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A SEA-Fight.—Can the friends of the navy, as Christians, or as men possessing the usual kindly feelings of our nature, read the following description by an eye-witness, and not pray for our success in overthrowing a navy, the only function of which is useless carnage? The veteran officers, they who have seen service of this kind, will bid us God speed in our efforts to make an end of such unnecessary slaughter.
“ As the approaching ship,” says Leech, then a boy on board a British man-of-war, "showed American colors, we all felt we must fight her, and made every possible arrangement for success. The firing commenced. The roaring of cannon could now be heard from all parts of our trembling ship, and mingling with that of our foes, it made a most hideous noise. By-and-by I heard the shot strike the sides of our ship; the whole scene grew indescribably confused and horrible; it was like some awfully tremendous thunder-storm, carrying death in every flash, and strewing the ground with its victims; only in our case the scene was rendered more horrible by the torrents of blood on our decks.
The cries of the wounded now rang through all parts of the ship. These were carried to the cockpit as fast as they fell, while those more fortunate men who were killed outright, were immediately thrown overboard. A man had one of his hands cut off by a shot, and almost at the same moment he received another shot, which tore open his bowels in a terrible manner. As he fell, two or three men took him, and, as he could not live, threw him overboard. The battle went on. Our men kept cheering with all their might. I cheered with them, though I confess I scarcely knew for what. Certainly, there was nothing very inspiriting in the aspect of things where I was stationed. So terrible had been the work of destruction round us, it was termed the slaughter-house. Not only had we had several boys and men killed and wounded, but several of the guns were disabled. The schoolmaster received a death wound. The brave boatswain, who came from the sick bed to the din of battle, was fastening a stopper on a back-stay which had been shot away, when his head ewas smashed to pieces by a cannon-ball; another man, going to complete the unfinished task, was also struck down. The ward-room steward was killed. A fellow named John, was carried past me, wounded; and I distinctly heard the large blood-drops fall pat, pat, on the deck; his wounds were mortal. Such was the terrible scene, amid which we kept on shouting and firing. Our men fought like tigers. Some of them pulled off their jackets, others their jackets and vests; while some, with nothing but 'a handkerchief tied round the waistbands of their trowsers, fought like heroes.
We all appeared cheerful; but I know that many a serious thought ran through my mind. I thought a great deal of the other world; every groan, every falling man, told me that the next instant I might be before the Judge of all the earth. For this I felt unprepared; but being without any particular knowledge of religious truth, Í satisfied myself by repeating again and again the Lord's
prayer, and promising, that if spared, I would be more atentive to religious duties then ever before.
While these thoughts secretly agitated my bosom, the din of battle continued. Grape and canister shot were pouring through our port-holes like leaden rain, carrying death in their trail. The large shot came against the ship's side like iron hail, shaking her to the very keel, or passing through her timbers, and scattering terrific splinters, which did a more appalling work than even their own death-giving blows. What with splinters, cannon balls, grape and canister, poured incessantly upon us, the reader may be assured that the work of death went on in a manner which must have been satisfactory even to the King of terrors himself.
Suddenly, the rattling of the iron hail ceased. We were ordered to cease firing. A profound silence ensued, broken only by the stifled groans of the brave sufferers below. The enemy had shot ahead to repair damages, while we were so cut up that we lay utterly helpless. Our head braces were shot away; the fore and main top-masts were gone; the mizzen mast hung over the stern, having carried several men over in its fall; we were a complete wreck. The officers held a council, and concluded to strike our colors.
I now went below, to see how matters appeared there. The first object I met, was a man bearing a limb which had just been detached from some suffering wretch. Pursuing my way to the wardroom, I necessarily passed through the steerage, which was strewed with the wounded; it was a sad spectacle, made more appalling by the groans and cries which rent the air. Some were groaning, others were swearing most bitterly, a few were praying, while those last arrived, were begging most piteously to have their wounds dressed next. The surgeon and his mate were smeared with blood from head to foot; they looked more like butchers than doctors. Having so many patients, they had once shifted their quarters from the cockpit to the steerage; they now removed to the ward-room, and the long table, round which the officers had set over many a merry feast, was soon covered with the bleeding forms of maimed and mutilated seamen. I now set to work to render all the aid in my power to the sufferers. Our carpenter, named Reed, had his leg cut off. I helped to carry him to the after ward-room; but he soon breathed out his life there, and then I assisted in throwing his mangled remains overboard. We got out the cots as fast as possible; for most of them were stretched out on the gory deck. One poor fellow who lay with a broken thigh, begged me to give him water. I gave him some. He looked unutterable gratitude, drank, and died. It was with exceeding difficulty I moved through the steerage, it was so covered with mangled men, and so slippery with streains of blood. Such scenes of suffering as I saw in that wardroom, I hope never to witness again. Could the civilized world behold them as they were, and as they often are, infinitely worse than on that occasion, it seems to me they would forever put down the barbarous practice of war by universal consent."
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
MISTAKES ABOUT PEACE.
The cause of peace, aiming solely to abolish war, is fairly responsible merely for what is necessary to this result. Some of its friends may take ground too high, others too low, and occasionally use arguments or measures which we cannot approve; but the cause itself is bound to meet only objections against special, associated efforts for the abolition of this custom. If this object is not a good one, or if no specific efforts ought to be made for its accomplishment, then is the cause of peace unworthy of support. But will any fair-minded man take either of these positions ? what valid objections can there be to this cause? Yet such objections are now and then urged, and we will here attempt a very brief answer to the most common and plausible.
1. The gospel is the only remedy for war ; preach that, and war will cease.—So we believe, but insist on the necessity of its being rightly applied. Will the best medicine in the world heal the man that does not take it? Surely not; you must apply the remedy to the disease, put the salve on the sore, before it can effect a cure. Is the gospel an exception to this law of common sense ? Can it cure evils to which it is never applied ? How does it produce any result? How bring the sinner repentance ? Only by its truths addressed to his soul. How will it ever abolish paganism? Solely by being sent and applied to paganism. How refute any error, or reform any sin? Only by a right, direct, specific application to such errors and sins. The gospel is the only effectual antidote to war; but we insist on a right application of its pacific principles. It has never been thus applied ; and the mistake lies in supposing, that the gospel, as hitherto received by Christians, will abolish this custom. If it will, why has it not? The nations of Christendom are the most notorious fighters on earth, and its standing armies have increased in a single century from half a million to three and even four millions ;—an increase of eight hundred per cent! Can such a process ever bring war to an end ?
2. But you need only make men REAL Christians, and they will cease to fight.-Will they? Have they? No real Christians ever engage in war ? Are there none such among the three millions of standing warriors now in Christendom? Were there none among the fathers of our own Revolution ? Not one among all the myriads who have fought from time immemorial in the wars of Christendom?_“You mean that men, brought under the full power of the gospel, will wage no unjust wars. Does any body now wage them? Who shall judge what are such wars?" "Those of course who wge them.' But has any monster of blood in Christendom engaged for centuries past in a war that he admitted to be
P. T. NO. XLVIII.
unjust, offensive ? Napoleon himself, on his death-bed, solemnly declared he had ever acted solely in defence, and went to his last account under the delusion, that he had been only a defensive warrior. Can such a theory ever put an end to war?– You mean, that when all men become real, millennial Christians, there will be none to make aggressive wars, and of course no wars in defence.' But it must be long before all men will become such Christians; and meanwhile shall we make no efforts to abolish war?
3. What need of special, associated efforts for peace? Let existing agencies, such as the church, the ministry and the press, do the work, and thus supersede the necessity of peace societies.—Most earnestly do we wish they would; and, whenever they shall, they will take the matter very much out of our hands. As yet, however, they have not done so; and, until they do, shall nothing be done for peace? May we not even attempt to rouse the church? She ought to have arrested the ravages of intemperance, and spread the gospel over the whole earth; but, since she did neither, and gave no promise of doing either very soon, was it a superfluous and reprehensible service for individual volunteers, as they did, to lead the van in those movements, and rouse the church to her long neglected duty on those subjects? If the church will do what is needed in the cause of peace, then let her do it, and thus supersede our efforts; but, until she does this, we certainly ought, as the pioneers of temperance and of missions did, to stimulate her to her duty on this subject, and rally as many as we can in special efforts for the extinction of war.
4. The time has not come for such efforts.—Why not? God has promised (Isa. ii. 1–4) that wars shall cease under the Christian dispensation. Are we not living under this very dispensation ? Then ought God's promise of peace now to be in a course of actual fulfilment through all Christendom. The time for God to fulfil any of his promises, is just when men will use the requisite means ; and, if the time for peace co-extensive with Christianity has not yet come, in what year of our Lord will it come?
5. Wait till the millennium; when that comes,-never before,peace will follow as a matter of course. - Very true; and so will repentance and faith follow equally as a matter of course; but how? Is the millennium to come first, and then all mankind to be converted as one of its results ; or is the conversion of the whole world to usher in and to constitute the millennium itself? How would you introduce a millennium of repentance? Solely by first filling the world with repentance—with men penitent for their sins. How a millennium of faith? By filling the earth with faith-with believers in Jesus. How then a millennium of peace? In the same way; for peace, just like repentance and faith, must come before the millennium, as one of its indispensable harbingers, or along with the millennium, as one of its inseparable concomitants,
6. SPECIAL efforts are not necessary for this purpose ; peace will come as the result of the good general influences derted by Christianity, and civilization, and commerce, and various other agencies already at work. We are far from undervaluing such agencies or
influences; but they can supersede special efforts in this cause no more than they have in that of temperance, missions, or any similar enterprise. If such efforts were needed to start and sustain those causes, are they not equally so in this cause ? Doubtless these good general influences contribute much to the peace of Christendom; but have they heretofore sufficed in every case to hold back the thunder-bolts of war? Commerce, and civilization, and a degenerate Christianity, have been in operation all over Europe for centuries; and yet have they utterly failed to abolish the war-system, or to prevent a rapid succession of the most desolating wars. Shall wė then abandon the cause of peace to such .agencies? These agencies can become useful mainly by receiving a right direction; and it is ours to concentrate them upon our purpose of abolishing war. As no power of steam or of waterfalls can, until rightly applied, propel machinery of any kind, so would we apply all the good general influences of the age to insure the perpetual peace of Christendom and the world.
7. But there are other causes more important. If it were so, has this cause no importance? If it has, then let it receive its proper share of support. Only one cause can be the most important of all ; but do you contribute to none besides that single one ? Why? Because every wheel in the general machinery of benevolence is essential to the grand results ultimately sought; and hence you inquire, not whether this or that wheel is more important than some others, but whether the entire machine, with all its subordinate and complicated parts, is needed for the work to be done ; for, if so, then must every part be sustained in its place. We would not, cannot exaggerate the importance of peace; but, to say nothing about the millions of lives, and the myriads of treasure which it would save, nothing of the vices, and crimes, and deluge of miseries for two worlds which it would prevent, it is an important, if not indispensable auxiliary to every cause now in progress for this world's conversion or general improvement. More has been done for such purposes during the last thirty years of general peace, (1845,) than had been done for many centuries before; and the continuance of peace is essential to the full success, if not to the very existence of these great benevolent enterprises. We must have peace, or stop in our work of recovering a world from the ruins of the fall.
8. But there is no war at present, none in prospect ; and why labor for peace now ?—Just because now is the best, the only time to labor with success. Let war come or approach; and no man could then plead for peace without being branded as a traitor to his country. Would you try to reform the drunkard while reeling into the gutter, or wait for the flames to envelope your house, and sweep in a whirlwind over your whole city, before you prepare engines to extinguish the devouring element ?
9. Well, we are peaceable enough ourselves ; go to warriors and war-makers with your pleas for peace.--So we mean to do; but, if you are so pacific, will you not go with us, and help make them as peaceable as yourselves ? We look to the temperate for the pro