« ForrigeFortsæt »
have yet been almost inclined to consider it as the offspring of weakness or enthusiasm, and as quite inefficient in regard to its professed objects. We confess that we ourselves were at one time among this number; but our views of it have been materially changed ; and we are persuaded that much seed has been sown, which promises an abundant and valuable crop. There can be little doubt that public opinion has already been materially affected by the publications of this society. The subject of war bas been made a prominent subject of attention and discussion. Its criminality has been more deeply felt; its miseries and horrors have been more leisurely and largely surveyed; its pretended advantages and glories have been more justly estimated. Its opposition to christianity, we believe, is more considered than it has been. Public sentiment is in fact much more strong against war than at any former period; and we think it would now be more difficult, than ever before, to induce a considerable part of the community to engage in it. Nor is this sentiment confined to our particular community. Peace societies bave sprung up not only in various parts of our own country, but in Great Britian and on the continent of Europe. Innumerable tracts on this subject have been extensively circulated in most of the languages of Europe. All this does good ; and is the precursor to most important results. The consequences, to which it may lead, are not to be determined by the history of past times. A material change has taken place in the condition of the world. The world is now brought together by the unlimited range of commercial enterprise, education is every where extending its blessings, and every where contributing to enlighten and elevate the human mind. Heretofore the great mass of mankind have been little accustomed to think for themselves; they have been governed by authority, or precedent, or kept under by physical force. But within the last few years things in this respect have greatly altered. The intellectual improvement of men has taken an immense stride. Every subject of a political or moral character is now discussed upon its own merits in the highest and the lowest circles of civil society; and public opinion is to be in future the great engine by which the social machine is moved. This is already eminently the case with our own country; and in spite of all the fetters fastened upon the press, and all the attempts to arrest the progress of inquiry by the despotic sovereigns of Europe, it must be so there. In the present circumstances of the world, to oppose an effectual barrier to the progress of the human mind and of human society would be as vain as to attempt to repress the swelling tide. They may presumptuously stand before it, but they will be overwbelmed. How important is it then that public sentiment should be enlightened and a right direction be given to it! and, if any thing is to be done in the case, what so likely to be effectual, as to enable society at large to form a correct estimate of the cost of war; we mean not its pecuniary cost, which in a comparative scale weighs nothing; but its expense of human blood and human life, of inorals, improvement, comfort, and happiness. There are some expenditures, which from their vastness are not understood. When we speak of millions, the sum is so far beyond any thing which enters into the ordinary calculations of life, that we pass them over without any impression corresponding to their extent. Thus when we hear of whole countries ravaged and desolated by the march of immense armies, and of thousands and tens of thousands weltering on the field of battle, such accounts, from their greatness, to most men who have not been eye witnesses to scenes so unutterably terrific and afflictive, have so much the air of romance, that they are read with comparatively little emotion. It is by a just and exact exhibition of the miseries of war in particular instances, upon small communities, upon families, and individ. uals, that men will be most deeply impressed with its horrors and iniquities. "A
poor wretch, says Simond, well worth describing, offered himself to us as a guide ; he had lost an eye, his arm was in a sling, and his head bound up with a dirty rag of a handkerchief; the large military bat over it half hid an unshaved countenance, deeply ting. ed with bile and sickness, rather than sunburnt; a pair of cast-off shoes, much too large for his feet, were fastened on with pack thread, and he wore about his wrist something, which might have been an officer's scarf, in order to keep his tattered coat from flying abroad. Salvator Rosa was stamped upon his figure; and when 5 sad historian of the pensive ruins," he began his narrative, the lowering expression of his countenance and surly voice and manner accorded perfectly with his general appearance. He had been an artilleryman during the seige, had been wounded and was just dismissed from the hospital.'*
“The town where we had fought no longer remained. We could not even distinguish the lines of the streets on account of the numerous dead bodies with which they were heaped. On every side we saw a multitude of scattered limbs and human heads, crushed by the wheels of the artillery. The houses formed a pile of ruins, and under their burning ashes appeared many skeletons half consumedmany of the sick and wounded had, on quitting the field of battle, taken refuge in these houses. The small number of them who had escaped the flames, now presented themselves before us, with their faces blackened, and their clothes and hair dreadfully burnt. In the
* Simond's Switzerland, vol. i. p. 57.
most piteous tone they besought us to afford them some relief, or kindly to terminate their sufferings by death.'
The villages, which a few days before had afforded us shelter, were now level with the ground. Under their ashes yet warm, and which the wind drove towards us, were the bodies of hundreds of soldiers and peasants. Many an infant was to be seen cruelly butchered, and many a female savagely massacred on the spot which bad witnessed her violation.'
• As we traversed the field of battle we heard, at a distance, a feeble voice appealing to us for succour. Touched by his plaintive cries, some soldiers approached the spot and to their astonishment, saw stretched on the ground a French soldier with both his legs fractured. “I was wounded,” said he, on the day of the great battle. I fainted from the agony which I endured, and on recovering my senses, I found myself in a desolate place, where no one could hear my cries or afford me relief. For two months, 1 daily dragged myself to the brink of a rivulet where I fed on the grass and roots, and some morsels of bread, which I found among the dead bodies."
Three thousand prisoners were brought from Moscow. Having nothing to give them during their marcb, they were at night driven into a fold like so many beasts. Without fire, and without food, they lay on the bare ice, and to assuage the hunger, which tortured them, those, who had not the courage to die, nightly fed on the flesh of their companions, whom fatigue, misery, and famine bad destroyed.lt
It is by such monuments as these, that the records of war are kept. It is by the desolated hamlet, by the trampled harvest, by the blazing cottage, by the sick and mutilated, by the scattered limbs and the mangled bodies, seized on while yet warm by birds and beasts of prey, by the agonies and tears of the widow and the fatherless, the houseless and the forlorn ; it is, in a word, by deep tracks in human blood and human misery, that the path of the storm is to be followed with a heart-rending distinctness. The efforts of the Peace Society, to bring home the guilt and miseries of war to the conviction and feelings of men, cannot be, We are persuaded that they have not been, without avail.
* Labaume's Campaign in Russia, pp. 217. 225. 230. 231.
A Collection of Essays and Tracis in Theology. By JARED SPARKS.
No. I. January, 1823. Contents-Turretin on Fundamentals in Religion, and Abauzit's Essays. Bosion, published by O. Everett, No. 13, Corabill. Cambridge : University Press Hilliard and Metcalf. 1823. p. 168.
THERE is no example of the establishment of a new system, either in morals or in religion, in politics or in philosophy, without a conflict inore or less severe, with what went before it in men's minds. If we could find a single exception to this remark, one would think it would certainly be in the discoveries of Galileo, of Copernicus, and of Newton. But even these, having their evidence in the clearesi demonstration, which of all evidence but that of the senses, suits itself best to every variety of capacity-even these shared the common lot of novelties, and had to force their way to general acknowledgment, through much debate and controversy, excommunication, and the fear of death. So bas it also been with the extraordinary discoveries of God's will. Christianity itself, the fullest and the brightest of them all, bas from the time when Jesus began to preach and say, Repent! till now, verified nothing more perfectly than it has the declaration of its founder, that he came not to send peace on earth, but a sword a declaration than which we know of none that more clearly shows how thoroughly he knew what was in man. Not that to set men at variance, and to give them the weapons and the skill for able controversy, was to be the chief effect, or is the principal design, of our religion. This, it is true, it has most completely done ; and this, in so far as it is good for men to differ and contend, there can be no doubt, was intended. But it was rather a natural consequence of his charge to subvert all other sys. tems, and to introduce in their stead, a new and a better system from God, than the main purpose of his mission, to which this energetic language of our Saviour so pointedly referred. He knew, that the word he received from his Father, was to be promulgated by human instruments according to established lawsthat men were to publish it to men, who, left even of themselves to judge not only what is right, but also what is true, would examine,with a thorough scrutiny, both their credentials as his apos. tles, and his credentials as the sent of God—that since a change of character, even in an individual, is one of the greatest alterations in nature, to reform the world would be a work of incalcu. lable time and difficulty--that it could hardly be, that the prejudices and the errors, the abuses and the sins, the moral and intellectual darkness, which had been gathering for ages, could be
dispersed in an instant-that the passage of light, from mind to mind, and from generation to generation, is a very different thing from the passage of light from planet to planet, or from sun to suó, not only requiring much more time, but also having to meet with, and bear down, manifold hindrances and oppositions without number-iu tine, that the whole constitution of inan must be changed, and a new order of nature created, before even the kingdom of heaven could be set up without a struggle, or the prince of peace establish his sway, without many a conflict with its eliemies, human imperfection and human ignorance, blind passions and mistaken interests, the skepticism of some and the credulity of others, the pride of philosophy and the thoughtless bardihood
We are far from thinking, however, that christianity has any fear of an overthrow in whatever contest it may have with enemies like these, or, indeed, with any enemies. For it is the word of God, wbich cannot return unto him void, but must inevitably prosper in the thing whereunto he sent it. But it will. never have fully prospered, till it has thoroughly subdued every strong delusion, every mere device of the human understanding or of the human passions, so that truth and goodness may be all in all. And let us never for an instant despair of its final suc. cess, however slow it may seem to us in its destruction of error, of ignorance, and of sin. For the God of all wisdom determined from the first, that it should complete its work, not at once but by degrees, and it seems wisest and best, that each, striving to do absolutely all in his power to accelerate its progress, should, as to the result, possess his soul in peace and contentedly wait God's time.
But there is one thing, which, in thinking how its progress may be quickened, appears to us certain. Our religion can never be heartily and universally received, and it evidently must be so received before it can completely answer its end, till it is exhibited in its simplicity and purity. So long as contradictions and unintelligible mysteries are absurdly, and as if in mockery, held up as this revelation from God, and christianity is encumbered with human additions, which men are not only not taught to distinguish from it, but to regard as among its constituent principles-our missionaries, for all the service they can do the cause of Christ, had better stay at home. For at home, they may soon chance to learn, that reason and revelation were made by God, the author of them both, to go hand in hand; and that the chief occasion of our seeing so many infidels in christian lands, is the attempt of men to put these asunder though God has joined them. Thus they may perhaps be led also to suspect, why