The following sermon, regarding the Pullman railroad stike and conflict, was preached in the First Universalist Church of Oakland on Sunday, July 8th, 1894, by the pastor, Rev. S. Goodenough:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
The revised version has it" "Peace among men, in whom he is well pleased." Better yet, I think, is the marginal note: "And on earth peace, good pleasure among men."
The burden of the announcement is --not the good will of God toward men, of which there should never have been a doubt --but good will, harmony, brotherhood among men. There is just as much warrant for rendering it "good will among men," as "good will toward men."
Of this we most of all want assurance. I repeat, there ought never to have been a doubt of the good will of God, but there may well have been, and there may be reasonable doubt of good will among men --that the harmony of brotherhood will ever reign supreme. The history of the world is a story of aggression, turmoil, violence and selfishness in large part. If any intelligence or prescience in earth or heaven could give assurance of an era of peace and good will, it would be supremely welcome. If ever there is to be an era of peace and good will among men, it must be an era of justice, brotherhood and the dominion of truth. It remains true to-day, as it was true of old: "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." What is most imminent to-day --the exaltation that comes of righteousness or the reproach that comes of sin?
O that everyone could understand that peace and safety are impossible except upon the basis of right! O that everyone could understand that nothing is ever settled until it is settled right. If greed and selfishness gain their ends by the solid impact of remorseless force to-day, it is only to join battle again to-morrow.
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again" and more mighty than before defeat. There is but one method to attain peace and harmony, and that is by eliminating forever the wrong from our social system and body politic. So long as there is wrong there will be war. So long as there is injustice there will be conflict. So long as man is man and bears the image of God he will do as God does: he will sternly antagonize and crush the wrong.
Not even the United States Government, with all its vast power --power before which the mightiest nations of the earth would retreat --can settle the issue that is raised in our land to-day, unless its interference is upon the basis, and according to the eternal principles of justice. Our rulers may be drunk with the intoxication of power; they may be deceived by the terrible potency of the enginery which they control; but let them be warned. There is no nation on earth nor all nations combined, can enthrone and maintain a wrong. Sooner or later governments will be crushed like eggshells that shall dare such an attempt.
Hence I say to every one, for the President in the executive chair of this great nation down to the humblest striker in the present struggle, "Be sure you are right before you go ahead." Ultimately nothing but disaster ever comes of wrong. The one safe method is that counseled by St. James iii:18: "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace." Fruit means seed. the fruit of tree or plant always contains the seed. Hence the apostle intended to say, "The seed of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace."
It means that we cannot make peace any other way; we cannot grow it from any other than the seed of righteousness. It never was and never will be produced by the root of evil.
The root of evil in the present emergency is the love of money. I may not be able to comment more at length upon this point, but I think you will agree with me that the love of money is the root of the present great ever-shadowing evil --evil that drapes the very heavens with sackcloth and makes them angry with the threat of danger.
I have announced as my topic for this discourse "Halt! Let us have Peace!" and I promised some consideration of the Christian duty in the present emergency. We need a watchword in this crisis. Let me five you one.
Remember the Golden Rule. There is infinite danger from kindled passion. I am full of apprehension lest irritation should grow to madness. Necessarily, the situation is hourly becoming more strained. Human nerve and temper are soon worn sensitive by such rasping as present conditions inflict. At any moment some one less level headed, less calmly self-possessed may lose balance and fire the fateful shot or speak the exasperating word. Then what? Look for your answer to the effect of an electric spark in a powder magazine! An explosion that will convulse the country from ocean to ocean.
Whence is there danger of the spark? We all know where the powder magazine is located, viz: in the bosom of the people -the passions of the multitude. But what will fire them? At this moment it looks as if it would be done by the government itself. I looks all too much as if the present incumbents of high governmental positions have a very inadequate conception of the nature and (INCOMPLETE; MORE TO BE ADDED HERE)
Let us first see if we can understand it. Is it merely wielding the supreme force of the nation --or is it that and something more --something before? Good government is much more that the mere exercise of authority with the necessary backing of force. Simple authority with the necessary force might be only despotism --crushing oppression. The officers of government are charged with the exercise of supreme authority indeed, but how? According to law and justice; otherwise it is tyranny. What is government? It is defined as "the act of governing, the exercise of authority, the administration of the affairs of state."
(INCOMPLETE; MORE TO BE ADDED HERE) There is a story told In Eastern tents, when autumn nights grow cold, And round the fire the Mongol shepherds sit With grave responses listening unto it. Once, on the errands of his mercy bent, Buddha, the holy and benevolent, Met a fell monster, huge and fierce of look, Whose awful voice the hills and forests shook, "O son of peace!O the giant cried, "thy fate Is sealed at last, and love shall yield to hate." The unarmed Buddha looking, with no trace Of fear and anger, in the monster's face, In pity said, "Poor fiend, even thee I love." Lo! as he spake the sky-tall terror sank To hand-breadth size; the huge abhorrence shrank Into the form and fashion of a dove And where the thunder of its rage was heard, Circling above him sweetly sang the bird: "Hate hath no harm for love," so ran the song, "And peace unweaponed conquers every wrong!" --Whittier, Disarmament