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the scriptures be known, studied, and obeyed through the world, and war shall never again disturb or desolate the nations.
No more shall nation against nation rise,
As to the proximity of our Saviour's reign on earth, his friends may, indeed, be disappointed. When they are looking for permanent and extensive peace, new wars may be kindled. There may again “be distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, and men's hearts failing for fear, and for looking after those things, which are coming upon the earth.” But those revolutions, which disturb the world, do not shake the foundation of the christian's hope. “God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
What has recently been done for the furtherance of the gospel, has not been effected, while the nations were flourishing and tranquil. If, therefore the earth is to be visited with new desolations, we need not apprehend, that the great interest which is so dear to christians, will be abandoned. “The walls of Jerusalem shall be built in troublous times. Therefore will we not fear though the earth should be removed, and though the mountains should be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling there. of. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God: the holy place of the tabernacle of the most High.”
SERMON II I.
On the evils of War and the probability of the universal prevalence of Peace.
PSALM lxxii. 7.
In his days shall the righteous Aourish : and abundance of
peace, so long as the moon enduresh.
Tais Psalm, it is believed, refers to Solomon, as typifying the Messiah. In colours of uncommon beauty, it portrays the blessings of good government ; blessings which will nev.. er be fully enjoyed, till “ the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.”
In the present discourse, the following arrangement will be observed. After showing, that war is à calamity, both extensive and severe, I shall attempt, from the text and other passages of scripture, to return an answer to this inquiry, 4 Shall the sword devour forever?”
War is a calamity of very wide extent. Originating in the depravity of the human heart, it is likely to prevail, wherever there are human beings, in whom this depravity is unsubdued. Accordingly we find, that war has been common in every age, and among all nations, whether barbarous or refined. Contention began, even before the civil state could have been formed. It commenced in the first family, and during the life of our first parents. Abel was
slain by the hands of a brother. As the number of human beings increased, similar enormities became more common. As a reason why God destroyed all flesh by a deluge, it is recorded, that the “earth was filled with violence.” It is probably in reference to this, that God immediately after the deluge, with so much solemnity, prohibited the wanton destruction of human life; “And surely your blood of your lives will I require. At the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of every man; and at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” (Gen. ix. 5.) The passion for war and conquest was next displayed in Nimrod, who, to the character of a mighty hunter, added that of a chieftain and statesman. In the days of Abraham, kings had formed alliances for the purpose of war. Nine kings were joined together in one battle in the “vale of Siddim.” (Gen. xiv. 3.) When the descendants of Israel were established in the land of Canaan, they had wars not unfrequently among themselves, and almost perpetually with surrounding nations. The history of the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, is, for the most part, military history. These nations have long since disappeared. After having trampled on the rights of states less powerful; after having, for many ages, revelled with impunity on the spoils of others; at length made feeble by their own greatness, they were vanquished, in succession, by other states, possessing the same ambition, but not, like themselves, enervated by age and luxury. So universally have events corresponded with the declaration of Christ; “He that taketh the sword, shall perish by the sword.” The great kingdoms and empires of ancient times, with all their power and splendor, were, at different periods, swept from the earth by the storms of war. The prophet Ezekiel, with a mind glowing with inspiration, has imagined that world which contains the spirits of all the dead. As death is the end of all men, war is represented by him as
the death of nations. - Ashur is there and all her company. His graves are round about him : all of them slain, fallen by the sword. Whose graves are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword; which are gone down, uncircumcised, to the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living: yet they have borne their shame with them, that go down to the pit. There is Mesheck and Tubal, with all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain with the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living. And they shall not lie with the mighty, that are slain of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads. But their iniquity shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. There is Edom, her kings, and all her princes, which, with their might, are laid by them, that are slain by the sword. There be the princes of the North, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain. With their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they bear their shame with them, that go down to the pit.”
The remarks, which we have made in reference to ancient kingiloms and empires, may be applied to modern Europe. In its history nothing is so prominent, and nothing so much engrosses the attention, as the operation and consequences of war. Those hordes of barbarians, that, from different quarters, and at different times, invaded and eventually crushed the Roman empire, were of a character, daring, ferocious, and warlike. (Liv. v. 36.) They scarcely pretend to any other right, than that which was founded on their courage, fortune and military strength.
6 We carry, said they, our right in our arms; and all things are the property of brave men.” (Liv. Lib. v.) Whoever considers the extent and power of the Roman empire, will readily perceive, that its subversion could not have been effected,
without infinite sufferings, and enormous waste of human lives. As the states, now occupying Europe, were formed by a union of those hordes, with fragments of the ancient empire, they have inherited the same spirit, somewhat broken indeed, and softened by the progress of refinement, and the mild genius of christianity. Among these states, the last twenty years have constituted an era of pre-emiment desolation. Hitherto we have alluded to those nations and empires, with which history is most familar. But the calamity and opprobrium of war are not confined to any community or division of the human race. When America was first exhibited to the view of an astonished world, its inhabitants were not found, in this respect, to possess any peculiar traits of character. Impelled by the same passions, they gave vent to them in the same manner. Their enterprises were those of hunting and war, i. e. their chief employment was to preserve their own lives, and to kill their enemies. A similar remark may be made in reference to the savage inhabitants, possessing the isles, either of the Pacific or Indian Ocean. They are known to have been, in the words of inspiration, “hateful, and hating one another.” From the remarks, already made, it appears, that whatever pre-eminence man may possess, when compared with other animals inhabiting the globe, this superiority is not evinced by the absence of hostile feelings and habits. Wherever there are human beings, there are wars; wherever wars exist, there is deadly hatred;—a public, systematical endeavor to shed human blood. Nor are we to imagine, that though war may be an evil, from which no nation is wholly exempt, it is, however, an evil of unfrequent occurrence. From the building of Rome, to the reign of Augustus; i. e. for a period of more than seven hundred years, the temple of Janus was shut but twice: i. e. with only two interruptions, the Romans had war for seven centuries. From an account, published in London, four years since, it
appears that from the year 1110 to 1813, the number of