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perishing things, to go a warring one against another, whom we never saw, nor with whom we never had any contest, nor any thing to do; being, moreover, altogether ignorant of the cause of the war, but only that the magistrates of the nations foment quarrels one against another, the causes whereof are, for the most part, unknown to the soldiers that fight, as well as upon w
whose side the right or wrong is; and yet to be so furious, and rage one against another, to destroy and spoil all, that this or the other worship may be received or abolished; if to do this, and much more of this kind, be to fulfil the law of Christ, then are our adversaries indeed true Christians, and we miserable heretics, that suffer ourselves to be spoiled, taken, imprisoned, banished, beaten and evilly intreated, without any assistance, placing our trust only in God, that he may detend us, and lead us by the way
of the cross into his kingdom. But if it be otherways, we shall certainly receive the reward which the Lord hath promised to those that cleave to him, and, in denying themselves, confide in him.”
Three observations suggest themselves on this account of the principal classes of Christians by whom war has been condemned:
1. The Unitarian will, perhaps, not be sorry to remark, that a conviction of its criminality has generally been found in connexion with those notions of doctrine which bear most affinity to
his own, or with that religious liberty which usually precedes or accompanies their adoption.
2. The history of this aversion from war furnishes a presumption in favour of its being inseparable from pure Christianity. It appears strongest at the nearest period of which we can gain information to the apostolic age; it gradually wore out as religion became corrupt, until it was quite lost; as the New Testament was again studied, and made the rule of faith and practice, it reappeared; and it was most powerful in those who, according to our opinions, were the most enlightened and consistent of all who 'aided in the great work of Reformation.
3. Whether recourse to arms be essentially unlawful, or allowable in some extreme cases, of rare occurrence; and whether the military profession should be altogether avoided by Christians, or only when they deem the cause unjust, or the means forbidden; are differences compa-ratively of little moment, so long as there is a common and lively sense of the miseries and crimes which war produces; this feeling pure Christianity unquestionably excites, and will excite and diffuse as it becomes better understood and more generally adopted; and its tendency, therefore, is to mitigate the evils and prevent the recurrence of wars, until its full influence shall realize the promised universal reign of the Prince of Peace.
Of late, the subject has been regarded as less belonging to theology than to humanity and benevolence. This is by no means to be regretted. Numerous and laudable efforts are making by societies in this country and in America, to communicate information upon it, and who will not heartily wish them success ? For an account of some of these, and of the tracts issued by them, I must refer the reader to a letter from Mr. Scargill, in the Monthly Repository for June 1816. It is not amongst the least merits of that valuable publication, that it has so frequently, ably and perseveringly called the public attention to this subject, and thus strengthened the hands of the friends of peace.(a)
I have lengthened this Appendix much beyond my intention, which was merely to put together two or three quotations and remarks, which could not conveniently have been placed in the notes. It cannot conclude better than with the following extract from a most useful work, which I should be glad to persuade its able Author to republish, and every Englishman to read and profit by.
“ Those who reason in favour of the perfectibility of man, draw all that is solid in their arguments from the possibility of the reduction of the moral evil by which the world is oppressed. They see the labour of man employed rather in preparing the apparatus of death, than
in producing the means of life ; and they say, were the moral sentiments of men corrected, war and show would have no place; and the expense of war and luxury being converted to the uses of life, would supply all the real wants of all that live. To a certain extent this must be admitted to be true, and the prospect is so cheering, that we hope the vision is divine. The first step appears to be the instruction of the people. They must be taught that war is ever injurious to their interest; that it is the contrivance of tyranny for the subjugation of ignorance; and that as long as it is allowed in any country, the comfort of the people can never be secured. Convinced that this is true, we are proud to be as ' a voice crying in the wilderness' to hasten and assist the approach of human happiness.”(A View of the Causes and Consequences of English Wars, by Anthony Robinson, 1798.)
ON HUMAN PERFECTIBILITY.
Rev. xi. 15.
The kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
The attention with which the Course of Lectures has been favoured, which I this night bring to a conclusion, renders such a request wholly unnecessary, or I should feel it incumbent on me to solicit especially on the present occasion, your seriousness and candour for a subject very liable to misconstruction, and arguments which, though very trite perhaps, require both a calm and patient consideration, fairly to estimate their weight. The various controversies which have existed on this subject have thrown it into great confusion. Some Christians cling to the hope of a Millenium; while others attempt its demolition. Among philosophers the notion of the Perfectibility of Man has been exulted in as true; and denounced as mischievous. These terms have been some