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ADVOCATE OF PEACE
JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, 1859.
THE LEGAL ARGUMENT FOR WAR.
We can seldom bring or keep the advocates of war to the real issue: Is war a Christian way of settling disputes? Are its principles, its spirit, its means, its ends, all in clear and full accordance with the gospel, with the Sermon on the Mount, with the teaching or example of Christ and his apostles? Does the New-Testament enjoin or allow war as a proper, evangelical process of determining justice between nations? Is it a Christian institution, one which the gospel is designed, not to condemn and abolish, but to preserve, and merely guard it against abuse?
Here is the true and only issue; but, instead of fairly meeting it, apologists for war fly off to other points on which we have no controversy, and talk about the necessity of government with its appliances for dealing with the wrong-doer. 'Society,' we are told,' must protect itself against outrage. Jails and prisons, the judge, the sheriff and the executioner, are right in their place, indispensable under the gospel itself to the safety and well-being of society. It may be a hard process, but just as necessary as it is for the surgeon to amputate a mortified limb; and it would be only a girlish sentimentalism, a suicidal kindness, to hold the arm of law back from its steady, unrelenting grasp upon the disturbers of the public peace. The principle is applicable to nations, to wrong-doers alike on a small and a large scale. An army is a species of international police, as a navy is an ocean police, each an instrument of justice between nations. We may well deplore the necessity; but, however deplorable, it exists, and cannot, in the present state of the world, be avoided. A man-of-war is indeed a painful sight; so is the 6caflbld or the prison; but both are needed to punish or restrain wrong-doers.'