« PreviousContinue »
Mark the result in both customs. What settles a quarrel between duellists ? Not the shots or stabs interchanged, but the explanation subsequently given and accepted. They fight merely to make it honorable to explain ; and that explanation, should custom so decide, might come just as well before as after fighting. So in war, the fighting, in every case of civilized warfare, is only preliminary to steps for settling the dispute on grounds of equity and reason. Nations, like duellists, fight solely to render it honorable, or themselves willing to negotiate, or refer, or employ some other pacific expedients that might be used even more successfully before the war than after it.
We cannot here dwell on these substitutes for war-negotiation, where the parties adjust their own difficulties without the aid of others; arbitration, when they refer the points in dispute to an umpire; mediation, when a third power friendly to both, offers its services as mediator; or, better than all, a congress of nations, designed first to frame a specific, authoritative code of international law, and next to apply that law, and adjudicate whatever cases might be voluntarily referred to its decision. Here are substitutes enough, all founded on the principle of amicable agreement between the parties themselves, or that of reference to a third party mutually chosen; expedients essentially the same with those which are so generally adopted by men of sense and virtue in social life; expedients that have in past ages been occasionally employed by nations with signal success; expedients that are certainly possible, and, if so, render war entirely unnecessary, except from the wrong choice of men.
But is there no possibility of changing this choice? Is Christendom itself, with its Bibles, and Sabbaths, and churches, its preachers of peace, and all its instrumentalities for the reformation of mankind, such a kennel of blood-hounds as never to be won from the love of mutual butchery? Let us bring the question home to your own bosom. Will you acknowledge yourself to be such an insatiate blood-leech, that you never can, never will give up war ? No; you abhor the custom, and would gladly supersede it entirely by better methods for the adjustment of national difficulties. Go to your neighbor; and will he not readily respond to these views? Go through the land, traverse the civilized world; and how few could you find that did not feel, or might not easily be made to feel, your own abhor
rence of war, and desire for peace. Where then is the impossibility of changing the war-choice of mankind ? Is there no power in the family, the school, or the church, none in the press, or the pulpit, none in civilization, or Christianity, to reclaim the inhabitants even of Christendom from their love of war, and persuade them to adopt other means than the sword for the settlement of their disputes ?
True, such a result we do not expect, as no man in his senses can expect any moral result, without the use of appropriate means. The moral suasion of the gospel, the power of Christian truth and love, must be applied long and well to this custom. Light niust be poured upon it from reason and history ; its enormous guilt must be set forth in the full blaze of revelation; its immeasurable evils for time and eternity, must be spread as far as possible before every class in the community ; and such a process of exposure must be continued, until the mass of minds in every Christian land shall come to regard this relic of a bloody and barbarqus paganism with a portion of God's own unmingled abhorrence. Christians must as a body gird themselves in earnest for this work as peculiarly their own; preachers of the gospel must enforce its pacific, just as they do any of its other truths, and pour down upon this mass of crime and misery a flood of heaven's own light; the press must be made to teem with facts, and arguments, and appeals in behalf of this cause ; teachers in all our „schools must instil the sentiments of peace into the young minds under their care; and all pious parents must carefully guard their own children against the manifold delusions of war, and let them sport with no more of its toys, and listen to no more of its songs, and gaze at no more of its pictures or glittering armor, and be present at no more of its fascinating displays, and witness no more of its pomp, parade or splendor, but honestly teach them to regard every shred of this custom as steeped in pollution, blood and tears.
All this can be done; and, if done, God's promised blessing would make sure the result. Let the gospel, wherever preached, be rightly applied to this custom; let the press be fully enlisted in behalf of this cause ; let every minister of the Prince of Peace do his whole duty on this subject ; let Christians of every name all come up to this work as one man, and put forth their utmost energies ; let associations, if necessary, be formed, and scores of selected advocates plead, and the friends of humanity all rally with their gifts, and prayers, and personal efforts for the
use of such means as God hath appointed for the spread of peace co-extensive with our peaceful religion ; let books, and tracts, and pamphlets, and periodicals, full of stirring facts, and of logic all on fire, be scattered far and wide in every city and town, in every village, hamlet and habitation ; let every church, every Sabbath and common school, every academy and college, every seminary of learning, from the highest to the lowest, every fire-side in Christendom, become a nursery of peace, to train up a whole generation of peace-makers ; let all these hold up war before every class in the community as a giant offender against God, as the master-scourge of our world ; and could this or any other custom long stand before such an array of influences ?
Such are the instruments which the friends of begun to employ against war; and the God of peace has crowned their efforts with a degree of success, even greater in proportion to the means used, than in any other enterprise now before the community. Scarce a tenth part as much has been done for this cause as for any other; and yet have we already (1844) reached results vastly important, and prospects still more cheering. Our own country has been saved from several wars that threatened it; the general peace of Europe has, for a wonder, been preserved for nearly thirty years ; public sentiment on this subject is widely different from what it was even at the beginning of the present century; difficulties which would once have plunged nations in blood, are now adjusted with scarce a thought of resorting to arms; negotiation, reference, and mediation, are actually taking the place of war, and gradually effacing the traditional belief of its necessity; the leading cabinets of Christendom seem disposed to adopt these substitutes as their settled, permanent policy; and this course, if continued only half a century longer, will probably supersede in time the whole war-system, by accustoming nations to settle their disputes in essentially the same way that individuals now do theirs.
It can be done. Give us the means, and it shall be done. Let us have not a tenth, nor even a hundredth, but only a thousandth part of the money and moral power now wasted upon the war-system even in peace; and we will, with the promised aid and blessing of God, set at work such a train of influences as shall ere-long banish this custom from every Christian land, or so far neutralize its power as to leave only its skeleton to show future ages what the monster was !
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY,, BOSTON, MASS.
FOUR ASPECTS OF WAR.
I. Does WAR FORGIVE ? - A friend of peace once asked a general on a muster-field, “What do you mean by this array of swords, muskets and cannon ??—“We mean to be avenged on our enemies, should they insult or invade us." But we are bound to forgive our enemies, should they injure us.'—“So we will,” said the general. — But, if you really forgive them, what do you want of swords, rifles and cannon ?'_“To stab and shoot them.” — But, if you forgive them, how could you at the same time shoot and stab them?'_“I think,” said the general, “ I can feel forgiveness in my heart towards my enemy, while I am shooting and stabbing him. Can I not ?"— If you can, you take a queer way of showing it. How can you show your forgiveness by swords and guns ?'_“I am sure,” he replied, “it's more than I can tell.”—Perhaps,' said the peace-man, you have the art of shooting and stabbing your forgiveness into the hearts of your enemies; and it may be the object of your review to perfect yourselves in this art. Is it so ??—“ I think,” replied he very honestly and truly, “we are more likely to perfect ourselves in the art of killing them.”
*Could you,' inquired a peace-man of a military officer, 'could you, after a battle in which you had stained your hands with the blood of your brethren, ask God
to forgive you as you had forgiven your enemies ? '_“I am not a Christian," said he, nor do I profess to forgive the wrongs done to me and my country; but I know I should be a hypocrite and a blasphemer, if I should ask God to forgive me as I had forgiven my enemies, after I had been killing them. When I ask Him to forgive me as I have my enemies, I will cease to kill them, or to encourage others in doing 80."
II. CAN WE RECONCILE WAR WITH CHRISTIANITY?—Let us put the main aspects of the two side by side, and see how far they agree. Christianity saves men; war destroys them. Christianity elevates men ; war debases and degrades them. Christianity purifies men ; war corrupts and defiles them. Christianity blesses men ; war curses them. God says, thou shalt not kill; war says, thou shalt kill. God says, blessed are the peace-makers; war says, blessed are the war-makers. God says, love your enemies ; war says, hate them. God says, forgive men their trespasses; war says, forgive them not. God enjoins forgiveness, and forbids revenge ; while war scorns the former, and commands the latter. God says, resist not evil; war says, you may and must resist evil. God says, if any man smite thee on one cheek, turn to him the other also; war says, turn not the other cheek, but knock the
smiter down. God says, bless those who curse you; bless, and curse not: war says, curse those who curse you ; curse, and bless not. God says, pray for those who despitefully use you; war says, pray against them, and seek their destruction. God says, see that none render evil for evil unto any man; war says, be sure to render evil for evil unto all that injure you. God says, overcome evil with good ; war says, overcome evil with evil. God says, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: war says, if you do supply your enemies with food and clothing, you shall be shot as a traitor. God says, do good unto all men; war, says, do as much evil as you can to your enemies. God says to all men, love one another; war says, hate and kill one another. God says, they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword; war says, they that take the sword, shall be saved by the sword. God says, blessed is he that trusteth in the Lord; war says, cursed is such a man, and blessed is he who trusteth in swords and guns. God says, beat your swords into ploughshares, your spears into pruning-hooks, and learn war no more; war says, make swords and spears still, and continue to learn war-until all mankind have ceased from learning it, i. e., fight, all of you, until all of you stop fighting !!
III. THE SOLDIER AND THE LORD's PrayER.—Let us, said the celebrated Erasmus more than three centuries ago, let us imagine we hear a soldier among these fighting Christians saying the Lord's Prayer just before battle. Our FATHER! says he. O, hardened wretch! can you call God Father, when you are just going to cut your brother's throat ?—Hallowed be thy name. How can the name of God be more impiously unhallowed than by mutual bloody murder among his sons ?—Thy kingdom come. Do you pray for the coming of his kingdom, while you are endeavoring to establish an earthly despotism by spilling the blood of God's sons and subjects ?—Thuj will be done on earth as it is in heaven. His will in heaven is for PEACE"; but you are now meditating WAR.—Give us this day our daily bread. How dare you say this to your Father in heaven at the moment you are going to burn your brother's corn-fields, and would rather lose the benefit of them yourself than suffer him to enjoy them unmolested ?-Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. With what face can you pray thus when, so far from forgiving your brother, you are going with all the haste you can, to murder him in cold blood for an alleged trespass which, after all, is but imaginary ? - Lead us not into temptation. And do you presume to deprecate temptation or danger-you who are not only rushing into it yourself, but doing all you can to force your brother into it?-Deliver us from evil. You pray to be delivered from evil, that is, from the evil being, Satan, to whose impulses you are now submitting yourself, and by whose spirit you are guided in contriving the greatest possible evil to your brother?
IV. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PROFESSED SOLPIER AND A HIRED Assassin ?—Let us state the case, Every