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neutral on the subject, but that our opinion of the unlawfulness of all war rests principally on the moral law as revealed in the gospel; that abstinence from warfare was predicted as one of its principal characteristics; that it fully unfolds the principles which alone are sufficiently powerful to produce this effect, namely, those of suffering wrong, returning good for evil, and loving our enemies; that, since these principles were so clearly promulgated by Jesus and his Apostles, the individual who engages in any kind of warfare, plainly infringes the divine law; that nations, when carrying on war, do also infringe that law; that the Christian who fights for his prince or his country, not only commits sin in his own person, but aids and abets the national transgression ; that the injunction of Christ to his followers respecting the love of their enemies, was specifically directed against national wars ; that, when our Lord exhorted his disciples to sell their garments, and buy swords, his expressions were evidently to be understood figuratively; that our sentiments on this subject, so far from being new and extraordinary, form a striking and prevalent feature in the early Christians; and lastly, that the practice of warfare is directly at variance with the full light enjoyed under the gospel respecting life, death and eternity.
Notwithstanding the clearness and importance of these principles, it is continually pleaded that wars are often expedient, and sometimes absolutely necessary.
To such a plea it might be sufficient to answer, that nothing is so expedient, nothing so desirable, nothing so necessary, either for individuals or for nations, as conformity with the revealed will of God. Let Christians, then, take a survey of Europe during the last eighteen centuries, and impartially examine how many of its wars have been really expedient or necessary. Far the greater part of them have in fact been, even in a political point of view, much more hurtful than useful to all the parties. Where, for instance, has England found an equivalent for the almost infinite waste of blood and treasure in her many wars? Must not impartial history decide, that almost the whole of her wars have in fact been waged against imaginary dangers, might have been avoided, and have turned out to be extensively injurious to herself? If Christians would abstain from all wars which have no better foundation than a false worldly honor, from all which are not absolutely inevitable, from all which are in reality injurious to their country, they would take a very important step towards that entirely peaceable conduct which we uphold and defend. Even after such a step, however, war might seem on certain occasions to be actually necessary for mere defence and self-preservation; and, if we admit the las morality so generally prevalent, we must confess that war, in such cases, is right, and cannot be aroided; but for those who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” war is never right. It is always their duty to obey his high and holy law, to suffer wrong, to return good for evil, to love their enemies. If, in consequence of their obedience to this law, they apprehend themselves surrounded with many dangers, let them still place undivided reliance upon the power and benevolence of their God and Savior. It may be his good pleasure to deliver them from the peril, or let them fall a sacrifice; but, whatever the result, so long as they obey his law, so long are they safe in his hands.
Godliness, however, has the promise of this life, as well as of that which is to come; and we may therefore entertain a reasonable confidence, that our temporal happiness and safety, as well as our growth in grace, will in general be promoted by obedience to our heavenly Father. These observations are peculiarly applicable to those particulars in the divine law which preclude all warfare.
No weapons of self-defence will be found so efficacious as Christian meekness, kindness and forbearance, the suffering of injuries, the absence of revenge, the return of good for evil, and the ever-operating love of God and man. Those who regulate their life according to these principles, have little reason to fear violence. Such has often been the lot of Christian individuals, and such might also be the experience of Christian nations. When we consider the still degraded condition of mankind, we can hardly look at present for the trial of this experiment; but were there a people who would boldly conform their national conduct to the rules of Christ, lay aside the weapons of carnal warfare, and proclaim the principles of universal peace, suffer wrong with condescension, abstain from all retaliation, return good for evil, and diligently promote the welfare of all men ; I am fully persuaded, that such a people would not only dwell in absolute safety, but would be blessed with eminent prosperity, enriched with unrestricted commerce, loaded with reciprocal benefits, and endowed, for every good, and wise, and worthy purpose, with irresistible influence over surrounding nations.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
CHALMERS ON PEACE.*
There are a great many passages in Scripture which warrant the expectation that a time is coming, when an end shall be put to war—when its abominations and its cruelties shall be banished from the face of the earth; and
and delightful are the images which the Bible employs, as guided by the light of prophecy, it carries us forward to those millennial days, v. hen the reign of peace shall be established, and the wide charity of the gospel, which is confined by no limits, and owns no distinctions, shall embosom the whole human race within the ample grasp of one harmonious and universal family.
Let me first attempt to do away a delusion which exists on the subject of prophecy. Its fulfilments are all certain, say many; and we have therefore nothing to do, but to wait for them in passive and indolent expectation. Let us therefore sit down quietly in the attitude of spectators—let us leave the Divinity to do his own work in his own way, and mark, by the progress of a history over which we have no control, the evolution of his designs, and the march of his wise and beneficent administration.
Now, it is very true, that the Divinity will do his own work in his own way; but if he choose to tell us that that way is not without the instrumentality of men, but by their instrumentality, might not this sitting down into the mere attitude of spectators, turn out to be a most perverse and disobedient conclusion? It is true, that his purpose will obtain its fulfilment, whether we shall offer or not to help it forward by our co-operation; but if the object is to be brought about, and he has also determined on the way which leads to it, and that that way shall be by the putting forth of human exertion, then, let us keep back our co-operation as we may, God will raise up the hearts of others to that which we abstain from.
Now, this is the very way in which prophecies have actually been fulfilled ; and the same holds trué of the prophecy of universal peace. The abolition of war will be the
* From a Sermon by Rev. Thomas Chalmers, D. D. P. T. NO. XVIII.
effect, not of any sudden or resistless visitation from heaven on the character of men—not of any mystical influence working with all the omnipotence of a charm on the passive hearts of those who are the subjects of it—not of any blind or overruling fatality which will come upon the earth at some distant period of its history, and about which, we of the present day have nothing to do, but to look silently on, without concern, and without co-operation. The prophecy of a peace as universal as the spread of the human race, and as enduring as the moon in the firmament, will meet its accomplishment; but it will be brought about by the activity of men. It will be done by the philanthropy of thinking and intelligent Christians. The conversion of the Jewsthe spread of gospel light among the regions of idolatrythese are distinct subjects of prophecy, on which the faithful of the land are now acting, and to the fulfilment of which they are giving their zeal and their energy. I conceive the prophecy which relates to the final abolition of war, will be taken up in the same manner, and the subject will be brought to the test of Christian principle, and many will unite to spread a growing sense of its follies and its enormities over the countries of the world, and the public will be enlightened by the mild dissemination of gospel sentiment through the land, and the prophecy contained in this book, will pass into effect and accomplishment by no other influence than the influence of its ordinary lessons on the hearts and consciences of individuals, and the measure will first be carried in one country by the control of general opinion, and the sacred fire of good-will to the children of men will spread itself through all climes, and through all latitudes—and thus by scriptural truth conveyed with power from one people to another, and taking its ample round among all the tribes and families of the earth, shall we arrive at the magnificent result of peace throughout all its provinces, and security in all its dwelling places.
The mere existence of this prophecy of peace, is a sentence of condemnation upon war, and stamps a criminality on its very forehead. So soon as Christianity shall gain a full ascendency in the world, from that moment war is to disappear. We have heard that there is something noble in the art of war ; that there is something generous in the ardor of that fine chivalric spirit which kindles in the hour of alarm, and rushes with delight among the thickest scenes of danger and enterprise ;—that man is never more proudly arrayed, than when, elevated by a contempt for death, ho puts on his intrepid front, and looks serene, while the arrows of destruction are flying on every side of him ;- that expunge war, and you expunge some of the brightest names in the catalogue of human virtue, and demolish that theatre on which have been displayed some of the sublimest energies of the human character. It is thus that war has been invested with a most pernicious splendor, and men have offered to justify it as a blessing and an ornament to society, and attempts have been made to throw a kind of imposing morality around it; and one might almost be reconciled to the whole train of its calamities and its horrors, did he not believe his Bible, and learn from its information, that in the days of perfect righteousness, there will be no war ;-that so soon as the character of man has had the last finish of Christian principle thrown over it, from that moment all the instruments of war will be thrown aside, and all its lessons will be forgotten.
But apart altogether from this testimony to the evil of war, let us just take a direct look of it, and see whether we can find its character engraved on the aspect it bears to the eye of an attentive observer. The stoutest heart would recoil, were he who owns it, to behold the destruction of a single individual by some deed of violence. Were the man who at this moment stands before you in the full play and energy of health, to be in another moment laid by some deadly aim a lifeless corpse at your feet, there is not one of you who would not prove how strong are the relentings of nature at a spectacle so hideous as death. There are some of you who would be haunted for whole days by the image of horror you had witnessed—who would feel the weight of a most oppressive sensation upon your heart, which nothing but time could wear away—who would be so pursued by it as to be unfit for business or for enjoymentwho would think of it through the day, and it would spread a gloomy disquietude over your waking moments who would dream of it at night, and it would turn that bed which you courted as a retreat from the torments of an evermeddling memory, into a scene of restlessness.
O! my brother, if there be something appalling in the suddenness of death, think not that when gradual in its advances, you will alleviate the horrors of this sickening contemplation, by viewing it in a milder form. O! tell me, if there be any relentings of pity in your bosom, how could you endure it, to behold the agonies of the dying man, as goaded by pain, he grasps the cold ground in con