Peter Sat by the Fire Warming Himself


NEAR the middle of the third century, A.D., Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, wrote to his friend, Donatus,—

This is a cheerful world as I see it from my fair garden, under the shadow of my vines. But if I could ascend some high mountain, and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I should see: brigands on the highways, pirates on the seas, armies fighting, cities burning, in the amphitheatres men murdered to please applauding crowds, selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs. It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians — and I am one of them.

Perhaps it is not just to accept this charming letter as a full-length portrait of the famous North African bishop, for he met a martyr’s death in the end, with the fortitude we like all true bishops to display. Yet, as a passing picture, we certainly have a glimpse of how a Christian may regard this gruesome world and come to accept the cloistered and sequestered calmness of other-worldliness as the most convincing of apologetics. Cyprian’s letter might have been written by any one of thousands of American prelates, bishops, dignitaries, and eminent clergymen between August, 1914, and April, 1917, and its reproduction in any one of a hundred ecclesiastical periodicals would have called forth no comment. When it is remembered that even the senior Apostle, surnamed a ‘Rock,’ hugged the comfortable brazier while the world’s greatest tragedy was climbing swiftly to its climax, those who are in the sacred ‘succession’ may claim a little leniency. But not too much; nineteen centuries of penitent meditation should surely have borne some fruit.

Thoughtful men and women are asking what became of the spiritual leaders of America during those thirty-two months when Europe and parts of Asia were passing through Gehenna. What prelate or bishop or ecclesiastical dignitary essayed the work of spiritual interpretation? What convocation or conference or assembly spoke so convincingly that the national conscience must perforce listen? What book from a clerical study gave the sanctities of humanity and the sanctions of law the foremost place in current thought? What voice from altar or pulpit liberated a passion of righteous indignation and set this continent aflame with holy wrath? Not all the clergy of the world can be covered by Cardinal Mercier’s magnificent heroism. None is absolved by the fact that the see of Canterbury failed as a spiritual primacy. The rank and file of American laymen have not formed the habit of depending upon their ecclesiastical grandparents and second cousins in Europe for spiritual or ethical guidance.

Doubtless it will be urged that the President of these United States had counseled strict neutrality in speech and thought. Even so, the very first question a vigilant spiritual leadership should have asked would concern the right to issue such a command. There may have been an international sense in which the Administration itself was bound to be scrupulously circumspect, but since when has diplomatic usage become binding upon the souls of the successors of Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Micah, John the Baptist, and Paul? Since when, and by whose authority, have prophets and apostles surrendered their spiritual function of interpretation into the keeping of rulers and cabinets? Has it not been ever the chief glory of the Christian ministry that its heights of grandeur and service were found in such independent souls as Thomas à Becket, Savonarola, Huss, Wycliffe, Knox, and John Robinson? The authority of the prophet is withdrawn when he sits on the steps of a throne or the porch of a White House, and becomes the echo of the civil power; or, at least, so history seems to teach.

The situation is not at all improved when the commonalty muses upon the fact that there has been a lofty and soul-moving exposition of the terrible drama which mankind is playing out, and that the spiritual teachers have been laymen. The history, philosophy, poetry, the parables in art, the personal narrative of physical and psychical adventure, the dispassionate gathering and sifting of evidence, the bitter cry of pain over outraged sanctities, which have built up the present ethical and spiritual consciousness of America, came chiefly from men who never claimed to possess official supernatural discernment. The priesthood which has led us through darkness and doubt, confusion and amazement, has not been of the house of Aaron; that we have reached the place of righteousness, where our spirits may face a Holy God and live, has been an uncovenanted mercy. Into what deep morass or sterile wilderness or Arctic zone we might have wandered with no guidance at all cannot even be imagined; but we surrendered ourselves to Maeterlinck, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Bryce, Raemakers, Maurice Barrès, Alfred Noyes, Owen Wister, Donald Hankey, Masefield, H. G. Wells, J. M. Beck, Frank H. Simonds, Ian Hay Beith; and these, unmitred and unordained, in varying degree and by variant methods brought us to the truth.

In the meantime, while millions of individual Gethsemanes and Calvarys were merging into a real Armageddon, many, many comforting sermons were preached from American pulpits upon Isaiah xxx, 15. ‘In returning and in rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength,’ until George Adam Smith’s exegesis of the passage broke down from old age and malnutrition and overwork.

Ordinary laymen, who have not been accustomed to the limpid simplicity of German Biblical criticism, theology, and philosophy, may be pardoned for failing to divine the temper and trend of Teutonic thought. But every minister knows that from the days of Ferdinand Christian Baur, founder of the Tübingen School, down to the latest word from P. W. Schmiedel, there has been a patient, indefatigable, and relentless effort to squeeze every possible trace of the supernatural from the Old and New Testaments. If the task had been undertaken by minions under an imperial fiat it could not have been performed more faithfully. By the time an American scholar has followed his course of training through Wellhausen, Harnack, Wendt, Pfleiderer, Ritschl, and a score of other German authorities, and has made his researches culminate in Yon Hartmann and Ernst Haeckel, he has not enough of the supernatural left to run a tin toy, let alone a universe. And no one had any excuse for ignorance concerning the gigantic superman superstition of Nietzsche, Treitschke, and Bernhardi; it was described, discussed, dissected, and damned in all kinds of periodicals within six months of the breaking of the Belgian border. The inference is inevitable, that, when the leaders of a nation’s life in theology and philosophy play skittles with every claim to Divine interest in the affairs of mankind, and reduce anything which goes beyond the precincts of the material to a subjective and subconscious phenomenon, they are not likely to base national conduct upon the immutable and eternal foundations of righteousness.

And we have the evidence that such has been the effect. During those awful thirty-two months of Belgium’s Via Dolorosa, while our preachers were expounding the gospel of the lotus leaves, — ‘In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength,’ — the German pastors were justifying a debauchery and barbarity which would have been considered immoral even in the days before a word of our Bible was scratched on papyrus. Here are a few of their unctuously impious messages delivered after some of the worst outrages of the war had been committed: —

Pastor G. Graub: ‘Our troops are assured of their mission; and they recognize clearly, too, that the truest compassion lies in taking the sternest measures, in order to bring the war itself to an early close.’

Pastor W. Lehmann: ‘We are beginning slowly, humbly, and yet with a deep gladness, to divine God’s intentions. It may sound proud, my friends, but we are conscious that it is also in all humbleness that we say it: the German soul is God’s; it shall and will rule over mankind.’

Pastor J. Rump: ‘From all sides testimonies are flowing in as to the noble manner in which our troops conduct the war.’

Pastor H. Francke: ‘Germany is precisely — who would venture to deny it ? — the representative of the highest morality, of the purest humanity, of the most chastened Christianity. He, therefore, who fights for its maintenance, its victory, fights for the highest blessings of humanity itself, and for human progress. Its defeat, its decline, would mean a falling back to the worst barbarism.’

Pastor D. Baumgarten: ‘We are not only compelled to accept the war that is forced upon us . . . but are even compelled to carry on this war with a cruelty, a ruthlessness, an employment of every imaginable device, unknown in any previous war. ‘Whoever cannot prevail upon himself to approve from the bottom of his heart the sinking of the Lusitania — whoever cannot conquer his sense of the gigantic cruelty [ungeheure Grausamkeit] to unnumbered innocent victims — and give himself up to honest delight at this victorious exploit of German defensive power — him we judge to be no true German.’

This pronouncement of the Christian Pastor Baumgarten was deemed worthy of re-publication in a series of pamphlets by notable professors of Berlin University.

‘Stale and marked by scissors and paste! ’ Yes, that is why they are quoted here; they have been the round of the monthlies, weeklies, and dailies; they were sent to America by British scholars to offset the rampant German propaganda. Every clergyman who is not an intellectual mollusk has had a bowing acquaintance with them for a long while. They are simply the completed syllogism from premises laboriously laid in German theology and philosophy. Or, in another form, they are the ruined ethic of their wrecked dynamic.

The practical outcome of this spiritual vandalism is startling. His Imperial Majesty, the Kaiser, stands guilty of the most hideous crimes ever perpetrated by a ruler. Under the divine right of kings the doings of the Army, the Navy, the Chancellery, the Foreign Office, or the diplomatic service are the volitions of the one who wears the crown. Yet with a trail littered with the débris of wanton death and cruelty; with outraged women on every roadside whither German troops passed; with starved children dying like flies over half of Europe and Asia; with the seas dotted from horizon to horizon with human flotsam and jetsam; with helpless infancy and decrepit age alike blown to bits in quiet Kentish towns and Yorkshire summer resorts; with the lecherous Turks let loose to wallow in lust and blood among the Armenians; with captured British officers buried alive in Mesopotamia; with the entire diplomatic corps of the Empire prostituted into bacteria-distributors; with civilian captives reduced to degraded slavery; with every outrage that science could invent consecrated by sanctimonious phraseology — well, with a roster of ghastly and cowardly crimes probably more in number and blacker in hue than those of all the Roman Cæsars combined, there has not been found one single preacher or prelate in the whole of the German Empire to stand up and rebuke this bloodsodden Kaiser in the name of the God of Righteousness.

There was a time when preachers were of a different breed. In the middle of the fourth century the Roman Emperor, in a fit of anger, locked the doors of an amphitheatre and sent his soldiers in to slay the people. For three hours the slaughter went on, and seven thousand defenseless men, women, and children were butchered. Then Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, wrote a stinging letter to Theodosius. Later, the Emperor determined to go to Church in royal state. Ambrose met him at the outer porch and raised his hand in denial. ‘You may not enter,’ he said, in tones of thunder. ‘This is no place for such as you, unless you come in deepest shame and sorrow. Go back to your palace! Your hands drip with blood! Repent! Repent! and then come; but not now.’

Surely the sequence is as inevitable as the law of cause and effect could make it: the Kaiser is what he is because the preachers are what they are; and the preachers are what they are because the professors of theology and philosophy and biblical exegesis sold themselves to the Kaiser to tear the truth and righteousness of God out of their system of thought and leave nothing but a vacant throne in heaven and earth subject to the claim of His Imperial Majesty. It is the most damnable circle of atheistic conspiracy that the ages have known. Nevertheless, the preachers of America, who had all the facts on their library shelves and in current periodic literature, never uttered an indictment loud enough to cause the male members of their churches to foozle a drive in their Sunday morning foursome at the Country Club.

Sometimes one is forced to question whether the ministry has ever really studied the life of Jesus of Nazareth. So much preaching reminds one of Chantry’s criticism of a certain portrait painter who ‘painted a head and left out all the brains and all the bones.’ Sermons, far too often, recall to their hearers the pictures of Christ in the European galleries rather than the delineation in the four Gospels; there are pathos and patience, resignation and refinement, meekness and mildness, an inexpressibly sad gentleness and a wistful, passionless yearning for affection; but the bolder features of the conqueror are washed out. No one would ever think of using the caption, ‘Ye call me Master and Lord,’ either above the homily or below the picture. Put any well-known portrait of Christ beside one of Cromwell, and Christ looks too much like a petted plaything ever to be the conqueror of the world; and yet, in the elements which make up courageous manhood Cromwell is a shadow compared with Christ.

Jesus was born in an age when reformers were obnoxious and in a land where prophets were unwelcome. In the matter of encrusted stolidity and conservatism other races are mercurial beside the Jews of the first century. The sacred books were closed; revelation was all reminiscence; ’the prophets are dead’ — the people themselves passed the judgment. Jesus arose, saying, ‘Moses said . . . but I say unto you.’ It was as if some untrained laborer from Tompkins Corners were to proclaim, ‘Yes, the Magna Charta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Supreme Court, and Congress may all agree upon that point, but I tell you they are wrong and I am right.’ Probably not even a Hearst paper would give space to his words. It was a daring thing when George Fox and William Penn refused to doff their hats in church; but that was baby play by the side of Christ’s insurgency when he called the Pharisees whited sepulchres and whipped the money-changers out of the sacrosanct temple. To tell the venerated leaders of his nation that they were ‘vipers,’ and ‘tenfold the children of hell,’ and that it would be ‘well if a millstone were hanged about their neck and they were cast into the midst of the sea,’ was not a diplomatic approach to approved thought, and likely to make the speaker’s life easy and safe. Then to tell a Samaritan woman that Jerusalem, with its templecrowned crest, was no more to God than any common swamp, and that the Father found the real worshiper wherever the soul was sincere and the heart simple, was a statement that seemed to cut all the sacred privilege right out of the ancient Hebrew religion and throw it to the dogs in the gutter.

This man, the founder of our Christian religion, with hands calloused from the use of tools, stood up before the sternest and most exclusive of religions, bedded into the proudest and stiffest of social organisms, and said, ‘ I will sweep it all away and give in its place a universal faith, without temple or objective sacrifice, the binding force in a republic of souls, in which any penitent may be holier than a mitred priest and the poorest waif mightier than a sceptred king.’

Did this prophet know what he was doing? No one better! From the beginning he saw the end — shame and pain and death — yet he never shortened his lash or softened the sting of his tongue. He set his face steadfastly, marched forward with eyes unafraid, and finally flung himself upon the munitions of his enemies in a great abandon of passion. Members of the Sanhedrim rage and strike him; he treats Herod with incommunicable contempt; he tells Pilate that all of his fancied prefectorial power is only a myth, a name; then — on to the ghastliest death that man could suffer, an end which a trifling compromise might easily have avoided. All alone he struck the pride of his people roughly in the face, cut the underpinning from beneath the popular philosophy, grappled with the superstitions which were choking the life out of humanity, fought relentlessly the smug complacencies and the organized hypocrisies of his race, championed the poor and outcast, interpreted the misunderstood, healed the crippled and broken, protected the weak and set a check upon the cynical power of the strong, flouted the law of the Jews and the wisdom of the Greeks and the junkerism of the Romans. Calumny and hatred could not make him pause, cajolery and flattery could not make him swerve; with never a thought of himself, never a care for consequences, never a momentary eclipse of self-confidence, he went grimly forward with his work. No one has ever outranked him in manhood, heroism, fortitude.

Of course, it may be said that this is only one aspect of Jesus. Let that be granted. Jesus had a habit of occasionally appearing ‘in another form.’ The only point to be settled is this: that when he was in the presence of hypocrisy or cruelty or injustice or power set to an evil purpose, he was terrible in his sternness; confronted with anything which destroyed human rights, the benignant smile died from his face and the cloud of an awful anger gathered on his brow and the lightnings of holy resentment flashed from his eyes. That is why some of his followers came to speak of ‘the wrath of the Lamb.’ An unconscious corroboration is found in the account of the subsequent trial of Peter and John before the rulers in Jerusalem. Recovered from the confusion into which they were thrown by the death of their Master, they began to preach. Where? Right in the very arena where the tragedy had been played out a few weeks before. They took the lion by the throat while its fangs and claws were still wet with blood. Arrested, they were brought before the council. What council? The very same which had done their Master to death and which could kill them also — Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander — the legalized gang which had violated moral, ceremonial, and statute law in committing a quasilegal murder. Instead of cringing, fawning, apologizing, Peter and John crashed right into the court, calling its judges red-handed blunderers and butchers. Then, the record says, ‘When they saw the boldness of Peter and John . . . they took notice of them that they had been with Jesus.’ It was not a mere recollection of previous physical proximity, but an identification of spirit: the fearlessness, the straightforwardness, the disregard of consequences, the imperiousness, of the two apostles were exactly like the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth.

Long-established habit, gained in times of peace, may have caused the preachers of the Gospel to persist in thinking of Christ mainly as the healer, the comforter, the sympathizer. Yet even that article of faith, in its practical form, has been taken out of their hands by a lay organization — the Red Cross. Of the Christ of the metaphysical creeds and the Christ of ecclesiastical polity there is no record in the gospels to fall back upon. The uncomfortable query which is being asked of the ministry concerning its prophetic function during the thirty-two months from August, 1914, to April, 1917, is: ‘Do you think that Jesus of Nazareth would have been neutral in word and thought while Germany was raping Belgium, distributing typhus germs through Siberia, instigating and guiding Turkey in the slaughter of the Armenians, tearing up treaties and rending international law, assassinating Edith Cavell and Captain Fryatt, shielding its soldiers during the Piave fighting with the bodies of Italian women, sinking hospital ships, and acting generally on all the highways of the world like a carefully organized band of demented fiends? Do you think he would have remained placidly silent, absorbed in multitudinous schemes of ecclesiastical procedure? If not, then why were you so scrupulously neutral, so benignly dumb?’

It is the prevailing belief among nonsectarian scholars that Christ’s chief concern was to found the Kingdom of God — or the Republic of Souls — on earth, he himself being the first citizen or the elder brother. As the first citizen, he becomes the example for all later citizens. Surely, then, the very men whose exclusive vocation it is to continue building that kingdom in this generation would be the clearest interpreters of events which were overthrowing the work accomplished so laboriously during the preceding sixty generations. Let it be conceded, once for all, that there were some men who spoke to their own congregations in accents which seemed like echoes from Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Jerusalem; let it be admitted that here and there a voice rang out from the pulpit in tones of indignation, rebuke, anguish, and pity. But it is still true, granting all the exceptions claimed, that those voices did not blend into a commanding unison which swept throughout America and stirred the soul of the nation to action. The vastest of the world’s tragedies came and the Church was not its interpreter.

And when, slowly and clumsily, the people of America felt their way through the few facts upon which our declaration of war was based and came to the vital and essential considerations which drew us into the struggle, it was not the Church in its corporate form or forms, and not the ministry in its organized orders, which placed themselves at the service of our armies for social, moral, and spiritual guidance and guardianship, but a lay organization — the Young Men’s Christian Association. When the Y.M.C.A. asked the people of America for thirtyfive millions of dollars for work in the camps, cantonments, and trainingstations at home, and for the huts among United States troops abroad, the response was more than fifty millions; in Dr. John R. Mott’s words, a sum which ‘greatly exceeds the united annual budgets of the Home and Foreign Missions boards of all the churches of America. It constitutes the largest offering to a Christian cause ever made at a given time in the history of Christianity.’ Which only proves that the typical American is eager to follow any form of Christian leadership and cares not a rap whether it be lay or clerical. It is true that here and there a clergyman has temporarily dropped his parochial duties to work with the Young Men’s Christian Association or the Knights of Columbus, and a few have become regimental chaplains; but it is equally true that the majority have not even sensed the unique strategy which the convulsed and confused world-conditions have made possible. There are ministers everywhere who are still busy building their denominational fences and feverishly staking their sectarian claims. Secretaries of boards and guilds are vociferously proclaiming that the normal work of the churches must not be interrupted for an instant; and that, though our form of government may be changed as if by a revolution, and the law of supply and demand in commerce may be abrogated, and the basic industries may be controlled or appropriated by the Administration after the pattern preached by advanced Socialism, and our young men by the million may be drafted into the army, thereby disrupting social and domestic life and upsetting the equilibrium of industry, and the bottom may fall out of the stock market, yet — the Church must go on its accustomed way without pause or jolt or change. Though the whole world be in the crucible and every other institution on earth be in the melting-pot, yet the Christian Church must be permitted to jog along, doing what it has always done, feeling as it has always felt, and enjoying the dignity and reverence it has always claimed.

How different is all this from the spirit of a letter recently received from a layman! He is the chief editorial writer on one of the most influential daily papers in America, a man of conservative, cautious mind and not in the habit of cutting loose on any theme.

The sunny wind is blowing here in an atmosphere of twenty-five degrees. The hills look bare and purple from the window. There are whitecaps in the harbor. Last night’s rain washed the snow away, and that’s all to the good, to my middle-aged way of thinking.

Here is the bent of my mind this Sunday morning: The world is getting down to brass tacks. (I wonder who invented that phrase and what its original significance was.) We are cutting out all sorts of nonessentials. Daniel Willard of the War Board has emphasized the need of eliminating non-essentials if we are to win the war, but he meant physical non-essentials. We must cut out mental and spiritual nonessentials too; and we are beginning to do it to a surprising and encouraging degree. As a matter of fact, the trend was in that direction before the war; the tendency has long been toward a world-wide standardization, a universal merging or pooling in the interests of efficiency.

The one question now is autocracy versus democracy. Nothing else matters for the moment. Therefore our prejudices must go; we must give up old preferences; we cannot think provincially any longer. The doctrines we laboriously taught must be foregone. What difference does it make what the political economies say? What difference does it make what the party platforms of the last generation have declared? Every hidden hypocrisy is now revealed; every contention that was based on selfishness stands exposed; every programme of personal or factional or neighborhood greed that we clothed in a disguise of wholesomeness, which almost deceived even ourselves, disappears. Autocracy or democracy — there is our stark alternative.

We cared for certain foods and did not care for others. No matter; we shall eat what is set before us. We had our preferences in raiment. We shall take what we can get. ‘The best government is that which governs least!’ But now the best government is the government which lends the most effective aid to the grand alliance against Germany. We argued the relative merits and ethics of direct and indirect taxation. Now the only question is how to raise the money we need most easily and promptly.

Old obstacles break down everywhere. Nothing is sacred now — except Our Cause. Nothing can be sure of its standing in our hearts and souls except the future of human liberty. (We may go back to our prejudices by and by; there is perhaps no reason why we should not when there is time for such non-essentials.) The government has always heretofore maintained an attitude of aloofness from its thrifty citizens; it offered them nothing in the way of investments. Now its attitude toward them is one of urgent welcome; a child with twenty-five cents is free to become a creditor of the august Federal régime. Never was the government so close to its people; never, perhaps, in another sense, so far from them. But, either way, old conceptions of government are broken down. The trend is all in the direction of a weakening of tradition and form. What is the Constitution in this greatest of all crises? If it serves, we shall revere it as it is; if it does not serve, we shall amend it to suit the new duty of the new occasion. Nothing matters but the winning of the war.

We must forego our old social prejudices. We have very largely foregone them. We may like our little circle about the hearth as much as ever, and we are entitled to it; but we must not let it interfere for a moment with our larger social, national, or international obligations.

The day of the Pilgrim Fathers is over.

Like it or not, we have got to face it. New England is what we would have called till lately an alien corner of the country. It is a New Europe rather than a New England now. If we pine for an untainted AngloSaxon survival, we shall have to seek it among the unspoiled mountaineers of North Carolina and Tennessee. But they do not belong to the live, present-day America; they are apart from it. The main currents of the New Americanism pass them by.

Republican? Democrat? Prohibitionist or Socialist? Mere unmeaning names just now. Even American is too small for the world-emergency except as it is a synonym for liberty and democracy.

There are 168 religious denominations in the United States. There are 15 kinds of Baptists, 21 kinds of Lutherans, 12 kinds of Presbyterians, 15 kinds of Methodists. There is one religious need, one religious aspiration; it is the desire to simplify and intensify man’s relations with the Eternal Power.

Wake up, America! Slough off the nonessentials. Get down to brass tacks. Live simply, think sincerely, give all you have of mind and strength to the one task before which every other task pales.

When a casual, personal letter from a layman reveals such depths and outreachings of thought and feeling, what should be the attitude of men who have been publicly ordained and are publicly supported as the spiritual interpreters of life? When the laity are thinking in loftier and wider terms than the clergy, how long will they tolerate a laggard ministry?

Within twenty-four hours of the receipt of the above letter another one of absorbing interest came from Mesopotamia. The writer is a British staff officer somewhere on the Tigris. He writes of things so weird, so heroic, so tragic, that but for a sure knowledge of his reliability they would be unbelievable. His concluding paragraph has such an unexpectedly verbal confirmation of the conviction of the New England editor, — ‘only essentials count,’ — that it seems as if the ends of the earth were in collusion. ‘It is difficult to believe in God these days — but I do. I believe He has been good to me and mine. That and my faith in my wife and my country, are all that are worth having. You and I and other men have had many fetters broken these last few years, thank God! Because, after all, only essentials count, and I have a hold on the three real ones.’

Can the Christian ministry realize that in the midst of this disheveled and amazed world ‘only essentials count’? Has the Christian ministry the courage to forsake everything, even the established habits of long years of happy peace, and settle down to a grapple with the facts which are driving deep into the souls of men? No one is asking for conservation or for construction today; no one expects that the old things, even those held most sacred, can survive in their familiar form, and no one has the audacity to think that a new structure can be built while the former one is still crashing upon his head. But men everywhere are groping for the essential things, they are demanding an immediate and a spiritual interpretation of the awful drama in which they are both voluntary and involuntary participants. They must have it or lose both reason and faith. In another letter from the same writer in Mesopotamia there occurs this sentence: ‘It is sometimes hard to believe in Calvary, but the greatest proof of all is at hand. If the world is not redeemed this time, then I lay down my Bible and my faith and I’ll go out of life drunk. ’Cos, thank God, when everything else is gone one can always flog one’s brain to the last leap!’

Was there ever a time when the race had such a crimson commentary upon Calvary? Why not seize it boldly and use the glorious exegesis without apology, instead of dabbling in vague hypotheses about the moral influence of vicarious suffering? The men of Liége, of Mons, of the Marne, of the Somme, of the Yser, of the Tigris, of the Piave, have surely established forever that life is won by death. Redemption, in both a physical and a spiritual sense, has ceased to be a dogma by becoming the most thrilling fact in present-day consciousness. There are millions of families in America, proud and brave enough as they face their fellows, but with a Gethsemane in their souls, in which they wait for the interpreting word. What interest they ever had in the extreme subjectivity of religious experience has been lost in the shadows cast by grim objective realities.

Other men are asking what guaranties there are for the invincibility of truth, the inviolability of honor, and the immutability of righteousness; they see the clouds and darkness which are round about the Eternal, but they are anxious for confirmation that righteousness and justice are the habitation of his throne; they ask for evidence to supplant credence. With other things German, ‘value judgments’ have gone by the board. Men and women have also done with shibboleths. Democracy itself must be defined. When our administration, placed in office during the days of peace, proceeds to govern in a fashion which has more than the tang of despotism, citizens want to know what differentiates democracy from autocracy. Unless it is proved that there is a spiritual necessity in the temporary curtailment of liberties, the will of the Republic must sometimes rebel ; unless the higher law of waived prerogative— ‘free, yet not using your freedom’—is made apparent, there will be a sagging of the resolution which carried us into the conflict. Hence Russia needs interpretation; the socialistic idealism which became so immediately self-conscious that it changed into individual materialism, a suicidal system of land-grabbing, forgetful of collective honor or obligation or opportunity.

Such questions invade the soul. In their wake follow a thousand others: What new motive has come into our patriotism, causing our youth to spring forward with a cry of gladness to face the utmost of sacrifice? Why are even the untaught multitudes accepting limitations in food, in fuel, in their narrow pleasures, without the mutterings and murmurings which the proletariat have always considered their privilege? Why are capital and labor alike showing such unexpected docility toward the government? Why are constitutional problems, like the extension of the franchise to women and the prohibition of intoxicating liquors, making strides which even the wildest fanatic would not have predicted ten years ago? Scarcely a phase or ramification of personal, social, or industrial life but demands a new reading; the most mundane things are capable of bearing a spiritual connotation; every disparted and refracted ray of knowledge is ready to reblend into the pure white light of wisdom.

If the devotions and the discipline of the clergy have not fitted them to lead the people when these and kindred questionings are articulate and insistent, what place can the ministry expect to hold, or what vital part is it likely to play, in the cosmic rehabilitation which must follow the war? Spiritual opportunities such as those of today come but rarely in the life of the race; common and even gross men are now willing to think and act upon a lofty plane which the choicest saints and most intrepid thinkers hardly reached in days gone by; a manumitted mob has crossed the Red Sea and asks the nearest way to the Promised Land.