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Christ, or any of his apostles, ever appear on the field of mortal strife? There is no record of any such example ; nor did any Christians engage in war for the first two centuries of our era.
The success of the cause of peace rests on the church in general, and on-ministers in particular. It is in their power, whenever they will unite for the purpose, to put an end to war in Christendom. If they neglect to do what they can, blood, not only the blood of the body, but the blood of souls, will be found in the skirts of their garments. Hitherto the still, small voice of the gospel could hardly be heard amid the confused noise of the warrior; but God has, for a long time, wonderfully preserved the nations of Christendom in a state of comparative peace, and I have no doubt the labors of the peace societies have been greatly blessed to this end. There is no need of ministers interfering with the politics of the day. Simply to preach on this subject, or to meet with their flocks, and pray for a continuance of peace, can give no offence to any party. If they have any faith in prayer, any trust in the promises of God, can they refuse ? Churches look up to their ministers for example. They cannot, or will not, act without their head. If ministers refuse their aid to the work, it can never be done ; and although God has promised a time when nations shall learn war no more, this event will not arrive, until ministers take up the cause of peace in good earnest. It requires a special effort, more than the cause of missions or temperance. It is greater than either; it these two mainly depend.
XII. PROMISE OF SUCCESS IN THE WORD OF GOD.-If God had not promised a time when nations shall learn war no more, I should never have called the attention of Christians to this object; for, without such promises, I should never have thought it attainable. But I have full faith in the “sure word of prophecy,” which, at the same time that it foretells the advent of the Prince of Peace, foretells that his religion, when rightly understood and practised, will forever abolish war among his disciples, and finally throughout the whole earth; and when I see that the precepts he taught, forbid war, I cannot doubt that the prophecies will begin to be fulfilled as soon as his church shall undertake the work.
The prophecies which foretell the abolition of war, are too numerous to be quoted. See Isaiah ii. 2-4, and xi. 1-9, Hosea ii. 18, and Micah iv. 144, which closes thus: “and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks ; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Now, who will dare to doubt this word of the Lord? But are we to suppose that, because God has promised these things, we may fold our hands in indolence, and do nothing ? We do not reason so on any other subject. God has promised to give his Son the heathen for his inheritance; but so far is this from preventing our prayers and labors to convert the heathen, that it is the very reason we give for our exertions. By what strange fatality is it, that Christians look to heathen lands, and neglect Christendom, laboring with a laudable zeal to convert the heathen,
while they leave the greatest obstacle to their conversion untouched? We pray for the success of missions ; but alas! how few pray that the horrible custom of war among Christians, which prevents the advancement of Christianity both at home and abroad, should be abolished!
• Ah! but,' say some Christians, 'wars will be abolished when the millennium comes, not before. Let us labor to make all men Christians, and we need not trouble ourselves about universal peace; that will come of course.'—This is making cause and effect change places. As well might the husbandman say in the spring, 'I need not trouble myself about planting corn; I shall have a crop when the harvest comes; for God has promised that seed time and harvest shall not fail. We can hardly suppose any man could be so foolish; but it is just the way many people reason with respect to war. Do they reason so on any other subject ? Do they say, when the millennium comes, all men will be temperate ; let intemperance alone until the millennium ? Far otherwise, yet they virtually say, 'let Christians continue to kill one another, and glory in it, until the millennium. Instead of saying wars cannot cease until the millennium, we say the millennium can never come until wars cease. It is morally impossible that heathen nations can, to any great extent, be converted, while Christian nations continue the custom of war. This Achan in our camp paralyzes all the exertions of our missionary armies. It is the scoff and scorn of the Jew, the stumbling-block of the heathen and the Mussulman. “Why do you come here, Wolfe ?” said a Jew to that missionary in Jerusalem. “To preach the gospel of peace,” replied Wolfe. “ Peace!” retorted the Jew, “look there at Calvary, where your different sects of Christians would fight for an empty sepulchre, if the sword of the Mussulman did not restrain you. When the true Messiah comes, he will banish war.”
It is remarked by experienced Christians, that God seldom, or never, grants a revival when the state of religion in the church is low, and for the best of reasons. Converts will come up only to the standard of the church that receives them. The higher her standard, not only the more, but the purer will be her converts. So of the church universal—while she allows war, intemperance, and kindred practices, her converts, what few there may be, will allow themselves in the very same. IIad the primitive church allowed polygamy, that vicious custom would have remained in the church; and if the church continue to allow war, war will continue to the end of the world. The heathen cannot be converted until the church renounces and denounces war. They would be converted only to a fighting Christianity, which would bring the millennium no nearer. But let the church renounce all the abominations of the world, particularly war; and the heathen, seeing the peace and purity of Christianity, will of themselves flock to her. Their conversion will be the effect, not the cause. God has promised the time when nations shall learn war no more; and when Christian nations shall set the example, he will crown with success their labors to convert the heathen.
XIII. THE CAUSE OF PEACE BELONGS to CHRISTIANS.—Christians are the salt of the earth; but if the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted ? Are they to look to the world for an example, and expect it to go ahead of them in accomplishing the will of God? They are the light of the world. If that light shall be obscured or put out, are they to borrow light from morality, philanthropy, or other unbaptized virtues? No, an extinguished sun might as well be lighted by a taper. Let us pray, that the cloud of prejudice on the subject of war may be removed, and the church shine in all the splendor which she at first exhibited, when no one was justified in rendering evil for evil—when the church preached and practised the duty of loving enemies, and overcoming evil with good.
I have endeavored to produce a few reasons why all who profess to be governed by Christian principles, should put their shoulders to this work, and call on God for help; but do any ask, what can we do? I answer, just the same that you do for the conversion of the heathen. Let every minister of the gospel labor to undeceive his people as to the true nature of war, and show its absolute inconsistency with the religion of Christ. Christian nations must first be converted from this sin. All its abominations should be clearly pointed out; and the exceeding sinfulness of war should be clearly brought to light. Next, let the churches unite in humble and hearty prayer to Almighty God, that he would remember his promise, and do as he hath said.' Let them pray, and pray fervently, that wars may cease to the ends of the earth. An annual concert of prayer is recommended on or near the 25th of December in each year; and, if a majority of the churches in this country would unite in observing some part of that day or evening to implore God's blessing on the cause of peace, might we not expect that the churches of England, where the peace cause has many more efficient friends than it has in this country, would imitate our example, as they have in the temperance cause? If the churches generally in Great Britain and the United States, should engage in this concert, would it be possible for the rulers of either country to declare war against the other ? When this concert of prayer has been established in the United States and Great Britain, it is reasonable to expect that evangelical churches on the continent. and through the world, will eventually join in it. Who that has any faith in the efficacy of prayer, can doubt that such prayers would be answered ? Christian rulers would not dare to declare war, when they saw the best part of their subjects engaged in prayer against it. War would begin to be considered as a sin, a relic of barbarism, and would be abandoned by all Christian and. civilized people. Disputes might still arise among nations; but war never was, and never will be, necessary to settle them, any more than boxing and duelling are necessary to settle disputes between individuals. Nations can, if they will, as easily find some peaceable method of settling their difficulties, as professors of religion find a way to settle difficulties in the church without resorting to personal violence. Arbitration, or a congress of nations,
might take the place of war; and then Christians would wonder that they had ever countenanced this diabolical custom.
The effect of the abolition of war would be great and glorious. Virtue would flourish; learning and religion would go hand in hand; the yoke of tyranny and oppression would be broken; intemperance would hide her blushing head; the Sabbath would be observed ; moral reform would advance; swearing and duelling would go out of fashion; and theft, robbery and murder would seldom be heard of. The mouths of infidels would be stopped ; for the prophecies would be fulfilled, and the precepts of Christ universally prevail. All objections of the Jews against the Christian religion, drawn from belligerent nominal Christians, would be removed. Mohammedans would admire the wondrous change, and open their hearts to receive the gospel; heathens would send to us for missionaries and the Bible; and, when the vast expenses of war should be turned into the treasury of the Lord, missionaries and Bibles could be easily furnished for the whole world.
But how is this great change to be effected? The means are so simple that it is difficult to make men believe so great a cure can be performed by so simple means. It is only necessary that those Christians who believe war to be a heaven-daring, souldestroying sin, and that God is able and willing to perform his promise when his children shall require it of him, should pray for its abolition, and send publications, tracts and agents to lay these views before their sister churches all over the world; and the work would speedily be accomplished.
But how are such operations to be carried on? Just as other enterprises of benevolence—by the contributions of Christians. Let every church observe the peace prayer-meeting, and take up a contribution for the cause. Let peace societies be formed in every church and society. Let the ladies form themselves into peace societies, and make their ministers and minister's wives life members of the American Peace Society. Let them also be careful to educate their children in peace principles, and in every way give their influence to the cause. Finally, let all men and women give the subject a fair and impartial investigation. Use the means, and the cause must triumph.
For aid in this work, we turn to the church of Christ, the Prince of Peace ; for God will honor his church by making her the instrument of abolishing war, nor will he ever give that glory to the world. Large and numerous ecclesiastical bodies have recommended that ministers preach, and churches hold a concert of prayer for the peace cause, and take up a collection, once every year. Shall their recommendations be unavailing? Do Christians believe that the soul is immortal ; that a vast majority of those who perish in battle, go down to endless perdition; that war is the mother of all abominations, and the greatest obstacle to the spread of vital piety both at home and abroad? And will they refuse to offer their prayers and their alms for its abolition ?
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
The sword is not the only nor the chief destroyer of life in war; yet the field of battle multiplies its victims with the most fearful rapidity. It is the grand carnival of the war-god; and fiercely does this Moloch riot there in fire and blood, in shrieks and groans, in a sort of temporary hell upon earth!
Imagine yourself on some lofty eminence surveying a field of battle like Cannæ or Arbela, Austerlitz or Borodino, Leipsic or Waterloo. A forest of swords and bayonets are bristling there; the fierce war-horses are pawing the earth impatient for the onset; and thousands on either side are waiting, with compressed yet quivering lip, for the signal to begin the work of mutual slaughter. At length that signal is given; and anon the whole field, wrapt in flame and smoke, is hid from your view; but the roar of cannon, and the rattle of musketry, and the clashing of arms, and the furious shouts, and the agonizing shrieks, and the dying groans, all tell you that the work of death is going on with horrible rapidity. Now the smoke rolls off from part of the field; and you see whole battalions riddled, rank after rank mowed down by the deathful volleys of artillery, and descry the wounded, the dying and the dead strewed far and near, while soldiers, and horses, and cannon are passing and repassing over them in the fight.
Night closes the scene, but leaves its victims still on the ground either cold in death, or moaning in despair, or howling in agony. Wait till' another morn, and then go over that field. What a human slaughter-yard! Wherever your eye now turns, you behold men, and horses, and weapons, and broken carriages, all mingled in most shocking confusion. At every step, you tread in blood that only yesterday flowed, warm as your own, in the veins of a father, a son or a brother. The wounded, the dying, the dead are all heaped together; and already have the wolf and the vulture come to prey upon them without distinction. Friends, too, are here in quest of these fallen victims. Yonder is a wife, a mother, a sister, each frantic with grief, searching on this field of blood for a husband, a son, a brother. Here is a wretch with his limbs horribly mangled, yet still alive; and there is another all covered with blood, and crushed by the tread of the war-horse, or the wheels of cannon passing over him. Yonder is an athletic frame that had struggled hard against his pains, and survived his mortal wounds long enough'in his anguish to gnaw the turf with his teeth, and plough the earth with his hands. Here is another still that had dragged himself along in his own gore till death kindly released him from his agonies; and yonder is a young man of fair