« PreviousContinue »
two nations, having a misunderstanding, should endeavour to settle their differences between themselves, by mutual discussion and concession; and, in case they, after a trial, could not agree, then to submit the subject to a fair arbitration, and not undertake to settle a question of equity by judicial combat, or what is impiously called an “appeal to Heaven."
The question which more immediately concerns us, is, how shall this desirable change in public opinion be effected? As, in all similar changes, individuals must take the lead, like Luther and Calvin, Wilberforce and Clarkson. The friends of the cause must unite themselves into societies, by which they put the weight of their influence into the scale of truth. Every thing must be done to discourage a vain-glorious, domineering, warlike spirit, and every thing to promote the mild and peaceable principles of our holy faith, and to “seek those things that make for peace." The friends of peace must be active and industrious, and must not expect, that the work will go on further than they carry it. They must understand
the obstacles opposed to them, and be prepared to surmount them. They must persevere “through evil report and good report;" being assured by prophecy, that “ in due time they shall reap, if they faint not." There is a vis inertiæ in morals, as well as in matter; and though it is difficult to set a large body in motion, we have this consolation, that it is equally difficult to stop it when once set a going
The prospect of effecting the desired change in public opinion, and a conviction of the duty of making the attempt, have called out the exertions of the friends of peace, and have united their exertions by the formation of peace societies, both in this country and in Europe. The work is in progress and it goes on as fast, and even faster, than could have been reasonably expected, and it will arrive at its consummation, if there be any truth in prophecy. I have heard some lament, that they were not born before the American revolution, that they might have shared in the struggle of physical force, which was then carrying on, and many, in future ages, will lament that they had not an oppor.. tuniy of taking a part in the revolution of opinion, and the struggle of moral force, 'which is now in operation, and yet, in both cases perhaps, they would have remained idle spectators, or have opposed the change.-Wise and great men of the last generation, as I have shewn in this series, anticipated the change, but they thought it at a vast distance, and their hopes were kept alive only by the prophecies and the progress which our opinions had already made, and, therefore whatever might have been their wishes and soltary exertions, they formed no coalition for the purpose of hastening the desired consummation. But we have brighter hopes, and as our hopes invigorate our exertions so our exertions brighten our hopes, andthere is a loud call on every friend of peace, now, now to exert himself. All moral good lies within the reach of moral effort. Every moral evil
may be overcome by moral influence. I close the present number with some excellent remarks by Mrs. Amelia Opie, a pious and justly celebrated English writer.s' Individual efforts, however humble, if firm and repeated, must be ultimately success
ful.” “Nothing is impossible to perseverance and exertion.” “Nothing is impossible, to zeal and enterprise." “There is no moral evil, which courage, zeal and perseverance will not enable us to overcome, and there never was a period in history, when these qualities seemed more successfully called into action, than at the present moment."
INTERNATIONAL LAW A REMEDY FOR WAR.
In my last number, I considered the effect of spontaneous public opinion on peace and war, and now agreeably to my promise, un. dertake to say something on pablic opinion, as expressed by compact and agreement, among nations-or international law--or the law of nations—as a remedy against war.
The law of nations has, hitherto, depended on the conflicting opinions of civilians, and has never been reduced to a code, to which
the principal nations of Christendom have given their assent. There are, however, some general opinions which have grown into customs, and, by them the rigors of war have been much abated. All other points have been only partially and temporarily agreed upon, in treaties of peace or commerce, and have been disregarded, as soon as the two contracting nations make war again ; because war abolishes all treaties. But if three or more nations should agree in a treaty, which should settle the disputed points, a nation would be bound, not only to that with which she might be afterward at war, but to all the other members of the league, and, if it should be agreed on, by the nations joining the public league, that no war should be declared by one party of the league against another, until the matter in dispute had been submitted to a congress of the whole, it is evident that wars must cease among the members of the confederation, and this has been actually the case on a small scale as I shall show in the sequel.
be instituted among nations, as well as among individuals, and, as the insti