« PreviousContinue »
many instances do war-makers punish, or destroy, for no other crime than being a native or resident of an invaded territory! A mode of revenge or redress which makes no distinction between the innocent and the guilty, ought to be discountenanced by every friend to justice and humanity. Besides, as the rulers of a nation are as liable as other people to be governed by passion and prejudice, there is as little prospect of justice in permitting war for the decision of national disputes, as there would be in permitting an incensed individual to be, in his own cause, complainant, witness, judge, jury and executioner. In what point of view then is war not to be regarded with horror?
That wars have been so overruled by God as to be the occasion of some benefits to mankind, will not be denied; for the same may be said of every custom that ever was popular among men. War may have been the occasion of advancing useful arts and sciences, and even of spreading the gospel; but we are not to do evil that good may come, nor to countenance evil because God may overrule it for good.
But war gives opportunity for the display of extraordinary talents—of daring enterprise and intrepidity. –True; but let robbery and piracy become as popular as war has been; and will not these customs give as great opportunity for the display of the same talents and qualities of mind ? Shall we therefore encourage robbery and piracy? Indeed it may be asked, do we not encourage these crimes ? For what is modern warfare but a popular, refined and legalized mode of robbery, piracy and murder, preceded by a proclamation giving notice of the purpose of the war-maker? The answer of a pirate to Alexander the Great, was as just as it was severe :-“By what right,” said the king, “ do you infest the seas ? ”
The pirate replied, “By the same that you infest the universe. But because I do it in a small ship, I am called a robber; and because you do the same acts with a great fleet, you are called a conqueror!” Equally just was the language of the Scythian ambassadors to the same deluded monarch, “Thou boastest, that the only design of thy marches is to extirpate robbers. Thou thyself art the greatest robber in the world.”
Is it not, then, time for Christians to learn not to attach glory to guilt, or to praise actions which God will condemn? That Alexander possessed talents worthy of admiration, will be admitted; but when such talents are prostituted to the vile purposes of military fame by spreading destruction and misery through the world, a character is formed which should be branded with everlasting infamy. And nothing, perhaps, short of the commission of such atrocious deeds, can more endanger the welfare of a community, than the applause given to successful military desperadoes. Murder and robbery are not the less criminal for being perpetrated by a king, or a mighty warrior.
Shall the Christian world, then, remain silent in regard to the enormity of this custom, and even applaud the deeds of men who were a curse to the age in which they lived? On the same principle we may applaud the chief of a band of robbers and pirates in proportion to his ingenuity, intrepidity and address in doing mischief. But if we attach glory to such exploits, do we not encourage others to adopt the same road to fame? Besides, would not such applause betray a most depraved taste; a taste which makes no proper distinction between virtue and vice, or doing good and doing mischief; a taste to be captivated with the glare of bold exploits, but regardless of their end, or the means by which they were accomplished, of the misery they occasion to others, or the light in which they must be viewed by a benevolent God?
An important question now occurs. Is it not possible to produce such a change in the state of society, and the views of Christian nations, that every ruler shall feel his honor, safety and happiness, to depend on his displaying a pacific spirit, and forbearing to engage in war? Cannot peace societies be extended through Christendom, to support its government, and secure the nation from war? In these societies we may hope to engage every true minister of the Prince of Peace, and every Christian who possesses his temper. Let the contributions be liberal, corresponding in some measure with the importance of the object, and be judiciously appropriated in diffusing light on the subject in every direction, and exciting a just abhorrence of war in every breast. Let every land be filled with newspapers, tracts and periodical works, adapted to the same purpose. The object so perfectly harmonious with the gospel, might be frequently the subject of discussion in the pulpit, of Sabbath and every day conversation, and of our daily prayers to God.
Especially should early education in families, common schools, academies and universities, be made every where subservient to this object “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he his old, he will not depart from it.” The power of education has been tried to make children of a ferocious, bloodthirsty character; let it now have a fair chance to see what it will do towards making mild, friendly and peaceful citizens.
As there is an aversion to war in a large majority of every civilized people, and as its evils have been felt in every Christian nation, will it not be as easy to excite a disposition for peace, as for war? If then such means should be put in operation, as have been suggested, would not the most beneficial effects result? Would they not gradually produce an important change in the views of society, and give a new character to Christian nations ? What institution or project would more naturally unite all pious and virtuous men? On what effort could we more reasonably hope for the blessing of the God of Peace ?
Bible Societies in various parts of the world, must naturally and even necessarily aid our object. Indeed the two objects are so congenial, that whatever promotes the one, will aid the other. The same may be said of all Societies for Propagating the Gospel; and, should these all cordially co-operate, they must form a most powerful association. The societies of Friends and Shakers will also come in of course, and cordially contribute to the glorious object. May we not also expect a ready acquiescence and cooperation from the particular churches of every denomination in the land? True;
there are obstacles, but none insurmountable, because God will aid, and the time is at hand when his promise of universal peace shall be fulfilled. Nor is the object of a party nature. The delusion in respect to war, is confined to no nation, sect or party; and our remarks are designed not to cast reproach on any class, but to benefit all who have not examined the subject, and arouse Christians to united and vigorous efforts for the peace of the world.
Here Christians of every sect may find an object worthy of their attention, in which they may cordially unite. For this object they may with propriety leave behind all party zeal and party distinctions, and bury their animosities in one united effort to give peace to the world. Let lawyers, politicians and divines, men of every class who can write or speak, consecrate their talents to the diffusion of light, and 'love, and peace. Should there be an effort, such as the object demands, God will grant his blessing, posterity will be grateful, heaven will be filled with joy and praise, and “the sword shall not devour forever.”
If war is ever to be set aside, an effort must some time be made; and why not now, as well as at any future day? What objection can now be stated, which may not be brought forward at any after period? If men must have objects for the display of heroism, let their intrepidity be shown in firmly meeting the formidable prejudices of a world in favor of war. Here is an opportunity for the display of such heroism as will occasion no remorse on a dying bed, such as God will approve at the final reckoning. In this cause, ardent zeal, genuine patriotism, undaunted fortitude, the spirit of enterprise, and every quality of mind worthy of a hero, may be gloriously displayed.
There is nothing in the nature of mankind, which renders war necessary and unavoidable. The Quakers, Shakers and Moravians are of the same nature with other people. All the difference between them and others results from education and habit. The principles of their teachers are impressed on the minds of old and young; and an aversion to war and violence is excited, which becomes habitual, and has a governing influence over their hearts, their passions and their lives. If then it has been found possible, by the force of education, to produce such an aversion to war, that people will not even defend their own lives by acts of violence, shall it be thought impossible to destroy the popularity of war, and exclude this deadly custom from the abodes of men?
It will be generally admitted, that the Christian religion has abolished the practice of enslaving captives, and mitigated the evils of war; that, if the temper of our Savior should universally prevail, wars must cease; and that the Scriptures give reason to hope for such a time of peace as the result of our religion. If so, does it not follow, that the custom of war is directly opposed to the gospel; that in proportion as the gospel has its proper effect, an aversion to war must be excited; and that every Christian should do all in his power to bring the custom into disrepute, and effect its abolition?
Can Christians hold their peace, while this custom is sweeping off myriads of their brethren into eternity by violence and murder? "Can they forbear to exert themselves to put an end to this voluntary plague? If war is opposed to our religion, and God designs to put an end to this scourge by the influence of the gospel, can we still sleep on without an effort to secure this promised and expected result? It can come only from the efforts of Christians; and so long as they acquiesce in the custom, this desirable event will be delayed. Christianity itself is not an intelligent agent ; neither a God, an angel, nor a man. It is only a system of divine instructions, to be used by men for their own benefit, the benefit of each other, and the honor of its Author. Like all other instructions, they are of no use any further than they are reduced to practice.
In what way, then, can Christianity ever put an end to war, but by enlightening the minds of men on the subject ?
Can war cease while Christians themselves are its advocates? If men are to be saved by the preaching of the gospel, the gospel must be preached; and so, if this world is to be delivered from war by the gospel, it must be applied for the purpose. Its pacific tendencies must be illustrated, its opposition to war displayed in the lives of Christians, and men influenced by its motives to cease from destroying one another. We expect the abolition of idolatry, and human sacrifices; but how? Will our Bibles spread their covers for wings, fly through the world, and convert the nations without the agency of Christians ? Would the gospel ever convert the heathen from their idolatry, if Christians should themselves encourage idolaters by a compliance with their customs ?
But as little may we expect the gospel will make wars cease without the exertions of Christians, and while they countenance the custom by their own example.
Is it pleaded, that men are not sufficiently enlightened, but we must wait for a more improved state of society ? Improved in what? In the science of blood ? Are such improvements to prethe
way for peace? Why not wait a few centuries until the heathen become more improved in their idolatrous customs, before we attempt to convert them to Christianity? Do we expect that continuance in idolatry will prepare them to receive the gospel ? If not, let us be consistent, and, while using means for the conversion of heathens, let us also use them for the conversion of Christians; for war is, in fact, a heathenish and savage custom, most malignant, most desolating, and most horrible, and the grossest delusion, the greatest curse, that ever afflicted a guilty world.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
A MIRROR OF WAR.
A SIEGE is war in miniature. History is full of them; but we can here quote only a few specimens to illustrate in part the atrocities and horrors inseparable from this custom.
Glance at the sufferings of its own agents in this work of blood and fire. Take the case of Civdad Rodrigo. "The toll of the cathedral bell for seven gave the signal; a low, murmuring whisper ran along the advanced files of the forlorn hope ; stocks were loosened, and each man pressed his cap more firmly down upon his brow, and, with lip compressed, waited for the word to move., Anon it passed in whispers from rank to rank, and the dark mass moved on towards the foot of the breach. What a moment! How many thoughts of home, of years long past, of last adieu to all we loved! Each heart was too full for words; and we marched noiselessly along to the ditch. All was still and silent as the grave. Quietly, my men, quietly,” said our leader ;
66 don't press.” Scarcely had he spoken, when a musket accidentally went off, and suddenly a bright flame burst forth from the ramparts, and, shooting up toward the sky, made the whole scene before us clear as noonday, disclosing on one side the dark ranks and glistening bayonets of the enemy, and on the other the red uniform of the British columns compressed like a solid wall, and stretched along the plain.
• There was no time to lose ; and the loud cry of our leader, as he sprang into the trench, summoned us to the charge. Those in the van, without waiting for the leaders, jumped after him, and others pressed rapidly behind them, when a loud rumbling thunder, a hissing, crackling noise followed, and from the dark ditch there burst forth a forked, livid lightning, like the flame from a volcano, and a mine exploded! Hundreds of shells and grenades, scattered along the ground, were ignited at the same moment; the air sparkled with the whizzing fusees; the musketry plied incessantly from the walls, and every man of the leading company of stormers was blown to pieces. At the same time, assaults were made on all sides; the whole fortress seemed girt around with fire ; and from every part arose the shouts of assailants, and the yells of triumph. As for ourselves, we stood on the verge of the ditch breathless, hesitating and horror-struck. A sudden darkness had succeeded to the bright glare ; but from the midst of the gloom the agonizing cries of our wounded and dying comrades rent our
"Make way there! make way! here comes Mackie's party," cried their leader; and, as he spoke, another forlorn hope came