A well-known German authority on International Law and representative also of the German government at The Hague Conference, Professor Philip Zorn, in a notable article in " Der Tag " some time ago, spoke of his readiness to accept an ending of the war by an international conference and settlement that would insure the prevention of future wars, and added: " The problem of resolving all quarrels through the arbitration method offers, it is true, great difficulties, but not insurmountable ones."
This is now going to be greatly fostered by virtue of one great good that the world war will eventually have accomplished - the doom and the end of autocracy. Dynasties and privileged orders that have lived and lived alone on militarism, will have been foreclosed on. The people in control, in an increasingly intelligent control of their own lives and their own governments, will be governed by a higher degree of self-enlightenment and mutual self-interest than under the domination or even the leadership of any type of hereditary ruling class or war-lord. In some countries autocracy in religion, through the free mingling and discussions of men of various nationalities and religious persuasions, will be again lessened, whereby the direct love and power of God in the hearts of men, as Jesus taught, will have a fuller sway and a more holy and a diviner moulding power in their lives.
It was during those long, weary years coupled with the horrible crimes of the Thirty Years' War that the science of International Law began to take form, the result of that notable work, " De Jure Belli ac Paris," by Grotius. It is ours to see that out of this more intense and thereby even more horrible conflict a new epoch in human and international relations be born.
As the higher powers of mind and spirit are realised and used, great primal instincts impelling men to expression and action that find their outlet many times in war, will be transmuted and turned from destruction into powerful engines of construction. When a moral equivalent for war of sufficient impelling power is placed before men, those same virile qualities and powers that are now marshalled so easily for purposes of fighting, will, under the guidance and in the service of the spirit, be used for the conserving of human life, and for the advancement and the increase of everything that administers to life, that makes it more abundant, more mutual, and more happy. And God knows that the call for such service is very great.
Our time needs again more the prophet and less the priest. It needs the God-impelled life and voice of the prophet with his face to the future, both God-ward and man-ward, burning with an undivided devotion to truth and righteousness. It needs less the priest, too often with his back to the future and too often the pliant tool of the organisation whose chief concern is, and ever has been, the preservation of itself under the ostensible purpose of the preservation of the truth once delivered, the same that Jesus with his keen powers of penetration saw killed the Spirit as a high moral guide and as an inspirer to high and unself-centred endeavour, and that he characterised with such scathing scorn. There are splendid exceptions; but this is the rule now even as it was in his day.
The prophet is concerned with truth, not a system; with righteousness, not custom; with justice, not expediency. Is there a man who would dare say that if Christianity - the Christianity of the Christ - had been actually in vogue, in practice in all the countries of Christendom during the last fifty years, during the last twenty-five years, that this colossal and gruesome war would ever have come about? No clear-thinking and honest man would or could say that it would. We need again the voice of the prophet, clear-seeing, high-purposed, and unafraid. We need again the touch of the prophet's hand to lead us back to those simple fundamental teachings of the Christ of Nazareth, that are life-giving to the individual, and that are world-saving.
We speak of our Christian civilisation, and the common man, especially in times like these, asks what it is, where it is - and God knows that we have been for many hundred years wandering in the wilderness. He is thinking that that Kingdom of God on earth that the true teachings of Jesus predicated, and that he laboured so hard to actualise, needs some speeding up. There is a world-wide yearning for spiritual peace and righteousness on the part of the common man. He is finding it occasionally in established religion, but often, perhaps more often, independently of it. He is finding it more often through his own contact and relations with the Man of Nazareth - for him the God-man. There is no greater fact in our time, and there is no greater hope for the future than is to be found in this fact.
We need a stock-taking and a mobilisation of our spiritual forces. But what, after all, does this mean? Search as we may we are brought back every time to this same Man of Nazareth, the God-man - Son of Man and Son of God. And gathering it into a few brief sentences it is this: Jesus' great revelation was this consciousness of God in the individual life, and to this he witnessed in a supreme and masterly way, because this he supremely realised and lived. Faith in him and following him does not mean acquiring some particular notion of God or some particular belief about him himself. It is the living in one's own life of this same consciousness of God as one's source and Father, and a living in these same filial relations with him of love and guidance and care that Jesus entered into and continuously lived.
When this is done there is no problem and no condition in the individual life that it will not clarify, mould, and therefore take care of; for " " - do not worry about your life - was the Master's clear-cut command. Are we ready for this high type of spiritual adventure? Not only are we assured of this great and mighty truth that the Master revealed and going ahead of us lived, that under this supreme guidance we need not worry about the things of the life, but that under this Divine guidance we need not think even of the life itself, if for any reason it becomes our duty or our privilege to lay it down. Witnessing for truth and standing for truth he again preceded us in this.
But this, this love for God or rather this state that becomes the natural and the normal life when we seek the Kingdom, and the Divine rule becomes dominant and operative in mind and heart, leads us directly back to his other fundamental: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. For if God is my Father and if he cares for me in this way - and every other man in the world is my brother and He cares for him in exactly the same way - then by the sanction of God his Father I haven't anything on my brother; and by the love of God my Father my brother hasn't anything on me. It is but the most rudimentary commonsense then, that we be considerate one of another, that we be square and decent one with another. We will do well as children of the same Father to sit down and talk matters over; and arise with the conclusion that the advice of Jesus, our elder brother, is sound: " Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
He gave it no label, but it has subsequently become known as the Golden Rule. There is no higher rule and no greater developer of the highest there is in the individual human life, and no greater adjuster and beautifier of the problems of our common human life. And when it becomes sufficiently strong in its action in this, the world awaits its projection into its international life. This is the truth that he revealed - the twofold truth of love to God and love for the neighbour, that shall make men free. The truth of the Man of Nazareth still holds and shall hold, and we must realise this adequately before we ask or can expect any other revelation.
We are in a time of great changes. The discovery of new laws and therefore of new truth necessitates changes and necessitates advances. But whatever changes or advances may come, the Divine reality still survives, independent of Jesus it is true, but as the world knows him still better, it will give to him its supreme gratitude and praise, in that he was the most perfect revealer of God to man, of God in man, and the most concrete in that he embodied and lived this truth in his own matchless human-divine life; and stands as the God-man to which the world is gradually approaching. For as Goethe has said - " We can never get beyond the spirit of Jesus."
Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: " He's na heavy. He's mi brither." Simple is the incident; but there is in it a truth so fundamental that pondering upon it, it is enough to make many a man, to whom dogma or creed make no appeal, a Christian - and a mighty engine for good in the world. And more - there is in it a truth so fundamental and so fraught with potency and with power, that its wider recognition and projection into all human relations would reconstruct a world.
I saw the mountains stand Silent, 'wonderful, and grand, Looking out across the land When the golden light was falling On distant dome and spire ; And I heard a low) 'voice calling, Come up higher, come up higher From the lowland and the mire, From the mist of earth desire, From the vain pursuit of pelf, From the attitude of self: Come up higher, come up higher, - James G. Clarke