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Christian virtues are mean and worthless in comparison of heroic virtues. And yet, if a Christian minister have in him the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus, and make the sermon on the mount, and the gospel of John his text-book of morals, can he believe that the disciple whom Jesus loved, would have chosen war and the warrior as the companion of youth? Can such a clergyman believe the spirit and example of Cæsar and Agricola, of Roman kings and consuls, of the heroes in Virgil and Homer, not unfriendly to Christian morals? Can he believe an Apostle would ever have written guch books for the instruction of youth, or adopted them into his scheme of education?
There was a time when for ages the clergy were absolute masters of all education. Oh! that they had then been faithful to the great trust committed to them! Had they constructed all their schemes on the principles of peace, and devoted the immense revenues of the church to the general education of the people in the spirit of peace, they would indeed have been the most signal and illustrious of benefactors. But they saw not, or disregarded, the dangerous influences of war in education, and the truth, beauty and power of peace principles, Ages rolled away; the clergy acquired a new and higher power than that of priestly authority, the power of knowledge and talents, of virtue and piety, acting on free and enlightened consciences. Yet still the clergy appeared insensible of their high and solemn duty to exclude the influences of war from schemes of education, and to substitute the principles and influences of peace. Three hundred years have glided away; and still Christians and the clergy are nominally on the side of peace, practically on the side of war, in all their systems of education. And yet the cause of peace can never triumph, until the Christian clergy shall condemn war and the warrior in every form, as they have condemned private violence and the duellist. Nor can the spirit of peace ever be the leading characteristic and vital principle of education, until Christians and the clergy shall in like manner substitute Christian for heathen education, and the Christian excel. lences for the heathen virtues inseparable from the classic poets and historians. Peace can never triumph, till education in all its departments shall teach youth, that those which are called heroic virtues, are expressly prohibited by Christ, both in precept and example; that the only warrior, if I may venture the term, whom Christ acknowledges, is the Martyr, laying down property, liberty and life in his cause, but resolute not to bear arms in defence of them, or in vindication of his master's rights. Peace can never triumph, until children shall be universally taught, that a peasant, with a Christian spirit, is a nobler and a lovelier object to angels, than Cesar, Alexander or Napoleon. How hard is it to convince Christians of these things, and bring them to act on the broad, simple, uncompromising precepts of the gospel! War has sworn on the altar of human victims, eternal enmity to the love and humility of the gospel; yet Christians and the holy ministry of peace, love, and humility, not only justify war and the warrior, but scatter their
influence with a prodigal hand, and perpetuate them with emulous enthusiasm, in all the forms of education.
How insensible have Christians, and above all, the Christian clergy, appeared to this sublime, remarkable truth, that in the mysterious providence of God, the law of violence and retaliation was universally tolerated and often directly employed by God himself in his moral government of the world, until the advent of the Prince of Peace ; BUT FROM THAT MOMENT THE LAW OF INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL MORALS, WAS Nor is this contrast surprising, when we compare the Jewish and Christian dispensations. The Mosaic institutes were a vast and complex scheme of national morals and social duties, of civil and political administration, of religious rites and ecclesiastical
arrangements, of sacrifices and ceremonies. It was the system of a nation and a government with a rich and splendid national church. But Christianity was a scheme the very opposite of all this; for its influence was altogether individual and social ; its worship was simple and spiritual; its founders and rulers, the poor and humble. Its character as a church, was universal; its prominent virtues were humility and self-sacrifice, forgiveness of enemies, and love to all mankind. Hence the law of violence and retaliation was forever abolished ; and the law of peace and love, of humility, forbearance and forgiveness, irrevocably ordained in its stead. Yet the general tenor of the precepts of Christians, and the general spirit of their schemes of government and education, have utterly denied that the law of violence and retaliation is forever abolished, as the great law for individuals, communities and governments. The Jews rejected the meek and humble Jesus, expecting a conquering Messiah; and they were animated and sustained in the ruinous war against Vespasian and Titus, by their misconstruction of the prophecies respecting the Messiah. And have not Christians, whilst acknowledging the meek and humble Jesus as their Messiah, practically rejected him by denying the authority of his precepts, and disregarding the beauty of his example? Have not Christians actually governed themselves and their communities, as though the god of war, or the martial prophet of Mecca, not the Prince of Peace, was their Messiah? Have they not, as individuals, as subjects, and as rulers, acted as though they did not doubt that the Christian bore the character of the Jewish Messiah; and that they had a right in his name, to suspend the law of peace, humility and love, and to re-establish the law of retaliation and violence? The history of Christian countries on the great subject of peace and war, is undeniably the history of heathen communities. With some few exceptions in the mode of warfare, and the treatment of prisoners, the wars of Christian nations are not distinguishable from those of the Pagan in their origin, conduct and termination. The reason is manifest; war in any shape, from any motive, and carried on in any mode, is utterly indefensible on Christian principles, and utterly irreconcilable with a Christian spirit. When will the disciples, and above all, the ministers of the Prince of Peace, acknowledge in theory and practice, this great and solemn truth? When will they
admit, that God is wiser than man, and knows best the principles upon which his moral government ought to be administered among men ?
There was a time,when the distinguishing mark of Christians was, that they would not bear arms; but, for more than sixteen hundred years, peace has been the lost Pleiad in the constellation of Christian virtues. From the commencement of the history of Christian nations and governments, they have ceased to bear that mark, and more than sixteen centuries have recorded their inextinguishable
Oh! that Christians had persevered in the prinitive spirit, which regarded the character of a soldier as pagan, not Christian ! Oh! that they had abided inflexibly by the rule, never to bear arms! Then would the primitive church have bequeathed an illustrious, invaluable example to all posterity. Then pagan, not Christian governments, would have been overturned. Then the northern invaders, after conquering the monarchs and armies of heathenism, would themselves have been subdued and civilized by the allprevailing law of Christian peace and love. But, unfortunately, Christianity was first enslaved by the warlike character of classic paganism, and afterwards by the martial spirit of the barbarous heathen. Had its disciples inflexibly resisted the first, they never would have dishonored their Founder and his church by the last. Their maxims should ever have been, olet the heathen take arms; but come what may, Christians never will. Christianity never shall be defended or spread abroad by force of arms. Christians never shall employ the sword. Let the heathen rule us with a rod of iron; let them insult, persecute, oppress, torment, slay us; let them confiscate property, slander character, cast us into prison, strip us of life itself; let them separate husband and wife, parent and child; let them seduce the brother to betray the brother, and the friend the friend ; let them poison the happiness of private and social life, and heap on us all the enormities and cruelties that malice can suggest, and tyranny execute. Still we will bear it all; nor shall the sword ever be employed to deliver, much less to avenge us. Be it our duty to exhibit the consistency and beauty, the unconquerable strength, the inflexible constancy of Christian love, humility and forgiveness. Cost what it may, we will return good for evil, blessing for cursing; we will love them that hate us, and pray for such as persecute and oppress us. Thus and thus only will we conquer our enemies, and convert the heathen to Christianity.' Then would they indeed have conquered ; for the law of love, and humility, and forgiveness is invincible in the hands of faith and hope. Thus would the whole Roman empire, and all the barbarian hordes that overran it, have been subdued by the pure and holy religion of peace; not by that misnamed Christian church with the warrior's helmet on her head, with his sword in her right hand, and a bloody cross in the left, as her battle ensign.
For ages the church was indeed a warrior, and resembled the Marphisa of poetical chivalry, not the Bride of the Lamb, meek, humble and resigned. Her prelates, in glittering armor, were seen on the war-steed, brandishing the iron mace of the pagan Alamar, while they shrunk from the Christian sword of Tancred or Gonzalvo. Century after century elapsed, and at length the church laid aside her sword and shield, and her clergy withdrew 'from the camp and the battle-field; but Christian rulers and communities still waged war, and all their institutions were still imbued with its spirit. Such, substantially, is still the fact; and such it must remain, till professed Christians, and especially the clergy, shall abjure their compromise with war and the warrior, and banish their influence from the education of Christian youth. The dawn of that day, I fear, is still far distant in the Christianity of Europe. Oh! that its morning star were now shining on the hearts of the clergy of my own, my beloved country! Oh! that our clergy would realize, that the reign of the Prince of Peace can never commence, till the chosen messengers of his love shall abjure forever all allegiance to war, and teach universally, that humility and love, forbearance and forgiveness, are the great, the indispensable elements of Christian morals, and of all the education of Christian youth.
I believe that the time is to come, when the warrior, with his plume, and his casque, and his scimetar, with his martial music, and his glittering armor, shall be seen no more forever; when the implements of war shall be found only in the cabinets of the curious, or among the historical memorials of the antiquary; when not a battle-ship shall crest the mountain wave, or repose beautiful and majestic on the tranquil bosom of the ocean; when not an army shall wind its dragon folds over hill, and valley, and plain; when the castle and the tower, the rampart and the battlement, shall be levelled with the ground, and the orchard, the garden and the vineyard shall smile over their graves ; when not a fortified town shall be seen on the face of the whole earth, and every citadel shall be dedicated with peculiar rites, as the temple of Christian peace; when Alexander, Cæsar and Napoleon, shall be accounted the Molochs of mankind, and the battle-fields of Arbela and Pharsalia, of Marengo and Austerlitz, the polluted shrines of a sanguinary and idolatrous superstition; when the illustrious achievements of the most renowned of conquerors shall be remembered only with astonishment, indignation and mourning; when the master-works of military science shall be esteemed' as mischievous and wicked as the frauds of astrology and magic, and the Iliad and Æneid, Cæsar, and Livy, and Sallust, shall never deform the souls of Christian youth ; when the siege, and the battle, and the naval action, and all the machinery of national murder and national robbery, by land and by sea, shall have been swept away forever; when the glory and ambition of individuals and nations shall be found only in the fellowship of love, in deep humility, in the emulation of good works; in the spirit of usefulness, and the sense of duty; in peace, Christian in its character, and universal in its dominion.
I feel an assurance, delightful in its prospects, and strong in its faith, that our country is yet destined to be the noblest monument of the principles of peace. It is impossible to contemplate our history, and not feel that we have been ordained to perform a more conspicuous part in the moral government of the world, than any other people, ancient or modern. Oh! that we did but realize the high and responsible office to which we have been called in the administration of Providence; the office of friend, counsellor, teacher of the nations of the earth. Oh! that we did but look back on the past with the humility and gratitude which becomes the most favored of nations; on the present, with the sense of unworthiness, and the diffidence which belongs to true wisdom; on the future, with the generous devotion and steadfastness of purpose which springs from an enlightened sense of duty. I know that the national institutions of the ancient people of Israel were established by God himself; and I believe, with a faith as strong as knowledge, that the peculiar structure of our government and state of society, is equally an ordinance of his unseen power. What though in our history, I read of no patriarchs, or prophets, or divine legislators; of no pillar of cloud by day, or of fire by night; not of the terrors of Sinai, or the vision of Pisgah; not of the chariot of fire, and mantle of power; nor yet of the fiery tempest of Sodom, or the severed waves of Jordan! What though in the record of his dealings with us, I read not that he stood, and measured the earth; that he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; that the mountains saw him, and trembled; that the deep lifted up its hands on high; that the sun and moon stood still in their habitations! What though in the history of the founders of our institutions, I read not of cloven tongues like as of fire, nor of the earthquake at midnight that burst the prison gates; not of the trance of Peter, nor the vision of Cornelius, nor the mid-day glory that struck Paul with blindness! Yet do I not doubt that we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand; that he is our God, and is leading us onward, through ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace, to an inheritance
more fair and rich than any people have ever had.
THE CHIEF OBJECTION TO WAR.—The great objection to war is not so much the number of lives, and the amount of property it destroys, as its moral influence on nations and individuals. It creates and perpetuates national jealousy, fear, hatred and envy. It arrogates to itself the prerogative of the Creator only to involve the innocent multitude in the punishment of the guilty few. It corrupts the moral taste, and hardens the heart; cherishes and strengthens the base and violent passions ; destroys the distinguishing features of Christian charity, its universality, and its love of enemies; turns into mockery and contempt, the test virtue of Christians, humility; weakens the sense of moral obligation, banishes the spirit of improvement, usefulness and benevolence, and inculcates the horrible maxim, that murder and robbery are matters of state expediency.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.