Project Canterbury





A Sermon by

William Thomas Manning

Bishop of New York


preached in the




Sunday, October 6th



Additional copies of this Sermon may be obtained upon application at the Bishop's office.

On earth peace, good will toward men.--ST. LUKE 11:14

We are seeing at this time, with deep dismay, a new outbreak of War in the World. It is a striking, and a humbling, fact that this situation exists at a moment when we are commemorating the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Translation of the Bible into our own Tongue. If the teachings of that Book were received and followed War in this world would be unknown. But today War again confronts us, and as Bishop of this Diocese, and from the pulpit of this Cathedral, I feel that I must speak of it. With the vast tragedy of the World War still fresh in our minds, with not only its memories but its effects still weighing tragically upon us, it seems incredible that we should be witnessing another outbreak, the consequences of which no one can foretell. The War in Ethiopia is not remote from us here in America. Today the whole World is one World. Whether we wish it or not, we are all members of one World Family. No nation today can sit secure in its own fancied isolation. What is done today in China, or in India, or in Africa, affects the life of all of us. As one of the Family of Nations we cannot escape our share of the moral and spiritual effects of this War, nor our share of moral responsibility in regard to it. If the United States were bearing its rightful share of World responsibility as a member of the League of Nations, the situation at this moment might be a different one. And if this outbreak should lead to a European Crisis, which God forbid, we shall inevitably become involved, deeply as we wish to avoid this. As the world stands today, we cannot separate ourselves from the issues and the consequences of the situation in Ethiopia. Even if this War should be localized, and confined to its present field, its moral and spiritual principles and effects are of deep concern to us. We do not wish to be unfair in our judgment of the action of Italy. We feel great regard for the Italian people, and appreciate their noble contributions to the world. We know that all the nations, including our own nation, have sinned in this matter. We recognize that Italy has suffered hardship and injustice in the terms of the Versailles Treaty, as other nations have also. We know that Italy is in great and real need of opportunity for her increasing population. We know that our present political and economic system, national and international, is imperfect, and that there is great need of juster arrangements, and of a juster sharing of opportunity, among the nations of the world. These considerations and others must be taken into account but, giving these considerations full weight, nothing can justify this unprovoked attack of Italy upon Ethiopia and its people. The leading nations of the world, Italy among them, have solemnly pledged themselves that such attacks by one people upon another shall no longer be made. They have agreed not to use military and naval force as an instrument of national policy. The violation of that agreement by Italy is a step backward in the progress of humanity, it is a blow to the efforts and movements for the ending of War and to the sacredness of International agreements, it is a threat to the peace and security of the World. In this action Italy is forgetting the Law of God and her own honour, and is committing an immeasurable wrong and crime against the Ethiopian people. On Christian principles this action cannot be defended or excused. Christians and Churches in all lands should lift up their voices in condemnation of this wrong to Ethiopia, and offer their prayers that juster counsels may prevail, and that the strife may speedily be ended. And let us hope that to the Italian people and their leaders their own great Church, both in Italy and elsewhere, will make its voice heard unmistakably for justice, right, and peace.

This deliberate and ruthless act of aggression should stir all of us to redouble our efforts for the ending of War and the establishment of peace among men.

What can we do to promote the cause of Peace?

1. We must not allow ourselves to become discouraged. Great progress has been made in the Peace Movement. The War Spirit is powerful but the Peace Spirit is growing stronger and stronger. More has been done for the promotion of Peace in the past fifteen years than had been done in the preceding fifteen centuries. There is a public sentiment and a public conscience in the matter today which did not exist twenty years ago. Our Leagues and pacts are far from perfect but they have accomplished much. They have fostered a sentiment against War more powerful than ever before, and that sentiment will grow.

2. We must more thoroughly and fearlessly face the economic causes of War. If we are to have Peace in this world we must have human society built for Peace, built on the principles of Justice, Brotherhood, and Mutual Service.

3. We must use our influence, to the utmost of our ability and opportunity, in creating and strengthening public opinion and we must give our full, active, co-operation and support to all wise efforts and movements for the establishing and upholding of World Peace. Can we say that we are doing this as a Nation? Not one of us wishes to see our Country drawn into War anywhere. But America, has some duty and responsibility in this world beyond playing the part of an "unofficial observer".

4. We must not be guided by mere emotionalism in our work for Peace. We must face the hard facts, and think clearly and justly on this great question. We must not talk as though the use of force is always immoral, or as though there is no difference between those who engage in police action for the preservation of Peace and those who wage deliberate and aggressive War. Confused thinking of that sort does not help or strengthen the cause of Peace.

Ramsay MacDonald who has stood all his life for Peace asks this question:--

"If a nation insists upon being the aggressor, refusing to negotiate and defying every consequence, and exercises its will by military force, what is our duty? Can pacifists stand aside and say, Because I do not believe in force I will let those who do believe in it exercise their destructive will on nations? Or are we driven by hard facts to accept the view that when an aggressor arises to smash the world's peace machinery, international opinion must unite to protect the world against him?" This, Mr. MacDonald says, is a question for peace makers the world over to study and settle.

The World is asking today how we can establish and preserve Peace on earth. Our movements and measures, and peace organizations, are helping. But there is only one sufficient and adequate answer to that question, and the stern logic of facts and events is compelling us to see this. The one full and adequate answer is that given by the Christian Gospel, the bringing in of the Kingdom of God on earth. There is no other answer. There is no other world wide call to Peace and Brotherhood except that of the Gospel of Christ. There is no other power great enough to break down the barriers of race, and caste, and colour, and unite our whole race in one great family of God. There is no other Who shows us the Way, and Who can speak to the heart of all humanity except Jesus Christ. And His Kingdom will come--for He reigns at the right hand of God. It may be through great tribulation, but His Kingdom will come. Whatever may happen in this world--whether we believe in Him or not--whether we do our part or not--whether our present civilization is to be saved or not--Jesus Christ reigns--His Kingdom will come, and His Will will be done, here on earth as it is in Heaven.

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