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There are a few other objections drawn from the gospel, which I have not known to be advanced for many years; but as they may come up again, I think it best to give them a passing notice.
1. One of them is the expression of Christ concerning the centurion who came to him requesting him to beal a servant. Christ said of the centurion, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” It has been argued from this, that Jesus did not disapprove of the occupation of the Roman soldier. To this it may be answered,-1. That the commendation of Christ was on the faith of the centurion in the ability and willingness of Jesus to heal an absent person barely by his word, and not on his profession. Rahab, the barlot of Jericho, was commended by Paul for her faith, manifested in receiving the spies; but I never heard that any one justified her profession on that account, though there would be as good a reason as our opponents have. 2. The Messiah did not directly interfere with the existing relations of society. He left polygamy, slavery, war, and a thousand other sins without any pointed rebuke; but he established principles, that, if applied, will ultimately destroy them all. It is our duty to make that application. 3. If Christ was silent as to the profession of the centurion, so he was as to his religion; and the Roman soldier was without doubt an idolater. 4. If the silence of our Saviour on the occupation of the centurion would justify any war, it would also justify the cruel, unjust and unprovoked wars of the Roman armies, of which the centurion was a part.
2. Another objection is founded on the case of Cornelius, another centurion, to whom Peter was sent to impart the gospel to him. It is said that it is no where recorded in Scripture that be quitted the profession of arms. We answer, 1. That many publicans and harlots were also converted; but it is not recorded that they quitted their occupation. We have however good reason to conclude that they did ; and we have as good reason to conclude that Cornelius did, as that Rabab did, or any harlot or publican, after they came to a knowledge of the truth ; but nothing is expressly stated in one case more than in another. 2. The fourth answer in the preceding paragraph is equally applicable here.
3. Another objection is, “ Christ paid tribute-money to the Roman emperor, and thereby supported his wars, which he would not have done, if war were contrary to his religion.” To this it may be answered, that though a part of the tribute-money went to support the Roman armies in carrying on their cruel, unjust and rapacious wars of conquest, a part also went to support the voluptuous vices of the Roman emperors, gladiatorial shows, and the worship of idols. If this objection would justify one of these uses of the tribute-money, it would also justify the others.
Excuses for WAR.-Its advocates often cull out extreme cases to justify it; but they might as well justify lying, because it may save lite or property. They justify war, because God has sometimes overruled it for good; but they might as well justify assassination, because tyrants have sometimes been removed by such means; or the slave trade, because it has brought some Africaus into a saving acquaintance with the gospel; or duelling, because it has sometimes saved the state the expense of a halter.
SKETCHES OF WAR.
1. MORALS OF SOLDIERS. “ You would not be surprised," says a correspondent of the Charlestoo Observer in Florida, under date of March 22, “ that the Lord has scourged our territory, if you could behold the awful boldness and universal dominion of sin-how wickedness doth indeed bear herself aloft in high places. You would not wonder that our armies have been so inefficient and often defeated, if you could see the materials of which they are constituted; if you could witness the drunkenness and debauchery from the general to the private, and hear them strive to outvie each other in uttering the most horrid imprecations and blasphemy, and ridiculing every thing like religion.”
In 1380, an expedition was fitted out to aid in the wars of Bretagne. The English troops lay for some time near Portsmouth, wind-bound, and waiting for provisions. They ill-treated the country around, forcibly carrying off men's wives and daughters. Among other outrages, Sir John Arundell, the commander, went to a nunnery, and desired that his troops might be allowed to visit them! This being refused, they entered by violence, and on their departure compelled the nuns to go with them. A storm came on, when those unhappy females were thrown into the sea by the very persons who had forced them to embark! The greater part of the fleet was lost on the coast of Ireland; the leader with a thousand of his men perished. Froissart relates, that the French troops, prepared for the invasion of England, were equally profligate in their conduct.
Yet such are the men called heroes; the men whom patriotic orators eulogize as the guardians and glory of a nation ; the men wbom even Christian communities heedlessly regard as having gone through pollution and blood to the realms of celestial purity and love; the men to whom civilized, Christian women present banners, compliments and caresses!
2. Spirit of private warriors.— The duel fought more than a year ago between Key and Sherburne, midshipmen in the United States navy, originated in a dispute about the relative speed of two steamboats ! Warm words ensued; the lie direct was bandied; Key challenged his companion; and at length the parties, both under twenty years of age, met about two miles from the capitol in Washington with such haste that they omitted to procure surgeons. Key fell; Sherburne advanced to offer the dying victim his hand; but it was indignantly rejected, with the exclamation, “ Leave me, leave me; for, though dying, I scorn and detest you."
Similar was the spirit of the contest between Francis and Raleigh Osbaldistone. “ Torment me not," said the wounded man; “I know no assistance can avail me. I am a dying man.” He raised hiinself in his chair, although the damps and form of death were already on his brow, and he spoke with a fierceness which seemed
THE WAR SPIRIT.
beyond his strength. “Cousin Francis,” he said, “ draw near me.” I approached him as he requested. “I wish you only to know, that the pangs of death do not alter one iota of my feelings towards you. I hate you!” he said, -the expression of rage throwing a horrid glare over his countenance,—"I hate you with a hatred as intense now, whilst I lie bleeding before you, as if my foot trod on your neck.”
In a moment after he had uttered this frightful wish, he fell back into the chair; his eyes became glazed, his limbs stiffened; but the grin and glare of mortal hatred survived even the last gasp of life! Unfortunate, reckless young man! He left a mother's fond embrace and a sister's soft kiss, at two o'clock; at nine, his lifeless and bloody corpse was conveyed to the family mansion, to tell that he fell a victim at the shrine of false honor !
Two men, Naylor and Brounaugh, recently got into a quarrel in New Orleans, and posted each other as “swindlers, liars and scoundrels." At length, they accidently met in a bar-room ; and, atter some angry words, they both drew pistols, and fired at the distance of only three or four paces apart. Two balls entered the side of the chest of Naylor, one of which passed through his heart; he fell and expired in a few minutes afterwards. Brounaugh received Naylor's ball in bis groin ; and while in the act of falling, he received another ball from a third pistol, fired by a friend of Naylor's, which passed through Brounaugh’s body, who fainted and fell, and was thought to be dead. Naylor only spoke one or two words after he fell. Some one exclaimed, as Brounaugh fell, he is dead. “Who is dead ?' faltered Naylor. “Brounaugh, replied a spectator. · Huzza! huzza!' feebly articulated Naylor, who expired in ten minutes afterwards.
Spirit of self-defence characteristic of the old man rather than the new.In one of our seaports, a gentleman not long ago gave a peace tract to a minister of gigantic stature, whose frame would have furnished an excellent model for a statuary carving an image of Hercules. He appeared glad of the tract, and said he had always been a friend of peace, and came sometimes near being mobbed for his anti-war principles. He said he had once held a long argument with an aged minister on the subject of self-defence. His opponent asked a question, which is frequently repeated, and which seems to be the very citadel to which the defenders of the lawfulness of defensive war generally retreat, when hard pressed by scripture argument. The question was, Suppose I should meet you, spit in your face, or smite you on the cheek; what would you do ?” “Why, if the Lord Jesus Christ reigned in my heart, you would be in no danger; but if the old man should get the upper hand, and M-k F-d should be there instead of Jesus Christ, the Lord have mercy on you. I should advise you, sir, not to try.” This argumentum ad hominem settled the question at once.
Spirit of war in contrast with that of the gospel.—A few Cherokees who had been converted to Christianity, formed themselves into a society for the propagation of that gospel which was now so dear to them. The sum collected the first year was about ten dollars; and the question was, to what particular object it should be devoted. At length, a poor woman proposed that it should be given to promote the circulation of the gospel among the Osages; " for the Bible," said she, “ bids us do good to our enemies; and I believe the Osages are the greatest enemies the Cherokees have.”
Nearly all American Christians have read the story of the little Osage captive. As Dr. Cornelius was riding through the wilderness of tbe west, he met a party of Indian warriors just returning from one of their excursions of fire and blood. One of these warriors of fierce and fiend-like aspect, led a child of five years of age, whom they had taken captive. “Where are the parents of this child ?" said Dr. Cornelius. “Here they are,” replied the savage warrior, as with one hand he exhibited the bloody scalps of a man and a woman, and with the other brandished his tomahawk in all the exultation of gratified revenge.
That same warrior is now a disciple of Jesus Christ, a humble man of piety and prayer. His tomahawk is laid aside; and it never again will be crimsoned with the blood of his fellow-men. His wife is a member of the same church with himself; and their united prayer ascends, morni and evening, from the family altar. Their daughters are the amiable, humble and devoted followers of the blessed Redeemer, training up under the influence of a father's and a mother's prayers, for the society of angels and archangels, cheruhim and seraphim.
“Do you remember,” said an Indian convert to a missionary, “that a few years ago, a party of warriors came to the vicinity of the tribe to whom you preach, and, pretending friendship, invited the chief of the tribe to hold a talk with them?” “Yes,” replied the missionary, “ I remember it very well.” “ Do you remember, that the chief, fearing treachery, instead of going himself, sent one of his warriors to hold the talk?” “ Yes.” “And do you remember," proceeded the Indian, “ that the warrior never returned, but was murdered by those who, with promises of friendship, had led him into their spare ?" “I remember it all very well.” Well,” the Indian continued weeping with emotion, “I was one of that band of warriors. As soon as our victim was in the midst of us, we fell upon him with our tomahawks, and cut him to pieces.” This man is now one of the most influential members of the Christian church, and reflects with horror upon those scenes in which he formerly exulted. He is now giving his influence and his prayers, that there may be glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good-will among men.
3. HORRORS OF WAR. Singular sufferer.-A memoir was read at a recent session of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, detailing some curious facts in the life of a man who was twice buried alive. M. Morel was a lieutenant in the army of Egypt, and at the memorable battle of St. Jean d'Acre, he had both his thighs broken by a grape shot. When he had nearly recovered from the effects of this wound, he was attacked with the plague, and conveyed to the hospital, where he grew worse rapidly, lost all sensation, was pronounced dead, and with a number of corpses of those, who had died of the same disease, he was thrown into a ditch. Soon after, one of the soldiers on guard in that vicinity, was much astonished at seeing one of the dead men standing bolt upright! He hastened to his assistance, and Morel was again conveyed to the hospital. In a few days after, he was again attacked with a fit of lethargy, and believed to be dead. This time he was wrapped in a linen cloth, and buried in the sand. In the night, a high wind arose, which displaced the sand that covered his body, and caused the unfortunate man to awake. He tore off his winding sheet,
and crept toward the hospital, where he remained a long time before he recovered his general health ; but he did not recover the faculties of speech or hearing until several years after he entered the Hospital of Invalids at Avignon. He is now sixty-seven years old, and has the aspect of a decrepid old woman, being hardly able to walk.
Monument of human bones.—The celebrated De Lamartine, on his return from a visit to the Holy Land in 1833, whilst approaching Servia, the last town on the Turkish frontier, says, “I saw a tower rising in the midst of the plain, as white as Parian marble. I sat under its shade to enjoy a few moments' repose. No sooner was I seated, than raising my eyes to the monument, I discovered that these walls, which I supposed to be built of marble, or white stone, were composed of regular rows of human skulls, bleached by the rain and sun, and cemented by a little sand and lime, formed entirely the triumphal arch which sheltered me from the heat of the sun. A number of Turkish horsemen, who had come from Nesse to escort us into town, informed me, that the skulls were of those fifteen thousand Servians, who had been put to death by the Pacha in the last insurrection of Servia.”
Shooting a deserter.—“Shortly we reached the ground, where,” says Campbell, writing from Algiers, “the French deserter's fate was to be enacted. We took our stand on the top of the lime-rocks, wbilst the troops, one thousand in number, formed three-fourths of a square on the plain beneath. At last, from the prison-gate came forth a company, their drums muffled with crape, and the victim in the centre on foot, followed by the horse and cart that were to carry back his dead body. He was quite unchained, and had no priest with him. At first they beat a slow march; but we saw him wave his hand to the drummers, and understood that it was a signal for them to beat quick time, which they did, whilst I dare say more hearts than my own, quickened their pulsation. When they halted on the fatal spot, the commanding officer pulled out a paper, the sentence of death, and read it with a loud and stern voice. Every syllable that be uttered was audible, though we stood at a considerable distance.
Meanwbile the sufferer took his station with his back to the limestone, and with twelve musketeers, who were to be his executioners, in front of him. His air was free and resolute, and his step was manly, as I remarked it to have been all the way down from the prison. He threw away the cigar he had been smoking, and I could see its red end fading into blackness, like a foregoiny symbol of his life's extinction. He then made his last speech, with a voice that was certainly not so audible as that of his sentence had been ; but, considering his situation, it was very firm, and its plaintiveness was more piercingly and terribly touching than I ever heard from buman lips.
"Comrades, what my sentence of death has told you is all true, except that it has unjustly called me the chief conspirator in this late desertion. For I seduced nobody into it; on the contrary, I was persuaded into it by others. The motive of my crime was merely an intense desire to see my father's family in Italy; and now my heart's blood is to be shed, and my brains are to be scattered on the ground, because my heart yearned for a sight of my brothers and sisters! Soldiers who are to shoot me, do your duty quickly, and do not keep me in torment.'