Images de page

honour; while they are deciding against the man who unjustly pleads a title to another's lands, the State may embark in a war, whose real object, (under the mask of precaution or reparation) is aggrandisement, by the conquest of a neighbouring territory; while they are guarding the property of the subject from illegal, private, or corporate claims, the State may undertake a contest, whose secret spring is, the desire of certain individuals for increased patronage, and of certain classes for military or fiscal appointments, at the cost of general and oppressive taxation. These unjust impulses and acts of war have existed, and may exist, more or less, even under the best actual Government, since, from a despotism to democracy, and through every mixed and intermediate form, it is certain that the majority of men, and perhaps the still greater majority of statesmen, have not yet been influenced by truly Christian principles; and it is, therefore, morally certain, that the evil passions of our nature must frequently, not to say generally, affect the public measures. This fact deserves attention, because it is a full answer to those who may say, "Your reasoning is correct, for the Christians who live under a despotic or democratic form of Government; but we, who live under a Constitution founded and administered in justice, need not hesitate to give our unlimited service to the State." I admit cordially the superior excellence of our Constitution; but it surely cannot need proof, that this State, like all others in the world, is, and has been, ever liable to be plunged into wars whichno consistent Christian can regard as just.

"On these grounds, I think it evident that no such Christian, no one who is fully enlightened in the spirit of his religion, can become a military person, at the full disposal of any state. Very far, indeed, am I from sopposing that there are no true Christians in that profession; on the contrary, it is impossible to doubt


(since we have the strongest evidence of the fact) that there have been dis→ tinguished examples of piety in it, and we have every reason to believe that there still are such: but I must regard their approval of unlimitedmilitary service as an erroneous view of Christian duty, since I cannot see how a Christian can justify himself in actively aiding measures and enterprises that are unchristian. But it cannot be doubted, that he is always liable to the necessity of doing so,, a member of a body which is placed at the entire disposal of a state, and obliged to act mechanically at its command. To place himself under such an engagement is not consonant to the spirit of his religion, nor to the moral liberty of man, and the proper ends of government. It may, indeed, be said in defence of unlimited service, He who bears arms for the state, is, in this character or office, merely an instrument, and, as such, not accountable. The military officer, or soldier, though they may be liable to aid or execute acts of injustice, are blameless, while acting under a lawful authority. And, besides this, the common soldier is necessarily a mere instrument, from his ignorance of the rules of political justice, and total incapacity of deciding on the merits of the service in which he is engaged, so that he escapes moral responsibility in two ways; by a defect of know ledge, as well as by devolving it, like his superiors, on the government which they serve. The criminality, if any, rests wholly with that supreme autho rity which devises and directs the wrong.' I answer-But every man who bears the name of a Christian, is a subject of that revealed law of God which forbids all wrong. He cannot, when invited or summoned to become a soldier, without due limitation of service, convert himself, before enter ing on such an engagement, into an irresponsible mechanical instrument, like the bayonet which he is to wear, or the cannon which he is to point. If he has seen or heard the precepts of

the Decalogue and of the New Testament, he cannot annul the moral obligation to obey them, though he may be insensible or regardless of it."

Such sentiments as these, if universally received, could not fail, I apprehend, to annihilate the practice of war; for those who would engage themselves only to fight, consistently with the sacred obligations of Christianity, would be very unfit agents for carrying into effect the purposes and practices of human destruction. Happy will it be for the world if even Mr.Shep

[blocks in formation]


An interesting account of the formation of this Society was inserted in our last Volume, page 121; and we also gave (p. 154) a brief but excellent Address which emanated from it. With great pleasure do we avail ourselves of the present opportunity for again introducing it to the notice of our readers, by copying the following statement of the proceedings at its first Anniversary.

Proceedings of the First Anniversary Meeting of the Bath Auxiliary Peace Society, holden on Friday Feb. 23, 1821;

HENRY WANSEY, Esq. in the Chair. THE Report of the Committee was presented by William Davis, Esq. to the Chairman; who requested the Secretary, Mr. George Wood, to read

the same.

The following Resolutions were then unanimously adopted:

Moved by Rev. J. P. Porter, seconded by Rev. T. Mallalieu-1. That an account of the Proceedings of the Meeting at which this Society was established, with the Report of the Committee now read, and the audited account, be printed and distributed, under the direction of the Committee. Moved by Rev. M. Maurice, seconded by W. Davis, Esq.-2. That this Meeting congratulate the Parent Society on the extended influence of those pure and pacific principles for the diffusion of which it was expressly instituted; and they trust that the

measure of success which has been already vouchsafed to the Society, will operate as an incitement to increased exertion.

Moved by T. Isaac, Esq. seconded by Mr. H. Howse 3. That the William Davis, Esq. the Treasurer, thanks of this Meeting be given to and to Mr. George Wood, the Secretary, for their acceptable services; and that they be requested to continue the same.

Moved by Mr. H. Crook, seconded thanks of this Meeting be given to the by Mr. R Godwin 4. That the Members of the Committee, for their objects of the Society, and for their exertions in promoting the important Report now read; and that the following gentlemen be the Committee for the ensuing year, with add to their number, viz. Henry Wansey, Esq. Rev. Thos. Mallalieu Thos. Isaac, Esq. Mr. Henry Crook Mr. Thos. Langdon Mr. Michael Shum

Rev. John Paul Porter



Mr. John Gray
Mr. Joseph Harris
Mr. John Martin
Mr. Jas. Goodden :
Mr. Rich. Godwin
Mr. Henry Howse.

Moved by Mr. J. Martin, seconded by Mr. J. Harris-5. That the cordial thanks of this Meeting be given to Mr. Robert Carpenter, for the continued gratuitous use of a room in his house for the Meetings of the Committee.

Moved by Rev. J. Hunter, seconded by T. Isaac, Esq.-6. That the thanks of this Meeting be given to the Rev. Michael Maurice, of the Bristol Auxiliary Peace Society, for his interesting communications now made; and to other friends from different parts, who have favoured the Meeting with their acceptable company on

this occasion.

The Chairman having left the Chair, it was unanimously resolved, That the cordial thanks of this Meeting be given to Henry Wansey, Esq. for his kindness in taking the chair, and for his able and gentlemanly conduct therein.

First Annual Report of the Bath

Auxiliary Peace Society. YOUR Committee feel peculiar satisfaction in being enabled to commence their Report of the first year's proceedings of the Society, with laying before the Members the following Minute of the Committee of the Parent Society, adopted with reference to the formation of this Auxiliary Society: "COMMITTEE. The proceedings of the Meeting held at Bath on the 25th of February were read; and Mr. Rees is requested to inform the Secretary, that the Bath Auxiliary Society is acknowledged as a Branch of this Society.-The Secretary is requested at the same time to communicate the very great gratification which the Committee have received in perusing the statement of the proceedings at Bath; and that they have been particularly encouraged by the manly and decisive tone of the Resolutions which have been adopted.

"Earl Street, March 10, 1820."

Your Committee would now state, with as much brevity as is consistent with perspicuousness, such particulars as they consider it their duty to submit to the Members.


The means, which have been employed in promoting the objects for which the Society was instituted, have been as ample as the novelty of the principle inculcated, and the inveterate prejudices of early education and confirmed habits, warranted them in expecting. The Subscriptions and Donations received within the year amount to 391. 5s.; and the number of Tracts furnished to Subscribers for circulation is, 1,218. In addition to this primary method of diffusing information, your Committee have printed 500 copies of an Address, illustrative of the general principles of Peace Societies; and at the same time announcing the formation of the Bath Auxiliary, and inviting the co-operation of Christians of every denomination. Of these a considerable number have been distributed. Your Committee have likewise employed the press in minor objects subservient to their design. They have also placed half-bound sets of the Society's Tracts on the tables of the principal Public Libraries, and of the Upper and (late) Kingston Rooms, in this city. In a word, your Committee trust they have fulfilled their delegated duties to the extent of their means and opportunities.

Your Committee gladly avail themselves of this occasion to express their sense of obligation to Mr. Carpenter, for the kind permission which he has given them of gratuitously holding their meetings at his Office in Trimstreet; a feeling in which, they doubt not, every member of the Society will heartily participate.

of the past year is, however, not unA retrospect of the circumstances mingled with mournful recollections. In the month of August the cause of Peace was deprived of a zealous advocate, and the Committee of an efficient member, by the sudden and distressing death of the Rev. John Chamberlain: an event which, from its unlooked-for occurrence, seems aloud to proclaim to those whose existence in this world is held by an T

equally uncertain tenure-" Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave.'

With regard to the degree of success which has attended the circulation of Tracts, &c. your Committee can, on this head, only point with precision to the number of Subscribers, all of whom, it may be fairly presumed, are convinced of the rectitude of the distinguishing principle of the Society. In how many other instances those silent reasoners may have been rendered successful in extirpating deep-rooted errors, become venerable by time, and sanctioned by example, your Committee have not the means of declaring. Nor on this head would they indulge any immoderate anxiety. Satisfied that the cause they advocate is the cause of GoD and of man-that the principles they profess are derived, pure and unadulterated, from the Scriptures of

* The circumstances of Mr. Chamberlain's death are as follows:-About 7 o'clock on Friday evening the 4th of August, Mr. C. left his house to take his accustomed walk; and, in passing through a field in the neighbourhood of Moor-lane, Holloway, he must have been seized with an apoplectic fit. Between 3 and 4 o'clock on Saturday morning he was discovered by a milkman lying on the ground in an insensible state; who procured assistance, and (being ignorant of Mr. C.'s person) conveyed him to a house in Widcombe parish, where medical aid was procured: but it proved unavailing; and, still insensible, he expired about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.-The verdict at the coroner's inquest was, Died by the visitation of GOD.

truth-they are content perseveringly to proceed in the path of Christian duty, and to leave the result of their humble efforts in this infant cause to Him whose sole prerogative it is to bless with success any "work of faith" or "labour of love." Under this impression, they commend the interests of the Society to the unwearied prayers of every friend of Peace; and at the same time, as a powerful stimulus to increased personal exertion, they cite the following encouraging statement from the last Report of the Tavistock Auxiliary Peace Society:

"On the supposition that there was no other institution of this nature but our own, and that, from this period, every member were to be the means of making one active convert annually, and should do the like for 30 successive years, the object would be inore than necessary to bring over to this truly accomplished, even supposing it were benevolent cause every man, woman, and child on the face of the Globe! This consideration ought to encourage us; and it is hoped that in the ensuing year no subscriber will let his Tracts lie uncirculated."

The members of the Tavistock Society, to whom these remarks were applied, amounted to only 46; a number not much greater than that of our own Society.

Finally, your Committee believe they cannot conclude this Address in a more efficient or more acceptable manner than by attaching to it the last Report (the fourth) of the Committee of the Parent Society, which has been but very recently published.

[ocr errors]


From No Cross, No Crown," by instances to prove the mischief of this

Wm. Penn.


§ 5. Ir we look into the histories of the world, we shall find many

lust of pride. I will mention a few of them, for their sakes, who have either not read or considered them.

Solon made Athens free by his excellent constitution and laws; but the

ambition of Pisistratus began the ruin of it before his eyes. Alexander not contented with his own kingdom, invades others, and filled with spoil and slaughter those countries he subdued and it was not ill said by him, who, when Alexander accused him of piracy, told him to his face, that Alexander was the greatest pirate in the world. It was the same ambition that made Cæsar turn traitor to his masters, and with their own army, put into his hand for their service, subdue them to his yoke, and usurp the government; which ended in the expulsion of freedom and virtue together in that commonwealth: for goodness quickly grew to be faction in Rome; and that sobriety and wisdom, which ever rendered her senators venerable, became dangerous to their safety insomuch that his successors hardly left one they did not kill or banish; unless such as turned to be flatterers of their unjust acquisition, and the imitators of their debauched manners.

§ 6. The Turks are a great proof to the point in hand; who, to extend their dominion, have been the cause of shedding much blood, and laying many stately countries waste. And yet they are to be outdone by apostate Christians; whose practice is therefore more condemnable because they have been better taught: they have had a master of another doctrine and example. It is true, they call him Lord still, but let their ambition reign: they love power more than one another; and to get it, kill one another; though charged by him, not to strive, but to love and serve one another. And, which adds to the tragedy, all natural affection is sacrificed to the fury of this lust, and therefore are stories so often stained with the murder of parents, children, uncles, nephews, masters, &c.

§7. If we look abroad into remote parts of the world, we shall rarely hear of wars; but in Christendom, of peace. A very trifle is too often made a ground of quarrel here: nor

can any league be so sacred or inviolable, that arts shall not be used to evade and dissolve it, to increase dominion. No matter who, nor how many, are slain, made widows and orphans, or lose their estates and livelihoods: what countries are ruined; what towns and cities spoiled; if by all these things the ambitious can but arrive at their ends. To go no farther back than sixty years, that little period of time will furnish us with many wars begun upon ill grounds, and ended in great desolation. Nay, the last twelve years of our time make as pregnant a demonstration, as we can furnish ourselves with from the records of any age. It is too tedious, nor is it my business to be particular: It has been often well observed by others, and is almost known to all: I mean the French, Spanish, German, English, and Dutch wars.


VIRTUE Would strike me blind, if I should laugh at your wars. By music, pipes, and stripes you are excited to things contrary to all harmony. Iron, a metal more proper for ploughs and tillages, is fitted for slaughter and death men, raising armies of men, covet to kill one another; and to punish men that quit the field for not staying to murder men. They honour as valiants, such as are drunk with blood; but lions, horses, eagles, and other creatures, use not swords, bucklers, and instruments of war: their limbs are their weapons, some their horns, some their bills, some their wings; to one is given swiftness; to another bigness, to a third swimming. No irrational creature useth a sword, but keeps itself within the laws of its creation; except Man, that doth not so; which brings the heavier blame, because he hath the greatest understanding. You must leave your wars, and your wickedness, which you ratify by a law, if you would have me leave my severity. I have overcome pleasure,

« PrécédentContinuer »