« AnteriorContinuar »
quence of our religion, whether they can do it consistently with our principles of government or not, we shall consider it of but comparatively little consequence, provided our religious rights are not violated. But this is the point of difficulty. If by paying any tax whatever, on the principle of commutation, (that is to say, on the principle of purchasing an exemption from military duty,) we find that we are promoting, even in the least degree, the cause of war, we cannot rightfully do it. And if we are forced to pay such a tax, then there is a violation of religious right. Going on Gospel principles, no military service is to be performed; no military fine is to be paid; nor is there to be a payment of any commutation tax, imposed for exemption from military services, so long as such payment is in any degree subservient to the purposes of war. But whether this is, or is not the case in any given instance, it is desirable, that each one should examine for himself, and, as we have already said, should be persuaded in his own mind.
But it will be said perhaps, that this new doctrine will frighten people ; that it will raise an outcry; and that but very few will join such an association. Be it so. And yet if we view this state of things in the light of the Gospel, nothing is to be feared, and every thing is to be hoped for in the end. Undoubtedly but few will join at first; but will they not be emphatically a light in the world? The great question is,—Are we on Gospel ground? Have we Christ on our side, and the goodly company of apostles and martyrs ? In such company, although we may meet with discouragements for a time, we cannot possibly fail at last. In regard to every leading practical principle of the Gospel, when it is fully understood and conscientiously embraced, it is a great and most encouraging truth, that " a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Then let us make a beginning ; let
us try, looking to God for help ; let every minister of the Gospel take up the subject for himself seriously, prayerfully, and earnestly ; and now, when pacific principles are making progress and the aspect of things is decidedly favorable, let him not be slow in forming a Peace society on the principle of the primitive Christians, adopted by the Friends, Moravians, and some other sects; or rather on the Gospel principle, to wit, Touch not, taste not, handle not.
We earnestly commend the propositions and views of this chapter to the serious attention of the reader. War is an evil, which has so wide a basis in the human passions and is stimulated into existence by so many incidental causes, that it can never be successfully opposed on any grounds of mere expediency. To erect the barrier of expediency against the overwhelming flood of war, would be like attempting to stop the Cataract of Niagara with the paddle of a canoe or the meshes of a fishing net; or undertaking to prevent the incursions of the ocean on the coast of Holland by ant-hills instead of the immense dykes, which line that coast. Experience has shown it to be so; reason, if one will enter fully into the subject, will show the same thing ; will fully demonstrate, that bloodshed can never be stopped in this way. There is not the least hope for the world, so far as war is concerned, except in the influence of some great principle, clearly deducible from the Gospel, and operating upon Christianized conscience. Such a principle God in his mercy has given us ; such a principle we are most solemnly and earnestly summoned to recognize and adopt ; it stands dimly and imperfectly developed, (or rather merely anticipated,) in the Old Testament, but written in letters of light on the pages of the New. And who are reasonably expected, not only to recognize this principle, but to put it in practice ? Christians. It is Chris
tians, those, who profess to believe the New Testament and to receive it as their guide, that must take the lead in this matter. The world will stop, till Christians move forward ; the world will assuredly continue to engage in war, till they cease to have Christian countenance ; the world will ridicule all preaching against war, while Christian soldiers mingle in its ranks and Christian chaplains pray
for its success. On no subject is the cry louder and more urgent, Touch NOT THE UNCLEAN THING. COME OUT AND BE SEPARATE.
ON EXERCISING THE OFFICE OF CHAPLAIN.
On the subject of exercising the office of military chaplain, we shall be very brief. If wars are wrong on Gospel principles, then no man can exercise the office of chaplain in an army or in any body of men assembled for military purposes, without a violation of those principles. The first inquiry is, what is a chaplain commonly expected to do? If he were merely expected to communicate biblical instruction and to labor for the personal salvation of the soldiers, with full liberty both in public and private to express his sentiments in relation to the unlawfulness and the evils of war, we are not prepared to say, that the exercise of his office would necessarily be out of the pale of Christian duty. But
this is not the expectation. A chaplain would not be tolerated in an army for a moment, who did not profess to be interested in the success of the war, however iniquitous it might be, and who would not pray for such
He is a component part of the army, as much so as a surgeon, and is expected to identify his interests and feelings with theirs. Such is the close connection between the chaplain and the military enterprize, to which he is attached and to which he is called to minister, that undoubtedly instances might be adduced of preachers in this situation, who have publicly addressed soldiers on military as well as religious subjects, and have encouraged them with all the powers of their rhetoric in the prosecution of their sanguinary business. Now when a person accepts the office of a chaplain, he accepts it on the inplied condition, that he will discharge its duties in accordance with the common practice and the common expectation. Any other supposition would be inadmissible, because it would universally be considered as implying dishonesty. If these are correct views, then we maintain that no Christian minister can, consistently with the New Testament and without sin, exercise the office in question.
First, He cannot preach as he ought to do. Now it will unquestionably be conceded, that a Christian minister is bound to declare the whole counsel and revelation of God ; that he is not at liberty to mutilate and to keep back anything, which is important truth. It is true he may exercise a prayerful and sound discretion in respect to the times and places, when it may be proper for him to inculcate certain doctrines; but he is not at liberty to place himself in a situation where he cannot inculcate them at all.
But this the military chaplain has done. There is a portion of the Gospel, which he has virtually pledged himself not to preach ; there are some things,
which he cannot announce without giving great offence to his employers ; he is silent, and from his very situation must be so. If he were to preach in the presence of the soldiers from some of the texts, which have been introduced in the course of these discussions, such as “ love your enemies,” “ dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves,” “ if your enemy hunger, feed him,” “ do good to them that hate you,” he would assuredly cause great dissatisfaction. If he were to preach from them in the spirit of the Gospel, giving them their full import,
nd pressing their practical application, it would be likely to be received as an insult.
Second, He cannot pray, as he ought to. If there is any occasion,on which his prayers are peculiarly needed, it is on the eve of a battle. The soldiers throng around him, and with whatever carelessness they may have listened on other occasions, they now eagerly attend to what falls from his lips. And how does he pray? What can he pray for? Beyond all question he will find himself in such a situation, that he cannot avoid praying distinctly and earnestly for the success of the army, in which he is employed. And if he prays for success and victory, (as we cannot suppose he expects they will be secured by a miracle,) he of course prays for a blessing on the means, which are ordinarily employed at such times. In other words, he prays, that the ball may be well directed and take effect, that the bayonet may strike surely and deep, that the sword and the lance may be plunged into the vitals of the enemy, that their houses may be burnt and destroyed, that their provisions may be cut off, that they may be sent by hundreds and thousands in all the blood and agony of mortal conflict, into the pure presence of a holy God. Whether such a prayer, (and it obviously means this or nothing,) can be considered consistent with the benevo