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CHAPTER XI.

ON WAR.

Of all the practices which disturb the tranquillity and lay waste the welfare of men, there is none which operates to so great an extent, or with so prodigious an efficacy, as war. Not only is this tremendous and dreadfully-prevalent scourge productive of an incalculable amount of bodily and mental suffering—so that, in that point of view alone, it may be considered one of the most terrible enemies of the happiness of the human race—but it must also be regarded as a moral evil of the deepest dye. “From whence come wars and fightings among you ?" said the apostle James; "come they not hence, even of your lusts which war in your members ? Ye lust and have not; ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not." War, therefore, has its rise in the inordinate desires and corrupt passions of men; and as is its origin, so is its result. Growing out of an evil root, this tree of bitterness seldom fails to produce, in vast abundance, the fruits of malice, wrath, cruelty, fraud, rapine, lasciviousness, confusion, and murder.

Although there are few persons who will dispute the accuracy of this picture of war—although every one knows that such a custom is evil in itself and arises out of an evil source—and although the general position, that war is at variance with the principles of Christianity, has a very extensive currency among the professors of that religion—it is a singular fact, that Friends are almost the only class of Christians who hold it to be their duty to God, to their neighbour, and to themselves, entirely to abstain from that most injurious practice. While the views of Friends on the subject are thus complete, the generality of professing Christians, and many even of a reflecting and serious character, are still accustomed to make distinctions between one kind of war and another. hey will condemn a war which is oppressive and unjust; and, in this respect, they advance no further than the moralists of every age, country, and religion. On the other hand, they hesitate as little in expressing their approbation of wars which are defensive, or which are otherwise undertaken in a just cause.

1 Ch. iv. 1, 2.

The main argument, of a scriptural character, by which warfare in a just cause (as it is termed) is defended, and its rectitude maintained, is the divinely-sanctioned example of the ancient Israelites. That the Israelites were engaged in many contests with other nations; that those contests were often of a very destructive character; and that they were carried forward, on the part of the Israelites, under the direct sanction, and often in consequence of the clear command of the Almighty, are points which no one, who reads the history of the Old Testament, can pretend to deny. But we are not to forget that the wars of the Israelites differed from wars in general (even from those of the least exceptionable character in point of justice) in certain important and striking particulars. That very divine sanction, which is pleaded as giving to the example of that people an authority of which other nations may still avail themselves in the maintenance of a similar practice, did, in fact, distinguish their wars from all those in which any other nation is known to have been ever engaged. They were undertaken in pursuance of the express command of the Almighty Governor of mankind; and they were directed to the accomplishment of certain revealed designs of his especial providence. These designs had a twofold object: the temporal preservation and prosperity of God's peculiar people, on the one hand, and the punishment and destruction of idolatrous nations, on the other. The Israelites and their kings were, indeed, sometimes engaged in combating their neighbours, without any direction from their divine Governor, and even against his declared will; and these instances will not, of course, be pleaded as an authority for the practice of war: but such of their military operations as were sanctioned and ordered of the Lord (and these only are adduced in the argument in favour of war) assumed the character of a work of obedience and faith. They went forth to battle, from time to time, in compliance with the divine command, and in dependance upon

that Being who condescended to regulate their movements, and to direct their efforts in the furtherance of his own providence. These characteristics in the divinely-sanctioned warfare of the Hebrews were attended with two consequences, of the most marked and distinguishing nature. In the first place, the conflicts in which this people were thus engaged, and which so conspicuously called into exercise their obedience and faith, were far from being attended by that destruction of moral and pious feeling which is so generally the effect of war; but, on the contrary, they were often accompanied by a condition of high religious excellence in those who were thus employed in fighting the battles of the Lord-an observation very plainly suggested by the history of Joshua and his followers, of the successive Judges, and of David. And secondly, the contests which were undertaken and conducted on the principles now stated were followed by uniform success. The Lord was carrying on his own designs through certain appointed instruments; and, under such circumstances, while failure was impossible, success afforded an evidence of the divine approbation. Now, it cannot be predicated even of the wars which have the greatest appearance of justice, as they are usually carried on among the nations of the world, that they are undertaken with the revealed sanction, or by the direct command, of Jehovah—or that they are a work of obedience and faith—or that they are often accompanied with a condition of high religious excellence in those who undertake them or that they are followed by uniform success. On the supposition, therefore, that the system of Israelitish morals is still in force, without alteration and improvement, it is manifest that we cannot justly conclude, from the example of God's ancient people, that warfare, as it is generally practised, even when it bears the stamp of honor or defence, is consistent with the will of God.

In addition to the example of the Hebrews, the defenders of modern warfare are accustomed to plead the authority of John the Baptist.' It is recorded, in the Gospel of Luke, that, when that eminent prophet was preaching in the wilderness, various classes of persons resorted to him for advice and instruction. Among others, “the soldiers demanded of him saying, And what shall we do?

i See Grotius de Jure Belli ac Pacis, lib. I, cap. ii. Ø vii. 5.

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And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages.!” Since the precept of John to these soldiers, that they should do violence to no man, probably related to their behaviour among their friends and allies, it may be allowed that he did not, on this occasion, forbid the practice of fighting. On the other hand, it must be observed, that the expressions of the Baptist afford no direct encouragement to that practice. I would suggest that, with reference to the present argument, his doctrine is neutral. The question whether war was, in itself, lawful or unlawful, is one which was probably placed beyond his scope, and which he obviously did not entertain. On the supposition that the soldiers would continue to be soldiers, he confined himself to recommending to them that gentle, orderly, and submissive, demeanour, which was so evidently calculated to soften the asperities of their profession.

But, although John the Baptist was engaged in proclaiming the approach of the Christian dispensation—the kingdom of heaven-he did not himself appertain to that kingdom. He belonged to the preceding institution; and his moral system was that of the law. Now, although, on the supposition that this system continues unchanged, it may fairly be denied, for the reasons now stated, that the example of the Hebrews, or the expressions of the Baptist, afford any valid authority for warfare, as generally practised, it ought to be clearly understood that the objection of Friends to every description of military operation is founded, principally, on that complete revelation of the moral law of God which distinguishes the dispensation of the Gospel of Christ. We contend, and that with no slight degree of earnestness, that all warfare—whatever are its peculiar features, circumstances or pretexts—is wholly at variance with the revealed character and known principles of the Christian religion.

In support of this position, I may, in the first place, adduce the testimony of the prophets ; for these inspired writers, in their predictions respecting the Gospel dispensation, have frequently alluded both to the superior spirituality and to the purer morality of that system of religion, of which the law, with all its accompaniments, was only the introduction. In the second chapter of the book of

1 Ch. ii. 14.

2 See Matt. xi. 11.

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Isaiah we read the following prophecy : “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it; and many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for, out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalern. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks : nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. The prophet Micah repeats the same prediction, and adds the following animating description: “ But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it."

It is allowed, by the Jews, that the “last days,” of which these prophets speak, are the “ days of the Messiah ;” and Christian . commentators unanimously apply these expressions to the period of that glorious dispensation which was introduced by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the actual predictions of his coming are elsewhere accompanied with similar descriptions. In Isa. ix. 6, the Messiah is expressly called the “Prince of Peace.” In Isa. xi. the reign of Christ is painted in glowing colors, as accompanied by the universal harmony of God's creation. Lastly, in Zech. ix. 9, 10; we read as follows: “Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, o daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow shall be cut off : and he shall speak peace unto the heathen : and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.3

It is undeniable that, in these passages, a total cessation from the practice of war is described as one of the most conspicuous marks of Christianity. Such a consequence is represented by Isaiah as arising from the conversion of the heathen nations—as resulting

i Ver. 2-4.

2 Mic. iv. 1-4.

3 Comp. Ps. xlvi. 9.

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