‘Anarchy’ IS a LIE!

Anarchism or the Idolatry of Lust

By Chaplain C.C. Bateman,
U.S. Army

Pennyslvania State University Library,
The Homiletic Review,
Volume XXV, From January to June, 1893

A SUBJECT which is commanding the attention of the wisest statesmen and philosophers of this and other lands which occupies leading pages in not a few important periodicals whose illustrations give sad emphasis to shocking data is surely well worthy of the closest heed. At some pains I have collated the creed of the anarchist. In my research I have found the Bible and the Apostles Creed of no service to me. My original materials were the newspapers, the proceedings of the criminal courts, and the testimony of intelligent gentlemen of wide experience who have known individual anarchists. If this creed of the negation of all things can be formulated it will read about as follow: “I believe in no God.” “I believe in no hereafter.” “I believe in no government.” “I believe in no civilization.” “All law is a lie.” “Right and wrong are mere prejudices.” “I believe in no flag but the red flag of anarchy.” “The rich are only proper food for gunpowder and dynamite.” “I am sworn to live and die under the articles of this creed.”

A strange confession of the “doctrines of devils” surely. “All law is a lie;” “right and wrong are mere prejudices!” What is a lie? What are prejudices? Satan should learn consistency. There is no black — white is certainly black! The most dangerous man on this planet is he who has schooled himself to believe a lie, and is ready, if occasion require, to die for that same darling lie. Quite clearly it requires no special powers of penetration to discover covetousness as the master basic passion of modern anarchy. It is not necessary that a man should say a prayer to be a worshipper nor prostrate himself before an image to be an idolater. Excessive attachment to any object may make a man an idolater or a worshipper of that object. Hence we have a misdirection of the worshipful impulse in forms of fetichism, hero-worship, or even Satanic propitiation in thought or service. All forms or manners of worship apart from heartfelt recognition of the one living and true God debases or belittles the worshipper. It is a principle well understood among theologians in every part of the world that the worshipper becomes in character like the object he worships. Anarchy is the result of unbridled devotion to a colossal lie. The anarchist has set about the gratification of his evil passions at the expense of established order, and is so desperately in earnest that he is ready to yield up his life that his fellows may see the accomplishment of this all but inconceivable purpose. I do not see how lust could reach a higher pitch of desperation. There is nothing of the fury of “battle madness,” which often possesses men in the savage moments of action; but in cold blood you are told to hand out your purse, or take hot lead and cold steel as the price of refusal. There is a passing satisfaction in the refiection that anarchy is not a product of American soil, but, in fact, a transplantation from the atheistic dunghills of foreign lands. We judge trees by their fruits. Men and doctrines are to be judged in the same way. What would be the inevitable consequence should anarchy prevail? The real nerve of civilization is, after all, confidence, FAITH, without which there are no guarantees of safety to life and property. There was a sottish recklessness in the old epicurean invitation: “Let us eat, drink, and be merry. for to-morrow we die;” but the anarchist cries “Let us cause the rich to die, that we may eat, drink, and be merry.” One of these idolaters of lust has said: “Let me have a good time for ten years, and you may throw me into the deepest well.” In such an event, indeed, it were a pity to spoil sweet waters with so foul a carcass. Lust and riot are too often akin. Anarchy is covetousness in the extreme, and such covetousness is sensual idolatry armed to the teeth. This is the verdict of history. Let such principles obtain, and life were not worth living. No longer would commerce spread her white wings to the breeze, nor her thousand prows to the auspicious wave. The spindles would rust in their bearings and the plough fall to pieces in the furrow; the steel-shod iron horse would no longer thunder across territories and States, nor the weaponry of abundant harvests glint and murmur along our plains. Picture the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not: churches in ashes, schoolhouses in ruins, the gallows falling from very weight of innocent victims, while from every quarter there arises the awful detonation of dynamite explosions, accompanied by the terrific shock of artificial earthquakes; the land is filled with violence and bloodshed, and the demon of destruction is enthroned supreme!


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Now, it is most certain that God’s Word is not silent on the subject of human character, of what kind soever it may be. Do not these words from the Epistle of Jude sound as if written for our special edification at times like the present: “These rail at whatsoever things they know not; and what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things they are destroyed. Woe unto them! for they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah. These are they who are hidden rocks in your love feasts, when they feast with you, shepherds that without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved forever.” Still more explicitly are we told of the fool who has “said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”

1. It is noteworthy that the dictum of anarchy involves primarily practical atheism. It does not follow, however, from this that every atheist will be an anarchist; but it does follow that a denial of the existence or sovereignty of God is a necessary first step in the moral experience of every man who proposes to trample upon the obligations of law, human and divine. All atheists are not anarchists, but all anarchists are atheists. A clearly defined belief in God, a Being of love and goodness, could not by any possibility be that of the anarchist. His whole life and aims are diametrically opposed to such belief. When a man’s principles clash with his calling, the principles must be forcibly ejected or the calling given up. Agnosticism is a long step toward atheism. The moral agnostic with his presumed unimpeachable integrity, his unquestioned purity in domestic life, may unconsciously become the teacher of those who will go beyond him. Voltaire saw this when he discovered that people would draw a universal conclusion from a particular premise. The ignorant and vicious would, protestations to the contrary, construe his denials as so many licenses for the perpetrstion of crime, because, forsooth, Voltaire had served a writ of ejeetment on the Almighty, and politely bowed Him out of His own universe. Voltaire vainly sought to correct the mischief he had done, and to a friend wrote: “Unless there be defused among mankind a belief in a Power to whom day and night are just the same, who takes cognizance of secret as well as overt action, all law must prove inefficacious.” One of the very best incidental arguments for the existence of God is that no nation has ever been humane without the God idea.

The Reign of Terror in the dark days of France came only after the popular mind had been saturated with atheism. The necessity of any law at all, points to the universal reign of law throughout this and every other world. It is one of the delights of modern science to reveal law everywhere. We thank science for what it has taught us along this line. So with one of old we fervently pray: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” By this divine tuition we have found obedience in the air we breathe, in the clouds which traverse the sky with reservoirs of rain, in the stars which gleam like camp-fires and signal beacons on the plains of heaven, in the magnificent sidereal sweep of the sun, giving life to all beneath its beam; in the seed which bursts its pericarp and springs into the oak, the vine, or flower; and, indeed, in so many places and in so many forms of design and beauty do we discover the law of obedience and obedience to law, that eye hath not seen nor ear heard one half of the mysterious ways of our God. We cannot find out God or know Him to perfection. His ways are past finding out. At best we may only learn here and there a letter of this divine alphabet with which to spell out, in a blundering fashion, a few syllables from this vast volume of God’s revelation in nature. That man has lived to little purpose who in our day cannot appreciate Newton’s sense of limitation when confronted by an ocean of the unexplored. Are not those who deny God’s sovereignty as great fools as those who deny His existence? It is said that a certain number of men in a million may be born without brains. These are called monsters. Atheists are so rare that many have doubted if an honest one ever existed. When you find even one, it is safe to say that you will find him a moral and mental monstrosity. Absolute atheism is an extraordinary condition of mind and heart, possible only to men naturally deranged or so steeped in sensuality as to possess “consciences seared as with a hot iron.” To the latter class the anarchist belongs. He would change our text to read “GRATIFY your members which are upon the earth,” etc.

2. Avaricious lust, the natural precursor of anarchy, can be fostered only by those who deny the certainty of a future state of the human soul. No atheist ever yet believed the sublime doctrine of immortality. The denial may be made a thousand times that the primary truths of our holy religion have to do with the practice of morality; but an appeal to the tribunal of history will, as in the case of atheism, never sustain the denial. The world’s experience has been large at this point; experimentation has sustained Christ, the apostles, and the Church.

Much crime has, it is true, been committed in the name of rellgion, but true religion was never responsible for the perpetration of crime. Never! Men are doubters before they are criminals; atheists before assassins. A bad man never believes in hell, because he not incorrectly concludes that that penal institution is maintained for his special benefit; heaven he does not believe in because he would certainly be in hell if

in such good society. So, having got rid of God, he throws all concurrent doctrines overboard, and stands bristling like a brute against Christian society, the personification of all that is repulsive in human nature. Banish this divine doctrinal safeguard, and by natural moral gravitation society lapses into anarchy and barbarism. But are there not many moral individuals who are quite irreligious? I have not met any conspicuous for morality who ignored amenability to Divine law. If there be any, it would only prove that the usual course of declension had been in the exceptional case arrested. The rule would be found verified by a marked suspension of natural downward development here and there. The end of materialism is moral desolation and spiritual despair.

We turn now to the social and political phase of our subject.

3. The anarchist is a rebel, and must be treated as such. When he appears upon a stormy scene of socialistic agitation in Europe, we say, “That is due to monarchy.” But when the same man steps in at the critical moment when our communities are rent with strikes and “lockouts,” and, before the peaceable work of arbitration can begin, shocks this nation by the murderous discharge of his pistol or the tremendous explosion of his infernal machine, we are dumb with consternation. We learn that with the anarchist it is not a question of what kind of government, but a determination on his part, if possible, to have no government at all. Such methods anywhere will fail so long as God lives and reigns. War is sometimes by reflex influence a civilizer; war may in the end prove beneficial in removing great and unbearable evils; but the warfare of the murderer and thief never, a thousand times never! It were wholly inconceivable, were it not a fact, that a man could be found on our soil who in the sacred names of “liberty and equality” would seek to introduce the bloody bondage of the Commune. There is here no sovereignty but that of citizenship, no aristocracy but that of brains, no superiority but that of manhood. There is no ignorance that by the best system of public instruction may not be enlightened, no poverty that may not be relieved, no honest toil that may not be rewarded. That man who hauls down the “Stars and Stripes,” who would strike down our free institutions, and for sheer gratification of beastly lust would light the torch of treason at the shrines of loyalty, or grinds the knife of the assassin in order to destroy our people, will find himself confronted by a wall of bayonets upon whose burnished points there can be found no stain of defeat, no blemish of dishonor. The fires of patriotism have not gone out. There are real troubles between the forces of labor and the corps of capital. The anarchist is not a laborer nor a capitalist; he is a social vulture, seeking to prey upon all classes. He has no interest in the laborer beyond making him the scapegoat of his crimes. Time and again have the labor forces been embarrassed in their efforts to gain a respectful popular hearing. The possession of property does not make human life more or less valuable. The life of a good rich man is just as valuable as the life of a good poor man, and not more so. A bad poor man is no better than a bad rich man. The man who is always crying out against the rich simply because they are rich is hardly to be trusted with much property, nor will he be likely to have much unless he steals it. There is an insidious error in the cry for an equal division of property throughout the world. Some minds are greatly taken with the idea. How much would we all have if there were an equal division made to-day among the inhabitants of the earth? The enormous sum of $5.10! This amount represents the total capital per capita of the world. We should not be burdened with our shares. The fact is, for the most part the wealth of this world is in good hands. But suppose such a division could be made; how long would it be before the same inequalities which now exist would again obtain? Largely in one year, precisely so in five years. You do not keep your money. I do not keep mine. The disbursive impulse is greater with us than the acquisitive. We have not the money-making talent. Shall we, therefore, be so silly as to deny to others the exercise of a talent which we do not possess? Now, this is exactly what the anarchist does. He is destitute of thrift, forethought, diligence and honesty. He is a mental failure because he is, first of all, a moral failure. His delinquencies may be readily discovered by the places he frequents and the company he keeps. So far as lies in him he leaves no appetite ungratified, the amount in his purse being the only limitation. The drink-shop is the home of the anarchist, the thief, and the cut throat. Against the ascendency of these desperate classes we may be called upon to stand, if needs be, in solid squares and to the bitter end.

It cannot be denied that there are things radically wrong in our civilization, some of which I have pointed out. I would wish that the rich were more considerate for the poor; that the tyranny of capital might receive at times a just rebuke from honest labor; that the laborer were always wise in his methods of making out his bill of grievances, and never in turn became himself the instrument of tyranny to his own brethren who are willing to work at any price rather than be idle; I would wish that society had less of hollow mockery; that the State were freer from fraud, the judicial ermine from prejudice, and the jury box from bribes. God pity us if that day ever comes when on this soil, made sacred to human rights by the blood of our fathers, there shall be one law for the poor and quite another for the rich. Adjustment of wrongs can never come by means of personal violence. “Two wrongs never made a right.”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ comes with the sword of the Spirit to proclaim peace. The weapons of carnal warfare are not to be taken up at every sound of alarm. We see in these unhappy strifes how much poor human nature needs the Gospel. Christ Jesus was the best friend man ever had. He believed much, He loved much. His word, His example, are far in advance of the age. Love to God and love to man were the flash lights which shot forward on our pathway two thousand years since. “God so loved the world,” “Blessed are the pure in heart,” “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and such like precious truths, are as luminous vistas from the sun of righteousness, along whose gleaming highways we have not half ascended.

Let us beware of sin and its consequences. “The wages of sin is death.” If we shudder at the selfish lust of the anarchist, who will lay down his life in the service of a falsehood, let us learn to what extremes the sin of covetousness may lead men. Let us examine our own hearts and guard them well, lest after condemning others for covetousness, we are ourselves at last adjudged guilty of a like idolatry. “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Eph v.5).


SOURCE: Pennyslvania State University Library, The Homiletic Review, Volume XXV, From January to June, 1893. SOCIOLOGICAL SECTION. EDITORS: I.K. Funk, D.D., and Rev. Newell Woolsey Wells. Publishers & Copyright 1893, Funk & Wagnalls Co., New York, London, Toronto, Canada.

LINK: The Homiletic Review, Volume XXV, From January to June, 1893, SOCIOLOGICAL SECTION – Pennyslvania State University Library


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