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tactics, or practice the handicraft of death; and with “ a hope that maketh not ashamed,” proclaim the principles of universal peace, as part and parcel of eternal truth.
A portion of our missionary spirit should be expended in this department. Shall we pour out our money and our prayers, when we hear of a widow burnt on her husband's funeral pile, or deluded wretches crushed beneath the wheels of Juggernaut, but do nothing to dethrone this Moloch to whom hundreds of millions of Christians have been sacrificed? Among the fifty millions of the Presidency of Bengal, the average number of suttees (widows burned, &c.) has for twenty years been less than 500, or in the proportion of one death in a year for such a population as Philadelphia. What is this to war? Every day of some campaigns has cost more lives!
We must not abstain from effort, because of apparent obstacles. What great reform does not meet obstructions ? The overthrow of Papal supremacy by Luther, the temperance movement, and a host of similar historic facts, show that truth is mighty, and when fairly and perseveringly exhibit will prevail. It can be shown, that in attempting to abolish all war, we encounter fewer impediments than have attended various other great changes. Even if it were not so, we have a duty to discharge whether we prevail or not. Moral obligation does not rest on the chance of success.
Our obstacles are neither numerous nor formidable. No classes of men love war for its own sake. If it were abolished, those who. now make it a profession, could all find profitable and pleasanter employment in peaceful pursuits. Men's interests are not against us; but the contrary. The people are not blood-thirsty. What serious impediment is there to obstruct the diffusion of peace principles ? None more than beset even the most popular enterprise of lito ture or benevolence. Our only obstruction is apathy, and the unfortunate sentiment that the millennium is to do it away, we know not how. But we might as well do nothing against intemperance, or Sabbath-breaking, or heresy; and wait for the millennium to do them away. Nothing will be done in this world without means, even when the millennium shall have come. Do you ask what you can do ? Much, very much, whoever you
Cherish in yourself the true peace-spirit. Try to diffuse it. Assist in enlightening your neighbors. Talk of the horrors of war, its impolicy, its cost, its depravity, its utter uselessness in adjusting national disputes. Teach children correctly on this point, and show them the true character of war, stripped of its music and mock splendor.
Banish drums and swords from among their toys. Proclaim aloud the Divine government, and teach men how vain it is, even in a righteous cause, to trust an arm of flesh. Insist that patriotism, in its common acceptation, is not a virtue; for it limits us to love our country, and allows us to hate and injure other nations. Thus if Çanada were annexed to our Union, we must, on that account, love Canadians. But if South Carolina should secede, we must withdraw part of our love, or perhaps go
to war and kill as many as possible. O how absurd to act thus, as though God's immutable law of love was to be obeyed or not as our boundaries may be.
“ Lands intersected by a narrow sea,
Like kindre drops, been mingled into one." Let us feel and disseminate the sentiment that true patriotism is shown only by the good. A man may claim to be a patriot, and love “his country,” whose feelings are so vague and worthless that he loves no one in it! He loves a mere name! or rather, his patriotism is a mere name. Whole classes of his fellow-citizens may remain in vice, ignorance, slavery, poverty, and yet he feels no sympathy, offers no aid. Sodom would have been saved, had there been in it ten righteous. These then would have been patriots. These would have saved their country. “We have in our land many righteous. These are our security. These save the land from a curse. These therefore are the only true patriots.
Let us unite in “showing up” military glory. What is it? Grant that it is all that it has ever passed for, and it still seems superlatively worthless. The wreaths of conquerors fade daily, We give their names to dogs and slaves. The smallest useful volume gives its author a better and more lasting name. And how absurd, too, is it to talk to common soldiers and under officers about military glory! Among the many millions who have toiled and died for love of glory, scarcely a score are remembered among men! Who of our revolutionary heroes but Washington and Lafayette are known in the opposite hemisphere? Who of our own citizens can tell over a half dozen distinguished soldiers in our struggle for independence? Yet that war is of late date. Of the men of former wars we know almost nothing. Essentially stupid then is the love of military renown in petty officers and the common private. They stake their lives in a lottery where there is hardly a prize in five hundred years!
Let us print and propagate peace principles. Public opinion has been changed on many points by a few resolute men.
Let us keep the subject before the people till every man forms a deliberate opinion, whether Christianity allows or forbids war. Let us at least do so much that if ever our country engages in another war, we shall feel no share of the guilt. Let us each do so much that if we should ever walk over a battle-field, stunned with the groans and curses of the wounded, and horror-struck at the infernal spectacle, we can feel that we did all we could to avert such an evil.
Let us clear ourselves of blame. No one of us can put a stop to war. But we can help stop it—and combined and persevering effort will stop it.
I will offer but one consideration more; viz., the
FEASIBILITY OF A COURT OF NATIONS.
The friends of this cause place before the world a distinct plan for the establishment and preservation of universal peace. We propose that five or six of the great nations of the earth, elect each an able lawyer or statesman, to meet as a CONGRESS OF NAtions” somewhere in Europe, and spend a few years in digesting a code of international law. We now refer to Vattel, or Montesquieu, or Grotius; but these men have no other authority than as great writers. We want an admitted, authoritative and detailed code for the regulation of nations in their intercourse with each other. Such a code once formed and ratified by the few high powers of earth, would be, what as yet does not exist, a system of international law.
The decision of disputes according to this code would belong to a permanent body of judges, elected like the members of the Congress, and forming a “ COURT OF Nations." These might either meet as occasion required, or sit statedly. What an august tribunal! How would our own Clay shine there by the side of Brougham and Guizot! How much more probably would justice be obtained there by a wronged nation, than if the decision were made to result from a pitched battle!
I see no objection to the plan, as an abstract question of debate; none as to its practical workings. We have much history, much experience to encourage the attempt. The Amphictyonic Council preserved peace to the states of Greece. The Germanic Diet was a court of nations to more than thirty free states and cities. The Cantons of Switzerland, though differing in language, religion and intelligence, live peaceably under a similar compact. T'he united provinces of Holland maintained entire peace by such an arrangement for two hundred years. These United States, free and sovereign, have agreed to settle their disputes before a Supreme Court, and have forever renounced the right to go to war with each other. Who then will say that a plan which has worked well in so many instances, may not be successful on a larger scale ?
The plan of referring disputes between nations to the arbitration of a neutral power, is found to produce the happiest results, and is very often tried. Yet how inferior to this plan! The monarch who arbitrates, may not have time or inclination to examine details. Or he may have selfish inducements to lean to one side. And at best he has not, as our court would have, an admitted code to govern his decision.
I love to anticipate the formation of a court of nations. Round such a tribunal would shine a splendor, resembling, more than aught earth ever saw before, the glory of the throne of God! There would sit a bench of peace-makers, dispensing tranquillity, confidence and safety, not to cities only, or to nations, but to the
world! From them would go forth, under God, unnumbered blessings to the whole family of man. Before them, petty despots, and blood-thirsty aspirants, would be crushed in their beginnings. Earth would no more be stained with the blood of the brave. The horrors of the conscription and the press-gang would cease. Commerce would spread her free and fearless sails on every sea, and navies would dwindle to a mere police.
What can be said why such a court should not be established ? I know of only this—such a court could not enforce its decisions. But this is not so. What enforces law in Kentucky? Not an army, but public opinion. No military force can coerce a nation or community contrary to public opinion. This is a new element in political economy not known in former ages, but now omnipotent. No king can now wage a war if public opinion be against him. When we get our court of nations, public opinion as to war will be right, and the spirit that creates the tribunal, will carry out its decisions. We have laws now which lie dormant-a dead letter—just because public opinion is against them now. But when the people are earnest in favor of a law, they want no army to dragoon them into obedience.
Total non-intercourse with a refractory nation would soon reduce it to submission. Civilization now makes all nations dependent on each other for absolute necessaries. But what nation would refuse the reparation which such a court ordered'? None would be so mad. No award would tax it so heavily as a year's war. Public opinion, once formed on peace principles, would render war as impossible as it is unnecessary. The case would be the same as in regard to duelling and profane swearing, which authority never could abolish, but which are being abolished by public opinion. It is far from being difficult to affect public opinion. See the effects of a few abolitionists constantly declaiming against slavery. A hundred such cases may be named. We have only to argue and exhort a few years, and earth will enjoy the incalculable blessings of a Court of Nations.
FRANKLIN.—We daily make great improvements in natural philosophy, there is one I wish to see in moral,—the discovery of a plan that would induce and oblige nations to settle their disputes without first cutting one another's throats. When will human nature be sufficiently improved to see the advantage of this ?
JEFFERSON.—Wonderful has been the progress of human improvement in other respects. Let us hope then that the law of nature will in time influence the proceedings of nations as well as individuals; that we shall at length be sensible, that war is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong, and multiplies instead of indemnifying losses.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
WAR A DESTROYER OF SOULS.
The soul is man's great interest; and its ruin involves the heaviest loss, and the deepest guilt. It mars forever the noblest work of God; it defeats the main object of man's creation; it thwarts the leading design of providence; it poisons the purest, sweetest joys of this life; it blasts the bright and cheering hopes of heaven; it entails the unutterable woes of hell, and pours upon the universe a stream of unholy, baleful influences that are destined never to cease.
I cannot now dwell on these topics of vast and thrilling interest; but would you faintly conceive how much is lost by the ruin of a single soul? Ask not the worldling ; he has no conception of its value, no arithmetic for calculations like these. Ask Him who made the soul for his own high, immortal service; Him who came down from the bosom of his Father, and took upon himself the form of a servant, to redeem the soul by his own blood on the cross; or the Holy Spirit, who is now at work amid the ruins of the fall to renew the soul, and thus render it meet for the pure, exalted, endless joys of heaven. Go, ask the saint, as he bows, and sings, and rejoices with joy unspeakable before the throne of God and the Lamb; or the lost sinner, as he writhes in the agonies of that world where the worm dieth not, and the fire is never to be quenched, but sendeth up the smoke of its torment forever and ever.' Push your thoughts as far into a coming eternity as you can; and, when myriads after myriads of ages beyond your utmost power to conceive, shall have passed away, pause there, and ask the glorified spirits of heaven, ask the hopeless sufferers in hell, ask the omniscient God himself, to tell you how much is lost, forever lost, by the ruin of but one soul created in the image of its Maker, and bound to a blissful or a miserable immortality!
Alas! that the world should be so full of influences fatal or dangerous to the soul! Business and pleasure, avarice and ambition, intemperance and licentiousness, infidelity, atheism and paganism, a thousand forms of error and sin are every where conspiring to put in jeopardy the immortal interests of mankind; but, passing over all the rest, let us now inquire in HOW MANY WAYS
It turns the attention of men away from their spiritual concerns. A war in actual progress becomes of course the standing theme in halls of legislation; it fills every newspaper, and forms the leading topic of conversation through the community; it obtrudes itself into the family and the social circle, into the field, the shop and the counting-room. The whole land is full of it; the public mind is saturated with it; and such an absorption of high and low,
THE CUSTOM OF WAR RUINS THE SOUL.