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THE TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE.
In the course of my first series of essays, I delayed the consideration of war in a religious point of view, because, being but a layman, I considered myself unable to do justice to the subject, and because I hoped some of our learned divines would take it up. Being however disappointed, I applied to my minister for texts on the subject, but I did not get them for the place allotted to them. I now insert the texts, that so good a labor should not be lost. I omit the chapter and verse, because your readers will probably be sufficiently acquainted with scripture, to make an examination of their correctness by actual inspection unnecessary.
1. Of Precept. Thou shall not kill-I say unto you, that ye resist not evil ; but whosoever shall smite thee on one cheek, turn to him the other also. 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.-If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peacefully with all men. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.-See that none render evil for evil to any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men."
2. Example. That ye may be like your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good. Christ is called the Prince of Peace. There is no example of war or even of resistance by force in any of his disciples~I am meek and lowly in heart. If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his.
3. Prohibition. Say not I will recompense evil, but wait on the Lord and he shall save thee.-Say not I will do to him as he hath done to me.-Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is written, Vengeance is mine and I will repay it, saith the Lord. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
4. Threatening. They that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Beeause thou
hast spoiled many nations, the remnant of the people shall spoil thee ; because of men's blood, &c. ,
5. Implication. And hath made of one blood, all the nations of men.-But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. When the Gospel produces extensively its desired effect, Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2. 4. and again in Micah 4. 3. They shall beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more, but they shall sit every man · under his vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.--I will make thy officers peace and thine exactors righteousness. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
6. Benediction. Blessed are the meek, for, they shall inherit the earth.—Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.-Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Besides the above named texts, I may add
the following, which I think relate to this subject, but shall put them down without any order as they happen to occur to me, viz.
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whosoever shall say Raca, shall be in danger of the council, but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Follow peace with all men. For though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh.--I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.-The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. See also James iii. 13 to the end, and iv. 1-3. 1 Pet. 20 to the end, iii. 8, and following verses, and Psalm Ixvüi. 30. Scatter thou the people that delight in war.
To these there might doubtless be added
many other texts and passages of scripture to shew that war is inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the gospel.
It may perhaps be objected to the first text, “ Thou shalt not kill,” that it only means to forbid murder. Granted—but what is murder, if wantonly and knowingly taking the life of an innocent person, is not ? Now war takes the lives of not only innocent men, but frequently of women and children also. The innocent merchant is attacked and plundered on the highway of nations, and if he resists or attempts to escape, is killed. Whatever may be said in defence of capital punishments, and wars, which are strictly defensive, it cannot be doubted that all other wilful homicide is directly contrary to the law of God, and whoever enlists in war, and thus obliges himself to obey the command of his superiors, to attack cities and plunder the innocent, and to kill them if they attempt flight or resistance, voluntarily places himself in a condition to commit murder, and “no murderer hath eternal life.” How awfully inconsiderate then, are those who send their children to a military school, or take up themselves a profession as a trade to get a living, which sub