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may add weight to the better scale. The enrolment you propose, of my name in the records of your society, cannot be unacceptable to me. It will be a true testimony of my principles and persuasion, that the state of peace is that, which most improves the manners and morals, the prosperity and happiness of mankind; and, although I dare not promise myself that it can be perpetually maintained, yet, if, by the inculcations of reason or religion, the perversities of our nature can be so far corrected, as sometimes to prevent the necessity, either supposed or real, of an appeal to the blinder scourges of war; murder, and devastation, the benevolent endeavours of the friends of peace will not be entirely without remuneration.
I pray you to accept the assurance of my respect and consideration.
TH. JEFFERSON. It may be necessary to observe, that Mr. Jefferson was perfectly aware of the aim and objects of the Massachusetts Peace Society, having had its constitution and the several numbers of the Friend of Peace sent to him for his perusal. Had this society entertained any opposition to government, or endeavored to build up one party on the ruins of another, as some foolishly pretend, would not so sharp-sighted a politician have discovered it? and would the very head and leader of the party, which it is pretended was to be opposed, have so publicly manifested his hearty approbation of the objects of the society, and even become a member of it in order to “add weight to the better scale?”
I add another extract of a letter from the same to Sir John Sinclair.
" Wonderful has been the progress of human improvement in other respects. Let us hope then that the law of nature, which makes virtuous conduct produce benefit and vice loss, to the agent, in the long runwhich has sanctioned the common principle, that honesty is the best policy, will in time, influence the proceedings of nations, as well as individuals; that we shall at length, be sensible, that war is an instrument, entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong, that it multiplies, instead of indemnifying, losses.
“ Had the money which has been spent in the present war, been employed in making
roads and conducting canals of navigation and irrigation through the country, not a hovel in the highlands of Scotland, or mountains of Auvergne, would have been without a boat at its door, or a rill of water in every field, and a road to its market town.
“Had the money we have lost by the lawless depredations of all the belligerent powers been employed in the same way, what communications would have been opened of roads and waters ! Yet were we to go to war for redress,minstead of redress, we should plunge deeper into loss, and disable ourselves for half a century more, from attaining the same ends. A war would cost us more than would cut through the isthmus of Darien : and that of Suez might have been opened with what a single year has seen thrown away on the rock of Gibraltar.
“ These truths are palpable, and must, in the progress of time, have their influence on the minds and conduct of nations." ;
After this who can deny that Mr. Jefferson highly approved of peace societies and their cause : and that that approbation was founded on sound policy and true philosophy ? It
is true, he is not quite so sanguine as I am. It is not wonderful that a man, who had drunk deeply at the fountain of infidel philosophy in France, should doubt the will or power of God, to fulfil his promises, that the time should come, when men should learn war no more, or that he ever made such a promise, or authorized such a prophecy :such is the natural effect of scepticism. But as a philosopher and statesman, he seems to be perfectly well convinced, “that a state of peace is that which most improves the manners and morals, the prosperity and happiness of mankind.” I agree with Mr. Jefferson in philosophy and policy, but as I disagree with him in religious sentiments, of course I differ in the hopes which are to be derived from the power and influence of the christian religion, and the truths of prophecy. Had I no belief in the divine inspiration of the prophets, in the divine and pacific message of the Messiah-in the truth and power of Jehovah, I must confess, that I should consider a state of universal and permanent peace, rather to be desired than ex
pected, and I should be hardly so sanguine as Mr. Jefferson himself.
On mature deliberation I have come to this conclusion, that a state of permanent and universal peace can never be rationally expected, without the influence of the christian religion, and that it never can take place, until the true spirit of christianity, in its purity, is more generally diffused, and what is now called religion, purified from its dross—from false pagan notions of glory and patriotism.—The system of peace is founded on the gospel of Christ—will stand with it and cannot fall without it. They are identically the same, one cannot progress without the other. War among christians is the greatest obstacle to the spread of the gospel, and the spread of the gospel is the forerunner of the principles of peace.
I did intend to make a few remarks on Mr. Jefferson's letters, but have only room to observe that he wrote the latter quotation before our last war, and, was very much mistaken, as to its expense. Our share alone of the expenses of the war, to say nothing of our losses in lives and property, would con