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A Second Sermon preached at Alcester, on Sunday, Feb. 23, 1822. "When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."-Prov. xvi. 7.

THE general train of argument in defence of War, leaves no alternative between deathful force in repelling an enemy, and the most infantile helplessness; but the alternative is not established by fair inference, nor borne out by Christian duty and facts. There are other ways of disarming an enemy, beside the repelling weapons of death and violence. One of these we have now to discuss; namely, Trust in God, as sovereign and universal governor. The strongest and most plausible argument in favour of War is, that forbearance will ensure repeated insults, and act as an inducement to foes to plunder and destroy. This, however, is neither consistent with our own experience nor with historical fact. Innumerable instances in common life occur, in which voluntary confidence in man, even in the most desperate of our race, has not been betrayed; and the page of history will furnish us with many illustrations of the sentiment of our text, in reference to men in their collective capacity. It is sin alone which makes men enemies to each other, and disposes them to take vengeance out of the hand of God, in order to gratify their evil passions, in their own way, on their fellow-men. Our text assures us

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that those who exercise a proper confidence in God, shall find that he is not inattentive to their welfare and security. Hence we propose two enquiries:

1. When may a man's ways be said to please the Lord? In general it is evident, they must be such as accord with his revealed will given us by divine inspiration; in particular--When he repents of sins and forsakes his evil practice. This is often illustrated in individuals and in natiors, as Israel and Nineveh. The evil passions of the human heart, as pride, anger, hatred, and revenge, are displeasing to God; and when they are laid aside we please him. Pride, self-confidence, love of War, ambition, oppression, and impiety, are national sins, displeasing to a God of purity, Peace, and righteousness. When these are forsaken, a people please God. But how are these to cease but by individual reformation? Thus it is in our power to contribute towards national prosperity and security.

When he trusts in God alone for deliverance from enemies. This will equally apply to mortal or spiritual foes. The blessed Saviour alone can preserve the soul in time of danger, and we are commanded to trust in his merits and death for salvation and eternal life. Why should we hesitate to commend the keeping of our bodies to him with whom we trust the immortal part? surely this must be equally pleasing to God and consistent with ourselves. Such a' confidence does honour to his provividence and government, which are too much despised and overlooked by men; it also commends his faithfulness and exalts his power. This must be pleasing to God.

When he patiently endures whatever evils God suffers to befall him. Every Christian knows he has forfeited all by transgression, and deserves the whole weight of threatened evil. All else is pure mercy. The Saviour pleased his Father by sufferings,

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・When he maintains a noble superiority to the maxims and practices of a corrupt world. This the apostle calls spiritual mindedness, which is life and peace,' opposed to the carnal mind, which is death.' Having our citizenship in heaven," consequently esteeming ourselves strangers on earth: the Christian's affections being set on things above, he will live to the honour of Christ. It is easy to conceive how pleasing these ways are to God, as being consistent with the design of his Gospel, and corresponding with the precepts and hopes of his new covenant in Christ Jesus; and the conclusion seems as obvious, that the custom of War, the lust of power, the oppression of conquest, and the scenes of plunder and bloodshed, must be offensive to God, as opposed to all the peaceful and pure precepts of the Gospel.

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II. How does God fulfil the assurance of the text? To secure the fulfilment of a promise from God, it is plain that he must be known and trusted by his people: but God seems so pleased with a peaceful conduct and a pacific principle in men, that he has frequently fulfilled this assurance, in the experience of those that knew him not. It must be left to his wisdom, which may fulfil it in the following ways:

Sometimes by the death and destruction of their enemies. It is, indeed, the most summary way, but it is always just. Thus he delivered Israel at the Red Sea, and Hezekiah from the Assyrians. No hand of man is


employed in all this: and though men were used as instruments in the destruction of Haman, the deliverance was the same.

Sometimes by converting them to the truth and the love of peace. This is not indeed the most common way, but there are many individual cases on record; Saul of Tarsus is a striking example. God has often done this in express and evident consideration of the peaceable conduct and temper of his people toward their enemies. It would be a happiness to suffer the greatest extremities, if by our forbearance and peacefulness, we might be the means of saving one soul from everlasting death. Such a reward would be a greater treasure than a whole earthly kingdom. And this we are taught to expect, if we act according to the precepts of the Gospel. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord shall reward thee." Rom. xii. 20. Prov. xxv. 21.

Sometimes by diverting their attention and defeating their designs. The effect is equal, whether they are turned away from us, or their oppression overruled for our good, according to the promise that all things shall work together for good to them that love and fear God. From the many instances of this kind on record, we shall only suggest a few. Saul encompassed David, but God diverted his attention. 1 Sam. xxiii. 27. The Syrians were smitten blind at Dothan and came no more. 2 Kings vi. 18. Balaam came to curse Israel, but blessed them altogether. Peter and John were saved by Gamaliel's counsel. Peter was afterwards destined

by Herod as the victim of his popularity with the people, but saved by an angel. Time, indeed, would fail us to relate all the tokens of God's favour to those who commit themselves entirely into his hands.

Sometimes by restraining the wrath of man, and giving favourable thoughts 2 F

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of his people. God has frequently said to the enemy, "Touch not my anointed, and do my servants no harm." The family of Isaac, though strangers, were thus protected from harm, so that Abimelech charged his people, on pain of death, not to touch them. Gen. xxvi. 11. The case of Jacob, when Esau met him with four hundred men, is well known. Gen. xxxii. 6, &c.; and the preservation of his family afterwards, when they had provoked the Shechemites, is expressly attributed to the "terror of God" falling on the enemy. Gen. xxxv. 5. Other instances occur in sacred history, respecting families and individuals; but wishing to apply this sentiment to general War, we proceed to mention some instances wherein plain facts confute the plea, that peaceable persons and communities are liable to repeated insults, and invite their enemies to plunder and destroy them. It is lamentable that the practices of men in avenging themselves, have made these instances so few;-enough however remain to prove the truth of this assurance, and to encourage our imitation of their trust in God alone. 1. All the males of the Jewish population were required to appear before the Lord at Jerusalem three times a year, and God gave them an express promise, that during their absence from home, no man should desire their land. Ex. xxxiv. 24. And let it be well observed, that no instance occurs through their whole history of two thousand years, while obedient to God, of any invasion being attempted; not for want of enemies, for they were surrounded by them on every side; not for want of diposition to possess their land; but by divine restraint. Modern policy would say, 'What is to become of our defenceless wives, children, aged parents, and property? such conduct is inviting the enemy to plunder and destroy them all.' They are to be entrusted with God; and why may not Christians trust him thus, and

feel as fully assured of their safety as the Israelites did? His power and love to those whose ways please him are the same still. The hearts of all men are as much in his hands to restrain them; and the way of duty and obedience to him, is as much the path of safety now, as it was in former times.-2. The ways of Jeho shaphat were pleasing to God while he cultivated the arts of Peace, and taught the people the law of his God. The consequence of his peaceable disposition is told us in 2 Chron. xvii. 10. "The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no War against Jehoshaphat." It is equally remarkable, that when he departed from these principles by entering into an alliance with Ahab, he endangered his life, and brought the wrath of God on himself and his kingdom. So invariably true is the declaration, that with the merciful God will show himself merciful; and with the froward he will show himself froward. 2 Sam. xxii. 27.-3. When Alexander the Great besieged Tyre, he sent for supplies from the Jews. These were refused, on the grounds of conscience and the fear of God. Unaccustomed to such a denial, the conqueror of nations was greatly exasperated, and threatened entire desolation on Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Jaddus the high-priest applied to God alone for help in their distress. The God of Peace condescended to appear to him in a dream at night; promised him protection, and gave directions for their defence of the city. Let those who plead the command of God to Israel as a sanction of modern conflicts, well observe the weapons he authorized the Jews, on this occasion of imminent danger, to employ: for this mode of warfare is equally binding on us, if the former be in any sense applicable; and let them hasten to adopt it as the most powerful method of securing victory over their foes. They are

commanded to "strew the streets with flowers, set open the gates, go out to meet the enraged enemy in peaceful procession, give him a welcome to their city, and leave the rest to God." This is done! and while every other person awaited the plunder of the city, Alexander reveres the power of God; enters as a friend; secures and extends their privileges; and, as if he were a powerful monarch fairly conquered, he grants them all their own terms.--See Rollin's Ancient Hist. If it be said that the Jews were a peculiar people, we answer, are not Christians also such, and as much the objects of the Divine care and protection, when their ways please the Lord? But we have examples from other records to urge. When the Romans under Camillus plundered the camp of the Volsci, they found some Tusculans among the prisoners: war was immediately declared against Tusculum, by which state a new mode of opposition was adopted. The inhabitants, who had heard of the approach of the Romans, applied themselves to their usual occupations; many of the citizens went forth to meet the army, dressed as in times of peace; the houses, shops, and schools of the city were opened as usual, and every person pursued his common business. Camillus, astonished and surprised at this disposition for Peace, called the magistrates together in their place of meeting, and thus addressed them: "Tusculans," said he, "you are the only people who have discovered the true arms and forces capable of securing you against the anger of the Romans."-Plutarch's Lives, art. Camillus; Doddridge's Works, vol. 5, 282. The same arms have, in more modern times, proved effectual in conquering even the savages of America. In the year 1696 the brigantine Reformation, J. Hirle master, was wrecked on the coast of Florida, in its voyage from Jamaica to Pennsylvania. Two Indians, with their knives, first appeared, and

seized on two of the crew, and brought them to the narrator, Jona+ than Dickenson, a passenger. The sailors were about to bring the guns to bear on them in defence, but the narrator advised them not to do it, but trust in God for protection. These Indians soon departed to alarm others, and in about two or three hours, a great number was observed approaching in a furious manner, well armed. Most of these made for the vessel; but about thirty, with their chief, surrounded the peaceable strangers, as they sat upon their trunks and boxes. These savages mounted behind them, and taking hold of their heads, seemed ready to plunge their knives into their throats. The chief had placed himself behind the narrator, when the assailants fell into what appeared a violent dispute, for about a quarter of an hour; suddenly their savage countenances changed, each let go his victim; they retired with a little plunder, without injuring their persons. The whole of this peaceful band afterwards arrived safely in Pennsylvania.

We mention but one more instance, which occurs in our own age, and, as it were, at our own doors, confirming the perpetuity of this promise. During the rebellion of Ireland in 1793, an attack had long been meditated on the Moravian settlement at Grace Hill, in the county of Wexford. At length a large body of rebels marched into the town, but found no one in the streets or houses to resist them; the whole body of its inhabitants had retired to their chapel; here the rebels found them, prostrate at the altar of peace, praying for their own protection and for the welfare of their expected murderers. Struck with awe, they loitered about the streets for a day and a night, and then departed without injuring an individual, or even purloining a single loaf of bread !! This settlement became afterwards an asylum for the peaceful inhabitants

of the neighbourhood. Have we not a right to say, then, that the argument in favour of war, which we have been combating, is futile, and contradictory to our own experience and to historical fact, and the common feelings of men the most savage and barbarous! These reflections and facts teach us to fear no man in doing what is right and pleasing to God, because he is able to defend us from every enemy, and has promised to secure the temporal as well as spiritual interests of those who serve and fear him. They teach us to consider all hearts and all events in the hand of God; they afford us strong inducements to prayer and confidence in him; and inculcate this principle, that to live peaceably with all men, our first object must be to secure the favours of God, through faith in Christ, and obedi ence to his will: and thus while we patiently bear the inconveniences which may arise from such a determination, we shall, with firm reliance on his protection, oppose, by our personal influence and individual example, the evil maxims and corrupt practices of" a crooked and perverse generation."

Matthew x. 34. explained. THE learned Joseph Scaliger observed, that the greatest part of the religious dissensions which have disturbed the world and divided Christianity, arose from an ignorance of grammar. Paradoxical as the assertion appears, there is much truth in it; of which the many discordant interpretations and translations of plain scriptural passages may be adduced as a proof. The most extravagant errors, and even pernicious practices, have been recommended on the authority of the sacred oracles, by a gross perversion of metaphorical allusions, hyperDolical phrases, and particular circumstances, to a literal sense and general application. A more acceptable service to religion, there

fore, could hardly be afforded, than by bringing together those passages which have been, and still are, so grossly abused, and wrested from the original meaning to the purposes of licentiousness, bigotry, or fanaticism. At present I shall confine myself to one text, which for its active importance, and the strange manner in which it has been hitherto understood and explained, calls for a minute consideration. The passage to which I allude is the declaration of our Lord, as stated by St. Matthew, in the thirty-fourth verse of his tenth chapter, and which according to our version runs thus, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword."

In this reading our translators have implicitly followed the Vulgate, and so does Beza, with whom most of the old reformed divines concur. The consequence of this has been a stumbling block to many Christians, who know not how to reconcile so fearful a denunciation with the prophecies relating to the Messiah and his kingdom, nor with the proclamation of the angelic choir at his nativity; and still less with his own dying bequest to his disciples, "Peace 1 leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John xiv. 27.

Where so much embarrassment occurs to believers, infidels naturally enough find cause for triumph; and in their usual bantering way they profess their conviction of the truth of our Lord's words in this instance; for, say they, his religion hath proved a source of nothing but strife and contention, wars and tumults, ever since it was promulgated. The inference they draw from this, tends to wound the pious mind, and to fill it with doubts and apprehensions; from which unfortunately the interpretations of expositors are ill adapted to afford relief.

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