網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

who learned that they might issue decrees and reform their kingdoms, but could not overcome the negative resistance of unwilling subjects. Yet Joseph's toleration of other religions than the State Church, and his ban against serfdom, put him among the great enlightening forces of his time.

Francis II was Emperor at the unlucky moment when Napoleon Bonaparte, who was beginning where the Hapsburgs began five hundred years before, declared himself Emperor of the French. Europe was not broad enough for one Emperor who could rule and another who could only issue proclamations. Francis in 1806 voluntarily ceased to be head of the Holy Roman Empire, part of which was already under Napoleon's government, and declared himself Emperor of Austria.

The Turks. The greatest service which the Hapsburgs rendered to mankind was their turning back the tide of Turkish invasion. It was about 1300 when the Turks began to cross over into Europe, and from that time for four hundred years their movement was usually farther and farther westward toward the centers of western civilization. They destroyed the Bulgarian and Servian empires; they took the Greek islands; they fought with Charles V; they completely overran Hungary; but in 1683 they received a check under the walls of Vienna. The Austrians, under their Hapsburg sovereign, were fighting for Christendom; and Christian Germans and Poles came to their aid. From that time the Turkish tide slowly ebbed backward till about a century ago the Turks disappeared from Hungary and other Austrian lands.

Slavs and Magyars. France, Prussia, Spain, were each inhabited almost entirely by people of a single language, race, and religion. Hence it was easy for great sovereigns like Henry IV of France or Frederick the Great of Prussia to improve the governments of their countries, and to take steps for the betterment of the material and moral conditions of life. The Hapsburgs had the terribly hard task of ruling over too many races, tongues, and religious beliefs; and the best that they were able to do was to make a mosaic where other royal houses made a picture. A difficulty which grew ever more serious was that, though the Hapsburgs were Germans, their capital, Vienna, was a German city, and the Archduchy of Austria and some parts of the eastern Alps were inhab

ited by Germans, yet the rest of the Austrian domains were not German, and in the end refused to be German. The Brandenburg Electors had to fight first the heathen Prussians and then the Catholic Poles; but they had complete ascendency over the Slav elements in what came to be the strong Kingdom of Prussia. The Hapsburgs, as champions of Germanism, had to contend within their own dominions with six or eight different Slav peoples, and still more with the Magyars, who were neither Germans nor Slavs. Being Germans, they undertook to plant German universities—for instance, in Prague, the capital of Bohemia, in 1348. German was the court language; almost none but Germans were given a share in the decision of public questions. Hungarian and Slav nobles were called up to Vienna and made to speak German, to wear German clothes, to think German. In some Slav provinces the native language became almost a peasants' dialect. However, since there was no system of public education and few schools of any kind, more than half the population hardly knew a word of German except the commands in military service.

Popular Government. The example of popular government in the United States of America had a great effect in Europe. It was taken up in a crude fashion by the French Revolution. It was the object of a great reform movement in England, culminating in the Reform Bill of 1830. It cropped up after the French wars in such enlightened little states of Germany as Saxe-Weimar. It was in the air throughout Europe. Nevertheless, to the Hapsburg mind it seemed impossible to give non-Germans a share in the conduct of public affairs, and it seemed equally impossible to take even the Germanspeaking population into the real government. The Hapsburgs were aghast at the idea of self-government, partly because of the trouble of governing their own territories, partly from an ingrowing idea that what was good for the eighteenth century was exactly right for the nineteenth, partly from the honest belief that absolute government (tempered by the overruling power of a small governing class) was the best thing for mankind.

Therefore, through most of the nineteenth century the Austrian re'gime was the most antiquated and exasperating institution in Europe. Mettemich, Minister of State for many years, furnished most of the political doctrines for his country; and his scheme of action was the truly Turkish conception of stopping discussion of popular government by putting the discussers out of the way. Hence, under Austrian influence two or three people who raised their voices in favor of moderate government in some of the small German states were executed. The Austrians sent an army in 1820 to overthrow a revolution in Naples. With the approval of Austria a French army disposed of a similar revolution in Spain in 1823.

The Hapsburgs sympathized with, if they did not suggest, the proposition to send a French fleet over to restore the authority of Spain in. the revolted colonies of North and South America, a suggestion which drew down* upon the world the famous Monroe Doctrine of 1823. In Austria and outside, every effort was made by the Hapsburgs to stop the clock of time at what they considered •noon. A reorganization of Germany into the so-called German Confederation of 181S left Austria at the head of all Germany, including Prussia; and its influence was' always against the development of freedom and responsibility in any German state.

Francis Joseph. The long reign of Francis II, who was the nephew of Queen Marie Antoinette, came to an end in 1835; and in 1848 the Empire narrowly escaped a complete breakdown. The political clock suddenly began to sound a series of alarms. Berlin, Paris, Vienna, were all taken by their own citizens out of the hands of the royal armies. Ferdinand II, who was at the moment Emperor, abdicated, and young Francis Joseph, then only eighteen years old, was in a rather irregular and hurried manner declared to be Emperor. His reign began in a bitter civil war between Austria and Hungary, in which the Russians took part on the Austrian side. Slowly the old Empire was reconstituted.

Francis Joseph was the only Hapsburg since Maria Theresa who really touched the popular heart. He was 'a true conservative, deeply influenced by the Church, the army, and the nobles; he was a German throughout; but he sincerely loved and believed in his country. The Hungarians came to accept him (with mental reservations) as their full King. The Emperor genuinely sought to understand the wishes of his people of whatever race; but it was hard to deal with such a mediaeval spirit as was shown by the Assembly of the Tyrol as late as 1885, when it formally protested against the erection of

a Protestant church at Meran, on the ground that theirs was a Catholic country.

Austrian Defeats. One of the results of the Napoleonic wars was that Lombardy and Venice were turned over to the Austrians, who governed them in a way which has left fierce hatreds in the minds of millions of northern Italians. The crisis for the Austrians came in 1859 when a French army marched in as an ally of the little country of Sardinia, and the Austrian Empire at last began to crumble. It lost Lombardy then, and in 1866 lost Venice. In the war with Prussia of that year still more was lost, for though the Prussians did not take an acre of Austrian territory, they crowded Austria out of all influence in Germany.

This defeat was the happiest thing that happened to Austria for many years, for it compelled the Germans to come to an understanding with the Hungarians which would prevent the danger of civil war between the two halves of the Empire; they continued a dual monarchy, each half of which had its own Parliament with "delegations" from both sides for common purposes. Then Francis Joseph and his counselors set about strengthening their country. Metternich would have turned over in his grave to know of the general system of public schools and the modernization of the army. No mountain, country in the world has such a network of railways as was provided for the Austrian Alps. The navigation of the Danube was improved; Vienna was rebuilt into one of the most magnificent cities of all time. Manufactures and commerce grew until AustriaHungary was a prosperous modern country.

Crisis for the Hapsburgs. As Emperor Francis Joseph has grown old he has plainly desired that he might never again have to go through the agony of a national war. A desire for peace has been manifest in the attitude of Austria towards the gigantic Balkan question. In 1878 the Austrian army lay still and allowed the Russians to march within sight of Constantinople, receiving for their reward the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has turned out to be a dear bargain. In 1912—13, while the Balkan powers were at war, the Austrians again lay passive upon their borders, though a strong party thought the time had come for war. In 1914 the war party could no longer be held in. A mysterious death years ago and an assassination removed two heirs of the Hapsburg throne.

In spite of all the efforts of a long lifetime, the Emperor was obliged to see his country in danger of a fearful break-up from internal struggles, or from outward enemies, or from both. Six hundred and forty-one years have passed since first a Hapsburg became an Emperor, but the Hapsburgs have lived on the theory of holding fast to what has been. They have attempted the impossible task of governing fifty millions of people through the decisions of an aristocratic fraction out of the twelve million Germans, supplemented by a

smaller fraction out of ten million Magyars. He would be a bold prophet who would guarantee six years more to that mighty and honorable imperial line. For the Germans in the Hapsburg Empire there is always a refuge in the German Empire, but can they carry with them into their haven the Bohemians, or Alpine Slavs, or Poles, to say nothing of the Hungarians? Nothing is more certain than that the Hapsburg power, system, influence, and dynasty are in fearful danger of extinction.

HOW TO TELL THE PROPHETS

BY WILLIAM p. BARTON

WE have books on " How to Tell the Wild Flowers" and books on "How to Tell the Birds," and some one has written a book almost as useful and quite as funny as either, on " How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers." There is a way to tell them apart, and for a small sum you can learn it. There are certain accepted tests of certain forms of dealing and conduct. If your merchant's yardstick is under suspicion, there is somewhere an official yardstick with which it can be compared. There is somewhere (and would he were more nearly ubiquitous!) a man who can tell the coal dealer how many pounds make a ton. If your watch does not keep good time, there is somewhere an official register of time, at Washington or Greenwich or somewhere. If the soil of your garden is not as productive as you think it ought to be, the State chemist will tell you for the asking what you ought to add to it in the way of chemical fertilization.

But who can help us to tell the true prophets from those who are not true? Job complained that it was easier to get information about anything else than truth, and that was some time ago. How can one find out which are the true prophets?

As for the Old Testament prophets, the decision has been made for us. There they are, in the back end of the Old Testament, selected beyond our hope or fear of change. But how can we know who are true prophets now, and how did any one discover then who were true and who were false prophets?

It is a question of some historical interest,

but that is not our present concern. We should like to find, if we can, how to tell the prophets!

It.is rathef appalling to discover that in Old Testament times the number of prophets whose testimony has stood the tests of time were rather small in proportion to the whole number of that company. Naturally only a few of the prophets preserved their writings to posterity. It does not follow that all the rest were false prophets. Elijah and Elisha committed nothing to writing, but they are immortal, nevertheless. Moses who wrote and Elijah who did not write stood together beside the glorified Jesus in his transfiguration.

The number of prophets was large. We have four whom we call major and twelve whom we call minor prophets. The distinc tion refers wholly to the length of their respective books; it has nothing to do either with their chronological sequence or spiritual importance. These sixteen, more or less, were, as we know, a small part of the number of men who spoke in the name of Jehovah and were called prophets.

What about the others? Were they good men or bad? They were not necessarily bad because they wrote* nothing, or because what they wrote was not preserved. If a man were to visit a library in Europe about a century from now and find a volume of sermons by Henry Ward Beecher and one by T. De Witt Talmage and one by Phillips Brooks, it would not be safe to. infei* that, these were the only three American preachers of the nineteenth century who spoke wisely or truly. The reasons why these three emerged might all be good reasons, but reasons which cast no reflection upon the great body of preachers, many thousands in number, whose sermons were unknown in Berlin a hundred years after they were dead.

Let us hope and believe that the great body of those men who spoke for God in the days of the Hebrews believed themselves to have been speaking truthfully. Let us believe that in the ordinary situations in which men came to them for spiritual help (and they covered a very wide range, as any one may discover who will read his Bible), these prophets did their duty according to their lights, and brought spiritual help to their people. We need not despise them for locating lost live stock—Samuel did that; nor suppose that their people were hopelessly insincere or mercenary because they used their religion in commonplace situations. Let us not condemn the unknown prophets because their sermons were not preserved to posterity. Few of us preachers will be able to meet that test. If they served their own day and generation, they did well. "To serve the present age,

My calling to fulfill;
Oh, may it all my powers engage

To do my Master's will!"

But there were false prophets. When we find a true prophet standing with his back to the wall, contending for truth against tradition, we find a dozen false prophets opposing him. It is rather disconcerting to have these men emerge from the shadow just to discover how large was their apparent majority.

The majority may be more apparent than real. There may have been many of these men who were capable of helping their people in ordinary experiences who were quite unequal to the tempestuous situations in which Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Hosea and Amos were placed. Let us be as charitable as we may.

Still there were "false prophets." That is to say, there were men who were believed to be prophets of Jehovah, and who had earned a reputation that gave them standing as such among the people, who in the hour of crisis did not merely break down under the weight which the few we call true prophets sustained, but who were found opposing that which we now see plainly to have been truth.

|us not concern ourselves with the ques

[ocr errors]

tion of their sincerity; to their own Master they have long since rendered account. Let us believe if we can, and for myself I do, that most of them had a measure of sincerity; that the conscious frauds among them were few. ■ But that is not the question.

Here is the question that is worth while for us to answer: How could the people of that time know who were the true prophets?

There is a ready answer, and that is this: "The true prophets wrought miracles to attest their message."

Did they?

What miracles did Jeremiah work?

Please give us a list of the miracles of Isaiah.

What do you recall of the miracles of Ezekiel?

Elijah and Elisha wrought a few miracles each, but not to attest any message which they wrote for us, for they wrote nothing, so far as we know. Their miracles had other uses. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, and so on to Malachi, wrought no miracles, or if they wrought any it was not to attest the truth of their message. They stood with their naked message appealing to the naked conscience of their hearers.

"Believe and venture; as for pledges,
The gods give none."

But what about Jonah?

Do you recall any miracle wrought by Jonah? Jonah did not transport his whale by express into Nineveh, and give exhibitions twice a day. Whatever that experience meant, it meant to him. It had no meaning to the Ninevites. In his recorded sermon in Nineveh he made no mention of it. He preached straight to the conscience. Jesus did not condemn the men of his generation in advance for the fact that he foreknew that they would not believe that he was to rise from the dead. He blamed them because they did not repent at his word, as Nineveh repented at the unattested preaching of Jonah.

How about Moses at the Court of Pharaoh? The magicians did the same with their enchantments; and Daniel at the Court of Babylon had to meet the astrologers on their own ground. A few times in history God has done that—met the hosts of necromancy on their own level. But for the most part the cry of the prophet is against those who go to wizards that peep and mutter, and a call to the law and the testimony. "If they will not heed these," cries the prophet Isaiah, "they are those for whom there is no dawn."

The supernatural was the last refuge of every charlatan and fraud. The true prophets, for the most part, did not meddle with it. They cried " Thus saith the Lord" by reason of the faith that gave substance to the things hoped for, and brought its own evidence of things unseen.

No, that is too cheap and easy an answer.

But, then, are we not to test their reliability by the certainty with which their predictions came through?

They dealt very little in predictions. Prediction was a very minor part of their work. We have strained a few predictions out of focus, and thereby have lost the real content of their message.

Still there were some predictions. And the predictions of the true prophets were justified in the sequel. But very often the predictions of the false prophets came true. Moses, who himself had occasion to compete with false prophets, gave directions concerning the futility of this test:

If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he give thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for Jehovah your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.—Deut. xiii. 1-4.

There was only one way to test the prophet's message, and that was by its righteousness and truth.

Every other test breaks down.

There is no way to measure length save by something that has length, or weight save

by something that has weight. One may not measure yards of silk with a pound weight, nor weigh coal with a yardstick. Value must be measured by that which has value, and truth must be tested with truth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and comparing them spiritually. That is the only test.

That being true, and there being no cheap and easy way of testing truth, I wonder whether, if we had been living in Jeremiah's day, we should have believed him or the false prophets, who preached so much more attractive sermons, and sermons apparently based on the precedents and predictions of Isaiah.

To be sure, those were wrong who thought the false prophets the true disciples of Isaiah. Jeremiah was such a disciple, though his message was in some respects directly contrary to that of Isaiah, and both were true.

The bother of all this is that it disposes of all cheap and easy tests of truth, and puts us under a heavy burden. God could have saved us a lot of trouble by providing us with a gauge and a chopper by which to test prophetic utterances. He has given us no test of truth but truth itself; no way to measure righteousness save by righteousness.

This being so, I wonder whether, if we had been living in Jeremiah's day, we should have stood with him or with the men whom now we call the false prophets.

I also wonder several other things.

I wonder if this is not what Jesus had in mind when he said that it was a regular habit of humanity to despise present truth and build sepulchers for the prophets whom our own fathers have slain, while we go straight on furnishing our own children employment for the marble-cutter.

Really, this view of the matter is very disconcerting, and I think we had better stop before we get into unpleasant discussions.

Don't you?

[graphic]
« 上一頁繼續 »