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tianity. The two systems conflict in every point, irreconcilably and forever.
2. War sets at naught the entire example of Jesus.
“ Learn of me,” says the Divine Examplar. And can we learn fighting from him? His conduct was always pacific. He became invisible when the Nazarites sought to cast him from their precipice. The troops that came to arrest him in the garden, he struck down, but not dead. His constant declaration was, that he “came not to destroy men's lives, but to save."
True, he once instructed his disciples to buy swords, telling them that they were going forth as sheep among wolves. But the whole passage shows he was speaking by parable, as he generally did. The disciples answered, “ here are two swords.” He instantly replies, “it is enough.” If he had spoken literally, how could two swords suffice for twelve Apostles ? Nay, when Peter used one of these, it was too much. Christ reproved him, and healed the wound. He meant to teach them their danger, not their refuge. His metaphor was misunderstood, just as it was when he said, “ beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” and they thought he meant bread.
Once he drove men from the temple. But it was with “ a whip of small cords.” Moral influence drove them. A crowd of such fellows was not to be overcome by one man with a whip. He expressly declared that his servants should not fight, for his kingdom was not of this world. His whole life was the sublime personifi*cation of benevolence. He was the PRINCE OF PEACE.
Do we forget that Christ is our example? Whatever is right for us to do, would in general have been right for him to do. 'Imagine the Savior robed in the trappings of a man of blood, leading columns to slaughter, setting fire to cities, laying waste the country, storming fortresses, and consigning thousands to wounds, anguish and death, just to define a boundary, settle a point of policy, or decide some kingly quarrel. Could " meekness and lowliness of heart” be learned from him thus engaged ?
There is no rank or station in an army that would become the character of Christ. Nor can any man who makes arms a profession find a pattern in Christ our Lord. But he ought to be every man's pattern.
I need not enlarge on this point. It is conceded; for no warrior thinks of making Christ his pattern. How then can a genuine imitator of Christ, consistently be a warrior ?
3. War is inconsistent not only with the NATURE of Christianity, and the EXAMPLE OF Jesus, but it violates all the EXPRESS PRE CEPTS of Scripture.
Even the Old Testament does not sanction war as a custom. In each case, there mentioned, of lawful war, it was entered upon by the express command of God. If such authority were now given, we might worthily resort to arms. But without such authority,
how dare we violate the genius of Christianity, and set at naught the example of Christ ? The wars sanctioned in olden times were not appointed to decide doubtful questions, or to settle quarrels. They were to inflict national punishment, and were intended, as are pestilence and famine, to chastise guilty nations.
As to the New Testament, a multitude of its precepts might be quoted, expressly against all fighting. “Ye have heard, &c., an eye for an eye, but I say unto you resist not evil.” “Follow peace with all men.
“ Love one another." “ Do justice, love mercy.” “Love your enemies." "Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace.” “Return good for evil.” “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” “ If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight,” etc.
If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither," &c. ye not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” “If thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink.”
“ Render not evil for evil, but contrariwise blessing.” Such passages might be indefinitely multiplied. They abound in the New Testament. How shall they be disposed of? No interpretation can nullify their force, or change their application. Take any sense the words will bear, and they forbid war. They especially forbid retaliation, which is always advanced as the best pretext for war.
Such texts as have been just quoted, relate to the single matter of retaliation and fighting. But belligerent nations violate every precept of the gospel. It enjoins every man to be meek, lowly, peaceable, easy to be entreated, gentle, thinking no evil, merciful, slow to anger, quiet, studious, patient, temperate, &c. Let a man rehearse, one by one, the whole catalogue of Christian graces, and he will see that war repudiates them all.
Examine that superlative epitome of Christianity, our Lord's sermon on the mount. Its nine benedictions are upon so many classes of persons; the poor in spirit, mourners, the meek, the merciful, the peace-makers, the persecuted, the reviled, those who hunger after righteousness, and the pure in heart. In which of these classes can the professed warrior place himself? Alas, he shuts himself out from all the benedictions of heaven.
The discourse proceeds to teach, that not only killing, but anger is murder.
It expressly rebukes the law of retaliation; and exploding the traditionary rule of loving our neighbor, and hating our enemy, it requires us to love our enemies, and do good to those that despitefully use us. Afterward, in presenting a form of prayer, it not only teaches us to say, “ Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us,” but adds, “ If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you.” What å peace sermon is here! Whať modern peace society goes further, or could be more explicit ?
But let us take a few of the Christian graces more in detail. The Christian is required to cherish a sense of direct and supreme
responsibility to God. The irresponsible feelings of a soldier are a necessary part of his profession, as Lord Wellington said recently, 'A man who has a nice sense of religion, should not be a soldier. The soldier makes war a profession, and must be ready to fight any nation, or any part of his own nation, as he is ordered. He must have no mind of his own. He must march, wheel, load, fire, charge, or retreat, as he is bidden, and because he is bidden. In the language of Thomas JEFFERSON, “The breaking of men to military discipline, is breaking their spirits to principles of passive obedience.”* The nearer a soldier comes to a mere machine, the better soldier he makes. Is this right for a Christian? Is it compatible with his duty to "examine all things, and hold fast that which is good ? ”
The contempt of life which is so necessary in a soldier, is a great sin. He must walk up to the deadly breach, and maintain his ground before the cannon's mouth. But life is inestimable, and belongs to God. He who masters the fear of death, does it either by religious influence, or quenching the fear of God, and all concern about a future state. There is not a gospel precept, which he who makes arms a profession, is not at times, compelled to violate.
Nor is there a Christian grace which does not tend to diminish the value of a professed soldier. Some graces are, it is true, useful in camp; where a man may be called to act as a servant, or laborer. It is then desirable that he be honest, meek, faithful, that he may properly attend to a horse, or a wardrobe. But such qualities spoil him for the field. He must there cast away meekness, and fight; he must cast away honesty, and forage ; he must cast away forgiveness, and revenge his country; he must not return good for evil, but two blows for one.
Survey an army prepared for battle ; see a throng, busy with cannons, muskets, mortars, swords, drums, trumpets, and banners. Do these men look like Christians? Do they talk like followers of the meek and lowly Jesus? Do they act like friends and benefactors of the whole human race? Are the lessons they learn in daily drill, such as will help them in a life of faith?
Mark this army in the hour of battle. See attacks and retreats, battalions annihilated, commanders falling, shouts of onset, groans of death, horses trampling the fallen, limbs flying in the air, suffocating smoke, and thousands smarting in the agony of death, without a cup of water to quench their intolerable thirst! Do the principles of Christianity authorize such a scene? Are such hor. rors its fruits ?
Inspect the field when all is over. The fair harvest trampled and destroyed, houses and batteries smoking in ruin, the mangled and suffering strewed among dead comrades, and dead horses, and broken gun-carriages. Prowlers strip the booty even from the warm bodies of the dying, jackals howl around, and disgusting birds are wheeling in the air; while the miserable wife seeks her loved one among the general carnage. Does all this look as if Christians had been there, serving the God of mercy ? Could such works grow out of the system, heralded as bringing “ Peace on earth ?"
* See Letter to John Jay, May 23, 1788.
Turn your eyes to the ocean. A huge ship, bristling with implements of death, glides quietly along. Presently “a sail!” is called from sentinel to sentinel. All on board catch the sound, and gaze on the dim and distant outline, At length she is discovered to be a ship of war, and all strain their eyes to see her flag. On that little token hangs the important issue; for no feud, no jealousy exists between the crews. They do not even know each other. At length the signal is discerned to be that of a foe. Immediately what a scene ensues ! Decks cleared and sanded, ports opened, guns run out, matches lighted, and every preparation made for bloody work. While waiting for the moment to engage, the worst passions of the men are appealed to to make them fight with fury; and they are inspired with all possible pride, hatred, revenge or ambition.
The fight begins! Death flies with every shot. Blood and carnage cover the decks. The rigging is cut to pieces; the hull bored with hot shot. The smoke, the confusion, the orders of officers, the yells of the wounded, the crash of timbers, the horrors of the cockpit, make a scene at which infernal fiends feel their malignity sated. At length one party strikes, and the strife is stayed. The conquered ship, ere her wounded can be removed, sinks into the deep. The victor, herself almost a wreck, throws overboard the slain, washes her decks, and turns toward her port, carrying the crippled, the agonized, and the dying of both ships ! What anguish is there in that ship! What empty berths, late filled with the gay-hearted and the profane! What tidings does she carry, to spread lamentation and misery over hundreds of families !
Yet in all this, there was no personal feud or malice, no private wrong or offence.
All was the mere result of some cabinet council, some kingly caprice. Could any enormity be more coldblooded and diabolical ?
But no where does war wear such horrors as in a siege. The inhabitants are shut up; business, pleasure, education, intercourse are all checked; sorrow, terror, and distress prevail. Bombs fall and explode in the streets; citizens are killed in their houses, and soldiers on the ramparts. Women and children retreat to the cellars, and live there cold, dark, comfortless, terrified. Day after day, and month after month, roll tediously on, while the gloom constantly thickens, and the only news is of houses crushed, acquaintances killed, prices raised, and scarcity increased. Gladly would the citizens surrender, but the governor is inexorable. At length, to all the horrors famine is added. The poor man, out of employ, cannot purchase customary comforts at the increased prices. His poverty becomes deeper, his sacrifices greater. But the siege continues. The middle classes sink to beggary, tne poorer class to starvation. Anon, breaches are made in the wall; and all must work amid galling fire to repair them. Mines are sprung, blowing houses and occupants into the air. Still no relief comes. Dead animals, offal, skins, the very carcass of the slain, are eaten. The lone widow, the bereft mother, the disappointed bride, the despairing father, and the tender babe, mourn continually. Then comes pestilence, the necessary consequence of unburied dead, and unwonted hardships, and intolerable wo. At length, the city yields; or is taken by storm, and scenes even more horrid ensue. A brutal soldiery give loose to lust, and rapine, and destruction; and the indescribable scene closes with deserted streets, general ruin, and lasting lamentation.
This picture is far from being overwrought. The history of sieges furnish realities of deeper horror. Take for instance the second siege of Saragossa in 1814, or almost any other. Now is this Christianity ?
Is it like it? Christianity cannot alter. If it will necessarily abolish all war, when the millennium shall give it universal influence, then it will abolish war now, so far as it has influence; and every man who receives it fully will be a man of peace. If religious persons may make fighting a trade on earth, they may fight in heaven. If we may lawfully cherish a war spirit here, we may cherish it there!
I close by quoting the words of the great Jeremy Taylor. contrary as cruelty is to mercy, and tyranny to charity, so contrary is war to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion.”
II. WAR IS ONE OF THE MOST AWFUL AND COMPREHENSIVE FORMS OF WICKEDNESS.
What has been said, has gone to show how inconsistent, in principle, are war and Christianity. A few considerations will now be offered, illustrative of the practices of war. We shall be thus led to see, not only that it contradicts the genius, and violates the precepts of Christianity, but that it does so in the most gross and gigantic manner.
1. It is the worst form of robbery.
Common robberies are induced by want; but war commits them by choice, and often robs only to ravage. A man who rushes to the highway to rob, maddened by the sight of a famished family, may plead powerful temptation. But armies rob, burn, and destroy, in the coolest malice." See a file of men, well fed and well clothed by a great and powerful nation, proceed on a foraging party. They enter a retired vale, where a peaceful old man by hard handed toil supports his humble family. The officer coolly points with his sword to the few stacks of hay and grain, laid up for winter. Remonstrances are vain—tears are vain. They bear off his only supply, take his cow, his pet lamb; add insult to oppression, and leave the ruined family to an almshouse or starvation. Aye, but