Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

received, in their intercourse with foreign nations, their full share of respect and confidence; they have indeed sometimes, owing chiefly to the peculiarly disturbed state of Europe, suffered great and unmerited injuries ; but they have seldom failed in the end of obtaining ample redress. We certainly hazard nothing in saying, that they would not be more respected, happy, successful, or better treated, if their policy were of a more martial and belligerent cast.

In bringing this Chapter to a close, let us not forget, that the Supreme Being always regards those with a peculiar interest, who, in the exercise of a sincere and humble reliance upon Him, endeavor to do his will. Human nature is undoubtedlyso constituted, that a truly and consistently pacific life is the best protection, so far as human agency is concerned, which one can possibly have. But in addition to this, the eye of that God, without whose notice not even a sparrow falls to the ground, watches and guards those, who trust in him. " It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in

" When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." These are his own declarations. Let us take him at his word ; and not incur the wo denounced upon those, who went down to Egypt, and trusted in chariots and horsemen ; but looked not unto the Holy One of Israel. Let us rather imitate the example of the pious Ezra, when placed in a very trying situation.

66 And I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way ; because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them that seek him, but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake Him. So we fasted and besought our God for this, and He was entreated of us.”

princes.”

CHAPTER TWENTY FIRST.

OF NON-INTERCOURSE IN CONNECTION WITH PEACE.

If nations cannot, consistently with the principles of the Gospel, go to war with each other, it becomes an important inquiry, what course they shall take in certain emergencies constantly occurring, such as the partial infraction of treaties, the confiscation or detention of property, the non-payınent of debts acknowledged to be due, a refusal to reciprocate the privileges of commerce, and the like. In maintaining the inviolability of human life, and the utter unlawfulness of all kinds of war, it does not necessarily follow, nor do we intend by any means to assert, that we are bound to subject ourselves to the repetition of such injuries, if we can rightfully and peaceably avoid it. There is one practice already known in the Law of nations and sanctioned by high authority, which we apprehend will be more likely than more violent methods to secure the objects for which war is commonly commenced, and which at the same time possesses the immense advantage of being accordant with the principles of the Gospel. We refer to the practice of Non-Intercourse. It will not surprise us, if the mere soldier, or the man, who is so busy with his own private interests as to have no thought for the sufferings and tears of his fellow men, should contract his lips with contempt at what he will deem, no doubt, a very pusillanimous suggestion. We do not hesitate, however, to assert, that, when our efforts to secure with other nations

The per

an intercourse founded on justice and reciprocity have clearly failed, when we have nothing to expect but the reiteration of hostility and wrong, the safest course we can take if we consult our interest, and the only course, if we wish to be governed by the principles of the Gospel, is to suspend that intercourse, and leave them to themselves. This is a practice, to which we are not unfrequently obliged to resort in common life. If one of our neighbors is a man of a haughty and capricious temper, if his intractability be obviously such that he takes no cognizance of our good intentions, and is not disposed to reciprocate or even to receive our good offices, having made all the kind advances which we reasonably can, we at length feel ourselves justified in taking the resolution of breaking off all communication. son, whom we thus discard is ready to engage in a quarrel; perhaps that is the object of his strange and refractory conduct ; but we do not consider ourselves called upon by our character either as men or as Christians any longer to have any thing to do with him ; least of all, in the way of bodily and personal conflict. We simply, both for our own sakes and for his, establish a system of NON-INTERCOURSE, and thus leave him to those opportunities of solitary reflection, which sometimes constitute the bitterest wages of iniquity. All moral, religious, and literary associations, formed by voluntary consent, act upon the same principle. If a member of such an association so far diverges from the line of its just and legal requisitions as to place himself in an injurious and hostile attitude, instead of taking the course of breaking his limbs and shedding his blood, they merely institute a non-intercourse, and insist, as a matter beneficial to all parties, upon his temporary or permanent removal. This is the case in churches, which are voluntary associations, formed for moral and religious purpos

When a member of a church pursues a course, ob

es.

viously at variance with the principles on which the church is constituted, the other members, after having used suitable means to reclaim him without effect, remove him from their circle by suspending or excommunicating him. In other words, they establish a non-intercourse ; a measure, the most simple and effective, as well as being in accordance with the mild and benevolent spirit of the Gospel.

The principle of non-intercourse is as applicable to nations as to individuals or to private associations; and happy and glorious will that day be, when it shall be substituted in the affairs of nations for a resort to war. It is not only a remedy, which can be applied ; but a remedy, which will have effect; it will be more likely than any other to secure the object, for which it is adopted. Let us illustrate the subject.

We will suppose, that France owes to the United States a certain sum of money; (say the sum recently in dispute, five millions of dollars,) and refuses to pay. Then the question before the United States is, if all other means of redress have failed, whether under these circumstances they shall resort to the pacific measure of a suspension of intercourse, or to the belligerent measure of reprisals and war. Saying nothing of duty, saying nothing of the sacred requisitions of the Gospel, we may with propriety compare the two measures, on the ground of expediency. If we declare war, or make reprisals in any form, or take any truly belligerent measures, we may well inquire, what we are likely to gain by such a course.

In the first place, do we gain the five millions ? Not at all. If there had been no resort to warlike measures, the French might have ultimately paid the sum in question

;

but the resort to such measures at once puts the payment at an infinite remove. No one, who is acquainted with the character of the French nation, a people that have always plumed themselves on their warlike

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

spirit, will be so foolish as to suppose, (and the same may be said of almost every other nation, that they will pay the five millions, or the millionth part of five millions, on compulsion. But is the loss of the five millions the whole loss ? Certainly not. If the war is carried on with vigor, the expense will be at least fifty millions of dollars a year; and supposing the war to continue five years, which is perhaps a fair estimate of its continuance, we incur the solid burden of two hundred and fifty millions. And if we add to this the loss incurred by the depredations on our commerce and in other ways, we may safely estimate the whole expense and loss to our nation at five hundred millions. And we lose in the conflict at a reasonable estimate fifty thousand men. This is the result; a loss of five hundred millions of money and fifty thousand men, and nothing gained ; saying nothing of the demoralization attendant on a state of war, and of the unspeakable sufferings, scarcely ever exposed to the public eye, which are experienced in private families.

But on the other hand, if we resort to the non-intercourse system, instead of war, we shall stand some chance of obtaining the original claim, because, while we take a course which does not render it dishonorable to the French to pay, we make it their interest to do so. And certainly if the payment of five million of dollars is the original and actual ground of dispute, we are bound by every principle of interest and of duty too, to take precisely that course, if it be a justifiable one, which will be most likely to secure the payment. And in other respects, how numerous are the advantages attendant upon this course! We incur no expense; we do not burden the people with excessive taxes ; we lose no men ; we do not suffer, in their countless ways of operation, the demoralizing influences of war. The merchants of course encounter some little inconvenience in altering

« AnteriorContinuar »