Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

its ordinary atrocities and horrors. Sucn evils are not merely incidental to war; they are inseparable from any of its forms, and constitute its grand, essential elements. They are a part of the system. Misery is its object, or its means; and war, without a fearful waste of property, life, and happiness, is an utter impossibility. Its whole business is to plunder, and burn, and butcher by wholesale; and to talk of a war that did not perpetrate such atrocities, and inflict such miseries, would be as direct a contradiction in terms as to speak of vision without light, or of fire without heat.

Can you estimate the guilt, the folly, the madness of employing such an arbiter of international disputes as war? Burn villages, demolish cities, lay waste empires, send hundreds of thousands into an untimely grave, into a ruined eternity, all for the settlement of difficulties which can be adjusted only by an appeal to reason! What should we think of two neighbors who should propose to settle a point in dispute, not by reasoning the case between themselves, nor by referring it to an impartial jury, or to umpires mutually chosen, but by shooting at each other, and butchering each others' wives and children? Yet such is the war-system still supported by all Christendom; and, if the stealer of a horse or a coat deserves a prison, and the pirate who destroys but one vessel, or the assassin who murders a single victim, is deemed worthy of the gallows, what must be the criminality of nations in continuing a custom which multiplies such crimes and woes by thousands and by millions!

On whom do the evils of war fall? Are its guilty abettors the men that pay its expenses, bear its hardships, and suffer its countless woes? No; these come upon the people. It is their earnings that are wasted, their blood that is poured out like water, their dwellings that are burnt to ashes, their fathers and brothers, husbands and sons, that are driven away like cattle to be butchered by thousands; while the authors of all these evils, sitting aloof from the storm upon their sofas of ease and luxury, read without a sigh of the miseries they have themselves occasioned. How long will the people bear such cold blooded oppression?

Tell us not that war is a necessary evil. Necessary for whom ? For civilized, Christian men like ourselves ? Are we unwilling to regulate our intercourse, or settle our disputes, without bloodshed? Why is war necessary? Merely because nations choose it; just as intemperance is necessary to the drunkard, piracy to the pirate, and duelling to

[ocr errors]

the duellist. There is no other kind of necessity for war; and it must cease of course whenever men shall resolve to have it cease. There is no more need of war in Christendom than there is of duels in New England; it would be just as easy for nations, if they chose, to settle all their disputes without the sword and the cannon, as it is for us to adjust ours without pistols and daggers.

But do you deem it impossible thus to change the warchoice even of Christendom? Human nature is as corrigible on this subject as upon any other ; there is nothing to render the extinction of this custom impossible by the right use of the requisite means; and the promises of God make its ultimate abolition perfectly certain. It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it; and then shall they beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.' Isa. 2:2-4, 9:4-9. Mic. 4:1-4.

But how is this promise to be fulfilled ? By miracle? We can expect no more miracles. By some unparalleled interposition of Providence? God has promised no such interposition. Without the use of appropriate means? Such means are just as indispensable for the prevalence of peace as for the spread of the gospel.

But what are these means? Such an application of the gospel to the subject as shall revolutionize the war-sentiments of Christendom, fill every Christian community with deep abhorrence of this custom, and lead rulers to employ only pacific expedients in settling international disputes. And who shall use these means ? We cannot rely on men of the world, except as occasional coadjutors; it is the appropriate work of Christians; and they must do it, or it never will be done. But how shall they do it? Is it enough for them merely to support and to propagate the present form of their religion? It has for ages tolerated the war-system, and suffered Christendom to remain a vast hot-bed of war. Will such a religion, if spread through the world, put an end to war? No sooner than a rumdrinking and a slave-holding Christianity would put an end to intemperance and slavery. The gospel will abolish nothing which it sanctions and supports; and, if men are not converted to peace, as fast as they are to God, such a conversion of the whole world could not insure the universal and permanent reign of peace. We must restore the pacific principles of the gospel, and incorporate them once more, where Christ and his apostles left them, in the faith and character of his disciples as a body, before the spread of Christianity will insure the abolition of war. The gospel is a sovereign remedy for all the moral maladies of our world; but it must be applied to war, before it can cure this deep and deadly gangrene of our race.

It has not been applied for fifteen centuries; and so long as Christians persist in this neglect, we cannot expect to see peace coëxtensive with Christianity.

But do you ask what specific things must be done? Let every man cease from lending his countenance to the war-system in any way or degree, and every possible means be used to render it deeply and universally odious. Let every Christian examine the subject till his own views, feelings, and bits, are cast in the pacific mould of the gospel. Let the pulpit and the press proclaim, with trumpet-tongue, the folly, guilt, and horrors of war before every Christian community on earth. Let instructors in all Christian seminaries of learning, from the highest to the lowest, infuse the pacific principles of the gospel into the forming minds under their care.

Let teachers in every Sabbath-school through the world do the same to their pupils. Let every parent train his children to a love of peace, and a deep, unmingled abhorrence of war. Let all classes, high and low, old and young, male and female, unite to bring this custom into general contempt and execration, as a mass of folly, sin, and misery. Such a process would soon bring war in Christendom to a perpetual end.

How much longer, then, will the friends of God and man slumber

this subject ? Will they never open their eyes to the abominations and miseries of war, and combine their efforts to sweep it from every land blest with the light of revelation? Can they still lend their countenance to such a wholesale destroyer of property, and life, and virtue, and religion, and immortal souls ? Disciples of Jesus, we leave these questions on your conscience before the God of peace. Have you done what you could? Are you now doing all that you can? If not, will you keep hold of the subject till you learn and do your whole duty as a follower of the Prince of peace ?



No. III.


Wars come solely because men choose to have them; and, could we change the choice of the world on this subject, the custom would soon die of itself.

Men can put an end to it whenever they please; and we wish so far to revolutionize the war-sentiments of mankind that they will no longer tolerate this terrible scourge. It has always resulted from a public opinion grossly perverted; this opinion in favor of war must be radically changed, before peace can become permanent or general; and, among other means adapted to produce such a change, we wish, as the friends of temperance have done in their cause, to show you how men the most distinguished in all ages

for their learning, wisdom, and virtues, have regarded the custom of war.


We could not expect the heathen to denounce a custom so emphatically their own; yet we find the wisest and best of them reprobating it in the strongest terms. MINUTIUS calls it “ the part of a wild beast, not of man, to inquire how bite may be returned for bite, and evil for evil.” Cicero speaks of war, "contention by violence, as belonging to the brutes," and complains bitterly of its effects on liberal arts, and peaceful pursuits. “All our noble studies, all our reputation at the bar, all our professional assiduities, are stricken from our hands as soon as the alarm of war is sounded. Wisdom itself, the mistress of affairs, is driven from the field. Force bears sway.

The statesman is despised; the grim soldier alone is caressed. Legal proceedings cease. Claims are asserted and prosecuted, not according to law, but by force of arms.

SENECA, the great moralist of antiquity, is still more strong in his condemnation of war. “ How are we to treat our fellow-creatures ? Shall we not spare the effusion of blood ? 'How small a matter not to hurt him whom we are



which the soldier, if he would reap any profit, is obliged to be false, and rapacious, and cruel. Nor can any man, who makes war his profession, be otherwise than vicious. Have you not a proverb, that war makes villains, and peace brings them to the gallows ?

LORD CLARENDON, illustrious in the annals of England, is very explicit in his denunciations of this custom.“ Of all the punishments and judgments which the provoked anger of the divine providence can pour out upon a nation full of transgressions, there is none so terrible and destroying as war. A whole city on fire is a spectacle replete with horror; but a whole kingdom on fire must be a prospect much more terrible. And such is every kingdom in war, where nothing flourishes but rapine, blood and murder. We cannot make a more lively representation and emblem to ourselves of hell, than by the view of a kingdom in war."

They who allow no war to be lawful, have consulted both nature and religion much better than they who think it may be entered into to comply with the ambition, covetousness, or revenge of the greatest princes and monarchs upon earth; as if God had inhibited only single murders, and left mankind to be massacred according to the humor and appetite of unjust and unreasonable men.

It is no answer to say, that this universal suffering is the inevitable consequence of war, however warrantably soever entered into, but rather an argument that no war can warrantably be entered into. It may be, upon a strict survey and inquisition into the elements and injunctions of the Christian religion, that no war will be found justifiable; and, at all events, what can we think of most of those wars which for some hundreds of years have infested the world so much to the dishonor of Christianity, and in which the lives of more men have been lost than might have served to people all those parts of the earth which yet remain without inhabitants ?"

Necker, the great French financier, exclaims, “With what impatience have I wished to discuss this subject, and to expatiate on the evils which always attend this terrible calamity! War, alas ! impedes the course of every useful plan, exhausts the sources of prosperity, and diverts the attention of governors from the happiness of nations. It even suspends, sometimes, every idea of justice and humanity; and, instead of gentle and benevolent feelings, it substitutes hostility and hatred, the necessity of oppression, and the rage of desolation.”

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »