« PreviousContinue »
can faithfully picture the terrible realities of that ferocious struggle? The Roman empire, the mightiest structure of the whole ancient world, ITSELF THE COLOSSAL TEMPLE OF WAR, perished by the sword and faggot of barbarians. The august colonades that towered along the shores of the Atlantic, and the banks of the Euphrates, were defaced and shattered. The vast roof which had sheltered a hundred nations, the walls whose ample circuit had embraced a continent of territory, were rent, and cast down, and scattered far and wide. Even the very shrine and altar of the god of war, the self-styled eternal city, was burnt, and sacked, and enslaved by Alaric and Attila, by Genseric, Totila and Theodoric. Of all that spacious and majestic structure, nothing remained in western Europe, but a chaos of ruins, and here and there a pillar, solitary and solemn, as those of Colonna, Palmyra or Chelminar. The only inscription which the conquerors vouchsafed for the monument of the most illustrious and powerful of ancient empires, was the prophecy so fearsully fulfilled, “ They that take the sword shall perish by the sword.”
THE PEOPLE MORE PEACEFUL THAN RULERS.
To the provincial military tyrannies of Rome, succeeded the feudal aristocracies and monarchies of the victors; whilst the sudden rise of the Saracens contributed to perpetuate the law of violence. The whole structure of society in the civilized portions of Europe, then became more decidedly military than it had ever been; for the feudal system was singularly adapted to a state of endless warfare at home and abroad. Martial law was the great, the universal law of society. The people, as well as the rulers, were all soldiers ; and every community exhibited the spectacle of a standing army, and a permanent encampment. Age after age rolled away; and at length the arts of peace so far prevailed over those of war, that Society lost its military character, but the administration of GovERNMENT, and the spirit of RULERS, remained the same. ple had indeed been changed; but the great, permanent institutions of society partook not of the same spirit. The sword was still the sceptre of the monarch, and the casque of the warrior his favorite
Governments, instead of being the fountains of peace abroad, and happiness at home, became the instruments of misery and injustice in the hands of conquerors and tyrants. The people went onward in the improvement of their condition, yet exercised comparatively no influence on the character of rulers. Although the institutions of society can have but one rational object, the good of the people, yet the end was forever sacrificed to the means, the good of the people to the power of rulers. This state of things still prevails; for experience testifies that, if the law of war be no longer the fundamental law of European society, it is still the fundamental law of their governments. The fate of all those nations still depends, to a vast extent, on the personal character of monarchs and their counsellors; and such must continue to be the destiny of that continent, until the progress of events shall have reconstructed their governments in conformity with the great truth, THE PEOPLE ARE MASTERS, AND THE RULERS, SERVANTS. Thus far, the chief responsibility of their rulers has been to the law of violence, to the axe and the scaffold. And although something has been gradually done in some portions of Europe, to meliorate the political condition of the people, and restrain the power and ambition of rulers, yet, if the advancement of reform be in after years correspondent to the past, the American republic will number a hundred states, before the work shall have been accomplished. Fortunately for the world, it can hardly be said, that there is now in it any state of society constituted on the principles of war. No military republics, like those of Greece and Rome, torment the nations, and entail on their own posterity the curse of fire and sword. The feudal system, as the domestic and social constitution of European communities, has utterly perished; and as soon should we expect the age of Arthur and the Round Table, of Charlemagne and his Paladins to return, as to see the people in any country again modelled on the military principles of the feudo-social com pact. Hence the great object of reform is GOVERNMENT; and its reconstruction any where, on principles of responsibility to the people, will be a glorious triumph in the cause of Peace.
It must be obvious, that the interest and happiness of the PEOPLE are hostile to war; that if left to themselves, however ignorant and uneducated, they would scarcely ever make war; that of the battles and sieges which have brought such misery into the world, not one in a hundred would have occurred, had it depended on the people; that all their personal habits and social intercourse, all their employments, affections and duties, are inimical to war, and friendly to peace. How demoniac, then, is that spirit which debauches the people by ambition and the love of military fame, and breathes into all their institutions, as its living principle, the spirit of bloodshed and violence! The good sense, the duties and affections of the people revolt at such things; and the ascendency of their influence in its natural wholesome state, must exterminate war. The most ignorant states of society contain in themselves the elements of peace. Who can believe that the mass of society in the countries ravaged by the ancient or modern warrior, entered into the spirit of those wars, any otherwise than as sufferers burning with rage and revenge at their miseries ? This is equally true of nearly all the wars that have ever existed. The most ignorant and unrefined, as well as the most enlightened and polished states of society, are equally hostile to war in their duties, interests, affections and employments. Justly to represent these, is the great duty of government. To give them an authoritative voice in affairs of state, is the great object of every true friend of the people; but the people, unless educated, cannot exercise a wholesome authoritative control over rulers. The friends of peace therefore must exert their influence chiefly in every such country, through the medium of EDUCATION.
PACIFIC EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE. Education is the most efficient and lasting means for revolutionizing society. This can make the peaceful warlike, and the warlike peaceful; the ignorant intelligent, and the civilized barbarous; the enlightened superstitious, and the superstitious enlightened; the cruel compassionate, and the meek ferocious; the freeman a slave, and the slave a freeman; the pagan a Christian, and the Christian an idolater. The great object of education ought then to be, to stamp on every such state of society, the peaceful character. EDUCATE FOR PEACE, NOT FOR WAR. Give the religion of peace if it be not already there; and let all the institutions of education, breathe its spirit, and bear its divine image. Christianity teaches, that war is the enemy, peace the friend, of God and man. Education then must be imbued with this spirit. If not, it is the enemy of our religion; and its influences are perpetually at work to undermine the precepts, and destroy the examples of Christ and his Apostles. With the RELIGION of peace, the people must have the EDUCATION of peace, if their best interests are consulted. The principles and operations of war, the character, achievements and glory of the warrior, have no sympathies with the education of peace, as they have none with the religion of peace. THE WHOLE SCHEME OF EDUCATION must be in its elements, practice and influence, decidedly, unchangeably PEACEFUL.
But impious and ruinous as is the union between pagan and Christian influences in education, it is precisely that which exists in Christian countries. Let the course of study in the schools, even in our own land, bc examined, and not one will be found constructed on the basis of Christian influences, of peace and love, of humility, long suffering and forgiveness. He will find the paramount influences every where to be heathen. The history of wars, and the biographies of warriors, are almost the only food of that kind vouchsafed to the youthful mind. The Acts of the Apostles are taught scarcely any where; the commentaries of Cæsar, and the life of Agricola, robbers and murderers in the sight of God, every where; while the lives of Howard and Martyn, of Johnson and Dwight, of Penn and Jones, Spencer and Burke, men of whom even the Christian world is unworthy, are studied no where. The gospels are seldom text-books of instruction; the Æneid and Iliad always. Can this be right?
And who are the guilty ? If the voices of the just made perfect, of angels and archangels, could reply, that fearful answer to every Christian, especially to every Christian minister, would be," thou art the man!” The virtues of Jesus Christ are the very reverse of what are called the heroic virtues of classic antiquity. We know that he never would have acted like the great men of Greece and Rome; that the object of his system was utterly to abolish theirs ; that his or theirs must eventually rule the world, and one or the other perish. Now which ever conquers, can conquer only through the power of education. Give to the religion of peace the
education of peace, and its victory is sure. Give to it the education of war and violence, the influence of heathen heroism and glory; and while these prevail
, it never can conquer. The lion and the lamb do indeed lie down together; but the lamb is the slave or the victim of the lion. Hitherto, such has been the lot of Christianity; the slave of heathen influences, the victim of war and the warrior. And why? Because its professors, and above all, its holy ministry, have not vindicated its authority, cost what it might, against war and the warrior in every form. Is it not absolutely astonishing, that those who have bound on their souls the vow of humility, love, forgiveness, forbearance, are yet constantly employed, by their schemes of education, in impairing and even destroying those peaceful, holy influences? With a deep feeling of awe and respect, with profound emotions of gratitude to the clergy for what they have done, and with a strong faith in their entire regeneration in futute years, I speak what I believe a solemn truth. Their compromise with war and the warrior has produced incalculable mischiefs to religion, liberty, education and peace. They have tolerated, when they ought to have condemned, war and the warrior in every form. They acknowledge their master to be the Prince of Peace. They know that he never would have raised or commanded an army, nor ever employed war in any shape, or under any emergency. They must acknowledge, that if he were the ruler of a nation, he would command them to return good for evil, blessing for cursing, love for hatred, entreaties for insult, peace for war. They cannot deny, that a nation governed in conformity to his laws, would have neither army nor navy; that 'an arsenal, or a cannon foundry would be unknown among them; that sword and helmet, banner and lance, could not be found there ; that à fortress would be as little tolerated as a temple of idols, and the glory of the warrior would be as earnestly condemned, and as carefully banished, as the leprosy or the plague
All this the Christian ministry know. They condemn duelling in every form between individuals; but they excuse and even justify it between nations. If a friend should call out the treacherous confidant who had slandered and betrayed him; if a parent should avenge in a duel the injuries to his son ; if the son should challenge the man who had insulted his father; if the brother should summon to mortal combat the seducer of his sister ; yea, even if the husband, in obedience to the law of honor, should slay the wretch who had blasted his hopes, degraded his children, and polluted his home, Christian ministers would not dare to justify, or even to excuse him. To the friend, the parent, the son, the husband, they would say, Jesus would have forgiven, and have prayed for such enemies; he would have saved both body and soul, not have destroyed them. He demands this sacrifice as a proof that you are his disciples. Go and do likewise. Now, a nation can sustain no injury comparable to those of the insulted and dishonored friend and brother, parent, son and husband. Nor can they put it on the ground that nations have no arbiter, whilst individuals may
appeal to the laws of the country; for the most aggravated and cruel private injuries are the very ones which the laws of society do not redress.
It becomes, then, the Christian ministry, and I ask it of them as a dutiful son, as a faithful friend, as an affectionate, respectful counsellor, to consider solemnly and prayerfully, whether they are acting the part which becomes the messengers of the Prince of Peace. They have been the decided enemies of private war, and of the duellist, ever since the delirium of the age of chivalry had passed away ; but have they not been more or less the vindicators and apologists of public war and the warrior ? They forbid the private man to do what they know the Savior never would have done; yet they sanction the public man, and private men under his control, in punishing insult or avenging injury, when they know that Christ never would. And on what principle is it, that the Christian minister can approach the throne of God in the name of the meek and lowly Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and ask a blessing on the warrior's arms, even of his own country, or return thanks to Heaven for his succsss in battle? Would not similar supplications or thanksgivings on behalf of the avenger of private insults or injuries, be mockery and blasphemy? Now, what difference is there between the prayer, that an injured and insulted father or husband might disable or slay his adversary, and the prayer that an army of a wronged and dishonored people might scatter and destroy its enemies? Can the Christian minister return thanks to God, that the father and the husband have mangled or slain in a duel the seducer of his daughter and his wife? How then can he offer the prayer of thanksgiving to God, that fleets and armies have avenged, by the slaughter of thousands, wrongs and insults vastly inferior? How can the Christian intercede or return thanks for the success of those who, instead of requiting evil with good, and cursing with blessing, go forth to inflict evil for evil, and curse for curse, by destroying thousands of lives, and turning the sweet fountains of ten thousand innocent homes into the bitter waters of poverty and affliction ? Have they not thus drawn a distinction which Christ and his Apostles never drew? Let me beseech the clergy and all Christians, to think well of these things! O that they would bear with me while I expostulate with thein in no spirit of disrespect or uncharitableness ! O that, instead of being offended at my freedom of speech, they would bring their sentiments and conduct to the test of the gospel!
The clergy in Christian countries have always exercised a great and extensive influence over education; but their influence has never been exerted deeply, comprehensively, decidedly, in favor of peace. Not only have they tolerated war among nations, but they have made the warrior, in all the attractive forms of eloquence and poetry, of history and biography, the daily companion of youth. Not only by the books which they have selected, but by the enthusiasm with which they have explained and commended them as master-works, the clergy have taught practically, that