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the poor old man was an enemy, as the war phrase is, and the haughty soldiery claim merit for forbearance, because they did not conclude with burning down his house.
The seizure or destruction of public stores, is not less robbery. A nation has no more right to steal from a nation, than an individual has to steal from an individual. In principle, the act is the same; in magnitude, the sin is greater. All the private robberies in a thousand years, are not a tithe of the robberies of one war. Next to killing, it is the very object of each party to burn and destroy by sea, and ravage and lay waste on land. It is a malign and inexcusable barbarity, and constitutes a stupendous mass of theft.
In one of the Punic wars, Carthage, with 100,000 houses, was burnt and destroyed, so that not a house remained. The plunder carried away by the Romans, in precious metals and jewels alone, is reported to have been equal to five millions of pounds of silver. Who can compute the number of similar events, from the destruction of Jerusalem to that of Moscow ? Arson, that is, the setting fire to an inhabited dwelling, is, in most countries, punishable by death. But more of this has been done in some single wars, than has been committed privately, since the world began. When some villain sets fire to a house and consumes it, what public indignation! What zeal to bring to justice! If, for a succession of nights, buildings are fired, what general panic! Yet how small the distress, compared to that which follows the burning of an entire city. In one case, the houseless still find shelter, the laborer obtains work, the children have foot. But oh, the horrors of a general ruin! Earthquake is no worse.
It should not be overlooked, that a great part of the private robberies in Christendom, may be traced to the deterioration of morals, caused by war. Thousands of pirates, received their infamous education in national ships. Thousands of thieves, were disbanded soldiers. War taught these men to disregard the rights of property, to trample upon justice, and refuse mercy. Even if disposed to honest labor, which a military life always tends to render unpalatable, the disbanded soldier often finds himself unable to obtain employment. The industry of his country has been paralysed by the war; and the demand for labor slowly recurs. The discharged veteran therefore is often compelled to steal or starve.
Thus war, by its own operations, involves continual and stupendous thefts, and by its unavoidable tendencies, multiplies offenders, who in time of peace prey upon community.
2. It involves the most enormous Sabbath breaking.
The Sabbath cannot be observed by armies. Common camp duty forbids it. Extra duties are generally assigned to Sundaysuch as parades, drill, inspections, and reviews. Seldom is any effort made to avoid marches, or even battles, on Sunday. I have been able to find, in all history, but one battle postponed on account of the Sabbath. In thousands of instances, as in the case of Waterloo, it has been the chosen day for conflict.
War tends to abolish the Sabbath, even when the army is not present. The heavy trains of the commissary must move on. The arsenal and the ship yard must maintain their activity. Innumerable mechanics, watermen, and laborers, must be kept busy. During our late war with England, who did not witness on all our frontiers, even in the States of New England, the general desecration of the holy day? Men swarmed like ants on a mole hill, to throw up entrenchments; the wharves resounded with din of business; and idlers forsook the house of God to gaze upon the scenes of preparation.
Do Christians consider these unavoidable results, when they give their voice for war? No. The calm consideration of such concomitants, would make it impossible for them to advise or sanction the profane and abominable thing.
3. War produces a wicked waste of national wealth.
The disbursements of a belligerent government, drawn of course by taxation from the laboring community, form an incalculable amount. Our last war with England cost us more than a hundred millions of dollars per annum. During the last 175 years, ENGLAND has had twenty-four wars with France, twelve with Scotland, eight with Spain, and two with America, besides all her other wars in India and elsewhere. These have cost her government, according to official returns, three thousand millions of pounds sterling, or FIFTEEN THOUSAND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! The war which ended at Waterloo, cost France £700,000,000, and Austria £300,000,000, or five thousand millions of dollars! How much it cost Spain, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Prussia and Russia, I have no means of knowing, but at least an equal sum.
Thus one long war cost Europe at least forty thousand millions! The annual interest of this sum, at five per cent., is two thousand millions of dollars, enough almost to banish suffering poverty from Europe! For all this, Nothing has been gained. "Nay, the spending of it thus has produced an aggregate of vice and poverty, pain and bereavement, more than, without war, would have come upon the whole human family since the flood! Who then can begin to compute the cost of all the wars even in Europe alone?
We often hear much railing against useless expenditure, and proposals for economy in dress, furniture, &c., and it is well. But those who insist on these modes of frugality should be consistent. Let them remember that all the retrenchments they recommend are but as the dust of the balance compared to the expenditures of a war. But vast as are the expenses of belligerent governments, they do not constitute a tenth of the true expenses of war! We must reckon the destruction of property, private and public—the ruin of trade and commerce-the suspension of manufactories—the loss of the productive labor of soldiers and cainp followers. But who can reckon such amounts ?
Further, let it be considered that all these items must be doubled and trebled in cases of civil wars, and that such form a large part of the catalogue.
Further still, war causes the great bulk of taxation even in time of peace! Witness the annual appropriations for fleets and standing armies, forts, arsenals, weapons, pensions, &c. Even since our last war with England, we have been paying annually, for the above objects, about ten times as much as for the support of our civil government!! “ The war spirit” is taxing our people to the amount of unnumbered millions, now in time of profound peace. A single 74 gun ship, beside all her cost of construction and equipment, costs in tiine of peace, while afloat, $200,000 per annum-eight times the salary of the President of the United States. Nearly all the tores paid by civilized nations, go in some form or other to the support of war! All the British debt which is grinding her people into the dust, was created by war. The cost of the wars of Europe alone, in only the last century, would have built all the canals, railroads, and churches, and established all the schools, colleges, and hospitals, wanted on the whole globe!
4. War is the grossest form of murder.
Private murders are atrocious—those of war far more so. But the contrary opinion prevails; and we adduce proofs. War enhances the crime of murder on the following accounts:
(1.) It is more cold blooded and cruel. Malice prompts private murder, and the proof of it is necessary to conviction by a jury; and the more cool and calculating, the more guilt. But murder in war is more cool and calculating, than even in a duel. The question of war or peace is calmly debated, deliberately resolved upon, and proclaimed in form. Armies are raised, and drilled, and marched, and engaged, with all coolness and calculation. The contending hosts know not each other, cherish no personal hate, and seldom know the true grounds of the contest. All is done with whatever of aggravation attends deliberate homicide.
(2.) It is more vast in amount.
Computation falters when we estimate the numbers slain in war or by reason of it. Three hundred thousand men fell in one battle, when Attila, king of the Huns, was defeated at Chalons. Nearly the entire army of Xerxes, consisting of four millions of persons, perished. Julius Cæsar, in one campaign in Germany, destroyed half a million. More than half a million perished in one campaign of Napoleon, averaging 3000 men a day. Paying no attention to the innumerable wars among Pagans before and since the birth of Christ, nor to all the wasting wars of the past seventeen centuries, it is matter of distinct calculation that about five millions of nominal Christians, have been butchered by nominal Christians, within the last half century! What then has been the total of war-murders since creation ?
Nor is the number of the slain the real total. Multitudes of " the wounded and missing” die; multitudes perish out of armies
and fleets without battle, by hardships, exposure, vice, contagion, and climate. We ought, therefore, at least to double the number slain in engagements, to arrive at the true sum; and make ten millions of men destroyed within half a century by Christian nations' quarrels !
(3.) Deaths caused by war, are accompanied by horrid aggravations of suffering.
The wretches die, not on beds of down, surrounded by all that can relieve or palliate suffering. No soft hand smooths the couch, or wipes the brow. No skilful physician stands watching every symptom. The silence, the quiet, the cleanliness, the sympathy, the love, the skill, that divest the chamber of death of all its horror, and half its anguish, are not for the poor soldier. Private murder is always done in haste, and the sufferer is often dismissed from life in a moment. Not so in war. Few are killed outright. The victim dies slowly of unmedicated wounds. Prostrate amid the trampling of columns and of horses which have lost their riders, or in a trench, amid heaps of killed and wounded, he dies a hundred deaths. If, mangled and miserable, he finds himself still alive, when the tide of battle has passed, how forlorn his condition! Unable to drag himself from the ghastly scene, his gory limbs chilled with the damps of night, tortured with thirst, and quivering with pain, his heart sickened with the remembrance of home, and his soul dismayed at the approach of eternal retribulions, he meets death with all that can make it terrific.
(4.) The multitudes murdered in war, are generally sent to hell.
The thought is too horrible for steady contemplation; but we are bound to consider it. “No murderer hath eternal life.” Soldiers are murderers in intent and profession, and die in the act of killing others, and with implements of murder in their hands. Without space for repentance, they are hurried to the bar of God. On what grounds may we affirm their salvation? O that those that know the worth of souls, would dwell on this feature of the dreadful custom!
(5.) War first corrupts those whom it destroys, and thus aggravates damnation itself.
Bad as are most men who enlist in standing armies, war makes them worse. They might at any rate be lost, but their vocation sends them to a more dreadful doom. The recruit begins his degradation, even in the rendezvous, ere he has lodged a week within its walls. He grows still worse in camp.
In the army, vice becomes his occupation. His worst passions are fostered. His Sabbaths are necessarily profaned. He becomes ashamed of tender feelings, and conscientious scruples. Thus an old soldier is generally a hardened offender; and the shot that terminates his life, consigns him to a destiny rendered more terrible by his profession. Had the money and time, which has been lavished to equip and drill and support him as a soldier, been spent
for his intellectual and moral improvement, he might have been an ornament to society, and a pillar in the church.
Mark his grim corpse as men bear it to the gaping pit into which whole cart-loads of bodies are thrown. The property, nay the liberty of a whole nation is not a price for his soul! How then can Christians with one hand give to the support of missions, and with the other uphold a custom which counteracts every good enterprise ?
CONCLUDING REMARKS. How strange, how awful, that to such a trade as war, mankind has, in all ages, lifted up its admiration! Poetry lends its fascinations, and philosophy its inventions. Eloquence, in forum and field, has wrought up the war spirit to fanaticism and frenzy. Even the pulpit, whose legitimate and glorious theme is “ PEACE ON EARTH," has not withheld its solemn sanctions. The tender sex, with strange infatuation, have admired the tinselled trappings of him whose trade is to make widows and orphans. Their hands have been withdrawn from the distaff, to embroider warrior's ensigns. The young mother has arrayed her proud boy with cap and feather, toyed him with drum and sword, and trained him, unconsciously, to love and admire the profession of a man-killer.
The universal maxim has been, “in peace prepare for war ;" and men are all their days contributing and taxing themselves to defray the expenses of killing each other.
Scarcely has a voice been lifted up to spread the principles of peace. Every other principle of Christianity has had its apostles. Howard reformed prisons; Sharp, and Clarkson, and Wilberforce arrested the slave-trade. Carey carried the gospel to India. Every form of vice has its antagonists, and every class of sufferers find philanthropists. But who stands forth to urge the law of love? Who attacks this monster WAR? We have not waited for the millennium to abolish intemperance, or Sabbath breaking; but' we wait for it to abolish war. It is certain that the millennium cannot come, till war expires.
Shall it so remain ? "Shall this gorgon of pride, corruption, destructiveness, misery and murder, be still admired and fed, while it is turning men's hearts to stone, and the garden of the Lord into the desolation of death? Let every heart say no. Let Christians shine before men as sons of peace, not less than as sons of justice and truth. If wars and rumors of wars continue, let the church stand aloof. It is time she was purged of this stain. Her brotherhood embraces all nations. Earthly rulers may tell us we have enemies; but our heavenly King commands us to return them good for evil; if they hunger, to feed them; if they thirst, to give them drink.
Rise then, Christians, to noble resolution and vigorous endeavors! Retire from military trainings, and spurn the thought of þeing hired by the month to rob and kill. Refuse to study the