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by [?]

If we reason from small things to great, we see that the squabbling nests of murderers, or would-be murderers, who peopled France, England, Germany, Austria, and Italy have given way to compact nations which enjoy unbroken internal peace. The struggles of business go on; the weak are trampled under foot in the mad rush of the cities of men, but the actual infliction of pain and death is not now dreamed of by Frenchman against Frenchman or German against German. We must remember that there never was so deadly and murderous a spirit displayed as during the Thirty Years’ War, and yet the peoples who then wrestled and throttled each other are now peaceful under the same yoke. May we not trust that a time will come when nations will see on a sudden the blank folly of making war? Day by day the pressure of armaments is growing greater, and we may almost hope that the very fiendish nature of modern weapons may bring about a blessed reductio ad absurdum, and leave war as a thing ludicrous, and not to be contemplated by sane men! I find one gun specially advertised in our Christian country, and warranted to kill as many men in one minute as two companies of infantry could in five! What will be the effect of the general introduction of this delightful weapon? No force can possibly stand before it; no armour or works can keep out the hail of its bullets. Supposing, then, that benevolent science goes on improving the means of slaughter, must there not come a time when people will utterly refuse to continue the mad and miserable folly of war? Over the whole of Britain we may find even now the marks of cannon-shot discharged by Englishmen against the castles of other Englishmen. Is there one man in Britain who can at this present moment bring his imagination to conceive such an occurrence as an artillery fight between bodies of Englishmen? It is almost too absurd to be named even as a casual supposition. So far has fraternity spread. Now, if we go on perfecting dynamite shells which can destroy one thousand men by one explosion; if we increase the range of our guns from twelve miles to twenty, and fight our pieces according to directions signalled from a balloon, we shall be going the very best way to make all men rise with one spasm of disgust, and say, “No more of this!”

We cannot hope to do away with evil speaking, with verbal quarrelling, with mean grasping of benefits from less fortunate brethren. Alas, the reign of brotherhood will be long in eradicating the primeval combative instinct; but, when we compare the quiet urbanity of a modern gathering with the loud and senseless brawling which so often resulted from social assemblies even at the beginning of this century we may take some heart and hope on for the best. Our Lord had a clear vision of a time when bitterness and evil-doing should cease, and His words are more than a shadowy prediction. The fact is that, in striving gradually to introduce the third of the conditions of life craved by the poor feather-witted Frenchmen, the nations have a comparatively easy task. We cannot have equality, physical conditions having too much to do with giving the powers and accomplishments of men; we can only claim liberty under the supreme guidance of our Creator; but fraternity is quite a possible consummation. Our greatest hero held it as the Englishman’s first duty to hate a Frenchman as he hated the Devil; now that mad and cankered feeling has passed away, and why should not the spread of common sense, common honesty, bring us at last to see that our fellow-man is better when regarded as a brother than as a possible assassin or thief?

Our corporate life and progress as nations, or even as a race of God’s creatures, is much like the life and progress of the individual. The children of men stumble often, fall often, despair often, and yet the great universal movement goes on, and even the degeneracy which must always go on side by side with progress does not appreciably stay our advance. The individual man cannot walk even twenty steps without actually saving himself by a balancing movement from twenty falls. Every step tends to become an ignominious tumble, and yet our poor body may very easily move at the rate of four miles per hour, and we gain our destinations daily. The human race, in spite of many slips, will go on progressing towards good–that is, towards kindness–that is, towards fraternity–that is, towards the gospel, which at present seems so wildly and criminally neglected. The mild and innocent Anarcharsis Clootz, who made his way over the continent of Europe, and who came to our little island, in his day always believed that the time for the federation of mankind would come. Poor fellow–he died under the murderous knife of the guillotine and did little to further his beautiful project! He was esteemed a harmless lunatic; yet, notwithstanding the twelve millions of armed men who trample Europe, I do not think that Clootz was quite a lunatic after all. Moreover, all men know that right must prevail, and they know also that there is not a human being on earth who does not believe by intuition that the gospel of brotherhood is right, even as the life of its propounder was holy. The way is weary toward the quarter where the rays of dawn will first break over the shoulder of the earth. We walk on hoping, and, even if we fall by the way, and all our hopes seem to be tardy of fruition, yet others will hail the slow dawn of brotherhood when all now living are dead and still.

September, 1888.