Anarchism and the Gospel
The shot of an assassin has taken
from us the President we loved and trusted. It has done more. Men
look about in wonder and vague dread. A foe to American institutions
is in our midst whose blow can neither be calculated nor averted.
Something must be done. What shall it be? There will be legislation.
That is well. The danger is that there will be too much of it and
too much reliance upon it. It will be repressive. But to repress
is not to get at the root. There must be a change of social and
moral conditions. There will always, for those wicked enough to
do it, be a chance to shoot rulers. The remedy lies in a force that
will take away motive and impulse.
There is just one force mighty enough
to cope with anarchy and lawlessness. That is the gospel. It is
the power of God. The appeal of all good men should be to that which
God has put into this world as able to save to the uttermost.
If it is not doing that work, the
fault is not in it, but in its applications. We are beginning to
reap the fruit of our neglect of foreigners, from whom our anarchists
mainly come. The churches do not reach them, do not seriously reach
after them. Churches are not planted among them. Rather churches
and gospel agencies are forsaking them for more responsive fields.
So did not Paul of the early preachers, nor should we. It is not
too much to say the Church spends hundreds on her own comfort, where
she gives dollars for the salvation of the submerged tenth. But
that tenth is our menace. Thence come the threats and blows that
shake our national fabric.
What shall be done? The spasm of
sorrow now wringing the national heart forces the question. But
the answer must not be a spasm, but a campaign. Two convictions
must grip the national conscience.
First—That the danger to our institutions
is both grave and imminent. Read this danger in the light of the
fact that a President without enemies, in a time of peace and free
from any severe agitations of opinions, is shot down, while evidence
accumulates that behind the assassin is a large company now fleeing
to cover from the nation’s wrath, but ready to appear again and
repeat the tragedy.
Second—The conviction of God’s people
that only the power of God grappling conscience and transforming
life is strong enough to reach the root of our troubles. When these
truths shall take hold on us, not in an easy intellectual compliance,
but with the energy of their nature and our emergency, we will arouse
from our lethargy or our sporadic zeal to match our national need
with the potency of the truth as it is in Jesus.
What now is being done for foreigners
in cities or camps? An occasional missionary voice reaches them.
Tent evangelism in our cities challenges them only long enough to
secure a passing hearing. The Salvation Army reaches out its hands
and saves one here and there. The missions to the outcast kindle
lights only strong enough to reveal the darkness in which they are
set. Federations of churches by faithful canvassing get the census
of the slums and reveal the multitudes drowning in their iniquity.
Thus the churches make their protest
against sin. But the diameter between a protest and a power, an
appeal and a rescue, is measureless. Our efforts to save our cities
or our camps from the horrors which hang over them do not rise to
the dignity of a campaign impelled by the threat of fatal defeat
and the hope of final victory.
Would we regenerate our people and
by changing lives make anarchy impossible, the Church of Christ
must plan, as great conquests are always planned, and must co-operate,
as by co-operation only great victories are secured. Not an occasional
collection, not an arm’s length sympathy, not a revival spasm. Flesh
and blood and soul must go into the campaign. The Church must forget
her ease, and herself and comrades must lock their shoulders. Moneyed
men must invest less in special police and more in agencies that
take hold not of the collar but the conscience. The godliest and
best of our young men must train and give themselves to this mightiest
battle of the age. They can do it under the inspiration of saving
souls from death and a nation from disaster. 
The last General Assembly appointed
a committee to consider the religious problem of the city. It did
not know how soon it would be a national problem as well. It is
none too soon. Assemblies, Federations, Mission Boards and Christian
people in any organization can give themselves to no graver or more
imminent question than this:—How shall the storm be stayed whose
far-flashing bolt struck our best beloved?
From a patriotic standpoint there
is nothing more imperative. The last address of our President expressed
a great longing for closer bonds between us and other nations, especially
between us and those who on our continent depend upon us. A noble
legacy breathes in that longing. Let us accept it and that we may
bless the people we touch, let us give ourselves not only to make
secure the institutions of civil liberty but to make God’s word
of righteousness so mighty among us that it shall put away evil
passions from our own people and send the salvation in which we
rejoice to all which are round about us.
In one of Mr. McKinley’s immortal
sentences he said of our nation, “It is our province, as it should
be our earnest care, to lead in the march of human progress, and
not rest content with any secondary place.”
That leading will be secured not by
armies and navies, not by victories of diplomacy or the forum, but
by quickening, transforming and lifting power of Christian Truth
and Christian Institutions.