« ZurückWeiter »
7. --THE INJUSTICE OF WAR.
THE contests of nations are both the offspring and the parent of injustice. The word of God ascribes the existence of war to the disorderly ssions of men. 66 Whence come wars and fightings among you?” saith the apostle James; "come they not from your lusts that war in your members ?" It is certain two nations cannot engage in hostilities but one party must be guilty of injustice; and if the magnitude of crimes is to be estimated by a regard to their consequences, it is difficult to conceive an action of equal guilt with the wanton violation of peace. Though something must generally be allowed for the complexness and intricacy of national claims, and the consequent liability to deception, yet where the guilt of an unjust war is clear and manifest, it sinks every other crime into insignificance. If the existence of war always implies injustice, in one at least of the parties concerned, it is also the fruitful parent of crimes. It reverses, with respect to its objects, all the rules of morality. It is nothing less than a temporary repeal of all the principles of virtue. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are incorporated. Whatever renders human nature amiable or respectable, whatever engages love or confidence, is sacrificed at its shrine. In instructing us to consider a portion of our fellow-creatures as the proper objects of enmity, it removes, as far as they are concerned, the basis of all society, of all civilisation and virtue; for the basis of these is the good will due to every individual of the species as being a part of ourselves. From this principle all the rules of social virtue emanate. Justice and humanity in their utmost extent are nothing more than the practical application of this great law. The sword, and that alone, cuts asunder the bond of consanguinity which unites man to man. As it immediately aims at the extinction of life, it is next to impossible, upon the principle that every thing may be lawfully done to him whom we have a right to kill, to set limits to military license; for when
from the dominion of reason to that of force, what
ever restraints are attempted to be laid on the passions will be feeble and fluctuating. Though we must applaud, therefore, the attempts of the humane Grotius to blend maxims of humanity with military operations, it is to be feared they will never coalesce, since the former imply the subsistence of those ties which the latter suppose to be dissolved. Hence the morality of peaceful times is directly opposite to the maxims of war. The fundamental rule of the first is to do good; of the latter to inflict injuries. The former commands us to succour the oppressed; the latter to overwhelm the defenceless. The former teaches men to love their enemies; the latter to make themselves terrible even to strangers. The rules of morality will not suffer us to promote the dearest interest by falsehood; the maxims of war applaud it when employed in the destruction of others. That a familiarity with such maxims must tend to harden the heart, as well as to pervert the moral sentiments, is too obvious to 'need illustration. The natural consequence of their prevalence is an unfeeling and an unprincipled ambition, with an idolatry of talent and a contempt of virtue; whence the esteem of mankind is turned from the humble, the beneficent, and the good, to men who are qualified by a genius fertile in expedients, a courage that is never appalled, and a heart that never pities, to become the destroyers of the earth. While the philanthropist is devising means to mitigate the evils and augment the happiness of the world, a fellow-worker together with God, in exploring and giving effect to the benevolent tendencies of nature, the warrior is revolving, in the gloomy recesses of his mind, plans of future devastation and ruin. Prisons crowded with captives, cities emptied of their inhabitants, fields desolate and waste, are among his proudest trophies. The fabric of his fame is cemented with tears and blood; and if his name is wafted to the ends of the earth, it is in the shrill cry of suffering humanity, in the curses and imprecations of those whom his sword has reduced to despair.
8.–PRAYER. Many times good men pray, and their prayer is not a sin, yet it returns empty; because, although the man may be, yet the prayer is not, in proper disposition; and here I am to account to you concerning the collateral and accidental hindrances of the prayer of a good man. The first thing that hinders the prayer of a good man from obtaining its effects is a violent anger and a violent storm in the spirit of him that prays. For anger sets the house on fire, and all the spirits are busy upon trouble, and intend propulsion, defence, displeasure, or revenge; it is a short madness and an eternal enemy to discourse, and sober counsels, and fair conversation; it intends its own object with all the earnestness of perception or activity of design, and a quicker motion of a too warm and distempered blood; it is a fever in the heart and a calenture in the head, and therefore can never suffer a man to be in a disposition to pray.
For prayer is an action, and a state of intercourse and desire, exactly contrary to the character of anger. Prayer is an action of likeness to the Holy Ghost, the spirit of gentleness and dove-like simplicity; an imitation of the holy Jesus, whose spirit is meekness; and a conformity to God, whose anger is always just and marches slowly, and is full of mercy; prayer is the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our tempest; prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts; it is the daughter of charity, and the sister of meekness; and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upwards, singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven and climb above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconstant, descending more at every breath of the tempest, than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of his wings, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing as if it had learned music and motion from an angel as he passed sometimes through the air about his ministries here below. So is the prayer of a good man when his affairs have required business, and his business was a matter of discipline, and his discipline was to pass upon a sinning person, or had a design of charity, his duty met with the infirmities of a man, and anger was its instrument, and the instrument became stronger than the prime agent, and raised a tempest, and overruled the man ; and then his prayer was broken, and his thoughts were troubled, and his words went up towards a cloud, and his thoughts pulled them back again, and made them without intention, and the good man sighs for his infirmity, but must be content to lose the prayer, and he must recover it when his anger is removed, and his spirit is becalmed, and made even as the brow of Jesus, and smooth like the heart of God; and then it ascends to heaven upon the wings of the holy dove, and dwells with God till it returns, like the useful bee, laden with a blessing and the dew of heaven. JEREMY TAYLOR.
9.-ON THE STATE OF MAN BEFORE THE FALL.
The understanding, the noblest faculty of the mind, was then sublime, clear, and aspiring, and as it were the soul's upper region, lofty and serene, free from the vapours and disturbances of the inferior affections. It was the leading, controlling faculty; all the passions wore the colours of reason; it did not so much persuade as command; it was not consul, but dictator. Discourse was then almost as quick as intuition; it was nimble in proposing, firm in concluding; it could sooner determine than now it can dispute. Like the sun, it had both light and agility; it knew no rest, but in motion; no quiet, but in activity. It did not so properly apprehend as irradiate the object; not so much find as make things intelligible. It arbitrated upon the several reports of sense, and all the varieties of im, agination; not like a drowsy judge, only hearing, but also directing their verdict. In short, it was vegete, quick, and lively; open as the day, untainted as the morning, full of the innocence and sprightliness of youth; it gave the soul a bright and full view into all things; and was not only a window, but itself the prospect. Adam came into the world a philosopher, which sufficiently appeared by his writing the nature of things upon their
names ; he could view essences in themselves, and read forms without the comment of their respective properties; he could see consequents yet dormant in their principles, and effects yet unborn in the womb of their causes; his understanding could almost pierce into future contingents, his conjectures improving even to prophecy, or the certainties of prediction ; till his fall he was ignorant of nothing, but sin; or at least it rested in the notion, without the smart of the experiment. Could any difficulty have been proposed, the resolution would have been as early as the proposal; it could not have had time to settle into doubt. Like a better Archimedes, the issue of all his inquiries was an sugnxa, an sugnxa, the offspring of his brain, without the sweat of his brow. Study was not then a duty, night-watchings were needless; the light of reason wanted not the assistance of a candle. This is the doom of fallen man, to labour in the fire, to see truth in profundo, to exhaust his time, and to impair his health, and perhaps to spin out his days, and himself, into one pitiful, controverted conclusion. There was then no poring, no struggling with memory, no straining for invention; his faculties were quick and expedite; they answered without knocking, they were ready upon the first summons; there was freedom and firmness in all their operations. I confess, it is as difficult for us, who date our ig, norance from our first being, and were still bred up with the same infirmities about us with which we were born, to raise our thoughts and imaginations to those intellectual perfections that attended our nature in the time of innocence, as it is for a peasant bred up in the obscurities of a cottage to fancy in his mind the unseen splendours of a court. But by rating posi: