‘And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’
A quietness of soul, a tranquil habit of mind, is the only safe condition for a man.
I. This calm and balanced state is exactly what that man has who feels that God loves him; that He has undertaken for him; that he carries about with him an indwelling presence; that he is in a state of acceptance; that he has a mind at leisure, which can throw itself into the present, because he has a future which is perfectly secure. This is what nothing but really deep, personal religion ever gives a man.
II. It ‘keeps’ him.—All happiness is a security. We almost always do things best when we are very happy. But ‘the peace of God’ is not like other happinesses. It is a happiness which feels it leaves no room for wants and fancies; therefore it secures the mind against the breaking in of wrong desires and foolish imaginations. We have all found it a great security to right being and right conduct, if we have only some earthly object, where our affections thoroughly rest; but what must it be to have the felt possession of the love of Christ? That is ‘keeping.’
III. ‘The peace of God’ is not to be measured by the ordinary tranquillising of a common joy.—‘The peace of God’ is the indwelling in the man of the Holy Ghost—therefore its great power. That holy quietude is the voice of One Who is always walking upon the waters, and saying, ‘Peace, be still!’ Who calms every wave, and hushes every rude wind.
Rev. James Vaughan.
CHRISTIANITY AND WAR
Christianity has not left war as it found it. Nay! It tried to transform it under the influence of the Christian Spirit, and this in three divers ways.
I. It attempted to humanise it, to strip it of its barbarities, to care for the wounded and the dying, to strengthen those elements which make for nobility of character, for courage, obedience, self-discipline, and to repress all the ignoble elements of cowardice, money-making, selfishness, which hang round the fringes of a campaign, and which made an American general declare that ‘War is hell.’
II. It has strengthened the tendency which already prevailed, especially at Rome, to give men a conscience about the use of war.—The aim of the Roman fetiales was to mediate, to arrange differences, to avoid war, if there was hope of justice by more peaceful methods. This tendency Christian civilisation has strengthened; it has insisted on the justice of the cause; it has thought it better to adopt the aim which Milton ascribes to our Lord:—
By winning words to conquer willing hearts
And make persuasion take the place of fear.
It has insisted, and will insist even more, that all arts of diplomacy and of arbitration shall be exhausted before recourse is had to this most terrible of weapons. By deepening the sense of the value of each individual life, it has pushed war into the background.
III. It has tried to divert the true instincts which led to war into a higher channel; they have become the righteous indignation against oppression and cruelty, the nobility of the struggle against evil and against sin. Meanwhile, the great principles of the Sermon on the Mount are not abolished; they remain as the ideal up to which the Church hopes to lift the world—the standard to which we turn back from century to century to test our achievement and to give us fresh hope for future progress.
Rev. Walter Lock.
‘If we want peace among the nations, there must also be peace within the Church and in loyal obedience to its laws. We must revive a noble conception of a Universal Church in which every nation shall preserve its own individuality, shall bring the tribute of its life under the blessing of God, and yet shall stand side by side with the representatives of all other nations, thanking God for their gifts as well as for its own. In the last resort nothing but Jesus Christ can be our peace. There can, I fear, be no permanent peace until the delegates of all the nations of the world have come to know that the God Whom they serve is one and the same God, and can all kneel together in a common homage at one altar.’