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WAR AND THE BIBLE.
The Bible is our only infallible guide ; and by it every custom must eventually be tried. Many have already been brought to this test; and it is high time for Christians to look at war in the light of revelation.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. War contravenes all such precepts. It sprang from paganism ; its spirit is essentially pagan still; and its laws every where require soldiers to obey their officers rather than God himself. Does it not thus dethrone Jehovah from the hearts of an army? Are not soldiers notorious for their neglect of God? Can war be any thing else than a vast nursery of irreligion ? Every man, whether a private, an officer, or even a chaplain, is bound by his oath to yield implicit obedience to his superiors. He is not permitted to follow his conscience. A British officer was once cashiered by Protestants for refusing to join in what he deemed the idolatries of Popery; nor must soldiers scruple, at the bidding of a superior, to commit the grossest outrages ever recorded in the annals of crime.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. War is a school of impiety and profaneness ; blasphemy is the well-known dialect of the army and navy; you can hardly enter a camp or a war-ship without meeting a volley of oaths, or find a warrior on land or sea who does not habitually blaspheme the name of God. An eye-witness, speaking of one of our own armies, says we should not wonder at their frequent defeats, " if we could witness the drunkenness and debauchery from the general to the private, and hear them strive to outvie each other in uttering the most horrid imprecations and blasphemy, and ridiculing every thing like religion."
Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. War scorns to acknowledge any Sabbath. Its battles are fought, its marches continued, its fortifications constructed, all its labors exacted, all its recreations indulged, quite as much on this as any other day of the week. It is the chosen time for special and splendid reviews;" all the millions of soldiers in Christendom are compelled to violate the Sabbath ; and, where the war-spirit is rife, it will be found well nigh impossible to preserve, in any degree of vigor, this mainspring of God's moral government over our world.
Thou shalt not commit adultery. War is a hotbed of the foulest licentiousness. It is deemed the soldier's privilege; and, wherever an army is encamped, a war-ship moored, or i city taken, he is permitted to indulge his lusts at will. In 1380, some English troops, while wind-bound near Portsmouth, and waiting for provisions, forcibly carried off men's wives and daughters; and, among other outrages, their commander went to a nunnery, and demanded admittance for his soldiers ; and, being refused, they entered by violence, compelled the nuns to go with them, and afterwards threw them into the sea ! When an English man-of-war was accidentally sunk near Spithead, she carried down with her no less than six hundred lewd women; and amidst the fires of captured Magdeburg and Moscow were heard continually the wild, despairing shrieks of ravished mothers and daughters. War is a Sodom; and, could all its impurities be collected in one place, we might well expect another storm of fire and brimstone.
Thou shalt not steal. War is a system of legalized national robbery; the very same thing, only on a larger scale, and under the sanction of government, for which individuals are sent to the prison or the gallows. To plunder, burn, and destroy, is the soldier's professed business! At Hamburg, 40,000 persons were driven from their homes without clothes, money, or provisions, of which their enemies had despoiled them. “Out of a plentiful harvest,” says a Saxon nobleman, “not a grain is left. The little that remained, was consumed in the night fires, or was next morning, in spite of tears and prayers, wantonly burned by the laughing fiends. Not a horse, not a cow, not a sheep is now to be seen.” The French troops, on their return from Moscow, often destroyed every building for leagues together; and around Leipsic noihing was spared, neither the ox, nor the calf two days old, neither the ewe, nor the lamb scarcely able to walk, neither the brood-hen, nor the tender chicken. Whatever had life, was slaughtered; and even the meanest bedstead of the meanest beggar was carried off. All this accords with the laws of war; and every government, in its letters of marque and reprisal, licenses men to commit piracy at pleasure!
Thou shalt not kill. It is the very object, the main business of war to kill men. It is the most terrible engine ever contrived for the wholesale destruction of mankind; incomparably more destructive to life than the inquisition or the slave-trade, than famine, or pestilence, or any form of disease that ever swept over the earth.
Survey the butcheries of the batile-field — 50,000 at Eylau ; 80,000 at Borodino; 300,003 at Arbela ; 400,000 of the enemy alone by Julius Cæsar in a single engagement; more than 5,000,000 in the invasion of Greece by Xerxes ; 1,600,000 by Jenghiz-khan in the district of Herat, 1,760,000 in two other cities with their dependencies, and, during the last twenty-seven years of his reign, an average of more than 500,000 every year! Look at the French butcheries in Spain or Portugal under Napoleon. Peaceful inhabitants massacred without distinction or mercy! “Often were the ditches along the line of their march," says an eye-witness, “ literally filled with clotted, coagulated blood as with mirc; the dead bodies of peasants, put to death like dogs, were lying there horribly mangled ; little naked infants of a year old or less, were found besmeared in the mud of the road, transfixed with bayonet-wounds; matrons and young women dead with cruel, shameful wounds; and priests hanged un the trees by the way-side like felons !!”
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But can the soldier do this, and still continue his trade of human butchery? Love is said to be the fulfilling of the law because it worketh no ill to his neighbor; but the soldier is required, as a matter of alleged duty, to do his neighbor all the ill he can! He is hired for this sole purpose ; and he must do it, or die himself for neglect of duty!! Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them. like to have a gang of men burn your dwelling over your head, butcher your whole family, and then send a bullet or a bayonet through your own heart? This is the whole business of war; its grand maxim is to do unto others just what we would not have done to ourselves. Avenge rot yourselves. Is not war a vast engine of vengeance ?
t proceeds in all cases on the principle of injuring others, either because they have injured us, or because we fear they will, unless we prevent it by injuring them in advance Love
War requires and almost compels us to hate theni. Do good unto all men. War does them evil, only evil. Lay aside all malice. War cherishes malice. Overcome evil with good. War overcomes evil only with evil. Whoso smiteth thee on one check, turn to him the other also. War bids us kill the man that smites us, or attempts to smite us.
Imagine a soldier repeating the Lord's prayer. Our Father in heaven! And does the soldier, while butchering men, women and children, think to resemble Him who send
But would you
eth rain upon the evil as well as the good, and causeth his sun to rise alike on the just and the unjust ? Hallowed be thy name. Hallow God's name by plunder and bloods':ed! Thy kingdom come. That kingdom wbich consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, come by theft and violence, by the bloody strife and countless miseries of war! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. By hating, robbing, and killing his brethren! Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Forgive by doing them all the injury in our power! Would soldiers like to be forgiven in this way — by God's making them as miserable as he can? Thus the soldier, if he prays consistently, must ask God to help him plunder, and burn, and ravage, and kill, and commit almost every species of wickedness! Should the pirate pray for success, would he not ask for the very same things?
Let us learn the soldier's duties (!) from Suwarrow's Catechism, a series of directions by that great general to liis soldiers. * Push hard with the bayonet. The ball will lose its way; the bayonet never. The ball is a fool; the bayonet a hero. Stab once; and off with the Turk from the bayonet! Stab the second! Stab the third! A hero will stab half a dozen! If three attack you, stab the first, fire on the seco
econd, and bayonet the third!”
Are such things only perversions of war? No; they are inseparable from any of its forms; and as well might you talk of fire without heat, as of a war without fraud, and robbery, and murder, and misery by wholesale. Do you deem it possible for the deeds of war to be done from good motives, in a Christian spirit? What! burn villages, plunder cities, butcher mev, women and children, send thousands at once into eternity in unforgiven guilt, all from motives acceptable to a God of peace and love! A Christian way to do such things! Away in wbich Paul or Christ would have done them!!
Now, tell us the difference between what are called offensive and defensive wars. Do they not both cherish the same spirit, employ the same means, perpetrate the same atrocities, and inflict the same miseries? Wherein do they differ? If government cannot license us to blaspheme God, and worship idols, can it authorize us to break those precepts of the Bible which every species of war must trample in the dust ?
Reader, are you a disciple of the Prince of Peace? How then can you have any thing to do with such a system of wholesale robbery and murder? Are you a parent? Can you train your children to the love and practice of war? Are you a teacher ? Can you instruct your pupils in the science of human butchery, or fill them with a thirst for the glory of plunder and bloodshed? Are you an ambassador of the Prince of Peace? Is it consistent for you to act as a military chaplain? Would you be chaplain to a horde of robbers, or a gang of pirates ?
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
THE POSSIBILITY OF ABOLISHING THIS CUSTOM.
“ How apt,”
The evils of war none will deny; but not a few seem to doubt the possibility of abolishing a custom so long-continued, so deeply rooted in the worst passions of mankind, and so universally wrought into the very texture of society and government. Our object is so good, they will not oppose us; but they have so little faith in its practicability as to withhold their active co-operation, and even tell us, we might as well think to chain up the lightning, or hold down the earthquake, as dream of banishing war from such a world as ours.
This skepticism is not peculiar to the cause of peace. We can hardly name an enterprise of benevolence or reform, that was not obliged at its outset to encounter the same obstacle from multitudes even of good men. says Dr. Rush, “are mankind to brand as visionary every proposition for innovation. There never was an improvement in any art or science, nor a proposal for meliorating the condition of man in any age or country, that has not been considered as an Utopian scheme.” The present methods of treating the small-pox, fevers, and other diseases, were at first viewed, not only with distrust, but absolute horror; and every one knows, that efforts in the cause of temperance, and for the abolition of the slave-trade, were for a time regarded as utterly visionary and hopeless. The use of the magnet in navigation, the application of steam to mechanical purposes, a multitude of inventions and improvements, now familiar as household words, were at first treated with utter incredulity and contempt. Our own Congress refused Fulton the use of the Representatives' Hall, to explain his scheme of applying steam to navigation. What,' said members of the French cabinet to Fulton, when soliciting their patronage, do you presume to think you can ever propel a boat by steam, at the rate of four miles an hour?' 'Yes, indeed,' replied the enthusiast; and if you'll furnish me the means, I will eventually reach even six miles