Beating Spears into Pruning Hooks

What a necessary companion to the Christian pilgrim is hope! In fact, in one of Thomas Fuller's sparkling apothegms we read, "He that wants hope is the poorest man alive." Hope, dictionaries inform us, must be the desire for good, accompanied by expectation; and with what longing and hoping for a better world and a more ordered society, should we turn the pages of a new year. Certainly the hopes and prayers of all right-thinking men and women are centered, at this moment, upon the council table of the United Nations. Not only should devout people desire, but they should confidently expect the fulfillment at this enlightened hour of the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah (Isa. 2:4, Mic. 4:3) that swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, and that men and nations shall learn war no more.

Now a pruning hook is used primarily to cut from trees withered or superfluous branches or twigs. Might not some pruning in individual consciousness prove a worthy step in the great work of bringing lasting peace to earth? Mortals are prone to look for the correction of an error everywhere but in their own thinking. Who has not heard of the proud mother who exclaimed, as she saw her son marching by with his company, "Why, everybody is out of step but our boy!" Therefore, before one can expect the universal metamorphosis from swords and spears to plowshares and pruning hooks, it would be well to look deep into one's own heart and begin pruning, cutting away, some of the unlovely concepts of the human mind which make for discord.

The Stability of Our Times
January 4, 1947

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