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if not an actual prohibition, is perhaps of greater force with mere worldly men, since they will, on all hands, agree that no war can be worth carrying on with a certain prospect of destruction to themselves.
Of defensive war, however, I would speak guardedly, since I am aware that many repudiate, as utterly impracticable, our Saviour's own directions on the subject of retaliation—“Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” That such a spirit and practice are right, there can be no doubt. But that everything right, is attainable in a world where all is wrong, may admit of a question, especially when we call to mind the injunction which concludes this very chapter—" Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Perfection, therefore, is right : but who will say it is attainable ?
We should not forget, moreover, that with regard to this doctrine of non-resistance, we have no limit as to its applicability
. “Whosoever" is a large word, and must certainly refer to all classes of men, from the Bushman to the Briton-from the savage to the Christian. We know not, indeed, whether it may not be carried still farther.
Now we can easily suppose that it is not the Christian's business to resent, or return evil received from a fellow-Christian. With such an aggressor, he could argue, not only ples of reason, but the higher principles of the gospel. But with a man who, however highly civilized he may be, does not allow the Divine authority of Scripture, what is he to do ? True, he has still an appeal to reason, but the proposition to a mere man of the world appears so unreasonable, that Tom Paine has actually used this very doctrine with tremendous effect, in order to prove the injustice and falsehood of the Bible. Let us look a little farther. The man is assailed by a barbarian, altogether impervious to reason, and perhaps not understanding the very language in which his appeal
couched; must he still acquiesce without resistance? As far, indeed, as any negociation between the opposed parties is concerned, we can readily believe that a brute beast would in some cases be less inexorable than a man; and the necessary inference would then appear to be, that man was forbidden to resist the attack even of a beast of prey!
on the princiThere is, however, a consideration bearing upon the opposite side of the question, which ought not in justice to be overlooked. It must be allowed that this non-resistance principle has scarcely had a fair trial; and that, when it has been put into practice, it has often succeeded far better (humanly speaking) than could have been contemplated. Many are the instances which might be adduced, to shew that a simple reliance on Divine aid in such cases has been more efficient than force of arms, in warding off the threatened danger.
It may nevertheless be fairly urged in reply to the latter proposition, that we are but poor scholars in deciphering the mystic volume of God's Providence. Rarely, if ever, can we know what his ultimate purposes may be in permitting such aggressions as those to which we are referring; and we generally conclude that if the threatened life be spared, we were certainly in our duty, whatever means we may have adopted. But the command to suffer evil unresistingly has no promise of the kind annexed to it; and many things are infinitely more important in the sight of God than the mere saving of a life. We are, indeed, cautioned in the gospel against an undue anxiety on its account; and we must not therefore suppose that what we call success in the application of this principle of non-resistance, proves it to be either right or wrong. God, in permitting such passages, may have much higher purposes to answer than the perpetuation of a few lives, which he could do just as well without.
We believe, however, on the whole, that this law, like all other Divine laws, was given more as a standard of excellence than as a rule of conduct. Knowing, as we do, that the law of the Old Testament was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, we might safely argue (were it not matter of express Revelation) that the broader and more searching precepts of the gospel were intended to throw us for salvation solely on his merits and mediation. If, when we have done all, we are but unprofitable servants, why should it be urged that we are to rise higher towards the fulfilment of this command, than of any other, especially as we are elsewhere enjoined, so far as it is possible, (and so far only,) to live peaceably with all men ?
We are nevertheless not disposed to extend this indulgence to cases of national war.
It is so easy to persuade ourselves that we are acting on the defensive, when we are really the aggressors, that the doctrine is a very dangerous one when rival communities or kingdoms are concerned. The precise boundary between attack and defence has never been determined. Is it too late to begin a defensive war when the enemy stands before our very door, or should we commence when he has only reached the city gates? May he effect a landing on our shores unmolested ? May he set sail from his own country without our interference ? May he collect his forces abroad, without any shew of resistance on our part? May he strengthen his hands by conquest after conquest abroad, when we know he is only doing so that he may put himself in a better position to subdue ourselves? Or when we only suppose this, are we justified in commencing those defences which may so far provoke him as to draw down upon us the very animosities we affect to be desirous of avoiding ?
Contrasting the present extent of our dominions (upon which it has been remarked that the sun never sets) with our position in the scale of nations, less than two thousand years ago, when we were ourselves but tributaries, without a government, and under foreign law; can it indeed be said that our wars have been defensive only? Surely it was not by taking care of our own that we secured so much belonging to others ?
This idea would lead us to consider the philosophy of conquest, as it has been generally understood; but in doing this, we should be led into a field of discussion far too ample for us to explore satisfactorily this evening. The appropriation of Tahiti by the French government, is a case fresh in the memory of all. How easily, how honestly, and with how much purity of purpose these things are usually managed, both by ourselves and by other nations, is notorious as a matter of history. Another instance of such-usurpation may suffice as a sample of all the rest.
On the 9th April, 1682, a handful of Frenchmen who had managed to find their way by land and water from the western extremity of Lake Erie, to the mouth of the Mississippi, set up a cross and column, chant the Te Deum, the Exaudiat, and the Domine salvum fac Regem, and shout God save the king, amidst the rattle of fire-arms; and what is the result? A vast tract of country from the mouth of the Ohio, to the Gulph of Mexico, falls to the crown of France, not only with all its seas, harbours, ports, bays, and adjacent straits—but with all its live stock into the bargain-its “nations, people, and provinces !” The Kious, and the Motantees, and the Mesigameas, the Natches, the Koroas, and all and every of its tribes, became tributary to La Belle France ; because they were either innocent or foolish enough to grin at the popish mummeries of their visitors, and dance round a cross set up, as they doubtless considered, merely for their amusement! Possession, time out of mind, could give the poor savage no title to his land, but the mere fact that a Frenchman had paddled his canoe down one of its many rivers, made him a greater man than Selkirk-constituting him monarch not only “of all he surveyed,” but of ten thousand times more.
SELF-APPRAISEMENT AND SELF-ABASEMENT. Emma GORDON was an only child, and having been made the constant companion of her mother, their first separation was looked forward to by her, with any thing but feelings of pleasant anticipation.
It frequently happens, however, that where there has been least enjoyment in prospect, there is more in reality ; and after the first distress of parting was over, she began to feel how very happy she could be with the dear and kind friends among whom she was to pass a few months. It is true, she had no young companions, but never having been accustomed to any, their loss was unfelt; and in the affectionate society of her grandmamma and aunts, she soon found she could be very happy indeed.
But all visits must come to an end sooner or later; and when the three months of Emma's absence from home had expired, she could with difficulty believe that a space of time, which had appeared so long in prospect, could seem so short now that it was past. Her aunt Jane told her, that in emblematical representations of Time, she would see him delineated as an old man, who approaches you with a slow and lingering step, and that it is only when he is past, that you can see that he has wings. Emma thought it a pretty device, but she said it did not help her to understand why it should be so.
Her grief in parting with her friends was mingled with so much gladness at the prospect of being so soon again with her mamma, that she often thought it necessary to apologize to her grandmamma, by assuring her that it was not because she was glad to leave her, that she went singing about the house, but because the prospect of home was so very delightful, that she could not conceal her happiness. Mrs. Gordon perfectly understood the state of the case, and rejoiced to think that her beloved grandchild had so happy a home awaiting her.
On reaching home, Emma found herself almost embarrassed with the quantity of subjects on which she wished to talk first. The consequence was, that for a little while, she hardly spoke at all, and her mamma began to fear that her silence proceeded from a newly acquired reserve towards herself, and almost regretted having consented to part with her for so long. Her fears on this point were, however, speedily dispersed, and Emma had so much to relate of what she had seen, and what she had heard, of what she had thought, felt, done, and enjoyed, that it appeared there would be a fund of enjoyment in store for the winter's evenings, in conversing with her mamma about it all. Emma was just of an age when the differences of character begin to strike the mind. And she used to discuss these differences, as illustrated by the people she had seen during her absence, very freely-perhaps, more freely than many mothers would have permitted. But Mrs. Gordon was of opinion, that as Emma had no other companion, it was better to accustom her to think aloud when with her, as by this means she obtained a clue to her feelings which she considered it valuable to possess, and which enabled her to assist her in rectifying her ideas on many important subjects.
Emma had been at home nearly a month when, one evening as Mrs. Gordon laid down the magazine she had been reading, she exclaimed with even more than her usual impetuosity, “ Mamma! to think I have been at home all this time, and yet that I have never told you about the best person I saw while I was at Erlingford !”
“ Indeed,” replied Mrs Gordon, “I rather wonder at that, but there is no harm in keeping the best to the last, and I shall be very glad to hear what you have to say. Who may the