« PreviousContinue »
son to expect his divine aid in their extension, as in that of the gospel, of which it forms so essential a part.
Again, it should be recollected, that under the perpetual advance of Christianity and civilization, mere physical power is every where losing, and moral power gaining social and political influence. In former ages, it might perhaps be said, that before the proud thrones or passion-led multitudes of the world, moral effort would avail but little in presenting truth, or advocating humanity, Already has the religious and intellectual change been such, that no oppressive abuse of physical power can be long continued in face of the unequivocal rebuke of religious enthusiasm, or philosophical philanthropy; and under the obvious progress of society we have every promise that the claims of enlightened benevolence must be heard, and will be effectual. But the friends of universal peace, if guided by truth, and warmed with zeal, are plainly possessed of a moral influence superior to the power of brute force, however imposing; and, if efficiently sustained by those who are in sentiment with them, so that they could bring all the religious and benevolent of the civilized world into an united, energetic protest against the practice of war, neither despotism, nor custom, nor chivalric delusion, could withstand it; the pride of the martial world must bend before the frown of Christian reproof. Let us not, then, in timid distrust of moral power, withhold it. Give it in sanguine faith, and it will be decisively victorious.
But we meet with a more serious objection to specific efforts for the cause of peace, among those religious and enlightened men on whom our chief reliance is placed as instruments of the
They doubt not the power of Christianity to overthrow the power of war; but they consider the process proposed on this subject as wrong in its order; general Christian faith must precede-it. “Make men Christians," they say, “and universal peace will follow.". They have no expectation that peace principles will ever be received, until Christianity, as they understand it, is made to prevail in the world; and they accordingly think time and money wasted in any previous attempts to diffuse them. And yet a little attention will make it plain, that the whole strength of this objection lies in its ambiguity; an examination of what is here meant by Christianity, will dissipate it. If a Christianity is made to prevail over the world which involves the doctrines of forbearance and peace as essential elements, undoubtedly the prevalence of such a Christianity would forever extinguish war; and the course of the peace-makers is precisely that which the objectors would desire, but which they refuse to aid ; for these peace-makers strive to engraft this very feature inseparably on Christianity, and may be considered as missionaries of that religion in its geruine pacific form.
But the objectors have not in mind this idea of Christianity in making the objection ; they mean Christianity as each understands it, according to the doctrines laid down by his sect or denomination respectively, in few of which, (with the exception of
the Friends and Moravians,) is the peace principle included as fundamental. The extension of such a Christianity will never produce peace. History is full of instances of pious and devoted men, under every form of religious faith, who have not only sanctioned, but participated in, the revolting violence and cruelties of
No one will call in question the religious character of the early fathers of the church, the reformers with Luther, the Covenanters of Scotland, or the pilgrims who landed on the Rock of Plymouth. Perhaps even the crusaders to Palestine, the German invaders of Saxony, and the Spanish conquerors of South America, may be allowed to have been actuated by a sincere faith in what they received as Christianity ; but in none of these instances or similar ones which history records, has the aspect of the Cross, in any of its varied lights, obliterated the heathen spirit of Mars; and what reason is there to believe that any view of Christianity, which includes not-its peace principle as essential, whatever ascendency it may gain, will ever spread over the future a forbearing tranquillity which it has always failed to do in the fairest trials of the past? The true teachers of Christianity then, are the peace-makers. They alone preach a gospel from which peace can spring forth. They alone exhibit its love in connection with its faith.
Another objection to the practicability of peace efforts comes from a numerous class, confiding less in the power of Christianity. The war-spirit is said to be ineradicable, as founded in nature. All brute animals are by instinct prone to violence and conflict, and human beings have been engaged in war and bloodshed from the earliest ages, and in every realm. War must, then, ever continue, while man retains his present passions; and his race must be miraculously changed in nature, or extirpated from the earth, for a new creation, before peace can dwell over its extensive sphere. We then strive to counteract the laws of Providence, when we oppose war; every generation must pass through its bloody trials, and look to a future life for a regenerated, pacific constitution.
The fact of the universal custom of conflict, brutal and human, is indisputable; that in brutes it is founded in their unalterable nature, will not be questioned; but when this law is applied also to man, the whole truth is not shown; it is forgotten that man has higher and freer impulses, which counteract and modify his animal nature. His calculating reason, and penetrating foresight of consequences, direct his very passions to an action, by which their present gratification is sacrificed to future good. Moral principle, too, is perceived by his mind, and an instinct, nobler than the animal, bends him into obedience to it. Man, by nature, is acquisitive and grasping; and yielding only to this nature, the world would be a universal scene of robbery and plunder. Civilization, pointing through experience to general good, has brought him under laws which respect the right of property, and induce scruples of honesty, restricting desire where no punishment would follow its violation. Man, naturally, is indolent and self-indulgent; the view of future melioration rouses his energy, sloth is shaken off, self-denial practised, and active enterprises undertaken, which ultimately lead to exertions and privations for the good of others. Naturally, man is ambitious and despotic ; how seldom is the person seen, who does not love to rule ; but civilization again has induced a general respect for equal rights, and the thrones of despotism are fast sinking before the rising claims of universal freedom.
Now, enlightened interest, justice and humanity, all plead strongly for the abolition of war. They call on man to modify his nature for peace, as he has done for other blessings. Christianity enforces this demand with higher authority, and still more imposing motives; and, if his animal nature has given way before weaker impulses for other objects, there can be no reason to despair of a conquest over it in this case, when all the lights of reason, humanity and religion are made to bear upon it, and in full view, all the horrors, depravities and sufferings of war, and the rich blessings of unbroken peace, are duly presented and appreciated.
If it is still objected that these reasonings are merely theoretical, and ought to be sustained by facts, the reply is, that ultimate facts are, from the nature of the case, future; but the progress already made in this cause is a full warrant of its practicability. This progress is seen in the collected testimonies of the most eminent statesmen in Europe and America to their desire and expectation of ur.versal peace. It is seen in the altered tone of the literary and political press, now ever deprecating war; in the evident reluctance of civilized governments to this cruel resort, so that irritating collisions, which formerly would have kindled immediate hostility, are now (1845) settled by compromise, and in the consequent prevalence of peace for the last thirty years; but above all in the fact, that proposals made for arbitration or a permanent Congress to settle international disputes, are every where received with favor, both by rulers and people, and believed by many to be safe and adequate substitutes for the dreadful appeal to the sword. And these circumstances may be all traced to the action of the associated friends of peace.
These replies are offered to the consideration of intelligent men, who entertain the objections stated. To the confiding Christian who relies on the revealed will of God, a decisive answer can be made to every discouraging argument. God has, by his prophets, declared there shall be a reign of universal peace, when men shall beat their swords into plough-shares, their spears into pruninghooks, and shall learn war no more. Christ has enjoined, with peculiar emphasis and repetition, that forbearing love from which peace must necessarily result. These predictions and injunctions are the warrant of the peace-makers. Fortified with these, they are assured they shall not labor in vain; they see in them certain pledges of divine assistance, and ultimate success.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
SUBSTITUTES FOR WAR.
War is now tolerated only as a necessary evil ; but there is in truth no more necessity for it than there is for duelling, the slave-trade, or any other species of folly or crime. War coines solely from the wrong choice of men; that choice may he changed; and whenever it shall be, nations, like individuals, will find other methods for the settlement of their disputes, far better than the sword for all purposes of protection and redress.
I. The first substitute, then, would be NEGOTIATION. So long as nations keep cool and kind enough to adjust their own ditħculties, this method is decidedly the best of all. If the code of national honor did not goad them at once into blood; if they made the sword really their last resort, instead of their first; if popular sentiment should always hold them back from conflict till mutual forbearance, explanation and concession nad exhausted their ntmost power, this expedient alone would, in nine cases out of ten, prevent an appeal to arms.
II. Should this expedient fail, our next resort would be to ARBITRATION; a substitute adopted when the parties are unable to adjust their own difficulties, or prefer the decision of an umpirc mutually chosen. Better for the parties to agree among themselves, if they can; but, if they cannot, we wish nations in every case to settle their disputes as individuals do theirs, by some mode of reference. We urge this as an established, permanent principle. Nations should, in accordance with the recommendation of the First General Peace Convention in London, 1843, incorporate in every treaty a clause binding the parties to adjust whatever differences may arise between them, not by the sword, but by reference to umpires mutually chosen, and agree to abide by their decision, and to claim, if dissatisfied, only the privilege of renewing or changing the reference.
To such a substitute, what objection can be urged? It relinquishes no right; it sacrifices no interest; it would startle few, if any prejudices; it can offend neither the strong nor the moderate peace-man, neither the Quaker nor the warrior ; it is adapted to the present state of the world, and consistent alike with the precepts of Christianity, and the dictates of sound policy; a measure level to the comprehension of all, and commending itself to their common sense as simple,
P. T. NO, SX1111
feasible, and likely to prove successful. Nor is the principle new, but as old as human society ; it lies at the bottom of every trial in our courts; we often find the wisest and best men preferring it in their own case even to a regular course of law; and we merely ask nations to use the same degree of justice, candor and good sense in adjusting their difficulties, that individuals do in theirs. Can they not do so?
III. Should both these expedients fail, we should still have in reserve the principle of MEDIATION. When rulers become so exasperated against each other, as to withdraw from vilicial intercourse, and the strange, semi-barbarous code of national honor requires them to keep aloof, or to meet ony on the field of battle, a third power friendly to both, interposes with the offer of its services as mediator; such services the parties are now bound in courtesy to accept; and this simple expedient, a new development of the pacific tendencies of the age, promises to obviate the most delicate and difficult cases of misunderstanding.
It is well known that duellists cannot fight so long as a mutual friend stands between them as mediator; and, if so effectual for the prevention of duels, the principle, equally applicable to war, would be likely to prove still more successful here, from the longer deluy necessary, from the greater publicity of the transaction, and from the overwhelming majority on both sides interested in a peacefu} issue of the dispute. Thus might a single cabinci, by the well-timed tender of its services, hold in check the war-spirit of the whole civilized world, and keep its nations in permanent peace. Not unfrequently has this expedient been employed since the downfall of Napoleon; and every one can remember with what speedy and signal success, England alone acted, in the course of only a few years, as mediator between France and ourselves, between Holland and Belgium, between Sweden and France, and between France and Swiizerland. It is a new antidote to war, and may do much to insure the steady and lasting pence of Christendom.
IV. But the perfection of all substitutes for war, would be a CONGRESS OF NATIONS. By this we mean a congress, or meeting in convention, of as many nations as could be brought into the measure, to agree npon a full code of international law, and next a High Court of Nations, or board of international arbitrators, to interpret and apply that code, to adjudi. eate whatever cases might be referred to them by consent of parties, and to act for the great brotherhood of nations as the guardian of their common rights and interests. It would perform for nations substantially the same services that a civil tribunal does for individuals, or the Supreme Court of the United States does for the different states in our confederacy