Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

nal way.

talents that qualify him for being more serviceable to his country, and on that account declines the office in favour of the other, for the good of his country, he has a conscience, because he acted from a wise and enlightened charity.” (U. T. 666.) And so in other cases.

Hence we learn what conscience is and how it is acquired. It becomes more or less perfect as the reception of truth and goodness becomes more or less sincere. The teaching of these graces is to be found in the sacred Scriptures, and that is the medium through which those blessings are conveyed to men. Truth enlightens and enlarges the understanding, and prepares it for the reception of goodness. The truth is learned by an external way, the good is insinuated in an inter

As the truths which are believed become more numerous, the goods which descend into them become more abundant, and the mind, in which those heavenly principles are cherished, becomes eminent for the delicacy and purity of its conscience.

It is, then, the truly good man who has a genuine conscience; bad men have it not; it is less and less perceptible in every one as he disregards the Divine teachings of the Word ; and, consequently, in hell it is utterly extinguished. Being a spiritual gift from the Lord, it is communicated to all men in proportion as they are faithful to His instructions; and its excellence depends upon the quality of the religious principles which are accepted. Hence it is exceedingly important that, if men would come into the possession of a genuine conscience, they should carefully and rationally assure themselves that their religion is the truest and the best.

E. D. R.


The war is ended, and peace is restored! We pray that it may be lasting; that the land may have rest, and that the peoples may pursue their peaceful occupations. May we hope as well as pray for the continuance of tranquillity? If there be room for hope there is, we fear, little ground for assurance. In the present temper of the two nations, which have so recently engaged in deadly conflict, there is little at present to encourage the expectation that they are likely to live henceforth in amicable relations with each other. And in the present state of Christendom, and the warlike attitude which Christian nations assume towards each other, there is always more than the possibility of war,—there is constant danger. We suppose, therefore, that

[ocr errors]


the world must for some time expect to witness the occasional if not frequent outburst of the flame of war, even between nations who profess allegiance to the Prince of Peace.

In the book of Judges, where war and peace are described as the constantly alternating states of the Israelitish nation, it is frequently mentioned after the cessation of war, that the land had rest for so many, generally for forty years.

The causes of war and peace among modern nations seem so much like those that produced the same effects among the Israelites of old, that, unless a very considerable change for the better takes place among them, we can hardly dare to hope for a rest for the land among nations that keep themselves constantly prepared for war for more than the term of ancient repose.

Among the Israelites, war was the result of moral corruption. They themselves had been made the instruments of punishing the corrupt nations of Canaan; and they in their turn were castigated by the nations around them. “They did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord raised up” some nation against them. War has no doubt the same cause in our times that it has had in all past times. God is in all history; as much in that of to-day, as in that of former ages; in one nation as in another. His providence is not less operative among the nations of Europe than it was among the Jews in Palestine and the surrounding nations.

Providence includes permission. Without permission, the world would be governed either by inexorable fate or by blind chance. There would be no free will; for there could be no choice between good and evil, nor would there be good and evil to choose between. In creation there would be no place for man; for there would be no rationality and liberty, which are the only gifts that distinguish him from the brutes. There are no doubt many profound and even mysterious elements in the subject of free will, which have led both philosophers and theologians to reason it out of existence. Theologically, there is the seeming contradiction between the freedom of man and the sovereignty of God, or the seemingly unequal contest between the finite will and power of man, and the infinite will and power of God. But we must come back to the necessary truth, that free will is not of man but of God, and that He who originally bestowed it constantly maintains it. The Divine Being cannot at the same time preserve man's freedom and compel him to a certain course of action. The providence of God is over men and nations, leading them as far as they will follow in paths of justice, and through justice into peace. And if they know their best interests, and consulted the interests of their neighbours as well as their own, they would at least strive to do


as they would wish to be done by. This law of equity does not require anything beyond reason and common sense to understand and acknowledge. What can be more reasonable, what more agreeable to universally admitted truth, than that men and nations should endeavour to avoid doing their neighbours injury, or even giving them just cause of offence? But although this truth is so self-evident that a child can understand it, and can even acknowledge it, the most intelligent men and the most enlightened nations cannot, or at least will not, always act upon it. And not only enlightened but Christian nations, one should rather say nations that profess Christianity, maintain an'attitude, and frequently act towards each other as if no such law of equity were known, as if no enforcement of it had been made by the Author of the religion which the people and nations of Christendom profess.

The nations of Europe who profess and maintain the principles of Him who taught His disciples to love God above all things and their neighbours as themselves, and who showed them, by His example, the duty, the possibility, and the beauty of a life embodying the principles He taught, seem as if they had a tacit agreement among themselves to set that teaching and example at defiance, or at the least entirely to set it aside. Armies and navies are supported at enormous expense, with the avowed intention of deterring each other from making hostile attacks, and of repelling those attacks when made. In every country laws are made for regulating the conduct of the citizens, so far as to prevent disorder and offence, and there are organized means for preventing and punishing disorder and crime. If the majority of the numbers were not observers of the law, society could not exist. It, instead of the great body of the people of a country uniting against the comparatively few who wish to live by plunder, every citizen had to arm himself against his nearest neighbour, it is evident there could be no security, and no solid peace. Yet this is precisely what nations do. To preserve peace each strives to be prepared for war. Has not this very preparedness of nations a tendency to produce the evil that they guard against ? To preserve peace by this means, nations must be nearly a match for each other. And when they are so nearly equal that one does not require to fear the other, each is ready to resent an affront or to seize an opportunity, or make some trivial circumstance a pretext for going to war.

How is this state of things to be remedied? One would suppose that among Christian nations Christian principle would be sufficient to make them live at peace with each other. And so it would, if the nations of Christendom were Christian in deed as well as in name. The law of love is as binding on Christians in their national as in their


individual capacity. To do to others as they would that others should do to them, is a law of equity as binding on nations as on individuals. Yet Christian nations seem to be living in the period of the world's history when it was said to them of old time, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy,” and to be far indeed from the time and the dispensation to which the Divine injunction applies, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies." The jealousy and hatred which the nations of Christendom have to each other, and the wars to which they have recourse, when dignity moves or when ambition or selfishness prompts them, might tempt us to believe that the religion of Christendom was little more than an organized hypocrisy. And most undoubtedly if the Church, or what is the same thing, religion, were not in a state of deplorable corruption, such things would not be done in

open day, and without any sense of inconsistency with Christian character or with Christian principles. Armies are led against each other, armed with the most effective means of mutual slaughter that modern science can desire or modern wealth can provide. Countries are laid waste, villages and towns are burnt, homes are desecrated ; and if

any of the exasperated inhabitants offer resistance they are shot in cold blood, because they are not dressed in the livery of trained and legalized slaughterers, and even women are not exempt from this cruel fate. All this we have seen in this terrible war, which has now come to an end, and only because one of the contending parties is utterly exhausted, not because a better spirit has sprung up in the breast of either the one or the other. We do not, in stating these facts, accuse the Germans of excess. We mention them, not as a charge against Germany, but as a charge against war; and so much more humane the people that have done those things, so much the worse for war,

which admits or justifies them. And terrible as are these and all the other effects of war, there are things still more terrible. It is a law of Divine Providence, that no evil is permitted except to prevent a greater. If the evils of war are so great, what must the evils be to prevent which war is permitted! It is against these underlying or partly hidden evils that religion is designed to act.

now, after the death and devastation which the war has produced, the two nations, when one can fight no longer, come to terms of peace, and by a solemn mockery of sincerity, agree, in conventional terms, to live in perpetual friendship with each other. There is indeed great cause of thankfulness that the war is ended, and that peace has been concluded. It is much to be feared that the peace is not so sincere, and therefore not so real, as the war was.

And hence the necessity of the question, How is war to be prevented? Alas! we fear there




is no certain answer to this question but one : By the people and nations of Christendom becoming Christian. Whence do wars and fightings come? Come they not from our lusts? If so, how can it be expected that wars will cease till our lusts are subdued ? It is not, however, necessary or reasonable to wait for the extinction of lust, without making an effort to provide means for the discontinuance of war. The growing conviction of the folly and wickedness of war, and the increasing desire and effort to prevent it, are themselves indications of the weakening of the lusts which give birth to war. And it is desirable that those who have this conviction and desire, should use their individual and collective influence to extend and strengthen them. One feature of modern society is, that great works are effected not merely by great, but by combined efforts. We have our peace societies, and these have their peace conferences. Their ranks might be greatly increased, and their deliberations and decisions greatly strengthened. War has its armies and its organizations: why should not peace ? Peace labours under this disadvantage, if disadvantage it be-war establishments are a part, and often a principal part, of a nation's political economy, a principal charge on its resources; the machinery for the securing of peace is to be provided by voluntary effort and private liberality. This implies that the majority of the nation runs in the war groove. And so large is this majority, that those who argue or unite for the reign of peace are generally regarded as visionaries or utopians. This should not deter lovers of peace from proceeding on their course with energy and determination. If there is any truth in sacred testimony, war is an abnormal condition of humanity; if there is any truth in prophecy, peace is yet destined to be the normal condition of our race; and if there is any truth in Christianity, its principles are able to unite all nations in amity and peace. If we have faith in the truth and

power of the Christian religion, why should we not take heart, and labour in the confidence of gradual progress and final success? Of all men, New Church Christians are the most deeply convinced of the soundness of the peace principle, and the most certain of its ultimate triumph. Yet the very depth of their conviction, and the certainty with which they look forward to the realized purpose of Christianityon earth peace, good will amongst men-induces them too much to leave the Christian principle to work out its own accomplishment, by making way

into the hearts and thence into the affairs of men. It is our opinion that the members of the New Church should unite with others, not of their own communion, who combine for such an object as this, as for any other which has the repression of evil and the alleviation of human suffering or misery in view. . We should not rest contented


« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »