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or the adjustment of their difficulties; but, if that old practice of private wars gave place, ages ago, to codes and courts of law between individuals, it is equally possible for nations, if they choose, to provide similar methods for the settlement of their disputes without the effusion of blood.
Nor does society or government oppose any insuperable obstacles to the prevalence of peace. What if the spirit and principles of war are through the world wrought into the very texture of them both? So were a multitude of other customs that have already been banished from Christian and even from pagan lands. Society and government, each the work of men, are necessarily moulded to their will, and not only may, but absolutely must receive just such modifications as they shall choose. Only let them universally demand the change requisite for the permanent peace of the world; and such a change would soon pervade,
matter of course, every society and government earth. Need we, then, despair in view of the influences which have for so many ages been leagued all over the globe in support of the war-system? True, these influences are exceedingly powerful, but they are all dependent entirely on the will of men; and such a change in their views and feelings as we seek to produce, would enlist every one of them on the side of peace. Only turn the popular current; and on its bosom war would ere-long float spontaneously from Christendom forever, just as the tide of a regenerated public sentiment has drifted away a variety of kindred practices.
But do you deem it impossible thus to revolutionize the war-sentiments even of Christendom? The history of man, the promises of God, and the acknowledged power of his gospel, all forbid such a supposition. True, the means requisite for this purpose, are not now in use to any great extent; but the Bible prescribes and provides such means; and, if the friends of God and man would only use them aright, we might confidently expect ultimate, if not speedy
Glance at the history, of kindred reforms. Long was knight-errantry the admiration of all Christendom; but where is it now ? Vanished from the earth ; its very name a term of reproach; its memory living mainly in these works of genius which ridiculed its follies from the world. Nearly the same might be said of the crusades, and all wars of religion, the prosecution of which was once re
garded as the highest service a Christian could render to the God of peace!
For ages did the trial by ordeal and judicial combat prevail. The accused was required to fight his accuser in single combat, or plunge his arm into boiling water, or lift a red-hot iron with his naked hand, or walk bare-footed over burning plough-shares, or pass through other trials equally severe and perilous. Such trials were conducted with ceremonies the most solemn; the ministers of religion were wont to be present; the Almighty was invoked to interpose in behalf of the innocent; and whoever escaped the ordeal unhurt, or came from the combat victorious, was said to be acquitted by “the judgment of God.” This custom, sanctioned by every class in society, by the wisest monarchs, and the highest dignitaries in the church, prevailed for centuries all over Europe; nor is it more than two hundred years since it ceased entirely from Christendom.
Even matters of religion were submitted to this strange test. In the eleventh century, the question was agitated in Spain whether the Musarabic liturgy so long used there, or the one recommended by the See of Rome, contained the form of worship most acceptable to God. On this point a violent contest ensued between the Spaniards and the Popes; the nobles proposed to decide the controversy by the sword; the king seconded their suggestion, and the champions in full armor entered the lists. The Musarabic liturgy was victorious; but the vanquished party succeeded in procuring another and a different trial. A great fire was kindled; a copy of each liturgy was thrown into the flames; and it was agreed, that the one which stood this test, should be received in all the churches of Spain. The Musarabic still triumphed, and, if we may credit the writers of that age, came out of the fire unhurt, while the other was burnt to ashes.
But let us leave those dark ages, and down to the dawn of the nineteenth century. Long had Christians themselves, apparently without remorse, and certainly without reproach, continued to engage in the slave-trade; and nearly all the apologies now pleaded for war, were then reiterated to justify that atrocious traffic in the bodies and souls of men. Prejudice, and passion, and interest, and inveterate custom, all clamored loud in its behalf, and covered with obloquy and reproach the few that dared to beard the monster in his very den. But humanity
and religion could bear it no longer; and the fireside, the pulpit and the senate, the cottage and the palace at length rang in thunders of denunciation against the vampyre gorged for so many ages with the blood of a continent. A regenerated public opinion decreed its doom; and the result is on record. The slave-trade is now regarded as piracy; the slave-trader is put under the ban of the civilized world as fit only for the gallows; and, though Africa still bleeds at many a pore from the same cause, yet that practice has doubtless received its death-blow.
It were easy to multiply examples; but why allude to intemperance, and persecution, and witchcraft, and other evils already abolished, or put in a train which promises their ultimate abolition? I need not surely specify any more cases ; for if such customs as knight-errantry, judicial combat, and the slave-trade have already been wholly, or but partially done away, is there no possibility of putting an end to war ? Is this custom, unlike any other, proof against the combined power of earth and heaven arrayed against it?
Review, next, the meliorations of war itself. Bad as the custom still is, it has already lost more than half its primitive horrors, and undergone changes much greater than would now suffice to abolish it entirely. Its former atrocities are well nigh incredible. Belligerents employed whatever means would best subserve
their purposes of conquest, plunder or revenge. They poisoned wells, and butchered men, women and children without distinction.
They spared none. Prisoners they massacred in cold blood, or tortured with the most exquisite cruelty; and, when unable to reduce a fortified place, they would sometimes collect before it a multitude of these victims, and, putting them all to the sword, leave their carcasses unburied, that the stench might compel the garrison to retire! Such atrocities were practised by the most polished nations of antiquity. In Rome, prisoners were either sold as slaves, or put to death at pleasure. Kings and nobles, women and children of high birth, chained to the victor's car, were triumph through the streets, and then doomed to a cruel death, or left to end their days in severe and hopeless bondage; while others less distinguished, were compelled as gladiators to butcher one another by thousands for the amusement of Roman citizens! But such barbarities are indignantly discarded from the present war-system of Chris
tendom; and if thus ten steps have already been takenthey confessedly have-towards abolishing this custom, is there no possibility of taking the six more that alone are requisite to complete its abolition ?
Nor is even this all ; for certain kinds of war have actually been abolished. Private or feudal wars, once waged between the petty chieftains of Europe, and frequently occasioning even more mischief than flows now from the collision of empires, continued for centuries to make the very heart of Christendom a scene of confusion and terror. There was no safety, no repose. Every baron claimed the right, just as nations now do, of warring against his neighbor at pleasure. His castle was his fortress, and every one of his vassals a soldier bound to take the field at the bidding of his lord. War was their business; and all Europe they kept in ceaseless compotion or alarm. The evil seemed intolerable; and the strongest influences of Christendom were arrayed against it. Checks were devised, and restrictions gradually imposed ; the Royal Truce, and the Truce of God were introduced ; associations were formed for promoting peace, and bonds for mutual security were given; the emperor and the pope, the magistrate and the priest, the ruler and the citizen, all combined against it, and succeeded, though not till after the lapse of four or five centuries, in exterminating a species of war as dreadful as any that ever scourged our world. And would not similar efforts bring international wars to an end ?
Glance at some of the causes now at work to hasten such a result. I have not time even to maine a tithe of these causes; it would require a volume to do any sort of justice to this part of our subject; and it must for the present suffice to know, that all the means of general improvement, all the good influences of the age, are so many hand, maids to the cause of peace, and harbingers of its universal spread and triumph. The progress of freedom, and popular education ;--the growing influence of the people, always the chief sufferers from war, over every form of government;—the vastly augmented power of public opinion fast becoming more and more pacific;—the spirit of free inquiry, and the wide diffusion of knowledge through presses, and pulpits, and schools ;--the disposition to force old usages, institutions and opinions through the severest ordeals ;—the various improvements which philanthropy, genius, and even avarice itself are every where making in
the character and condition of mankind ;-the actual disuse of war, and the marked desire of rulers themselves to supersede it by the adoption of pacific expedients that promise ere-long to re-construct the international policy of the civilized world;—the ‘pacific tendencies of literature, science, and all the arts that minister to individual. comfort, or national prosperity ;-the more frequent, more extended intercourse of Christians and learned men in different parts of the earth;—the wide extension of commerce, and the consequent interlinking over the globe of interests which war must destroy ;-the rapid spread of the gospel in pagan lands, the fuller development of its spirit in Christendom, and the more direct, more efficacious application of its principles to every species of sin and misery ;-all the enterprises of associated benevolence and reform, but especially the combined efforts made to disseminate the principles of peace, to pour the full light of heaven on the guilt and evils of war, and thus unite the friends of God and man every where against this master-scourge of our race;such are some of the influences now at work in behalf of universal and permanent peace.
Nor have these causes been at work in vain. Already is the process begun, by which Jehovah is going to fulfil the amazing predictions of his word. Even now is the fire kindled at the forges where swords are yet to be beaten into plough-shares, and spears into pruning-hooks. The teachers are already abroad who shall persuade the nations to learn war no more. If we would hasten that day, we have only to throw ourselves into the current, and we may row with the tide. There may be here and there a countercurrent; but the main stream is flowing steadily on, and the order of Providence is rolling forward the sure result.”
The gospel, rightly applied, is amply sufficient for such a result. It is God's own power at work for the world's eventual deliverance from all forms of error, sin and misery. There is no passion it cannot subdue, no vice it cannot reform, no evil custom it cannot abolish, no moral malady it cannot cure, no inveteracy of error or sin from which it cannot reclaim. Its history, as well as its nature, proves its power; and a libel would it be on God himself to suppose his chosen instrument for a world's spiritual renovation, inadequate to the task of exterminating war from every land blest with its heavenly light.
On this point God has taken care to leave no room for