“The World’s New and Most Chivalrous Knight” American Sentinel 14, 16, pp. 242, 243.

THE Rev. Dr. John Henry Barrows was one of the leading spirits in the calling and conducting of the World’s Congress of Religions in Chicago, the year of the World’s Fair. He was chosen to give the first series of lectures on oriental religions, which is conducted by the Chicago University in India. From there he continued his tour around the world, speaking upon the world’s religions, in behalf of a world’s religion. Since returning to America, he has traveled extensively throughout the United State, continuing the same work. About the first of the year 1899, he was called to the presidency of Oberlin College. March 20 a reception in his honor was given by the Congregational Club of Toledo, Ohio, at which he delivered a speech upon “Greater America.” Because of the position that he occupied in the World’s Congress of Religions, and the position he occupies now, and what he has done all around the world in behalf of a world’s religion, the views which he expressed, of greater America and of its mission now in the world, are worth noting. As reported in the Tribune of this city, he said:—

“We have forsaken the policy of selfish isolation, and come to realize our world-mission in these days when God has made us a world-power. We have not abandoned the Monroe Doctrine, as European countries will discover if they attempt to disregard it. We are drawing into closer fellowship with the people of the Western Hemisphere. There must ever be peace and good understanding with Canada and Mexico and the South American republics. These are great areas for our commerce and for our ideas. But America has widened westward across the Pacific, which is to be the chief highway of the world’s future commerce. In Hawaii and the Ladrones and the Philippines we have stepping-stones for American ideas clear over to the greatest and most populous side of the world. My own observations in the Orient have deepened the conviction that the greatest event of the twentieth century is to be the uplifting of Asia and thus the unitizing of the globe.

“Heaven forbid that we should go to the Philippines in the spirit with which Spain went to Cuba or Holland to the South-eastern Asiatic Archipelago. If we hold them, and I do not see how we can get rid of them, let us hold them as a ‘trust for civilization.’ Let us show that America does not mean selfishness and spoliation, but means enfranchisement, uplifting, enlightenment, peace, and toleration.”

“We need great men, great leaders, to shape and direct. And God is giving them to us. The Greater America must have greater statesmen. We, of course, shall need a larger army and a larger navy. We could hardly have better ones. We must have a better diplomatic service, national schools, for training the representatives of the republic.

“We shall have a new national expansion in the days to come. We shall see our commerce and our ideas penetrating and controlling the West Indies and the East Indies. Our scholars, our missionaries, our preachers, our books, and our business, will have a deep entrance into the world of Asia. We are now the chief branch of what men call the Anglo-Saxon race, and whatever greatness we have already achieved is hardly to be mentioned by the side of the grandeur that awaits us before the close of the next century.

“The expansion has already come. America is no longer a babe in the wood, but the foremost of western nationalities, and the sight to-day of our people for the first time thoroughly united, contemplating expectantly and in no shallow and trifling temper, the greater destinies to which God is calling is a hopeful and inspiriting spectacle.

“I wish to express my confidence, reborn out of what I have seen in the Orient, and out of what I have seen in more than thirty thousand miles of travel in nearly all parts of our country, wherein during the last fifteen months I have been able to touch the vital centers of American thought and character—my confidence that this land ‘to human nature dear;’ this land which is not unbeloved of God; that this Republic, filled with God-fearing and man-loving people; that this Nation, proud and grateful for a history reaching from Plymouth Harbor to Manila Bay, is no longer to be treated as a foundling, but is the strongest and most chivalrous knight, equipped for valiant service in the kingdom of God, to be seen on the face of the earth.

“I have felt the pulse of National Christian conventions; I have had my Americanism refortified; I have entered the homes of men and women who pray to God for our country, the home of many a Christian pastor, East and West; and the home of the Christian President at Washington; I have talked with scholars, statesmen, far-sighted editors, university professors, devoted women, whose hearts are aflame with the purest patriotism; I have faced many thousands of college students and Christian ministers and candidates for the ministry. [243] I have stood by the grave of the mighty American dead, as more than a year ago I stood by the graves of American missionaries in India, beneath the rustle of the palm tree and the light of the Southern Cross; I have seen in the last six months a puissant nation rousing herself from sleep and shaking once more her invincible locks, and those timid and pessimistic teachers who are warning us to beware of our destiny and shrink back from it misconceive and underrate the mighty and noble spirit of the American people.”

Thus it is seen not only that he is still pushing forward his idea of a world’s religion, but that he is enlisting in the enterprise this “greater America” which he describes. And she, with her united people, her greater army and navy, her combinations of Christian teachers, and Christian scholars, and Christian professors, and Christian preachers, and Christian president, is already dubbed “the strongest and most chivalrous knight, equipped for valiant service in the kingdom of God, to be seen on the face of the earth.” And thus this nation is expected to take the lead in turning this world into the kingdom of God.

There can be no doubt at all that in all this Dr. Barrows has rightly gauged the “Christian” public opinion of the United States, for this is exactly the new phase that the theocratic combinations already formed, might properly be expected to take on; it is strictly in their line of things; and as marking the progress of the National Reform elements of the country, it is a distinct sign of the times.

A. T. J.

Share this: