Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cratical sovereignty, of which we have the particular account in the Old Testament, permitted wars in the existing state of things, he at the same time teaches his prophets to inform us by the peculiar methods of prophetical communication, that this is only the temporary and not the permanent feature of his administration; that war shall ultimately cease ; that the great doctrine, THOU SHALT NOT KILL, shall at last gain a practical ascendency; and that human life, with the exception of his own authority over it, shall stand, in all the possible circumstances of its earthly existence, inviolable and sacred.

CHAPTER TENTH.

OF WAR AS EXAMINED BY THE PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL.

If we examine the subject of war by the light of naTURE alone, unaided by anything in the form of a divine communication, we are not disposed to deny, that men may, in a few extreme cases, justly carry on war. So far as this, for the reasons already given, we concede to those, who differ from us on this great subject. If, in accordance with the plan laid down, we proceed to examine the subject in the light of the Old Testament, we maintain, (taking the acknowledged ground, that God's chosen people were from the beginning under a Theocracy more or less fully developed,) that human life is held inviolable ; and that this great principle cannot be suspended, except by God himself, the author of life. And if we can at the present day make ourselves sure of an.

express Divine permission to take life, as Moses and Joshua and other Old Testament saints did, we are undoubtedly at liberty to take it. But we are to keep in view, in this part of our inquiry, that the Old Testament itself holds out the prospect of a different and better state of things; a day when blood shall no longer flow, when conflicts and wars shall cease.

But having passed upward from the ground of Nature to the ground of the Old Testament, we are now prepared to take a step higher and to place our feet upon the plain of Bethlehem, beside the cradle of the great Christian Legislator, with an illuminated sky above us, and hosts of angels uttering in strains unknown before, PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN. It is in the New Testament, and under the Christian Dispensation, of which Jesus Christ is eminently and emphatically the author, that we must settle permanently this interesting question.

Before attempting to show from the New Testament, that war, in no shape whatever, is allowable, it may be of some importance to premise, that in making this attempt we labour under great disadvantages. We cannot reasonably expect an entirely candid hearing. Even those, who imagine that they may be fully prepared to receive the truth on this subject, may nevertheless be under the influence of some secret and imperceptible bias. The truth is, the natural and unholy feelings of mankind are against us. If a man is greatly injured, he has a natural feeling, a sort of instinctive impulse, that it is right for him to defend himself; and under certain circumstances and to a certain extent, to attack, to retaliate, to charge home, to carry the war into the enemy's territory. And accordingly when our doctrine of the entire inviolability of human life in all cases whatever is proposed to him, he instinctively sets himself

course.

against it; and it is an hundred to one that he is not in a proper situation to listen attentively and candidly to the arguments, by which it is supported. We mention this unfavorable state of things, in order that the inquirer into the truth of our doctrine may scrutinize his own feelings, and may use all suitable efforts to put himself in a situation, where every well-founded consideration will have its due effect. And we may add further, that it is highly important and a duty, that he should take this

And unless he does, and does it too in the full purpose and sincerity of his heart, we frankly acknowledge we have no hope of a favorable issue.

Our present argument addresses itself, it will be per ceived, not to the Atheist, who believes in no God, nor to the Deist, who rejects the Divine Word ; nor to the mere Moralist, who weaves from the elements of his imperfect reason the web of a spurious and unsound philosophy ; nor to the mere speculative believer, who gives a nominal assent to the Gospel without imbibing or recognizing its spirit ; but to the real, the devoted, the humble Christian ; to him who makes Christ his great example, and truly desires to be animated by the same spirit of sublime charity, benevolence, and forgiveness, which glowed so brightly in the bosom of the Saviour. And here we entreat the inquirer on this subject to put the question to himself. Do I in fact receive, and am I truly willing to receive the Gospel in my heart ? Am I willing, that the spirit, which reigned in Christ, whatever it may be and however humbling in the estimation of the world, may reign in my own bosom? Am I truly of that pure, meek, quiet, benevolent temper, which is appropriate to the Christian character, and of which the Savior, whom I profess to follow, furnishes so illustrious an example? It cannot be doubted, that every thing depends upon the answer, which shall be given to these ques

tions. It is a great truth, which cannot be too often and seriously insisted upon, that the Church, that the professed followers of Christ must take the lead on this subject; must investigate it and form an opinion on it first. While Christians are careless and stupid and hesitating in this great business, it is a matter of course, that the unbelieving world, carried away by its unholy passions and subject to its ten thousand lusts, will scoff at the doctrine of the inviolability of life and the unlawfulness of war. Let every Christian consider well, how he judges in this matter ; let him come to the investigation with a humbled heart, with true meekness of disposition. If Christians come to this inquiry in the spirit of war, it will not be surprising if they imagine they find war; if they come in the spirit of peace they will undoubtedly find peace; and as Christians go, the world, the whole world will, either sooner or later, go with them.

In proceeding now to examine the subject of war in the light of the New Testament, we remark in the FIRST place, that war in all its forms is opposed by those numerous passages, which require men to love their fellow men.-Mat. 22 : 37, 8, 9. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”—The Savior himself in the parable of the good Samaritan has explained, whom we are to understand by our neighbor. The commentary of the Saviour authorizes us to understand the term as including all mankind, every class and condition of men ; however they may be separated from us by difference of language, by distance of country, by diversities of opinion, religion, customs, government, and political interests ; however they may be, from some unpropitious circumstances, arrayed even in actual or sup

[ocr errors]

posed hostility. There is not, even under these circumstances, a release from the law of love. The remarks of the apostle on this subject in the 13th of Romans are of kindred import. “Owe no man anything but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt nor commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, &c, is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” And again in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, “Charity suffereth long and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly ; seeketh not her own ; is not easily provoked ; thinketh no evil. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

It must be admitted, that these pacific principles are but too little accordant with the common feelings and practice of mankind. If one man reviles another, or takes his property, or injures him in his person, we may certainly expect to see decided indications of anger and retaliation. But are not such feelings and conduct inconsistent with the passages, which have been quoted ? Is he, who returns anger for anger, smiting for smiting, blow for blow, justly to be regarded as imbued with the spirit of that heaven-born love, which seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, suffereth long, beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things ?

In the second place, the pugnacious and retaliatory spirit, in other words the spirit of war, for whatever object it may be carried on, is rebuked by those numerous passages, in which a peaceful deportment is commended, and in which the duties of peace are urged upon the early Christians. Let the reader observe carefully, and with a sincere desire to imbibe their true spirit, the ex

« AnteriorContinuar »