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that the spiritual interests of mankind are deeply involved in considerations purely political. The principles of freedom
ought,' Mr. Hall remarks, in a more peculiar manner, to be cherished by Christians, because they alone can secure that
liberty of conscience and freedom of inquiry, which are essen'tial to the proper discharge of the duties of their profession.' Had not our pious ancestors thus discharged the sacred duty of an enlightened love of their neighbour, had they not, actuated by allegiance to the constitution of their country, and a regard to the best interests of posterity, stood fast, as men and as Chris> tians, in the principles of liberty; what by this time would have become of those civil and religious rights wbich, under Providence, have been the means of perpetuating true religion in this country? Many, no doubt,' remarks the Rev. Thos. Scott of Aston Sandford, speaking of the Puritans, 'who obtained an ' undue ascendency among them, in the turbulent days of
Charles the First, and even before that time, were factious, ambitious hypocrites ; but I must think, that the tree of liber
ty, sober and legitimate liberty, civil and religious, under the • shadow of which, we, in the establishment as well as others,
repose in peace, and the fruit of which we gather, was planted by the Puritans, and watered, if not by their blood, at least by their tears and sorrows.
Yet, it is the modern fashion to feed delightfully on the fruit, und then revile, if not curse, those who planted and watered it.' (The Evil of Separation considered, fc. in a series of Letters to the Rev. Peter Roe, Kilkenny. 8vo. 1815. p. 2.)
One of the most genuine fruits of Christianity, is active benevolence; and on the ground of this principle alone, the obligation of the Christian to interest himself in political affairs might safely be rested. Unless a person shall be found to maintain that 'the nature of government has no connexion with those who
are the subjects of it, he cannot,' as Mr. Hall remarks in the pamphlet before adverted to, without the utmost inconsistency deny, that to watch over the interests of our fellow creatures in
this respect, is a branch of the great duty of social benevolence. • If we are bound to protect a neighbour, or even an enemy,
from violence, to give him raiment when he is naked, or food
when he is hungry, much more ought we to do our part ' towards the preservation of a free government; the only basis
on which the enjoyment of these blessings can securely rest. "He who breaks the fetters of slavery, and delivers a nation - from thraldom, forms, in my opinion, the noblest comment on ' the great law of love, whilst he distributes the greatest blessing
which man can receive from man ; but next to that is the merit of him who watches over the edifice of public liberty,
repairs its foundations, and strengthens its cement, when he o beholds it hastening to decay.
'It is not in the power of every one, it is true, to benefit his age, or country, in this distinguished manner, and accordingly it is no where expressly commanded; but where this ability
exists, it is not diminished by our embracing Christianity, • which consecrates every talent to the public good. On whom
soever distinguished endowments are bestowed, as Christians we ought to rejoice, when instead of being wasted in vain
or frivolous pursuits, we behold thein employed on objects of ' the greatest general concern ; amongst which those principles
of freedom will ever be reckoned, which determine the destiny ? of nations and the collective felicity of the human race.'*
On these grounds, then, we maintain, that religious persons are bound to interest themselves in political affairs, and that their indifference as to the existence of any political evil, is wholly unjustifiable; therefore it is unjustifiable in relation to the evil of War.
A second prejudice which, we apprehend, prevents Christian men from following out their own principles to just conclusions on this subject, respects the lawfulness of the practice itself, and founds itself on precedents drawn from the Jewish dispensation. • We readily admit that there are considerable difficulties attending the abstract question, the lawfulness of War, that is to say, of War in any sense. We e are not prepared to go all the length of some of the Abolitionists, the Society of Friends for instance, on this subject, because, if War be considered simply as the exercise of violence, whether strictly in resistance or not, its abstract lawfulness might be contended for as a consequence drawn from the existence of magistracy, and the principle of self-preservation. Tois however is not what is intended by the tern), War. Dr. Doudridge, after Grotius and Puffendorf, defines it, as a state wherein men endeavour by open violence to
hurt and destroy the persons or possessions of each other ;' and he contends that “Cases may occur, in which opposing ' force to force may tend to the public good, i.e. in which vir
tue may allow and require us to engage in war.' Force of some kind, it appears to us, must be admitted to be the ultimate sanction of law, and it would be difficult to affix other limits to the exertion of force, than the necessity of the case. If in any supposition it be lawful to shed blood, either in selfdefence, or as a peval sanction of the laws for the public good, it must be deemed lawful to resort in extreme cases, to the ultimate means of coercion or of resistance, although at the hazard, or, rather, with the certainty, of destroying the lives of individuals. The distinction between murder and manslaughter, exists in morality as well as in law; and a similar distinction may
* Christianity consistent with a Love of Freedom. pp. 18-20.
be established, by analogy, between wantonly sporting with human life in the aggregate, and acting on the principle of its being a subordinate object in comparison of the general good. * But the prejudice respecting the lawfulness of War does not rest upon abstract principles, and we may therefore safely waive the discussion. Were we to admit the principle in its full extent, it would avail nothing in justification of the prevailing practice of war, It would be as absurd to urge the lawfulness of resorting to open violence in extreme cases, in vindication of the military passion of modern times, as it would be to plead the punishment of death enacted as the sanction of law, in vindication of the arbitrary infliction of death by the duellist.
Great stress is sometimes laid on the term defensive war;' but it must be remembered that War is in its very nature an aggression, whether unprovoked or retaliative: the term defensive can therefore only imply the cause or origin, not describe the nature of the war. Defensive, in the sense of passiveness, cannot be applied to the term War, without bordering on a solecism. Besides, what is Defensive War? In its proper sense, it can refer only to the case of actual invasion : in its usual sense, it simply means that our own party was not the aggressor ; that it was a just, a necessary war.
The question of War is a practical question and relates to facts : upon this ground we are prepared to maintain in the strongest terms its utter incompatibility with Christian principles, its unlawfulness, and its moral inexpediency. The prejudice in favour of the system to which we allude, rests upon precedents rather than upon principles ; it has its origin in false conclusions from the nature of the Jewish economy, and respects the practice of War,
In no instance, perhaps, has the perversity of the human intellect displayed itself more strikingly than in those Judaizing corruptions of the Christian system of faith and morality, which from the earliest period of the Church to the present day have opposed the design of the Gospel. A volume might be occupied in tracing the ramifications of this cardinal error. Instead of interpreting the typical provisions and enactments of that preparatory dispensation, by the spiritual archetypes of the New Economy, the Old Testament has been employed as the Expositor of the New, and as forming just such an Exposition, as the Rabbinical Talmud was to the Law of Moses, virtually “ rendering the commandment of God of none effect.” The attempt to justify War by a reference to the language or examples of the Old Testament, is a flagrant specimen of this perversion of Scripture. It assumes first, that modern nations are in the same moral predicament, as the Jews under the theocracy, or the peculiar government, still a species of theocracy, under the house of David ; secondly, that the promulgation of Christianity has made no change in the laws of national morality.
With regard to the situation of the Jews, it is evident that in waging war upon the Canaanites, they acted under a Divine Commission. The Author of the “ Solemn Review” remarks, with great propriety, that
· The Giver and Arbiter of Life, had a right, if he pleased, to make use of the savage customs of the age, for punishing guilty nations. If any government of the present day should receive a commission to make war as the Israelites did, let the order be obeyed. But until they have such a commission, let it not be imagined that they can innocently make war.'
It must also be remarked, that the Israelites frequently discovered a reluctance, from cowardice, from indolence, or from a predilection for the customs of other nations, to engage in these wars *; that they acted under a Divine command no less than a Divine commission, a command which in many instances prescribed the exact mode of carrying on the warfare, and left them no opportunity of gratifying either the avarice or the pride of conquest.
Many good people are extremely incautious in their use of the Old Testament dialect ; they are not sensible of the profaneness of applying the prophetical expressions of the Psalms, respecting the enemies of Jehovah, to their own national enemies, and of designating the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by those awful epithets which respected the relative character it pleased the Almighty to assume as the King of Israel. We fear that the custom of making the people read at Church aloud the alternate verses of the Psalıns, rather than a portion of the New Testament, has powerfully contributed to cherish this error. We hear Christian people speak of the “ Lord of Hosts," and “ the God of Battles,” in a manner that would lead us almost to imagine they were speaking of a heathen deity. “There
is a great difference,' remarks Erasmus, between the God of • the Jews and the God of Christians, notwithstanding God, in his own essence, is one and the same.'
The grand design of Christ's leaving the bosom of the Father, was to illustrate the character of God, to demonstrate that God is Love. The character of the dispensation which he came to introduce, was announced by angels, as peace on earth, good will to men; and long before, the Messiah was described in the sublime language of prophecy, as the Prince of Peace. Solomon is represented as being in this respect a type of the Shiloh, that his reign was distinguished by uninterrupted peace. Erasmus
* See Psalm cvi. 34.
remarks, that 'great and illustrious as King David is repre
sented, yet, because he was a king who delighted in war, and because he was polluted with human gore, he was not per(mitted to build the house of the Lord :' and he demands, if
wars undertaken and carried on at the command of the Deity, 'pollute and render a man unholy, what will be the effect of
wars of ambition, wars of revenge, wars, not upon heathen, (but Christian nations ?' The contrast between the genius of the Jewish economy and that of the Christian dispensation, is perpetually adverted to by the inspired writers, and described by the boldest and most beautiful imagery. It is expressly predicted, that under the reign of the Messiah, there shall be such a time of peace, that “ nation shall not lift up a sword against “ vation, neither shall they learn war any more. The closing of the Temple of Janus at the period of our Lord's nativity, seemed to be, if we may so express it, an additional seal upon this prediction, and to point to its ultimate fulfilment. We profess to believe that Messiah shall one day vindicate his title as King of Kings, that all the kingdoms of the earth shall eventually become His kingdoms ; it forms our daily petition “ Thy king“ dom come;" yet, strange and miserable inconsistency, we run back more than two thousand years to adduce pleas and precedents for wars, and exult in the songs of Jewish heroes to the God of Battles : and still we esteem ourselves Christians !
It were almost sufficient to stamp falsehood and blasphemy on the Romish corruption of Christianity, that it sanctioned and consecrated War. Erasmus deprecates in honest terms, but free from invective, the conduct of the Romish clergy in this respect*. His enlightened advice would not be less seasonable in the present day. Let all the clergy,' he says, ' however ' they may differ in rank, order, sect, or persuasion, unite to
cry down war, and discountenance it through the nation, by zealously and faithfully arraigning it from the pulpit. But he complains that the clergy of his day, so far from thus acting as the servants of Christ, did not hesitate to hang up flags,
standards, banners, and other trophies of war, brought from
the field of carnage, as ornaments of churches and great ca'thedrals. These trophies shall be all stained and smeared
with the blood of men for whom Christ shed his most precious blood, and shall be hung in the aisles of the churches, among
the tombs and images of apostles and martyrs, as if in future ' it were to be reckoned a mark of sanctity not to suffer martyr
* Voltaire sarcastically remarks, that among all the declamations of Massillon and Bourdaloue, there is not one against the detestable passion for War. This inconsistency could not fail to be detected by that shrewd infidel.