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The vast consequences of war demand the attention of every class of mind ; its results affect all interests civil and religious, and its wide-spread issues solicit a Christian, as well as a political notice. But we claim higher than common ground in directing attention to war—we deal with it, not merely to speculate as to its probabilities of its ultimate prospects we are not unmindful—but we believe Christianity affords us the only vision-point from which we can command an entire view of the origin, character and results of this direful scourge.
As to the question of the necessity or justice of war we have sufficient answer in our text to all objections to its existence. Here an appeal to arms is acknowledged, and the omnipotence of God supplicated to maintain the right; and to object to this state of things, as permitted under the olden dispensation, but now abolished by the better spirit of Christianity, is futile and groundless; no circumstances can be allowed to secure the divine sanction for any system intrinsically evil; this would be to confound the distinctions of right and wrong, if not make the Divine Being to countenance sin. If war was sanctioned in past ages, and the interposition of God invoked and secured ; then we may conclude, war may still exist under similar circumstances with the support of Heaven in the defence of the wronged.
We know that the proposition that war is not only permitted, but sanctioned by God, demands the most careful and prayerful consideration.
Our sensibilities are shocked to conceive of the extended horrors of this calamity, and revolt in contemplating the the devastation and woes in its pathway; we despise not the feeling which recoils at the scenes of carnage, the wasted dwellings, the shattered cities, the mutilated soldiery, the slaughtered warriors; 'tis humanity to shed its tears and lift the voice of lamentation over the ruin war has worked; we weep with those that weep, and deeply sympathize with the suffering relicts of the soldier; and would gladly hail with all the advocates of peace that period when war shall be no more.
But we must not make our wounded feelings the standard of right and wrong; and pronounce the cause which inflicts such dire calamities, altogether and in every aspect evil; this principle would lead to most erroneous results, and evoke a curse upon the doings, and permissions of Providence. The avalanche, loosened from its fastness bythe warmth of the atmosphere, rolls down the declivity, increases in volume and impetuosity, at last buries in irremediable ruins the cities of the plain ; the vast ruin is terrible to contemplate: but the laws of gravitation are not to be ignored on account of the dreadful catastrophethe earthquake has often shaken the proud rearings of man, level with the dust; but it has its part in the economy of nature—the electric thunder-cloud casts its bolts through a country, and leaves death and ruin in its wake—but the direful storm is necessary to clear and purify the atmosphere. To object then, to a recourse to arms under all circumstances, because of the misery and wretchedness inflicted upon mankind, is to call in question the wise arrangements of Providence, which permits the whirlwind, the earthquake, and the flood.
Having made these preliminary observations: we invite your attention to the aspects of a war upon which we can enter, as approved and sanctioned by God; but upon the outset of oar enquiries, we may as well anticipate a common objection from men from whose principles we most respectfully differ. It is maintained that we must have a direct and unequivocal commission from God to sanction or authorize an enterprise of war : to this we reply, that the Divine Being has not on every occasion afforded man distinct and definite precepts for his guidance. Our duty is to be inferred, not altogether from positive injunctions, but from general principles; and the spirit of a principle is as loud, directive, authoritative, as the most distinct command ; now to bring the argument to our question, if war was necessary and sanctioned by God during the past economy; under similar circumstances war may be maintained, as having the same Divine approval and support. And if it be asked, where do we find that God authorizes recourse to war ? we answer, in Jewish history—a nation whose history was written by inspiration--and whose lessons are designed for universal benefit and guidance.
The case of Abraham supplies us with instances parallel to the circumstances of the present war, when amid the quarrels of Chedorlaomer and the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot fell into the hands of the conqueror, Abraham arose with his valiant bands and overthrew the aggressor, retook Lot, and yielded the rescued cities of the plain to their rightful sovereigns, generously refusing to share the spoils of conquest.
And the principle upon which the father of the Jewish nation acted, was sanctioned by God amid the honors of triumph, when Melchizedec, the type of our Lord, blessed the victor, who had rescued the injured, and replaced the rights of the wronged. Now, were there no other instances
record to justify a resort to arms to stem the rising tide of despotism, the conduct of Abraham would be sufficient, were there no other grounds upon which to justify and commend the spirit and enterprize of England, rising like the olden Patriarch, to rescue the weak from the banded hordes of barbarism, the example of the princely founder of the Jewish commonwealth would be sufficient. And had we no other foundation for our hopes that God would smile upon our efforts, the striking similarity of circumstances between the case of Abraham, and the cause in which we are engaged, warrants the most ardent expectation, that he, whose type Melchizedec was, will grant us victory and bless us with lasting peace : to our minds this single instance of the Patriarch arising in the spirit of heroism to rescue Lot from captivity, sends us forward to the contest, influenced with similar feelings, and bids us expect victory with equal honors. Again, we recognize in the war for which Solomon invokes Divine assistance, a respect to the national constitution—"if thy people go out to battle, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, hear thou in heaven their supplication and maintain their cause.” The olden governments and monarchies were generally centred in some city; hence the allusion here to Jerusalem ; and Jerusalem, more than any other city was the seat of Empire, and the source of law: there were the tabernacle and temple, from thence the announcements of God emanated ; and Jerusalem gave character to the entire land of Judea : the patriotism of a Jew was a strong feeling for the constitution of his government, the purity of his temple, and the preservation of his city; and from the peculiar constitution of the Jewish Commonwealth, the possession of their land, their polity, their Zion was indispensable; and no patriotic feeling can be so strong, so peculiar as the Jew's, no attachment to institutions can equal his, no defence of hearths and altars can be more vigorous than his; and no captive song can be so deep, so touching, as the song of a Jew, an exile in a strange land : the prayer of our text distinctly recognizes this genuine patriotism, and invokes the blessing of God upon its efforts and its triumphs. Now, the principle we have just noticed will guide and direct us in the prosecution of a war, in which a Christian state can engage—it must be in defence of its constitution, in the maintenance of its institutions; and the entire conduct of the enterprise must preserve unsullied the national character—in one word the war must be patriotic. Now, we cannot confine patriotism to the defence of home and country; the same genuine feeling which glows, which burns within the breast, and nerves the arm in upholding our own rights against aggression is equally sensitive as to the calamities which are endured abroad: the love of the father-land cannot be confined within the limits of the homestead, but longs to brave the tyrant, and combat the aggressor beyond the bounds of the native country: the pure the lofty sentiment of a patriot is, “ I am a man, and whatever affects humanity affects me.” The woes of the oppressed are injuries inflicted upon a common nature, the powers which crush the liberties of any class of the universal family are antagonistic to the true interests of every man; and cold must be the feelings of that heart which is unaffected by the wrongs of other lands: how untrue to the best impulses of our nature must be that soul which is never moved with the scattered rights of a neighbour, and how Levite-like, priest-like must be that man or nation that can look upon the fallen country whose provinces are occupied by the fierce hordes of barbarism, and unmindful of their hapless condition, would pass by on the other side. No, the defence of an injured people, by a neighbouring kingdom, is most patriotic, and most protective of our honor and right; and the principles which have influenced our own nation to undertake the present enterprize are quite in harmony with her character and the genuine impulses of disinterested patriotism. The ministers of our Holy religion have stood in our sanctuaries, our people have presented their petitions to the Divine Defender of rights, and the prayer of England