Page images

reader in America remembers the “ Salem Tragedy.”. Joseph and Francis Knapp, distant relatives of a rich old gentleman in Salem by the name of White, instigated Richard Crowninshield, by the offer of a thousand dollars of the plunder, to kill the old man, and seize his treasures. Crowninshield, entering the house of his victim at midnight, and creeping softly up stairs to the room where he was sleeping, struck him over the head with a bludgeon, and then turning down the clothes, stabbed him several times in the heart with a dagger. Every body called him a hired assassin; and he would have been hung as an atrocious murderer, if he had not in his prison hung himself. The two Knapps were tried, convicted and hung for hiring Crowninshield to assassinate Mr.White.

Here is a clear case of hired assassination; and wherein does it differ from the profession of a soldier ? Doubtless there is some difference; but in what does it consist, and to what does it amount ? How far are the two professions or acts alike?

Let us look at the facts. Here is a nation of ten, twenty or fifty millions, that hire you as one of their soldiers to kill whomsoever they may wish to have killed, and promise to give you, besides your food and clothing, some ten or twenty cents a day. The nation, indignant that the Chinese spurn their opium, or that the Afghans reject their favorite ruler, or that the Seminoles will not give up their lands, the inheritance of fifty generations, to some avaricious white men, order you to go and kill them, burn their dwellings, and butcher, without distinction or mercy, thousands of unoffending men, women and children.

We see now the facts in the two cases; and what is the difference? The deed is the same, except that in one case a single man was killed, and in the other thousands, or scores of thousands. The motive, too, is essentially the same_with the employers, selfaggrandizement; with the hired agents, pay. The difference, for there is some, will not redound much to the soldier's credit over the assassin. The soldier hires himself to millions of men called a nation ; Crowninshield hired himself to only two men. The soldier hires himself out to kill whomsoever the nation may wish to have killed at any time; the assassin engaged to do a specified act, to kill a single man at a given time, and that man named beforehand. The soldier is hired to kill by the month or year; the assassin was hired by the job. The soldier is a day-laborer in the work of blood; the assassin is a jobber at the same trade. The assassin is better paid than the soldier; for the former was promised a thousand dollars for killing one man, while the latter might kill a hundred in a day without getting half a dollar for the whole. The soldier agrees to kill any and all whom the nation may bid; and, if required to shoot his own father or mother, brother or sister, wife or child, he must shoot them, or be shot himself; whereas the assassin, had' he refused to kill the old man according to agreement, would not himself have been liable to be hung The soldier makes a fearful bargain ; for, though aware that, if he refuse to kill any whom the nation may bid him kill, he must

himself be put to death, he nevertheless enters into the bloody compact, not knowing but he may be ordered to shoot or stab his own parents, wife or children. Not so bad the assassin's bargain. Had Crowninshield engaged to kill at any time any body whom the Knapps might wish to have killed, with the understanding that he should himself be put to death if he ever refused to kill any one they should bid, there would be a pretty close analogy between his case and that of the professed soldier. But the assassin's position was not so terrible. The soldier must kill whomsoever his employers may bid him kill, or the terms of his contract make him liable to be shot or hung himself.

Now, let every reader judge between the two, and tell us, if he can, why a hired assassin, like Crowninshield, should be hung as a monster of wickedness, while the soldier, hired by twenty millions to do the same deed by wholesale, is admired and eulogized as a hero? To kill multitudes at the bidding of millions, is deemed patriotic, glorious, Christian, worthy of songs, and eulogies, and monuments ; but to kill one man at the bidding of another one, is denounced as base, infamous, diabolical, deserving of the gallows, of eternal infamy. Well did Bishop Porteus say,

“ One murder makes a villain ;

Millions, a hero." Will the professed soldier never be classed with the hired assassin ? How much longer will men of any principle, conscience or self-respect, hire themselves out to the work of robbery and murder? How long will professed Christians, or any Christian community, respect or even tolerate the military profession, the trade of human butchery?

Jesus Christ.—My kingdom is not of this world ; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.

IRENEUS, A. D. 180.—Christians have changed their swords into instruments of peace; and they know not how to fight.

TERTULLIAN, A. D. 197.-Can one who professes the peaceable doctrine of the gospel, be a soldier ? Jesus Christ, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier afterwards ; for custom can never sanction a wrong act.

JEREMY TAYLOR.-As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, tyranny to charity, so is war to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion.

Robert Hall.-War reverses all the rules of morality. It is nothing less than A TEMPORARY REPEAL OF THE PRINCIPLES OF VIRTUE.

LORD BROUGHAM.—I abominate war as unchristian. I hold it to be the greatest of human crimes. I deem it to include all others—violence, blood, rapine, fraud, every thing which can deform the character, and debase the name of man.




“ In the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. · And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks ; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid ; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.” |

Here is a prophetic sketch of the millennium. During that period, “nation shall not lift up sword against nation.” Universal harmony will prevail

. No desire of conquest will then be found. Contented with their own territory, none will seek to encroach on their neighbors' lands. Over the face of the whole earth, peace shall reign, and the nations shall form a holy brotherhood, emulous to promote each other's prosperity and happiness. The art of murdering will then cease; "they shall learn war no more.” No naval nor military colleges shall then exist; no time, no labor, no skill be employed to teach the stripling and the recruit how to fight, and how to wound and slay. The study then among Christ's disciples will be after the example of their Master, “who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.”

So discordant is this description with the general sentiments, and feelings, and practice of mankind in the present day, that some may still be inclined to disbelieve the existence of such a state, and be ready to exclaim with the voice of incredulity,“ it is impossible.” The spirit of God, foreseeing this obduracy of heart, in order to remove every doubt, inspired the prophet Micah to add these omnipotent words, “For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken

* This tract is taken from one of a series of DiscoURSES ON THE MILLENNIUM, delivered in 1813 when Napoleon was at the acme of

Dr. Bogue, born in Scotland 1750, settled in London 1774, and removed in 1777 to the superintendence of the Missionary Seminary at Gosport, died in 1825, one of the best men of his age, and a master-spirit in starting and sustaining the great enterprises now at work for the world's conversion.-Am. ED.

his career.

+ Micah iv. 1-4.

it.” He whom the word of the faithful God will not satisfy, has no higher evidence to receive, and must be left to the curse of his unbelief; but surely every Christian must say, “the Lord hath spoken, and I believe his word.”

Let your heart, Christian, sweetly repose on this delightful scene; for wearied and harassed you must be with the din of arms, with the sight of slaughter, and the widely extended range of human misery Turn your eyes away from the hateful spectacle, and look forward to the joyful season, when war shall be unknown but in tradition; and when all the nations of the world shall dwell together in peace and love. Now the aim of every ruler in Christendom is to do all the injury in his power to the nations with which he is at war. Now men of the most gigantic and highly cultivated minds, are employing all their energies, night and day, to invent methods by which slaughter and desolation may be most widely scattered. Now hundreds of thousands of men are enduring fatigues, suffering privations, and exposing themselves to dangers and deaths beyond what words can express, to carry the plans of others into execution, by spreading destruction as extensively as possible.

How solacing is it to look forward to the period predicted in the passage we have quoted from the prophet! Then the rulers of the world, while their first cares are employed for the happiness of their own people, will also extend their concern to other nations, and strive to promote their welfare and prosperity as widely as they can. Then men of superior talents will exercise them in endeavoring to make discoveries by which other countries as well as their own may reap essential benefit. Then the energies of our youth will be engaged in the peaceful occupations of domestic life ; and such as leave their native land, will endeavor to promote the happiness of the regions to which they go.

But still some may ask, “How can these things be?” So different is that state of things from the present, or from any which the world has yet exhibited, that it may appear to some a mere chimera, a Utopian dream. But let such persons weigh the following considerations :

1. The natural result of the doctrines and precepts of the Gospel. Hear its language. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind : This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.* Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.f Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him

* Matt. xxii. 37, 38, 39.

* Matt. v. 43, 44.

drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."* Of the spirit and commands of the Gospel, these passages furnish a fair specimen, and teach us what Christians ought to be. Do these encourage or even permit a disciple of Jesus to take away the precious life of the inhabitant of another country, more than of one of his own, or indeed to injure him in the smallest degree? If all mankind were under the influence of these principles, would they not produce universal peace ?

2. The nature of Christianity will be better understood in al. its parts. When the religion of Jesus was first propagated in the world, some of its doctrines and precepts were peculiarly in opposition to the sentiments and dispositions both of the Jews and Gentiles, and hence they were either rejected or perverted. Against these corruptions several of the Epistles of the New Testament are directly levelled; but alas ! too many of them have retained their influence to the present day. This has been especially the case with respect to that love which the disciples of Christ ought to bear to the whole human race; and particularly as to the manner in which Christians, considered in their relation as subjects of civil society, ought to demean themselves towards the members of other communities, or subjects of other governments. How many Christians, who, acting as individuals, would be filled with horror at the thought of taking away the life of a man of another country, can, when acting as members of the commonwealth, put to death men of other lands without remorse, and even glory in the deed! The obligation of the followers of Jesus to the exercise of universal love and good-will, will then be both clearly understood and deeply felt. It will be ascertained, that individual accountableness runs through every relation in which man can be placed ; that a Christian cannot lend his influence or his energies to execute the designs of caprice, avarice, ambition or revenge ; and that when mixed with a hundred thousand of his species, he is no more justified in taking away the life of a man of another country for those ends, than if he acted by himself alone.

3. In consequence of such a change of views, the true spirit of the Gospel will be imbibed by every Christian individual ; and the number of these individuals will be so great, as to comprehend the generality of mankind. To love the whole family of Adam, and to manifest this love to them in every relation, both public and private, will be the predominant temper in civil society. To . abstain from doing injury to men of other countries, will have equal authority over his conscience, as not to commit adultery, and not to be guilty of sacrilege. To exercise benevolence towards all, and to endeavor, by every means in his power, to promote the happiness of all, will be accounted of like obligation by the Christian, as loving his brothers and sisters, and honoring his father and his mother.

* Rom. xii. 19, 20, 21.

« PreviousContinue »