Page images
PDF
EPUB

the preaching of Paul at Rome and the public execution of the christians, it is not improbable, that Seneca was acquainted with their principles, and that the light of the gospel, thus reflected, had an effect on his mind. Yet he appears to be the only heathen author who has condemned the moral evils attendant on war ;-0 true it is, that war is a pagan custom, and can only be upheld on heathenish principles.

Seneca thus writes in one of his epistles :

"We punish murders and massacres committed among private persons; what do we respecting wars, and the glorious crime of murdering whole nations !--Here avarice ạnd cruelty knows no bounds. Barbarities are authorized by decrees of the Senate and the votes of the people; and enormities, for

bidden in private persons, are ordered and i sanctioned by public legislatures.”

“ Things, which, if men had done them in their private capacity, they would have paid for with their lives--the very same things we extol to the skies, when they do them in their war accoutrements."

" Another question arises : How are we to

--

behave toward our fellow creatures? How must we answer for it? What rules shall we lay down ? Shall we say that we ought to spare the effusion of human blood ? How small a matter is it, not to hurt him, whom we are bound by every obligation to do all the good to in our power! A prodigious merit indeed, if a man is mild and gentle to his fellow man We are all limbs of one great body. Nature produced us all as relations one to another. She inspired us with mutual love, and made us social. According to her laws, it is a more wretched thing to do an injury than to suffer death.”

“What can one call it but madness, to carry mischief about us wherever we go ; to fall violently upon people of whom we know nothing; to destroy every thing that comes in our way, and, like so many wild beasts, to murder men we have no sort of dislike to!”

How much nearer to the spirit of the gospel of peace, are these sentiments expressed by a heathen, than those we hear from the great men of the world, who have been idolized in proportion to the murders they have committed! How many christian moralists, and christian ministers too, does this heathen sage put to the blush!

Since the above appeared in the Mirror, the following quotations have fallen in my way:

“ It is far better, nay, more useful, to conquer enemies by virtuous acts and by justice, than to subdue them by arms. For in the one case, they submit, because they are compelled by necessity, in the other, of their own accord. The latter kind of victory recalls the ill-disposed to their duty with great loss : but the former brings back the disaffected into the right way, without detriment. Besides, where the business is managed by arms, the principal part of the victory is the work of the soldier; but where justice is the medium, the whole glory belongs to the rulers. (Polybius.)

“There are two kinds of contention ; the one by argument, the other by violence; the one belongs 10 man, the other properly to the brutes. (Cicero.)

“When a certain man was praising the saying of Cloemenes, who being asked,

what was the duty of a good king, answered, To do good to his friends, and evil to his enemies: How much more correct, says Socrates, would it be, To do good to his friends, and to make friends of his enemies !

"Pythagoras observes, that men should live together in such a state of mind, that instead of making enemies of their friends, they should make friends of their enemies.

6. When the Cumanians had delivered up to Pittacus a man in bonds by whom his son had been slain, he dismissed the man unpunished, with this remark: Forgiveness is better than revenge: for that belongs to a benevolent nature; this to a savage.

“Musonius the philosopher uttered a similar sentiment. “ It is the part of a wild beast, said he, not of man, to seek how bite may be returned for bite, and evil for evil.”

NO. 10.

JENTIMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS RE

SPECTING WAR.

I have already given the opinions of some of the fathers of the church, on war, when I noticed the doctrines and practice of the early Christians, I do not wish to repeat any of the quotations I have already laid before the public, but shall briefly add others, that were then omitted.

Justin, Tatian, Tertullian, and Lactantius I have already quoted.

Clemens Alexandrinus, A. D. 206, observes, that in his time, Christians were so far from wars, that they had no marks or signs of violence among them: “Neither sword nor bow to them that follow peace.”

Origin, A. D. 254, on Luke xxii, 36, thus remarks: “ If any one, looking to the letter, and not understanding the spirit, of the words, shall sell his bodily garment and buy a sword, taking the words of Christ contrary to his will, he shall perish.”

Cyprian, A. D. 258, in his epistle to Donatus, says: “Suppose thyself with me, on the top of some very exalted eminence, and from thence look down upon the appearances of things beneath thee. The things thou wilt principally observe will be the highways beset with robbers ; the seas with pirates ; en

« PreviousContinue »