BY APOSTOLOS MAKRAKIS
Delivered in Concord Square the City of Athens, Greece – August 14th, 1866
We have come to know the principles for which we are to undertake the most noble and illustrious of struggles. We have come to know all the adversaries whom we must fight until they are no more. Today we come to ask: with what power can we strike our enemies and annihilate them? With what power shall we shatter the yoke of the barbaric Turks that we may set free our brethren who are still sighing for deliverance? With what might shall we everywhere fortify the just claims of the eternal Truth which until now have been trodden under foot?
We respond to this question briefly and with unshaken conviction by stating: “With the power of the first or Primary Being.” The might of the First Being is self-sufficient to accomplish all that we want. The power of the first Being can set at naught and annihilate all those who afflict us. We must, however, understand well our ally and the conditions of His alliance with us; otherwise, we have nothing to benefit. Now to illustrate this, let us take as an example the alliance of a certain earthly power. Let us suppose that we were about to declare war on our enemy, and that we sought the alliance of a certain great power.
It stands to reason that a certain power can ally itself with us only if it is in sympathy with our struggle, that its own interest is identical with ours. Identity of interest and mutual sympathy are the two indispensable conditions without which it is impossible for the desired alliance to exist. As long as these exist, both parties attest to the alliance by means of a pact. Without a pact which defines the mutual obligations of the alliance, the power supporting us cannot take action against our foe. Let us now ask, Is the Most High God in sympathy with our struggle, and is His interest identical with ours? In answer to these questions, I respond in the affirmative and with all certainty. But now we must ask, Whence does this assurance come?
How do we know one another’s intentions and those of every man?
By verbal and vocal means. How else can I make known what I love and what I detest, what I pursue and by what I am repelled, except by way of speech? And by what other means do we know people’s thoughts and feelings, but by the things they say and do? The intentions and the thoughts of God are known in the same manner as are those of men. For while God veils Himself beneath this world of the senses, just as our soul is also hidden beneath the veil of the flesh, He nevertheless is known by the things He spoke and did through men. St. Paul confirms my words, as he says at the beginning of his Epistle to the Hebrews: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.”[1 Hebrews 1:1-2]
Since, therefore, God spoke of old through the holy prophets, and in these last days He has spoken by His Son and Logos through whom He created all things, we can recognize God’s intentions, sympathies, and antipathies, just as we can detect those of one another and of every man. In fact, we can determine God’s intentions with much greater certainty, for God is single-minded and His word is the truth. People, however, are double-minded and deceive their fellowmen with lies and hypocrisy. This is why the prophet said that while God is truthful, every man is a liar. Therefore, I have the certainty that God Who can do all things sympathizes with our struggle, for in the Book of Psalms, it has been written as follows: ”The Lord said to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.'”
One may ask, Who are the enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ Whom His Father Who is over all promises to make His footstool? Are they not the very ones against whom we are struggling and whom we recognized by virtue of the divine word? Is not the anti-Christ Mohammed an enemy of Christ? Are not the beast and the harlot and those committing fornication with her and those becoming intoxicated from her cup enemies of Christ? Who then can doubt that our struggle has the full sympathy of the first Being, since our adversaries are the same as those of Christ?
But is not God’s interest also the same as ours? And how is this so? Does God too have certain things to His interest? Very much so. God is very much concerned to show to all men that He is truthful, just, and good. In order to show that he is truthful, He must fulfill all things which He spoke through the mouth of the holy prophets. In order to show that He is just, our unjust and criminal enemies must suffer due judgment. In order to show that he is also good, God must have mercy upon and save all those who are badly suffering at the hands of evil men, and make them blessed and happy.
The annihilation of the beast and the harlot is as much to God’s interest as it is in ours. Now wherever there is sympathy and identity of interest, there assuredly exist the required terms for an alliance. And we cannot doubt that with the strength of the First Being we are able to annihilate our enemies. We can with greater ease and certainty achieve mutual understanding and fight together with the Lord of hosts, than we can with any earthly power whatever. The earthly powers, as I have proved, are in antipathy with our struggle because their egoistical interest is contrary to our own interest which springs from another source, viz. the truth and justice. Besides this, none of the great powers of the earth deigns to fight with us, for we have neither an adequate army, nor a fleet, nor money.
It is not only out of self-respect that no earthly power condescends to fight with us, worthless as we are in their eyes, but also for reasons of security and self-interest. For, if other powers rise up against our ally because he fought on our side, of what benefit and help can we be to him? None at all. And yet we expect to reap the greater benefit from an alliance. We expect that, once our enemies are vanquished, Orthodox Christians shall win back Constantinople and rule over the whole Middle East, as they once did. But what will our allied power receive that is commensurate with our gain?
These reasons, however, that indicate that an alliance with an earthly power is an impossibility, are the very reasons that can prove overwhelmingly the possibility of our alliance with the Lord of hosts. For, as much as the mighty of the earth avoid an alliance with the weak on the basis of dignity and self-interest and security, so much does God desire such an alliance for the very same reasons. God loves to fight with the weak to shame the strong. He loves to fight with those who are small to humble the pride of those who are great. God loves to set at naught those who are by means of those who are not.[Makrakis makes reference to 1 Cor. 1:27 “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.”]. This is why I say that inasmuch as we are weaker than the other nations, we can fight together with God Whose strength is perfected in weakness. Let us, therefore, not delay in sending an embassy before God and in drawing up an alliance pact with Him. For without a pact or covenant” it is impossible that His power take action against our enemies. But where is God, and how can we draw up a covenant with Him, as with an allied power? This problem is resolved by means of the word given to Prophet Elijah, the Tishbite. The divine oracle reads as follows:
” … Go forth tomorrow, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire the sound of a gentle breeze; and there was the Lord.” [1 Kings 19:11-12]
Thus to the question, where is God, we have the following certain and positive answer: in the sound of the gentle breeze. Do you want to find God? Seek Him not in the great and strong wind which rents mountains and breaks in pieces the rocks before the Lord, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. That is, seek Him not in the world of the senses through which only the power of God is revealed. Seek God rather in the sound of the gentle breeze, i.e. in Holy Scriptures, through which are revealed God’s will and all the terms of communion and friendship with Him. Therefore, we cannot excuse ourselves, saying, Who shall ascend to heaven, and where will we find God, so that He may tell us the terms of His alliance with us?
Let us bend our ear to the sound of the gentle breeze, and we will hear from it that which we seek. I hear this sound saying: ”Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies and turned my hand against their adversaries.”[Psalm 81:13-14]. I also hear another sound saying: “The Lord shall judge and fight with justice.”
Let us ask: what do we desire and want, and what do we ask of God? We desire the freedom of our brethren from the barbaric Turkish yoke, and we ask for the annihilation of all our enemies, the perdition of the beast and the harlot. God promises both these things, but upon the condition that we heed His voice and walk in His ways. ”Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies and turned my hand against their adversaries.” Now since God judges and fights with righteousness, in fighting with Him, we must attack our adversaries but with judgment and righteousness, always acting righteously. For, if we are unrighteous, it is obvious that we shall have God as our adversary instead of our ally.
By being righteous and acting righteously, we shall fight our enemies with the omnipotence of the Most High which always ministers to that which is righteous. Behold clear and single-minded terms which are better than every diplomatic ambiguity and under-handedness. The success or the failure of our struggle depends upon our acceptance or rejection of these terms, upon our precise observance or violation of them. As one who knows God’s intentions and His might very well, I assure you that if we accept these terms and act accordingly, the task of 1821 shall be completed in the quickest and best manner possible. Otherwise, I guarantee you nothing, and I do not see deliverance coming from any other source whatever. Let us, therefore, think about what must be done.
Shall we accept God’s conditions, or shall we reject them? The terms of a pact are neither rejected nor immediately accepted without discussion. I think that God is neither displeased nor indignant if we conduct ourselves before Him as we would before an earthly power with regard to the matter of the covenant and the alliance. If, for example, England or another of the so-called great powers presented us with terms of an alliance and a pact, before accepting or rejecting them we would determine whether the terms set forth were just or unjust, honorable or dishonorable, possible or impassible, beneficial or harmful, etc. If upon examining them we found them to be just, honorable, possible, and beneficial, we would accept them thankfully. But if we saw that the terms were to the contrary, we would be fully justified in rejecting them. Let us then examine the terms of the pact with God in the same manner, and see rationally whether we should accept or reject them.
The first condition of God requires us to heed to His voice, and to follow the way in which He leads us. When two powers battle together it is quite necessary to specify who must lead and who must be led. It is usually the more powerful member that leads the weaker one. Now when the stronger member of the pact is also the wiser one, the right to lead indubitably belongs to the one presenting both these qualities. There is nothing more foolish and improper than for one who is the weaker and less learned to deem himself worthy of leading one who is wiser and stronger. If we were to fight with England, a great sea power, we would in no way desire that our admiral think himself worthy of assuming the leadership of the combined fleet, unless he were wiser in seamanship. We would all rather consider it just that the power which is the mightier and wiser in seamanship take over the command.
Man acknowledges that God is in every way mightier and wiser than he is. In fighting together with God, therefore, it is just and proper that we be led by Him, i.e. that we heed to His voice and obey His commandments, just as is demanded by the conditions of the pact. It is foolishness of the worst sort for us to think that instead of being commanded by God we should command God, that the weak should lead the strong, and the unlearned, the wise. Now that we can see that the terms of the pact are just, we can also discern that they must of necessity also be honorable, for nothing is more honorable than that which is just. The conditions of the treaty is both possible and beneficial, for, as God is wise, He commands us to do what is possible and leads to our salvation, and never what is impossible and harmful. Thus reason convinces us that we should accept the term of the pact because it is just, honorable; possible, and beneficial. Having accepted God’s condition, we must also carry it out, for it is dishonorable and shameful to violate the terms of a pact which one has accepted.
We cannot carry out the conditions of our pact with God, unless we seek to discover what is God’s voice to which we owe obedience, and what are His ways which we must follow. We have the following response to these questions: the voice of God is that which was spoken from heaven when Christ was baptized in the River Jordan and which was heard on Mount Tabor when Christ was transfigured there. The voice of God the Father said: ”This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”[Mark 1:11 and Matthew 17:5]. This voice obliges us to listen to the teaching of Christ, the Son of the living God, and to act accordingly. It obliges us to drink from the cup of the Wisdom of God, and not to become intoxicated from the cup of the harlot. The voice of God obliges us to imitate Christ, the perfect man, and to become other Christs, i.e. Christians in name and fact. If we put this obligation into practice, God becomes immediately obliged, just as He says, to annihilate or humble our enemies and turn His mighty hand against them. “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies and turned my hand against their adversaries.”
Let us ask: what are the ways of the Lord which we must follow? The Lord’s ways are His laws, for the prophet says, “Blessed are the blameless on the way, they that follow the law of the Lord.” According to the three offices of Christ. God’s laws are divided into three kinds, viz. religious, political, and philosophical. To walk, therefore, in the ways of the Lord means that we recognize the laws originating from Christ the High Priest, Christ the King, Christ the Professor and Teacher, and that we conduct ourselves according to them, while abolishing the false laws created by the minds of men intoxicated from the cup of the harlot. Neither could we understand nor could God demand of us anything more logical, honorable, and just.
While fighting for the righteous claims of Christ, it is not irrational and shameful that we ourselves are the first to trample upon these claims, by having the legislature of the senseless revolution in the state, and by neglecting the teaching of Christ in our public educational system, having replaced this with the false teachings of the West? Is not this disgraceful senselessness at the same time our obvious catastrophe? What is more devastating than becoming inebriated, being carried away, and brought to the brink of disaster? Therefore, before we undertake the war against the enemies of our faith, we must put into practice the terms of our faith and fulfill our duties to God. And thus by having with us the omnipotence of the Most High, we shall without any exception succeed in all that we desire. But as things are now, in undertaking a war, we have nothing to gain. We are only inviting our doom.
In combating our adversaries, we must engage in a struggle against them with judgment and righteousness, for our Ally judges and fights with righteousness. The power of God is one which ministers to righteousness and the law and by imitating God we can offer up our powers in service to the same. A power working unjustly and unlawfully is one hostile to God. We cannot have God as our ally and helper by fighting our enemies in a manner contrary to the conditions of what is righteous and lawful. That we may better understand the obligation which these conditions entails, let us take a look at the leaders of our state, These people, as masters over our national forces, have the duty to serve only justice and the law with the authority entrusted to them. If the government were to capture a certain criminal and punish him without a trial, we would all censure this act as unlawful. Since our enemies are criminals, we must censure, judge, and make known the verdict to them and to all the nations, and in this way take action against them as people carrying out divine and irrevocable decisions.
Such are the conditions of our alliance and covenant with God, conditions which are just, honorable, possible, and beneficial, and which we must accept. Such are the terms according to which we must act, if we are to have God as our helper in the struggle against our foes, and if we want the task of 1821 to be completed in the quickest and best manner possible!
Tomorrow we shall consider the power of God, our friend and ally, with the purpose of learning whether or not we have need of any other alliance apart from God.