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HERALD OF PEACE.
THE DUTY OF PRAYER CONSIDERED IN REFERENCE TO
THE PEACE OF THE WORLD.
THE exercise of Prayer is as much of Prayer, afford the greatest encou
our privilege as it is our duty. ragement to Christians, to persevere Devotion, considered in itself, is ad- in their supplications at the throne mirably calculated to enlighten, con- of grace. The sacred writings, the sole, and fortify the human mind; lives of good men, and the expeand it is the divinely appointed means rience of all the servants of God, ' through which all needful blessings furnish innumerable proofs of the are to be obtained. In all ages, and efficacy of prayer. among savage as well as civilized
Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw ; nations, it has been the prevailing Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw ; custom to implore the favour, or to Gives exercise to faith and love, deprecate the vengeance, of some
Calls Heavenly blessings from above. imaginary Being of attractive ex- * All things whatsoever ye shall ask cellence, or of awful malignity. But in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,' with Christians it is a duty as delight- said our Lord, Matth. xxi. 29. ful in its exercise, as it is solemnly These remarks are intended to inobligatory in its requirements. Disa troduce a serious enquiry, Whether tinguished above all others by Divine the disciples of Jesus Christ have revelation, and by the teachings of in former times, and more especially the Holy Spirit, the disciple of Jesus whether they have in the present day, ought to have his thoughts frequently been distinguished by the frequency occupied with devotional feelings, and earnestness of their prayers for and should give utterance to those the prevalence of Christian peace feelings in the language of prayer among mankind ?
The pages of Ecclesiastical history The benefits which, by the mer- induce us to put an awful negative ciful and all-wise providence of God, upon the first part of this enquiry. We are made to result from the exercise shall there discover, that they have not
only been lamentably deficient in If such persons ever were accúspromoting a spirit of peace, but have tomed to pray for the peace continually acted under the influence kind,—are we not compelled, in the of its infernal opponent. We may exercise even of Christian charity, to safely challenge the history of nearly believe that their prayers were either eighteen hundred years, since the expressed without fervour and sinPrince of Peace began his public cerity, or uttered under the most ministry, to furnish one solitary in- erroneous impressions ; - altogether stance where even those who mi- discordant with the subject of their nistered in holy things have borne a petition ? public and decided testimony against
If, even in the present day, we were War. But on the contrary, many in. to visit the churches and chapels of stances may be adduced in which they England only, to say nothing of the have fanned the flame of mortal other parts of Christendom-if we Warfare, and have, perhaps unwit- were to enquire into the principles, tingly, lent themselves to the service feelings, and habits of the different of him who was a murderer from the
ministers and their congregations, is beginning. We need not go back to there not reason to fear that the the wild and fanatical period, when subject of Peace occupies very little Peter the hermit blew so successfully of their attention,—that it seldom the blast of War, from the shores of constitutes the subject of their arthe Mediterranean to the inclement dent supplications,—and that when regions of Scandinavia. We remem
it is introduced into the prayers of ber to have seen an elegant political the devout Christian, it is regarded sermon by a Christian minister, who as a blessing only to be attained at is still living, the object of which was some distant period, and by some unto rouse the nation to war; and to- foreseen and miraculous operation. wards the close of which, in a strain It has been supposed that the uniof sublime imagery, he represented versal diffusion of Christianity must God and the holy angels as looking precede the establishment of universal down with lively interest upon the peace. Yes, we say, Christianity, approaching contest, and holding out properly understood as it regards the crowns of glory to those who should subject of Peace, must prevail over fall in battle.
the delusions of Mahometanism, and Nor is this a solitary instance. the cruel rites of Paganism, before Thousands and tens of thousands of wars and contentions shall cease to both clergy and laity, forgetful of the ends of the earth. But, after the the mind that was in Christ Jesus, experience of so many centuries has have been led astray from the purity demonstrated the inefficacy of the of the Christian faith, and the amia- principles of Christianity, as they bleness of the Christian temper, by have been hitherto understood, to that spirit of resistance, or retaliation, promote and preserve the peace of or national glory, which martials Christianized Europe, what hope cap armies for the ensanguined field,
we have that the general diffusion of and justifies the slaughter, the de- the religion of Jesus Christ will be atvastation, and the miseries of War. tended with more benign effects ?
Certainly we can have no rational to me as visionary and 'unstable ; and
; expectation that Christianity will unpossessed of inherent stamina, and universally produce Peace on earth, genuine merit, to make its way or and good-will towards men,' unless
maintain its footing. There never
was a period when the grace, the it be taught and received as a system duties of Christianity, were more of absolute and unlimited forgiveness sedulously or more universally endeaand love, and as immutably prin- voured to be propagated to the Heacipled against all national Warfare, then, in whatever portion of the globe as well as individual contention.
residing, or urged in the practice of In this point of view how important every professing Christian, than at is the subject of Peace! and how as the divine, saving knowledge
present; and in the same proportion necessary the labours and the fervent spreads, and success attends the prayers of the friends of peace ! We blissful praiseworthy attempts of the cannot conclude without earnestly active and the good, so will and wishing that all who engage in the must the object your Society has in noble employment of Missionaries,
view be produced in the mind of and those whose office it is to qualify isolated virtue? Why spend your
man. Why therefore take up this them for the arduous work, would time and money for the accomplishgive their serious attention to a pointment of a virtue exclusively, which of Christian duty which ought to be must and does from its nature form the grand test of the sincerity and a component of the grand attainment success of all Missionary efforts. “By ceive it a work of, if I may use the
contemplated by Christianity? I conthis shall all men know that ye are word, supererogation : whilst from my disciples, if ye have love one its unseasonable trial, i.e. from the towards another.'
state of the world and the human
mind not being yet in a suitable conFriendly Correspondence relative to the entertained against it politically, it is
dition for it, and a prejudice being expediency of the Peace Society.
visionary, unnecessary, and unfit; and, My Dear Sir,
my word for it, will not succeed.
The subscription, therefore, my dear The object of your Society is de- Sir, which under my early impreslightful, and cannot but be approved sion of this subject, I should have of by every thinking Christian. Here- committed to your hands, I am bound in my sentiments are what they were: now to withhold. but not so, for a long time past, my opinion of the prospect, or proba- I am, my dear Sir, bility, of any attendant good on its
Your's very truly, views and measures ; which, I have little doubt, may be considered as 14th May, 1821. politically anti-governmental ; and tending, whilst it fails in the pro- Respected and Dear Sir, duction of the good it contemplates, I DARE say you will be surprised to clog the wheels of the State, and that at this distance of time I should impede preparations, should the day offer a reply to your note of the 14th come (not unlikely) for even an atti- of May on the subject of the Peace tude of defence in the country. Society : but my avocations are not
The more too I revolve it in my few, and the question is one which is mind, the more strongly it appears not affected by the lapse of time.
Your objections to the Society ap- originates, and by consequence the pear to be threefold, viz.
practice itself, are broadly and une1. That " it may be considered as quivocally forbidden alike by the politically anti-governmental; and Law and the Gospel, no unprejudiced tending, whilst it fails in the attain. reader of the Sacred Volume would ment of its object, to clog the wheels attempt to deny: in the latter disof the State, and impede prepara- pensation particularly under which
( tions, should the day come (not un- we live), its prohibition is written as likely) for even an attitude of defence with a sun-beam. If then the goin the country."
vernment of a professsing Christian 2. That inasmuch as unprecedent- country are found to sanction a pracedly great efforts are now being tice which is decidedly anti-Chrismade for the propagation of Chris- tian, let the inconsistency rest upon tianity, both at home and abroad; that government; but let not those and as far as that object is achieved, who in this respect are ruled by so far will the purpose of the Peace the Gospel be called “ Society be answered; therefore the mental."* It is humbly presumed
” labours of the Society are superero- that the members of Peace Societies gatory.
arę, for the most part, 3. That “ from its unseasonable Christians"-persons who diligently trial, i. e. from the state of the world, read the Scriptures, with prayer to and the human mind not being yet understand and obey them : a study in a suitable condition for it, and a in which they are soon taught that it prejudice being entertained against it is their duty implicitly to obey the politically, it is visionary, unneces- civil government under which they is sary, and unfit; and, your word for are placed, in every command which it, will not succeed."
does not contravene the higher auWith regard to the first objection, thority of God's Word, from the oblinamely, that the Society may be con- gations of which no human sanctions sidered as anti-governmental; and is can discharge them. calculated to clog the wheels of the Your second objection is, that the State, and to impede preparations for efforts of the Peace Society are not the defence of the country. You will required, because extraordinary exallow, dear Sir, that the circumstance ertions are being made by the Chrisof an institution being considered tian world to propagate the Gospel “ anti-governmental," does not ne- at home and abroad ; and the successarily establish the truth of the cess of Christianity will be the success charge : it is at least possible that of the Peace Society. This objection, the many may be sometimes in error, dear Sir, has been already urged, in judging of the few. This may and (I think) successfully answered. especially be the case in the instance It has been replied—“ Íf the mere of a new association, whose consti- spread of Christianity were sufficient tution may not have received adequate to root out all the malignant and examination. Now the Bible being selfish passions, whence wars origithe acknowledged basis upon which nate, how has it happened that the bulk the legislative acts of this and every Christian state are founded, and by which the operations of its govern- letter of the British Constitution, it is one
* I am aware that, according to the ment are professedly regulated, it of the King's prerogatives to make war : follows that whatever principles are but it is well known that he never does so fairly derived from that source can
absolutely: he acts herein by and with the not be properly anti-governmental. Third Estate always votes the supplies
consent of his Privy Council. And the That the principles whence War wherewith war is waged.
of the professing Christian world, from its being “visionary, unnecessary, its fourth century (up to which period and unfit, in consequence of the there were no Christian soldiers) to the state of the world, and the human present day, have, with the “ com- mind not being yet in suitable conparatively trivial exceptions of the dition for it, and a prejudice being Society of Friends and the United entertained against it politically ; Brethren (or Moravians,] held the and then you add your conviction unchristian tenet that war is con- that “it will not succeed.” To this sistent with Christianity? Does not I simply reply by asking, What great this fact demonstrate that Chris- moral revolution, that affected the tians themselves require to be in- passions and trenched upon
supformed on this head ? In other words, posed interests of mankind, was ever does it not prove the necessity of deemed otherwise than " visionary, drawing their minds to a serious re- unnecessary, and unfit," whenever examination of that Gospel which proposed for adoption ? On such they have received as a rule of life, occasions, some reasons of expein order that they may see whether diency have always been brought those things' which the Peace So- forward, to controvert the plain and ciety affirms 'be so ?' In fine, the express dictates of truth. The quespromoters of the Peace Society are tion of the Slave Trade Abolition, simply desirous of placing their views you know, was met in this way: of Christianity before their fellow- but the champions of religion and professors of it, as means whereby humanity were not daunted: they that perfect dispensation may have persevered through evil report and its legitimate effect upon their minds, good report; and the God of Justice but which has been to such a fearful and Mercy crowned their labours extent counteracted by the pernicious with success. Again, the question force of early education and popular of sending Missionaries to the Hindelusion; - an effect which would doos was replied to, some years ago, infallibly ensure the existence of by temporising representations of the peace on earth, while the subjects very serious dangers attending the of it would assuredly breathe nothing measure : but now what a contrast but good-will toward men.”
do we behold! Thus it is with War, Another writer has said, “The which has destroyed an infinitely need of such a Society is obvious, from greater number of the human race the frequent occurrence, the wide, than Avarice ever enslaved, or than extensive, and fatal effects, of War Superstition has immolated. down to the present time. Neither Your concluding prophecy, dear civilization, nor a profession of Chris- Sir, that the efforts of Peace Societies tianity, has yet succeeded to stop ss will not succeed,” is not of course this source of incalculable miseries matter for argumentation. You are and crimes. They have even, by doubtless at perfect liberty to entermitigating the ferocity of warfare, tain, and express, that opinion. I been perverted to apologies for its beg to say, however, that I differ practice. : It is evident that the ge- from you. I believe that they will nuine principles both of religion and succeed; and for this reason : bepolitical economy have not been cause I find that in the prophecies sufficiently appplied to the root of of the Old and the New Testament the evil. To give that direction to a time is specifically foretold when them, and by concentrating them to peace shall universally prevail ; and augment their force, are the objects. I see that the Almighty Disposer of of Peace Societies."
events condescends to use human Another objection which you urge agency in the accomplishing of all against the Peace Society arises from those great moral changes which are