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Church and State, under Constantine, early in the fourth century.
JEREMY TAYLOR holds war to be incompatible with the gospel. “ The Christian religion hath made no particular provision for the conduct of war, under a proper title; and, if men be subjects of Christ's law, they can never go to war with each other. As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, tyranny to charity, so is war and bloodshed to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion; and such is the excellency of Christ's doctrine, that, if men would obey it, Christians would never war one against another.”
Bishop WATSON exclaims, “ Would to God that the spirit of the Christian religion would exert its influence over the hearts of individuals in their public capacity, as much as, we trust, it does over their conduct in private life! Then there would be no war. When the spirit of Christianity shall exert its proper influence over the minds of individuals, and especially over the minds of public men in their public capacities, war will cease throughout the Christian world."
Cecil assures us " there is something worse than the plunder of the ruffian, than the outrage of the ravisher, than the stab of the murderer. These are comparatively but the momentary evils of war. There is also a shocking moral appendage which naturally grows out of national conflicts. Instead of listening to the counsels of divine mercy, and concurring in the design of a kingdom of heaven set up on earth in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,' the spirit of warlike discord tends to entomb every such idea. It tends rather to set up something like a kingdom of hell, a reign of violence where destruction is the grand enterprise ; where the means of death and desolation are cultivated as a science; where invention is racked to produce ruin, and the performance of it is ennobled by public applause. Moloch seems once more enthroned; while ambition, revenge and oppression erect their banners amidst groans and tears, amidst cities desolated, or smoking in their ashes."
ROBERT HALL, the first preacher, if not the first mind of his age, has filled many a page with strains of eloquent. denunciations against war. “But how is it possible to give you an idea of its horrors ? Here you behold rich harvests, the bounty of heaven, and the reward of industry, consumed in a moment, or trampled under foot, while famine and pestilence follow in the steps of deso ation. There the
cottages of peasants given up to the flames; mothers expiring through fear not for themselves, but their infants; the inhabitants flying with their helpless babes in all directions, miserable fugitives on their native soil ! In another part you witness opulent cities taken by storm; the streets, where no sounds were heard but those of peaceful industry, filled on a sudden with slaughter and blood, resounding with the cries of the pursuing and the pursued; the palaces of nobles demolished, the houses of the rich pillaged, the chastity of virgin's and of matrons violated, and every age, sex and rank mingled in promiscuous massacre and ruin.”
“War is also the fruitful parent of crimes. It reverses, with respect to its objects, all the rules of morality It is nothing less than A TEMPORARY REPEAL OF THE PRINCIPLES OF VIRTUE. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are included. Whatever renders human nature amiable or respectable, whatever engages love or confidence, is sacrificed at its shrine.”
“ While the philanthropist is devising means to mitigate the evils, and augment the happiness of the world, the warrior is revolving in the gloomy recesses of his capacious mind, plans of future devastation and ruin. Prisons crowded with captives, cities emptied of their inhabitants, fields desolate and waste, are among his proudest trophies. The fabric of his fame is cemented with tears and blood; and, if his name is wafted to the ends of the earth, it is in the shrill cry of suffering humanity, in the curses and imprecations of those whom his sword has reduced to despair."
CHALMERS, one of the first minds that Scotland ever produced, is very full on this subject, and truly says, that “ the prophecy of universal peace will meet its accomplishment only by the activity of men, by the philanthropy of thinking and intelligent Christians. It is public opinion which in the long run governs the world ; and, while I look with confidence to a gradual revolution in the state of public opinion from the omnipotence of gospel truth working its silent but effectual way through the families of mankind, yet much may be done to accelerate the advent of perpetual and universal peace by a distinct body of men embarking their every talent and acquirement in the prosecution of this as a distinct object. This was the way in which, a few years ago, the British public were gained over to the cause of Africa; and it is in this way, I apprehend, that
the prophecy of universal peace will receive a speedier fulfilment."
Well does James, one of the most popular religious writers in England, deem “it high time for the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus to study the genius of their religion. A hatred of war is an ESSENTIAL feature of practical Christianity ; and it is a shame upon what is called the Christian world, that it has not long since borne universal and indignant testimony against that enormous evil which still rages not merely among savages, but among scholars, philosophers, Christians and divines. Real Christians should come out from the world on this subject, and touch not the unclean thing. Let them act upon their own principles, and become not only the friends but the advocates of Peace. Let ministers from the pulpit, writers from the press, and private Christians in their intercourse with each other and the world, inculcate a fixed and irreconcilable abhorrence of war. LET THE CHURCH OF GOD BE A SOCIETY FOR 'THE DIFFUSION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL Peace.”
In view of such testimonies, we cannot regard the cause of Peace as a trivial or a friendless enterprise. The greatest and the best men of every age have given it their full sanction, their warmest wishes; all the glorified spirits above are its deeply interested patrons ; God himself has taken it under his special care, and promised it eventual triumph through the world. It is the noblest enterprise that ever tasked the powers of man; and loudly does it call upon every friend of God and a bleeding race to come to its support.
Mark how far the extracts above go against war. They do not directly touch the vexed question concerning wars purely defensive; but they are strong against the whole warsystem, and would, if carried into practice, entirely demolish this enormous engine of guilt, bloodshed and misery. Breathe the spirit and sentiments of these extracts into the people of Christendom; and you work such a change in public opinion as would eré-long banish this custom from every land blest with the light of the gospel. Such is the change which the friends of peace are laboring to produce; and fain would we entreat every lover of his country, his species, or his God, to lend this cause his utmost aid.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
No. IV. WAR AND THE BIBLE.
The Bible is our only infallible guide ; and by it every custom must eventually be tried. Many have already been brought to this test; and it is high time for Christians to look at war in the light of revelation.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. War contravenes all such precepts. It sprang from paganism ; its spirit is essentially pagan still ; and its laws every where require soldiers to obey their officers rather than God himself. Does it not thus dethrone Jehovah from the hearts of an army? Are not soldiers notorious for their neglect of God? Can war be any thing else than a vast nursery of irreligion ? Every man, whether a private, an officer, or even a chaplain, is bound by his oath to yield implicit obedience to his superiors. He is not permitted to follow his conscience. A British officer was once cashiered by Protestants for refusing to join in what he deemed the idolatries of Popery ; nor must soldiers scruple, at the bidding of a superior, to commit the grossest outrages ever recorded in the annals of crime.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. War is a school of impiety and profaneness ; blasphemy is the well-known dialect of the army and navy; you can hardly enter a camp or a war-ship without meeting a volley of oaths, or find a warrior on land or sea who does not habitually blaspheme the name of God. An eye-witness, speaking of one of our own armies, says we should not wonder at their frequent defeats, “ if we could witness the drunkenness and debauchery from the general to the private, and hear them strive to outvie each other in uttering the most horrid imprecations and blasphemy, and ridiculing every thing like religion.”
Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. War scorns to acknowledge any Sabbath. Its battles are fought, its marches continued, its fortifications constructed, all its labors exacted, all its recreations indulged, quite as much on this as any other day of the week. It is the chosen time for special and splendid reviews; all the millions of soldiers in Christendom are compelled to violate the Sabbath ; and, where the war-spirit is rife, it will be found well nigh · irnpossible to preserve, in any degree of vigor, this main
spring of God's moral government over our world.
Thou shalt not commit adultery. War is a hotbed of the foulest licentiousness. It is deemed the soldier's privilege; and, wherever an army is encamped, a war-ship moored, or i city taken, he is permitted to indulge his lusts at will. In 1380, some English troops, while wind-bound near Portsmouth, and waiting for provisions, forcibly carried off men's wives and daughters; and, among other outrages, their commander went to a nunnery, and demanded admittance for his soldiers; and, being refused, they entered by violence, compelled the nuns to go with them, and afterwards threw them into the sea! When an English man-of-war was accidentally sunk near Spithead, she carried down with her no less than six hundred lewd women; and amidst the fires of captured Magdeburg and Moscow were heard continually the wild, despairing shrieks of ravished mothers and daughters. War is-a Sodom; and, could all its impurities be collected in one place, we might well expect another storm of fire and brimstone.
Thou shalt not steal. War is a system of legalized national robbery; the very same thing, only on a larger scale, and under the sanction of government, for which individuals are sent to the prison or the gallows. To plunder, burn, and destroy, is the soldier's professed business! At Hamburg, 40,000 persons were driven from their homes without clothes, money, or provisions, of which their enemies had despoiled them. “Out of a plentiful harvest,” says a Saxon nobleman, “not a grain is left. The little that remained, was consumed in the night fires, or was next morning, in spite of tears and prayers, wantonly burned by the laughing fiends. Not a horse, not a cow, not a sheep is now to be seen.” The French troops, on their return from Moscow, often destroyed every building for leagues together; and around Leipsic noihing was spared, neither the ox, nor the calf two days old, neither the ewe, nor the lamb scarcely able to walk, neither the brood-hen, nor the tender chicken. Whatever had life, was slaughtered; and even the meanest bedstead of the meanest beggar was carried off. All this accords with the laws of war; and every government, in its letters of marque and reprisal, licenses men to commit piracy at pleasure!
Thou shalt not kill. It is the very object, the main business of war to kill men. It is the most terrible engine ever contrived for the wholesale destruction of mankind;
incomparably more destructive to life than the inquisition · or the slave-trade, than famine, or pestilence, or any form