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When the first trainload of six hundred and fiftytwo wounded men arrived at the hospital from Chateau-Thierry, the glamour of war vanished and we realized what a hellish thing it all was. I thought my heart would break those first few days. Fifty-six of the men had been so badly burned with mustard gas that they looked like boiled lobsters. There were deep burns on their bodies as big as a plate, leaving the quivering flesh, exposed to the air. I have stood by the bedside of these men and wiped the great beads of perspiration from their brow while the nurse unwound and rewound as much as twenty-five yards of bandage in dressing the wounds. The pain must have been excruciating; but I never heard a moan or a complaint. In another ward six men lay dying from pneumonia caused by inhaling gas. We watched them as they went west, gasping, struggling, killed by their own breath. They did not rail at fate or damn God for their hard luck nor think the sacrifice too great. They did not whimper like pigmies, they died like real heroes. This was the universal testimony of doctors and nurses; we were always being humbled in the presence of a nobility and strength which we could admire but scarcely hope to attain. I know of only one incident where a young fellow cried when wounded. One afternoon at Montfaucon three men were wounded while standing in front of the Y. M. C. A. One had his hand shot off, another was struck in the leg while a third was slightly wounded in the back. When taken to the hospital, the lad who had been wounded in the back began to cry. “I would not cry if I were you,” said the doctor sympathetically, “You are not badly wounded."
The boy ceased, but soon again burst into tears and this he repeated several times. Again the physician said to him, "What are you crying for, my boy, are you afraid?»
“No, of course not,” was the lad's quick and resentful reply, "I'm not afraid; but what will father think when he hears that I have been shot in the back.” Like thousands of other young heroes he had dreamed of doing his full duty, and of falling with his face to the foe.
9. Jesus is forever calling upon men to follow Him in His age-long fight for righteousness, justice and a world peace. He offers to every red-blooded young man a moral equivalent of war the chance to prove to himself and the world that he is a man. One rainy night in the Argonne Forest a private in Company – stole the blanket from his sleeping companion leaving him exposed to the wet and the cold. He was court-martialed and when asked if he had anything to say made this remarkable statement:
“I took the blanket, sir, and it was a dirty trick. All I ask is a chance to show the fellows that I am not yellow.” They gave him a chance and eight days later the companion from whom the blanket was stolen went over the top and was caught in the barbed-wire entanglements where he lay wounded. Without a moment's hesitation this boy who had taken his blanket went out after him under a heavy fire. He brought him back to the trenches but, in doing so, lost his own life. In the pathetic story of this boy, we hear the cry of every young fellow, that the world give him a chance to show that he is a real man.
10. Jesus asks for public allegiance and when this claim is rightly presented men will grant it. As the result of much observation, test and inquiry, I am prepared to make the statement that fully eighty per cent. of the three million Americans under arms had a clear cut faith in Jesus Christ-a faith for which they were ready to die. Not all of these were members of the visible Church, nor did they always express their religious convictions in pious phraseology, but it was genuine. Clarence Kellar tells the following incident which, while it shocks our sensibilities, discloses a real attitude of faith which it is not our business to condemn or ignore or discount, but to cultivate:
"It was Sunday afternoon to the northward of Chateau-Thierry. The chaplain had been holding a religious service. Just afterward I came upon two doughboys, in a heated argument, sitting upon a pile of German shells, the big one, and he was mighty big, had got religion. The sky pilot had convinced him and he was at the dawning of a new and better life. He said so. The little fellow was still unregenerate.
“Say,” shouted the big boy, “do you mean to say that you don't take no stock in Jesus Christ.”
“Naw," said the little fellow belligerently. The big boy slammed down his fist. “Then,” he said, "you're a blankety-blank fool!”
In Camp Dix the military authorities took a very careful religious census in response to an order from Washington regarding the appointment of chaplains. The census covered 19,652 men. Of this number only two claimed no religious faith, 680 confessed the Jewish faith, 1 claimed to be a Mormon, and 1 a Mohammedan, 103 said they were Christian Scientists, 625 acknowledged their religious faith but did not belong to any particular denomination. The remainder professed allegiance to Christ through affiliation with some Christian denomination.
One Sunday night in September, 1918, I preached at St. Aignan. There were 874 men in the audience. My theme was to the effect that, since the principles the men were fighting for were Christian principles, it was important that they make up their minds to openly acknowledge their allegiance to Jesus Christ and live for the same principles when they return to America. Nothing was said during the sermon leading to an expression of purpose that night. But at the close, the secretary, a Congregational minister, said he felt that perhaps some of the men present might want to give expression to their faith in Christ and their purpose to fight for His cause upon their return to America. The proposition was stated in a very earnest, but a very matter of fact way, and all but 19 of the 874 men promptly stood on their feet. Fearing that their action was the result more of crowd suggestion than of deliberate individual purpose, I tried to sift their motives, urging any who had misunderstood to feel free to take their seats. As a result two sat down but nine more arose. Fifty-three personal interviews were held that night five of whom expressed a purpose to enter the ministry.
11. Jesus spoke with the final authority of truth. His claim includes not only the heart and the will, but the reason as well. As men listened to Him they wondered: for He spoke, not as the scribes, mere tattlers of tradition, but as one who has authority. The sweep of His mind is universal and in all questions of life He is supreme. After two thousand years of growth in culture, His teachings need no revision; they have been fully vindicated by the war.
Christ is not only the love of God and the will of God but the wisdom of God and it is only as men learn to find the fact of Christ in all truth that they will ever have an adequate philosophy of life. On Calvary a young Galilean supreme in death as in life, revealed Himself as the Divine Saviour of the world, and opened up the way of reconciliation between man and God and between man and man. In the world war, the Calvary of humanity, the Saviour of men, again revealed His presence sharing the pain and the cost with all those who