« AnteriorContinuar »
brothers, and authors of perdition to many a soul. But my advantages stop not there. If I succeed, the mob depart, with passions calmed and restrained. Should mine be the first house, might not my course be the means, under God, of saving the city from the fury of the mob? If I fail, the mob depart with revenge satiated ; but with no fierce excitement of ferocious feelings. Whether A. succeed or fail, it seems plain, from the exasperated passions of the populace, that nothing but a strong military force could control them ; nor then, without desperate conflicts and much bloodshed. The state of the city under my success or failure, compared with his, I leave to the heart and imagination of A. himself, and all the advocates of defensive war. After reviewing the whole ground, will they not confess, with king Agrippa, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian, on the principles of Peace.” **
These are instances or specimens of the popular objections, which are thrown out against the peace doctrine. Others might be easily given, if we had space for noticing every thing of this kind; and perhaps we might add with propriety, they might be as easily answered. Men may rely upon it, that a course of justice, tempered with unfeigned benevolence, will always be attended with the most favorable results. Is it not the
of God, that leadeth to repentance ? And if God's mercy, God's goodness can thus influence and lead men to pursue a right course, why may not mercy and goodness in men have a similar effect ? The fact is, the power of beneficence has never been fully estimated, and never been put fully to the test. When this is done, (and society will never rise upward to the mark of its destination, until it is done,) it will be seen, that we are not Alighty and chimerical, nor even unphilosophical in our
* Calumet, vol. II. p. 176.
views. Mental philosophers have told us of the power of the resentful passions ; not only how they sometimes prompt to injury, but how they have power to restrain others from doing injury. Political economists have told us of the power of bars and gates and prisons, in checking the tendencies to the perpetration of crime.
But who, on philosophical principles, has investigated the power of beneficence and forgiveness ? Beyond all question, it is the unalterable constitution of nature, that there is efficacy, divine, unspeakable efficacy in love. The exhibition of kindness has the power to bring even the irrational animals into subjection. Show kindness to a dog, and he will remember it; he will be grateful ; he will infallibly return love for love. Show kindness to a lion, and you can lead him by the mane ; you can thrust your hand into his mouth ; you can melt the untamed ferocity of his heart into an affection stronger than death. In all of God's vast, unbounded creation, there is not a living and sentient being from the least to the highest, not one, not even the outcast and degraded serpent, that is insensible to acts of kindness. If love, such as our blessed Savior manifested could be introduced into the world and exert its appropriate dominion, it would restore a state of things far more cheering, far brighter than the fabulous age of gold ; it would annihilate every sting ; it would pluck out every poisonous tooth ; it would hush every discordant voice. Even the inanimate creation is not insensible to this divine influence. The bud and flower and fruit put forth most abundantly and beautifully, where the hand of kindness is extended for their culture. And if this blessed influence should extend itself over the earth, a moral garden of Eden would exist in every land; instead of the thorn and the brier, would spring up the fir-tree and the myrtle; the desert would blossom ; and the solitary place be made glad.
METHODS OF PROCEEDING IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
Having thus endeavoured to show the evils of war and its utter inconsistency with the Gospel, we now proceed to inquire, what is to be done, what course is to be taken on this all important subject? In answering this question we are not ignorant of the difficulties, which stand in the way, and of the responsibility which it is necessary to assume.
The first measure to be taken, therefore, under existing circumstances, is to embody a peace society in ev
I say, under existing circumstances. If the different leading sects of Christians at their first organization had introduced into their formularies the doctrine of peace, after the manner of the Friends and some other smaller sects, it would have been much better. If all the Congregationalists, (and the same may be said of all other Christian denominations,) were peace-men, embracing the principles of peace and acting on them, would not the garments of their churches be far more radiant with beauty than they are now ? In such a state of things should we not possess far more moral courage in the prosecution of duty than we now do ? And should we not feel more conscious of the approbation and favor of heaven than we do at present ? As those, who were concerned in establishing the original formularies of the prominent Christian sects, neglected to do what they ought to have done, we must now remedy the evil in
the best way we can. And as the great objects in view cannot be secured without some concentration of opinion and effort, we must undoubtedly begin with forming a Peace Society in every church. . In some cases, where the aspect of things is favorable, the church may act upon the matter in their ecclesiastical capacity, and introduce the peace doctrines into their creed and covenant. After some few years, when the public mind has become a little more enlightened on the subject, it is probable that this last method will be the more common one, as it will certainly be likely to be most effective. This is the first step to be taken.
But in doing this, it is very important, in the second place, to consider carefully what principle shall be adopted as the basis of these societies. Every one must admit, that, in effecting a great moral object, every thing depends upon the adoption of a correct moral principle. If the societies should be so unfortunate as to start upon an unsound principle as their basis, they may certainly count upon finding themselves practical nullities. We submit it, therefore, in concurrence with the opinions of others whose views are entitled to much consideration,) that it is necessary to adopt, as a fundamental article of these societies, the principle, that all wars whatever, both offensive and DEFENSIVE, are repugnant to the precepts and. spirit of the Gospel, and are sinful.
In support of the opinion, that there is a necessity for the express recognition of this fundamental principle, there are three obvious reasons, which we shall state as briefly as possible. (1) The Peace societies under the common organization, (that is to say condemning war in general, but admitting the moral right of defensive war,) have not been so effective, and have not been followed with those favorable results, which their supporters had fondly anticipated. They have undoubtedly
done good, great good ; but after what has been learnt from the trial of them, it may be fairly and justly said, that they are inadequate to the great object, which all Christians ought to have in view. They ought to have the credit of preparing the way, by ably drawing the attention of the public to the subject of peace and war, for that further step which it is now proposed to take ; but they cannot safely or rightfully be received as a substitute for it.—(2) The doctrine of the lawfulness of Defensive war is in effect, and to all practical purposes, the doctrine of the lawfulness of every species of war whatever ; because, with scarcely a single exception, all nations which engage in war alledge, that they do it in self-defence. The idea of a Defensive war does not consist in priority of attack, but in priority of injury ; and it will be found that belligerent nations are always ready to assert, that they have been led into wars in consequence of injuries previously received. It will be found on experience, if it has not already been, that Peace societies, which admit the lawfulness of Defensive war, do not essentially disturb the quiet of warriors and politicians, with whatever prudence and zeal they may be conducted. These persons will even become polite and laudatory, and pronounce such societies very good; just as at the present time many tipplers are found, who praise those old-fashioned temperance societies, which admitted of moderate drinking, while they denounce the total-abstinence system.-(3) If defensive, as well as offensive war, is forbidden in the Gospel, as we have endeavored to show in former chapters, and as we doubt not every humble and faithful inquirer will find to be the case, then we cannot reasonably expect the guidance and favor of heaven, so long as we remain satisfied with a system, which we know to fall short of the Gospel requisition. It is of unspeakable importance, in the ex