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Undoubtedly we have here a promise of peace; but let us not be too sanguine. We have just begun this career, and we know not its end. Let wealth grow without a corresponding growth of the temperate, just and benevolent spirit of Christianity, and I see few. auguries but of evil. Wealth' breeds power, and power always tempts to wrong. Cominunities, which at once grow rich and licentious, breed desperate 'men, unprincipled adventurers, restless spirits, who unsettle social order at home, who make freedom a cloak and instrument of ambition, and find an interest in embroiling their country with foreign foes. Another consequence of growing prosperity, is the rapid growth of population; and this, in the absence of Christianstre straints and Christian principles, tends to pauperism and crime, tends to make men cheap, and to destroy the sacredness of human life; and communities are tempted to throw off this dangerous load, this excess of numbers, in foreign war. In truth, ther vices which fester in the bosom of a prosperous, licentious, over-peopled state, are hardly less fearful than those of war, and they naturally seek and find their punishment in this awful calamity. Let us not speak of industry, commerce and wealth, as ensuring peace. Is commerce never jealous and grasping? Have commercial states no collisions? Have commercial rights never drawn the sword in self-defence? Are not such states a tempting prey ? And have they no desire to prey on others ? Why then expect from trade alone peace among nations? Nothing, nothing can bind nations together but Christian justice and love. I 'insist on this the more earnestly, because it is the fashion now to trust for every good to commerce, industry, and the wonderful inventions which promise indefinite increase of wealth. With all our ingenuity, we can frame no machinery for manufacturing wisdom, virtue, peace. Rail-roads and steam-boats cannot speed the soul to its perfection. This must come, if it come at all, from each man's action on himself, from “hunger and thirst after righteousness," not after wealth ; and I do fear, that without some great spiritual revolution, without some new life and love breathed into the church, without some deep social reforms, men will turn against each other their new accumulations of power; that their wealth and boasted inventions will be converted into weapons of destruction; that the growing prosperity of nations will become the nutriment of more wasteful wars, will become fuel for more devouring fires of ambition or revenge,
3. Another cause of the recent long cessation of foreign wars, has been the dread of internal convulsions, of civil wars. The spirit of revolution has, more or less, penetrated the whole civilized world. The grand idea of Human Rights has found its way even into despotisrns. Kings have less confidence in their subjects and soldiers. Their thrones totter; and it is understood that the next general war will be a war not of nations, but of principles, that absolutism must measure swords with liberalism, despotism with free constitutions; and from this terrible encounter both parties recoil. We believe that, with or without war, liberal principles and institutions are destined to advance, to make the conquest of Europe; and it is thought, that these, being recognitions of human rights, will be less prodigal of human blood than absolute power. But can we hope, that these, unsanctioned, unsustained by the Christian spirit, will ensure peace? What teaches our own experience? Because free, have we no wars? What indeed is the free spirit of which we so much boast? Is it not much more a jealousy of our own rights, than a reverence for the rights of all? Does it not consist with the inflictions of gross wrongs? Does it not spoil the Indian, and enslave the African? Is it not anxious to spread bondage over new regions? Who can look on this free country, distracted by parties, rent by local jealousies, in some districts administering justice by mobs, and silencing speech and the press by conflagration and bloodshed, who can see this free country, and say, that liberal opinions and institutions are of themselves to banish war? No where are the just, impartial, disinterested principles of Christianity so much needed as in a free state. No where are there more elements of strife to be composed, more passions to be curbed, more threatened wrongs to be repressed. Without Christian principle, freedom may swell the tide of tumults and war.
4. One other cause will probably be assigned by some for the long cessation of hostilities—the greater success of statesmen in securing that long sought good among nations, the balance of power. Be it so. But how soon may this balance be disturbed ? How does it tremble now ? Europe has long been threatened by the disproportionate growth of Russia, which, many fear, is one day to grasp at universal empire. All Europe is interested in setting bounds to this half-civilized despotism. But the great absolute powers, Prussia and Austria, dreading more the progress of liberal opinions than of Russian hordes, may rather throw themselves into her scale, and be found fighting with her the battles of legitimacy against free institutions. Many wise men dismiss these fears as vain. I presume not to read the future. My single object is, to show the uncertainty of all means of abolishing war, unless joined with, and governed by the spreading spirit of our disinterested faith. No calculations of interest, no schemes of policy, can do the work of love, of the spirit of human brotherhood. There can be no peace without, but through peace within. Society must be an expression of the souls of its members. Man's character moulds his outward lot. His destiny is woven by the good or evil principles which bear rule in his breast. I indeed attach importance to all the causes of peace which I have now stated. They are far from powerless; but their power will be spent in vain unless by a mightier and diviner energy, by the force of moral and religious principles, the strength of disinterested love, the true spirit of the gospel breathed into individuals, and through whole communities.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
A SOLEMN REVIEW OF WAR.
BY NOAH WORCESTER, D.D.
We regard with horror the custom of the ancient heathens in offering their children a sacrifice to idols. We are shocked with the customs of the Hindoos in prostrating themselves before the car of an idol to be crushed to death; in burning women alive on the funeral piles of their husbands ; in casting their children, a monthly sacrifice, into the Ganges to be drowned. We read with astonishment of the sacrifices made in Papal crusades, and in Mahometan and Hindoo pilgrimages. But that which is fashionable and popular in any country, is esteemed right and honorable, whatever may be its nature in the views of men better informed.
But while we look back, with a mixture of wonder, indignation and pity, on many of the customs of former ages, are we careful to inquire, whether some customs which we deem honorable, are not the effects of popular delusion? Is it not a fact, that one of the most horrid customs of savage men is now popular in every nation in Christendom? What custom of the most barbarous nations is more-repugnant to the feelings of piety, humanity and justice, than that of deciding controversies between nations by the edge of the sword, by powder and ball, or the point of the bayonet? What other savage custom has occasioned half the desolation and misery to the human race? And what, but the grossest infatuation, could render such a custom popular among rational beings ?
When we consider how great a part of mankind have perished by the hands of each other, and how large a portion of human calamity has resulted from war, it surely cannot appear indifferent, whether this custom is or is not the effect of delusion. Certainly there is no custom which deserves a more thorough examination, than that which has occasioned more slaughter and misery than all the other abominable customs of the heathen world.
War has been so long fashionable amongst all nations, that its enormity is little regarded; or, when thought of at all, it is usually considered as an evil necessary and unavoidable; but cannot the state of society and the views of civilized men be so changed as to abolish so barbarous a custom, and render wars unnecessary and avoidable ?
Some may be ready to exclaim, 'none but God can produce such an effect as the abolition of war; and we must wait for the millennial day. We admit that God only can produce the necessary change in the state of society, and the views of men; but God works by human agency and human means. None but God could have produced such a change in the views of the British nation, as to abolish the slave-trade; yet the event was brought about by a long course of persevering and honorable exertions of benevo
When the thing was first proposed, it probably appeared to the majority of the people, as an unavailing and chimerical project; but God raised up powerful advocates, gave them the spirit of perseverance, and finally crowned their efforts with glorious success. Now, it is probable, thousands of people are wondering how such an abominable traffic ever had existence in a nation which had the least pretensions to Christianity or civilization. In a similar manner God can put an end to war, and fill the world with astonishment, that rational beings ever thought of such a mode of settling national controversies.
As to waiting for the millennium to put an end to war without any exertions on our own part, it is like the sinner's waiting God's time for conversion, while he pursues his course of vice and impiety. If ever there shall be a millennium in which the sword will cease to devour, it will probably be effected by the blessing of God on the benevolent exertions of enlightened men. Perhaps no one thing is now a greater obstacle in the way of this wished for state of the church, than the spirit and custom of war which is maintained by Christians themselves. Is it not then time, that efforts should be made to enlighten the minds of Christians on a subject of such infinite importance to the happiness of the human race? That such a state of things is desirable, no enlightened Christian can deny. That it can be produced without expensive and persevering efforts, is not imagined. But are not such efforts to exclude the miseries of war from the world, as laudable as those which have for their object the support of such a malignant and desolating custom?
The whole amount of property in the United States is probably of far less value than what has been expended and destroyed within two centuries by wars in Christendom. Suppose, then, that onefifth of this amount had been judiciously laid out by peace associations in the different states and nations, in cultivating the spirit and arts of peace, and in exciting a just abhorrence of war, would not the other four-fifths have been in a great measure saved, besides many millions of lives, and an immense portion of misery? Had the whole value of what has been expended in wars, been appropriated to the promotion of peace, how laudable would have been the appropriation, and how blessed the consequences !
Let us glance at the pleas in favor of war. "The Israelites were permitted, and even commanded to make war on the inhabitants of Canaan.'—To this it may be answered, that the Giver and Arbiter of life had a right, if he pleased, to make use of the savage customs of the age for punishing guilty nations. If any government of the present day should receive a commission to make war as the İsraelites did, let the order be obeyed; but until they have such a commission, let it not be imagined that they can innocently make war. God has, moreover, given encouragement, that under the reign of the Messiah, there shall be such a time of peace, that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war
any more.” If this prediction shall ever be fulfilled, the present delusion in favor of war must be done away. How is it to be fulfilled ? Probably not by miraculous agency, but by the blessing of God on the benevolent exertions of individuals to open the eyes of their fellow-mortals in respect to the evils and delusions of war, and the blessings of peace.
A second plea may be this, that war is an advantage to a nation, as it usually takes off many vicious and dangerous characters.—But does not war make two such characters for every one it removes ? Is it not in fact the greatest school of dépravity, and the greatest source of mischievous and dangerous characters that ever existed among men? Does not a state of war lower down the standard of morality in a nation, so that a vast portion of common vice is scarcely observed as evil? Besides, is it not awful to think of sending 'vicious men beyond the means of reformation and the hope of repentance ? When they are sent into the army, what is this but consigning them to a state where they will rapidly fill up the measure of their iniquity, and become “fitted to destruction ?
It will be pleaded, thirdly, that no substitute for war can be devised, which will insure to a nation a redress of wrongs. But is it common for a nation to obtain a redress of wrongs by war? As to redress, do not the wars of nations resemble boxing at a tavern, when both the combatants receive a terrible bruising, then drink together, and make peace, each, however, bearing for a long time the marks of his folly and madness? A redress of wrongs by war is so uncommon, that unless revenge is redress, and multiplied injuries satisfaction, we should suppose that none but madmen would run the hazard.
But if the eyes of people could be opened in regard to the evils and delusions of war, would it not be easy to form a confederacy of nations, and organize a high court of equity to decide national controversies? Why might not such a court be composed of some of the most eminent characters from each nation, and a compliance with its decisions be made a point of national honor, to prevent the effusion of blood, and to preserve the blessings of peace? Can any considerate person say, that the probability of obtaining right in such a court, would be less than by an appeal to arms ? When an individual appeals to a court of justice for the redress of wrongs, it is not always the case that he obtains his right. Still such an appeal is more honorable, more safe, and more certain, as well as more benevolent, than for the individual to attempt to obtain redress by his pistol, or his sword. And are not the reasons for avoiding an appeal to the sword for the redress of wrongs, always great in proportion to the calamities which such an appeal must naturally involve? If this be a fact, then there is infinitely greater reason, why two nations should avoid an appeal to arms, than usually exists against a bloody combat between two contending individuals.
It may be urged, also, that a spirit of forbearance on the part of a national government, would operate as an invitation to repeated