Source: Zion’s Herald
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “‘It Is God’s Way’”
Date of publication: 2 October 1901
Volume number: 79
Issue number: 39
|“‘It Is God’s Way.’” Zion’s Herald 2 Oct. 1901 v79n39: p. 1253.|
|anarchism (religious interpretation).|
|Adam; Ralph Waldo Emerson; William McKinley.|
“It Is God’s Way”
“IT is God’s way!” said the dying McKinley. These words contain a whole philosophy
of history. In the broad sweep of affairs toward the “far-off, divine event”
of a perfected humanity God has His way. His will and purpose give orderliness,
coherence, and result to the whole process.
The anarchist denies this. “Anarchy” may be looked at psychologically or physiologically, as a mental disease or a physical degeneration, and it may be regarded philosophically as a systemless system, being utterly reprehensible from either point of view. Theoretically anarchy negates thought, denies rationality, and makes a philosophy of history impossible, for the simple reason that it rejects all notions of a First Principle regulating all life and action. Etymologically the term “anarchy,” when traced furthest back into its Greek originals, is found to signify the denial (or absence) of any arche, that is, of any Beginning, Foundation Principle, or World-ground. It is finally against all government because it is first of all opposed to all conceptions of a co-ordinating Force or Being producing or inducing a world-order. It assumes nothing, it proves nothing; it has no premises, no action, no First or Final Causes. It simply recognizes an authorless confusion, a meaningless mêlée, an indiscriminate death-struggle in the wildernesses and jungles of a wretched world.
Over against this anarchical repudiation of first principles, with its drive at all law and government, is set the theistic assumption of a world-ordering Being of whose will history is the consistent registration. There are practically three attitudes that men take with respect to the great mystery of human life. There is the anarchical teaching, universally execrated, that things do not go God’s way, or anybody’s way, but are the sport of irresponsible chance and unintelligible circumstance. On that basis no philosophy, no religion, no government, no social stability, no national prosperity would be possible. There is the fatalistic (Moslem) belief that all things are fixed, in God’s way indeed, but in the way of a God whom no man can respect while all men must fear Him, and so as to allow human beings no slightest freedom of choice, no real sphere of activity, and practically no materials for morality. And then there is the rational Christian conception that God has His way, that God remains master of events and the Presiding Genius in all history from Adam to Apocalypse, but that the Deity is most divine in according to man a real freedom, a regulated, subordinate freedom, with entire liberty to do the things that ought to be done, and complete accountability for doing the things that ought not to be done. In this contention it is involved that man must co-operate in carrying out the splendid purposes of the great Creator, and that while all things work together for good for them that love God, no man truly serves God by his sin. Sin gives trouble, both to God and to man. Sin is the ultimate explanation of that awful tragedy at Buffalo. Sin is the consummate folly and the pursuing curse of history. The thing that helps, that blesses, that glorifies, is righteousness—rightness before God and man.
“God’s way” is the safe way. He plans best who plans with God. Despite all the anarchical denials of First Principles, government lives, law lives, hope lives. God is not dead, nor does He even sleep. And God will have His way. Men, parties, philosophies, oppose Him in vain. “The dice of God,” says Emerson, “are always loaded.” That is a fact to reckon with. Righteousness, therefore, becomes resignation. For awhile we pursue our itineraries, or frame our policies, or cast our votes, or write our essays, and fondly think that it is we who are doing it; but in the end we note that another Hand is writing on the wall, that a Higher Power, working through us and beyond us and sometimes seemingly against us, is making history of a kind that will last; and with the martyred McKinley we come to murmur submissively, bravely: “It is God’s way. His will be done!”