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depend upon anything but its virtue and piety. This is the only hope of future times. Yes, the presence of God must be among us—that pillar of cloud, and pillar of fire must accompany the march of coming generations, or they will wander, and be lost-like the nations that have ceased to be.

My friends, our work on earth will soon be done. That mighty procession, ere long, will pass by our graves. What matter is it that we shall sleep in the dust, if our work is done, and well done; if we have helped to raise up, in those that come after us, a mighty host of the intelligent, the virtuous, the happy, and free! This secured-and I see, in prospect, a land of peace and prosperity, a land of churches, and temples of science, and towers of strength; and the progress of the coming generations shows like a glorious triumph. Fair flowers shall be strewed in their path; bright omens shall cheer them on; they shall fulfil the prayers of the pious dead; they shall reward the tears and blood of martyred patriots; they shall accomplish the hopes of abased, broken, and prostrate humanity!


ECCLESIASTES ix, 18: “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”

My subject this evening is war ; and my purpose is to consider it as an immense social evil, and one which the rising spirit of modern society is likely to control. The connexion between the two subjects is too obvious to be insisted on. But the system of war is connected with the great interests of society, in one way which, though less obvious, is, perhaps, more important than any other-I mean by the accumulation of national debts.' War not only consumes the present possessions of mankind, but it uses up in advance, the property of future generations; it lays a burthen of taxes upon ages to come. How great this burthen is, and in how many ways it presses upon the social happiness and improvement of the world, are subjects, I think, which have not yet been sufficiently considered.

But before I enter on the general subject of the social evils produced by war, let me undertake briefly to state the ground I take with regard to it.

I do not say, then, in the first place, that war, under all circumstances, is wrong. A war strictly defensive, I hold, is right. But very few wars, I believe, will be found to possess this character. Yet when such a case does occur, I do not believe that any nation is obliged to sit still, and see its fields ravaged, and its homes violated, without lifting an arm in resistance. The right which nature gives us of personal self-defence, extends, I conceive, to the relations of states and kingdoms. If I may break the arm of a ruffian who lifts a club to destroy me, I may go farther, if necessary-I may break both his arms; and so long as he has a limb or a sense which can aid him to inflict upon me the evil he meditates, I may disable it; and thus I may go on defending myself, till the assailant himself is destroyed. So also may I defend others, whose life is committed to my protection. I should be a monster, and not a man, if I could sit still, and see a savage enter my doors, and murder my family before my eyes. But that savage, or that ruffian, is precisely the representative of an invading army.

Nor do the Scriptures, justly construed, speak any other language. They command us, indeed—but it is with the evident language of strong hyperbole—they command us, when smitten on one cheek, to turn the other ; when robbed of our coat, to give our cloak; when compelled to go a mile, to go twain; and in fine, not resist evil, but to return good for evil; the sum of which is, that we are not to retaliate evil. No reasonable person can suppose it to be literally meant, that we are to resist not at all; that when a rude assailant thrusts his hand in our face, we should not endeavour to put it aside ; nay, that we should help him, and give him every facility, to work his brutal will upon us. Angry retaliation is forbidden, not mild and manly self-defence; and this distinction applies alike to public wars and private conflicts.

In the next place, I do not deny, that war has sometimes developed powerful energies and heroic virtues. They furnish, indeed, but a slight compensation to humanity for the sufferings of its slaughtered millions; they yield but a poor argument for war; yet their existence is not to be denied. The advocates of peace, I must think, have been too anxious to brand with dishonour everything connected with national conflicts. Let mere mercenary soldiership, let the rage of brutal passions in a battle, let the ordinary principles of martial ambition be given up to their reprobation; but let not him who draws the sword for justice, when nothing else can secure justice—who offers his life for the freedom of a people, when no meaner sacrifice on its altar will suffice, let not him be denied the virtue of heroism. Let not him who firmly takes his station before an invading foe; who stands forward and offers his breast a shield for helpless age and infancy, and the sanctity of a nation's homes ; let not him be denied the praise of magnanimity. Of those, indeed, who make war their trade, and boast, and pleasure, a different judgment is to be formed.

But, if a hostile army were landed on our shores, and I saw the youth of a peaceful village hurrying from their homes to prepare for the dread encounter of arms; if I saw them mustering on some green spot, which they had trodden lightly on many a gay and peaceful holiday, but which they now trod with the step of brave and beautiful manhood-abjuring all softness, all fondness; girding on the armour of battle; and, sadly but sternly, resolved to sacrifice that young life, in its first freshness, to save their household altars from violation—if I saw them stand there, as they have stood in the valleys of Switzerland, and on the plains of America, resolute and firm, with flushed cheek and unflinching brow, ready to do what God and their country should demand of them, I should feel that I looked upon a noble spectacle. And when that goodly band returned from the conflict-broken, alas! and shattered-loud and grateful should be a nation's welcome; and green should be the sod, and wet with patriot tears, that covered the fallen; and high should rise the monument, to tell to other days, of brave men, who feared not to die for justice and freedom! Life, indeed, is dear, and the probation of human souls is not to be lightly shortened: but we are not to forget that that probation may sometimes be wrought out through blood; and that there are things dearer than life-things, to which life may be well sacrificed, whether in labours of philanthropy, in the fires of martyrdom, or in the strife of battle!

These are qualifications which, I think, we ought to make in considering the subject of war. It is not of a war of self-defence, or for the defence of freedom, that I am about to speak; but of war in its ordinary character, where the impulse is mutual national hatred or jealousy, and the object something far short of the freedom, safety, or essential welfare of any people. The qualifications I have made, therefore, will very little affect the general estimate.

To that estimate I now proceed, and particularly with reference to its bearing upon the social welfare of mankind.

of war.

But I wish to invite your attention, in the first place, to the peculiar, the extraordinary character of this dispensation of misery. The history of the human race presents us with many things to wonder at, with things that bear the character of extravagance, absurdity, and almost of insanity; but it presents us with nothing so amazing as the system

It appears, sometimes, in surveying this part of history, as if the most settled and established principles were failing us; and we are tempted to ask-Is human happiness worth the price at which it is commonly estimated ? Is it, in fact, worth anything?

If it is, what are we to think of a vast and portentous science and system ordained for its destruction? Other calamities come upon us by means that are indirect and unforeseen, and often irresistible. They lie in wait for us, and smite us unawares; or they follow us at a distance, and overtake us at an hour when we think not; they steal upon the path of indolence; they rush upon the footsteps of improvidence; they overwhelm the victim of indulgence in the very house, the guarded home of his pleasures. But what destroying power, what angel of death, besides war, has gone forth in the sight of all men, and marked and measured out the field of destruction, and bared the human breast, shrinking, as it naturally does, from every wound—bared it to a shock, like that of battle?

Other evils there are, and enough of them, to which the human race must submit. They lurk in the tainted breeze, and in the most secret channels of life, in pains which no weapon inflicts, and in sufferings which no sympathy can relieve. But war is like none of these.

And even of those calamities which men bring upon themselves, not one, in the treatment of it, bears any comparison with this. The cup of excess has, indeed, slain as many as the sword of violence. But when was ever a system devised, to facilitate and extend the ravages of intemperance? When was ever a book written; when did human ingenuity ever deliberately set itself to plan the means by which intemperance could kill the greatest number; by which it could inflict a yet more insufferable degradation; by which it would widen and deepen the tide of misery? Nay, and even in those cases where mischief and misery have been reduced to a system and trade, the system has been taught, and the trade has been carried on, silently and secretly. Gaming-houses, and houses of yet darker ignominy, have been builded, it is true, and books have been written, to teach the desperate practice of the one, or to lure to the deadly haunts of the other; but over all these works of darkness a veil like that of midnight has been drawn, to hide them from the public eye.

But there is one theatre where death stands unveiled, and “ destruction has no covering;” where they do their fearful work, not only designedly but openly: and with such credit, too, that that theatre is called the field of honour. There men are not only destroyed in troops, in battalions, and armies, but they are destroyed by system, and killed by science. Yes, and for this field, weapons are skilfully prepared, and actors are adroitly trained: and that, too, at establishments which, even in a time of peace, cost tenfold more than all the universities, and hospitals, and beneficent asylums in the world. War, in fact, is among the recognised arts that engage the attention of mankind. But while,

Still war rages,

its power.

of all other arts, the design is to save and bless, to improve and to delight, this is emphatically the art of destruction; to crush and to kill, to lay waste kingdoms, to spread havoc and distress among nationsthis is its chosen work. Were the art brought to still greater perfection, to that horrible perfection indicated by some late experiments, and were some machinery, some “infernal engine ”invented, by whose tremendous discharge a whole army might be destroyed in a moment, success in tactics like this might open the eyes of the world to the enormity of the martial principle. Then might war, at last, after having for ages raged through the earth, desolating empires, and destroying generations, become its own destroyer.

But no such fortunate catastrophe has yet come. with a violence only too impotent either to satisfy the passions of men, on the one hand, or, on the other, to destroy itself

. If we must judge from the history of the last fifty years, civilization has not weakened

If it has done something to tame the fierceness of anger and revenge, it has more than balanced the account by the invention of deadlier engines. Europe never saw such bloody fields of battle as within the last fifty years.

But let us further, and more distinctly, contemplate the immediate evils and sufferings produced by war. The great difficulty about this subject is, that no such contemplation is likely to be given to it. Nobody seems to stand in the relation to it which is necessary to a fair and full estimate. From those engaged in war, blinded or absorbed by it, its true character is hidden; and to those in the bosom of peace, the contemplation of bloody conflicts and routed armies is scarcely more affecting, than to behold the dashing clouds and broken fragments of a dispersing storm in the sky—it is far off, and belongs to another element. But let a man bring home to him one single instance from that awful and uncounted aggregate of horrors, and how can he be unmoved by it! Death! come when and where it may, be it on the bed of down, or on the supporting bosom of affection—it is an awful visitation. The agonies and shudderings of nature proclaim it to be the great trial-hour of human destiny. But that hour—in the hot assault, or amidst the lingering agonies of the battle-field, or where the groans of the crowded hospital are its harbingers—how does it come? No pillow of down, no supporting arms are there to receive the victim; no kind voice speaks to him; no noiseless step of affection approaches, nor looks of love hang over him, like a pitying angel's countenance; but he goes down-mau as he is, with all a man's sensibility, it may be with all a man's ties to earthly home and love-ho goes down amidst groans, and execrations, and horrors darker than the shadow of death that is passing over him. This is but one death, such as war visits upon the human race; and yet it would not be in human nature actually to witness one such instance, without the most agonizing desire to afford relief. But now, what facts are those which the history of war unfolds to us?. The single campaign of Buonaparte in Russia carried death, and such death! not to one thousand, nor to five thousand, nor to fifty thousand, but to five hundred thousand human beings. Alexander and Cæsar, it is computed, caused each of them the death of two millions of the human race; and the wars of Buonaparte bring up the whole number of victims sacrificed to the ambition of THREE MEN, to six millions! Let us look

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