« PreviousContinue »
SENTIMENTS OF PIOUS EMINENT MODERN WRITERS, ON THE SUBJECT GF WAR. -Continued.
I continue extracts from writers of the above description, not only because they have written better than I can ever hope to write on the interesting subject, which has engaged my attention for some time past, but also to shew, that the good, and truly great, have always been on the side of peace, and if they have not had that effect on the public, which their talents deserve, it is because they did not act in concert.
The following quotation is from the pen of Soame Jennings.
“ It is not a little surprising, that mankind have, at all times, so much delighted in war, and that, notwithstanding all the miseries it has brought upon them, they should still continue to rush into it, with as much alacrity as ever; the true, though secret, reason of which is certainly this: there is implanted in human nature, corrupt as it is, an approbation of virtue, that however determined men are to indulge their inclinations, they
never enjoy them with any satisfaction, unless they can find out some means of hiding their deformities, not only from the eyes of others but even from their own; and they are therefore extremely fond of every expedient, that can assist them, in this favorable self-deception, and procure them leave to be wicked, with a good character and a good conscience. Now war, is of all others, the most effectual for this purpose, as it grants us a plenary indulgence of every vicious disposition in the human mind, and exemption from all punishment or even censure, as well as from all reluctance and remorse. dresses up idleness and profligacy, malevolence and revenge, cruelty and injustice in the amiable habit of zeal for the glory and prosperity of our country, that we can give a loose to them all, not only with the applause of the world, but with the sincere approbation of our own hearts; and of such high estimation is this privilege, that we think it a sufficient recompense, for all the miseries and desolation, which the mutual exercise of it cannot fail to introduce."
The following quotation from Saurin, the
eloquent preacher at the Hague, has laid long on my files, having been extracted for my first series ; but was neglected for want of the suitable connection, which now occurs.
"A tyrant executes, on a gibbet, a poor unhappy man, whom the pain of hunger and frightful apprehension of sudden death forced to break open a house. Here, if you will, disorder is punished and society satisfied. But who shall satisfy the just vengeance of society on this mad tyrant? This very tyrant, at the head of a hundred thousand thieves, ravages the whole world; he pillages on the right hand and on the left; he violates the most sacred rights, the most sacred treaties; he knows neither religion nor good faith. Go, see, follow his steps---countries desolated, plains covered with the bodies of the dead, palaces reduced to ashes, and people run mad with despair. Enquire for the author of these miseries. Will you find him, think you, confined in a dark dungeon, or expiring on a wheel? Lo! he sits on a throne in a superb royal palace; nature and art contribute to his pleasures-a circle of courtiers minister to his passions, and erect
altars to him, whose equals in iniquity, yea if I may be allowed to say so, whose inferiors in vice, have justly suffered the most infamous punishments."
The following beautiful quotation, from a sermon, which the eloquent Masilon preached before Lewis XV. seems prophetic of the military chieftain, that usurped his throne, and covered Europe with smoking cinders."
“Glory, Sire, will always be stained with blood. Some madman will perhaps chant the victories of the conquerer; but provinces, the cities, the country will mourn. Superb monuments will be erected to immortalize his conquests, but the cinders still smoking, of so many cities heretofore flourishing,-fields stripped or dispoiled of their beauty,—the ruins of walls under which peaceable citizens have been buried,-will be mournful monuments which immortalize his vanity and his folly. He will have passed away as a torrent, which ravages the earth, and not as a majestic river which produces joy and abundance. His name will be inscribed among conquerers, and not among good kings, in the annals of posterity. The history of his reign will be ransacked, only to trace back the mischiefs he has inflicted on mankind. His pride, therefore, says the spirit of God, shall mount up even to the heavens, his head reach unto the clouds, his success shall have equalled his desires, and all his accumulation of glory shall in the end be no more than a heap of dirt, and it will leave nothing behind it but reproach and contagion.”
My next is from Sherlock, in which he proves the divine orign of the christian religion, by comparing the benign character of its founder, with that of the bloody prophet. Can he make such a discrimination in the conduct of their professed followers ? Alas! by their deeds, it is hard to distinguish Christians from Mahometans. He says:
“Go to your natural religion ; lay before her Mahomet and his disciples, arrayed in armour and in blood, riding in triumph over the spoils of thousands who fell by his victorious sword,-show her the cities which he set in flames, the countries which he ravaged and destroyed, and the miserable distress of all the inhabitants of the earth.