The issue of the war is tremendous. The question before us is this: “Shall civilisation in future depend upon military preparedness and the mere mechanics of war, or on treaty obligations and faith between the nations? Is matter or is spirit to be the future safeguard of government and society?” (p. 484)
We are not fighting the German people. We are fighting Prussia and Prussianism that appears to have leagued itself with diabolic and satanic powers, and no matter how we must admire the splendid discipline, the thorough organisation, the unity of the people, and the courage and resourcefulness of the German army, we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that if Germany wins, civilisation as we know it, and the progress of civilisation that we hope for, is set back for centuries. But our chance of success in this war depends upon how far as a nation we realise this, and then how far as a nation every mother’s son and daughter of us will give of our best to attempt to defeat this demonic attack on liberty and true human progress…. Britain as yet is only half-hearted. Such a thing as the possibility of men engaged upon munitions “downing” their tools for an increase of wages is undreamable of in Germany. Such an idea as attacking in the press men like Lord Kitchener, who is giving the best he has to give to us in his arduous office, would be incredible in Germany. That men should come out in a tramway or cotton strike at such a time as this and over private quarrels block the smooth running of the nation’s machinery is inconceivable in the enemy’s country. (p. 484)….
I am absolutely opposed to all premature talk of peace. I think such talk only plays into the hands of the enemy. Let us do what we can to encourage and keep alive the peaceful temper, but peace talk that is current amongst pacifists only prolongs the war. History has shown us that unless a conflict of this kind is fought to the bitter end, it means the breaking out of a fresh war within a limited number of years, and though all wild talk about humiliating the German nation should be banned, I think equally should be taboo any talk of a hasty and imperfect settlement. (p. 486)….
Equally unwise does it appear to me to talk about the ending of the War. After ten months we are very much where we were, and the war in its most terrific form is probably but just beginning. (p. 487)
The war, with all its horrors, has taught us much. One of the chief lessons is probably this, that if God is dethroned, and Christ is banished from the thoughts of men, the people will bow down to an idol of their own making, for they must have a god. The idol of Germany’s own making is, as we know, the god of war, and by clever use of the schools, and the universities and the press, she has enabled a very docile people to be beguiled into a belief that sympathy, humanity, compassion are no longer necessities to a well-ordered state; that people need no longer think for themselves or use their freewill or free judgement, but do as the War Lord or the War Office or War State which the War Lord represents demands of them. (p. 487)
Another lesson is that having blinded herself to the fact that the nation can no more than an individual live unto itself or die unto itself, and that God has given to each nation some peculiar power to bring as a contribution to the well-being of the world, she has isolated herself by her insensate selfishness and inordinate self-sufficiency, and has set back the clock of civilisation by brutal methods which would have been impossible to her had she not ceased to have any regard for the opinion of the outside world. (pp. 487-488)
Again, this war has made us realise that there is an over-ruling Providence that shapes the end of nations, rough-hew them how we will. God has come up very close to us all and by His presence we have proved that Spirit is stronger than flesh. (p. 488)
Nor must we forget the lesson of brotherhood. The cruel and poisonous attempts of so-called leaders of men to set class against class was already beginning to bear fruit in Great Britain when this war suddenly intervened. It was discovered that squire and labourer, employer and workman were all of one mind, and heart, and soul, and determination to sacrifice themselves for the good of the world, the empire, and humanity. The splendid feeling of ‘camaraderie’ which exists from the highest to the lowest amongst our officers and men ashore and afloat, is affecting the whole nation. We are learning that united we stand as surely as divided we fall. We are learning the solidarity of empire and the solidifying process of being common sufferers for a common end. (p. 488)
But perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that we are finding that in bearing each other’s burdens for a great end we are fulfilling the law of Christ, and I believe that however much as an empire and a nation we suffer, the Christian churches will be drawn together in a way they little dreamed of, and the spirit of real Christianity will rise upon us all with healing in its wings. (p. 488)
(Parents’ Review, 26 (July 1915), 481-8)