« PreviousContinue »
campments, marches, and all the terrible forms of war and bloodshed. When a single murder is committed, it shall be deemed, perhaps, a crime ; but that crime shall become a virtue, when committed under the shelter of public opinion, so that punishment is not rated at the measure of guilt, but the more enormous the size of the wickedness is, so much greater is the chance of impunity."
Ambrose, A. D. 393, on Luke xxii, 36, says, “O Lord, why commandest thou me to buy a sword, who forbiddest me to smite with it ! Why commandest thou me to have it, whom thou prohibitest to draw it ? Unless perhaps a defence be prepared, not a necessary reyenge, and that I may seem to have been able to revenge, but that I would not. For the law forbids me to smite again, and therefore, perhaps, he said to Peter, who offered two swords, “ It is enough,” as if it had been lawful until the Gospel times; that in the law there might be a leaning of equity, but in the Gospel a perfection of goodness.”
Isidore, A. D. 430, says, “ The great King of Heaven came down from above, to deliver to the world the laws of a heavenly conver
sation; which he has proposed in a way of conflict and striving quite contrary to that of the Olympic games. There, he that fights, and gets the better, receives the crown; here, he that is stricken, and bears it meekly, has the honor and applause ; there, he that returns blow for blow; here, he that turns the other cheek, is celebrated in the theatre of angels ; for the victory is measured, not by a wise and generous patience. This is the new law of crowns; this is the new way of conflicts and contentions.”
To these might be added the names of St. Augustine, Archelaus, Jerome, Cyril, and indeed, as far as I know, of all the fathers, who flourished before the corruption of the church and the declension of vital piety.
As I have already descanted at large on the principles and practice of the early Christians as they relate to war, it is unnecessary further to pursue this topic. But I would, once more, earnestly recommend to professing Christians, seriously and prayerfully to consider, how they shall answer to the bar of God their dereliction of those principles, which were taught by Christ and his apostles,
both by precept and example, and also by their immediate followers: and whether the prejudices of a faulty education, and the example of a wicked world, will exculpate them, or extenuate their errors in practice, or nego lect of duty.
THE MILITIA SYSTEM.
There are some subjects which are con. nected in my mind with so many ludicrous associations, that it is almost impossible for me to treat of them, without approaching to levity. However important our sage legislators may think our militia system to be; it always has, in my view, a ridiculous appearance. To see young and old, at a time of profound peace, almost universal through the christian world, burnishing their helmets, buttoning on their spatter-dashes, and swinga ing their knapsacks, just as though they heard the war-whoop, and expected the Indians
down upon them in a twinkling, puts a serious mind on asking, what all this fuss and parade is for. Cui bono-what is the use of it?
It is hard to get the true answer to this question. The legislator, who supports the militia law, will tell you, that it is to be prepared for war. But I tell you it is no such thing; and I can demonstrate it instantly.-Divest the militia of all those accompaniments which are so fascinating to the young and vain :-take away all the music except
" The fife and drum, Which make the soldier's stomach come;" take away the uniforms, the gold and silver lace, the feathers and the epaulets--the fair spectators will go of course ;--take away the s pomp and circumstance of glorious war," which this display is intended to mimic ; and then take away the grog-reduce the whole system to a plain, sober, cold-water, drilling piece of business, and—though it would be infinitely more serviceable, so far as military tactics are concerned,—there is no doubt, it would be considered as the most oppressive and needless burden, that the most tyrannical government ever saddled an ober
dient people with. I should like to see the man, who would deny the truth of this proposition ;-but still more, I should like to see the experiment fairly tried. It was tried on a small scale, in New Hampshire, about thir. ty-five years ago. That State then labored under the delirium of a militia fever. The exempts were enrolled into what was called the “ Alarm-list.” The aged, the halt, and the purblind turned out, shouldered their ruse ty muskets, and took their ranks.
The boys too caught the fever from the aged, and I flourished, with my wooden sword, as a Lieutenant of a company of what might have been literally called light Infant-ry. But on getting possession of an old, rusty hanger, which had served in as many capacities as Hudibras's, I was eleva. ted to the captaincy; as being a lad of the most metal of them all: a qualification, which has generally had its weight in militia elections. The exempts had no uniform or epaulets, of course, no fair spectators. So the alarm list was called out but once, when the commissions were published with a profuse lībațion of punch, and there ended the alarm