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Title: What Peace Means
Author: Van Dyke, Henry, 1852-1933
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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New York          Chicago
Fleming H. Revell Company
London    and   Edinburgh


My Son in the Faith
My Brother in the Work
Tertius van Dyke


This little book contains three plain sermons which were preached in New
York in the Easter season of 1919, in the Park Avenue Presbyterian
Church, of which my son is minister. I had no thought that they would
ever be printed. They were, and are, just _daily bread discourses_ meant
to serve the spiritual needs of a congregation of Christian people,
seekers after truth, inquirers about duty, strangers and pilgrims, in
the great city and the troubled world.

But if, as friends think, these simple chapters may be of service
through the printed page to a larger circle of readers, I willingly and
freely let them go.

May the blessing of Jesus follow them on their humble path. May the
Spirit of Truth bring them home to some hearts that want them,--to those
who desire to escape from evil and do good,--to those who "seek peace
and ensue it."


Park Avenue Church Manse, New York City.






Peace in the Soul

_Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you._--ST. JOHN 14:27.

Peace is one of the great words of the Holy Scriptures.
It is woven through the Old Testament and the New like a golden thread.
It inheres and abides in the character of God,--

    "The central peace subsisting at the heart
    Of endless agitation."

It is the deepest and most universal desire of man, whose prayer in all
ages has been, "Grant us Thy Peace, O Lord." It is the reward of the
righteous, the blessing of the good, the crown of life's effort, and the
glory of eternity.

The prophets foretell the beauty of its coming and the psalmists sing of
the joy which it brings. Jesus Christ is its Divine Messiah, its high
priest and its holy prince. The evangelists and prophets proclaim and
preach it. From beginning to end the Bible is full of the praise of

Yet there never was a book more full of stories of trouble and strife,
disaster and sorrow. God Himself is revealed in it not as a calm,
untroubled, self-absorbed Deity, occupied in beatific contemplation of
His own perfections. He is a God who works and labours, who wars against
the evil, who fights for the good. The psalmist speaks of Him as "The
Lord of Hosts, strong and mighty in battle." The Revelation of St. John
tells us that "There was war in Heaven; Michael and his angels fought
against the dragon." Jesus Christ said: "I came not to send peace, but a

It is evident, then, that this idea of "peace," like all good and noble
things, has its counterfeit, its false and subtle versary, which steals
its name and its garments to deceive and betray the hearts of men. We
find this clearly taught in the Bible. Not more earnestly does it praise
true peace than it denounces false peace.

_There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked_ (Isaiah 48:22).

_For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly,
saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace_ (Jer. 8:11).

_If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things
which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes_ (St.
Luke 19:42).

_For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is
life and peace_ (Romans 8:6).

There never was a time in human history when a right understanding of
the nature of true peace, the path which leads to it, the laws which
govern it, was more necessary or more important than it is to-day.

The world has just passed through a ghastly experience of war at its
worst. Never in history has there been such slaughter, such agony, such
waste, such desolation, in a brief space of time, as in the four
terrible years of conflict which German militarism forced on the world
in the twentieth century. Having seen it, I know what it means.

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

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?

I. First, the peace of Christ is the peace of being divinely loved.
Nothing rests and satisfies the heart like the sense of being loved. Let
us take as an illustration the case of a little child, which has grown
tired and fretful at its play, and is frightened suddenly by some
childish terror. Weeping, it runs to its mother. She takes the child in
her arms, folds it to her breast, bends over it, and soothes it with
fond words which mean only this: "I love you." Very soon the child sinks
to rest, contented and happy, in the sense of being loved. "Herein is
love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to
be the propitiation for our sins." In Jesus Christ God is stretching out
His arms to us, drawing us to His bosom, enfolding us in the secret of
peace. If we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, He makes us sure
of a Divine affection, deep, infinite, inexhaustible, imperishable. "For
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life." God, who "spared not his dearly-beloved Son, but delivered him up
for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
"Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord."

II. The Christian peace is the peace of being divinely controlled. The
man who accepts Jesus Christ truly, accepts Him as Master and Lord. He
believes that Christ has a purpose for him, which will surely be
fulfilled? work for him, which will surely be blessed if he only tries
to do it. Most of the discords of life come from a conflict of
authorities, of plans, of purposes. Suppose that a building were going
up, and the architect had one design for it, and the builder had
another. What perplexity and confusion there would be! How ill things
would fit! What perpetual quarrels and blunders and disappointments! But
when the workman accepts the designer's plan and simply does his best to
carry that out, harmony, joyful labour, and triumph are the result. If
we accept God's plan for us, yield to Him as the daily controller and
director of our life, our work, however hard, becomes peaceful and
secure. No perils can frighten, no interruptions can dishearten us.

Not many years ago some workmen were digging a tunnel, when a sudden
fall of earth blocked the mouth of the opening. Their companions on the
outside found out what had happened, and started to dig through the mass
of earth to the rescue. It was several hours before they made their way
through. When they went in they found the workmen going on with their
labour on the tunnel. "We knew," said one of them, "that you'd come to
help us, and we thought the best way to make time pass quick was to keep
on with the work." That is what a Christian may say to Christ amid the
dangers and disasters of life. We know that He will never forsake us,
and the best way to be at peace is to be about His business. He says to
us: "As the Father sent me, even so send I you."

III. The Christian peace is the peace of being divinely forgiven.

"In every man," said a philosopher, "there is something which, if we
knew it, would make us despise him." Let us turn the saying, and change
it from a bitter cynicism into a wholesome truth.

In every one of us there is something which, if we realize it, makes us
condemn ourselves as sinners, and hunger and thirst after righteousness,
and long for forgiveness.

It is this deep consciousness of sin, of evil in our hearts and lives,
that makes us restless and unhappy. The plasters and soothing lotions
with which the easy-going philosophy of modern times covers it up, do
not heal it; they only hide it. There is no cure for it, there is no
rest for the sinful soul, except the divine forgiveness. There is no
sure pledge of this except in the holy sacrifice and blessed promise of
Christ, "Son, daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace."

Understand, I do not mean that what we need and want is to have our sins
ignored and overlooked. On the contrary, that is just what would fail to
bring us true rest. For if God took no account of sins, required no
repentance and reparation, He would not be holy, just, and faithful, a
God whom we can adore and love and trust.

Nor do I mean that what we need is merely to have the punishment of sins
remitted. That would not satisfy the heart. Is the child contented when
the father says, "Well, I will not punish you. Go away"? No, what the
child wants is to hear the father say, "I forgive you. Come to me." It
is to be welcomed back to the father's home, to the father's heart, that
the child longs.

Peace means not to have the offense ignored, but to have it pardoned:
not to the punishment omitted, but to have separation from God ended and
done with. That is the peace of being divinely forgiven,--a peace which
recognizes sin, and triumphs over it,--a peace which not merely saves us
from death but welcomes us home to the divine love from which we have

That is the peace which Christ offers to each one of us in His Gospel.
We need it in this modern world as much as men and women ever needed it
in the old world. No New Era will ever change its meaning or do away
with its necessity. Indeed, it seems to me that we need this
old-fashioned religion to-day more than ever.

We need it for our own comfort and strength. We need it to deliver us
from the vanity and hollowness, the fever and hysteria of the present
age. We need it to make us better soldiers and workers for every good
cause. Peace is coming to all the earth some day through Christ. And
those who shall do most to help Him bring it are the men and women to
whom He gives Peace in the Soul.


Peace on Earth Through Righteousness

_And the work of righteousness shall be peace: and the effect of
righteousness quietness and confidence forever._

--ISAIAH 32:17.

After we have found peace in our own souls through faith
in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ our Saviour, if our faith is honest,
we must feel the desire and the duty of helping to make peace prevail on

But here we are, in a world of confusion and conflict. Darkness and
ignorance strive against light. Evil hates and assaults good. Wrong
takes up arms against right. Greed and pride and passion call on
violence to defeat justice and enthrone blind force. So has it been
since Cain killed Abel, since Christ was crucified on Calvary, and so it
is to-day wherever men uphold the false doctrine that "might makes

The Bible teaches us that there is no foundation for enduring peace on
earth except in righteousness: that it is our duty to suffer for that
cause if need be: that we are bound to fight for it if we have the
power: and that if God gives us the victory we must use it for the
perpetuation of righteous peace.

In these words I sum up what seems to me the Christian doctrine of war
and peace,--the truth that in time of war we must stand for the right,
and that when peace comes in sight, we must do our best to found it upon
justice. These two truths cannot be separated. If we forget the meaning
of the Christian duty to which God called us in the late war, all our
sacrifice of blood and treasure will have been in vain. If we forget the
watchword which called our boys to the colours, our victory will be
fruitless. We have fought in this twentieth century against the pagan
German doctrine of war as the supreme arbiter between the tribes of
mankind. They that took the sword must perish by the sword. But in the
hour of victory we must uphold the end for which we have fought and
suffered,--the advance of the world towards a peaceful life founded on
reason and justice and fair-play for every man.

So there are two heads to this sermon. First, the indelible remembrance
of a righteous acceptance of war. Second, the reasonable hope of a
righteous foundation of peace.

I. First of all, then, it must never be forgotten that the Allies and
America were forced to enter this war as a work of righteousness in
order to make the world safe for peace.

Peace means something more than the mere absence of hostilities. It
means justice, honour, fair-play, order, security, and the
well-protected right of every man and nation to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. It was the German contempt for these Christian
ideals, it was the German idolatry of the pagan Odin, naked, cruel,
bloody, god of war, it was the German will to power and dream of
world-dominion, that made the world unsafe for real peace in 1914.

Never could that safety be secured until that enemy of mankind was
overcome. Not only for democracy, but also for human peace, it was
necessary, as President Wilson said, that "the German power, a thing
without honour, conscience, or capacity for covenanted faith, must be

I saw, from my post of observation in Holland, the hosts of heathen
Germany massing for their attack on the world's peace in the spring of
1914. Long before the pretext of war was provided by the murder of the
Austrian Crown-Prince in Serajevo, I saw the troops, the artillery, the
mountains of ammunition, assembled at Aix-la-Chapelle and Trier, ready
for the invasion of neutral Belgium and Luxembourg, and the foul stroke
at France.

Every civilized nation in Europe desired peace and pleaded for it.
Little Servia offered to go before the Court of Arbitration at The Hague
and be tried for the offense of which she was accused. Russia, Italy,
France and England entreated Germany not to make war, but to submit the
dispute to judicial settlement, to a righteous decision by a conference
of powers. But Germany said no. She had prepared for war, she wanted
war, she got war. And now she must abide by the result of her choice.

I have seen also with my own eyes the horrors wrought by Germany in her
conduct of the war in Belgium and Northern France. Words fail me to
describe them. Childhood has been crucified, womanhood outraged,
civilization trampled in the dust. The nations and the men who took
arms against these deviltries were the servants of the righteous God and
the followers of the merciful Christ.

He told us, "If any man smite thee on the right cheek, turn unto him the
left also." But never did He tell us to abandon the bodies and the lives
of our women and children to the outrage of beasts in human form. On the
contrary, He said to His disciples, in His parting discourse, "He that
hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one."

Does any silly pacifist say that means a spiritual sword? No. You could
get that without selling your garment. It means a real sword,--as real
as the purse and the scrip which Christ told His followers to carry with
them. It means the power of arms dedicated to the service of
righteousness without which the world can never be safe for peace.

Here, then, we may stand on the Word of God, on the work of
righteousness in making the world safe for peace. Let me tell you of my
faith that every one who has given his life for that cause, has entered
into eternal rest.

II. Come we now to consider the second part of the text: "the effect of
righteousness, quietness and confidence forever."

What shall be the nature of the peace to be concluded after our victory
in this righteous war?

Here we have to oppose the demands of the bloodthirsty civilians. They
ask that German towns should endure the same sufferings which have been
inflicted on the towns of Belgium and Northern France. Let me say
frankly that I do not believe you could persuade our officers to order
such atrocities, or our soldiers to obey such orders. Read the order
which one of the noble warriors of France, General Pétain, issued to his

     "To-morrow, in order to better dictate peace, you are going to
     carry your arms as far as the Rhine. Into that land of
     Alsace-Lorraine that is so dear to us, you will march as
     liberators. You will go further; all the way into Germany to occupy
     lands which are the necessary guarantees for just reparation.

     "France has suffered in her ravaged fields and in her ruined
     villages. The freed provinces have had to submit to intolerable
     vexations and odious outrages, but you are not to answer these
     crimes by the commission of violences, which, under the spur of
     your resentment, may seem to you legitimate.

     "You are to remain under discipline and to show respect to persons
     and property. You will know, after having vanquished your adversary
     by force of arms, how to impress him further by the dignity of your
     attitude, and the world will not know which to admire most, your
     conduct in success or your heroism in fighting."

The destruction of the commonplace Cathedral of Cologne could never
recompense the damage done to the glorious Cathedral of Rheims. Nor
could the slaughter of a million German women and children restore the
innocent victims of Belgium, France, Servia, and Armenia to life. We do
not thirst for blood. We desire justice.

No doubt the ends of justice demand that the principal brigands who are
responsible for the atrocities of this war should be tried before an
international court If convicted they should be duly punished. But not
by mob-law or violence. Nothing could be less desirable than the
assassination of William Hohenzollern. It would be absurd and horrible
to give a martyr's crown to a criminal. Vengeance belongeth unto God. He
alone is wise and great enough to deal adequately with the case. It is
for us to keep our righteous indignation free from the poison of
personal hatred, and to do no more than is needed to uphold and
vindicate the eternal law.

William Hohenzollern, and his fellow-conspirators who are responsible
for the beginning and the conduct of the dreadful war from which all
the toiling peoples of earth have suffered, must be brought to the bar
of justice and sentenced; otherwise the world will have no defense
against the anarchists who say that government is a vain thing; and the
bloody Bolshevists who proclaim the Empire of the Ignorant,--the
Boob-Rah,--as the future rule of the world, will have free scope.

It is evident that a league of free, democratic states, pledged by
mutual covenant to uphold the settlement of international differences by
reason and justice before the use of violence, offers the only hope of a
durable peace among the nations. It is also the only defense against
that deadly and destructive war of classes with which Bolshevism
threatens the whole world. The spirit of Bolshevism is atheism and
enmity; its method is violence and tyranny; its result would be a reign
of terror under that empty-headed monster, "the dictatorship of the
proletariat." God save us from that! It would be the worst possible
outcome of the war in which we have offered and sacrificed so much, and
in which God has given us the opportunity to make "a covenant of peace."

How vast, how immeasurable, are the responsibilities which this great
victory in righteous war has laid upon the Allies and America. God help
us to live up to them. God help us to sow the future not with dragon's
teeth, but with seeds of blessed harvest. God paint upon the broken
storm-cloud the rainbow of eternal hope. God help us and our friends to
make a peace that shall mean good to all mankind. God send upon our
victory the light of the cross of Christ our Saviour, where mercy and
truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other.


The Power of an Endless Life

_Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the
power of an endless life._

--Hebrews 7:16.

The message and hope of immortality are nowhere more
distinctly conveyed to our minds than in connection with that
resurrection morn when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. The anniversary
of that day will ever be the festival of the human soul. Even those who
do not clearly understand or fully accept its meaning in history and
religion,--even children and ignorant folk and doubters and
unbelievers,--yes, even frivolous people and sullen people, feel that
there is something in this festival which meets the need and longing of
their hearts. It is a day of joy and gladness, a day of liberation and
promise, a day for flowers to bloom and birds to sing, a day of
spiritual spring-tide and immortal hope.

Mankind desires and needs such a day. We are overshadowed in all our
affections and aspirations, all our efforts, and designs, by the dark
mystery of bodily death; the uncertainty and the brevity of earthly
existence make us tremble and despair; the futility of our plans dismays
us; the insecurity of our dearest treasure in lives linked to ours fills
us with dismay.

Is there no escape from Death, the Tyrant, the autocrat, the destroyer,
the last enemy? Why love, why look upward, why strive for better things
if this imperator of failure, ultimate extinction, rules the universe?
No hope beyond the grave means no peace this side of it. A life without
hope is a life without God. If Death ends all, then there is no Father
in Heaven in whom we can trust. Who shall deliver us from the body of
this Death?

Now comes Easter with its immortal promise and assurance, Jesus of
Nazareth, who died on Calvary, a martyr of humanity, a sacrifice of
Divinity, is alive and appears to His humble followers. The manner of
His appearance, to Mary Magdalene, to His disciples, is not the most
important thing. The fact is that He did appear. He who was crucified in
the cause of righteousness and mercy, lives on and forever. The message
of His resurrection is "the power of an endless life."

The proof of this message is in the effect that it produced. It
transformed the handful of Jesus' followers from despair to confidence.
It gave Christianity its growing influence over the heart of humanity.
It is this message of immortality that makes religion vital to the human
world to-day, and essential to the foundation of peace on earth.

We must not forget in our personal griefs and longings, in our sorrows
for those whom we have lost and our desire to find them again, in our
sense of our own mortal frailty and the brief duration of earthly life,
the celestial impulse which demands a life triumphant over death.

The strongest of all supports for peace on earth is the faith in
immortality. The truth is, the very character of our being here in this
world demands continuance beyond death. There is nothing good or great
that we think or feel or endeavour, that is not a reaching out to
something better. Our finest knowledge is but the consciousness of
limitation and the longing that it may be removed. Our best moral effort
is but a slow advance towards something better. Our sense of the
difference between good and evil, our penitence, our aspiration, all
this moral freight with which our souls are laden, is a cargo consigned
to an unseen country. Our bill of lading reads, "To the immortal life."
If we must sink in mid-ocean, then all is lost, and the voyage of life
is a predestined wreck.

The wisest, the strongest, the best of mankind, have felt this most
deeply. The faith in immortality belongs to the childhood of the race,
and the greatest of the sages have always returned to it and taken
refuge in it. Socrates and Plato, Cicero and Plutarch, Montesquieu and
Franklin, Kant and Emerson, Tennyson and Browning,--how do they all bear
witness to the incompleteness of life and reach out to a completion
beyond the grave.

    "No great Thinker ever lived and taught you
    All the wonder that his soul received;
    No great Painter ever set on canvas
    All the glorious vision he conceived.

    "No Musician ever held your spirit
    Charmed and bound in his melodious chains;
    But, be sure, he heard, and strove to render,
    Feeble echoes of celestial strains.

    "No real Poet ever wove in numbers
    All his dream, but the diviner part,
    Hidden from all the world, spake to him only
    In the voiceless silence of his heart.

    "So with Love: for Love and Art united
    Are twin mysteries: different yet the same;
    Poor indeed would be the love of any
    Who could find its full and perfect name.

    "Love may strive; but vain is its endeavour
    All its boundless riches to unfold;
    Still its tenderest, truest secret lingers
    Ever in its deepest depths untold.

    "Things of Time have voices: speak and perish.
    Art and Love speak; but their words must be
    Like sighings of illimitable forests
    And waves of an unfathomable sea."

And can it be that death shall put the final seal of irretrievable ruin
on all this uncompleted effort? Can it be that the grave shall whelm all
this unuttered love in endless silence? Ah, what a wild waste of
precious treasure, what a mad destruction of fair designs, what an
utter failure, life would be if death must end all!

The very reasonableness of our nature, our sense of order, declare the
impotence of Death to create such a wreck. And most of all our deep
affections cry out against the conclusion of despair. They will not hear
of dissolution. They reach out their hands into the darkness. They
demand and they promise an unending fellowship, a deepening communion, a
more perfect satisfaction. Do you remember what Thackeray wrote? "If
love lives through all life, and survives through all sorrow; and
remains steadfast with us through all changes; and in all darkness of
spirit burns brightly; and if we die, deplores us forever, and still
loves us equally; and exists with the very last gasp and throb of the
faithful bosom, whence it passes with the pure soul beyond death, surely
it shall be immortal. Though we who remain are separated from it, is it
not ours in heaven? If we love still those whom we lose, can we
altogether lose those whom we love?"

To deny this instinct is to deny that which lies at the very root of our
life. If love perishes with death, then our affections are our worst
curses, the world is the cruellest torture-house, and "all things work
together for evil to those who love." Do you believe it? Is it possible?
Nay, all that is best and noblest and purest within us rejects such a
faith in Absolute Evil as the power that has created and rules the
world. In the presence of love we feel that we behold that which must
belong to a good God and therefore cannot die. Destruction cannot touch
it. The grave cannot hold it. Loving and being loved, we dare to stand
in the very doorway of the tomb, and assert the power of an endless

And it seems to me that this courage never comes to us so fully as when
we are brought in closest contact with death, when we are brought face
to face with that dread shadow and forced either to deny its power, once
and forever, or to give up everything and die with our hopes. I wish
that I could make this clear to you as it lies in my own experience.
Perhaps in trying to do it I should speak closer to your own heart than
in any other way. For surely

    "There is no flock, however watched and tended
      But one dead lamb is there.
    There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended
      But has a vacant chair."

A flower grew in your garden. You delighted in its beauty and fragrance.
It gave you all it had to give, but it did not love you. It could not.
When the time came for it to die, you were sorry. But it did not seem to
you strange or unnatural. There was no waste. Its mission was fulfilled.
You understood why its petals should fall, its leaf wither, its root
and branch decay. And even if a storm came and snapped it, still there
was nothing lost that was indispensable, nothing that could not be

A child grew in your household, dearly loved and answering your love.
You saw that soul unfold, learning to know the evil from the good,
learning to accept duty and to resist selfishness, learning to be brave
and true and kind, learning to give you day by day a deeper and a richer
sympathy, learning to love God and to pray and to be good. And then
perhaps you saw that young heart being perfected under the higher and
holier discipline of suffering, bearing pain patiently, facing trouble
and danger like a hero, not shrinking even from the presence of death,
but trusting all to your love and to God's, and taking just what came
from day to day, from hour to hour. And then suddenly the light went out
in the shining eyes. The brave heart stopped. The soul was gone. Lost,
perished, blotted out forever in the darkness of death? Ah, no; you know
better than that. That clear, dawning intelligence, that deepening love,
that childlike faith in God, that pure innocence of soul, did not come
from the dust. How could they return thither? The music ceases because
the instrument is broken. But the player is not dead. He is learning a
better music. He is finding a more perfect instrument. It is impossible
that he should be holden of death. God wastes nothing so precious.

             "What is excellent
    As God lives is permanent.
    Hearts are dust; hearts' loves remain.
    Hearts' love will meet thee again."

But I am sure that we must go further than this in order to understand
the full strength and comfort of the text. The assertion of the
impotence of death to end all is based upon something deeper than the
prophecy of immortality in the human heart. It has a stronger foundation
than the outreachings of human knowledge and moral effort towards a
higher state in which completion may be attained. It has a more secure
ground to rest upon than the deathless affection with which our love
clings to its object The impotence of death is revealed to us in the
spiritual perfection of Christ.

Here then, in the "power of an endless life," I find the corner-stone of
peace on earth among men of good-will Take this mortal life as a thing
of seventy years, more or less, to which death puts a final period, and
you have nothing but confusion, chance and futility,--nothing safe,
nothing realized, nothing completed. Evil often triumphs. Virtue often
is defeated.

                       "The good die young,
    And we whose hearts are dry as summer dust
    Burn to the socket."

But take death, as Christ teaches us, not as a full stop, but as only a
comma in the story of an endless life, and then the whole aspect of our
existence is changed. That which is material, base, evil, drops down.
That which is spiritual, noble, good, rises to lead us on.

The conviction of immortality, the forward-looking faith in a life
beyond the grave, the spirit of Easter, is essential to peace on earth
for three reasons.

I. It is the only faith that lifts man's soul, which is immortal, above
his body, which is perishable. It raises him out of the tyranny of the
flesh to the service of his ideals. It makes him sure that there are
things worth fighting and dying for. The fighting and the dying, for the
cause of justice and liberty, are sacrifices on the Divine altar which
shall never be forgotten.

II. The faith in immortality carries with it the assurance of a Divine
reassessment of earth's inequalities. Those who have suffered unjustly
here will be recompensed in the future. Those who have acted wickedly
and unjustly here will be punished. Whether that punishment will be
final or remedial we do not know. Perhaps it may lead to the extinction
of the soul of evil, perhaps to its purifying and deliverance. On these
questions I fall back on the word of God: "The wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

III. The faith in immortality brings with it the sense of order,
tranquillity, steadiness and courage in the present life. It sets us
free from mean and cowardly temptations, makes it easier to resist the
wild animal passions of lust and greed and cruelty, brings us into
eternal relations and fellowships, makes us partners with the wise and
good of all the ages, ennobles our earthly patriotism by giving us a
heavenly citizenship. Yea, it knits us in bonds of love with the coming
generation. It is better than the fountain of youth. We shall know and
see them as they go on their way, long after we have left the path. The
faith in immortality sets a touch of the imperishable on every generous
impulse and unselfish deed. It inspires to sublime and heroic
virtues,--spiritual splendours,--deeds of sacrifice and suffering for
which earth has no adequate recompense, but whose reward is great in
heaven. Here is the patience of the saints, the glorious courage of
patriots, martyrs, and confessors, something more bright and shining
than secular morality can bring forth,--a flashing of the inward light
which fails not, but grows clearer as death draws near. What noble
evidences of this come to us out of the great war.

"Are you in great distress?" asked a nurse of an American soldier whose
legs had been shot away on the battle-field. "I am in as great peace,"
said he, "through Jesus my Lord, as a man can possibly be, out of

A secretary of the Y.M.C.A., the night before he was killed, wrote to
his father: "I have not been sent here to die: I am to fight: I offer my
life for future generations; I shall not die, I shall merely change my
direction. He who walks before us is so great that we cannot lose Him
from sight."

A simple French boy, grievously wounded, is dying in the ambulance. He
is a Protestant The nurse who bends over him is a Catholic sister. She
writes down his words as they fall slowly from his lips: "O my God, let
Thy will be done and not mine. O my God, Thou knowest that I never
wished war, but that I have fought because it was Thy will; I offered my
life so that peace might prevail. O my God, I pray for all my dear
ones, ... father, mother, brothers, sisters. Give a hundredfold to
those nurses for all they have done for me. I pray for them one and

Here, in the midst of carnage and confusion, horror and death, was
perfect peace, the triumph of immortality.

What then shall we say of the new teachers and masters, the cynical
lords of materialism and misrule, who tell us that they are going to
banish this outworn superstition and all others like it from the mind of
man? They are going to make a new world in which men shall walk by
sight, and not by faith; a world in which universal happiness shall be
produced by the forcible division of material goods, and brotherhood
promoted by the simple expedient of killing those whom they dislike; a
world in which there shall be neither nation, God, nor Church, nor
anywhere a thought of any life but this which ends in the grave. It is a
mad dream of wild and reckless men. But it threatens evil to all the
world. Do you remember what happened when the French Revolution took
that course, abolished the Sabbath, defiled the Churches, broke down the
altars, and enthroned a harlot as the Goddess of Reason? The Reign of
Terror followed. Something like that has happened, recently, in many
parts of Europe. And if these new tyrants of ignorance, unbelief, and
unmorality have their way, the madness and the darkness will spread
until the black cloud charged with death covers the face of the earth
for a season with shame and anguish and destruction. A sane world, an
orderly world, a peaceful world, can never be founded on materialism.
That foundation is a quicksand in which all that is dearest to man goes
down in death.

Religion is essential to true peace in the soul and to peace on earth
through righteousness. Immortality is essential to true religion.
Thanks be to God who hath given us Jesus Christ, who was dead and is
alive again and liveth forevermore, to touch and ennoble, to inspire and
console, to pacify and uplift our earthly existence with the power of an
endless life.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Peace Means" ***

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