Home > Uncategorized > John Greenleaf Whittier: The Gospel of Christ is peace, not war, and love, not hatred

John Greenleaf Whittier: The Gospel of Christ is peace, not war, and love, not hatred


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

John Greenleaf Whittier: Selections on peace and war


John Greenleaf Whittier
The “Holy Experiment” of Arbitration
November 9, 1887

Dear Friend: It is a very serious disappointment to me that I am not able to be present at the welcome of the American Peace Society to the delegation from more than two hundred members of the British Parliament who favor international arbitration.

Few events have more profoundly impressed me than the presentation of this peaceful overture to the President of the United States. It seems to me that every true patriot who seeks the best interests of his country, and every believer in the Gospel of Christ, must respond to the admirable address of Sir Lyon Play fair and that of his colleagues who represent the workingmen of England.

We do not need to be told that war is always cruel, barbarous and brutal, whether urged with ball and bayonet by professed Christians or by heathen with club and boomerang.

We cannot be blind to its waste of life and treasure and the demoralization which follows in the train, nor cease to wonder at the spectacle of Christian nations exhausting all their resources in preparing to slaughter each other, with only here and there a voice like that of Count Tolstoy in the Russian wilderness, crying in heedless ears that the Gospel of Christ is peace, not war, and love, not hatred. The overture which comes to us from English advocates of arbitration is a cheering assurance that the tide of sentiment is turning in favor of peace among English-speaking peoples.

I cannot doubt that, whatever stump orators and newspapers may say for party purposes, the heart of America will respond to this generous proposal from our kin-folk across the water.

No two nations could be more favorably conditioned than England and the United States for making the “holy experiment” of arbitration. In our associations and kinship, our aims and interests, our common claims in the great names and splendid achievements of a common ancestry, we are essentially one people. Whatever other nations may do, we, at least, should be friends. God grant that this noble and generous appeal may not be made in vain. May it hasten the time when the only rivalry between us shall be the peaceful rivalry of progress and gracious interchange of good!

“When closer strand shall lean to strand
Till meet, beneath saluting flags,
The eagle of our mountain crags
The lion of our mother land.”

I am truly thy friend,
John G. Whittier

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