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and coincidence of interests, the various nations composing the civilized quarters of the globe, have mutually elevated and instructed, and are every day, mutually elevating and instructing one another. Thought and invention, in any one nation, exist for the common benefit of all.
It is impossible not to perceive, that the extension of these influences among the mass of mankind must, even in Europe, tend to diminish the recurrence of war, not only from the reasons and consequences already urged, but also from the actual state of European soldiery; the necessary result of their education, their habits, and their relations to society. We can scarcely form an idea of the degraded moral and intellectual condition of the mere soldiery of Europe. Their own statesmen and historians seem at a loss to express their abhorrence of the whole class. makes thieves,” says Machiavel, who was himself no enemy to the profession, and peace hangs them. For those who know not how to get their bread in any other way, when they are disbanded and out of employ, disdaining poverty and obscurity, are forced to have recourse to such ways of supporting themselves, as generally bring them to the gallows." The experience of our own day is not very different. And what better can be expected from men sold like slaves from one despot to another, contracting to do the work of murder for hire, careless for whom, indifferent against whom, or for what ?
It is impossible, without recurrence to feelings and sentiments of a higher and purer nature than those induced by common life, to do justice to the deep moral depravity, and the cruel, bloodstained scenes of ordinary warfare. Alas! how must they be viewed by higher intelligences! Imagine one of these celestial spirits bent on this great purpose, descending upon our globe, and led by chance to an European plain at the point of some great battle. On a sudden, the field of combat opens on his astonished vision. It is a field which men call glorious. A hundred thousand warriors stand in opposing ranks. Light gleams on their burnished steels. Their plumes and banners wave. Hill echoes to hill the noise of moving rank and squadron, the neigh and tramp of steeps, the trumpet, drum and bugle-call.
There is a momentary pause, a silence like that which precedes the fall of the thunderbolt, like that awful stillness which is precursor to the desolating rage of the whirlwind. In an instant, flash succeeding flash pours columns of smoke along the plain. The iron tempest sweeps, heaping man, horse and car in undistinguished ruin. In shouts of rushing hosts, in shock of breasting steeds, in peals of musketry, in the roar of artillery, in the clash of sabres, in thick and gathering clouds of smoke and dust, all human eye, and ear, and sense are lost. Man sees not, but the sign of onset. Man hears not, but the cry of onward !
Not so the celestial stranger. His spiritual eye unobscured by artificial night, his spiritual ear unaffected by mechanic noise, witness the real scene, naked in all its cruel horrors. He sees
lopped and bleeding limbs scattered; gashed, dismembered trunks outspread; gore-clotted, lifeless brains bursting from crushed skulls; blood gushing from sabred necks; severed heads whose mouths mutter rage amidst the palsying of the last agony. He hears the mingled cry of anguish and despair issuing from a thousand bosoms in which a thousand bayonets turn, the convulsive scream of anguish from heaps of mangled, half-expiring victims over whom the heavy artillery wheels lumber and crush into one mass, bone, and muscle, and sinew, while the fetlock of the warhorse drips with blood starting from the last palpitation of the burst heart on which his hoof pivots. “ This is not earth,” would not such a celestial stranger exclaim? “this is not earth,—this is hell! This is not man, but demon tormenting demon!”
Surely it needs no aid from prophecy, none from revelation, to foretel that such a custom, the greatest yet remaining curse and shame of our race, shall retire to be remembered only with a mingled sentiment of disgust and wonder, like the war-feast of the savage, like the perpetual slavery of captives, like the pledge of revenge in the skull-bowl of Odin, like the murder of helots in Greece, and of gladiators in Rome, like the witch-burnings, the Smithfield-fires, and St. Bartholomew-massacres of modern times.
If these anticipations have any color of hope amid the antique customs and thronged population of Europe, how just and how bright are they in this favored country, where God and nature combine to invite man to lay the foundations of a new and happy era for our race! How does the moral, intellectual and local condition of the United States combine to repress all the three causes “which prepare and dispose states for war,” first, by elevating and improving the condition of the people; secondly, by restraining the ambition of rulers; and thirdly, by rendering it easy, if we will, to expunge the entire class of “soldiers professed.”
The reasons of this belief, take with you into life. Carry them into the haunts of men, and press them upon all who guide and influence society. Make, if possible, a recognition of them a condition of political power. Above all, satisfy the people of their true interests. Show your fellow-citizens of this country, and the men of every other, that war is a game ever played for the aggrandizement of the few, and for the impoverishment of the many; that those who play it voluntarily, do it always for selfish, never for public purposes; that war-establishments are every where scions of despotism; that, when engrafted on republics, they always begin by determining the best sap to their own branch, and never fail to finish by withering every branch except their own. Be not discouraged. Set before your eyes the glorious nature of the object at which you aim. Absolute failure is impossible, because your purposes concur with all the suggestions of reason, with all the indications of nature, with all the testimony of history, and all the promises of religion.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
WAR UN CHRISTIAN.
The Bible, as the record of God's will, is the Christian's rule of duty. By this standard have a multitude of practices once current in Christendom, been already tried, and condemned as unchristian; every other usage of society, however hallowed by time, must eventually be brought to the same test; and we propose now to look at war in the light of revelation, and inquire whether the GOSPEL allows it in any case.
Let us first clear our way to this point. Many of the old arguments for war are too absurd or too cold-blooded to deserve a moment's consideration. It used to be gravely asserted, that war is a healthful stimulus to the body politic; that it tends, if it be not indispensable, to preserve nations from degeneracy; that it is the natural state of mankind, the general law of their being, and peace the exception; that it acts as a sewer to drain off the dregs of ignorance, vice and crime; that it is even necessary, like occasional depletion in the human frame, to prevent a superabundance of population and wealth. Such assumptions, however strange and savage, have been seriously maintained by eminent statesmen, philosophers and theologians; but, true or false, what have they to do with the question, whether the gospel sanctions war? Dramshops, gaming-houses and brothels serve in like manner to drain off the refuse of society ; but can such a fact prove that the Bible allows all the abominations practised in those purlieus of hell ?
We are told, however, that war furnishes employment and a livelihood for vast multitudes.—So does idolatry ; so does the slave-trade; so do counterfeiters, robbers and pirates live by their villanies; but does this prove such practices to be consistent with the gospel ?
We are often reminded, that war developes some of the noblest traits of character, such as spirit, courage, talent, ingenuity, skill, indomitable perseverance.-Be it so; but every species of highhanded wickedness calls forth the same qualities. It requires the union of them all to make a consummate villain, a man that can rob, or forge, or counterfeit with success on a large scale ; and in our state-prisons you will find some of the strongest, shrewdest, boldest minds, the very metal that makes heroes. Will this prove that the Bible tolerates such crimes? If war occasionally produces instances of self-sacrificing patriotism, we reply that such patriotism is not the fruit of war; and, even if it were, you may often find essentially the same in a crew of pirates, every one of whom is just as selfish in fighting for the whole gang, as he would be in fighting for himself alone.
It is said, however, that war, unlike the offences we have specified, is enjoined by government, and thus becomes the duty of its subjects.-War right because rulers enjoin it! Can they make it right to do what God forbids ? Does he authorize any of his creatures to nullify his own statutes ? Because governments nominally Christian have legalized the slave-trade, and duelling, and licentiousness, and idolatry, are such iniquities for such a reason consistent with the gospel ?
But our ablest writers on ethics aver, that self-defence will justify ANY extremes. We admit this to be the common notion ; but is it a doctrine of the gospel ? We challenge you to find the slightest intimation of it in the New Testament. Does Christ or his Apostles tell me I may do any thing I please, to save my life? May I renounce his gospel, and worship idols ? If not, then there is something which I may not do even in defence of my life. You say, however, I may kill my assailant for such a purpose ; but how do you know I may ? Does the gospel tell me so? Where? Show me the chapter and verse.— The early Christians could have escaped the stake by denying their Savior, and joining anew in the worship of idols. Did the gospel permit them to save their life on such terms ? Did any of them so understand it? Then there was one thing which they might not do even to save their lives; but why not do that? Solely because God forbade it; and, if he does not expressly permit me to kill in self-defence, then have I no more right to transgress the cornmand, thou shalt not kill, than I have to renounce Christianity, or violate any and all the other precepts of the Bible.—But let me suppose myself in a Mohammedan country under such circumstances, that I cannot save my life by taking that of my assailant, but can by renouncing my religion. A follower of Mohammed, with his foot on my neck, and his scimitar brandished over my head, exclaims, deny the Nazarine, and believe in God's Prophet, or die.' Now, I cannot kill the savage zealot, but can comply with his terms. May I do so: Why not? Simply because God does not permit it; and I have just as little right, without his permission, to save my life by killing my assailant. It can avail nothing to say, that such a man deserves to die; for this would not prove, that I have a right to kill him. So may the persecutor equally deserve death ; but what martyr ever dreamed of taking the life of his persecutors to save his own? Where does the gospel allow it?
Still we are triumphantly told, that self-preservation is the first law of our nature. -If it be so, every one knows that self-denial is the first law of Christ's kingdom; and the only question is, which law is paramount? Is instinct the rule of our duty, the Christian's standard of right and wrong? It may be said, as it has been, that these instincts are the first edition of God's revelation to mankind; but we are now inquiring what he teaches in the last and perfect edition of his revealed will. This very argument infidel libertines, in the time of Voltaire and Rousseau, employed to justify unrestrained licentiousness, and insisted on its being right for the debauchee to indulge at will those passions which God im
planted in his nature. Do you scout such logic ? Well may you; but wherein does it differ from your own? You plead instinct; so did they; and we see not why infidels may not, if Christians may, appeal to the instincts of our fallen nature against the commands of God.—But we admit both the right and the duty of preserving our own lives, yet insist that we are not at liberty for this purpose to do any thing which God forbids. I must, if not worse than an infidel, provide for " those of my own household ;” but does this authorize me to use for the purpose any means I choose? May I steal, and rob, and murder? You say these are not necessary, just as we say they are not necessary for self-defence; but, if necessary, does the right or even the duty of supporting or defending myself and my family, justify a resort to such crimes? If admissible in one case, they are equally so in the other; but the truth is, we are neither required nor permitted to support our families, or preserve our lives, unless we can do it without disobeying God. The right of self-defence does not involve the right to kill for the purpose, unless God requires or permits it; and hence the original question returns in its full force, does God allow us, when we honestly think we must either kill or be killed, to take the life of our assailant rather than lose our own? Here is the whole point at issue ; and it can be met only by an express permission in the New Testament, since the plea of self-defence, or selfpreservation, does not even touch it. If it did, however, it would not settle the lawfulness of war; because you cannot find in all profane history any war in which the only alternative for a people was either to kill or be killedAfter they began to fight, that was the alternative; but, had they at the outset chosen to submit
, they might have been spared. The only exception I recollect, is found in the Jewish wars of extermination against the inhabitants of Canaan; and it is quite remarkable, that in those cases the aggressors were justified, and the defenders condemned by Jehovah himself,
We are next referred to the Jewish wars which God expressly enjoined or permitted.—But this command or permission just neutralizes their example as a guide to us. God bade Abraham sacrifice Isaac. Will this justify parents now in murdering their children at pleasure ? God commanded Moses to stone the Sabbathbreaker to death. Are we bound to do the same? God indulged patriarchs in polygamy and concubinage. Does their example make such things lawful for us?--We are reminded, however, that God could never have enjoined or permitted any thing that is necessarily wrong. Few things are so; but, if not necessarily wrong, who now regards filicide, and polygamy, and concubinage, and arbitrary divorce, and many other practices allowed to the Israelites, as lawful under the gospel ? Ours is a higher dispensation than theirs; our Savior expressly condemns things in which they had been confessedly indulged; and hence the question for us to meet is, whether the gospel sanctions the practice of war ; a question not to be answered by appeals to the Old Testament.-But the wars of the Israelites were properly penal executions ;