Page images
PDF
EPUB

partial adoption of our principles has been so successful, would not their full application be still more so ?

Let us dwell a little on cases like these. Rome, while under her warlike kings, kept a great part of Italy in arms against her ; but Numa, changing this policy, turned his people from the pursuits of war to the arts of peace, quelled the dissensions among themselves, and cultivated a friendly intercourse with the nations around them. Their neighbors, astonished at the change, threw aside their arms, hailed the Romans as friends, and lived in peace with them so long as they continued this new policy. So of the Chinese. Disinclined to war, and nearly destitute of military resources, still what nation has suffered fewer invasions of its soil or its rights ? Look at Switzerland. For more than five centuries has she, with very few and brief exceptions, been at peace with her neighbors. While the flames of war hare raged all around her, she has remained quiet upon her mountains, tilled her rugged soil, and reaped the fruits of her industry and pacific policy, in the enjoyment of health, competence and domestic happiness. Nor is this owing to her Alpine position, to the bravery of her sons, or the peculiar form of her government; for there is nothing in all these to shield her against the assaults of any power disposed to invade her territory. It would have been very easy for neighboring states to conquer Switzerland; and yet she remains unmolested, a republic free and flour. ishing in the midst of surrounding despotisms. Why? Not because she has any formin able power, but because she pursues a pacific policy. She betrays no ambition to enlarge her territory, seeks only security within her own limits, and is scrupulously upright, honorable and conciliatory in her intercourse with other nations. She aims to give no just ground for of. fence; and, when complaints arise, she holds herself ready to meet every fair and equitable claim for redress. Her policy and her character are the bulwarks of her defence, almost the only pledges of her safety.

Here, too, is the secret of uur own security. More than seventy years have elapsed since our independence was acknowledged by Great Britain ; and during all this time no invader, except when provoked by the hostilities we had ourselves begun, has set foot upon our soil; por has there been any real need of drawing the sword to secure from other nations a proper respect for our rights, or an equitable redress for our wrongs. Yet has our general policy ever been essentially and eminently pacific. We have had the merest handful of men for a standing army; our navy, too, though in high repute for its skill and bravery, has always been comparatively small; and in all our intercourse with other nations, we have relied almost entirely on the excellence of our principles, and the justice of our cause. We have doubtless experienced occasional injury, and some delays of justice; but we have suffered as little as any other people in the same time, and far less than we should from an opposite policy.

An example still more striking is found in the commonwealth of San Marino. This little republic in Italy, the smallest independent state in Europe, covers, on a single mountain and two adjoining hills, some thirty square miles, and contains, in its capital and four villages, only 7000 inbabitants. Yet has this petty republic existed, very much in its present form, imore than thirteen centuries. The thunderbolts of war have fallen thick but harmless around it; other republics, proud of their military strength, have been swept from the earth ; Italy has repeatedly been covered with armies, and drenched in blood; thrones have crumbled, dynasties perished, and all Europe been shaken to its centre by political convulsions; yet San Marino, strong in its very weakness, and safe mainly by its reliance on a pacific policy, has remained nearly all the time without harm or assault. It claims the right of violent defence, but provides few means for the purpose, and none sufficient to deter or provoke its neighbors. How shall we account for its long and perfect safety? No state is too poor for the clutches of avarice, none too small for the grasp of ambition ; and but for its pacific policy, and the indelible disgrace of assailing a community so defenceless, San Marino would long since have been merged in some neighboring nation.

Such are the results of peace principles partially applied ; and would not their full application be still more successful? We might fairly deem such a conclusion self-evident; but, if we consider, first, the promised protection of heaven, next the natural tendency of such principles, and finally the history of their actual influence, we shall find an overwhelming accumulation of facts to confirm our faith in the practical efficacy of peace principles.

These topics must be deferred to a future aumber.

a

MR. COAN'S LETTER.

HILO, HAWAII, Oct. 18, 1858. Rev. G. C. BECKWITH, D. D., Sec. Am. Peace Society.

Gladly would I give thousands to that holy cause, were it in my power. The more I contemplate the work in which you are enlisted, the more profoundly I feel that it is the work of Christ. And I am sure that the glad news announced by angels to the shepherds, and proclaimed by Christ and his apostles as the gospel of peace, will never havo free course, or the Prince of Peace be reverenced and fully obeyed, until the war-spirit is rooted out of the Church, and its apologists cease in her ministry. There are men of peaceful hearts and peaceful examples, who nevertheless believe in the necessity of war. And there are thousands who are practically peace-makers, and who study and preach“ the things which make for peace," and who yet cannot see as we do, or be persuaded to join a peace society, or openly, directly and independently patronize our

We will not condemn such, but wish them God-speed, remembering the words of our Saviour to James and John, when they forba le one to cast out devils because he did not follow with the apostles.

cause.

a

In aid of all direct arguments against war, and of systematic efforts in the cause of peace, the Lord is employing ten thousand collateral agencies to hasten the same results. The progress in literature, the discoveries in science, the improvements in art, the refinements in social intercourse, the interlinkings of commerce, the international comminglings, the common and extraordinary preaching of the gospel, the running to and fro of Christian missionaries — in fine, all the great laws of progress, point and lead on to the glorious consummation, the reign of peace. Even all the late experiments in war have, as I believe, been overruled by the God of love, to bring the bloody system into disrepute — to confound its abettors, and to multiply, consolidate and strengthen the friends of peace. Our platform is rock, and compared to it, old marble and the granite of the everlasting mountains, are sand-bars. As Moses said of the heathen, so we will say of the advocates of war, Their rock is not our rock," and we may well add, “our enemies themselves being judges.”

How we have been thrilled with delight on hearing of the success of the Atlantic Telegraph enterprize! All Hawaii was quickened as by an electric shock. The fact is a great moral battery which sends its quivering pulsations round the world. When the packet which brought the news, entered Honolulu harbor, with the flags of England and the United States entwined, signals foated from every vessel, and from all the consulates and offices in the city, great guns thundered acclaim, and a shout as of many waters went up. We were all unmanned, and many wept for joy. A constant desire gushed up in the heart to speak out, “O give thanks to the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” May that great artery which unites the heart of the mother with her daughter, never he sundered, and may its pulsations be no other than those of reciprocal love. And may the burning thoughts which flash along the dark hed of the Atlantic, kindle fires of holy emulation on both continents.

We have just heard of a fierce and bloody battle on the island of Apian, in Micronesia, where Mr. Bingham and wife are located. A native member of my church is also a missionary there, and from his pen I have a painful picture of the scene. Contrasting that field with Hawaii, we exclaim with gratitude, “ What hath God wrought!” With full sympathy in all your toils, I remain your brother in the Lord,

TITUS COAN.

a

WHY NO MORE INTEREST IN PEACE ? Why do not the operations of the Peace Society receive more attention and support? Why is so little interest in its progress manifested even by good men ? Do they not pray for the speedy coming of the time when “ nation shall not lift up the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"? Are other plans of reform more important than this ? Has not war always been the bane and curse of our race? Is it not in fact robbery, waste and murder reduced to a science, and transacted on a scale so vast as to defy comparison with individual crimes ? Why then do the followers of the Prince of Peace remain silent, and tacitly, perhaps actively, approve of ordinary war? The proclamation at our Saviour's birth was, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” He is called the “Prince of Peace.” Why, then, are not the principles of peace incorporated into the creed and practice of all his followers ? A grave question; and my object in one or more articles will be to account for such a paradox, to present some of the obstacles that obstruct the prevalence of peace principles, and attempt to remove such obstacles.

1. It is a fact, that the human mind condemns comparatively trivial moral wrongs, while their perpetration on a grand scale paralyzes the moral sensibilities, and renders them almost powerless in protesting against crime. Thus the keeper of a low drinking-house is detested as a public nuisance, while the wholesale manufacturer, or dealer in “liquid death and distilled damnation," is treated as a gentleman, and with his family loses little or nothing in his social position. The owner of buildings may lease them for base and immoral purposes, and continue to occupy his cushiored seat in a fashionable church, and retain his standing in it as a professing Christian. He, too, whose indignation is roused at the conduct of one who defrauds his hired man of his wages for a year's faithful labor, or who contrives to cheat his washerwoman out of her hard-earned services, may most complacently justify American slavery, and piously quote Scripture to prove it a divine institution.

Good men even are slow to investigate and denounce great moral evils, where habit and prejudice, or fancied interest, stand in the way. Usually we are thoroughly roused to opposition, only when those evils are forced upon our attention, or whore we are personally sufferers. The existence of Popery, Infidelity, ignorance and crime on the Eastern continent, once scarcely awakened the attention of Christians in America ; but when all these are precipitated upon our shores, we feel the necessity of self-protection.

There is also a manifest lack of moral courage in many men about denouncing giant forms of wickedness, when fidelity would be likely to be followed by personal opposition. He who boldly denounces the tyranny of Rome in sending the Bible-reader to prison in Italy, may be soft-spoken when in our free country another is incarcerated for the crime of teaching poor ignorant children to read the same Bible. It requires but little moral courage for a Christian preacher to denounce sins in which none of his own audience is implicated, or for a religious journal to lift its voice in notes of warning or rebuke against forms of error or of evil, when such plainness does not jeopardize the loss of a subscriber.

a

In this respect, war is treated like other gigantic evils. In a fatal street affray, the murderer is pursued, rewards are offered for his arprehension, court and jury carefully weigh the testimony on trial, and the verdict of guilty strikes a crowded court-room with awe. All are taught that human life is sacred, and he who maliciously takes that of his fellow, justly forfeits his own. Now, multiply this act by thousands, and how is it treated ? Two armies meet, trained and armed, with the deliberate intention of murder. Their vocation is to shed blood. Their weapons are prepared for this express purpose. How to effect the most with the least exposure, is the object of both parties. The result is that hundreds or thousands are slaughtered. For their murder, God holds somebody accountable. If, on one or both sides, it be a needless bat:le, then those who engage in it, are as truly murderers, as he who waylays and shoots his near neighbor. But is the horror occasioned by one death, intensified in this case by hundreds or thousands ? By no means. This is a battle! Both sides did their duty (!) as brave men. The slaughtered on both sides died on the bed of honor." On one side is a glorious victory, on the other an honorable defeat.

So, also, the burning of half a dozen houses, and the loss of as many lives in a city, excites general sympathy. Loss of property is a severe affliction; how much more the loss of life. None are so insensible as to hear the story without emotion. But if an army rain bomb-shells upon this same city, reducing it to a heap of ruins, then add to this the destruction of millions of property, and, to cap the climax, the death of thousands of unoffending women and children, blown into fragments, or horribly mutilated, and dying in torture by slow degrees ah ! this is war, and the infernal act is orerlooked in rejoicing at the “success of our arms." Christian men even as they meet, as well as others, forget their religion in expressing their patriotism. Cannon, bonfires and even public thanksgiving to God, announce our joy at the event.

Now, if I mistake not, such is the state of public sentiment in our own country, and throughout Christendom. Thankful we are that there are some, we would hope many, exceptions ; but these are at most only exceptions to the general rule.

L. C. R.

WAR - ITS WASTE OF MIND.

BY EDWARD HITCHCOCK, LL. D.

War is emineutly hostile to mental improvement. Probably no custom of society has been more so ; and consequently it is chargeable with a vast waste of intellect. It exerts this pernicious influence in part by destroying the lives of many who might be the intellectual ornaments of their country; for the highest and most enterprising minds are most apt to be drawn into the vortex of vice, because they love its powerful excitements. The wars of Julius Cæsar destroyed not less than two millions ; those of Alexander of

« PreviousContinue »