In recent years it has become popular among certain clergymen to denounce war as incompatible with the religion of peace and good-will to all men, and yet religious ideas are generally expressed in warlike terms. Jehovah is the God of Battle, and indeed, the whole of the Old Testament seems to be a long account of wars due to a struggle for existence. The universal use of fighting terms makes it practically impossible to preach a sermon without them, St. Paul being particularly happy in such expressions. "Men may differ on the law of national expansion, but the disciples of Christ are a unit for the expansion of the kingdom of God. Any person who reads the Bible must believe that God uses armies to accomplish great reforms. Let me say that there is no greater civilizing agency on the face of the globe than old England. No other nation is doing more for humanity."* Mohammedans believe they inherit Heaven if they die fighting for the faith, so also in Christianity, the great majority will fight at any time to resist the encroachment of other religions. Not only do we love the military terms used so happily by St. Paul, but we prefer his religion to the submissive form subsequently built up by his followers and crystalized in the four Gospels. Our most popular hymns are the warlike ones:
* Rev. A. B. Leonard, New York City.
Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus, going on before; Christ the Royal Master, leads against the foe, Forward into battle, see His banners go.
Of course, these stir the blood - we are warriors by survival of the fittest and we glory in it, for we long ago killed off the types which would not fight. Let the clergy eliminate all the warlike hymns first and then they can denounce war consistently.
Mr. Frederick Harrison, the eminent English Positivist, published an article* in which he holds the Christian churches up to scorn for the eagerness they have supported the war spirit, gloated over the defeat of opponents, and justified injustice, * but this is as old as mankind. Since prehistory, all armies have been accompanied by priests, who invoke the tribal deity for help in their struggles for expanding needs and for protection against the expanding pressure of neighboring nations under other deities.
Scientists, particularly the professional scientists safely tucked away in university chairs, have also taken up the fashion of denouncing militarism and war. They know full well that man's evolution has been a constant warfare for thousands of years, yes, hundreds of thousands, and that only those have survived who could by righting, secure their families, homes, property and lands. The stag engages in personal combat every autumn and the best fighters survive, the worst are ruthlessly killed. This survival of the best fighters produces warriors by instinct, and the scientist who would teach that the stag could restrain his instinct to fight in the autumn to protect and secure mates, would be retired at once. He does not see the inconsistency of advocating that man should and could repress his nature inherited from untold thousands of ancestors. But then the professional scientist has always let his own nature have full play when he wanted to fight the amateur. How the professionals had fun with the amateur Columbus; how they abused Darwin; how they hated Koch; and how they fight everything new even now. How belligerent they are when arguing against belligerency. Like nations, they go to war to keep the peace. How fond they are of imputing every national disease to the evil effects of militarism, the decadence of military Spain and the dry rot of peaceful China, the numerical decadence of France, and the fecundity of India, the poverty of Italy and the debt of Great Britain - are all said to be due to militarism. They forget that militarism gave us our liberty in 1783, preserved it in 1815, expanded it in 1848, purified it in 1865, exalted it in 1898, and protected it in 1899-1902. They forget that war and civilization have ever traveled hand in hand, each dependent upon the other, that peace develops the advantage gained by war, and then rots it until another war oxydizes the stagnant impurities.
* The Positivist Review, London, 1905.
* "Hardly a voice was raised within the churches to stem the torrent of vainglorious passion during any of the wars, least of all during the infamies of the various South African wars, and, above all, of the Boer War. Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans, and even the Quakers or Friends, fanned the fighting temper. They behaved just as Russian priests do to-day in their war of aggression in the East, blessing the cannons, and promising heavenly rewards to the victors. As the head manager of the degraded Russian church said the other day to the Bishop: 'You are but the instrument in Christ of the all-potent will of the Little Father by divine right.' That is the tone of the bishops and archbishops of all establishments, of our establishment. They are the instrument of the government of the day, its tool, its creature. If the government go for war, the priests of Christ to-day bless war and consecrate the engines of destruction. None do it so shamelessly, with such party zeal, as the prelates and clergy of the Anglican church".