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vulsive energy, or faint with the loss of blood, his pulse ebbs low, and the gathering paleness spreads itself over his countenance; or wrapping himself round in despair, he can only' mark by a few feeble quiverings, that life still lurks and lingers in his lacerated body; or lifting up a faded eye, he casts on you a look of imploring helplessness, for that succor which no sympathy can yield him. It may be painful to dwell on such a representation ; but this is the way in which the cause of humanity is served. The eye of the sentimentalist turns away from its sufferings, and he passes by on the other side, lest he hear that pleading voice which is armed with a tone of remonstrance so vigorous as to disturb him. He cannot bear thus to pause, in imagination, on the distressing picture of one individual; but multiply it ten thousand times; say, how much of all this distress has been heaped together upon a single field; give us the arithmetic of this accumulated wretchedness, and lay it before us with all the accuracy of an official computationand, strange to tell, not one sigh is lifted up among the crowd of eager listeners, as they stand on tiptoe, and catch every syllable of utterance which is read to them out of the registers of death, O! say, what mystic spell is that, which so blinds us to the sufferings of our brethren; which deafens our ear to the voice of bleeding humanity, when it is aggravated by the shriek of dying thousands; which makes the very, magnitude of the slaughter, throw a softening disguise over its cruelties, and its horrors; which causes us to eye with indifference, the field that is crowded with the most revolting abominations, and arrests that sigh, which each individual would singly have drawn from us, by the report of the many who have fallen, and breathed their last in agony along with them.
I am not saying that the burden of all this criminality rests upon the head of the immediate combatants. It lies somewhere ; but who can deny that a soldier may Christian, and that from the bloody field on which his body is laid, his soul may wing its ascending way to the shores of a peaceful eternity? But when I think that the Christians, even of the great world, form but a very little flock, and that an army is not a propitious soil for the growth of Christian principle-when I think on the character of one such army, that had been led on for years by a ruffian ambition, and been inured to scenes of barbarity, and had gathered a most ferocious hardihood of soul from the many enterprises of violence to which an unprincipled command
er had carried them-when I follow them to the field of battle, and further think, that on both sides of an exasperated contest, the gentleness of Christianity can have no place in almost any bosom, but that nearly every heart is lighted up with fury, and breathes a vindictive purpose against a brother of the species, I cannot but recken it among the most fearful of the calamities of war, that while the work of death is thickening along its ranks, so many disembodied spirits should pass into the presence of Him who sitteth
upon the throne, in such a posture, and with such a preparation.
I have no time to set before you a vivid picture of the other miseries which war carries in its train-how it desolates every country through which it rolls, and spreads violation and alarm among its villages—how, at its approach, every home pours forth its trembling fugitives—how all the rights of property, and all the provisions of justice must give way before its devouring exactions—how, when Sabbath comes, no Sabbath charm comes along with it, and for the sound of the church bell which wont to spread its music over some fine landscape of nature, and summon rustic worshippers to the house of prayer, nothing is heard but the deathful volleys of the battle, and the maddening outcry of infuriated men-how, as the fruit of victory, an unprincipled licentiousness which no discipline can restrain, is suffered to walk at large among the people, and all that is pure, and reverend, and holy in the virtue of families, is cruelly trampled on, and held in the bitterest derision.
But let me hasten to some of the obstacles which stand in the
of the extinction of war. The first great obstacle, then, is the way in which the heart of man is carried off from its barbarities and its horrors, by the splendor of its deceitful accompaniments. There is a feeling of the sublime in contemplating the shock of armies, just as there is in contemplating the devouring energy of a tempest; and this so elevates and engrosses the whole man, that his eye is blind to the tears of bereaved parents, and his ear is deaf to the piteous moan of the dying, and the shriek of their desolated families. There is a gracefulness in the picture of a youthful warrior burning for distinction on the field, and lured by this generous aspiration to the deepest of the animated throng, where, in the fell work of death, the opposing sons of valor struggle for a remembrance and a name; and this side of the picture is so much the exclusive object of our regard, as to disguise from our view the
mangled carcasses of the fallen, and the writhing agonies of the hundreds and the hundreds more who have been laid on the cold ground, where they are left to languish and to die. There no eye pities them. No sister is there to weep over them. There no gentle hand is present to ease the dying posture, or bind up the wounds which, in the maddening fury of the combat, have been given and received by the children of one common father. There death spreads its pale ensigns over every countenance; and when night comes on, and darkness around them, how many, a despairing wretch must take up with the bloody field as the untended bed of his last sufferings, without one friend to bear the message of tenderness to his distant home, without one companion to close his eyes.
I avow it. On every side of me I see causes at work which
go to spread a most delusive coloring over war, and to remove its shocking barbarities to the back ground of our contemplations altogether. I see it in the history which tells me of the superb appearance of the troops, and the brilliancy of their successive charges. I see it in the poetry which lends the magic of its numbers to the narrative of blood, and transports its many admirers, as by its images, and its figures, and its nodding plumes of chivalry, it throws its treacherous embellishments over a scene of legalized slaughter. I see it in the music which
represents the gress of the battle ; and where, after being inspired by the trumpet-notes of preparation, the whole beauty and tenderness of a drawing-room are seen to bend over the sentimen-, tal entertainment; nor do I hear the utterance of a single sigh to interrupt the death-tones of the thickening contest, and the moans of the wounded men as they fade away upon the ear, and sink into lifeless silence. All, all goes to prove what strange and half-sighted creatures we are. Were it not so, war could never have been seen in any other aspect than that of unmingled hatefulness; and I can look to nothing but to the progress of Christian sentiment upon earth to arrest the strong current of its popular and prevailing partiality for war. Then only will an imperious sense of duty lay the check of severe principle on all the subordinate tastes and faculties of our nature. Then will glory be reduced to its right estimate, and the wakeful benevolence of the gospel chasing away every spell, will be turned by the treachery of no delusion whatever from its simple but sublime enterprises for the good of the species. Then the reign of truth and quietness will be ushered into
the world, and war, cruel, atrocious, unrelenting war will be stript of its many and its bewildering fascinations.
But another obstacle to the extinction of war, is a sentiment which seems to be universally gone into, that the rules and promises of the gospel which apply to a single individual, do not apply to a nation of individuals. Just think of the mighty effect it would have on the politics of the world, were this sentiment to be practically deposed from its wonted authority over the counsels and the doings of nations, in their transactions with each other. If forbearance be the virtue of an individual, forbearance is also the virtue of a nation. If it be incumbent on men in honor to prefer each other, it is incumbent on the very largest societies of men, through the constituted organ of their government, to do the same. If it be the glory of a man to defer his anger, and to pass over a transgression, that nation mistakes its glory which is so feelingly alive to the slightest insult, and musters up its threats and its armaments upon the faintest shadow of a provocation. If it be the
magnanimity of an injured man to abstain from vengeance, and it by so doing, he heaps coals of fire upon the head of his enemy, then that is the magnanimous nation, which, recoiling from violence and from blood, will do no more than send its Christian embassy, and prefer its mild and impressive remonstrance; and that is the disgraced nation which will refuse the impressiveness of the moral appeal that has been made to it.
It is, then, only by the extension of Christian principle among the people of the earth, that the atrocities of war will at length be swept away from it; and each of us in hastening the commencement of that blissful period in his own sphere, is doing all that in him lies to bring his own heart, and the hearts of others, under the supreme influence of this principle. It is public opinion, which in the long run governs the world; and while I look with confidence to a gradual revolution in the state of public opinion from the omnipotence of gospel truth working its silent but effectual way through the families of mankind, yet I will not deny that much may be done to accelerate the advent of perpetual and universal peace, by a distinct body of men embarking their every talent, and their every acquirement in the prosecution of this as a distinct object. This was the way in which, a few years ago, the British public were gained over to the cause of Africa.
This is the way in which some of the other prophecies of the Bible are at this
moment hastening to their accomplishment; and it is this way, I apprehend, that the prophecy of peace may be indebted for its speedier fulfilment to the agency of men selecting this as the assigned field on which their philanthropy shall expatiate. Were each individual member of such a scheme to prosecute his own walk, and come forward with his own peculiar contribution, the fruit of the united labors of all would be one of the finest collections of Christian eloquence, and of enlightened morals, and of sound political philosophy, that ever was presented to the world. I could not fasten on another cause more fitted to call forth such a variety of talent, and to rally around it so many of the generous and accomplished sons of humanity, and to give each of them a devotedness and a power far beyond whatever could be sent into the hearts of enthusiasts by the mere impulse of literary ambition.
Let one take up the question of war in its principle, and make the full weight of his moral severity rest upon it, and upon all its abominations. Let another take up the question of war in its consequences, and bring his every power of graphical description to the task of presenting an awakened public with an impressive detail of its cruelties and its horrors. Let another neutralize the poetry of war, and dismantle it of all those bewitching splendors, which the hand of misguided genius has thrown over it. Let another teach the world a truer, and more magnanimous path to national glory, than any country of the world has yet walked in.
Let another tell with irresistible argument, how the Christian ethics of a nation is at one with the Christian ethics of its humblest individual. Let another pour the light of modern speculation into the mysteries of trade, and
prove that not a single war has been undertaken for any of its objects, where the millions and the millions more which were lavished on the cause, have not all been cheated away from us by the phantom of an imaginary interest. This may look to many like the Utopianism of a romantic anticipation; but I shall never despair of the cause of truth addressed to a Christian public, when the clear light of principle can be brought to every one of its positions, and when its practical and conclusive establishment forms one of the most distinct of Heaven's prophecies—" that men shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; and that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”