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The Quaker Eirenicon Post by :dswanger Category :Essays Author :Maurice Hewlett Date :November 2011 Read :4132

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The Quaker Eirenicon

In our late scramble to spend our own, or secure some other body's, money, a message of beauty, distinction and serene confidence in its own truth, has been overlooked by this distracted world. There is little wonder. As well might a blackbird flute on Margate Sands on a Bank Holiday as this Quaker message, "To all men," breathe love and goodwill among them just now. The effect has been much the same: to those who heeded it matter for tears that such heavenly balm should be within our hearing but out of our grasp; to the ravenous and the rabid a mere foolishness.

To my mind nothing so admirable has been put forward by any Church calling itself Christian throughout five years' horror and delirium. I must not expect the Morning Boast or Long Bow to agree with it, but I am inclined to ask my fellow citizens if they have not yet had enough of these evangelists of war and ill-will towards men. If they have, here is an alternative for them to try.

"We appeal to all men," say the Quakers to the world, "to recognise the great spiritual force of love which is found in all, and which makes us one common brotherhood." It is a hard saying, as things are now; and yet, if it is true, that 'tis love that makes the world go round, it is certain by this time that 'tis hate that makes it stop. What stops trade? English hate Germans, Germans hate English; masters grudge men, men masters. What holds up Ireland? Protestants hate Catholics, Catholics Protestants; each hates England and England hates both. The infernal brew of 1914 has poisoned the tissues of humanity; proud flesh, sour blood, keep us all in a sick ferment. What will save us? Who will show us any good?

One thing only, say the Quakers. Listen. "Through the dark cloud of selfishness and materialism shines the eternal light of Christ in man. It can never perish.... The profound need of our time is to realise the everlasting truth of the common Fatherhood of God--the Spirit of Love--and the oneness of the human race." I wondered on Christmas Day, when children were carolling "Peace on earth and mercy mild," for how many hundred years men had been hearing that, how many of them had said that they believed it, and how many had acted as if they did believe it. I wondered if the editors of Long Bow and the Morning Boast had heard them, and what effect the words would have upon their next articles about the deportation of aliens, or the value of machine-guns as strike-breakers.

"We have used the words of Christ, but we have not acted upon them. We have called ourselves by His name but we have not lived in His spirit." Those words should form part of any General Confession to be used in church, since the words used there now have lost their meaning. They are entirely true; since Christ died we have never acted upon His words, or attempted for six years at a time "to live in His spirit." How does one do it? The Quakers go on to tell us. "The Divine Seed is in all men. As men realise its presence, and follow the light of Christ in their hearts, they enter upon the right way of life, and receive power to overcome evil by good. Thus will be built the City of God."

While it is plain, then, how the City of God will be rebuilt on earth, it ought to be equally so how it will not be built. Lately another Message has been advertised in the Press, which does not promise any help. It has been proposed(A) to publish certain private letters of the German ex-Emperor which, we learn, incriminate him still more deeply in the original sin of the war. Here no doubt is "a scoop," as they call it, for somebody; but with "scoops," I suppose, the City of God has little to do.

(Footnote A: It was done too.)

And apart from the supposition that the man is about to be tried for his offences against society at large--in which case it is a flouting of justice to publish evidence against him in a newspaper beforehand--apart from all that, how in God's name is His city to be rebuilt by raking in waste-heaps for more hate-stuff? The wretched man is beaten, abdicated, exiled, sick, probably out of his mind, if he ever had one. Is it an English habit to revile the fallen and impotent? It has not been so hitherto, and the newspaper which proposes to enrich itself by making most of us ashamed of our nationality is doing us a bad service and, I hope, itself a worse.

But while such things go on, far from the City of God being rebuilt, the ruins of it will sink deeper into the morass, until we all go down to the devil together. And if we are to be as the Evangelists of Ill-Will desire us, the sooner that happens the better. As an alternative to this disgusting but deserved consummation I call attention to the Quaker Eirenicon.

I love and respect the Quakers as Christians after the doctrine of Christ. I have known many, and never a bad one among them, never one that was not sound at heart and sweet in nature. As well as their social quality there is to be considered their political. I don't hesitate to say that their Corporation holds in its grasp the salvation of the world through their Master and mine. I go further, and don't hesitate to say that had the Quaker religion been this country's, not only should we not have made war, but Germany would not have provoked it. Had Europe at large been Quaker, war would have been eliminated long ago from the catalogue of national crimes; for to a Quaker war is what cannibalism is to all men, and love, apparently to some men, an unthinkable offence against the sanctity of the body. That body, they say, is a possible tabernacle for the Spirit of Christ. If you believe that, all the rest follows. If you do not, you will continue to read the Morning Boast.

(The end)
Maurice Hewlett's essay: Quaker Eirenicon

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