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Christian, speak candidly; has it been once seen through the last eighteen hundred years?"
On this point, then, there is surely no need of my saying more. History teems with proof that the wars of Christendom have deeply disgraced our religion before the whole world ; and the only question is, whether the disciples of the Prince of peace can, and SHOULD, and WILL wipe out this foulest of all stains from the hallowed name they bear. Tell us not, they have no power to exculpate their religion from the sin and shame of war among nations professedly Christian. I know they cannot put an immediate end to the custom; but can they not wash their own hands from all share in its guilt? Can they not cease to patronize it, or talk of its glory, or pray for its success, or train their own children for its service, or condive at any of its foul and bloody deeds ? Can they not bear their public and decided testimony against its manifold abominations ?
This, Sir, Christians could do with perfect ease; and this alone would relieve their religion from all responsibility for the wars of Christendom. Let them proclaim to the world their purpose of having nothing whatever to do with such a system of legalized crime and mischief; let them pour down upon its mass of pollution and misery the full blaze of heaven's own light; let them bring against it all the moral influences which the God of peace has put within their reach, and resolve never to cease from the right use of such means, until swords are every where beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks. Let them suit their actions to their words; and, catching the spirit of that blessed era when a stain upon conscience was to the Christian more dreadful than the stake, let them say to war-making rulers, “We cannot, we DARE not, lend the least countenance to this wholesale butchery of mankind. We believe it to be the climax of human wickedness, and can have no share in its sins; but must in conscience teach all under our care or influence to hold it in deepest abhorrence. We'll write against it; we 'll preach against it; we'll talk against it; we'll pray against it; through life and in death will we bear our testimony against it. No demands, no threats, no tortures, shall turn us from this purpose. Martyrs to our faith, ye may make us; recreants, traitors, never! Seize, if ye will, our property, load us with chains, drag us to the prison or the gallows. We'll offer our necks to the halter, we'll bare our bosoms to your steel ; but never, never will we stain our consciences, and peril our souls by aiding in this work of pillage, murder and conflagration.'
Such a stand, taken by the whole church, would surely and speedily remove the disgrace of war from our religion, and ere-long sweep the custom itself from every land where the influence of Christianity is predominant. I admit the difficulty of such a work; bui Christians can, if they will, accomplish it before the lapse of another generation. They have the ineans, all the moral power requisite for this purpose ; and God will hold them responsible for the consequences of their neglect to exert this power, and use those means. The path of their duty seems to me plain as noonday; and, if they will just walk straight forward in it, God will bring them to the result desired. Let them only do what they ought to have done centuries ago; let them set themselves in solemn earnest against the whole war-system as utterly incompatible with their religion of uni
versal peace and love; let them all come up to the work as one man, and concentrate upon it their utmost energies; let them never cease from the use of any means that God has put within their reach; let them educate their children to a deep, settled abhorrence of war, and make every pious fireside, and every seminary of learning in Christendom, a nursery of peace to train up an entire generation of peace-makers ; let the pulpit, the press, all the main organs of communication with the public mind, be fully enlisted in this cause of God and bleeding humanity; let one tenth, one thousandth part of the money, time and talents now wasted for war-purposes even in peace, be devoted to the spread of pacific principles; give us only the treasure, blood and mind thrown away in one war, in a single campaign, in a solitary battle ; and we should have means amply sufficient under God to revolutionize the war-sentiments of Christendom, and to set a-going a train of instrumentalities that would banish this custom ere-long from every country blest with the light of the gospel.
Do you doubt, Sir, the duty of Christians to do all this? To me it seems so plain that I will not stop to prove it. Is not war contrary to the spirit of the gospel? Is it not utterly incompatible with the precepts, aims and tendencies of Christianity? Did not the example of Christ, his apostles, and all his early disciples, condemn it? Was there ever a war,-can there be one, without multiplying to a fearful extent almost every species of vice, and crime, and misery? Is it not a tissue of guilt, a mighty engine of mischief, an ocean of impurity, blood and tears?
It is superfluous, then, to ask whether the sons and daughters of the God of peace are under strong and sacred obligations to do every thing in their power for the abolition of such a custom. You might as well inquire whether Christians ought to obey the gospel by loving God with all their hearts, and blessing mankind to the utmost extent of their ability. Why do you seek to remove or diminish ignorance, sin and misery in any of their forms? The very same motives require you to labor in the cause of peace as a handmaid to the improvement, the present and everlasting welfare of mankind. Why did you, Sir, strive, upon another continent, to enlighten the ignorant, and reclaim the vicious in the great emporium of fashion ? War is a nurse of ignorance and vice. Why do you still toil for the removal of intemperance? War is a vast botbed of intemperance. Why do you seek to rescue the Sabbath from desecration? War scorns to acknowledge any Sabbath, and absolutely requires the three or four millions of standing soldiers in Christendom to trample it under foot. Why would you fain raise your moral dykes against the waves of licentiousness that threaten to inundate every city and village in the land ? War has been a very Sodom the world over, Do you denounce the traffic in the bodies and souls of men ? War originated that system of abominations; and, but for its spirit, and omnipresent protection, every species of legalized oppression in Christendom would soon come to an end. Would you give the Bible and the Sabbath, the sanctuary and the Christian ministry, to every dweller on the globe ? All these war withholds from its own agents, and does much to prevent their being given to the rest of mankind. Would you banish superstition and idolatry from the earth? War is itself the relic of a barbarous paganism, and almost
as hostile as any form of error to the spiritual interests of men. Why do you seek the salvation of souls? War destroys them by wholesale.
Such views must, if any thing can, rivet the obligations of this cause upon the conscience of every Christian. I might, but will not speak of its claims upon the patriot and the philanthropist. I might allude to hearts crushed in the anguish of bereavement; to families broken up for ever; to widows with their fatherless children, thrown upon the charities of a cold world; to villages laid in ruins, and cities reduced to ashes, and provinces swept with the besom of desolation, and a deluge of crimes and calamities poured over empires. I might tell of property wasted, and life sacrificed, and happiness destroyed, and miseries entailed, and liberty cloven down, and every species of vice and crime multiplied, and whole communities demoralized, and the dearest interests of mankind for two worlds blasted by the simoom of war.
I know, Sir, where I stand ; and, could old Time roll back his car some sixty years, and again convert this city of our annual solemnities into the head-quarters of a foreign invader, we should soon learn what war is and does. Look across yon stream, and imagine you see moored there the old Jersey man-of-war, a floating dungeon of disease and death, where no less than eleven thousand of our countrymen perished during the revolutionary war, like the plaguesmitten wretches in the holds of a slave-ship. Turn your eye across the Hudson to the American camp, where the savage laws of war were supposed to demand of the mild and generous Washington himself, retaliation for the murder of an American officer by the sacrifice of the young, the accomplished, the nobly descended Asgill. For a time, the sword hangs over his head in suspense; and meanwhile the tidings of his threatened doom reach Europe, and interest in his behalf a wide circle of friends beside his agonized mother. She intercedes in person with the king and queen. She writes to beg the interference of the French minister, and pleads as only a mother could plead. “The subject on which I implore your assistance,” she says to bim, “is too heart-rending to be dwelt on. My son, my only son, dear to me as he is brave, amiable as he is beloved, only nineteen years of age, a prisoner of war in consequence of the capitulation of Yorktown, is at present confined in America as an object of reprisal. Figure to yourself, Sir, the situation of a family in these circumstances. Surrounded, as I am, with objects of distress, bowed down by fear and grief, words are wanting to express what I feel, and to paint such a scene of misery ;-my husband, given over by his physicians some hours before the arrival of this news, not in a condition to be informed of it; and my daughter attacked by a fever accompanied with delirium, speaking of her brother in tones of wildness, and without an juterval of reason, except it be to listen to some circumstances concerning him which may console her heart. Let your sensibility, Sir, conceive my inexpressible misery, and plead in my favor for a son born to abundance, to independence, and the happiest prospects. Permit me once more to entreat your interference in behalf of innocence, in the cause of justice and humanity; but whether my request be granted or not, I feel confident you will pity the distress by which it is prompted, and your humanity will drop a tear on my fault, and blot it out for ever."
So it must; and God hasten the day when a custom, requiring such a deed from such a man, shall no longer pollute any spot upon which the gospel of peace sheds its celestial beams. Will patriots, can philanthropists, DARE Christians, avy longer bear in silence this mighty incubus of guilt and blood on the bosom of crushed humanity? If they do, God will hold them responsible for the consequences; and wo to the church, wo to the world, if Christians persist in their cruel slumbers over this crying sin, and shame, and curse of Christendom.
1. The Little Soldier; a Plea for Peace. Published by the
Massachusetts S. S. Society. Boston. 1837. pp. 122.
This is one of the best books for the young on the subject of peace that we have ever seen; and we thank the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society for its labors in this as well as other departments of evangelical instruction, and think their example worthy of being imitated by all those who are charged with providing mental aliment for the rising generation. The style, the facts, the arguments, the spirit, all are very much as we could wish; and, if every book put into the hands of children throughout Christendom were fitted to exert a similar influence, wars would cease, with the very next generation, from every land blest with the light of the gospel. We commend the book to our young readers, and to all that would aid in educating a generation of peace-makers. It is multum in parvo, a little manual of peace.
2. Dissertation on the Subject of a Congress of Nations. By a Friend of Peace. New York. 1837.
pp. 156. 12mo. It is well known, that a few individuals, several years ago, offered, through the American Peace Society, a premium of one thousand dollars for the best dissertation on a Congress of Nations. The first committee of arbitration virtually made no decision at all, by proposing to divide the premium between some half dozen competitors; and the last committee, having selected each a different essay, succeeded no better, and gave back the manuscripts to their respective writers.
One of these has recently been published by the author, on his own responsibility, under the title copied at the head of
this article. The first seventy pages are occupied in describing the evils of war, and the remainder devoted to the specific object of the dissertation. It might properly be termed a treatise on the evils and the remedies of war, and may, on this account, be more acceptable and more useful to a portion of readers. It is written with a considerable degree of vivacity and force; its facts and statistics are sufficiently startling; and it would be found by those who sneer at the idea of abolishing this master-scourge of our race, much easier to disregard its arguments, than to answer them.
3. Obstacles and Objections to the cause of Peace considered. By a Layman. Boston. 1837.
pp. 76. 8vo. The twenty-three sections composing this pamphlet not a few of our readers have already seen in the religious newspapers where they were first published. The friends of peace will easily recognise the popular pen from which they proceeded, and will be glad to see them in their present form. No one need be deterred from a perusal by the size of the pamphlet; for, aside from the author's simple and flowing style, the division into short sections embracing each a distinct topic, will make it very easy to read. We read them as they came week after week from the periodical press; but we have reperused them with increased pleasure and profit. We
e commend them to the special attention of those who would qualify themselves to answer current objections to our cause, and of all such as have reflected just enough on the subject to see its difficult and vulnerable points.
We have not space for extracts or analysis; but we may perhaps return to it in a future number. 4. Youth's Cabinet, devoted to liberty, peace, temperance, piety,
and truth. Edited by N. Southard.
We are glad to recognise in this paper a coadjutor in our own cause among the rising generation, the class on whom we rely most; and we wish the editor and publisher success in his enterprise. We hope that every number may contain as good an article on peace and war,” as the extracts from Dr. Johnson in the paper now before us