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SENTIMENTS OF PIOUS OR EMINENT MODERN
WRITERS AGAINST WAR.
I think I shall be able to prove, that, as mankind have advanced in knowledge and religion, the most eminent for wisdom and piety have been more and more convinced of the iniquity, sinfulness and impolicy of war ; and that the sentiments now promulgated by peace societies, are, by no means, new, but are as old as the Gospel ; and that eminently pious and good men have heretofore given their testimony against war, but, unhappily, with little effect ; owing to a want of that system and co-operation, which have been partially adopted by peace societies, but which are far from being matured. Had these deceased worthies concentrated their energies, by an union into a society for the express purpose of promulgating their pacific sentiments, there is reason to believe, that much of the havoc and bloodshed, which have desolated the world for the last thirty years, would have been prevented, much misery and anguish avoided, and many soulş saved, of whom it
would be the utmost temerity to say, we have now any hope.
It cannot, however, be expected, that all the testimony of modern writers, of piety and distinction, against the custom of war, has ever met my eye, or that it would be expedient to republish all that I have seen; for this would require volumes. I shall, therefore, only take an instance here and there from authors generally known and respected in this country. I commence with
Jeremy Taylor, A. D. 1642.-As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, tyranny to charity, so is war and bloodshed to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion. I had often thought of the prophecy, that in the Gospel, our swords shall be turned into plough-shares, and our spears into pruninghooks. I knew that no tittle spoken by God's spirit, could return unperformed and ineffectual, and I was certain, that such was the excellency of Christ's doctrine, if men would obey it. Christians should never war one against another.”
Grotius, 1645.-" If, by the Jewish law, an involuntary murderer was obliged to flee to a place of refuge, if God probibited David from building a temple to him, because his hands were defiled with blood, though his wars might be called religious contests, if, among the ancient Greeks, persons who had defiled themselves with slaughter, without any fault of theirs, required expiation,who does not see, especially a Christian man, how wretched and ill-fated a thing war is, and how earnestly even a just war should be avoided.?
Fenelon, 1715.-“War never fails to exhaust the State and endanger its destruction, with whatever success it is carried on. Though it may be commenced with advantage, it can never be finished without danger of the most fatal reverse of fortune. * * * * Nor can a nation that should be always victorious, prosper ; it would destroy itself by destroying others; the country would be depopulated, the soil untilled, and trade interrupted, and what is still worse, the best laws would lose their force, and a corruption of manners insensibly take place. Literature will be neglected among the youth the, troops, conscious of their own importance, will indulge themselves in the most pernicious li-, Gentiousness, with impunity, and the disorder will necessarily spread through all the branches of government.
Rollin, 1742.—“ It is related that Alexander, upon Araxarchus the philosopher, telling him that there was an infinite number of worlds, wept to think that it would be impossible for him to conquer them all, since he had not yet conquered one. Is it wrong in Seneca, to compare these pretended heroes, who have gained renown, no otherwise than by the ruin of nations, to a conflagration and a flood which lay waste and destroy all things; or to wild beasts, who live merely by blood
and slaughter ?" i Thomas Hartley, 1756.-" How long, ye potentates, will ye continue to lay heavy burdens on your people, and add poverty to war? How long will ye give cause to Turks and Indians to say, Fie on these Christians, how do they delight in blood! ** * We gannot be unacquainted with the names of certain potentates, now living, who would hang a poor man for stealing a cow, whilst they themselves share a kingdom amongst them, acquired by rank usurpation. O for a Nem than, this day, in every court in Christendom, to take up his parable, and, as the application should require it, to say even to the most puissant monarch, “ Thou art the man !"
It is undeniable that had the sentiments above quoted been universal or even general at the time they were penned, wars would have ceased long ago. The love of glory, which is the same as love of applause, is the chief incentive to war. It is this which has induced many, who were by nature benevolent and humane, to forget their natural benevolence, and commit acts of cruelty and! injustice. Let the detestation of mankind follow injustice, cruelty and oppression, and their applause be conferred only on the benevolent and humane, and then those who are ambitious will leave the art of war, for the arts of peace. To bring about this change, is the object of the friends of peace, and who can refuse to wish them success ?