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I now come to another essential element of a nation's honour; and that is, the existence of institutions which tend, and are designed, to elevate all classes of its citizens. As it is the improved character of a people which alone gives it an honourable place in the world, its dignity is to be measured chiefly by the extent and efficiency of its provisions and establishments for national improvement-for spreading education far and wide-for purifying morals and refining manners-for enlightening the ignorant and succouring the miserable—for building up intellectual and moral power, and breathing the spirit of true religion. The degree of aid given to the individual in every condition, for unfolding his best powers, determines the rank of a nation. Mere wealth adds nothing to a people's glory :—it is the nation's soul which constitutes its greatness. Nor is it enough for a country to possess a select class of educated, cultivated men; for the nation consists of the many, not the few; and where the mass are sunk in ignorance and sensuality, there you see a degraded community, even though an aristocracy of science be lodged in its bosom. It is the moral and intellectual progress of the people, to which the patriot should devote himself
as the only dignity and safeguard of the state. How needed this truth! În all ages, nations have imagined that they were glorifying themselves by triumphing over foreign foes, whilst at home they have been denied every ennobling institution ; have been trodden under foot by tyranny, defrauded of the most sacred rights of humanity, enslaved by superstition, buried in ignorance, and cut off from all the means of rising to the dignity of men. They have thought that they were exalting themselves, in fighting for the very despots who ground them in the dust. Such
has been the common notion of national honour ; nor is it yet effaced. How many among ourselves are unable to stifle their zeal for our honour as a people, who never spent a thought on the institutions and improvements which ennoble a community, and whose character and examples degrade and taint their country, as far as their influence extends.
I have now given you the chief elements of national honour; and a people cherishing these can hardly be compelled to resort to war. I shall be told, however, that an enlightened and just people, though less exposed to hostilities, may still be wronged, insulted, and endangered; and I shall be asked, if in such a case its honour do not require it to repel injury_if submission be not disgrace? I answer, that a nation which submits to wrong from timidity, or a sordid love of ease or gain, forfeits its claim to respect. A faint-hearted, self-indulgent people, cowering under menace, shrinking from peril, and willing to buy repose by tribute or servile concession, deserves the chains which it cannot escape. But to bear much and long from a principle of humanity, from reverence for the law of love, is noble; and nothing but moral blindness and degradation induce men to see higher glory in impatience of injury and quickness to resent.
Still I may be asked, whether a people, however forbearing, may not sometimes owe it to its own dignity and safety, to engage in war? I answer, yes. When the spirit of justice, humanity, and forbearance, instead of spreading peace, provokes fresh outrage, this outrage must be met and repressed by force. I know that many sincere Christians oppose to this doctrine the precept of Christ, · Resist not evil. But Christianity is wronged and its truth exposed to strong objections, when these and the like precepts are literally construed. The whole legislation of Christ is intended to teach us the spirit from which we should act, not to lay down rules for outward conduct. The precept, Resist not evil,' if practised to the letter, would annihilate all government in the family and the state; for it is the great work of government to resist evil passions and evil deeds. It is, indeed, our duty, as Christians, to love our worst enemy and to desire his true good; but we are to love not only our enemy, but our families, friends, and country, and to take a wise care of our own rights and happiness; and when we abandon to the violence of a wrong-doer these fellow-beings and these rights, commended by God to our love and care, we are plainly wanting in that expanded benevolence which Christianity de mands. A nation then may owe it to its welfare and dignity to engage in war; and its honour demands that it should meet the trial with invincible resolution. It ought, at such a moment, to dismiss all fear, except the fear of its own passions—the fear of the crimes to which the exasperations and sore temptations of public hostilities expose a state.
I have admitted that a nation's honour may require its citizens to engage in war; but it requires them to engage in it wiselywith a full consciousness of rectitude, and with unfeigned sor
On no other conditions does war comport with national dignity; and these deserve a moment's attention. A people must engage in war wisely; for rashness is dishonourable, especially in so solemn and tremendous a concern. A nation must propose a wise end in war; and this remark is the more important, because the end or object which, according to common speech, a people is bound by its honour to propose, is generally disowned by wisdom. How common it is to hear, that the honour of a nation requires it to seek redress of grievances reparation of injuries. * Now, as a general rule, war does not and cannot repair injuries. Instead of securing compensation for past evils, it almost always multiplies them. As a general rule, a nation loses incomparably more by war than it has previously lost by the wrong-doer. Suppose, for example, a people
to have been spoiled by another state of five millions of dol lars. To recover this by war, it must expend fifty or a hundred millions more, and will, almost certainly, come forth from the contest burthened with debt. Nor is this all. It loses more than wealth. It loses many lives. Now life and property are not to be balanced against each other. If a nation, by slaying a single innocent man, could possess itself of the wealth of worlds, it would have no right to destroy him for that cause alone. A human being cannot be valued by silver and gold; and of consequence a nation can never be authorized to sacrifice or expose thousands of lives, for the mere recovery
of property of which it has been spoiled. To secure compensation for the past is very seldom a sufficient object for war. The true end is, security for the future. An injury inflicted by one nation on another may manifest a lawless, hostile spirit, from which, if unresisted, future and increasing outrages are to be feared, which would embolden other communities in wrongdoing, and against which neither property, nor life, nor liberty, would be secure. To protect a state from this spirit of violence and unprincipled aggression, is the duty of rulers; and protection may be found only in war. Here is the legitimate occasion and the true end of an appeal to arms. Let me ask you to apply this rule of wisdom to a case, the bearings of which will be easily seen. Suppose, then, an injury to have been inflicted on us by a foreign nation a quarter of a century ago. Suppose it to have been inflicted by a government which has fallen through its lawlessness, and which can never be restored. Suppose this injury to have been followed, during this long period, by not one hostile act, and not one sign of a hostile spirit. Suppose a disposition to repair it to be expressed by the head of the new government of the injurious nation; and suppose further, that our long endurance has not exposed us to a single insult from any other power since the general pacification of Europe. Under these circumstances, can it be pretended, with
show of reason, that threatened wrong, or that future security, requires us to bring upon ourselves and the other nation the horrors and miseries of war? Does not wisdom join with humanity in reprobating such a conflict ?
I have said that the honour of a nation requires it to engage in a war for a wise end. I add, as a more important rule, that its dignity demands of it to engage in no conflict without a full consciousness of rectitude. It must not appeal to arms for doubtful rights. It must not think it enough to establish a probable claim. The true principle for a nation, as for an individual, is, that it will suffer rather than do wrong. It should prefer being injured to the hazard of doing injury. To secure to itself this full consciousness of rectitude, a nation should always desire to refer its disputes to an impartial umpire. It cannot too much distrust its own judgment in its own cause. That same selfish partiality which blinds the individual to the claims of a rival or foe, and which has compelled society to substitute public and disinterested tribunals for private war, disqualifies nations, more or less, to determine their own rights, and should lead them to seek a more dispassionate decision.
The great idea which should rise to the mind of a country on meditating war, is rectitude. In declaring war, it should listen only to the voice of duty. To resolve on the destruction of our fellow-creatures without a command from conscience a commission from God—is to bring on a people a load of infamy and crime. A nation, in declaring war, should be lifted above its passions by the fearfulness and solemnity of the act. It should appeal with unfeigned confidence to Heaven and earth for its uprightness of purpose. It should go forth as the champion of truth and justice, as the minister of God, to vindicate and sus. tain that great moral and national law, without which life has no security, and social improvements no defence. It should be inspired with invincible courage, not by its passions, but by the dignity and holiness of its cause. Nothing in the whole compass of legislation is so solemn as a declaration of war. By nothing do a people incur such tremendous responsibility.
Unless justly waged, war involves a people in the guilt of murder. The state, which, without the command of justice and God, sends out fleets and armies to slaughter fellow-creatures, must answer for the blood it sheds, as truly as the assassin for the death of his victim. Oh, how loudly does the voice of blood cry to Heaven from the field of battle! Undoubtedly, the men whose names have come down to us with the loudest shouts of ages, stand now before the tribunal of eternal justice condemned as murderers; and the victories which have been thought to encircle a nation with glory, have fixed the same brand on multitudes in the sight of the final and Almighty Judge. How essential is it to a nation's honour that it should engage in war with a full conviction of rectitude !
But there is one more condition of an honourable war. А nation should engage in it with unfeigned sorrow.
It should beseech the throne of grace with earnest supplication, that the dreadful office of destroying fellow-beings may not be imposed on it. War concentrates all the varieties of human misery, and a nation which can inflict these without sorrow, contracts deeper infamy than from cowardice. It is essentially barbarous ; and will be looked back upon by more enlightened and Christian ages, with the horror with which we recal the atrocities of savage tribes. Let it be remembered that the calamities of war, its slaughter, famine and desolation, instead of being confined to its criminal authors, fall chiefly on multitudes who have had no share in provoking and no voice in proclaiming it; and let
not a nation talk of its honour, which has no sympathy with these woes, which is steeled to the most terrible sufferings of humanity.
I have now spoken, my friends, of the sentiments with which war should be regarded. Is it so regarded? When recently the suggestion of war was thrown out to this people, what reception did it meet? Was it viewed at once in the light in which a Christian nation should immediately and most earnestly consider it? Was it received as a proposition to slaughter thousands of our fellow-creatures ? Did we feel as if threatened with a calamity more fearful than earthquakes, famine, or pestilence? The blight which might fall on our prosperity, drew attention; but the thought of devoting as a people, our power and resources to the destruction of mankind, of those whom a common nature, whom reason, conscience, and Christianity command us to love and save, did this thrill us with horror ? Did the solemn enquiry break forth through our land, is the dreadful necessity indeed laid upon us to send abroad death and woe ? No. There was little manifestation of the sensibility, with which men and Christians should look such an evil in the face. As a people, we are still seared and blinded to the crimes and miseries of war. The principles of honour, to which the barbarism and infatuation of dark ages gave birth, prevail among us. The generous, merciful spirit of our religion is little understood. The law of love, preached from the cross and written in the blood of the Saviour, is trampled on by public men. The true dignity of man, which consists in breathing and cherishing God's spirit of justice and philanthropy towards every human being, is counted folly in comparison with that spirit of vindictiveness and self-aggrandizement, which turns our earth into an image of the abodes of the damned. How long will the friends of humanity, of religion, of Christ, silently, passively, uncomplainingly, suffer the men of this world, the ambitious, vindictive and selfish, to array them against their brethren in conflicts which they condemn and abhor ? Shall not truth, humanity, and the mild and holy spirit of Christianity, find a voice to rebuke . and awe the wickedness which precipitates nations into war, and to startle and awaken nations to their fearful responsibility in taking arms against the children of their Father in heaven? Prince of Peace! Saviour of men! Speak in thine own voice of love, power, and fearful warning; and redeem the world for which thou hast died, from lawless and cruel passions, from the spirit of rapine and murder, from the powers of darkness and hell!
* Reprinted from the second Boston cdition, and may be had, price 6d., in a cover, of the Publisher and Printer,