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PRACTICAL EFFICACY OF THE PRINCIPLES OF PEACE.
Ir may be said with some degree of plausibility, that the principles of peace are not the principles of protection; and that, if we throw off the aspect and attitude of war, we shall not only be insecure against hostility, but shall invite it. Whether this objection involves a fallacy or not, it is beyond all question, that it is cordially received as an undoubted truth by many persons, who invest themselves with it as with a shield, and avail themselves of its aid to throw back, to a measureless distance, whatever is addressed either to their understandings or their hearts on the great subject of universal peace. They take their stand upon this simple proposition alone, that no nation is safe without military preparation. They assert with as much confidence, as if they were pleading the authority of a mathematical axiom, that there is no security, and no peace, except on the condition of bloodshed; that he, who will not fight, must make up his mind to become the prey of every species of depredation. Nor can we justly assert it to be altogether without reason, that men so generally take this position, when we remember that the history of the world, with but few exceptions, is the mournful history of international jealousy and strife. And yet we feel in some degree prepared to maintain, (and we hope
with the prospect of a successful issue upon the mind of the objector himself,) that, amid all the belligerent elements existing either in individuals or communities, pacific principles are the surest safeguard. We verily believe, that in these principles there is a secret power, a hidden but most effective energy, which is but imperfectly understood. If men had the faith to receive it, they would not fail to find, that the panoply of love is more impenetrable to the attacks of adversaries than that of steel.
We hope not to be charged with extravagance. God himself has made provision for this great result. The security, which is to be found in pacific principles, is based in the constitution of the human mind itself. We are so constituted by our Maker, that we naturally feel an interest in innocence and weakness; and it excites in every man, whose feelings have not been greatly perverted, the deepest disapprobation and abhorrence, when they are made to suffer. Why is it, that little children and women and feeble old men are, in a vast majority of cases, fully protected amid the widespread and deepest horrors of war? Will it be said, that they find their protection in force? But they exhibit nothing of this kind; they have no arms; they present no organization and array of battle; on the contrary they make their appeal to the PENETRALIA of the soul; they look for protection to the great principles of humanity alone. A little child was once found on the field of battle by an infuriated soldier of a victorious army. He looked up into his face, and prompted by the protecting instincts of nature, exclaimed, "Do not kill me, I am so little." In such a simple appeal as this, coming from the soul and addressing itself to the original and immutable principles of our nature, we do not hesitate to say, that there is a reality and effectiveness of power. Perhaps there are men to be
found, who would kill the little child in the very act of making this simple and pathetic appeal. But do not the most sacred instincts of our nature rise up against them? Do we not call them base assassins, murderers, and monsters? Is there one to be found in a million, who would be accessory to such a crime? It is with the greatest confidence, therefore, we assert, that, in the elements and arrangements of things, a wise and adequate provision is made for the protection of innocence and weakness. It is in consequence of this provision, which a kind Providence has made, that the tempest of war, while it smites the strong man armed, while it rends the oak and the mountain rock, so often leaves uninjured the reed and the flower, that bend submissively before it.
We might bring instances, multitudes of instances from common life, where mild and pacific measures have secured that protection, which never would have been yielded to force. There is much philosophy in one of Æsop's Fables. The sun and the north wind once had a contest, which should first disarm a certain traveller of his cloak. The wind blew, but the traveller wrapped his cloak about him; it blew more loudly and angrily, but the traveller, exerting all his strength, held his cloak more firmly and closely than ever. The sun took an opposite course; he gave no indications of violence and wrath; he spread over hill and valley the warmth of his purest and gentlest radiance; the traveller smiled, and at once yielded the cloak to kindness, which he had refused to force. This is a picture of human life. It finds its counterpart all the world over, and it would be an endless labor to exhaust the illustrations and proofs, which every where present themselves.
In the early part of the year 1833, or about that time, an agent of the Bible Society was travelling in the Mexican province of Texas. His course lay through a piece
of woods, where two men waylaid him with murderous intentions; one being armed with a gun, the other with a large club. As he approached the place of their concealment, they rushed towards him; but finding that no resistance was offered, they neither struck nor fired. He began to reason with them; and presently they seemed less eager to destroy him in haste. After a short time
he prevailed on them to sit down with him upon a log and talk the matter over deliberately; and finally he persuaded them to kneel with him in prayer; after which they parted with him in a friendly manner.*. -And this is the direct tendency of a pacific and benevolent course; it touches a chord in every human heart; it has influence with the most abandoned; it has power even with the assassin.
Nor is this meant as a mere emphatic declaration, which is to be taken with some diminution of its obvious import. We have no doubt, that a traveller would be more safe among an uncivilized and barbarous people, where assaults and assassinations are frequent, without arms than with them, provided it were known, that he was unarmed. And in proof of the correctness of this opinion, we will introduce here an extract from Ramond's Travels in the Pyrenees. Speaking of the Spanish smugglers, he says, "These smugglers are as adroit as they are determined, are familiarized at all times with peril, and march in the very face of death; their first movement is a never-failing shot, and certainly would be a subject of dread to most travellers; for where are they to be dreaded more than in deserts, where crime has nothing to witness it, and the feeble no assistance? As for myself, alone and unarmed, I have met them without anxiety, and have accompanied them without fear. We have little to apprehend from men *Calumet vol. 1. p. 581.
whom we inspire with no distrust nor envy, and every thing to expect in those, from whom we claim only what is due from man to man. The laws of nature still exist
for those, who have long shaken off the laws of civil government. At war with society, they are sometimes at peace with their fellows. The assassin has been my
guide in the defiles of the boundaries of Italy; the smuggler of the Pyrenees has received me with a welcome in his secret paths.
"Armed, I should have been the enemy of both; unarmed, they have alike respected me. In such expectation, I have long s'nce laid as'de all menacing apparatus whatever. Arms may, indeed, be employed against the wild beast, but no one should forget that they are no defence against the traitor; that they irritate the wicked, and intimidate the simple; lastly, that the man of peace, among mankind, has a much more sacred defence-h's character."*
I have often thought, that the history of missionary efforts throws some light upon the great, but hitherto generally unacknowledged truth of the protective efficacy of pacific principles. The missionary goes from his native country into some distant and savage land; he takes up his abode in desert and inhospitable places, among a people of a strange language and ferocious habits; he teaches a new and holy doctrine, altogether at strife with the superstitions and practices of their country; he has no military arms for his defence, but is in that respect utterly exposed and defenceless. And yet he is entirely secure; far more so, than if he were girt round with the unholy protection of weapons of war. With a mild and beneficent expression of countenance, he is greeted by rude and ferocious Savages, whose trade has been one through life of hostility and bloodshed. They see that he is a man of peace; they recognize the exalted and divine nature of the principles of peace; * As quoted in Hancock's Principles of Peace.