Project Canterbury



An Address
Delivered at the Mass Meeting of the General Convention
of the Protestant Episcopal Church,
Mount St. Alban, Washington, D. C.,
October 21, 1928


Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Albany, N. Y.



Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2011


I AM SURE that such meetings as this are not only a means to turn the thoughts of men and women toward the ideal of peace, but also an expression of the aspiration of the world. We are all determined that the curse of war shall not again devastate nations. The most certain insurance against this is the training of the thoughts of men in the way of peace.

But with the best of goodwill, we know that peace cannot always be maintained unless the nations have a method of settling disputes other than the old method of war. Therefore it behooves the governments steadily to develop and codify in the form of treaties the great principles of conciliation and arbitration. These point steadily to the peaceful way.

Just so, I believe, the general pact for the renunciation of war, already accepted by most nations of the world, is another great forward step. This treaty is the solemn, public expression of the aspiration, not of governments, but of whole peoples speaking through their governments. For this reason it is significant of a new spirit in the world.

The Church is fulfilling, I believe, one of its highest functions in thus carrying out the will of its founder, who is so fittingly called the Prince of Peace.



I DEEM it a high privilege as well as a serious responsibility to have been selected as one of the speakers on this occasion. Just four years ago, on this same hallowed spot, I ventured to speak on the subject of world peace. Today I am asked to address you on the same theme, which, in view of the recent notable contribution of this country, becomes a natural and pleasant duty. I have in mind of course the Kellogg Pact, which, with all its necessary limitations, represents a great step forward in the cause of international comity. Strange to say it has received much less attention in the land of its birth than in many other countries where it has been the main topic of conversation and the chief feature in newspaper columns for weeks. Surely it is not too much to expect that every American citizen will familiarize himself with its two brief clauses, and it would do no harm if we all committed them to memory. At any rate, I cannot forbear reading them on this occasion:

ARTICLE I.—The high contracting parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

ARTICLE II.—The high contracting parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

[4] Renunciation of war and the pacific settlement of all disputes—what a tremendous step is the mere avowal of such policies! Their full results lie in the future, but in the meantime peace-workers and advocates are placed in a strong position. No longer need they seem to criticize their government, always an unpleasant though sometimes a patriotic duty. Instead they can now support the government wholeheartedly with no fear of their loyalty or Americanism being rightly questioned. And there is much work to be done. We must beware of the temptation to assume that the passing of the Pact means the accomplishment of its purpose. Such an assumption would be fatal, since the Pact is not so much a statement of policy as an act of faith which we must justify by our works. At present it is an ideal on paper; we must make it a reality in international life. Moreover, it has not yet received the approval of our Senate, and we must see to it that we do not again raise the hopes of mankind only to dash them to the ground. We must fulfill our part.

When Mr. Kellogg, in the presence of representatives of fourteen other nations, affixed his name to this Pact, he did it with a pen presented to him by people of the city of Havre on which is inscribed, Si vis pacem, para pacem ("If you want peace, prepare for peace")—a reversal of the former motto, "If you want peace, prepare for war." These words I shall use as a center for our thoughts this afternoon.

"If you want peace"! "Why, of course we do," practically all mankind will respond. Indeed this has been an age-long yearning. Something like 2500 years ago, during the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes wrote:

From the murmur and subtlety of suspicion with which we vex one another
Give us rest.
Make a new beginning,
And mingle again the kindred of the nations in the alchemy of love,
And with some finer essence of forbearance
Temper our mind.

[5] And ever since that time, during and after every conflict, men's hearts have yearned for peace. It has been peculiarly so since the last awful cataclysm, and no wonder. With ten million of the flower of the world's youth dead, some twenty or thirty million maimed for life, a cost in money and treasure that is simply incomprehensible, and an aftermath of suffering, taxation, suspicion, fear, hatred, such as the world has never known—of course we want peace. When we realize that another war will be of unbelievable deadliness, that poisonous gases will be thrown from the air on defenseless cities, that front-line trenches will be everywhere, that there will be no noncombatants, but women and children as well as men will be exposed to all its horrors—of course we want peace. When we are told by a calm thinker like Lord Bryce, "We must destroy, war or war will destroy us," and by statesmen such as Lloyd George, "If this war is not the last, then the next will leave the world in ashes," and further that in the opinion of these and many other serious and solid thinkers, our civilization cannot stand the shock of another war, that all that has been built up in industry, science, art, culture, through all these generations will be offered as a burnt sacrifice on the altar of Mars and we shall revert to the jungle—of course we want peace.

Despite the tendency with the passing years to forget [5/6] the horrors, the lessons, and the expressed purpose of the last war, namely, "a war to end war," the desire for peace is still strong and widespread. The veterans of the war in England, Germany, and many other countries are ardent and determined advocates of peace, while the recent acts of statesmen, ever sensitive to public opinion, are but the result and expression of a worldwide, wistful yearning and hunger on the part of the common man for an avoidance of another such conflict. Of course we all want peace.

But how much do we want it? Is it simply a sentimental hope and desire, or do we care enough to be willing to pay the price? Do we desire it as the soldier desires victory, as the statesman the success of his plans, as the lover wants his beloved—in short, are we determined and enthusiastic in our desire for peace, and willing to make the necessary sacrifices? For peace cannot be had at any price, it cannot be bought cheap.

Preaching in Westminster Abbey three years ago I stated that the monument to the unknown soldier was a monument to defeated men, not meaning, of course, that they were defeated on the field of battle, where they won gloriously, but referring to the ultimate thing for which they fought—there, to make England a land "fit for heroes to live in," and here, to see that this thing should not happen again, since we fought a "war to end war." Have those ends been achieved? Do we not rather dislike to be reminded of them, so far are they from sentiment? That these objectives have not been won is no fault of those who fought, but ours. They did their part nobly, but we have failed to keep faith. Had we put one tithe the effort and sacrifice into securing the peace that they did into winning the war, the result would not now be [6/7] in doubt. How can people be so blind as to think they are honoring these boys by perpetuating the system they gave their all to destroy? Those serried ranks of gallant souls must look with sad disappointment on much that is done in their name today. In a deeper sense than originally meant, thinking of the part of the task bequeathed to us, I seem to hear them say:

Take up our quarrel with the foe.
To you, from falling hands we throw the Torch, be yours to hold it high;
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.

If we are to prove worthy of these noble lives sacrificed for us, we must, with something of the same abandon with which they flung themselves into the task of winning the war, dedicate ourselves and all that we have to the building of the structure of peace. If we want peace, we must pay for peace; we must prepare for peace.

Prepare for peace. How obviously common-sense is that statement, and how at variance with what we have been taught and endeavored to believe through all these ages! In an ordered world one gets what he prepares for. One does not prepare for one thing in order to get another. The lesson of history is surely plain that preparation for war brings war sooner or later. Said President Coolidge: "In spite of all arguments in favor of great military forces, no nation ever had an army large enough to guarantee it against attack in time of peace or to assure its victory in time of war. No nation ever will." Moreover, large armaments are inevitably provocative, productive of fear, suspicion, and misunderstanding, and tend to result in rivalry and armament competition that has only one [7/8] possible ultimate result, besides constituting a burden on men’s shoulders grievous to be borne. Just at present the world is spending $3,500,000,000 a year on armaments, which is equal to $2 a head or $10 a family for the whole human race. Here in the United States Secretary Mellon informs us that 82 per cent of all our taxes are due to war. Surely there should be intelligence enough today—not to speak of morality—to find some way of relieving mankind of this terrific burden and turning into constructive and productive channels a large part of this huge sum. It needs little imagination to realize what could be done to better this old world if this vast treasure and energy could be used among the nations against the foes of the human race instead of by the nations against one another. If we would prepare for peace, then we must all cut down our armaments. I cannot share the opinion of some in high position that the Kellogg Pact has nothing to do with disarmament. If it does not, it is a futile thing indeed, mere words, words signifying nothing.

If we would hopefully prepare for peace, we must realize that mere wishing or mere signing of pacts or treaties will not suffice, nor will disarmament alone. We must go deeper and endeavor to prepare peaceful means for dealing with what have been causes of war. Happily some causes are already gone. Wars for glory, dominion, empire, would seem to be obsolete. Wars for trade may still exist; but, with the increasing international character of all big business, the time would seem to have arrived when most traders should realize that war today is very poor business. It simply does not pay. In the last war even the victors lost.

Perhaps the chief cause of possible future wars is [8/9] to be found in the carrying over from a previous age of obsolete conceptions of nationalism, to which is attached a kind of so-called patriotism that is full of danger. We are living in a new day. Steam and electricity have drawn the nations together into such close proximity and such mutual dependence that what affects one affects all. When after the war large stocks of woolen goods were thrown on the market in England, there was many a shepherd in the hills of far-off Australia or on the plains of Palestine who felt the pinch of hunger. When in Paris war rations abolished for the time the use of perfumes, there was many a rose garden in Hungary that went untended because it had been producing attar of roses for fifty years. When typhus breaks out in Poland or influenza in Spain, it respects no national boundaries and must be checked for the good of all. When war lifts its ugly head in any quarter of the globe, the chancelleries of the world are astir, not knowing where it will end. The simple fact is that the house we live in has grown smaller; and, in a small house with its inhabitants rubbing elbows at every turn, there is much need of forbearance and self-control, if they are to live together harmoniously. So it is with the world today. Says that wise and clear-sighted Spanish statesman, Senor Madariaga:

The main world event of the twentieth century is the birth of the world. The world did not exist before. There were empires, nations, continents, seas, "zones" (either of influence or exploitation); there were open doors, and God only knows how drafty they made the earth. But no one knew the world. The world was born in the World War, which, as its name shows, was a world event. And now all men sense, realize, that the world once born is going to grow. It is going to claim a right to its own history, its own economics, and its peace.

[10] But—and that is what makes our age so fascinating—the nations and the empires are not quite sure that the world is born, and even when they admit it to themselves, they are not quite happy about it. In fact, they are not happy at all. They wish the world was not there; they consider it a nuisance and they try to go on as they did in the good old days—each in its own way, the way of anarchy and freedom.

The world situation is somewhat comparable to the conditions prevailing in our big cities in this automobile era. Before the advent of the motor car or when cars were the possession of the few, we got along tolerably well on an individualistic basis, even though there were occasional collisions. Today, however, we have a set of very elaborate traffic rules which seriously limit the individual's rights in the interest of the safety of the community. So with the world. With vastly increased communication in a greatly contracted world, freedom of movement becomes more difficult and dangerous, for national interests are bound to clash and such clashes are fraught with peril to all. We need "traffic rules" for the world, and such rules will inevitably limit the rights of the nation for the good of the whole.

There it is. We need to ponder well this changed world and then be willing to make the necessary adjustments. A strident patriotism of the 100 per cent American variety, scorning other races, looking condescendingly on other nations, touchy about its own rights and prating about "absolute sovereignty," is the greatest single danger to the peace of the world today. Not that we would if we could abolish patriotism and convert our citizens into that most pitiful of internationalists, a man without a country. A sentiment that enables men to forget lesser things, lift themselves above their own petty concerns, and, [10/11] unmindful of the cost, rise to great heights of nobleness and self-sacrifice, is something to be cherished, not scorned. We would not abolish or condemn it but rather refine and perfect it. We would direct it toward more worthy ends. What makes a country great is not its material riches, physical power, or military prowess, but rather its contribution to science, art, culture. What makes a country beloved is not its victories but its service. Patriotism—our own as well as others,—needs to be converted, Christianized. It needs to be purged of its base, vulgar, and archaic perversions. Instead of the childish and primitive desire to "lick the world," it should aim at making its country worthy of honor by its contributions to mankind. True patriotism will be chiefly concerned about a nation's soul, not its body, realizing that even nations cannot live by bread alone.

Above all, a nation aspiring to be Christian will be concerned to play its part in the world of states as God intended it to do. In this connection we might do well to remember Theodore Roosevelt's statement that "Nations should act toward one another as an honorable man acts toward an honorable man." Lord Milner's utterance just before the end of his life breathes true patriotism in its intensest and noblest form: "When I think of the Empire, it does not inspire in me the desire to wave the flag or shout 'Rule Britannia.' It rather makes me want to go into a corner and pray." In similar vein are those noble words of Edith Cavell, "Patriotism is not enough." We quote once more, this time the words of our esteemed Bishop Brent, whose place I am attempting to fill today: "International affairs are just as much the business of the citizen as national affairs. Man's first [11/12] allegiance is to mankind. Patriotism comes as a second loyalty to be curbed, directed, and disciplined by the first and larger loyalty."

It is idle, if not insincere, to be continually saying, "Of course we want peace," and then to refuse to take any concrete step in that direction. It is futile to long and pray for peace while we continue to prate of absolute sovereignty and independence in a world of equal and dependent states. It is useless to hope for peace if we are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices, endure some wrongs, take some risks, and even refuse to retaliate some insults. These are part of the price nations must pay for peace.

Are we, or is any nation, willing to pay this price? Apparently not today. We must remember that, accurately speaking, there is no such thing as a Christian nation, but only nations which include a greater or less proportion of Christian individuals. All nations are still sub-Christian, in their morality and motived by self-interest instead of service, dominated by fear and suspicion instead of trust, depending on force, not love. It is too much to expect any state at the present time to be guided in its relations with other states by Christian principles. This was illustrated in the House of Parliament a few years ago when Mr. Clynes, a Labor member, being severely heckled and questioned by the opposition, was finally asked what should be the guiding principle in foreign relations, to which he replied, "We haven't definitely formulated it, but I think we should base it on the Sermon on the Mount." At which answer a testy old admiral arose and shouted in consternation, "Gentlemen, gentlemen, if you are going to base the foreign policy of the British Empire on the Sermon on the Mount, then [12/13] all I have to say is, "God help England," to which Mr. Clynes retorted, "And He will."

Here is where the Church comes in. These heights cannot be attained by the natural man. The peace cause lags and will fail if it be content with a basis of expediency or enlightened selfishness. It needs a spiritual dynamic which only religion can supply. And surely the world has a right to look to Christianity for such support. The One we worship is called the Prince of Peace. Songs of peace greeted His arrival on this planet, and His whole life and teaching no man can mistake. "Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven." This He not only taught but lived, refusing to use force in any form even to save Himself from a horrible death. The Kingdom of God is peace, says His great apostle, and this was undoubtedly the teaching and practice of the early Christians. It is not without significance that no Christian convert is known to have enlisted in the army until the time of Marcus Aurelius. To be sure, by the time of Constantine things had changed, but so careful a historian as Lecky writes:

When a Cross was said to have appeared miraculously to Constantine with the inscription announcing the victory of the Milvian Bridge, and the same holy sign adorned with the sacred monogram, was carried in the forefront of the Roman armies, and the nails of the Cross . . . were converted by the emperor into the helmet and into bits for his war horse, it was evident that a great change was passing over the once pacific region of the Church.

A great hero and theologian of the early Church, Saint Athanasius, looking forward just at the time the [13/14] Church was assuming important political functions in the Roman Empire, asks what advantages the world may expect from having Christianity accepted by many peoples, and answers that one advantage of which he entertains no manner of doubt is the extinction of war, which he conceives to be utterly inconsistent with the Christian religion. But the point need not be labored. The teaching of Christianity is simply not compatible with war.

The world at large recognizes this feature of Christianity and must often wonder at our inconsistency. Said Lloyd George the other day:

The Churches were to blame for the last war—not monarchs, rulers, militarists, but the Churches. Had all the Churches cried halt, this awful murder could not have gone on.

Some time ago Field Marshal Haig said:

The Gospel of Christ is the world's only social hope and the sole promise of world peace. It is a crusade to which I urge you—a crusade not having for its object the redemption of a single city, however holy, but the freeing of the whole world from the devastating scourge of war.

And another military man bluntly says, "Your business is to make our business impossible," while still another says:

The trouble with you Church people is that you are not willing to back up your theories with your life, or even with your property. When one of us military men believes in war he is willing to go to war and be shot at. This you Church people are not willing to do. Therein lies your great weakness. Whenever you are willing to pay the price of putting your principles into effect, then we military men will be obliged to retire. Our strength is due to your weakness.

With such challenges flung at us, what are we to do? With a world heartsick and weary of strife and [14/15] not yet free from the cataclysm which may overwhelm it, and with the God-given means at hand to help, how can we rest complacent? Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and shall we spend our time tinkering with rubrics, amending canons, disputing over a thousand lesser things, when we might be throwing our mighty energy into saving the world from catastrophe and ruin? Said our own General O'Ryan: "The American people can end war in this generation, if they get on the job. I would be a traitor to my country if I did not do all in my power to rid the world of war." Can the Church of the Living God do less?

In view of the apathy and indifference of many members of the Christian Church, one is often tempted to ask whether we do really believe in the possibility of world peace. Many do not. Said an army officer to a group of young men of the R. O. T. C., "If a pacifist is one who believes that war is unnecessary and preventable, then pacifism becomes a menace." Not all men are as frank as that, but do not a great many really share that opinion? And is not this attitude of mind one of the greatest obstacles to the progress of peace? How history repeats itself! Men once believed that slavery and dueling were inevitable, a part of human nature as God ordained it. In the year 1858, the Rev. W. G. Brownlow, in a public debate on the slavery question, said: "Not only will I throughout this discussion openly and boldly take the ground that slavery as it exists in America ought to be perpetuated, but that slavery is an established and inevitable condition of human society. I will maintain the ground that God always intended the relation of master and slave to exist, that slavery having existed [15/16] ever since the first organization of society, it will exist to the end of time." Such was a widely prevalent view in those days, and it is not surprising that a similar view with respect to war lingers today.

But, the Christian cannot hold it if he really believes this is God's world and that the teaching of our Lord is in harmony with fundamental reality. Do Christ's teachings apply to men only as individuals, or are they the way of life for states as well? Has He revealed certain laws rooted in the nature of things which apply to man in all his relationships? Must nations as well as men seek first the Kingdom of God? Is it true that those who "take the sword shall perish by the sword"? Should. a nation take up its cross and follow him? Is it true of a nation, "he that loseth his life shall find it"? Must men, grouped as a nation, forgive their enemies and pray for those who despitefully use them, as much as individuals? Do we believe with Christ that "the meek shall inherit the earth," or with Bernhardi that the valiant shall do so? Does "Thou shalt not steal," apply to individuals only? In short, are we to persist in a dual ethic?

Is the Christian God to control only certain portions of life, or the whole? Are His judgments, His teachings, eternal? Do they apply everywhere? Is he really the God of the whole earth? If so, the Christian Church can never rest satisfied until all things are subdued unto Him, that God may be all in all. We must assert the principle and seek its application to ever-widening circles.

The next great field of endeavor is to disciple the nations in their corporate capacity. Heretofore, we have interpreted this command in too individualistic a [16/17] sense; we have been very busy converting individuals among the nations. But what if it is meant to apply to nations as such? Is not that the very ethic the world needs at this time? The nations must in the deepest sense be brought into the fold, baptized, signed with the cross, and made conscious of their duty to God and man. Nothing short of this will meet the present need.

I can see arising in the future, far or near, but inevitable, as the only condition of enduring civilization on this rapidly contracting, intercommunicating, dependent globe, a United States of the World, patterned somewhat after the United States of America, with its forty-eight sovereign states, each sacrificing something of its independence for the good of the whole, and all bound together not by force such as standing armies along their respective borders, but united in indissoluble union by a great common purpose and conviction, by a controlling and overmastering sentiment of loyalty to the whole, which results in the greatest good of each component unit. So some day it will come to pass—I cannot doubt it is God's will—that all the nations of the world will be bound together, gladly making the necessary sacrifices and adjustments, in a mighty, compelling, overshadowing purpose, subduing nature, exterminating man's foes, peopling the deserts, conquering the sea and the air, and bringing all things into subjection—not for purposes of mutual destruction, but mutual help, thus bringing to this old earth a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven.

A dream, you say? But dreams precede realities, and some dreams come true. Something like this must be what God intended and desires. We shall get no [17/18] rest until we do His will, and in the end His will is sure to prevail. Our task is to keep the vision and walk in the way. Throughout history God has been saying to the nations, "Serve me, or perish." So far, all that have refused are no more. God grant that mighty, prosperous, bountifully blessed America may answer otherwise. The opportunity is here.

If you want peace, prepare for peace. Believe in peace, sacrifice for peace. Enshrine it among the noblest ideals of life. Give it a place alongside honor, integrity, truth. Cultivate a passion for it. Dwell on its beauties, worship at its shrine, sacrifice on its altar, and it will come and abide. It may come sooner than we think. Sentiment is stronger than armies. Witchcraft, a heritage of the ages, was completely stamped out in a single decade owing to a change in human sentiment. With the death of Hamilton, dueling was given its deathblow by the sudden precipitation of sentiment which had long been uneasy but inert. So too with this growing and widespread sentiment for world peace. The elements seem to be all in the crucible. Perhaps all that is needed is a little more heat, a little more ardor and enthusiasm, to cause the precipitation of the sentiment that will usher in this greatest of blessings for mankind. God grant it—THE PEACE WE WANT:

Not an idle dream, but an energizing reality.
Not mere cessation from strife, but ardent, courageous fellowship.
Not born of fear and cowardice, but begotten of hope and sacrifice.
Not negative, anemic, passive, but positive, vital, passionate.
Not based on policy and selfishness, but the fruit of conviction and service.
Not bought at any price, but won at heavy cost.
Not the submission of the weak, but the bestowal of the strong.
Not just conserving moral values, but achieving spiritual victories.
Not the peace of man, but the peace of God.

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