THIS is the question that is now agitating many minds in all parts of the civilized world, and no one is able to give it a conclusive answer. Two great “Christian” nations have had a serious falling out, and one of them has threatened the other with a possible settlement of their differences by force of arms. Both are standing upon their dignity, and announce that they are firmly resolved to maintain the same, by a careful avoidance of anything like a confession of being in the wrong.
The situation was very generally discussed by leading clergymen in their Sunday sermons, Dec. 22, and a number expressed themselves strongly concerning the unchristian spectacle which would be presented in the event of war. The Rev. Dr. John Hall, of the Fifth Ave. Presbyterian Church, New York, said that “nothing would cause more malignant satisfaction to the devil than the possibility of strife between two such great Christian nations as ours, and that with which we are most closely associated by ties of blood and kindred interests.” Rev. Francis E. Mason, of Brooklyn notice that “the world is in a state of commotion and war. Even our own Congress, the Congress of an avowed Christian nation, is this moment considering the purchase of 2,000,000 rifles.” And the Rev. L. A. Banks, of the same city, alluding to the idea of a forcible annexation of Canada, which would be an inevitable outcome of hostilities, inquired: “Has a nation any more moral right to steal a State than a private citizen to steal an overcoat or a watch?” He might also with equal pertinency have inquired whether a nation has any more moral right than a private citizen has to kill people who stand in the way of its covetous or ambitious designs.
It is pleasing to note that the leading  clergymen of the country, with some exceptions, stand firmly for the maintenance of peace, and that the “sober second thought” of the people has turned largely in this direction. Still, as has been pointed out, a nation may be led into war against the wishes of the majority of its people. In the present case, it is evident that both in England and America the people almost universally deprecate the idea of war; but—there are certain things a “Christian” nation cannot sacrifice even to avert war. A “Christian” nation must at all costs maintain its dignity. A backdown,—a confession of being in the wrong, is not to be thought of on either side; at least not from any other motive than that of fear of the consequences. And here lies the danger. Have these two great “Christian” nations, through the action of their chief representatives, taken a definite antagonistic stand on the question of controversy? If they have, then war seems inevitable, notwithstanding the natural aversion of the people thereto; for must not a “Christian” nation fight rather than acknowledge itself in the wrong? Certainly—to voice the general sentiment—it must.
Hence both nations will await with anxiety the result of the commission to be appointed by President Cleveland to make an investigation which will settle the question of the duty of the United States. Meanwhile suggestions are being made by peace-loving people, of means which they think still open to this nation or to England to avoid a conflict without any loss of dignity. It is possible, and certainly devoutly to be hoped, that events may furnish such a solution of the difficulty. But in case they do not, and it remains either to confess or to fight, then these two “Christian” nations will lay hold of all the carnal weapons they can command, and kill, maim, burn, batter down, and in general do their best to disable each other, in order that their “Christian” dignity may be maintained!
Can we not see that all talk about this or any other nation being Christian, in a governmental sense, is nonsense?