Francis J. Grimke was born a slave in Charleston, South Carolina on November 4, 1850. After the war he and his older brother, Archibald, went north to Lincoln University. Francis graduated from Lincoln in 1870. After working briefly at Lincoln, Grimke attended Princeton Theological Seminary from which he graduated in 1878. Soon after graduation he became pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., a post he held until 1928. On Christmas Eve, 1918, Rev. Grimke delivered the sermon below summarizing the aims and objectives of the recently ended World War as well as its potential impact on the darker races of the world. His oration appears below.
O Clap your hands, all ye peoples; Shout unto God with the voice of Triumph.
At this time, there are many reasons why we should rejoice:
(1) At last this bloody war, the most frightful, the most devastating and widespread that has ever occurred, involving practically all the nations of the world, has come to an end. I wonder if we fully realize what that means? It means that no longer the deadly submarine will be sinking merchant and other vessels in mid ocean; it means that no longer airships will be showering down explosive bombs on cities, killing innocent women and children; it means the end of trench life, with its almost intolerable conditions; it means that no longer great armies will be pitted against each other in deadly conflict with thousands of dead and dying men following in their train; it means that no longer there shall be hospital ships and hospital trains bringing day by day from the battlefields thousands of shattered, wounded, mutilated men to be cared for and to go down life’s way maimed; it means the end of the anxiety of the fathers and mothers as they scan the casualty lists as they are published from time to time; it means the end of all the awful things that have been happening during the last four years, as the result of this conflict.
Some time ago, I read a little volume entitled, “The Challenge of the Present Crisis,” by Harry Emerson Fosdick, and was particularly impressed with the ghastly, hideous, awful aspect of war as he there sets it forth. Here is what lie says:
“One who knows what really is happening on European battlefields today and calls war glorious is morally unsound. Says an eye witness: `Last night, at an officers’ mess, there was great laughter at the story of one of our men who had spent his last cartridge in defending an attack. “Hand me down your spade, Mike,” he said; and, as six Germans came one by one ’round the end of a traverse, he split each man’s skull open with a deadly blow.’ That is war. Says a Young Men’s Christian Association secretary: `Many times these fingers have reached through the skulls of wounded men and felt their throbbing brains.’ That is war. An officer’s letter from the front reads:
“`An enemy mine exploded here a few days ago and buried our brigade. Many of the men were killed, but some were not much hurt; so we dug them out and used them over again.’
“Sons of God and brothers of Jesus Christ `-dug them out and used them over again’! That is war. Said –we had our choice of doing what some men do in such a case drink the blood of an enemy or else drink our own blood. We are Christians; so we cut our own arms to get drink.’ That is war. War is not the gay color, the rhythmic movement, the thrilling music of the military parade. War is not even killing gallantly as the knights of old once did, matched evenly in armor and in steed and fighting by the rules of chivalry. War now is dropping bombs from aeroplanes and killing women and children in their beds; it is shooting, by telephonic orders, at an unseen place miles away and slaughtering invisible men; it is murdering innocent travellers on merchant ships with torpedoes from unknown submarines; it is launching clouds of poison gas and slaying men with their own breath. War means lying days and nights wounded and alone in No Man’s Land; it means men with jaws gone, eyes gone, limbs gone, minds gone; it means countless bodies of boys tossed into the incinerators that follow in the train of every battle; it means untended wounds and gangrene and the long time it takes to die; it means mothers who look for letters they will never see and wives who wait for voices they will never hear, and children who listen for footsteps that will never come. That is war `Its heroisms are but the glancing sunlight on a sea of blood and tears.’ And through all these physical horrors runs a horror more appalling still, the persistent debauching and brutalizing of men’s souls. One who uses his knowledge and his imagination to perceive in its abominations what war really is, while he might never dream of using Walt Whitman’s language, finds it hard to be sorry that the language has been used. `Wars,’ he said, `are hellish business all wars. Any honest man says so—hates war, fighting, blood-letting. I was in the midst of it all—saw war where «war was worst not in the battlefields, no in the hospitals; there war is worst; there I mixed with it, and now I say God damn the wars all wars; God damn every war; God damn ’em! God damn ’em!’ ”
These are the words of a man who knows what wars are, not from hearsay, but from actual experience. And his language is not too strong. It is justified by the facts.
All wars are terrible, are detestable, but there has been no such war in its barbarity and naked brutality in all the history of the world, as the one through which we have just passed. Within the short, space of a little over four years, just 1,556 days, millions of men have been slaughtered in battle, millions have been wounded, thousands upon thousands have been permanently disabled, millions of others have perished, leaving behind millions of widows and orphans. A conservative estimate places the number of soldiers and civilians who have been killed, wounded, disabled, or affected seriously in other ways, at between forty and fifty millions. We can’t begin, as yet, to realize fully what a terrible, awful tragedy of blood, of suffering, of sorrow and woe, through which the world has been passing within the past quadrennium! And now, at last, the whole horrible business is over, and over, we trust, never again to be repeated until time shall be no more. One such war is enough for all the generations that are to come. Thank God, it is over; and it is meet, and proper that we should rejoice, as we have been doing. On the afternoon and evening of the clay when the announcement was officially made by the President to both houses of Congress, what a note of gladness ran all through the city. In every possible way the people sought to express their joy white and black, rich and poor, high and low all classes, conditions, races, colors, had a part, in the Jubilation. For once there was no division or separation, but all seemed to be moved by one common sentiment, as all ought to be, in all matters of public interest. We are all American citizens, and have an equal interest in the closing of this bloody conflict.
(2) Another reason why we should be glad, should be grateful to God, is because this bloody conflict has ended in victory for the Allies and the United States of America. In making this a ground of rejoicing, it is not because I think that the skirts of the Allies and of the United States are clean ; for they are not. These Allied nations of Europe have all of them been oppressors, have all of them been taking advantage of the darker and weaker races, exploiting them for their own selfish interest. They have all of them, for centuries, in their dealings with darker and weaker races, been acting on the principle of might instead of right. They have all of them been a unit in their purpose and determination to keep the world safe for white supremacy. They have all looked with disfavor upon any attempt on the part of any race, not embraced within their peculiar circle of affiliated races, to advance, to go forward, to assert itself, to demand for itself proper recognition and respect. This is why they look askance at Japan; why they are jealous of her; why they would hamper her more than they do, if they dared to.
So far as making the world safe for white supremacy, there is no difference, or very little, between the Central Powers and the Allies. And this war would never have been broughtt on had Germany been content with the status quo with the supremacy of the white races over all the darker and weaker race. But Germany got into her head the idea of a super man, and of a super nation, and the super man and nation, the military caste in Germany, felt itself to be the German nation; and, that it was the prerogative, the divinely appointed prerogative, of this nation of super men not only to be supreme over all darker and weaker races, but also over all the other white races as well. And there is where the rub came, where the trouble began, and that is why the war came on. The other white races, while perfectly willing to join Germany in .keeping the world safe for white supremacy, were not willing to keep it safe for German supremacy were not willing themselves to come under the German yoke. And so the war began; and so it has been fought out. And the thing that has been settled by it definitely is that Germany is not to be supreme over the other white races. That much has certainly been definitely settled. No one white race or nation is to be supreme over all other white races and nations. Though there is no objection, there certainly was not up to four years ago, to the white races holding together to keep down all the darker races.
In the treatment of weaker and darker race, there was no difference, I said, between the Central Powers and the Allies. Nor is there any difference between the Central Powers and the United States of America in this regard. In our rejoicings that victory, in this great conflict, is on the side on which the United States has been fighting, doesn’t mean that we believe that its skirts are clean, that it is all that it ought to be in its appreciation of, and respect for, the rights of man; for it is not; its skirts are far from being clean.
I am well aware of the fact that we would like to get the credit for being greatly interested in democratic institutions in making the world safe for democracy. But the simple fact is we feel no interest whatever in the reign of true democracy, which recognizes the right of every man, of whatever race or color, to have a part, and an equal part, in the government under which he lives. Lincoln had the right idea of what it meant, when he spoke of “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”; the framers of the great war amendments to the Constitution had the right idea when they wrote into the Fourteenth Amendment the words, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside . . . . Nor shall any State make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” And also into the Fifteenth Amendment, the words, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by airy State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
That is not the idea of democracy, however, that is entertained by the Democratic party in this country, especially by the southern wing of it. Their idea of democracy, and it is the idea of the Administration, takes in only white men, only their rights are to be considered; only their rights are to be respected, are to be held sacred, inviolate. Men of darker hue have no rights which white men are bound to respect. And it is this narrow, contracted, contemptible, undemocratic idea of democracy that we have been fighting to make the world safe for, if we have been fighting to make it safe for democracy at all. We certainly have not been fighting to make it safe for true democracy for democracy in any adequate or worthy sense of the term. How could we be fighting to make the world safe for democracy, except in pretense, with conditions existing as they are within our own borders, and with no desire or effort, to remedy them? How could we, except in pretense, be fighting to make the world safe for democracy, and at the same time give ourselves no concern about safeguarding it at home? How can we with any degree of honesty, of sincerity, claim to be fighting to make the world safe for democracy when we are trampling upon the sacred, God given and constitutional rights of twelve millions of colored American citizens within one borders? Are the discriminations, the mean, contemptible, unworthy, and debasing discriminations that are practiced even in the departments of the government itself, and with the sanction of the Chief Executive of the Nation, who acclaims himself as the great champion of world democracy, consistent with true democratic ideas and ideals with the kind of democracy that is likely to be a blessing to the world? Are Jim Crow cars, insecurity of life and property, the most flagrant violations of the simplest principles of right, of justice, of humanity, and the brutal lynchings that go on, month after month, year after year lynchings that are unsurpassed in sheer, cold blooded, `wanton cruelty by the worst atrocities of the Germans, consistent with true democratic ideas and ideals? The very men who are responsible for these outrages, who allow them to go on without any effort to remedy them, know that they are not. And yet we expect people on the other side of the water, who know conditions here, to believe that we are so tremendously interested in the fate of democracy throughout the world that we are willing to lay our all upon the altar of sacrifice in its defense. On the face of it, it is nothing but sheer hypocrisy.
Two things I feel perfectly sure of in my own mind:
(1) That, as a Nation, we have little or no interest in true democracy, in the rights of man as man. We have not yet developed sufficiently along moral and spiritual lines to an appreciation of the dignity of man, of the trite worth of man as man, created in the image of God; we are still blinded by our narrow racial prejudice; we are still so contemptibly little in our moral ideas and ideals that the color of a man’s skin is to us of more value, of more importance than anything else in determining the kind of treatment that shall be accorded to him. Mr. Vardaman once said in the United States Senate, or, in an interview which someone had with him over the appointment of a colored man as Register of the Treasury, that the race question was paramount to all other issues greater than tire currency, greater than the tariff or anything else. And the fact that it is paramount, in the estimation of such a large proportion of white Americans, shows what kind of democracy is represented in this country, what kind of democracy we stand for a democracy that counts for nothing among decent, self respecting, right thinking, liberty loving men the world over. We are interested in democracy, yes, but not in true democracy—democracy that is color blind, that rests upon the brotherhood of mart, and the sacredness of the rights of all men, as men.
(2) I feel perfectly sure of another thing, our entrance into the war was not from any disinterested motive, it was from purely selfish considerations. We did not enter it as a matter of fact, until it seemed that the Central Powers were likely to be victorious; then it was that we stepped into the breach. Why, then, and not before? Because we knew perfectly well, from our knowledge of the German character and of the aim of the Kaiser for world empire, that as soon as the Allies were conquered, that our turn would come next, and, therefore, unless we joined with them before it was too late, there was no possible escape for us from the same fate. And this, I believe, notwithstanding our pretended interest in making the world safe for democracy, was the reason that took us into the war. It was in self defense; it was in order to keep from off our own neck the yoke of German military despotism. It was all right, of course, in entering, as we did to save ourselves; and in so doing we have helped also to save the Allied nations, and to save the world from the heel of the oppressor. And for that, we deserve credit, and will receive credit; but we should receive credit only for what we are justly entitled to. We ought not to want credit for what we are not entitled to—to have ascribed to its motives which did not actuate us, or, if they did at all, only in a minor or secondary way. We did not go into the war from any real interest in democracy. If we did, we would have long since brought forth fruits meet for repentance we would be treating our twelve million colored citizens better than we are. And, while we are rejoicing that victory has crowned our efforts in conjunction with the Allies, we are not insensible, and ought not to be, of how far short as a Nation we come when measured by the ideals of true democracy, and the great eternal principles of right and brotherhood.
(3) There is another reason why we should be glad. It is because with the end of this war there has come the end of autocratic government throughout the world—the end of the one man power to determine the destiny of a people or nation ; the end of the arrogant assumption of the divine right to rule regardless of the will of the people. There are to be no more Kaisers; no more czars; no more emperors with autocratic powers, The reign of the people has come—the reign of the common people. It is wonderful when yon think of it ! Four years ago, autocracy seemed never more firmly entrenched in the world than then. There was Russia, that great despotism, with a system of espionage that ramified throughout the whole empire; with its prisons filled with political offenders, and its Siberia of horrors, with thousands and thousands of innocent men and women torn from their homes, from their friends and relatives, sent there to die in want and misery, simply because they dared to think for themselves. Where is the Russian Empire today? Gone. Where in tired despot who sat upon the throne? In his grave, murdered, and other members of his family also dying, in dishonored graves. Where is the empire of Austria-Hungary—where is it? Gone. Where is the proud house of the Hapsburgs, that for hundreds of years sat upon the throne? Gone. The old Emperor Joseph, who was on the throne when the war began, died from old age, and of a broken heart, and the man who succeeded him, where here is lie? A fugitive now in Switzerland. And last of all, there was Germany, proud Germany, with a man at the head who never would admit, who spurned the idea of getting his right to rule from the people, who proclaimed himself ruler by divine right, and who held himself responsible to God only, and not to the people; a man who, inflated with pride, felt that his mailed fist could bring the whole world to his feet.
Where is the German Empire today? Gone—a thing of the past. Where is the man who aspired to universal dominion, who shot defiance at the whole world’? Where is he? Gone. No longer on his throne forced by the very people whom he affected to ignore, to renounce his throne, and is now away from his home and his country seeking hospitality from a little kingdom, one of the smallest in Europe, stripped of all power. How wonderful it all seems and all within the short space of four years. Lowell in his “Ode to France,” describing the effect of the French Revolution, wrote these words:
“0 Broker King, is this thy wisdom’s fruit?
A dynasty plucked out, as ‘t were a weed
Grown rankly in a night, that leaves no seed! Could eighteen years strike down no deeper root? But now thy vulture eye was turned on Spain—
A shout from Paris, and thy crown falls off,
Thy race has ceased to rein,
And thou become a fugitive and scoff;
Slippery the feet that mount by stairs of gold,
And weakest of all fences one of steel;
Go and keep school again like him of old,
The Syracusan tyrant thou mayest feel
Royal amid a birch swayed commonweal!
“Not long can he be ruler who allows
His time to run before him; thou wast naught
Soon as the strip of gold about thy brows
Was no more emblem of the People’s thought;
Vain were thy bayonets against the foe
Thou haAst to cope with; then didst wage
War not with Frenchmen merely no,
Thy strife was with the Spirit of the Age,
The invisible Spirit whose first breath divine
Scattered thy frail endeavor,
And, like poor last year’s leaves, whirled thee and thine
Into the dark forever!”
How striking is the language, and how accurately it describes the fate of the great autocracies that, existed four years ago. Yes, “Like poor last year’s leaves,” they Have been “whirled into the dark forever.”
It is a ground of rejoicing, of thanksgiving, I say, that such governments no longer exist to curse the world. And the reason why the destruction of such governments becomes a ground for rejoicing is because all such governments rest upon the idea of might, instead of right rest upon the will of the one or the few instead of the will of the many. Whether that will be right or wrong if there is power to enforce it, it is enforced. The issue between might and right has been clearly drawn during this conflict and fought our on a broad, world wide arena. The issue has been in the thought of all the peoples of the earth as never before. The attempt on the part of Germany to accomplish by might what it had no right to attempt to do, has been brought home to the other nations and brought home to them in a way that they can never forget. All the blood that has been spilt, the lives that have been sacrificed, the billions of treasures that have been poured out, and all the wretchedness and misery that have grown out of this war, might have been avoided if the principle of right had been followed instead of might. The nations of the earth know now as they have never known before the evil of acting on the principle of might instead of right.
After these four years of unparalleled suffering there is every reason to believe that there is going to be a great change in the policy of nations toward each other. In their relations, one with the other, the principle of right, instead of might, is going to have a larger place than it has ever had before. The nations, in their relations with each other, will come, more and more, to realize, that even as a matter of policy, if not of principle, it is always better to follow the lead of right instead of might. And when that principle has been accepted, has firmly rooted itself in the consciousness of the nations of the earth as the course to be followed in their dealing with each other, then we may expect another thing to follow, another thing that must follow, that will inevitably follow, each nation within its own limits will come to feel that the same principles must govern. If right and not might is to determine the course to be pursued between nations in their dealings and relations with each other; then right and not might ought also to determine what goes on in their internal management as well. In this great world contest that has just closed, might as the great determining principle between nations has been driven to the wall. And, although there is no longer the boom of canon, the roar of musketry, the battle will still go on, in each nation, until the same great principle triumphs within as well as without. A nation cannot consistently insist upon the principle of right in its dealings with other nations, and in the dealings of other nations with it, and permit the opposite principle to prevail in the management of its internal affairs. Right must prevail within as well as without. And until it does, there must be and will be constant agitation; the war for the triumph of right must go steadily on. And it will go on. And this is why the overthrow of the great autocracies or despotisms of the world, as the result of the war, becomes a ground of thanksgiving, of rejoicing. It is a step forward in the overthrow, ultimately, of the doctrine, which has so long dominated the world that might makes right. This war, in its results, is going to make it easier to fight that pernicious principle as it shows itself in social and political injustice and oppression within nations as well as without.
The overthrow of the great autocracies in Europe, and the assertion of the right of the people to rule, as has been most emphatically done during these four bloody years, is going to make it easier for us as a people in this country to achieve what we have been contending for for years, and will go on contending for, our rights our full rights as American citizens. We are not going to be satisfied; and, we have greater reasons now than ever before for not being satisfied. The air everywhere is filled now as never before with the thought of the rights of man. Liberty is in the air today as it has never been before in all the world’s history never before on so wide a scale. And, in addition to this, we have had a part in this world wide contest; we have made sacrifices, we have shed our blood, we have given of our treasures; thousands of our boys are on the other side of the water, and have done their part in bringing about the great result.. And when these boys get back, having sniffed the free, invigorating, liberty loving air of France, that knows no man by the color of his skin, but makes all men of all races and complexions equally welcome, there has got to be a change here. These boys will bring back that spirit with them, and it will have to be reckoned with. They know now what it is to be a man, and to be treated as a man. And that spirit will remain with them. It cannot be quenched. It will rather be sure to communicate itself to others. They will not he satisfied, nor will we be satisfied, until segregation in these departments is done away with; until the men and women of our race are no longer discriminated against, but are accorded the same consideration as white men and women are accorded. They are not going to be satisfied, nor will we be, until Jim Crow cars are no more, until the men and women of our race are allowed to travel in decency, and to find equal accommodations in hotels, restaurants, and in places of amusement. The war over there is over; but the war over here for our manhood and citizenship rights is not over; and will not be over until they are all accorded to us as to other citizens of the Republic. So that while we are rejoicing here today, and we have good reasons to rejoice the war is over; victory is on the side of the Allies and the United States; the great autocracies of the world have been destroyed; and might, as between nations, at least, instead of right has been struck a death blow at the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that victory over there does not necessarily mean victory over here; that the staggering blow that has been struck to might over there, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be felt equally over here; that here it is going to be any less insistent. So far as we are concerned, that old enemy, might, is still strongly entrenched. Why are we discriminated against in the departments? Why are we shut out of West Point? Out of Annapolis? Why are we not allowed to vote in the South? Why are we forced into Jim Crow cars”? Why are we unjustly treated in the courts? Why are we brutally lynched?Is it because it is right? No, the right is all on our side it is simply because they have the power. If right were allowed to come in, and control, all these evils would be remedied at once. So that, while we are rejoicing, as I said, let us see to it that we do not allow the advantages that have accrued to us, as the result of this war, to be lost. Instead of abating our efforts, lessening our endeavors, we should be more insistent than ever more determined than ever to press the advantages that we have gained.
There are some members of our race, unfortunately, who have been foolish enough to talk about letting up for a little while, as if our enemies ever let up, as if our enemies ever allow to pass a single opportunity of humiliating us, of forcing upon us conditions which are intended to impress upon us their view of us as inferiors. Should we be less insistent, less persistent, less determined, less alive, wide awake to the things that pertain to our rights, than the people who are sleeplessly vigilant in their efforts and determination to filch them from us to keep us in, what they call, our proper place, as if the proper place for any rational, responsible being is to be determined by anything except his character, efficiency, capability? It is astounding, almost incredible, that any colored man, even to the stupidest of them, should be led into such utter folly as to counsel the cessation of the struggle for our rights, even for a moment, when nothing is ever accomplished except by struggle, by earnest, persistent effort. The colored man, if he has an ounce of brains in his head, will have but one policy in regard to his rights, and that is the policy of being always on the job. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and unless we are willing to pay the price, unless we are eternally vigilant, we will never get it. Let us hear no more of this nonsense, never mind from whom it comes, about letting up for a season. Not less activity, but more activity; not less agitation, but more agitation; not less plain speaking, but more plain speaking.
In an article which I wrote to the editor of the “Cleveland Advocate,” these words occur: “I am writing to express my very great satisfaction at reading the two editorials in your issue of August 24th, entitled, `Grave and Weighty,’ and `Riot of Oppression.’ I was greatly delighted with them. They both have the right ring the only kind of ring that ought ever to be heard from ‘colored Americans from intelligent, self respecting colored American. This is no time for shilly shallying, but for plain speakin’ , for a straight forward, manly presentation of our wrongs, made all the more flagrant in view of the tremendous sacrifices which we are now being called upon to make and which we are willingly making,. These outrageous, damnable discriminations that are being made against us in the departments here and elsewhere all over tile country, call for loud, persistent, unceasing protest. We ought not to be satisfied as long as they continue; and the time to voice our dissatisfaction is now while the war is going on; while we are going across the sea to lay our lives down in order to make the world safe for democracy. From every Negro newspaper in the country, from every city, town and hamlet, from all kinds of Negro organizations, there should be coming up to Washington a word of solemn and emphatic protest. The fight that you are making, the stand which you are taking on the race issue at this time is the one that ought to be taken, is the fight that ought to be made not only by you, but by every intelligent, right thinking, self respecting colored American.”
In the August 21st issue of the Outlook, these lines occur:
We are on the march! How long shall we be marching
Until the roads of east and west are free; Until beneath the four winds of the world
Freedom is possible for all mankind;
Until we reach the end of the long journey;
Until time brings the fullness of the years.
A faith in arms is marching to the future;
Its flags are consecrated to the dawn.”
And we, colored men and women in this country, if I sense aright the sentiment of our hearts, are on the march for our rights, and we will not stop until “we reach the end of the long journey.” The war that we are waging here, while our brothers are fighting on the other side, will help to hasten the dawn. That is what I wrote some three months ago; and that is the way I feel today; and is the way we all ought to feel, and must feel, if we are to hasten the dawn of better things for ourselves, and for our children.
(4) There is still another ground for thanksgiving and rejoicing, as the result of victory for the Allies and for the United States, but which I will have time simply to mention without stopping to dwell upon. As the result of this great struggle, through which we have been passing, I believe, it is going to be better for all the darker and weaker races of the world. It is going to he better for them because in the dominant nations a higher sense of justice, of right, of fair play, is going to be developed; better for them because I believe there is going to be developed a higher type of Christianity than at present prevail than the miserable apology that now goes under that name. Things are as they are today in these great nations of the world, and it has fared with these weaker and darker races and nations as it has, because the so called Church of God has been recreant to its high trust; has been dominated by such a cowardly and worldly spirit that it has always been willing to listen to the voice of man instead of the voice of God—Dominated by such a cowardly and worldly spirit that it has surrendered the most sacred principles of the holy religion of Jesus Christ, at, the behest of the powers that be at the bidding of wealth, social prestige and a debased public sentiment.
Look at Germany, during this terrible world struggle through which we have been passing, and see the character of the Christianity represented there. Back of this bloody war, started by the Emperor of Germany and his military staff in sheer, wanton lust of power, and prosecuted with the utmost brutality, has been the Christian church of Germany the men in the pews the men in tire sacred desk the men in the chairs of theology in the great universities the spiritual leaders of the nation all, with rare exceptions, justified this atrocious war and threw the weight of their influence in support of the monster who sat on the throne, in his efforts to carry out his nefarious schemes of conquest and aggrandizement.
Look at the church in this country, forty millions strong! and yet, think of the awful conditions that exist here of the injustices, and oppressions, and discriminations that go on unchecked, and no effort made to check them, to improve conditions. The very men who are back of these oppressions, injustices, discriminations, are, in many cases, not only professing Christians, but occupying high places in the church ministers, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, class leaders. These abominable conditions have sprung up, still exist, and are steadily growing worse in the midst of forty millions of Christians. Strange as it may seem, while the membership of these so called Christian churches is increasing by the millions, race prejudice, with all the evils that grow out of it, is also steadily on the increase. In this city of Washington, the capital city of the nation, with scores of churches, representing all the great denominations, with services going on every Sunday and during the week in them all, where the Bible is supposed to be taught, and the noble and beautiful spirit of Christ, the spirit of meekness, of gentleness, of brotherly kindness, of self sacrificing love, inculcated, in this Christian city, presided over by Commissioners, members of Christian churches where the President of the United States and his Cabinet, the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the Judges of the Supreme Court, and of the lesser courts are domiciled all of whom, or nearly all of whore are members of Christian churches in this city where Christianity has back of it so much respectability, so much official dignity and power a colored man, if he were down on Pennsylvania Avenue, never mind how hungry he might be, couldn’t find a restaurant in which he could get a cup of tea, or a sandwich and a glass of milk; or however tired he might be, is there a rest room into which he could go and be received, and simply because of the color of his skin, because of his race identity! That condition of things exists, has existed, and continues to exist, not against the protest of the Christian church, but with its sanction. A Christianity that allows such a condition of things to exist without throwing the weight of its great influence against it, is a spurious Christianity, is a disgrace to the holy and sacred name of Christ.
Out of this awful baptism of blood that has deluged tile earth, I can’t help feeling that God is getting ready for some great spiritual awakening that He is getting ready to shake himself loose from this miserable semblance of Christianity that exists, and to set up in the earth a type of religion that will truly represent the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ, a type of religion that will be as the inspired penman conceived it,
“Fair as the moon,
Clear as the sun,
Terrible as an army
It. is because I believe a better type of Christianity is to appear, and appear speedily, and that. under its banner the world is to be conquered for Christ, and, in that conquest all the nations of the earth are to be blessed, that there is ground for thanksgiving, for rejoicing. Whether we realize it or not, God is on the throne; and, sooner or later he will make even the wrath of man to praise Him. “The heathen may rage; the people imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed.” Yet, the declaration is, “I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” “I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for thy possession.” And again, “he shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” So that there is bound to be, sootier or later, the triumph of right, of justice; there is bound to be, under the dominating influence of the spirit of Jesus Christ, under the development or a better type of Christianity, the establishment of better conditions throughout the whole world, for all the races of mankind. The whole plane of life is going to be lifted. There is going to be a new earth. Old things are going to pass away. Tennyson’s dream is going to be realized. Certain things are to be rung in, and certain things rung out.
“Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress for all mankind.
“Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
“Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But bring the fuller minstrel in.
“Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
“Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
“Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.”
The super man of the future is not to be of the German type, nor of the contemptible little type that we find here in America, assuming and acting upon the theory that under a white skin only is to be found anything worthy of respect; but of the Christ type—
“The valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand.”
The super nation of the future is not to be the German nation, nor any of the existing nations, but the Commonwealth of Israel the Church of the living Cod, purified, cleansed. Spirit-filled, God-centered, meek and lowly, girded with strength, and arrayed in beautiful garments of righteousness.
The close of this bloody war is the beginning, I believe, of the realization of this vision of better things which Tennyson saw, and which the prophets of old foresaw, and which I believe some day is going to be realized in the actual life of the world. And, it is going to be realized as the poet indicates, and, in no other way, by ringing Christ in into our hearts into our homes into our churches, into our pulpits into our colleges and universities into our courts into our halls of legislation into our executive mansions into our marts of commerce and place of business. The ringing in of Jesus Christ holds the solution of all our problems, racial or otherwise. The only cheering outlook for humanity for the individual for races for nations in their internal management, as well as in their relations to each other, is to be found in accepting, and in honestly and courageously living out the principles and the spirit of Jesus Christ. And, this war has helped us, as, perhaps, nothing else has ever done in the history of the world, to realize that no mere culture, no amount of mere brain power, no advancement in science, in philosophy, in scholarship, in the accumulation of knowledge, however great, can lay the basis for lasting peace and happiness; can weld men together in one great brotherhood in which each will be interested in the well being of the other into a brotherhood that will be proof against the assaults of selfishness, and pride, and all the other debasing elements that are ever at work to set men against each other. Something more is needed a new force or power of a spiritual nature must come in. And such a power or force we have in the personality of Jesus Christ. It is through him that all the families of the earth are to be blessed; it is through him that order is to come out of these conflicting passions and desires that tear men apart and keep them apart; that make them brutes instead of human beings. And, because this war, in showing the utter futility of all human devices in bringing peace to a troubled world, is driving us back to Jesus Christ back to Christian principles and ideal we rejoice—rejoice—we lift up our hearts in praise and gratitude to God.
“O clasp your hands all ye peoples;
Shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”