Page images

8. Such a reform would ere long remove not a few obstacles to the spread of the gospel. A multitude of these have been scattered, age after age, over the whole earth by the martial character of Christendom. Its wars, however unjust the charge, are actually charged by the heathen upon our religion as one of its supposed fruits; and thus have they reared all round the whole unevangelized world a barrier of prejudice very like the wall of China: Their ports, their ears, their hearts are closed fast against us. Christians are regarded with terror; and Christianity itself, though an angel of peace and love, has thus become, all over the

earth, a hissing and a scorn. You cannot well conceive how far the wars of Christendom have set the great mass of unevangelized minds sternly against the religion of the cross. Not only does the infidel cast them in our teeth, and the Jew insist that the Messiah, promised as the Prince of Peace, cannot have come, since nations reputedly Christian have been almost incessantly engaged in war; but even the follower of the false prophet calls us“ Christian dogs," and taunts us for our glaring hypocrisy.

The result is inevitable in checking the spread of Christianity. How came the gospel to meet in the Sandwich and South Sea Islands, a reception comparatively so cordial, and a degree of success so glorious ? Other causes conspired; but a principal one was found in the fact, that the wars of Christendom were little known to the natives, and they saw Christianity exhibited before them first in the lives of its humble, peaceful missionaries. On the other hand, why were the Jesuit missionaries so indignantly expelled from China ? Whence such rancorous hatred of the gospel in Japan, that every man, woman and child was required to go once a year through the ceremony of publicly trampling in scorn on the cross, and no Christian even now can put his foot on the shores of that island, without first renouncing his religion? They had heard of Christian nations crimsoning their path by sea and land with blood ; and they very naturally suspected those Jesuits of having come to involve them, some how or other, in the same calamities that nominal Christians had so often inflicted upon one another.. The countries all round the Mediterranean, traversed by Apostles, and covered with primitive Churches, have been for ages filled, mainly in consequence of fierce, bloody wars so long

waged between Mohammedans and reputed Christians, with such deep and bitter prejudices as centuries can hardly suffice to remove. Such prejudices more or less overspread the globe, and must be removed before its myriads can be evangelized.

9. But consider how vastly the prevalence of peace would increase the means, both in men and money, of converting the world. It would save enough for this purpose in a single generation ; for already has the Church alone spent or lost in the wars of Christendom, a hundred times as much of treasure and of blood, as would have sufficed, centuries ago, to bring all nations under the saving power of the gospel.

Just glance at a few facts. Some three millions of standing warriors now in Christendom; 300,000 lives sacrificed in Olli own Revolutionary War; more than a million in the wars of the Spanish Peninsula under Napoleon; no less than nine or ten millions in the wars consequent on the French Revolution; some thirty millions in all the wars of the Reformation; while thirty thousand missionaries, it is supposed, would suffice under God for the world's immediate evangelization.

We will not here attempt to estimate or conjecture the entire loss of property by war; but its direct expenses, though a mere fraction of what it wastes, are enormous almost beyond calculation. Our war with a handful of Indians in Florida was said to cost us some forty or fifty million dollars; our Revolutionary War cost England herself nearly seven hundred millions; her wars with Napoleon absorbed inore than five thousand mil. lions; England, during twenty years, spent for war-purposes alone, an average of more than one million every day; and the wars of Christendom, from 1793 to 1815, only twenty-two years, actually wasted, barely for their support, about fifteen thousand millions ; a sum so vast, that the mere interest, at six per cent., would be nine hundred millions a year; enough to evangelize two such worlds as ours, and furnish them with the most ample means of grace and salvation down to the end of time !

10. Nor is this all; for the prevalence of peace would remove a great variety of obstructions to the efficacy of the gospel at home. It is a pioneer or auxiliary to all our efforts for the salva. tion of men; because no farther than the spirit of peace prevails, can you labor with success either for the conversion of sinners, or the sanctification of Christians. Throw a fire-brand of strife into any community; and from that moment must the work of salvation cease, and never begin again, until that fire-brand is either removed or quenched.

Surely, then, war, the great fire-brand of the world, must tend in many ways to prevent the full effects of the gospel. It interposes a thousand neutralizing influences. It fosters ignorance; it encourages intemperance; it instigates to the foulest forms of licentiousness; it multiplies to a fearful extent every species of vice and crime. It prevents or neutralizes the best means of grace. It engrosses the mind, and sears the conscience, and steels the heart. It withholds the Bible itself; it shuts up the Sanctuary ; it suspends the Sabbath; it suspends, for the time, all laws, nearly all influences, but its own.

Now, must 'not such things cripple the saving efficacy of the gospel ? Take the best revival of religion; and how long could it survive a battle, or live amid the pestilential móral exhalations steaming up from a camp or a fleet ? Few, if any wars can be less exceptionable than that of our own Revolution; but how deplorable was its acknowledged influence on the piety of our land ? And let the war-mania once more pervade and madden our whole nation; let citizens be transformed by thousands into pirates or marauders, and soldiers be marched back and forth through the

country, and encamped in every section to trample on the Sabbath, and indulge in drunkenness, debauchery, and almost every species of vice and villainy ; let our hills and vallies resound with the uproar of battle after battle, and every press teem, every mail be loaded, every hamlet reached, day after day, with the news of victory or defeat, to keep the public mind stretched continually to its utmost tether of anxious, agonizing interest in the progress of the war; and how long before the death-knell of every revival among us would toll out its last beat, and the Spirit of God, that peaceful dove, fly far, far from such realms of noise and strife, to return no more for years !

11. But finally, and more than all, peace would put a stop to the ruin of immortal souls directly occasioned by war. It is high time for the truth on this point, if on no other, to be rung aloud in the ear of every Christian community. Too long has the poor soldier been permitted, partly through our own connivance or neglect, to dream of wading through all the atrocities and horrors of war up to the throne of an immaculate, merciful God! Far be it from us to say, that none have ever gone even from the field of blood to the realms of glory; but if war is so notorious a hotbed of vice and irreligion; if it breathes a spirit, forms a character, and absolutely enjoins atrocities so utterly inconsistent with the gospel of Christ; if the field of battle is such a theatre for the worst passions that ever rage in the bosom of man; if fleets and camps are, the world over, such proverbial reservoirs of impiety, pollution, and crime; I dare not suppose, that such masses of moral putrefaction are borne up into the immediate presence of Him in whose sight the very heavens are not clean!

What a destroyer, then, of immortal souls! Scarce a war that does not slay its thousands, its scores of thousands; and how often have there fallen upon a single field of battle, ten thousand ! twenty, thirty, fifty thousand ! a hundred, two hundred, three hundred thousand ! ! No uncommon number this in ancient warfare; and, since the dawn of the present century, there perished in less than six months of the Russian campaign, half a million of the French alone ; in the wars of Alexander and Cesar, some three millions each; in the wars of Napoleon, six millions;

in the wars of Jenghis-Khan some thirty-two millions; in the wars of the Turks and Saracens, sixty millions each; and the lowest estimate I have ever seen, puts the sum total of its ravages from the first at fourteen thousand millions, eighteen times as many as all the present population of our globe!

Will the Church of Christ, then, never awake to a subject so immensely important? Believers in the gospel of peace, followers of the Prince of Peace, sons and daughters of the God of Peace, can you still fold your own hands in apathy or despair, and let such a fell destroyer of mankind for two worlds continue his work of death and perdition, unchecked, unresisted by any efforts or even prayers from you?

We know you would not, could not, if you only saw,--as due inquiry and reflection would certainly show you,-how efforts


made by Christians as they should be, would banish this terrible scourge ere long from Christendom, and eventually from the face of the whole earth. There is no impossibility in the case. War is just as curable as any other evil, and requires for its extinction only the means of God's appointment. There is no more need of this custom than there is of duelling or the Slave-trade. It exists solely because men in their folly still choose it; its continuance depends entirely on their choice; and whenever you can change that choice, and make the mass of mankind resolve that war shall cease, it must of necessity come to an end at once and for

Such a change is clearly possible; already is it rapidly taking place under the influence of this cause; and nations will one day find it just as easy for them to settle their difficulties without war, as the members of a Church now do theirs without duels. A variety of substitutes might be adopted far more effectual than the sword for all purposes of protection and redress.

But you tell us perhaps, “ Make men Christians, and then wars will cease. What sort of Christians ? Surely not such as have for fifteen centuries been butchering one another! Convert men to the whole gospel, to its pacific as well as its other truths, to a kind of Christianity that shall forbid them to fight in any case; then, and only then, will the spread of our religion insure the abolition of this custom. Christianity has for ages been pretty steadily gaining ground in Christendom; and yet in the last century have her standing warriors increased not less than six hundred per cent., from half a million to more than three millions ! Can such a Christianity put an end to war?

It is not enough, then, merely to support and to propagate any form of Christianity which neglects to apply the only part of the gospel that can ever abolish this custom. For such a result, we rely of course upon the gospel, but only on the gospel rightly applied. Such an application is indispensable. What is the gospel? Merely a collection of principles which can produce no result without an application, any more than medicine can cure a sick man who does not take it. How does the gospel convert the sinner? Only by its truths addressed to his soul. How will it ever abolish paganism ? Solely by being sent and applied to paganism. How can it reclaim the blasphemer or the Sabbathbreaker ? Only by a direct, specific application to their sins. In no other way can it cure any moral evil; and in like manner must we apply the gospel to war, before the spread of Christianity will insure a corresponding prevalence of peace.

But are you waiting for the millenium to come, and saying that, when it does come,-never before,-peace will follow as a matter of course ? Very true; and so will repentance and faith follow as a matter of course; but how are you to reach the millenium ? Would you first get into the millenium, and then con-, vert the world? Is the millenium to make mon Christians, or the making of all men Christians to be itselt the millenium? How would you introduce a millenium of repentance ? Simply by first filling the world with repentance~with men penitent for

their sins. How a millenium of faith? Solely by filling the world with faith—with believers in Jesus. How then a millenium of peace? In the same way; for peace, just like repentance and faith, must come before the millenium, as one of its indispensable harbingers, or along with the millenium, as one of its inseparable concomitants ; for, unless men are converted to peace as fast as they are to God, such a conversion of the whole world plainly could not ensure its entire, perpetual pacification.

But come that glorious era must, for God himself hath promised it as explicitly as he has the world's conversion, or the salvation of any believer in Christ; yet it never can come, any more than either of those results, without the use of such means as he hath appointed for the purpose. These means are all included in such an application of the gospel as shall everywhere Christianize the public mind on this subject. War has, in every age and clime, resulted from a public opinion grossly perverted; that opinion must be radically, universally, permanently changed; and for the production of such a change, first in Christendom, and finally through the world, all the main-springs of influence upon the popular mind must be set and kept at work. The pulpit must speak often and aloud; the press, with her thousand tongues, must speak in the ear of all reading communities; instructors in all our seminaries of learning must speak to the young minds under their care; teachers in Sabbath-schools must speak to their pupils; every pious parent or guardian must speak to the group of interesting minds clustered around his own fireside; every Church, every Christian, every friend of God or man, high and low, old and young, male and female, should zealously cooperate in using the means which God has appointed to usher in that glorious era when nations shall beat their swords into plough-shares, their spears into pruning-hooks, and cease from learning the art of war any more.

Remember, then, the absolute necessity of means, and use all in your power. Can you write, or speak, or pray for this cause? Then do so.

Have you influence? Then use it. Have you money? Be sure to give a portion of it; nor forget for how many purposes the cause needs such aid. We must support agencies, send forth lecturers, and scatter periodicals, tracts and volumes through the land. Such operations, altogether indispensable, require a large amount of funds; and Christians should at length give to this cause as liberally as they do to other causes that aim in like manner at the glory of God in the present and immortal welfare of mankind.


« PreviousContinue »