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Christian way, become a Christian nation—not in the sense that everybody in it will be Christian, but that it conform as a government to the standards of a Christian gentleman.
It is interesting to note the effect that these ideals are having abroad. At first England was a little sceptical of them. Now her statesmen and prophets are using Mr. Wilson's words, and her labour parties are introducing them into their constitutions. Germany naturally looks upon them as either hypocritical or the vagaries of a visionary and dreamer. No echo of any such sentiments as ideals for nations has yet come from any of her statesmen. It would mean the end of this war-and perhaps of all war-should the German government be willing sincerely to propound these sentiments as the national ideals. But it is a great thing that the ruler of one nation propounds them in his every utterance. It is not too much to hope that the preachers in the churches may follow him, and help to make these really Christian ideals the ideals of the United States. If one will closely study the thirty-four extracts he will find they may be grouped somewhat as follows:
1. "America exists not to serve itself, but to serve mankind." The philosophy of nations has always been that the one aim and purpose of the nation was to serve itself, and generally to serve itself at the expense of other weaker nations. No wonder that the German papers said, when Mr. Wilson ut
tered just these words in his address of September 28, 1915, that the President was pharisaical. He said: "There have been other nations as rich as we; there have been other nations as powerful; there have been other nations as spirited; but I hope we shall never forget that we created this nation, not to serve ourselves, but to serve mankind." Nobody could believe that a ruler of a great nation held such ideals for his country. It would be the end of a nation's existence, said the Germans, should it hold such views. But Mr. Wilson insists that this shall be the ideal for America, and he has uttered it again and again.
"Come, let us renew our allegiance to America, conserve her strength in its purity, make her chief among those who serve mankind"; "We did not set this government up in order that we might have a selfish and separate liberty, for we are now ready to come to your assistance and fight upon the field of the world the cause of human liberty"; "She is fighting for no advantage or selfish object of her own, but for the liberation of people everywhere from the aggressions of autocratic force"; "For we are part of the world, and nothing that concerns the whole world can be indifferent to us. We want always to hold the force of America to fight for what? Not merely for the rights of property or of national ambition, but for the rights of mankind." And thus one may go on through the addresses. Just as the ideal of the Christian gentleman is ser
vice to the weak and needy, so the ideal of the Christian nation should be service to the other nations of the world. And just as the Christian does not count the cost of his service, but is ready to make all sacrifices when the need calls him, so, says Mr. Wilson, the modern Christian nation will count no cost, will make any sacrifice, as America now is doing, when the opportunity to serve the world arrives. Nations have not gone to war before to serve the world. Let us be glad that when America did enter upon her sacrifice it was in service of others, not of herself.
2. The ideal for America which finds commonest expression in the President's addresses is this, that America shall never desire anything for herself that she does not desire for all mankind. This lofty sentiment is as new for nations as Christianity was new for individuals two thousand years ago. We know not where to find it among utterances of rulers and governments outside of the addresses of the President of the United States. Its adoption by all other nations would end war between nations forever. It is the ideal of the Christian community for the community of nations. Its universal adoption will mark the beginning of a commonwealth of nations which shall be as a new order established in the earth. Yet, so far as Mr. Wilson can claim the right to speak for America, it is the American ideal. It shines out in almost every address he has made during the last two years. Sometimes we can
hardly believe our own eyes when we read on page after page of a ruler's addresses such words as these: "The interesting and inspiring thing about America, gentlemen, is that she asks nothing for herself except what she has a right to ask for humanity itself"; "In the day to come men will no longer wonder how America is going to work out her destiny, for she will have proclaimed to them that her destiny is not divided from the destiny of the world, that her purpose is justice and love of mankind"; "No other nation was ever born into the world with the purpose of serving the rest of the world just as much as it served itself"; "And America will have forgotten her traditions whenever on any occasion she fights for herself under such circumstances as will show that she has forgotten to fight for all mankind"; "The position of America in this war is so clearly avowed that no man can be excused for mistaking it. She seeks no material profit or aggrandizement of any kind. She is fighting for no advantage or selfish object of her own, but for the liberation of peoples everywhere from the aggression of autocratic force"; "My dream is that as the years go on America will come into the full light of the day when all shall know that she puts human rights above all other rights, and that her flag is the flag not only of America but of humanity.'
This is all Christian and we are a long way toward a stable and civilized world when even one
nation can make this her ideal, that she desires nothing for herself that she does not desire for all humanity.
3. The other ideal for America which runs through the President's addresses like a thread of fine gold is that she shall, herself, as a nation, act always only as a Christian gentleman would act, and thus convince the world by her example that the time has come when nations must conform to the same standard of conduct as that which obtains between gentlemen within the nation. Nations have souls as well as individuals and there is only one standard of right and wrong for souls. Respectable nations must not in the future do anything respectable men do not do. The same civilization, the same code of honour, the same Christian attitude must obtain among nations in the world as obtains among gentlemen in the community. This is strange gospel to some nations. There are individuals in every nation, even our own, who deny it. But it is the ideal the President of the United States is holding up to the world through the clash and din of this great war. They should be committed to memory by every American: "It is clear that nations must in the future be governed by the same high code of honour that we demand of individuals"; "When I have made a promise to a man I try to keep it, and I know of no other rule permissible to a nation. The most distinguished nation in the world is the nation that can and will keep its prom