires, and ambitious motives, were governed by the pure principles of philanthropy, virtue, purity, justice, and honor, and were under the guidance of a fatherly and intelligent head, directed by that wisdom which governs the universe, and regulates the motions of the planetary systems, there would be no need of so many armies, navies, and police regulations, which are now necessary for the protection of those several nations from the aggressions of each other, and internal factions. Let any one examine the position of Europe alone, and he will find this statement abundantly verified. Look at the armies and navies of France and England; and the confusion of Germany, also of Austria, Turkey, Russia and Spain, not to mention many of the smaller nations, and let their armies, their navies, and police be gathered together, and what an abundant host of persons there would be. They would be sufficient to make one of the largest nations in the world! And what are they doing? To use the mildest term, watching each other, as a person would watch a thief for fear of being imposed upon, and robbed, or killed; but generally strolling around as the world’s banditti, robbing, plundering, and committing aggressions upon each other; and if they have peace, acquiring it by the sword; and if prevented from aggression and war, it is generally, not that they are governed by just, or virtuous principles, but because they are afraid that aggression might lead to combinations against them which would result in their overthrow and ruin.
In the city of Paris alone, at the present time, and its immediate environs, there are one hundred thousand soldiers, besides police to a very great number, not to mention the vast number of custom-house officers and others. Suppose we add to these their families, where they have any, and where they have not, notice the vast amount of prostitution, misery, degradation, and infamy, that such an unnatural state of things produces. I give the above as an example of the whole, but here the navies are not included. I say again, What are these all doing? They do not raise corn to supply the wants of men, nor are they occupied in any useful avocation; but they must live, and their wants must be supplied by the products of the labour of others. There has to be an immense amount of legislation for the accomplishment of this thing, and instead of having one government of righteousness and the world obeying, we have scores of governments, all having to be sustained in regal pomp, to be equal to their neighbouring nations; and all this magnificence and national pride having to be supported by the labour of the people. Again, all these legislatures have to provide immense hosts of men, in the shape of custom-house, excise, and police officers, to carry out their designs, all of whom, and their families, help to increase the burden, till it becomes insupportable. That, together with the unnatural state of society, before referred to, in regard to the situation of the inhabitants of cities and the nations, plunges millions of the human family into a state of hopeless destitution, misery, and ruin, for they are groaning under all these hopeless burdens without having sufficient land to till to meet their demands, and as natural means fail they are obliged to have recourse to those that are unnatural. Hence, in England a great majority of the inhabitants are made slaves of, virtually to supply the wants of the greatest part of the world, and are forced to be their labourers. Thousands of them are immured in immense factories, little less than prisons, groaning under a wearisome, sickening, unhealthy labour; deprived of free, wholesome air; weak and emaciated, not having a sufficiency of the necessaries of life. Thousands more from morning till night are immured in pits, shut out from the light of day, the carol of the birds, and the beauty of nature, sickly and weak, in many instances for want of food; and yet, in the midst of their wretchedness, gloom, and misery, you will sometimes hear them trying to sing in their dungeons and prison-houses, in broken, dying accents,
“Britons never shall be slaves.”
I will here give, as one example, an iron works that I visited lately in Wales. One of the proprietors informed me that they employed fifteen thousand persons, and paid them £5,000 per week. Most of these people laboured under ground, in the pits, digging for iron ore and coal; the remainder were employed principally about the furnaces, in rolling the iron, &c., at heavy, laborious, fatiguing work. And who were they toiling for? Principally for the Americans and Russians, at that time, to furnish them with railroad iron. And what did they get for their labour? The riches of those countries? No. £5,000 a week among about fifteen thousand persons. I suppose, however, a number of these were boys and girls. The average wages of men was from ten to twelve shillings per week. And this is their pay for that labour; and yet the masters are not to be blamed, that I can learn, for they are forced by competition to this state of things, and by the unnatural, artificial state of society. If they did not do this their workmen must be out of employ, and ten times worse off, if that were possible, than they are now. In the State of Pennsylvania, in America, where the railroads run through coal and iron mines both, they leave them untouched, and come to England for iron to make the rails of, that they cannot afford to make at home, because of higher wages, and an outlet to society, which prevents them from being coerced into bondage. If the world was right, the labour would be done there, and not here, and the labour of carriage saved.
The situation of the peasantry and workmen in France, Germany, Prussia, Austria, and Russia, and in fact I may say of Europe generally, is worse even than that of the same class in England; and wherever we turn our attention, we see nothing but poverty, distress, misery, and confusion; for if men do not copy after the good and virtuous, they generally do after the evil. When nations and rulers set the pattern, they generally find plenty to follow their example; hence covetousness, fraud, rapine, bloodshed, and murder, prevail to an alarming extent. If a nation is covetous, an individual thinks he may be also; if a nation commits a fraud, it sanctions his acts in a small way; and if a nation engages in wholesale robbery, an individual does not see the impropriety of doing it in retail; if a strong nation oppresses a weak one, he does not see why he may not have the same privilege; corruption follows corruption, and fraud treads on the heels of fraud, and all those noble, honourable, virtuous, principles that ought to govern men are lost sight of, and chicanery and deception ride rampant through the world. The welfare, happiness, exaltation, and glory of man, are sacrificed at the shrine of ambition, pride, covetousness and lasciviousness. By these means nations are overthrown, kingdoms destroyed, communities broken up, families rendered miserable, and individuals ruined. I might enter into a detail of the crimes, abominations, lusts, and corruptions that exist in many of our large cities, but I shall leave this subject, and conclude with the remarks of the prophet Isaiah, who gazed in prophetic vision on this scene: “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof… The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate.” (Isaiah xxiv. 1, 5 and 6.)
Iniquity of every description goes hand in hand; vice, in all its sickening and disgusting forms, revels in the palace, in the city, in the cottage; depravity, corruption, debauchery, and abominations abound, and man, that once stood proudly erect in the image of his Maker, pure, virtuous, holy, and noble, is vitiated, weak, immoral, and degraded; and the earth, which was once a garden, not only brings forth briars and thorns, but is actually “defiled under the inhabitants thereof.”
Those great national evils of which I have spoken are things which at present seem to be out of the reach of human agency, legislation, or control. They are diseases that have been generating for centuries; that have entered into the vitals of all institutions, religious and political; that have prostrated the powers and energies of all bodies politic, and left the world to groan under them, for they are evils that exist in church and state, at home and abroad; among Jew and Gentile, Christian, Pagan, and Mahomedan; king, prince, courtier, and peasant; like the deadly simoon, they have paralyzed the energies, broken the spirits, damped the enterprise, corrupted the morals, and crushed the hopes of the world.
Thousands of men would desire to do good, if they only knew how; but they see not the foundation and extent of the evil, and long-established opinions, customs and doctrines, blind their eyes, and damp their energies. And if a few should see the evil, and try a remedy, what are a few in opposition to the views, power, influence, and corruption of the world?
No power on this side of heaven can correct the evil. It is a world that is degenerated, and it requires a God to put it right.
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Source: Chapter 2 of the The Government of God, by John Taylor (1852)