Now we have “supped full with horrors.” We have had more than enough of that bloody banquet The heart of humanity longs for peace, as it has always longed, but now with a new intensity, greater than ever before. Yet the second course of war continues. The dogs fight for the crumbs under the peace-table. Ignorant armies clash by night. Cities are bombarded and sacked. The barbarous Bolsheviki raise the red flag of violence and threaten a war of classes throughout the world.
You can never make a golden age out of leaden men, or a peaceful world out of lovers of strife.
Where shall peace be found? How shall it be attained and safeguarded? Evidently the militarists have assaulted it with their doctrine that might makes right. Evidently the pacifists have betrayed it with their doctrine of passive acceptance of wrong. Somewhere between these two errors there must be a ground of truth on which Christians can stand to defend their faith and maintain their hope of a better future for the world.
Let me begin by speaking of Peace in the Soul. That is where religion begins, in the heart of a person. Its flowers and fruits are social. They are for the blessing of the world. But its root is personal. You can never start with a class—conscious or a mass—conscious Christianity. It must begin with just you and God.
Marshal Joffre, that fine Christian soldier, said a memorable thing about the winning of the war: “Our victory will be the fruit of individual sacrifice.” So of the coming of peace on earth we may say the same: it will be the fruit of the entrance of peace into individual hearts and lives.
A world at war is the necessary result of human restlessness and enmities. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war in your members?” Envy, malice, greed, hatred, deceit,—these are the begetters of strife on earth.
A world at peace can come only from the cooperation of peaceful human spirits. Therefore we must commence to learn what peace is, by seeking it in our souls through faith.
Christ promised peace to His disciples at the Communion in that little upper room in Jerusalem, nineteen hundred years ago. Evidently it was not an outward but an inward peace. He told them that they would have a lot of trouble in the world. But He assured them that this could not overcome them if they believed in Him and in His Father God. He warned them of conflict, and assured them of inward peace.
What are the elements of this wondrous gift which Christ gave to His disciples, and which He offers to us?