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Evening Star, Issue 15690, 2 January 1915
At the suggestion of His Majesty the King
it has been decided to " Let Us Ppay," offer up special prayers throughout the Empire on the first. Sunday in this new year for the purpose of invoking Divine guidance during the continuance of the present war. His Majesty further desires that ate little work ns possible may be clone on that clay, so that the great bulk of the people may be able fo take part in the devotions. The royal wish is one that commends itself to "all who profess and call themselves Christians," notwithstanding the fact that, in Great Britain at least, daily supplicutions have been for some time past offered up in all the cathedrals, churches, and chapels. In the Overseas Dominions the same spirit of supplication lias been prevalent ; indeed, it may be said that wherever the British Flag flies the good and the true have been, in the words of Tennyson, "battering the gates of Heaven with storms of prayer." Without doubt the outbreak of the great war has had a sobering, a chastening influence. Speaking in the Temple Church, London, not long since, Dean Inge said:
The things that, really mattered a few month? ago were knocking balls about, watching horses run and betting upon theim gloating over squalid trials, and vilifying political opponents. Suddenly the real thing came upon us—war as ft was to our savage ancestors; but now made more horrible by being stripped of its last vestige of chivalry, and carried
on with the cold, calculating ruthkesness of a great business enterprise. We know now how foolish all our make-believe was, and I do not believe we shall fCel the same zest for the field sports and games again. They will remain as a delightful form of recreation, but as a m-ious business I think their day js now over.
That the re-action from eport to patriotism in the Mother Country is not overdrawn by the. popular and outspoken Dean wo can well believe, and it is likely to be intensified if more hombs are dropped on British soil and further clashes are made by German submarines against the white cliffs of Albion. Our distance from the theatre of war and the wry remote probability of hostile cruisers troubling these -waters are factors that necessarily gave us from a very strong revulsion from indulgence in our legitimate sports. Judging by present holiday indications, New Zealanders and Australians are just as keen sportsmen today as they wre before the war cloud appeared above the European horizon. It will he noted that the Allies are not to be allowed a monopoly in their invocations to the God of Battles. The Kaiser has ordered the setting apart of a day. of prayer and humiliation for the nation he governs, although, if lying German tele grams, are to be believed, they ought to be rehearsing ' Te- Deunis' for victory. Even the Turks are said to be fired with fanatic zeal because the Prophet's holy standard was carried to Damascus, under which 5,000 Syrians are prepared to march against the British straightway. All these peoples and kindreds and tongues are uniting in one grand, chorus praying for victory to the cause on behalf of which they are shedding their life's blood and impoverishing their treasure chests. Each expects to be heard, and will be grievouslydisappointed if Divine intercession is not in their favor- The heathen are credited with belaboring their idols when votive offerings fail to bring about desired results. Even Christian England is beginning to lose faith in some of her cherished ideals; so much so that the Dean of St. Paul's on Christmas day declared : "We " must not allow ourselves to talk of the " bankruptcy of Christianity and eivilisa- " tion because one nation has reverted to " mora! savagery." A further despondent note is sounded in the American peace manifesto, which bewailed that, "unfor"tunately we are sorrowfully called on to "mark otir centenary celebration in the "midst of the most terrible, and most destructive war in hi-storv."
Under these, perplexing conditions, is it not well to consider, in these days of united public prayer, what we are going to ask from a higher Bower and what answer we expect to get? Without doubt there will be an appeal to what is commonly called in ecclesiastical circles "the Word and the Testimony." Jewish battle stories will be cited and improved upon. But how far can they help us to fight the battles of the twentieth century? Take the contest between the Israelites and Amalek. The chosen men were sent out to fighton a plain, under the leadership of Joshua, while Moses went up to the top of a hill, with the rod of God in his hands. "And " it came to pass, v.-heri Moses held up hie "hand, that Israel prevailed, and when "he let down his hand Amslek prevailed." The story goes on to narrate that to make matters as comfortable for Mcses as possible Aaron and Hur took a. stone and put it under him, and stayed up his hands until the going down of the sun, by which time Joshua had discQjnfitcd Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. . The siege of Jericho- is another Biblical story, showing how the city was taken after two spies had gained an entrance therein,* and stayed with Bahab, the harlot, while gathering, the information that Joshua, who was laying siege to Jericho, desired. Instructed by Jahveh, seven priests, blowing seven rams' horns, marched round the city scveti times, accompanied by the besieging army and the
Ark of the Covenant. During six circunir gytations strict silence was kept, hut on the seventh the seven priests blew the seven rams' horns, the army shouted, and the city wall fell down flat. Joshua's soldiers went up into the city, "and they
" utterly destroyed all that was in the "city, both men and women, young and "old, and ox and sheep and ass, with the " edge of the sword." The Germans today are not more barbarous. Our Biblo-in-schools friends were not weary during their recent abortive campaign in declaring that they wera willing that the Bible in schcols should be taught as literature 1 . These two battle stories have been thus treated: they are taken to convey what the writers, whoever they may have been, believed to be the events transpiring in the days of Moses and Joshua. No intelligent person, it may be presumed, regards them as any more historical than the story of the- Thundering Legion'. The Roman army, under Marcus Aurelius, got shut up in a defile, and were in imminent danger of dying from thirst. A band of Christian soldiers prayed for rain, and it came, accompanied by such blinuing lightning and crashing ' thunder that the enemy lied terror-stricken. Such legends, enshrined in sacred books and ancient writings, give currency to tho beliefs that the oracles when appealed to will lend a sympathetic ear to the petitions of the d-evqut. The prayer of faith, says St. James, shall save hint that is sick, and the highly-emotional and weakly-credulous pretend to take that as sound doctrine. But in these degenerate days the doers of alleged miracles run the risk of falling into the hands of the police. With more sense we build hospitals to cure the sick, and study sanitary science to devise preventive means of keeping our people fit. Shall it be said, then, that the effectual fervent prayer of the lighteous availet'n nothing? Certainly not; but with equal confidence it may be said that the united prayers of Christendom will not put *, stop to Armageddon by means of extended arms, the blowing of rams' horns, or by the Angel of Death spreading his wings on the blast in the neighborhood of the. Kaiser's legions, as in the days when Sennacherib fell. It is generally recognised that prayer, "by a lavr "of our nature and apart from all super -
" natural influence, exercises a reflex in- " fluenco of a very beneficial character " upon the minds of worshippers. The "man who offers up his petitions with " passionate earnestness, ""Hth unfailing "faith, and with the vivid realisation of
"the presence of an Unseen Being has ''risen to a condition of mind which is " iteejf eminently favorable both to his " own happiness and the expansion of his "moral finalities." We are only now on the threshold of psychical knowledge, and are beginning to trace the close relationship between the normal and the supernormal. If the prayers of to-inorrow are to be of much avail the worshippers must rise from their knees determined to do mere for their country in her hour of need than they have hitherto dope, although they may have done much. " Laborare est orare"—to labor is to pray; or. as Lord Bacon put it long ago: "Good "thoughts are no better than gocd "dreams except they be put in action."
Evening Star, Issue 15690, 2 January 1915
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