« ПретходнаНастави »
China, and Siam have declared war. The scenes of ancient wars are again the scenes of conflict. Egypt is a military camp. Mesopotamia is a battle field. The wilderness of Sinai has once more seen marching men. The Mount of Olives and the Hill of Golgotha bristle with cannon. The streets of the Holy City resound with the tramp of armed men. Judea is seamed with trenches, and airships fly over the land where Hebrew prophets spoke and where walked before men the Son of God.
As for our part in this gigantic struggle, we have said through President Wilson that "what we demand in this war is nothing peculiar to ourselves. It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peaceloving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions and be assured of justice and fair dealing by the peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression." Never has a people entered a war in such an altruistic spirit. We love peace and hate war. We were not prepared for war. We are three thousand miles away from the scene of conflict. Our historic policy is to avoid entangling alliances with other nations. But in spite of these things, in spite of our knowledge of the horrors that war involves, we have entered the struggle; and we are unhesitatingly spending billions of money and giving up our beloved sons; and we say, as Martin Luther said at the Diet of Worms: "God help us, we can do no
The churches have a special duty in this time of world emergency. Except the press, no other agency has such access to intelligent public opinion and therefore such responsibility for helping to shape it aright. They ought to be deeply concerned in this war. True patriotism is a religious virtue. We do not love our country in any narrow or selfish sense. We refuse to baptize greedy profiteering and lust of power with the name of patriotism. But we believe that the cause for which our country is standing in this war is directly related to those great truths for which the Church stands and to which it is the duty of the Church to testify; namely, righteousness, justice, liberty and brotherhood. We do not claim that our country is perfect, but we do claim that on this issue it is right-unreservedly, unequivocally and absolutely right, and that as such the churches ought to support it with all their strength.
We should emphasize the moral aims of the war. We are interested in its political aims, but they are not what the churches are best qualified to achieve. As citizens, we are concerned with them, but as churchmen it is not for us to decide matters which belong to the President. We stand by him with full confidence in his wider knowledge and patriotic purpose as our nation's Commander-in-Chief. But the churches are specifically concerned with the moral aims of the war. For its aims are essentially moral. President Wilson has said that we do not seek territory nor indemnity nor revenge. We have been grievously wronged; but while the wrongs committed against us undoubtedly had much to do with forcing us into the war, we are not fighting on their account alone. America's part in the war would be justified if not an American had been killed and not a dollar's worth of American property destroyed. We are in this war because it is fundamentally a war between Pagan and Christian ideas of the organization of the world; because it is a conflict between the law of the jungle and the law of brotherhood in international relations; because it is to determine whether the people exist for the State or the State for the people; whether nations are to be ruled by emperors who claim divine right to do as they please, or by rulers who are responsible to the people; because no people on the planet is safe as long as a powerful nation comes into the family of nations armed to the teeth and animated by principles and ambitions which make it an intolerable menace and compel all other peoples also to arm and fight or to accept serfdom. On these issues there can be no compromise. Others may be susceptible of adjustment, but this must be decided one way or the other. The whole future of the human race is at stake. No peace which leaves these fundamental issues undecided can be permanent. The war must
be won either by a victory of the Allies or by a reform of the German Government by the German people, or by both. I do not venture to prophesy tegarding its duration. I hope that the end is near. But if the war must go on until far greater sacrifices shall have been made and we shall be crippled or destroyed, we can only say that such a cause is worth dying for, even as Christ Himself died that the world might be saved. Some things are worse than death.
And after the war, we must have a League of Nations so constituted and with such powers that it can prevent, or at least minimize, the danger of future wars. Nations hitherto have been at the stage of a frontier mining camp two generations ago when the individual had no protection for his life and property except what he could enforce with his own revolver, nor was there any external restraint upon him in case he chose to rob or kill another man. Orderly society began with a public sentiment which found expression in courts and police. To-day in a civilized land, the individual is not permitted to be jury, judge and executioner in his own case. He is not permitted to attack his fellow men, and if he does so he is sternly punished. If he himself is wronged, he can appeal to the law. The time has come when governments should act upon the same principle in their international relations. There must be a League of Nations with its courts and boards of arbitration and conciliation, and with the means of enforcing its decisions against lawless and unprincipled governments which make themselves world criminals.
The churches can mightily help in this time of need. Most of us are debarred by age or sex from military service, but we have “our bit” to do in making these aims clear; in unwavering support of the Government; in aiding in the moral and spiritual welfare of our army and navy; and in opposing those evils in our national life which impair our ability to wage a great war for noble ends. Our heroic soldiers and sailors will be heartened by the knowledge that the nation at home is united in supporting them and praying for them, and in creating those world conditions which will conserve the results of the triumph of the cause to which they are giving "the last full measure of devotion.”
This is the wider battle field on which we fare forth as a people. It is not merely the strife of arms, but the strife of ideals, the effort to advance the Kingdom of God upon earth. Our primary object is not peace but righteousness, not only because righteousness is more important than peace but because, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “the work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence forever.” That is to say, peace is not the cause of righteousness but the result of it, and in making righteousness prevail we are securing permanent peace; "quietness and confidence forever."