« ZurückWeiter »
speech, we also give to that which contains any thing the name of the thing contained in it. Thus, rhetorically, we call one edifice a College; another, a Bank; a third, a Church; not because the brick and mortar, the plank and nails, constitute a college, a bank, a church; but because these buildings contain these institutions. So we have, if any one contend for the name, as many Christian nations as we have Christian communities in different nations; and as many Jewish nations as we have nations with Jewish synagogues in them; and as many Mahometan nations as we have nations containing mosques in them. But, according to this rhetorical figure, we may have a Christian and a Jewish nation, or a Christian and a Mahometan nation in one and the same nation, as we sometimes find both a Jewish and a Christian synagogue in the same nation. rhetorical Christian nation, and a proper and unfigurative Christian nation, are very different entities. A proper literal Christian nation is not found in any country under the whole heavens. There is, indeed one Christian nation, composed of all the Christian communities and individuals in the whole earth. The Apostle Peter, in one letter addressed to all the Christians scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia-though “strangers,” or aliens, in these respective nations-calls them, collectively, “a holy nation—a royal priesthood—a peculiar people.” In strict logical and grammatical truth, there is not, of all the nations of the earth, one properly called a Christian nation. Therefore, we have never had, as yet, one Christian nation waging war against another Chris: tian nation. Before any one, then, no matter what his learning or talents, can answer the great interrogatory now in discussion, he must form a clear and well defined conception of what constitutes a nation and what constitutes a Christian-. We have very high Roman authority for defining a nation-from
Pardon me for quoting it:- Genus hominum qui non aliunde venerunt sed ibi nati sunt; which, in our vernacular, means, a race or trihe of men who have not come from abroad, but live where they were born. Being a Roman word, derived from natural birth, a Roman author has the best right to define it. Now a Christian is pot one born where he lives; he is born from above, as all Christians of all parties admit. Therefore, no nation, as such, as respects either its natural birth or its constitution, can, with any show of truth or reason, be called a Christian nation. When any one prue duces the annals of a nation whose constitution was given by Jesus Christ, and whose citizens are all born of God'spiritually, as well as SERIES III.-VOL. V.
of man physically, I will at once call it in good faith, without a figure, a true, proper, and literal Christian nation.
Now, although we have this advantage, which no one can take from us—and conceded, too, by all the literary and Christian authorities in Christendom, we will not build on it alone, nor at all, if any one pleases. We will not have it said that we carry our definition by a grammatical or rhetorical decision of the great question. We appeal to all our publications without regard to party. We appeal to all our elementary and most profound writers on the subject of nationality. Nay, we appeal to the common views of this whole community. Have we not a church and a state in every state in the Union, and in every European nation? Do not all belong to the state or nation; and a part only, and that often a small part, to the church? Is not the bond of political union blood or naturalization! Is not the bond of union in the Christian kingdom faith or the new birth? What nation is there whose citizens, or a majority of them, are Christians? Not one, even in profession.
But there is a reflex light of Christianity--a moralizing and a çivilizing influence, as well as its direct soul-redeeming radiance, which imparts to those nations that have the oracles of God a higher standard of moral excellence, a more discriminating conscientiousness, and a more elevated national character; which, in contrast with Pagan nations, obtains for them the honorary distinction of Christian nations. Still, as nations, or states, the spirit and character of the nation is anti-Christian. A community of Jews in London, in New York, or New Orleans, even were they naturalized citizens of the United States, would not impart to them an American or Gentile spirit, nor would they impart to our nation a Jewish spirit or character. They would still be Jews, and we Americans.
The American nation, as a nation, is no more in spirit Christian than were Greece and Rome when the Apostles planted churches in Corinth, Athens, or in the metropolis of the empire, with Cesar's household in it. Roman policy, valor, bravery, gallantry, chivalry, are of as much praise, admiration, and glory, in Washington and London, as they were in the very centre of the Pagan world in the days of Julius or Augustus Cesar. We worship our heroes because of their martial and Roman virtue. Virtue, in the Roman language and style, was only a name of bravery or courage.
Such was its literal meaning. With a Roman it was queen of all the graces and of all moral excellencies. It raised from Plebeian to Patrician rank, and created military tribunes, decemvirs, triumvirs, dictators, consuls, kings, emperors. With us it cannot make a king; but may,
perhaps, a third time make for us a President. If, indeed, it does not yet make for us a king, we shall blame the soil, not the culture. Kings cannot grow in America. But in our free and liberal institutions we can impart more than kingly power under a less offensive
But a Christian community is, by the highest authority, called a kingdom. He, however, who gave it this name, said to Cesar's representative, "My kingdom is not of this world. Had my kingdom been of this world, my servants would have fought, and I should not have been delivered to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence.” It is then, decided-first, that we have no Christian nation or kingdom in the world; but that Christ has one grand kingdom composed of all the Christian communities in the world, of which he is himself its proper sovereign, its lawgiver and king.
Havin then, no Christian nation to wage war against another Christian nation, we have the question reduced to a more rational and simple form, and I trust will be still more intelligible and acceptable in this form, viz.- Can Christ's kingdom or church in one nation wage war against his own kingdom or church in another nation?— Reduced to this simple view and style, where is the man so ignorant of the letter and spirit of Christianity as to answer this question in the affirmative? Is there a man of ordinary Bible education in this city or commonwealth, that would, or could, affirm that Christ's church in England may of right wage war against Christ's church in America?
But I will be told this form of the question meets not the exact state of the case, as now impinging the conscience of very many good men. While they will, with an emphatic No, negative the question as thus propounded, they will, in another form, propound their peculiar difficulty:-"Suppose,” say they, “England proclaims war against our nation, or that we proclaim war against England, have we à right, as Christian men, to volunteer, or enlist, or, if drafted, to fight against England?" Ought our motto to be, “Our country, right or wrong?" Or has our government a right to compel us to take up arms?
This form of the question makes it important that we should have as clear and definite conceptions of the word right as of any other word in the question before us. We must, then, have a little more definition. For the doctrine of right and wrong, so frequently spoken of by elementary political writers, I cannot say that I entertain a very high regard. Men without religious faith, being without an infallible guide, are peculiarly fond of abstractions. Led by
imagination more than by reason, authority, or experience, they pride themselves in striking out for themselves and others a new path, rather than to walk in the old and long frequented ways.They have a theory of man in society with political rights, and of man out of society with natural rights; but as they cannot agree as to the word natural prefixed to right—whether nature be a divinity or the cause of things I will not now debate with them the question of natural rights, but take the surer and well established ground-of a divine warrant, or a right founded on a divine anunciation.
Much, in all cases of any importance, depends on beginning right; and in a question upon right itself, every thing depends upon that ultimate tribunal to which we make our appeal. In all questions involving the moral destinies of the world, we require more than hypothetical or abstract reasoning from principles merely assumed or conceded. We need demonstration, or, what, in this case of moral reasoning, is the only substitute for it, oracular authority:All questions on morals and religion, all questions on the origin, relations, obligations, and destiny of man, can only be satisfactorily decided by an appeal to an infallible standard. I need not say that we all, i mean the civilized world, the great, the wise, the good of human kind, concede to the Bible this oracular authority; and, therefore, constitute it the ultimate reason and authority for each and every question of this sort? What, then, says the Bible on the subject of war?
It certainly com mmanded and authorized war amongst the Jews. God had given to man, ever since the flood, the right of taking away the life of man for one certain definite cause. Hence murderers ever since the flood were put to death by express divine authority. “He that sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” He gave authority only, however, to one family or nation, whose God and King he assumed to be. Soon as that family was developed into a nation, he placed it under his own special direction and authority. Its government has been properly called by Josephus, a distinguished Jew, a THEOCRACY. It was not a republican, aristocratical, or monarchical, but a theocratical government, and that, indeed, of the most absolute character, for certain high ends and purposes in the destinies of mankind-tempora), spiritual, and eternal. God was, therefore, in person, the King, Lawgiver, and Judge of the Jewish nation.
It was not for desiring a king that God was at one time displeased with them. It was for asking a king like those of other nations, and
thereby refusing God himself and God alone as their king. Still he never made their kings any more than viceroys. He, for many centuries, down to the end of Old Testament history, held, in his own hand, the sovereignty of the nation. Hence the kings ruled for him, and the High Priest, or some special Prophet, was the Lord's mouth to them. Their kings were, therefore, unlike other kings. They truly, and only they, of all the kings on earth, were “The LORD'S ANOINTED.” The Jewish kingdom was emphatically a typical institution, prospective of a kingdom not of this world, to . be instituted in future times, and to be placed under the special government of his only Son and Heir. Hence it came to pass that the enemies of Israel became typical of the enemies of Jesus Christ; and hence the temporal judgments inflicted on them were but shadows through which to set forth the spiritual and eternal judgments to be inflicted on the enemies of the Messiah's reign and kingdom. Whether, therefore, the enemies of the Jews fell in battle, or by any of the angels of death, it was God that slew them. Hence their kings and God's angels were but mere sheriffs, executing, as it were, the mandates of high heaven.
It is, however, important to reiterate that God gave to Noah, and through him to all his sons and successors in government, a right to take away, in civil justice, the life of a murderer. As the world of the ungodly, antecedent to the deluge, during the first five hundred years of Noah's life, was given to violence and outrage against » each other, it became expedient to prevent the same violence and bloodshed after the flood; and for this purpose God gave to man, or the human race in Noah's family, the right to exact blood for blood from him who had deliberately and maliciously taken away the life of his fellow. Had not this been first ordained, no war, without a special divine commission, could have been sanctioned as lawful and right even under the Old Testament institution. Hence we may say, that wars were first allowed by God against those who had first waged war against their fellows; and, consequently, as viewed by God himself, they were murderers. The first and second wars reported in the annals of the world were begun by the enemies of God and his people, and hence the reprisals made by Abraham and Moses are distinctly stated as occasioned by the enemies of God and his people.
But what is most important here and apposite to the occasion, is, that these wars waged by God's people in their typical character, were waged under and in pursuance of a special divine commission. They were, therefore, right. For a divine precept authorizing any