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Evening Star, Issue 15703, 18 January 1915
In another part of this issue appeals tho letter of an esteemed corIs Prayer Of respondent, who. under Any Use? the nom-dc-phimo of " Rifleman," challenges the soundness of the premises of the article under the above caption in our columns on January 2. Wo have referred " Rifleman's " letter to tho writer of the article in question, who .-.applies us with tho following replies: "Rifleman." in his letter, raises questions of the most difiicult kind. It would be absurd to attempt any adequate reply to them in the limited space that is permitted by the Editor, but a few points may be referred to, is follow:--
1, The writer said that the principle - of prayer was co-extensive with humanity, and that if it was abolished progress • would stop. Will "Rifleman's" Mr Middlewick' get his cheese without inking? Will 'the coin jump out uf his pocket and the cheese jump in without an expression of Mr Middlowick's wish to have cheese? Tho writer was not contending that prayer was answered, but was contending that all business is conducted according to the prayer law of asking and receiving. ]f that law had not operated in the case of " Rifleman " when he was a baby he would not be able to call it absurd to-day. The writer maintains his original position: that in all human relations from the cradle to the grave the prayer law of asking and receiving is the, "absolute condition of all progress. 2. Relative to Nature and Life, "Rifleman" says that the writer has put the cart nefore the hor.se; in other words. that- Life was befoie Nature. If one is to understand "Rifleman" aright, ho would say that Nature was prior to Life. In the Hook that savs the " Earth was without form and void,'' it also says "Tn tho beginning Ood." etc.: in other words, that Life was before Nature. The writer u content to abide by that authority, without mising an endless discussion" as to whether matter evolved "Life, or vice versa. Here the writer is on the side of tho angels. 2. "Rifleman" characterises as absurd my statement that - if voi increase life you can manipulate th.V laws of Nature at will." Yet if we are to beheve the New Testament (here was once a -Man tho intensity of whose life enabled Him to walk on the waters, to heal diseases, and to raise the dead. "Rifleman'' wiil no doubt call this " legend," which raises problems that cannot be discussed hero I was using the phrase -'laws of Nature" in the popular seme—in the sense of man's interpretation of them. It is quite likely that if we knew what Nature is ,'n itself we might not be able to do as we pJeasc with it : but then w v do not know what things are in themselves. And meanwhile we see e\rrv day mind using matter as it pleases, modifying and superseding its laws bv the. introduction of higher law.-—Jaws that rule in the sphere of life and -pint. 3. "Apart from legend no battle has ever yet been won by Prayer." .So •'Rifleman" says. How does he know" What is it that wins battles? Guns and swords? >> T o. It is tho men who use these. And in the men what is it (hatis supremo? It is the moral and spiritual. And this moral and spiritual element must draw its strength from somewhere. \Vhero does it" draw it from! This believer in prayer says that just as there is an atmosphere that responds to the needs of the lungs when they call for it, so there is a. spiritual world that responds to the spiritual needs of man; that wherever von tap this spiritual world, according' to the \ right'law. it reacts upon you' with entire generosity. What that law of prayer Is was indicated in tho article on our second page on Saturday last. Prayer is an appeal to those .subtle forces of this world, and tho vindication of it is, in the experience of multitudes who have hied it. Tfc is no argument against it that the savage a* well as the civilised man engages in it. any more than that the thumping of tomtoms discredits the reality of the music of Mendelssohn or tho .sonatas of Beethoven. It is not true that "God is on the side of the biggest, battalion?." unless they are on His side. Tho race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Nothing is more remarkable than the. frequency with which military experts are proved to be false in their prognostications. The groat Von Aloltke set down "good luck" as one of the four great essentials of a successful general. The surprises of life are .so multitudinous ami su mysterious as to warrant the conviction that wo are in contact with invisible forces.' the movements of which are incalculable. fSome of the greatest generals the world has known believed that prayer was a supreme factor in the success of battles. The late Earl Roberts actually composed one for his soldiers. Great leaders and inspirers of armies, like Stonewall .Tackson. Robert Lee, -Sir Henry Havelnck. General Gordon, and scores of others, were men who believed in the reinforcements which prayer could call into the field. To believe otherwise is to put onesell vwVt> «i>i">aai<i.oiY -to tl\a TtiwlUiwdttH «( the great and good id I through the, ae;os, as well as to the most certain facte of | history. "Rifleman" has hardly got the proper range ret. Cntil ho has, he might ho well advised to koto for home consumption some of his disparaging adjective*, .such as ''ludicrous," "absurd," "blundering," etc., with which he so gaily besprinkles his letter.
Evening Star, Issue 15703, 18 January 1915
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