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early disciples before the church became degenerate, ever engaged in war, or any thing like it, but the very reverse.
9. Christians, in the warmest glow of their love to God and man, shrink with instinctive horror from the deeds of cruelty and blood essential to war; nor can they, in such a state of mind, perpetrate them without doing violence to their best feelings.
10. Converts from paganisin, in the simplicity of their first faith, have, not only without the guidance, but even in opposition to the previous views of the missionaries, understood the gospel as forbidding all war. Such was remarkably the case in the South Sea Islands; and the fact goes far to prove, that no mind, not under the hereditary delusions of war, would ever find in the gospel any license for its manifold abominations.
But let the New Testament speak for itself. It may forbid war either by a direct condemnation of it, or by the prohibition of its* moral elements, the things which go to constitute war; and we contend that the gospel does forbid it in both these ways.
I. Note first its erpress condemnation of war. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence even of your lusts?” James iv. 1. We cannot well conceive a denunciation more direct or more decisive. Our Savior before Pilate declared, “ if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight; but now is my kingdom not from hence.” John xviii. 36. A most unequivocal condemnation of war as inconsistent with Christianity. “Follow peace with all men.” Heb. xii. 14. Or, as it is in the original, seek earnestly, with all your might, after peace not only with your own countrymen, but with foreigners; not with your friends alone, but with your enemies, with the whole human race. What language could, if these passages do not, condemn all war as unchristian ?
II. But look at the still more decisive mode of forbidding war by the condemnation of its moral elements. The gospel puts them all under ban. Every species of war contravenes the fundamental principle of Christianity. This principle is, enmity subdued by love, evil evercome with good, injury requited by kindness. It pervades the whole New Testament; it is the soul of the Christian system. It was on this principle alone our Savior came from heaven to the cross, and his Apostles went from continent to continent, through fire and blood, for the salvation of a lost race, The peculiar precepts of the gospel all rest on this principle; nor can we take it away without subverting the entire fabric of Christianity. But this principle is incompatible with war in any form, because war always aims to overcome evil with evil, to return injury for injury, to subdue our enemies by making them wretched, to inflict on our assailants the very evils they meditate against us, to save our own life, property and happiness by sacrificing theirs. Such is war in its best form; but, if this be not a contradiction of the gospel, we know not what is, and challenge you to conceive a principle more directly opposed to that which lies at the foundation of Christianity.
But the gospel condemns in detail the moral elements of war.
“Lay aside all malice; and let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger be put away.-Avenge not yourselves. Recompense to no man evil for evil. See that none render evil for evil unto any man. Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal ?-Now, the works of the flesh are these: hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, sedition, envyings, murders, revellings, and such like.” Need any one be told, that the things here denounced, are inseparable from war, and constitute its very essence? What! war without malice or hatred, without bitterness, wrath oranger, without division or strife, without variance, emulation or murder! Nations go to war without avenging themselves, and rendering evil for evil!
The gospel, however, still more fully condemns war by enjoining what is inconsistent with it. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;" and the parable of the Good Samaritan makes every human being our neighbor. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor ; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind ; seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked ; thinketh no evil; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.—Do good unto all men. Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.—By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Have peace one with another. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness. Put on bowels of mercies, kindness, peaceableness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you. The wisdom which is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated.-Blessed are the poor in spirit—the meek—the merciful—the peace-makers.-Resist not evil ; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Overcome evil with good. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you."
Now, do not such passages convey a most unequivocal condemnation of war in all its forms ? Love thy neighbor as thyself—by shooting and stabbing him! Love workelh no ill to his neighbor. The soldiers only business in any war is to do his neighbor all the ill he can. Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you. Would you like to have them burn your dwelling over your head, butcher your whole family, and then send a bullet or a bayonet through your own heart? Love your enemies, and do them good. War teaches us to hate them, and do them all the evil in our power. Forgive as Christ forgives. Do soldiers forgive in this way? Avenge not yourselves. War is a system of avowed and studied vengeance. If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. Is war ever waged on this principle? Can it be without ceasing to be war?
We know well the plea, that these precepts are addressed to individuals, not to governments; but we challenge the slightest proof from the New Testament, that one government, in its inter course with another, is exempt from these obligations, or author
ized to exempt its subjects from them.-We are also told, that many of these passages are obviously figurative. True ; but they mean something. What then do they mean? Resist not evil, turn the other cheek to the smiter,- overcome evil with good. Do such passages mean to allow bombardment, pillage, devastation, slaughter? If not, they do not allow war. Love your enemies, and do them good. Does this mean, ruin their commerce, sink their fleets, burn their villages, plunder their cities, blow out their brains? So of all the precepts we have quoted; no possible construction can make them allow any form of war.
War is confessedly a bad business; and, if we must have it, and still wish its work of blood and vengeance performed according to the gospel, its deeds of hell executed in the spirit of heaven, then must we change its agents, and, instead of such villains and desperadoes as Napoleon wanted for warriors, instead of releasing felons, as England has been wont, from the prison and the gallows, on condition of their becoming soldiers, we must select from the church her best members,-her deacons and elders, her pastors, rectors and bishops, -as the only men that can, if any body can, rob, and burn, and ravage, and murder by wholesale, all without malice, from motives of pure benevolence, in a Christian way! as Paul, or Gabriel, or Christ himself would have done it !! If unfit for such hands, then is the whole business of war unchristian. So the warrior himself confesses; for Napoleon's maxim was, the worse the man, the better the soldier,' and Wel. lington expressly says, 'a man of nice scruples about religion, has no business to be a soldier.'
Here is a fair test. If war is right for us, it must have been equally so for our Savior; but can you conceive the Prince of Peace, or one of his Apostles, leading forth an army to their work of plunder, blood and devastation? Can you point to a modern field of battle on which Christ or Paul would have been in his element amidst fire, and blood, and groans, and dying curses ? Can you show us a war begun from Christian motives, conducted on Christian principles, pervaded throughout with a Christian spirit? Is there a Christian way of burning villages, and plunderIng cities, of perpetrating the wholesale butcheries of the battlefield, and hurling thousands after thousands of guilty souls into the eternal world? Does the gospel tell us how to do such things aright-how Apostles, how Christ himself would have done them? If not, then is war utterly incompatible with that gospel which proclaims peace on earth as one of its first and most glorious peculiarities; whose Founder. was the Prince of Peace; whose promised reign on earth is to be a reign of universal peace; whose followers are all required to overcome evil with good, to love even their enemies, and imitate the blessed example of Him who reviled not his revilers, returned no curse for the many curses heaped upon him by his crucifiers, but prayed on his cross, “ Father, forgive them; they know not what they do."
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
INSENSIBILITY TO THE EVILS OF WAR.*
· BY WM. E. CHANNING, D. D.
- I now proceed to point out some causes of that insensibility to the evils of war, so common in the world, and so common even among those from whom better things might be hoped ; and this I do, not to gratify a love of speculation, but in the belief, that this insensibility will be resisted and overcome, in proportion as its sources shall be explained.
I. Among its chief causes, one undoubtedly is the commonness of war. This hardens us to its evils. Its horrors are too familiar to move us, unless they start up at our own door. How much more would they appal us, were they rare? If the history of the race were, with one solitary exception, a history of peace, concord, brotherly love; if but one battle had been fought in the long succession of ages; if from the bosom of profound tranquillity, two armies, on one fatal day, had sprung forth and rushed together for mutual destruction; if but one spot on earth had been drenched with human blood shed by human hands—how different would be our apprehensions of war! What a fearful interest would gather round that spot! How would it remain deserted, dreaded, abhorred! With what terrible distinctness would the leaders of those armies stand out as monsters, not men! How should we confound them with Moloch, and the fiercest fallen spirits! Should we not feel, as if, on that mysterious day, the blessed influences of Heaven h:d been intercepted, and a demoniacal frenzy had been let loose on the race?
And has war, in becoming common, lost its horrors ? Is it less terrible because its Molochs crowd every page of history, and its woes and crimes darken all nations and all times? Do base or ferocious passions less degrade and destroy, because their victims are unnumbered? If indeed, the evils of war were only physical, and were inevitable, we should do well to resign ourselves to that kindly power of habit which takes the edge from oft-repeated pains. But moral evils, evils which may be, and ought to be shunned, which have their spring in human will, which our higher powers are given us to overcome, these it is a crime unresistingly to endure. The frequency and strength of these are more urgent reasons for abhorring and withstanding them. Reflection should be summoned to resist the paralyzing power of habit. From principle, we should cherish a deeper horror of war, because its “ sword devours forever.”
* This tract, so full of noble sentiments, touches some points on which there s diversity of' opinion among the friends of peace; but it will be borne in mind, that the Peace Society lends no countenance to war in any case --Ed.
P. T. NO. XXXIII,
II. A second cange of insensibility to the evils of war, and one of immense power, is the common and almost universal belief, that the night of war belongs to civil government. Let us be just to human nature. The idea of Right has always mixed itself with war, and this has kept out of view the real character of most of the conflicts of nations. The sovereign, regarding the right of war as an essential attribute of sovereignty, has on thiy ground ascribed a legitimacy to all national hostilities, and has never drearned that in most of his wars he was a murderer. So the subject has thought himself bound to obey his sovereign, and, on this ground, has acquitted himself of crime, has perhaps imputed to himself merit, in fighting and slaughtering for the defence of the most iniquitous claims. Here lies the delusion which we should be the most anxious to remove. It is the legality, ascribed to war on account of its being waged by government, which produces insensibility to its horrors and crimes. When a notorious robber, seized by Alexander, asked the conqueror of the world, whether he was not a greater robber than himself, the spirit of the hero repelled the title with indignation. And why 80 ? Had he not, without provocation or cause, spoiled cities and realms, whilst the robber had only plundered individuals and single dwellings? Had he not slaughtered'ten thousand innocent fellow-creatures for one victim who had fallen under the robber's knife? And why then did the arch-robber disclaim the name, and seriously believe, that he could not justly be confounded with ruffians? Because he was a King, the head of a state, and, as such, authorized to make war. Here was the shelter for his conscience and his fame. Had the robber, after addressing his question to Alexander, turned to the Macedonian soldier, and said to him, “ Are you not too, a greater robber than I? Have not your hands been busier in pillage? Are they not dyed more deeply in innocent blood ? " The unconscious soldier, like his master, would have repelled the title; and why? “I am a subject," he would have replied, “ and bound to obey my sovereign; and, in fulfilling a duty, I cannot be sunk to the level of the most hated criminal.” Thus king and subject take refuge in the right of war which is supposed to inhere in sovereignty, and thus the most ter-, rible crimes are perpetrated with little reproach.
I need not tell you, that there are Christians who, to strip war of this pretext or extenuation, deny that this right exists; who teach, that Jesus Christ has wrested the sword from the magistrate as truly as from the private man. On this point I shall not now enter. I believe, that more good may be done, in the present instance, by allowing to government the right of war. I still maintain, that inost wars bring the guilt of murder on the government by whom they are declared, and on the soldier by whom they are carried on, so that our sensibility ought in no degree to be impaired by the supposed legitimacy of national hostilities.
I will allow, that government has the right of war. But a right has bounds; and when these are transgressed by us, it ceases to