The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, February 01, 1916, Page 16, Image 18

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The Commoner
VOL. 16; -NO: 2
Address delivered by tho Rev. Martin D.
Hardin,, D. D., Pastor of Third Presbyterian
Church, Chicago, 111., to tho Union Minister's
Association of Chicago.
Across tho last page of European civilization
in written in letters of blood the tragic word:
"Failure"! Religion, philosophy, science, art,
education, commerco and statesmanship all
tho constructive forces of civilization, as they
have been, are weighed in tho balance and found
wanting. Tho religion of the wise and merciful
Christ, except in name only, Is largely abandoned
for the worship of the Moloch of might. Into
tho red-hot, out-stretched, Iron hands of this
hideous heathen diety Europe's children are
being. offered up offered wltn a blind devotion
and an unquestioning stupidity equal to that of
tho most benighted Canaanitish woman of thirty
centuries ago. Ideals and ideas, morals and
sioney, homes and churches, vast and beautiful
cities, priceless treasures of art, manhood,
womanhood, youth and maidenhood, and most
unthinkable of all, poor, innocent, helpless
childhood all that the heart has loved and the
Christian conscience been taught to revere, is
being fed to this blind Insatiate monster which,
with flaming appetite devours, and stands call
ing, weok after week and 'month after month,
for more, moro, more!
Tho cultured, and in many respects increas
ingly fraternal Europe of yesterday has slipped
back into the jungle to imitate tho actions of
tho tiger, and knowing no law higher than that
of tooth and claw.
Men who have thought in their boasted mod
em wisdom that there is no hell awaiting the
sin of man against God, awake to find that the
fair Europe of yesterday is actually now in a
voritablo weltering hell of blood and tears,
waitings and moanings, insanity and hatreds,
demonical, loveless brutality as awful as any
vision over haunting tho weird imagination of
Tho beautiful, art-crowned, garden cultivated,
htippy-homed, marvolously cltied, increasingly
restful Europe of yesterday Is gone from tho
face of tho earth, and, for all the men, women
and children of this generation, gone forever.
"With it have vanished millions of long cherished
hopes and golden dreams tho lover's jeweled
anticipations, tho old man's staff, the father's
pride, the tolling, patient mother's comfort and
recompense. To every fireside there is appointed
not beauty for ashes, but ashes for beauty; not
tho oil of gladness for mourning, but mourning
for tho oil of gladness; not the garment of praise
for heaviness, but heaviness for the garment of
praise. Yes, tho heaviness of the destruction of
millions of tho strongest, bravest and likeliest
makers of tomorrow's happiness and greatuess;
and, added to all this, tho heaviness of such a
war dobt that Europe's peasantry already bowed
and bent, shall, like tho Christ, stagger and fall
fainting to the earth under the weight of the
very cross upon which they and their children's
children for a century to come are to be crucified.
Tho mind not moved by this infinite tragedy
to seek something radically different in the way
of national and international policy from that
which has ended thus, is to many of us incom
prehensible. And yet, at this very hour, with
Europe torn and bleeding, burning and dying
beforo our very eyes, we have here in the United
States, men who dare to draw from this situation
this lesson only: that America, now on a scale
such as Bhe has never before practiced, must arm
and gijve herself to the gospel of preparedness
for tho mysterious enemy just as Europe has
done for tho last forty years. Lord Rosebery
Bald recently, and he expressed the sentiment of
the best minds in Europe: "I know nothing
moro disheartening than the announcement re
cently made that the United States the one
great country left in tho world free from the
hideous, bloody burden of war is about to
embark upon the building of a huge armada
destined to be equal or second to our own."
Wo are being asked not to see that the very
thing which has landed Europe in hell is this
. same gpspel of preparedness. More than anything
olsg, that which has brought Europe to her pres
ent plight has been a brutal belief in the efficacy
1 of force a stupid superstition tha,t national sta
bility, commerce, art, civilization, and in the
last analysis, even Christianity itself, rests, not
upon conformity to the moral order of the
world, but upon force; and that nation which
could mobilize tho greatest number of highly
trained soldiers, or build the greatest number of
battleships would be the strong and safe nation.
According to its size and resources, about every
nation now engaged in this bloody struggle has
lived fairly well up to this military dogma; with
tho net result that they all together finally fall,
through fear and suspicion and mutually en
gendered hatreds hatreds which were intensi
fied a thousand fold by their heavy armaments,
into this wicked, wasteful and stupid slaughter.
Now the very men who are most insistent uidi
America shall join more vigorously in this arma
mcntal rivalry, are those who also insist that all
pacifists, and all workers for a world court which
may serve ultimately to do away with war, are
a set of dreaming, impractical fools bent upon
ignoring "the most fundamental and unchanging
facts of human nature." They tell us that this
is a practical world, and that any program which
doe3 not conform to "human nature as it is now,
always has been, and always will be, is doomed
to failure."
Our first answer to them is that, so reasoned
"tho wise and practical" men of Europe, and
yet, how Europe could be any more of a failure
than it is at this moment, is inconceivable. It
has been suggested that if every cabinet and
council over there had been made up of mem
bers taken from their lunatic asylums, it is
doubtful if they could have wrought such havoc
and universal misery as that into which these
"wise and practical statesmen" have led, who
are supposed to hold a monopoly of all knowl
edge concerning human nature. Europe's wise
and practical statesmen, who know all about
human nature, have been just wise enough to
take all the surplus earnings of her toiling mil
lions, and then mortgage the bodies, brains and
bread of the unborn generations for a hundred
years to come, with which to buy instruments of
death and destruction, so that when war has
come, it has come on such a scale and with such
havoc as bleeds Europe to death, and staggers
and largely paralyzes all the rest of the world.
Marvelous wisdom! Two more generations of
such wisdom and practical guidance, and civil
ization will lose all that it has gained in the last
thousand years. Oh! they know all about human
nature; but they don't know this: that it is of
the very essence of human nature to grow suspi
cious and fearful and finally mad to the point of
fighting if a mailed fist is always shoved up un
der a man's nose, saying: "You dare not." No
big preparedness man in Europe has known
enough about human nature to believe that men
of other nations would resent and fear and final
ly fight over what they themselves would not
stand. If a -man can look back through the
long, fighting history of this earth, and not see
that it is in human nature to resent with the last
drop of blood the bullying fist and the brute's
might, he is-but a tyro in his knowledge of what
is in tho human heart. He who does not know
that men of every race under Heaven can be led
farther through intelligent kindness and trust
and justice, than they can be driven with a club,
morally still lives in the stone age.
The hands that were pierced on Calvary have
wielded a power incomparably greater over hu
man destiny than all the mailed fists of the cen
turies. And the sword has never been substi
tuted for the cross, Caesar for Christ, without a
moral loss ultimately culminating in a tragedy
like that which at present engulfs Europe. Tol
stoi, in his open letter to the world at the time
of the Russian-Japanese war, said: "No enlight
ened man can help knowing that the universal
competition in the armament of states must in
evitably lead them to endless wars, or to a gen
eral bankruptcy, or else to both the one and the
other." If every prophecy in Scripture had been
fulfilled as literally as Europe is now fulfilling
this one, there would not be found an infidel on
But to this side of the preparedness program
American advocates of the doctrine seem today
as blindly ignorant as were their kindred minds
across the sea. The horrible war, its suffering
its waste, its insanity, its diabolical wickedness
seems to have taught them nothing. Prepared
ness was foisted on Europe by military minds
which insisted that this program would insure
peace; that it was "a cheap form of national in-
ii.. .1.nnsn4- nnrtrwlla Viof VTnn
surance." xes, mo uuuaii ..,.. ,
ever worked off on a poor, gullible humanity!
But with tho whole philosophy of preparedness,
as a rational way of insuring peace between na
tions, as completely exploded as any shell which
has burst over the bloody trenches, America, at
a time when she never was in so little danger
from Europe, is being frightened into its advo
cacy. At a time when every rational mind in
Europe is praying that the war may have at least
one beneficial effect,, the end forever of the
cfitehtmare of dread under which Europe has
constantly lived for a generation or more,
America is being asked to set an example which
will be used by every military mind in Europe
as a cogent reason why when this war is over
Europe should proceed to re-arm. When Amer
ica ought to be ringing from one vend to the
other with a cry of horror over the madness of
an armed world, and the moral imbecility of a
race that can not today find some less expensive
and dangerous way of keeping the peace, than
by adopting an adage that was coined in the
bloodiest days of heathen Rome, she is, under
the adroit hands of absolute unbelievers in the
power of Christian truth, being swept into a
course which has landed Europe in torment, and
which will fearfully handicap the peace minds
of the world in persuading, their own nations
when this war is over to find a new and better
basis for international relations.
Tho United States at the close of this stupid
struggle in Europe will stand forth incompar
ably the great nation of the world. In men, in
resources, in undisturbed industry, in all that
ministers to human happiness we will be largely
where we were before this bloody slaughter be
gan across the sea with this difference only,
that we will be in the possession of much of the
wealth Europe has by her madness lost. Already
even England, the creditor nation1 oT fife World,
is letting go by the billions the accumulated. in
terest bearing bonds of the last century.
The Europe, on the contrary, that emerges
from this conflict will have had its economic and
industrial order shattered from top to bottom;
will have been well nigh bled to death in men
and resources; will be under a debt so vast that
tho interest on it alone can not be paid, to say
nothing of the principal. It will be a Europe no
more resembling that of eighteen months ago
than the battered, bloody body with half its
bones broken from the fall over a hundred foot
precipice, resembles the strong, well man at the
top before he went over. It will be a Europe
saddened, disillusioned, infinitely broken, lying
amid its ebbing life's blood, facing an indefinite
period of long, hopeless invalidism. Those who
prophesy danger from any nation now engaged
in this life and death struggle, surely know little
of the modern problems of war. They are rea
soning about this war from the past wars of the
world, when every man who has really studied
the problem knows that history presents nothing
from which a parallel can be drawn.
The greatest book which has been written
on this war and its probable outcome came out
of Russia a dozen years ago. Maurice de Bloch.
the great Russian financier, spent twenty odd
years of his life in the most scientific investiga
tion which has ever been made of modern war
fare. And he arrived at the conclusion that if
ever the great nations of Europe, after their
enormous preparations, engaged in war, it would
he of such a length, and on such a scale, and so
enormously costly, that neither sHe could win a
decisive victory. All which engaged in it would
end in financial bankruptcy and economic ruin.
I earnestly recommend to all men in America
who are today tormented with fears of what
some country in Europe may do to us, when they
get through fighting over there, to read de
Bloch's "Future of War" the book which led
to the calling of the first Hague Conference
,?Y w icl! !8' day by day- beine verified by
everything that is happening in Europe. Though
written twelve years ago, so scientific were de
r.n conclusions that there is scarcely a de
tail which would need restatement in the light
SmJ !SivCtual s.truESle which is now going on.
ill in . ary mmdB of EurPe which were under
tV , ' so striki"Sly Portrayed by the unan
swerable argument of Norman Angell, that war
could be made to pay its own way, already see
the hopelessness of recouping their losses