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tionary penalties, or the admission of its right to coerce its own subjects at pleasure, covers the whole ground of defensive war? So reason all apologists for this custom; but the assumption overlooks the fundamental principle, that our duties spring from our relations, and involves the absurd dogma, that individuals when alone have the same rights, and lie under the same obligations, as when members of a social organization. Such an organization, giving rise to new relations, creates corresponding rights and duties. Has a man no more right to the person of his wise, or the service of his child, than he has to any woman or child he meets in the street ? Does he, on becoming a father or a husband, a teacher or a ruler, acquire no new rights, and assume no additional responsibilities? Is he required or permitted, as an isolated individual, to do what he may and should do in relations like these? Such questions answer themselves, and disclose a very essential difference between a government taking in a legal way the life of its own subjects as a penalty for crime, and the same government killing without any form of trial, or the least pretension to individual justice, an army of invaders from another country. They act not for themselves, but for their rulers; and, if taken as prisoners, not one of them could be tried for murder. Their government alone is responsible; ours has no jurisdiction in the case; and the laws of war discard the idea of their being held to any responsibility as individuals.
Let us trace the limits of authority and obligation. I see a man committing theft or murder ; but am I bound or permitted to punish him? I should be if I were the government, or an officer invested with the requisite power; but am I as an individual ? A teacher may see in the street scores of mischievous boys; but does his right to govern his school, involve the right to punish these foreigners even when acting worse than any of his own pupils ?*Certainly not ; but he would have a right to restrain them even by violence, if they invaded his school. True, he would, if the civil government gave him the right; and so would a nation be at liberty to destroy their invaders, if God permitted it ; but, since he has given no such permission, I contend that it is not involved in the right of a government to coerce its own subjects. The cases are so distinct, that you cannot argue from one to the other. The point just now in dispute is, not whether government has the right of war from any source, but whether such a right is implied in that of controlling its own subjects. Because a parent may punish his own children, does it follow that he may punish his neighbor's children? — But what if they trespass upon his premises ?' Then he may restrain them by force, and even punish them, if the law allows it, just as a government may resist unto death an army of invaders, if God allows it ; but, if he does not, the right to do so cannot be found in any power it has over its own subjects. Because the head of every family in a neighborhood may and should govern his own children, you surely would not infer the right of these families to fight one another; yet from the conceded right of a government to restrain and punish its own subjects, you argue its authority to wage war against other governments!
But are you unable to understand why God should make such a difference? Be it so; still our ignorance of the reasons cannot alter the fact, nor absolve us from the duty of acquiescing in such clear expressions of his will as he has given in the pacific precepts of his gospel. Abraham may have seen a variety of very cogent reasons why he should not slay his son ; yet were they all overruled by the simple fact of God's requiring the strange sacrifice. We have no right to ask his reasons. If he gives them, it is well; but, if not, we should still submit without a murmur or a doubt; and, if he has given precepts which condemn all the moral ingredients of war, nor made any exceptions which exempt nations in their intercourse with each other from obligation to obey them, then no ignorance, no doubts, no difficulties on our part, can excuse us from taking those precepts as the rule of our duty.
But, however unable to discover all the reasons for such a difference, I find enough for my own satisfaction. I see them in the relation between rulers and subjects ;-in the very ends of civil government;—in its legitimate, well defined powers ;—in the necessity of their faithful exercise to the welfare of society ;-in their wise and obvious adaptation to the wants of mankind;-in the possibility of thus insuring justice, safety and happiness to the community, without the evils inseparable from the conflict of nations. None of these reasons apply to war. I find no license from a God of peace for its atrocities and horrors. No relation between one government and another, gives either a right to kill or coerce the subjects of the other. Nor is war a sure or a safe remedy for the evils incident to the intercourse of nations. It gives no assurance of justice, and contains not the slightest resemblance to a judicial process. There is no common code or tribunal, no form of trial, no charges duly tabled, no witnesses fairly confronted, no common judge or jury, no power above them both to punish the criminal, not a solitary element essential to a process of justice. One person offends, and a whole nation is doomed to vengeance. Each party makes its own law in the case, and acts as accuser and witness, as judge, jury and executioner. This a judicial process, a method of justice ? No more than a rencounter between tigers.
Do you still insist, however, that government, appointed for the protection of its subjects, is even required, if necessary for this purpose, to wage war against invaders? There are better means for this than the sword; and, if government did its whole duty, there would be no need of appealing to arms for the defence of its subjects. I grant that it may and should protect them as far as it can without violating the commands of God; but it has no right, for this or any other purpose, to contravene his revealed will. The question here is not whether government shall defend its own subjects by proper, CHRISTIAN means, but whether it may for this end perpetrate all the enormities of war. May it reverse or suspend the whole Decalogue, and trample under foot Christ's sermon on the mount, and the plainest teachings of his Apostles? Does God authorize government to do such things? If not, then no plea of protection can justify war in any case.
Here, then, is the sum of my argument. The precepts of the gospel forbid what is essential alike to war and to government; but the penal and coercive measures of the latter, being clearly permitted by God himself as exceptions, are admissible on the same principle with the sacrifice of Isaac, and the penal enactments of the Jewish code, though each contrary to the letter of the, sixth commandment; while war, not being thus permitted, remains in every one of its forms under the full force of those precepts which condemn all its moral elements, and require the opposite virtues of love, forgiveness and universal beneficence.
Thus may we discard all war, and still believe in the right of government, if necessary, to hang the murderer, and employ force to arrest pirates, and to suppress mobs, riots and insurrections.
These views are obviously the reverse of non-government. It is one thing for a father to rule his family, and quite a different thing for that family to fight another; one thing to say that a parent may not forcibly resist the wrong doing of his child, and another to hold that the child must never thus resist the authority of his parent; one thing to deny the right of government to punish or coerce its subjects, and a very different thing to insist that subjects shall never oppose force to their government. The former I discard, the latter I fully believe; and while one leaves to government no power but that of moral suasion, the other obviously makes it stronger and perfectly secure. By teaching that children may never resist their parents, should I cut the sinews of parental authority? By denying the right of forcible resistance in any case to civil government, should I strip the magistrate of all power ? Could such a doctrine lead to treason, to insurrection, to rebellion ? Did our revolutionary fathers preach it? Was it ever a watchword with rebels or mobocrats? The objector shoots at the wrong target; he should change his ground, and accuse us, not of weakening government, but of arming it with too much power.
After all, however, what danger can ensue from peace? Suppose war brought every where to a perpetual end, can the wildest dreamer imagine, that such a result would crush or paralyze alle government, and flood the world with anarchy, violence and crime ? Împossible; peace is the nurse of every virtue, the 'medium of nearly all our blessings; and, if we would insure happiness to individuals, prosperity to nations, and the greatest possible amount of good to the whole world, we surely ought to labor for universal and permanent peace.
P.S.-I am well aware that there are other ways of reconciling with civil government the belief of all war contrary to the gospel, nor would I disparage any of them; but I state my own method, and leave others to explain and vindicate theirs. The cause of peace is not fairly responsible for the modes of reasoning adopted on this point ; it has nothing to do with the government question, but permits its friends to treat the subject each in his own way.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
CRIMINALITY OF WAR.
BY HOWARD MALCOM, D. D.,
PRESIDENT OF GEORGETOWN COLLEGE, KY.
That man is a fallen and depraved creature, is every where apparent in the ferocious dispositions of his nature. Hence, to speak of him as in “ a state of nature,” has been to speak of him
a savage.” A savage finds in war and bloodshed his only means of honor and fame, and he becomes, both in the chase and the camp, a beast of prey.
In proportion as war prevails among civilized nations, it banishes whatever tends to refine and elevate, suspends the pursuits of industry, destroys the works of art, and sets them back towards barbarism. Wherever it comes, cities smoke in ruins, and fields are trodden under foot. . The husband is torn from his wife, the father from his children, the aged lose their prop, and woman is consigned to unwonted toils and perpetual alarms. As it passes, the halls of science grow lonely, improvements pause, benevolence is fettered, violence supercedes law, and even the sanctuary of God is deserted, or becomes a manger, a hospital, or a fortress. In its actual encounters, every movement is immeasurably horrid, with wounds, anguish, and death ; while amid the din of wrath and strife, a stream of immortal souls is hurried, unprepared, to their final audit.
That tyrants should lead men into wars of pride and conquest, is not strange. But that the people, in governments comparatively free, should so readily lend themselves to a business in which they bear all the sufferings, can gain nothing, and may lose all, is matter of astonishment indeed.
But the chief wonder is that Christians, followers of the Prince of Peace, should have concurred in this mad idolatry of strife, and thus been inconsistent not only with themselves, but with the very genius of their system. Behold a man going from the Lord's Supper, fantastically robed and plumed, drilling himself into skilful modes of butchery, and studying the tactics of death! Behold hiin murdering his fellow Christians, and praying to his Divine Master for success in the endeavor! Behold processions marching to the house of God to celebrate bloody victories, and give thanks for having been able to send thousands and tens of thousands to their last account with all their sins upon their heads! Stupendous inconsistency!
Surely this matter should remain no longer unexamined. It cannot. In this age of light, when every form of vice and error is discussed and resisted, this great evil, the prolific parent of unnumbered abominations, must be attacked also. Christians are waking up to see and do their duty to one another, to their neigh
bors, and to the distant heathen. They cannot continue to overlook war. I persuade myself that there are few, even now, who ubject to its being discussed.
I propose not to discuss the whole subject of war;-a vast theme. I shall abstain from presenting it in the light of philosophy, politics, or patriotism; in each of which points of light I have studied it, and feel that it demands most serious attention. In the following observations, war will be discussed only as it concerns a Christian.
Happily, there are few who would oppose the prevalence and perpetuity of peace. The need of discussion lies not in the bloodthirsty character of our countrymen, nor in the existence of active efforts to propagate and prolong the miseries of war; but in the apathy that prevails on this subject, and the almost total want of reflection in regard to it. A military spirit is so wrought into the habits of national thinking, and into all our patriotic pomps and festivals, that the occasional occurrence of war is deemed a matter. of course. Even the fervent friends of man's highest welfare seem to regard a general pacification of the world, and the disuse of fleets and armies, as a mere Utopian scheme, and chose to give their money and prayers to objects which seem of more probable attainment. This apathy and incredulity are to be overcome only by discussion.
The following observations will be confined to two points.
Christianity requires us to seek to amend the condition of man. War always deteriorates and destroys. The world at this moment not one whit better, in any respect, for all the wars of five thousand years. If here and there some good may be traced to war, the amount of evil, on the whole, is immeasurably greater. Christianity, if it prevailed, would make earth once more a paradise. War makes it a slaughter house, a desert, a den of thieves and murderers, a hell. Christianity cancels and condemns the law of retaliation. War is based upon that very principle. Christianity remedies all human woes. War makes them.
The causes of war are as inconsistent with Christianity as its effects. It originates in the worst passions, and the worst crimes, James iv., 1, 2. We may always trace it to the thirst of revenge, the acquisition of territory, the monopoly of commerce, the quarrels of kings, the coercion of religious opinions, or some such unholy source. There never was a war, devised by man, founded on holy tempers, and Christian principles.
All the features, all the concomitants, all the results of war, are opposed to the features, the concomitants, the results of Chris.