Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1983
NUMBER 38, PAGE 4,13b

New Year --- Old Problems


A few paragraphs from a back issue of the Presbyterian Quarterly Review caught our eye the other day, and we think them worth passing on:

"The nation is extravagant, as no people were from the beginning hitherto. In the old world, and in ancient times, a few nobles and merchants were princes, and the masses were humble and frugal perforce; but here is a whole people struggling to be not only political sovereigns, but to live in luxury.

"The increase of lunacy in this country is another frightful indication of the mad extravagance of the people. No wonder indeed that in a single new State they have built three lunatic asylums. The whole land will be a lunatic asylum if from some quarter we cannot learn some degree of moderation.

"Posterity, we may be assured, will look with amazement at these times.... The effervescence of 'Young America' manifests itself, as we all know, in its views of our 'manifest destiny,' to take possession of this Western Continent, and the melancholy Cuba expedition is but one of its outbursts.

"One asks in terror, whether this is the infancy of a country, or if it is, what kind of a nation will tumultuate over this land, when two hundred millions of people shall be flying to and fro, from the Atlantic to the Pacific?"

The editorial goes on to say that "our aim is wrong. We are too ambitious. We are not quiet enough." We think hardly anyone could argue with that. For an entire generation now the whole world has been in a tumultuous state of unrest and chaos. It has affected nations, institutions, and individuals with what seems at times an almost uncontrollable frenzy. Even the Lord's own church has not been spared. And what the future holds no one can predict with any degree of confidence.

But that editorial was intensely interesting to us, not only for what it said but for when it said it. The paragraphs we quoted are from the Presbyterian Quarterly Review of June, 1853 — nearly one hundred and ten years ago!

One has but to read the editorial to be impressed with the monotonous unchangeable character of human problems. The years may be new, wax old, and vanish into the irretrievable past, but the problems those years carry continue on in unbroken sameness from year to year, from generation to generation, and from century to century. The tensions and troubles of our nation are little different from the tensions that tore at ancient Rome, and finally toppled her from her lofty grandeur into dust and oblivion. That our nation will fare better than did Rome is hardly likely. We may not even manage to attain to the venerable age that city reached before she was humbled.

Through all these shifting scenes and constant problems there is one sure and immovable station, one fixed and steadfast anchor of the soul — the Christian's hope. Whatever problems may come to nations, to individuals, to churches, "the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." (2 Tim. 2:19) God's word was given for a world of chaos; God's plan of redemption is designed for a people who are in the midst of confusion and desperation, if not despair.

Faithful Christians should take great comfort from this fact. It has always been the case that sin would bring unrest and turmoil among men. It was so in Eden; and in the city of David; and in the hills of Galilee. It is so in America today — and among the Lord's people. It has always been the case that great multitudes would follow after the ways of the world. God's churches have not been exempt; and neither are they spared now. But those who would serve God may yet do so. His truth is not hidden nor concealed; his precepts are not hard to find; nor to understand.

Let every true follower of Christ renew his strength by reflecting on the unchangeable nature of God, and the certainty of God's promises being fulfilled. The years may come and go; but human problems remain the same. And the gospel of Christ is the answer to the problem of sin. There is no other solution, nor has there ever been. All the wisdom of all ages has never found another way. — F. Y. T.