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effect, not of any sudden or resistless visitation from heaven on the character of men—not of any mystical influence working with all the omnipotence of a charm on the passive hearts of those who are the subjects of it-not of any blind or overruling fatality which will come upon the earth at some distant period of its history, and about which, we of the present day have nothing to do, but to look silently on, without concern, and without co-operation. The prophecy of a peace as universal as the spread of the human race, and as enduring as the moon in the firmament, will meet its accomplishment; but it will be brought about by the activity of men. It will be done by the philanthropy of thinking and intelligent Christians. The conversion of the Jews the spread of gospel light among the regions of idolatrythese are distinct subjects of prophecy, on which the faithful of the land are now acting, and to the fulfilment of which they are giving their zeal and their energy. I conceive the prophecy which relates to the final abolition of war, will be taken up in the same manner, and the subject will be brought to the test of Christian principle, and many will unite to spread a growing sense of its follies and its enormities over the countries of the world, and the public will be enlightened by the mild dissemination of gospel sentiment through the land, and the prophecy contained in this book, will pass into effect and accomplishment by no other influence than the influence of its ordinary lessons on the hearts and consciences of individuals, and the measure will first be carried in one country by the control of general opinion, and the sacred fire of good-will to the children of men will spread itself through all climes, and through all latitudes—and thus by scriptural truth conveyed with power from one people to another, and taking its ample round among all the tribes and families of the earth, shall we arrive at the magnificent result of peace throughout all its provinces, and security in all its dwelling places.
The mere existence of this prophecy of peace, is a sentence of condemnation upon war, and stamps a criminality on its very forehead. So soon as Christianity shall gain a full ascendency in the world, from that moment war is to disappear. We have heard that there is something noble in the art of war ; that there is something generous in the ardor of that fine chivalric spirit which kindles in the hour of alarm, and rushes with delight among the thickest scenes of danger and enterprise ;—that man is never more proudly arrayed, than when, elevated by a contempt for death, he puts on his intrepid front, and looks serene, while the arrows of destruction are flying on every side of him ;-that expunge war, and you expunge some of the brightest names in the catalogue of human virtue, and demolish that theatre on which have been displayed some of the sublimest energies of the human character. It is thus that war has been invested with a most pernicious splendor, and men have offered to justify it as a blessing and an ornament to society, and attempts have been made to throw a kind of imposing morality around it; and one might almost be reconciled to the whole train of its calamities and its horrors, did he not believe his Bible, and learn from its information, that in the days of perfect righteousness, there will be no war ;—that so soon as the character of man has had the last finish of Christian principle thrown over it, from that moment all the instruments of war will be thrown aside, and all its lessons will be forgotten.
But apart altogether from this testimony to the evil of war, let us just take a direct look of it, and see whether we can find its character engraved on the aspect it bears to the eye of an attentive observer. The stoutest heart would recoil, were he who owns it, to behold the destruction of a single individual by some deed of violence. Were the man who at this moment stands before you in the full play and energy of health, to be in another moment laid by some deadly aim a lifeless corpse at your feet, there is not one of you who would not prove how strong are the relentings of nature at a spectacle so hideous as death. There are some of you who would be haunted for whole days by the image of horror you had witnessed-who would feel the weight of a most oppressive sensation upon your heart, which nothing but time could wear away—who would be so pursued by it as to be unfit for business or for enjoymentwho would think of it through the day, and it would spread a gloomy disquietude over your waking moments—who would dream of it at night, and it would turn that bed which you courted as a retreat from the torments of an evermeddling memory, into a scene of restlessness.
O! my brother, if there be something appalling in the suddenness of death, think not that when gradual in its advances, you will alleviate the horrors of this sickening contemplation, by viewing it in a milder form. O! tell me, if there be any relentings of pity in your bosom, how could you endure it, to behold the agonies of the dying man, as goaded by pain, he grasps the cold ground in convulsive energy, or faint with the loss of blood, his pulse ebbs low, and the gathering paleness spreads itself over his countenance; or wrapping himself round in despair, he can only mark by a few feeble quiverings, that life still lurks and lingers in his lacerated body; or lifting up a fuded eye, he casts on you a look of imploring helplessness, for that succor which no sympathy can yield him.-It may be painful to dwell on such a representation; but this is the way in which the cause of humanity is served. The eye of the sentimentalist turns away from its sufferings, and he passes by on the other side, lest he hear that pleading voice which is armed with a tone of remonstrance so vigorous as to disturb him. He cannot bear thus to pause, in imagination, on the distressing picture of one individual; but multiply it ten thousand times; say, how much of all this distress has been heaped together upon a single field; give us the arithmetic of this accumulated wretchedness, and lay it before us with all the accuracy of an official computationand, strange to tell, not one sigh is lifted up among the crowd of eager listeners, as they stand on tiptoe, and catch every syllable of utterance which is read to them out of the registers of death. O! say, what mystic spell is that, which so blinds us to the sufferings of our brethren ; which deafens our ear to the voice of bleeding humanity, when it is aggravated by the shriek of dying thousands; which makes the very magnitude of the slaughter, throw a softening disguise over its cruelties, and its horrors; which causes us to eye with indifference, the field that is crowded with the most revolting abominations, and arrests that sigh, which each individual would singly have drawn from us, by the report of the many who have fallen, and breathed their last in agony along with them.
I am not saying that the burden of all this criminality rests upon the head of the immediate combatants. It lies somewhere; but who can deny that a soldier may be a Christian, and that from the bloody field on which his body is laid, his soul may wing its ascending way to the shores of a peaceful eternity? But when I think that the Christians, even of the great world, form but a very little flock, and that an army is not a propitious soil for the growth of Christian principle—when I think on the character of one such army, that had been led on for years by a ruffian ambition, and been inured to scenes of barbarity, and had gathered a most ferocious hardihood of soul from the many enterprises of violence to which an unprincipled commander had carried them when I follow them to the field of battle, and further think, that on both sides of an exasperated contest, the gentleness of Christianity can have no place in almost any bosom, but that nearly every heart is lighted up avith fury, and breathes a vindictive purpose against a brother of the species, I cannot but recken it among the most fearful of the calamities of war, that while the work of death is thickening along its ranks, so many disembodied spirits should pass into the presence of Him who sitteth upon the throne, in such a posture, and with such a preparation
I have no time to set before you a vivid picture of the other miseries which war carries in its train-how it desolates every country through which it rolls, and spreads violation and alarm among its villages—how, at its approach, every home pours forth its trembling fugitives-how all the rights of property, and all the provisions of justice must give way before its devouring exactions—how, when Sabbath comes, no Sabbath charm comes along with it, and for the sound of the church bell which wont to spread its music over some fine landscape of nature, and summon rustic worshippers to the house of prayer, nothing is heard but the deathful volleys of the battle, and the maddening outcry of infuriated men-how, as the fruit of victory, an unprincipled licentiousness which no discipline can restrain, is suffered to walk at large among the people, and all that is pure, and reverend, and holy in the virtue of families, is cruelly trampled on, and held in the bitterest derision.
But let me hasten to some of the obstacles which stand in the way of the extinction of war. The first great obstacle, then, is the way in which the heart of man is carried off from its barbarities and its horrors, by the splendor of its deceitful accompaniments. There is a feeling of the sublime in contemplating the shock of armies, just as there is in contemplating the devouring energy of a tempest; and this so elevates and engrosses the whole man, that his eye is blind to the tears of bereaved parents, and his ear is deaf to the piteous moan of the dying, and the shriek of their desolated families. There is a gracefulness in the picture of a youthful warrior burning for distinction on the field, and lured by this generous aspiration to the deepest of the animated throng, where, in the fell work of death, the opposing sons of valor struggle for a remembrance and a name; and this side of the picture is so much the exclusive object of our regard, as to disguise from our view the mangled carcasses of the fallen, and the writhing agonies of the hundreds and the hundreds more who have been laid on the cold ground, where they are left to languish and to die. There no eye pities them. No sister is there to weep over them. There no gentle hand is present to ease the dying posture, or bind up the wounds which, in the maddening fury of the combat, have been given and received by the children of one common father. There death spreads its pale ensigns over every countenance; and when night comes on, and darkness around them, how many a despairing wretch must take up with the bloody field as the untended bed of his last sufferings, without one friend to bear the message of tenderness to his distant home, without one companion to close his eyes.
I avow it. On every side of me I see causes at work which go to spread a most delusive coloring over war, and to remove its shocking barbarities to the back ground of our contemplations altogether. I see it in the history which tells me of the superb appearance of the troops, and the brilliancy of their successive charges. I see it in the poetry which lends the magic of its numbers to the narrative of blood, and transports its many admirers, as by its images, and its figures, and its nodding plumes of chivalry, it throws its treacherous embellishments over a scene of legalized slaughter. I see it in the music which represents the progress of the battle ; and where, after being inspired by the trumpet-notes of preparation, the whole beauty and tenderness of a drawing-room are seen to bend over the sentimental entertainment; nor do I hear the utterance of a single sigh to interrupt the death-tones of the thickening contest, and the moans of the wounded men as they fade away upon the ear, and sink into lifeless silence. All, all goes to prove what strange and half-sighted creatures we are. Were it not so, war could never have been seen in any other aspect than that of unmingled hatefulness; and I can look to nothing but to the progress of Christian sentiment upon earth to arrest the strong current of its popular and prevailing partiality for war. Then only will an imperious sense of duty lay the check of severe principle on all the subordinate tastes and faculties of our nature. Then will glory be reduced to its right estimate, and the wakeful benevolence of the gospel chasing away every spell, will be turned by the treachery of no delusion whatever from its simple but sublime enterprises for the good of the species. Then the reign of truth and quietness will be ushered into