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ence to the present subject, are so far from being new and extraordinary, that they form a striking and prevalent feature in the early history of the Christian church--lastly, that the practice of warfare is directly at variance with the full light enjoyed under the Gospel dispensation, respecting life, death, and eternity.
Notwithstanding the clearness and importance of those principles which evince the utter inconsistency of the practice of war with the Christian dispensation, it is continually pleaded that wars are often expedient, and sometimes absolutely necessary for the preserve ation of states. To such a plea it might be sufficient to answer, that nothing is so expedient, nothing so desirable, nothing so necessary, either for individuals or for nations, as a conformity, in point of conduct, with the revealed will of the Supreme Governour of the universe. I may, however, in conclusion, venture to offer a few additional remarks on this last part of our subject.
Let reflecting Christians, in the first place, take a deliberate survey of the history of Europe during the last eighteen centuries; and let them impartially examine how many of the wars waged among Christian nations have been, on their own principles, really expedient or necessary, on either side, for the preservation of states. I apprehend that the result of such an examination would be a satisfactory conviction, that by far the greater part of those wars are so far from having truly borne this character, that, notwithstanding the common excuse of self-defence, by which, in so many cases, they have been supposed to be justified, they have, in point of fact, even in a political point of view, been much more hurtful than useful to all the parties engaged in them. Where, for instance, has England found an equivalent for the almost infinite
profusion of blood and treasure which she has wasted on her many wars? Must not the impartial page of history decide that almost the whole of her wars, however justified in the view of the world by the pleas of defence and retribution, have, in fact, been waged against imaginary dangers, might have been avoided by a few harmless concessions, and have turned out to be extensively injurious to her in many of their results? If Christians would abstain from all wars which have no better foundation than the false system of worldly honour-from all which are not, on political grounds, absolutely inevitable—from all which are not, in reality, injurious to their country—they would take a very important step towards the adoption of that entirely peaceable conduct which is upheld and defended by the Society of Friends.
After such a step had been taken, it must, indeed, be admitted, that certain occasions might remain, on which warfare would appear to be expedient; and, according to the estimate of most persons, actually necessary, for the mere purposes of defence and selfpreservation. On such occasions, I am well aware that, if we are to abide by the decisions of that lax and subordinate morality which so generally prevails among the professors of the Christian name, we must confess that war is right, and cannot be avoided. But for true Christians, for those who are brought under the influence of vital religion, for those who would “ follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” war is never right. It is always their duty to obey his high and holy law-to suffer wrong--to return good for evil--- to love their enemies. If, in consequence of their obedience to this law, they apprehend themselves to be surrounded with many dangers-if tumult and terrour assail them let them still remember that “ cursed” is “ the man that trusteth in man, and
maketh flesh his arm;" let them still place an undivided reliance upon the power and benevolence of their God and Saviour. It may be his good pleasure that they be delivered from the outward peril by which they are visited; or he may decree that they fall a sacrifice to that peril. But, whatever be the result, as long as they are preserved in obedience to his law, so long are they safe in his hands. They "know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God;" Rom. viii, 28.
Godliness, however, has the promise of this life, as well as of that which is to come; we may, therefore, entertain a reasonable confidence, that our temporal happiness and safety, as well as our growth in grace, will, in general, be promoted by obedience to our heavenly Father. It is not in vain, even in an outward point of view, that God has invited his unworthy children to cast their cares upon him, and to trust him for their support and protection; for, though he may work no miracles in their favour, the very law which he gives them to obey is adapted, in a wonderful manner, to convert their otherwise rugged path through life into one of comparative pleasantness, security, and peace. These observations are applicable, with a peculiar degree of force, to those particulars in the divine law, which, as they are closely followed, preclude all warfare. No weapons of self-defence will, on the whole, be found so efficacious as Christian meekness, kindness, and forbearance; the suffering of injuries; the absence of revenge; the return of good for evil; and the ever-operating love of God and man. Those who regulate their life and conversation with true circumspection, according to these principles, have, for the most part, little reason to fear the violent hand of the enemy and the oppressor. While they elothe themselves in the breastplate of righteousness,
and firmly grasp the shield of faith, they are quiet in the centre of storms, safe in the heart of danger, and victorious amidst a host of enemies.
Such, in a multitude of instances, has been the lot of Christian individuals, and such might also be the experience of Christian nations. When we consider the still degraded condition of mankind, we can hardly, at present, look forward to the trial of the experiment; but, was there a people who would renounce the dangerous guidance of worldly honour, and boldly conform their national conduct to the eternal rules of the law of Christ—was there a people who would lay aside the weapons of a carnal warfare, and proclaim the principles of universal peace; suffer wrong with condescension; abstain from all retaliation; return good for evil, and diligently promote the welfare of all men -I am fully persuaded that such a people would not only dwell in absolute safety, but would be blessed with eminent prosperity, enriched with unrestricted commerce, loaded with reciprocal benefits, and endowed, for every good, and wise, and worthy, purpose, with irresistible influence over surrounding nations.
ON THE MORAL VIEWS OF FRIENDS, PLAINNESS OF SPEECII,
BEHAVIOUR, AND APPAREL.
FROM the statements contained in the two preceding chapters, it will have been observed, that, on two practical points of a very leading and important character, Friends have been led to adopt a higher and purer standard of action, and one which appears to be more exactly conformed to the requisitions of the divine law, than that which generally prevails among their fellowChristians.
In point of fact, the adoption of an exalted standard of action is the proper result of their main and fundamental principle, that, in matters of conduct, man is bound to follow the guidance of a perfectly wise and holy Monitor-even the Word of the most high God, revealed in the heart; a guide who will never fail to distinguish the good from the evil, the precious from the vile. According to the doctrine of the inspired author of the epistle to the Hebrews, this Word of God "is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,