Page images
PDF
EPUB

merce? Would you reserve none to tract, Bible or missionary societies ?

"But the pulpit has done more for peace than your peace societies.'-—Be it so; but because it has done a hundred fold more for missions, is the missionary society of no use? Did not the pioneers of that cause first wake the pulpit to its duty in behalf of a perishing world ? Do not its labors now constitute an integral part of the missionary enterprise ? Just so of peace. It has prompted ministers of the gospel to do nearly all they have ever done on the subject, and their labors in this cause, as in that of missions, have become part and parcel of the movement; but what should we think of the Christian who would urge this fact as a reason why nothing more should be done for the missionary cause? • Ministers are at work in its behalf; let us therefore abandon it.' Strange logic; yet the very same that even good men sometimes use in order to neutralize the claims of peace.

"But the press, by the multitude of its brief, pithy articles, is doing more than the peace society to prevent war.'-Grant, if you please, this position also; yet it was the peace society that first enlisted the press in this work, and has furnished nearly every thing hitherto published on the subject in our newspapers and other periodicals. Services of this sort may all be traced, directly or indirectly, to the cause of peace as the main-spring.

"Rulers, too, are coming to your aid.—True again; but they did not generally alter their course until the friends of peace pressed its claims upon them, or diffused among the people such views as effectually demanded a pacific instead of a warlike policy. The change in their measures has resulted mainly from the influences set at work by the associated friends of peace.

But the world has grown too wise to repeat its old game of war.'-So have vast multitudes become too wise to taste the drunkard's drink; but where did they learn this wisdom? In the school of temperance. If nations are now too wise to play the suicidal game of war, whence came this wisdom? Was it not from the cause of peace? If not, how came all Christendom to put this wisdom in practice just at the time, and only since the time, when our enterprise began ?

But the wars of Napoleon taught a lesson too terrible to be forgotten soon, if ever.'—Terrible indeed they were, but little more so than some previous wars which nevertheless did not long restrain Europe from the sword. The superior efficacy of the last lesson has resulted less from its own nature than from the speciai efforts made by the friends of peace to impress it on the public mind; and without such efforts, that lesson would long ago have lost its power to hold even Christendom back from blood. Why did not the Thirty Years War,' which early in the seventeenth century made the very heart of Europe a wilderness, teach its nations their present policy, and even prevent the rise of such a monster as Napoleon ?

But nations now understand their own interests much better than formerly, and perceive far more clearly the advantages of peace, and the evils of war.'- It may be so; but this they always knew well enough for every practical purpose ; and if their knowledge is now greater or more influential than formerly, it is mainly because the friends of peace have so often and so earnestly inculcated this truth upon them.

• After all, however, there is little principle in this new policy of peace; in pursuing it, nations have an eye solely to their own interests.'—Be it so, if you please ; but if they actually discard war, and make peace their permanent policy, we shall not quarrel with them about their motives. All we seek is the peace of the world; and, if men will for any reason cease from war, we gain our whole object.

This they are doing; and since the leading influences of the age are so fast setting in favor of peace, there is no need of any more efforts in this cause.'—We rejoice in the fact here stated; but nearly all the influences of the world were on the side of war until the friends of peace united to turn the current. Look through Christendom; and you will find not only its thirty years of peace, but nearly all its changes of opinion ir. favor of our object, as fairly attributable to the cause of peace, as the progress of temperance is to that cause, or the spread of the gospel to missionary efforts. True, God has lent his aid to the work; but this disproves neither its success nor its necessity. Can any enterprise succeed without his smiles ? Does his blessing supersede means ? Because he works, is there no need of man's agency? In every enterprise which God designs to render successful, he raises up a variety of auxiliary influences; but these, so far from superseding the cause itself, only form his part of the movement, and insure its ultimate triumph by the pledge of his approbation and blessing.

Let us not imagine, then, that our work is already done. Done! it is only begun, and will require ages to finish it. We have not yet beaten swords into plough-shares, but merely kept them in their scabbards. We have not killed the monster; we have only caged and chained him. The war-gangrene still cankers the heart of Christendom, and poisons the very fountains of its morality and religion. The whole war-system still remains; and the magazine needs only a spark to kindle such an explosion as would convulse the civilized world. The war-spirit, so far from being extinct, merely sleeps; and the demon waits only a sufficient provocation to unkennel his blood-hounds, and send them howling in rage as fierce, and havoc as terrible as ever, over the fairest fields of Christendom itself. We have as yet no perfect security ; nor can we ever have until nations shall give up the war-principle of adjusting their differences by the sword, and establish in its place a permanent system of rational, legal, peaceful adjudication.

Thanks to the God of peace for the cheering success thus far vouchsafed; but this should only stimulate to still greater exertions. No other enterprise has done more, if so much, in proportion to the means used. Contrast these means with the results already reached

During the first twenty-five years from the origin of this cause, its receipts through Christendom did not probably average more than four thousand dollars a year; while the war-system was annually costing Christendom, in one way and another, more than one thousand millions! Less for peace in twenty-five years than for the war-system, even in peace, a single hour!! Yet this mere pittance, spent in the use of moral means, in a right application of the gospel to the case, has under God done more than all the myriads wasted on her war-system, to preserve the peace of Christendom the last thirty years.

What encouragement, then, to efforts in this cause! Let the requisite means be used ; and ultimate, if not speedy success is certain. Let the gospel, wherever preached, be rightly applied to war; let the press, in the ubiquity and power of its influence, be fully enlisted in behalf of this enterprise; let editors not only lend their columns to its advocacy, but indite articles of their own in its behalf; let the pulpit open its moral battery, and pour upon the public mind volley after volley of God's truth on this subject; let ministers of every name take the cause under their patronage, and labor for it as they do for temperance or missions ; let Christians as a body come up to this work in earnest and take hold of it as their own; let the friends of this object organize themselves into societies or committees to co-operate with us by raising funds, procuring lectures, and circulating our publications ; let churches remember this cause as they do others in their prayers, and contribute regularly and liberally to its funds ; let the friends of peace spontaneously unite in petitioning government to provide, in arbitration or a congress of nations, ample substitutes for the sword; let all that deprecate a calamity so fearful, combine at once to resist any and every war that may hereafter be threatened ;let all this be done, and we may see war ere-long vanishing, like dew before the rising sun, from every land blest with the light of the gospel, and eventually all nations beating their swords into plough-shares, their spears into pruning-hooks, and learning war no more.

Such a result must come, for God has promised it; yet never can it come without the use of such means as he has appointed for the purpose. The gospel must be applied aright to the case. Here is our work; and fain would we press all good men into it. Ministers must preach; Christians must pray; the eloquent must plead; the poor must give their mite, and the rich their hundreds, if not their thousands. The cause requires a system of operations incomparably more expensive than that of Prison Discipline; and yet upon this did John Howard spend from his own purse an average of nearly ten thousand dollars a year for more than fifteen years in succession. Oh for some Howard or Thornton to rise, and give his thousands and tens of thousands to this blessed work of a world's entire, perpetual pacification !

AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.

WASTE OF PROPERTY BY WAR.

The value of property can be estimated only by the purposes it may subserve. It supports life, procures comforts, and furnishes means of improvement, happiness and salvation. These uses measure its value; and in this view it has been made, by writers on political economy, an index to the prosperity of a nation, and a criterion of its capacity for enjoyment and usefulness.

War is the grand impoverisher of the world. In estimating its havoc of property, we must inquire not only how much it costs, and how much it destroys, but how far it prevents the acquisition of wealth ; and a full answer to these three questions would exhibit an amount of waste beyond the power of any imagination adequately to conceive. Such an answer we shall not now attempt, but merely glance, first, at the prevention of wealth by war, next its incidental havoc, and finally its direct expenses.

I. Consider, then, how war prevents the accumulation of property. Its mere uncertainties must operate as a very serious hindrance; for, while every thing is afloat, and no forecast can anticipate what changes may take place any month, men will not embark in those undertakings by which alone wealth is rapidly acquired. They shrink from the risk, and wisely wait to see what is coming; and thus the main-springs of a nation's prosperity,-its capital, its enterprise, and its best facilities for making money,-remain comparatively idle and useless. This cause alone, an invariable attendant upon war, is sufficient to paralyze the energies of business in all its departments.

Still worse, however, are the sudden changes of war. These precede its commencement, accompany its progress, and follow its close, baffling the utmost precaution, keeping business unsettled, and actually wasting, as well as preventing, a large amount of property. They discourage enterprise, defeat the best plans, and produce a vast multitude of failures. They may, here and there, make a fortune; but, where they make one, they ruin or mar a hundred. The mere dread of such changes must paralyze,

P. T. NO. XIV.

more or less, every department of business, and cripple nearly all efforts for the acquisition of wealth.

Hence ensue a general derangement and stagnation of business, Nearly all its departments are either thrown into confusion, or brought entirely to a stand; and thus the main energies of a people, even if not absorbed in war, must either rust in idleness, or be frittered away in baffled schemes, and fruitless exertions.

Mark the inevitable result in the disuse or unprofitable employment of capital, industry and skill in commerce and manufactures, in agriculture, the various arts, and all departments of labor and enterprise. These are the great fountains of wealth ; but in war they are either dried up, or forced into new and unproductive channels. Capital, as in the case of Holland during the late wars of Europe, (1793–1815,) is locked up, or sent out of the country, because there are at home so few opportunities of profitable or safe investment. Enterprise is checked, because there is so little reward or demand for its products. There is no foreign market for the fruits of agriculture; and land ceases to be tilled with care and success. There is no outlet for manufactures; and the shop and the factory are closed, or kept at work with little vigor and less profit. Intercourse between nations is almost suspended; and commerce stands still, vessels rot at the wharves, and sea-ports, once alive with the hum of business, are cut off from the principal sources of their wealth, and sink into speedy, perhaps irrecoverable decay. All the main-springs of national prosperity are broken, or crippled, or kept in operation at immense disadvantage. An incalculable amount of capital in money, and ships, and stores, and factories, and workshops, and machinery, and tools, and raw materials, and buildings, and inventions, and canals, and railways, and industry, and skill, and talent, is withdrawn from use, and, for want of profitable employment, goes more or less to waste. How much is thus lost, it would be vain even to conjecture; but we should be safe in supposing that in these ways war might, besides all it spends, and all it destroys, reduce for a time the value of a nation's entire property from thirty to fifty per cent.!

But the most direct influence of war on national prosperity, comes from the sudden withdrawal of men in the vigor of life. In such men are found the mines or laboratories of a nation's wealth ; but what multitudes of these

« PreviousContinue »