A master-motive swayed the minds of sinful men and a zeal to save other souls occupied the moments not devoted to the perfection of their own. The new dispensation made any other superfluous. As Tertullian said: Investigation since the Gospel is no longer necessary. "Does your skin roughen without baths? Who is once washed in the blood of Christ needs not wash again."
Through the ages this has been the master-motive, the supreme argument. Then, again, the Master could not count upon the coöperation of the Spirit in His convicting power, as we can. "When He is come, He will convict the world of sin"; but He did not come till after that brief career of public ministry had closed.
Each part is etched with equal effort after luminous effect upon a back-ground of lurid darkness; and the whole play is made up of these parts, without due concentration on a master-motive.
No attempt has been made in this book, and none shall be made, to represent him as a hero. But there are certain attributes which malice itself can scarcely deny him. All his ideals were generous. His love of country, the master-motive in his life, had nothing in it exclusive or tribal or partisan.
Such is the master-motive that at first sight appears to underlie the book, in spite of its name; such is the most evident aspect of the story, as our thought brushes freely and rapidly around it. In this drama the war and the peace are episodic, not of the centre; the historic scene is used as a foil and a background.