Perils Of American Democracy -- By: John Edward Bushnell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:290 (Apr 1916)
Article: Perils Of American Democracy
Author: John Edward Bushnell


Perils Of American Democracy1

John Edward Bushnell

“Where there is no vision the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). (R. V. “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint.”)

We pay highest honor to the men who made and saved us a nation by using their anniversaries in considering the present welfare of that which they gave us. Between the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington to-day we are encompassed with those influences which prompt us so to do. When, in addition, we regard the condition of the world at large at this present moment, we feel more impelled to devote this sacred hour to national interests. No doubt many of us have said during these trying times: “I wonder what Washington or Lincoln would say or do if he were back in his place with us.” They were both men of great vision and, therefore, the Nation of their times did not perish. The Nation to-day is not without vision. It is not the spirit of despair or even depression of faith that prompts our theme. We believe that to-day our Nation on the whole is sound of mind and heart, swayed more by ideals than mercenary interests. It desires to know and defend the right and justice, and it would not be unresponsive to calls upon its patriotism involving fortune and life if convinced of the merit of the call. The good people in it far outnumber the bad. There are more wise than

foolish ones even in Congress. The standards of commercial morals were never higher. We say so much to relieve us of the charge of pessimism. We speak with utmost hope and confidence that American Democracy, if still an experiment, will be a success, but we believe this not because it is an easy success, free from great dangers and possibility of disappointing our hopes.

It is possible for our Nation to miserably fail; to lose its manhood rather than improve it; to lower its womanhood rather than elevate it; to impair the integrity of its home and social life rather than to preserve it; to become a wanton, gross, sensual, cowardly, godless people. There are forces already at work, and very strong, which, if not checked, would make all this a terrible reality.

American Democracy will not drift toward higher things. It is not a pretty canoe floating on the river Success to the Sea of Glory. This is a world of peril; those who treat it otherwise, whether for their own souls or that of the Nation, are not wise. Perhaps the greatest danger of all to our people is that they may ridicule the idea that there is any danger for them. When a nation reaches that point of faith in itself it is on the brink. There are two par...

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