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INFLUENCE OF WAR UPON MISSIONS.
It is not one of the least evils of war, numerous and aggravated as they are, that it is a great obstacle in the way of the successful prosecution of the Missionary enterprise. The Missionary comes to the heathen, with that simplicity and purity of views appropriate to his character, and announces a new and better religion, full of benignity, love, and peace. It is undoubtedly a great announcement, calculated to startle and arouse the attention of the most ignorant and prejudiced. But unfortunately for the Missionary, the heathen whom he addresses are already too well acquainted with the character of those professedly Christian nations from whom he comes. The missionary announces to them as one great element of the Gospel, that it induces men to renounce strife and contention, to love each other, and to treat all mankind as their brethren. But they at once exhibit their incredulity; they state to him, that the people from whom he comes, and who have heard the disclosures of the Gospel from their childhood, are continually in conflict ; they themselves have heard the roar of their cannon ; they have seen the flash of their swords ; nay more, their own families have been assaulted; their own houses have been rifled ; their own beloved children have been torn away and carried into captivity by men, who called
proffer of the Gospel with the other will be attended with any adequate success? Have they any reason to believe, that God looks upon such a course with approbation? They may depend upon it, that the world will not be converted, nor will any marked success attend the Missionary cause, which even now, with all the aid of Missionary publications and Monthly Concerts, seems to be obstructed and languishing, until this great question is settled.
But some will perhaps object, that these are solitary and exempt cases; and that a great portion of the heathen world are not thus acquainted with the vices and crimes of Christians. We wish it were so, but it is not. The roar of Christian cannon, and the flash of Christian musquetry, and the hyæna outcry of the Christian military onset have been heard and seen, wherever there are men. We are sending missionaries, not only to our own heathen tribes and to Syria and Palestine, but to India. Does India know nothing of the character of Christian nations, and of the hostility of that character to Christian principles? Have not the armies of England at different times and under different leaders laid waste her fairest provinces, burnt her villages, and exemplified, to an extent deeply painful to every feeling heart, the tremendous crimes, which are capable of being found in association with the sacred but perverted names of civilization and Christianity ? “There is nothing, (says a celebrated English orator, speaking of one of the principal agents in the transactions of British India then on trial,) to be found in the history of human turpitude ; nothing in the nervous delineations and penetrating brevity of Tacitus ; nothing in the luminous and luxuriant pages of Gibbon, or of any other historian, dead or living, who, searching into measures and characters with the rigour of truth, presents to our abhorrence depravity in
its blackest shapes, which can equal, in the grossness of the guilt, or in the hardness of heart with which it was conducted, or in low and grovelling motives, the acts and character of the prisoner."*—And such are the pioneers of the Gospel ; such are the men, who, in the lamentable ubiquity of human avarice and crime, have ever been destined to present to the hungering and thirsting nations of heathenism the ante-past of the religion of purity and peace.—And has this great evil been sufficiently contemplated and examined by the Christian Church? We call it a great evil; not only because it is so in itself and in its own nature, but because it is great in its application ; because it is found every where ; pervading every island and every continent and every country and every name and tribe under heaven. It is a fatal mistake which some will be likely to commit, that, though the evil is aggravated in its nature, it is limited and curtailed in its application; and consequently of no great moment.
Fleeing from the abominations of America and India, we direct our attention to the immense regions of Africa. As the Missionary passes along that benighted coast with his announcement of the glad tidings of salvation and peace, can it be supposed, that the countless wrongs and contumelies, suffered for three centuries at the hands of Christian nations, will at once be forgotten? Undoubtedly the Missionary will find in the recollection of these wrongs an obstacle of the most serious kind to his benevolent efforts. The untutored Africans will experience the greatest difficulty in satisfactorily solving the problem of the direct contradiction between alledged Christian principles and known Christian practice ; and so long as this is the case it cannot be expected that their hearts will be thrown fully and frankly open to the re* Speech of Sheridan on the Impeachment of Warren Hastings,
ception of divine truth. We give you the Gospel, says the Missionary ; we come to you in peace; and we pray you to listen to us, and to become Christians. “Oh, says the bereaved and heart-broken mother, rather give me my wretched sons and daughters, whom you Christians have torn shrieking from my arms, and have plunged into the ocean, or have enslaved in distant lands.”
And now what is to be done? Have we not by our misconduct erected a Chinese wall in the way of the progress of the Gospel ? Can we reasonably expect to purify the world without a purification of ourselves ? Undoubtedly missions will be established, and will be attended with some degree of success, but we draw our conclusion without looking closely and seriously enough at the premises, if we suppose, that the world will be converted, without our taking this great stumbling block out of the way. Ships of war must be laid up ; armies must be disbanded: the militia system must be given up; fortifications must be demolished ; cannon must be melted into bells for churches ; swords must be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks ; and then what light will beam from the brow of the Missionary, as he stands the messenger of the Prince of peace on heathen soil ! He will come not only with the gospel, but with a practical Commentary on its principles, so full, so striking, so overwhelming, as to carry conviction at once to the heathen heart.
CAUSES OF WAR.
It would be an interesting topic, if our limits would permit us to enter into a full examination of it, to show on how very slight causes wars generally depend. We sometimes find an alleviation of our regret at the issues of events, by a consideration of the causes, which led to them. It is a common remark, that we ought to be willing to suffer in a good cause. But how very seldom does this source of consolation exist in the case of wars. We should naturally anticipate, that war, involving as it does such a vast amount of human life and happiness, would not be commenced, except for the most urgent and weighty reasons. But nothing can be further from the truth than such a supposition.—Some years since the Peace Society of Massachusetts appointed a Committee to inquire into this subject. In the Report, the inquiry is “confined to wars, in which civilized nations have been engaged, since they became christian, or since Constantine assumed the reins of the Roman empire : omitting a great number of petty wars, in small nations of antiquity,—temporary insurrections, or trivial hostilities—and a multitude of wars which have been carried on between christian and savage nations, such as the Aborigines of Asia and America. The report relates to 286 wars of magnitude, in which christian nations have been engaged. These are divided into the eleven following classes,” viz :