« AnteriorContinuar »
V,-Finally, we take the liberty to make an appeal to men of science and LITERATURE. The power, which these men possess, and which they exercise either for good or evil, is immense. It cannot easily be estimated too high. But it is with deep regret we are compelled to acknowledge, they have often prostituted their powers and their opportunities to purposes neither beneficial to society nor honorable to themselves. There are multitudes of writers in the English language, (and we know not that there are good grounds for claiming a greater purity for the literature of other nations,) who give such false and degrading views of human nature, and inculcate such vicious principles, that it is not safe for youth or for any other persons to read them. There have been other writers of a different stamp, who have combined the purest taste with the highest poetical invention ; but who have struck their lyres in praise of that deceitful glory which is won on the field of battle, while they have not reserved a note for the pacific virtues of the Gospel. How disastrous the influence of such writers has been, it would not be easy to describe.
But we indulge the hope of a better state of things; we already see its beginnings ; more refinement of taste, more purity of sentiment, more regard for the public morals and happiness, a gradual but sure approximation to the sublime purity and benevolence of the Gospel standard. There is a new thing under the sun. Religious men, not nominally so but in reality, men of faith, benevolence, and prayer, stand high, even by the consent of their opposers, in the ranks of literature ; men, who like Paul can place themselves on the Areopagus and hold disputation with Philosophers, and like the royal Psalmist, drink inspiration from Siloa's brook, "fast by the Oracle of God." How encouraging and delightful would it be, if all were such ; if all powers of thought
were baptized into the spirit of religion ; if all powers of imagination were borne upward on the wings of the Celestial Dove ; if all powers of perception, reasoning, and eloquence were consecrated to truth, to purity, and the real happiness of man.
NATIONAL GLORY AS CONNECTED WITH WAR,
ONE of the sources of evil and suffering, worthy of the notice of the Christian and philanthropist, is the false notions of glory, which are so prevalent among mankind. That there is such a thing as reputation, however, or glory, or whatever other name it may be called by, it is not necessary for our present purpose to deny. If we may without impropriety speak of the glory of the Deity, may we not also speak of the glory of the creatures he has made, at least so far as they bear his likeness and reflect his excellencies ? It is true that the term GLORY is somewhat indefinite, and if we should take time to define its meaning and its shades of meaning, we should be likely to occupy the whole space allotted to this chapter. Without, therefore, entering into this matter, we take it for granted, that there is such a thing as glory, as true glory ; and that every one, when he uses that term, attaches a meaning to it.
But how are the evils, which are now complained of, to be corrected ?-In the first place, by showing that the glory, which is based upon the elements, capabilities, and spirit of war, is no glory at all; but rather dishonor, disgrace, and ruin. And, although this is certainly a matter of some difficulty, yet it can probably be accomplished with suitable pains on the part of those, who feel an interest in the subject of peace.
Let Christians and philanthropists avail themselves of the agency of the press, and communicate extensively the statistics of the expenses of war, the increase of the people's burdens occasioned by war, the immense loss of human life, the demoralizing effect of standing armies, the innumerable forms of domestic wretchedness originating from national strife, and the eyes of mankind will at last begin to open; they will arise as from a dream ; the bright form of National glory, based upon war, will change its lustre and look dark and lowering; and under the impulse of better views, they will dash their idol to the ground and trample it under their feet.
In the second place, efforts ought to be made to build national reputation or glory on a more correct foundation-And in order to this, there must be, among other things, a great revolution in literature ; a revolution which is already begun and is perceptibly advancing. As matters now stand, music, painting, statuary, history, poetry, are all subservient to that false idea of national glory, which is so prevalent. But a great change is destined to take place. As an instance and illustration of what has been remarked, we doubt not that the time will come and probably soon come, when history will assume a new form, and be written upon new principles. It is now a mere series of battles. Very little is said of the organization of government, and of the principles, on which governments are in fact, or ought to be adminis
tered; still less of the progress of the arts and of knowledge in general, of the character and habits, of the virtues and the vices, of the sufferings and enjoyments of the great body of the people. Military matters are predominant, and every thing else is thrown into the back ground. But the public mind begins to tire of these details of blood, and to demand another kind of food. The multiplication of such works as Hallam's Constitutional History of England and Pitkin's Civil and Political History of the United States, (not to mention others of a mixed historical and political character such as La Croix's Review of the Constitutions of the principal States of Europe, President Adam's Defence of the Constitutions of the United States, and Judge Story's Commentaries on the American Constitution,) clearly indicates, that the public taste is becoming less warlike and more civic. So great is the change already taken place, that a debate in Congress, Convention, Parliament, Storthing, or Cortes, on some great constitutional or political question, excites an interest throughout the nation, which a few years since could have been excited only by the announcement of thirty or forty thousand slain in some great battle. And now let people generally begin to feel, that their national glory, at least one great element of it, consists in the excellence of their civil and political institutions rather than in their ability and skill in war, and the war-spirit will soon be sensibly diminished, and the effects will be exceedingly beneficial.
A change is going on also, somewhat analagous in its character, in other departments of literature. Even Poetry, that has been so long and so unhappily allied to the spirit of war, is beginning to put away the garments rolled in blood, and to array her native beauty in the pure and beautiful vestments of peace. A few years
OF THE DUTY OF PRIVATE CHRISTIANS AND MINISTERS.
Before leaving the subject of the means to be employed, in order to secure the triumph of pacific principles, it is proper to say something further of the duty, which is especially incumbent on professors of religion. The subject has already, in repeated instances, been briefly alluded to; but it is obviously too important to be passed by without some further notice. The church of Christ must take the lead in this great work, or it is in vain to expect it will ever be done. It is believed, that the experiment has already been so far tried as to give satisfaction on this point. Again and again the miseries of war have been described ; the vast expenses and the system of taxation attendant upon a state of war have been insisted on; appeals have been made both to the sympathies and the interests of men ; the subject has been frequently brought before men elevated in political life; but all in vain. It is true, public attention has been partially gained, and a slight impression has been made adverse to the practice of war; but the root of the evil has not been touched. The elements of the volcano are still at work under the surface of society, ready to burst forth on a thousand imaginable conjunctures with unmitigated fury.