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itself, and most formidable in its resistance. I give it a separate discussion to discharge that Lecture of a topic far too momentous to be made only a secondary consideration, and also by shewing what views may be held of its final abolition to prepare the way for unembarrassed attention to the general prospects of the nations of the earth, as involved in the designs of Providence, and the promises of revelation.
The present is a favourable time for this discussion. We are at peace with all the world. Long may we remain so. Were it otherwise, it would be a duty not to shrink from telling the truth of God, though to reluctant ears, and in spite of malicious tongues. That a particular application would be made of general reflections, that a remonstrance against war would be interpreted of any particular contest in which the country might be engaged, and considered a sign of disaffection, as well as of enthusiasm, would not excuse the professor of Christianity from reminding his brethren and countrymen of the violated laws and spirit of the gospel. If a nation be criminal, at the bar of God let that nation be arraigned, by the word of God let that nation be condemned. But at such a time, the clamour of the interested would be raised, the timid, the ignorant, and the unthinking, would be alarmed and imposed on, and the subject would have to struggle with accumulated difficulties. Now it
is likelier to have a fair hearing, and to produce beneficial effects. The late contest has left here, and in other realms, a wholesome weariness with war, which should be improved by those who are on principle the friends of peace. The public, at least all who think, seem to be feeling much like the ruined spendthrift on his wild excesses, and the condemned malefactor on his criminal passions. Those who wish well to human interests should seize such a moment, and exert themselves, on this subject, to form just opinions and diffuse useful information. The labour would not be lost, either as to the ultimate object, or the immediate influence.
We comprise the object of this discourse in one sentence-war is a great, but not insuperable, obstacle to that general improvement in the state of man which Christianity tends, and was designed to realize.
War is opposed to the well-being and progress of society by the misery it inflicts, the criminality it implies, and the mischiefs it produces. To men of human feelings, Christian principles, general benevolence, it is unnecessary to advance laboured proof of these assertions. Nothing more is required than attention to the subject.
From the humblest agent whom poverty or folly may bave driven or cajoled into military service, or the wretchedest inhabitant of the seat of hostilities, to the vast empires by whom
they are waged, war is associated with suffering. Scenes may be shifted, and success may vary, but the misery is permanent. It is alike the sad accompaniment of the lamentation for defeat, and the joyous song of victory. There is nothing of good but what is foreign, ambiguous and accidental. The evil is great, inseparable and essential. Trace it in the field of battle. What multitudes are there assembled, that the scythe of death may mow them down with greater facility-that not individuals, but thousands, may be levelled at a stroke ! Dreadful
of indiscriminate slaughter! There perish the mighty and renowned, there the young, the healthy and the vigorous. The qualities which in the ordinary course of things, seem to promise exemption from the ravages of mortality, there only recommend them for the sacrifice, and fit them to be victims. And surround it, as we may, with epitiets of glory, or think to reward it with the meed of fame, still what a death is the soldier's! What rational being would thus take the awful step into the unseen world—what Christian would wish the fierce passions or unmitigated agonies of that scene to be his last earthly feeling, his preparation for standing at the bar of God? For the bed of death one would wish all that is soothing and consolatory. Wretched and comfortless is the soldier's fate. He is alone in the midst of thousands. The vanquished in their
hasty flight, the victors in their hot pursuit, care not for him. On the cold ground he lies, forsaken, mangled and trampled on; no tender hand to staunch the flowing blood, or raise his fainting frame; no kind tongue to whisper consolation; he thinks, perhaps distractedly, of those loved ones who should have encompassed his dying bed; but his sickening glance meets only sights of horror, and he hears only piercing groans, and frantic shouts, and bitter shrieks, and the roar of that deadly thunder which strews the field with companions in misery. But comparatively few fall in the field: of greater numbers, fatigue and disease are the lingering and loathsome destiny. If the grass yet grows bright and green on the plains of Waterloo, fed with the rotting carcases of thousands who bled in battle; there are plains yet in Russia, their surface bleached with the bones of the best of France and Italy, who were levelled by no hostile blow, but sunk under the cold, famine, and fatigue of that disastrous retreat. All protracted warfare is the prolongation of misery in a thousand forms, more agonizing than what is suffered in the bloodiest field of battle. Often does it make men pray for death, as a release from present anguish. But not to conflicting armies are confined the evils of war: they are the centre of mischief, but it spreads around them widely: they are the nucleus of crime and misery, but large is its pestilential
Wherever they go, they carry desolation,-they devour like locusts,—they blast like the lightning,—they destroy like the volcano,—they overwhelm like the earthquake. Little is spared by plunder, revenge, or wanton
At their approach, harvests vanish, and burning villages are torches to light their march. Law is at an end : life, honour, property, are held on sufferance by the mercy of the sword. O what have the peaceful inhabitants to recount, by whose abodes this torrent has rolled! They have survived scenes, they have tales to tell, which, long as they remember, shall wring their hearts, which their tongues shall faulter to repeat, and at which the listening traveller shall shudder. Nor in escaping from the seat of war to remotest nations involved in it, can we escape its horrors. They have a kind of infernal omnipresence. The warrior is seldom an isolated being. Far distant from the field on which he conquers, or dies, or the hospital in which he lingers, there may be many a bosom throbbing with anxiety for him. His sufferings are multiplied in theirs. He may, perhaps, perish instantaneously; but they long suffer from anxiety, or mourn in anguish. On him is dealt the fatal stroke, but they feel the wound. The aged widow, tottering to the grave, weeps the child who should have soothed and supported her declining years. The mother bends in unutterable anguish over her orphaned babes. The