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VIII

WAR AND THE WORLD ORDER THE

SPIRITUAL VIEW

O

NE lovely night in July, 1918, I walked along the French country road with a

young aviator who was in great distress of mind and soul. He was a University graduate and the son of a minister. A materialistic view of the universe had shaken his faith in traditional Christianity and turned him from the ministry against the fervent prayers of his parents. He had lived undisturbed in the pursuit of an earthly ambition, until the war stirred within him his latent idealism. The complete surrender of the will to a holy cause made religion once more the primary motive of life and brought him face to face with God. The inward struggle had been made more intense by the arrival the day previous of a train load of mangled men from Chateau-Thierry and by the tragic death upon the flying field that very morning of two of his closest companions.

The moon was full and high up in the heavens. A mellow light flooded the sky and earth. Fleecy clouds, tinted with pale amber, floated lightly overhead, while the sleeping fields breathed deeply as life pulsed upward into growing clover, trees and flowers and gently moving grain. The discordant babble of human sound was hushed. Yon, der the bearded pines cast short shadows across the new-made graves and threw into sharp relief the silhouette of the sentinel keeping watch. From far away over the hills came the wail of the whip-poorwill. Mother Nature held us in her mystic spell. For a short space we walked in silence, each wrapt in deep thought, then my friend exclaimed with youthful yearning:

“What I want is a Christ who is big enough to reconcile the love of God with a universe governed by blind, passionless law. A Christ whom a man can follow into the battle of life with the same passionate devotion with which we follow our flag in this war."

Just then we heard the faint whirr of an airplane, and, looking up, beheld an aviator crossing the track of the moon. Like a winged bird, he skimmed the sea of light. Like some joyous spirit liberated from the bondage of earth, he floated in and out amongst the clouds, as though at home in the higher ether.

“By what law," I asked, "do these particles of earth cohere and the moon and the stars hold together in their several courses ?''

“The law of gravitation," was his simple reply.

“What law enables the aviator to transcend this inexorable power of gravity?” I continued quietly.

“Human invention,” he replied after a moment's reflection.

Do you care if I question you further?” I inquired, not caring to intrude my ideas, but anxious to help.

“Not at all, professor,” he rejoined with a touch of humor. “I feel like being a docile pupil tonight.”

“Very well,” I continued. “What, in your opinion, is the most controlling instinct of animal and human life?"

“Self-preservation is the first law of nature.”

“Why, then, did not the men run instead of fight, at Chateau-Thierry, and why have thousands of young fellows died on the field of battle? Is there not a law in men's lives stronger than that of selfpreservation?"

“Yes, there is,” replied the young aviator. “Men will always sacrifice their lives for their friends and their ideals."

This gave me the opportunity I wished, so continuing, I said, "If Jesus Christ is supreme in the world of spiritual law, may He not also be supreme in the world of physical law? May we not even be compelled to go so far as to say that He who is the Lord and Master of life is also the creative source of life?"

For a moment he thought deeply, then he replied, I wish I could believe that; it would solve all my problems.”

"When you go back to your barracks tonight," I suggested, "read the introduction to the Gospel of John and the first chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians."

“Can we not read it now,” he asked, with eager anxiety in his voice. "I have here the Testament my parents gave me before leaving home. I confess I have not thought it worth reading until tonight.”

Turning aside, we stood close together against the trunk of a large maple, his arm rested about my shoulder. By the aid of the moon and flashlight we read the above passages, then turning to the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans we continued slowly and with occasional comment. Little by little the accumulative force and sweep of the Apostles' thought gripped our minds. As we read the closing verses of the eighth chapter so instinct with music like unto the triumphant peal of a mighty organ, he turned abruptly and left me. I watched him, a superb specimen of physical manhood, cross the open space, pass the sentinel and disappear in the shadows, where he fell to his knees by the side of the new-made graves of his comrades. He had entered his Gethsemane. What he did there and what he said to me on the way back to the camp is one of the many secret chapters of the war. As we parted he made these two significant statements:

“Why was I not taught this truth in the Sunday school and the university ?This he asked with just a touch of condemnation. I could only answer, "I do not know."

Here is his concluding sentence which reveals the real measure of the man. “With such a Christ to follow, it seems to me that a world-wide ministry is the biggest job to which any educated man can consecrate his talents." Three weeks later he left for the front, with shining face, his whole life perfectly orientated to a complete Christ.

Men are turning from the materialistic view of the world, with its selfish brutal struggle, to a spiritual view. In a very recent and illuminating article on "The Personality of God,” Professor James H. Snowden, D.D., makes this statement:

“So revolutionary and dominant an idea as the theory of evolution was bound to be attended with mistaken views in its interpretation and application, and at first sight it seemed to many to be destructive of all ideas of creation and Providence and of human immortality and Divine personality. But continued reflection has cleared up such views and showed that this theory leaves all these problems unaffected in their essential nature, though throwing new light upon them. The fundamental fact as to evolution is that it is a method and not a cause. It only shows how causes work, but does not account for the causes themselves.

“Evolution, then, is only a method and is a description of the way all causes work, back and up to the First Cause, or God. It is the Divine program of creation, written broadly over the first chapter of Genesis and expressed in all the processes of the world. Being the plan and program of God, it does not in the least impair His freedom and hamper His presence and purpose and providence in the world. So far from destroying or

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