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and murder ?—What license does the gospel give them to perpetrate the outrages of war? Talk they of doing such deeds in a Christian spirit? Is there any evangelical way of burning villages, and pillaging cities, and butchering men, women and children by wholesale? A Christian spirit plunging thousands after thousands of guilty souls into the bottomless pit! Such the spirit of Christ !!
Delusion cannot last for ever. The moral character and tendency of war are now frequently presented. Still the prejudices of education in its favor are serious hindrances to the cause of peace.
The existence and effect of these I have endeavored to present. It now remains for me to show, in the second place, how they may be best counteracted.
To counteract them successfully, we must begin in the nursery. We must first prevent, if possible, any predisposition for
Christians should strive to prevent the formation of that spirit which pre-inclines a youth to view favorably this custom. Hence the mother should be careful that the first music with which she excites or soothes her child, should not be a martial air. This may seem a little thing; but few realize the peculiar power of early impressions. And these lose none of their effect from the circumstance that they ever after may
and indistinct. This rather imparts an additional charm. Were you ever awaked, by a midnight serenade, from a quiet sleep? How delightful the strains of music which fell on your ear while you were yet sleeping! Can you ever forget the indistinct impression? And how mysteriously the charm Aed so soon as you awoke !
You could not fully recall it; you never will enjoy it again; in pursuit of it you may search the earth in vain ; and that music you will ever love most, which most forcibly recalls the vague, yet enchanting impression. Thus the youth will ever love and seek what most nearly resembles those airs by which he was charmed when a child; and, if it
is the martial air which first excited him, it may prove the means of kindling the martial fire.
Parents, also, should be careful lest they excite the love of war by placing in the hands of their children those toys which represent military movements, ornaments and weapons. They direct the thoughts in a wrong channel. Those fascinating stories also should be discouraged which tend to inflame the imagination respecting the glories of war. What boy does not naturally pant for an occasion to display his own heroism, after rising from the perusal of such a tale as “ Valentine and Orson," or after hearing the animated description of the adventures of the noted heroes of the wars of our fathers? But the boy should be induced to read of the real benefactors of mankind, and to imitate their virtues, rather than the heroism of the scourges of the world.
Pictorial exhibitions of naval scenes, of embattled hosts, and of distinguished warriors, should also be discouraged to a much greater extent than is common. At least, if they cannot be resigned, let the youth be taught, as he gazes on them, their real influence on the destinies of our race. If he knew the true character of that noble figure which decorates the parlor or the hall, would be contemplate it with delight? No; it might cause him to shudder as he would at the image of a murderer.
Pictures are not so much to be condemned as the impression which the youth is permitted to receive from them. One of the most beautiful countenances which ever was engraved is that of Aaron Burr. Why is not that the ornament of our houses, as well as the picture of Lafayette or Decatur? Why is it, when we gaze on the face of Burr or Arnold, we instinctively recoil ? Why is it they do not excite the love of military distinction, as they both were brave and successful ? Because we are told that they were traitors. When, therefore, the youth beholds the beautiful picture of favorite warriors, let him be told that they were the destroyers of the earth. In like manner, when he admires the gorgeousness of military parade, let his thoughts be directed to the field of misery and death, to noxious hospitals, to devastated countries, to burning cities, to violated virtue, to murdered innocence ;
" Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are not.” When he contemplates, too, the elegant trophies of former victory, let the parent rernind him how dearly they were bought by his country's treasure. When he glories in the stately monument, let him be shown that it is cemented by the blood and tears of his ancestors.
Above all, let the parent inculcate the beauty and importance of the peace principle in all his intercourse with brothers, and sisters, and playmates. Parents strangely overlook this essential part of education. The boy too often is encouraged, or permitted to strike back, to indulge in revenge and hatred. He is indeed often told that it is magnanimous to fight; that, if he does not return the blow of his youthful assailant, he is cowardly and mean-spirited. How often are boys set on directly to fighting, without any provocation, just to show spirit and courage; and the victor, because he is favored with more skill, or strength, or daring than his opponent, is praised like a heathen conqueror! Such training sets on fire all the bad passions of the human heart. It makes enemies of the best friends. It leads to fearful consequences. The parent cannot be too watchful of his children's conduct in this respect,cannot too often impress on their minds the peaceful spirit of the gospel, its maxims of forbearance and submission.
The public teacher also, as well as the parent, may do much towards counteracting the prejudices of education, chiefly by giving a proper direction to the studies and thoughts of his pupils. Who has not heard of the influence of the classics in exciting a martial spirit? The bad influence of these may be counteracted, not by burning them, as some suppose, but by presenting, in the light of the gospel, the true worth of military glory, and the true character of the lauded heroes of antiquity. Why does not the elegant mythology of Homer incline the scholar to polytheism? Because its absurdities are exposed by teachers; because the youth compares the moral obliquities of the gods with the principles of Christianity. And why should be not also be made to see, by the same standard, the moral character of heroes, the value of their honors ?
When the youth, therefore, kindles with enthusiasm at the interesting description of the classic hero, let him see that his wreath is
“Sprinkled o'er with human gore,
And drenched in tears,
The teacher cannot take away the love of fame, but he can hold out to view that which most deserves it. Let him show that the “great are not always good, but that the good are always great;" that moral excellence is the highest kind of excellence; that the labors of a Howard or a Mills have conferred more real glory on mankind than all the splendors of Marathon or Trafalgar, the heroism of More, or the trophies of
Marlborough. Let him compare the rash bravery of Achilles with the moral courage of Paul, and show that
“ there exists
The calm, and blissful, and enduring mighty.” Again; in our systems of instruction, that fundamental error of moral and political philosophy, namely, “ that which is expedient is right,” should be exposed. It is the general reception of the philosophy of expediency, there is reason to believe, which has caused so much apathy respecting the great evils of society. Men will be blinded as to the true nature and tendency of any thing which the Bible condemns, so long as they can justify its practice by supposed advantages. But I have before alluded to this erroneous principle. The importance of correcting public sentiment respecting it must be at once seen, if we would counteract the prejudices respecting war.
The minister of the gospel may also do much to undermine these prejudices. Any thing which comes from the pulpit is invested with peculiar authority. The clergyman is the authorized expounder of the oracles of God. What he says is generally believed. Let him preach against the custom of war in all its developments and forms. Let him show its discrepancy with the laws of God, the settled and eternal principles of truth. The moral character and tendency of war must be distinctly presented, and men must be made to see and feel that, just so far as they encourage war, they are violating their duty to God and society. The moral sense of the community must be appealed to. And there is hope of influencing men who profess to be governed by the principles of the gospel. A conscientious man cannot long oppose solemn truth and duty. And there has ever been exhibited in our land a disposition to banish evils when their moral influence has been clearly seen to be wrong. And this conservative principle still operates. Public opinion will gradually condemn what is known to be a sin. But prejudices never will be removed entirely respecting a favorite custom until this is clearly seen. Interest, passion, hope, custom, are potent adversaries to reformers. Witness the African slave trade. The tears and entreaties of the African were lost even on the benevolent Newton, as well as on those nations which encouraged the
traffic. Doubtless, in view of the bitter sighs and groans, hardships and lot of the poor captive,
some natural tears they dropped, But wiped them soon." These did not enlighten them. They still scrupled not to consign him and his posterity to a cruel and hopeless bondage. It was not until the moral character of the slave trade was distinctly presented that public opinion condemned it. So long as it was not thought to be wrong to drink the liquid poison, popular prejudices in favor of the use remained in full force, even while the evils of intemperance were seen and felt. It is the perfection of moral power to apply truth to the hearts and consciences of men. Then only is it irresistible. Hence war must be decried, not only as an evil, but as a wicked custom, which the whole spirit of the gospel condemns, just as intemperance and slavery are proved to be sins. And who can do this so efficiently as the minister of the gospel? It is to him that the eyes of the advocates of peace are chiefly directed.
Lastly ; let all Christian philanthropists do what they can to counteract these prejudices of education. Particularly let the directors of public opinion investigate and enforce the practical efficacy and moral beauty of the principles of peace. The power of moral suasion is not sufficiently appreciated. There is a virtue in it which philosophers have rarely investigated. Let public opinion be enlightened as to its superior excellence, not affirmed by Scripture simply, but illustrated by the providence of God. There is reason to believe that, whenever it has been resorted to, it has proved of singular efficacy. Examples of moral power successfully used, have not been sufficiently brought to light. There is something about it which will disarm the bitterest foe. There is no resistance to the bearer of love and peace. It always takes two to fight. In a warlike age, a peaceful man came and dwelt with a people trained to constant warfare. Degraded, ignorant and fierce they were ; but this unarmed man, relying on the protection of God, dwelt with these people secure and honored. None rose up against him. Even while the north and the south reëchoed to the bloody war-whoop and the groans of the tortured white man, William Penn lived in peace and safety.
Integer vitae scelerisque purus,
Non eget Mauri jaculis neque arcu." “Let public opinion be enlightened as to the efficacy of the