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trine of regeneration, atonement or final retribution, as the duty of repentance or faith ; and we see not how any man, ignorant of these principles, or unprepared to inculcate them aright, can regard himself as duly qualified to preach a religion of peace. He has not yet learned the whole alphabet of Christianity; and shall the man who cannot, or will not preach peace, presume to call himself a proper ambassador of the Prince of Peace, a competent expounder of the gospel of peace, a consistent example or promoter of a religion of peace? How applicable to such a preacher the infidel's keen rebuke, — « Ye bungling soul-physicians ! to bellow for an hour or more against a few flea-bites, and not say a word about this horrid distemper which tears us to pieces !”
The duty is undeniable. You are bound, as a minister of Christ, to preach the gospel, the whole gospel; but, if you have never inquired what it teaches on the subject of peace, can you be sure of declaring all the counsel of God?" If you have inquired, but are still in doubt, ought you not, without delay, to solve these doubts, and settle your belief on this as on every other part of the gospel ? If you hold its pacific principles, but are unable to enforce them aright, ought you not to qualify yourself for this service just as you do to inculcate repentance, faith, or any other Christian duty ?
Perhaps, however, you will reply, that your views of peace differ from · ours. But will this excuse you for neglecting the whole subject? We may be wrong ; but we insist on its being your duty to inculcate the principles of Christ and his apostles. You must determine for yourself what they teach; but, because you understand them differently from ourselves, can you refuse to preach what you regard as the real import of their instructions ? We may differ quite as much in our views concerning regeneration, or the character and offices of Christ, or the nature of saving faith ; but would you deem this a sufficient reason for neglecting to enforce what you find in the Bible on those subjects ? Then must you exclude the whole gospel ; for there is more or less diversity of views respecting every one of its peculiar truths. There would be an end also to all preaching; for, if you may refuse to preach because you differ from us, we may refuse because we differ from you, and every body else because somebody differs from him, and thus nobody is left to inculcate any part of the gospel.
But you may tell us you do preach peace. If so, we rejoice; but are you sure you inculcate what the gospel teaches on this subject? Have you drawn your views pure and fresh from that fountain ? Do you urge all under your influence to love their enemies as themselves, to live peaceably with all men, to turn the other cheek to the smiter, not to resist evil, but overcome it only with good ? Do you teach these principles as exemplified by Christ himself? Do you apply them to the intercourse of nations as God's last remedy for war? Do you inculcate them as plainly, as frequently, as earnestly as you would other requisitions of the gospel ?
Would to God that all ministers had always done so. But alas! how few have! Had they, would Christendom have been for fifteen centuries one vast aceldama ? Would its surface have been to this day whitened with human bones? Would its two thousand war-ships have now been ready to launch their volleys of death, its four millions of warriors on tiptoe for carnage and devastation, and its thousand millions of dollars wasted every year for the support of its war-system even in peace? One thing is certain, - either the gospel on this subject has not been preached, or it has no power to make men “ beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”
We rejoice that so many ministers of Christ have at length begun to
perform this part of their duty; and the day, we trust, is not far distant when peace, as an element of Christianity, will be enforced, just like repentance and faith, wherever the gospel is preached. Ministers of every name are fast coming right on this point; and ecclesiastical bodies, representing Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other denominations of Christians, have passed strong resolves, declaring, “ that it is the duty of ministers to preach in favor of the cause of peace as a prominent part of the gospel ;” and “ that peace, being confessedly a part of the gospel, ought, in its spiritual aspects and bearings, to be inculcated, like any other part of the gospel, in the ordinary course of instruction by ministers, parents and teachers."
III. PEACE AUXILIARY TO THE WORK OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
The object of the Christian ministry is no less than the salvation of the whole world. Our Savior's last command requires them to evangelize all nations; this commission can be perfectly fulfilled only by bringing every dweller on earth under the saving power of his gospel; and whatever subserves the purification of his church, the spread of his truth, or the conversion of men either in Christian or pagan lands, is a handmaid to their sacred work.
Such an auxiliary is the cause of peace. It would exert a benign influence on ministers themselves. Its spirit would improve their character, and greatly increase their usefulness. A temper, too nearly allied to that which kindles the strife of nations, has in almost every age wasted no small part of their energies in mutual conflict. The spirit of peace, constantly pervading them all, would have doubled, if not quadrupled, their success in winning souls to Christ.
A similar effect it would produce on private Christians. It would elevate their entire character, and qualify them to become far more successful co-workers with God in the salvation of mankind. It would heal open dissensions, allay secret animosities, and thus prepare many a church, long barren and desolate, for precious seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The war-spirit in Christians has sadly marred their character, grieved away the Spirit of God, and probably destroyed more than half their capacity of usefulness to the souls of men.
Glance at the opposition of war to the work of salvation in Christian lands. It turns attention away from the concerns of the soul. It disqual. ifies men for a saving reception of the gospel. It opposes a thousand obstacles or neutralizing influences. It generates ignorance and infidelity. It occasions a general disregard and contempt of all religion. It is a vast hotbed of intemperance. It reeks with the foulest licentiousness. It multiplies every species of vice and crime.
War also withholds the means of grace. The four millions of soldiers now in Christendom, it deprives even in peace of nearly all religious privileges. It gives them no Bible; it allows them no Sabbath ; it provides for them no sanctuary; it does not even insure to them the rights of conscience. It treats them as so many brutes or machines.
War tends, likewise, to destroy the efficacy of the best means of grace. It blinds or steels mankind against their power. It debases the understanding, and sears the conscience, and turns the heart into flint, and hardens the whole soul against the truth and Spirit of God. Could you, with any hope of success, preach the gospel to men all ablaze with the passions of war? As well might you think of reaping a harvest from seed sown upon an ocean of fire. War is the work of demons incarnate; a battle is a temporary hell; and could you make the whole earth one vast
battle-field, it would thus become an outer court, a portico to perdition. Kindle the war-flame in every bosom; and from that moment must the work of salvation cease every where; nor ever could it begin again, till those fires were more or less quenched.
The case is plain. Does not war engross and exasperate the public mind? Are not its fleets and armies so many caldrons of wrath boiling with animosity, malevolence and revenge? Does it not cover the land with a sort of moral malaria infecting more or less the life-blood of almost every soul ? Does it not pour over empires a gulf-stream of the foulest vices, and the fiercest passions? Does it not accumulate a mass of abominations that drive the Holy Spirit from his work of renewing and sanctifying the hearts of men ? Let the war-cry ring from Maine to Florida, from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains ; let the bitter, reckless strife of war-parties divide, exasperate and convulse this whole nation; let the war-spirit pervade our halls of legislation, and our seminaries of learning, every church and family, every pulpit, periodical and newspaper ; let recruiting rendezvous in every considerable town, and encampments of soldiers in every section, and war-ships anchored in our harbors, and armies marching in every direction through the country, and battle-fires lighted among our hills and valleys, and every mail filled with news of victory or defeat, conspire to keep the public mind continually stretched to its utmost tether of interest in the progress of the war; and how soon would the Spirit of God fly from such “realms of noise and strife,” to return no more for years!
The history of Christendom furnishes ample, humiliating proof of these positions. The wars of the Reformation, destroying no less than thirty millions of lives, put a stop to the progress of that glorious reform which Luther had so nobly begun. A like result followed more or less the religious wars in England and Scotland. The blessed revivals in our own country, commencing in 1739 under the labors of Whitefield, came to an end at the outbreaking of the first French war in 1744; and from that time till long after the close of our revolutionary contest, those heaven-sent refreshings were, “ like angel visits, few and far between.” The degeneracy of New England, greatly accelerated by those wars, has continued to this day; and never, till the millennium, will even the land of the Pilgrims regain those moral and religious habits which she had in the halcyon days of her forefathers.
Scarcely less fatal is war to the spread of Christianity. It exhausts the resources of the church; and already has she lost in this way a far greater amount of treasure and of blood than would have been requisite under God for the world's conversion. The war-system of Christendom absorbs even in peace not much less than $1,000,000,000 every year. In our war with the Seminoles, every Indian, killed or captured, must have cost us an average of ten or fifteen thousand dollars! Our revolutionary war required on both sides an expenditure of not less than $1,000,000,000, the incidental losses must have been still greater; yet, if only equal, the bare interest at five per cent on the aggregate would bring an annual income of $100,000,000; one half, perhaps one third, of which would sustain all the thirty thousand missionaries necessary, according to the estimate of Gordon Hall, to evangelize the world! Our contest for independence sacrificed 300,000 lives; the wars of Napoleon, more than 5,000,000; all the wars consequent on the French Revolution no less than 9,000,000! How small a fraction of such sacrifices of life would be demanded in the work of preaching the gospel to every creature!
Glance at the effect of this custom among ourselves on the heathen. It has filled them with prejudices well nigh invincible. They have got their views of Christianity, not from her Bible, not from her missionaries,
not from any of her real votaries, but from the history of Christendom written in blood, or from fleets and armies sent under Christian banners to burn their villages, plunder their cities, and ravage whole empires with fire and sword. They regard Christianity as a religion of blood, and its followers as aiming solely at conquest, plunder and power. Its pretensions of peace they spurn as base, arrant hypocrisy. Its name rings in their ear as the knell of their own ruin. They hate it, they scorn it, they dread it, they arm themselves against it; all because the wars of Christendom have belied its real character. All other causes put together, except depravity, have scarcely thrown so many obstacles in the way of evangelizing the world; and never, till this chief obstruction is removed, can you construct a great moral railway on which the car of salvation shall roll in triumph over the whole earth.
There is no end to considerations like these; but we cannot pause here to show you how far the practice of war is now crippling the moral energies of the church; – how it debases her character in the sight of man and of God; — how it hangs upon her bosom like a mammoth incubus ; – how many ages it has already put back the promised day of a world's salvation;
; - or how impossible it will be, so long as it is tolerated among Christians, for the millennium ever to come!
Now, if there is any truth in these statements, is it not high time for the ministers of Christ to bestir themselves in earnest on this long-neglected, momentous subject? Charged with the care of souls, will they not set themselves in every possible way against such a wholesale destroyer of mankind for eternity? Sent forth on the godlike enterprise of bringing all nations back to holiness and heaven, can they overlook the claims of a cause so closely linked, so completely identified with the salvation of our world?
IV. ABILITY OF MINISTERS TO PROMOTE THE CAUSE OF PEACE.
The influence of the clergy is proverbial. Their character, their office, their relations to society, all arm them with a vast amount of moral power. Their talents and knowledge, their mental discipline, their skill in the arts of logic and eloquence, their high repute for virtue, piety and benevolence, enable them to give tone to public sentiment on all moral and religious subjects.
Such is the design, such the effect of their office. God has appointed them as spiritual guides to his people. They are the moral guardians of the community. They are pioneers of truth, righteousness and salvation. They are chosen for the very purpose of moulding opinion and character to the will of God. And they have the best facilities for this purpose. They speak in God's name, on God's day, from God's word. They can reach the individual and the general conscience. They are welcomed to the bridal throng, to the quiet fireside, to the sick chamber, to the bed of death, to the group of weeping mourners. Almost every mind is open more or less to their influence. They have the ear of parents and teachers; and these are scattering, thick and fast, the seeds of character through the community. They have access to the mother's heart; and her children will reflect the form and hue of her own image. Old and young, high and low, male and female, come every week, if not every day, under their influence. They touch the great main-springs of the moral world. Their influence is felt in the farthest and minutest ramifications of society. They wield in the gospel an instrument of vast power over the understanding, conscience and heart. They are the chief depositaries of moral power; they hold in their hand the helm and the main-spring of nearly all the instrumentalities employed for the spiritual renovation of
mankind ; and, without their coöperation, no enterprise of benevolence or reform can ever work its way to complete success.
We appeal to the past and the present. Who disenthralled half a continent from papal bondage? Who roused the mass of British minds to crush slavery and the slave-trade? Who led the van in the cause of missions, of temperance, and every kindred work? Who are still the chief agents in sustaining all the great moral enterprises of the day? We challenge you to show us one that has reached any considerable degree of success without their hearty and zealous coöperation.
The cause of peace is equally under their control. As messengers of the Spirit of peace, it is peculiarly their own; its fate under God is in their hands; and it is obviously in their power to set and keep at work a train of influences sufficient to extirpate war from every Christian land. Let them gird themselves in earnest for this work; let them pray, and plan, and toil for it as one of the main objects of their ministry ; let them concentrate upon it their utmost energies, and use aright every means within their reach ; let them all unite as one man in this blessed cause, and make every pulpit on earth echo the Sermon on the Mount; and ere long would they revolutionize the war-sentiments of all Christendom, and put an end forever to its trade of robbery and blood.
V. How MINISTERS MAY AID THE CAUSE OF PEACE. If ministers of the gospel would render this cause any essential service, they must qualify themselves for the work. They must take a deep interest in it as an element of the gospel, and a part of the instrumentali. ties requisite for the world's conversion. They must imbue their own minds with the spirit of peace, and study the Bible until their views are fully settled on this subject.
No wonder at the apathy of ministers who pay no attention to this cause. We would scarcely give a fig for all that such men will ever do to advance it. Can we expect them to write, or preach, or converse upon a subject they do not understand ? Can they understand what they have never examined, nor ever will examine? Will they plead for an object whose importance they never felt? Will they labor for a cause they neither value nor love? Here is the explanation of nearly all that indifference about the cause of peace which is so disgraceful to many a reputed minister of Christ. They do not understand it? And will they ever understand this or any other subject without examination? Their views are not settled upon it! And do they expect or desire to settle them without inquiry? But they do not feel a sufficient interest! And how are they to acquire such an interest? By continuing to neglect the whole sub
ject? How did you become a friend, an advocate, a champion of the temperance or the missionary cause? You read; you conversed; you reflected; you prayed; you wrought it into your very soul, and made it a part of yourself
. Do the same in the cause of peace; and you will ere long have such views of its importance, such a conviction of its claims, such strong desires for its speedy and universal success, as will never let you sleep over it again.
Numberless are the ways in which ministers could serve this cause. They might introduce this subject into seminaries of learning, ecclesiastical bodies, and religious publications. These are the great centres of moral influence; and the main-springs at work here, are mostly in the hands of Christian ministers, and might be so wielded as ere long to exorcise the war-spirit from all Christendom. — Our seminaries are nearly all under their management or influence; and they might, if they would, make every one of them a nursery of peace to train up a generation of