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unjustifiable. But the misfortune is, that power is never without the aid of ingenious sophistry to give the name of right to wrong; and, with the eloquence which Milton attributes to the devil, to make the worse appear the better cause. But as war is confessedly PUBLICA MUNDi CALAMITAs, the common misfortune of all the world, it is time that good sense should interpose, even if religion were silent, to controul the mad impetuosity of its cause, ambition. Ambition is a passion in itself illimitable. Macedonia’s madman was bounded in his ravages by the ocean. The demigod, Hercules, was stopt in his progress by the pillars, called after his mame, at Gades; but to ambition, connected as it usually is, in modern times, with avarice, there is no ocean, no Gades, no limit, but the grave. Had Alexander, Caesar, Charles the Twelfth, or Louis the Fourteenth, been immortal in existence on earth, as they are in the posthumous life of fame, they must have shared the world among them in time, and reigned in it alone, or peopled with their own progeny. The middle ranks, among whom chiefly resides learning, virtue, principle, truth, every thing estimable in society, would have been extinct. Despots would have let none live but slaves; and those only, that they might administer to their idleness, their luxury, their vice. But though Alexander and Caesar, and Charles and Louis, are dead, yet ambition is still alive, and nothing but the progress of knowledge in the middle ranks, and the prevalence of Christianity in the lowest, have prevented other Alexanders, other Caesars, other Charleses, and other Louises, from arising, and, like the vermin of an east wind, blasting the fairest blossoms of human felicity. Many Christian Rulers might with great propriety employ, like the Heathen, a remembrancer, to sound for ever in their ears, Forget not that thou art a man; to tell them, that the poorest soldier under their absolute command was born, like them, of woman, and that they like him shall die. The clergy, in Christian countries, possess this office of remembrancers to the great as well as to the little. To execute it they probably go to courts. They do well: let them not fear to execute it with fidelity. The kingdom of Christ should be maintained by them, so long as it is tenable, by argument and the mild arts of evangelical persuasion, though all other kingdoms fall. The Christian religion being confessedly true, there is a kingdom of Christ; and the laws of that kingdom must be of the first obligation. No sophistry can elude the necessary conclusion, “ FIAT volunTAs DEI ; ADVENIAT REGNUM EJUs;” such is our daily prayer, and such should be our daily endeavour.
If it be true, that infidelity is increasing, if a great nation be indeed throwing aside Christianity, instead of the superstition that has disgraced it; it is time that those who believe in Christianity, and are convinced that it is beneficial to the world, show mankind its most alluring graces, its merciful, benignant effects, its utter abhorrence of war, its favourable influence on the arts of peace, and on all that contributes to the solid comfort of human life. But it is possible that, as it is usual to bend a crooked stick in the contrary direction in order to make it straight, so this great nation, in exploding the follies and misery of superstition, may be using a latitude and licentiousmess of expression concerning the Christian religion, which it does not itself sincerely approve, merely to abolish the ancient bigotry. The measure is, I think, wrong, because it is of dangerous example; but whoever thinks so, ought to endeavour to rectify
the error by persuasion, rather than to extirpate the men, by fire and sword, who have unhappily fallen into it. Their mistakes call upon their fellow-men for charity, but not for vengeance. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Our own mild and Christian behaviour towards those who are in error, is the most likely means of bringing them into the pale of Christianity, by the allurement of an example so irresistibly amiable. If the sheep have gone astray, the good shepherd uses gentle means to bring them into the fold. He does not allow the watchful dog to tear their fleeces; he does not send the wolf to devour them ; neither does he hire the butcher to shed their blood, in revenge for their deviation. But who are we? Not shepherds, but a part of the flock. The spiritual state of thirty million of men is not to be regulated, any more than their worldly state, by twelve million. Are the twelve million all Christians, all qualified by their superior holiness to be either guardian or avenging angels? It is indeed most devoutly to be wished, that religion in the present times may not be used, as it has often been in former days, to sbarpen the sword of war, and to deluge the world with gore. Let these matters remain to be adjusted, not by bullets: and bayonets, but between every man's own conscience and God Almighty.
It is obvious to observe, that great revolutions are taking place, I mean not political revolutions ; but revolutions in the mind of man, revolutions of far more consequence to human nature, than revolutions in empire. Man is awaking from the slumber of childish superstition, and the dreams of prejudice. Man is becoming more reasonable; assuming with more confidence his natural character, approaching more - nearly his original excellence. as a rational
being, and as he came from his Creator. Man has been metamorphosed from the noble animal God made him, to a slavish creature little removed from a brute, by base policy and tyranny. He is now emerging from his degenerate state. He is learning to estimate things as they are clearly seen, in their own shape, size, and hue; not as they are enlarged, distorted, discoloured by the mists of prejudice, by the fears of superstition, and by the deceitful mediums which politicians and pontiffs invented, that they might enjoy the world in state without molestation. War has certainly been used by the great of all ages and countries except our own, as a means of supporting an exclusive claim to the privileges of enormous opulence, stately grandeur, and arbitrary power. It employs the mind of the multitude, it kindles their passions against foreign, distant, and unknown persons, and thus prevents them from adverting to their own oppressed condition, and to domestic abuses. There is something fascinating in its glory, in its ornaments, in its music, in its very noise and tumult, in its surprising events, and in victory. It assumes a splendour, like the harlot, the more brilliant, gaudy, and affected, in proportion as it is conscious to itself of internal deformity. Paint and perfume are used by the wretched prostitute in profusion, to conceal the foul ulcerous sores, the rottenmess and putrescence of disease. The vulgar and the thoughtless, of which there are many in the highest ranks, as well as in the lowest, are dazzled by outward glitter. But improvement of mind is become almost universal, since the invention of printing; and reason, strengthened by reading, begins to discover, at first sight and with accuracy, the difference between paste and diamonds, tinsel and bullion. It begins to see that there can be no glory in mutual
destruction ; that real glory can be derived only from beneficial exertions, from contributions to the conveniencies and accommodations of life; from arts, sciences, commerce, and agriculture; to all which war is the bane. It begins to perceive clearly the truth of the poor Heathen’s observation, Ov to jerya evo aXda to ev perya. The great is not therefore good; but the good is therefore great.
It is indeed difficult to prevent the mind of the many from admiring the splendidly destructive, and to teach it duly to appreciate the useful and beneficial, unattended with ostentation. There are various prejudices easily accounted for, which from early infancy familiarize the ideas of war and slaughter, which would otherwise shock us. The books read at school were mostly written before the Christian era. They celebrate warriors with an eloquence of diction, and a spirit of animation, which cannot fail to captivate a youthful reader. The more generous his disposition, the quicker his sensibility, the livelier his genius, the warmer his imagination, the more likely is he, in that age of inexperience, to catch the flame of military ardour. The very ideas of bloody conquerors are instilled into his heart, and grow with his growth. He struts about his school, himself a hero in miniature, a little Achilles panting for glorious slaughter. And even the vulgar, those who are not instructed in classical learning by a Homer or a Cæsar, have their Seven Champions of Christendom, learn to delight in scenes of carnage, and think their country superior to all others, not for her commerce, not for her liberty, not for her civilisation, but for her bloody wars. Happily for human nature, great writers have lately taken pains to remove those prejudices of the school and nursery, which tend to increase the natural misery of man; and consequently