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were called Quakers. In this country, the attention of many persons has been recently called to this important question. A careful examination of the precepts of the Gospel, and of the principles and practice of the apostolic Church, has resulted in a full and unwarering conviction in many minds, that war is incompatible with the duty and obligations of Christians.'
The consequences to be expected from the pacific principles of the primitive Christians, fully appears in the history of the Church during its first period. They abstained from war; they made no resistance; they offered no violence. Under this passive and inoffensive character christianity rapidly overspread the Roman empire; and it was acknowledged by a Roman emperor, when he wielded the military force of forty legions, that, should the Christians resort to arms, their numbers were sufficient to 'overturn his empire. Yet, in the reign of Dioclesian, ip a general persecution of ten years, myriads of Christians were put to death, without offering resistance or resorting to means of desence.
But Christianity still gaining ground upon heathenism, and uniting wealth, numbers, and influence, at length ascended the Ibrone of the Cesars, and the empire became professedly Chris. tian. If in the purest state of the Church, when under disgrace and persecution, many false professors were found, it may be presumed that, as she rose to power and splendour, and began to offer allurements to ambition, and changed her robes of humility for the imperial purple, her ranks were crowded by men, who preferred to bear the sword of violence, rather than the cross of Christ, and who were more ready to pursue false honour, through blood and slaughter, than to lay down their lives as martyrs for their religion, in expectation of an immortal crown in heaven.
The change of the Christian Church from peace and non-resistance, to retaliation, war, and conquest, was gradual ; nor was it effected by her sufferings, but by her prosperity. And who has not observed the fatal consequences often arising from the intoxi. cations of that Circean cup? If adversity is justly styled the school of wisdom, prosperity is like the harlot's lap, on which the mighty Hebrew slumbered, and was shorn of his strength.
Christians, though not lovers of adversity, cannot but perceivel under what circumstances their religion rose and prevailed; and K. if they examine with candour, they will also perceive, that, in the deplorable apestacy of the Church, her abandonment of her meek
and humble character, and resorting to war and bloodshed, open rated as both cause and effect. Whether she can return to her primitive ground, whether she can re-assume the white robes of innocence, meekness, and peace, which at first covered her with glory and beauty, without again tasting the bitter cup of affliction and persecution, remains to be determined by experiment.
Many persons in various parts of the United States, have lately, as by a simultaneous influence, adopted the pacific system, under circumstances which seem to indicate general and pre-disposing causes; as when you see flowers in one place, you may expect to find them in another, because they indicate the arrival of the vernal season. The state of the political world is such as might, perhaps, be expected to produce a tendency to pacific principles. The demonstration of the folly of ambition cannot well be carried higher, ihe mischief and misery attending the spirit of war, can hardly be more fully displayed, or severely feit, or the blessings of peace be rendered more acceptable and grateful to nations. . Nor is the state of the moral world less conducive to that grand result. The progress of knowledge, civilizacion, and refinement, has dissipated errors, coeval with nations. The chains of slavery are broken, and liberty of conscience, the restraint of which is the basest slavery, now prevails. Reason and philanthropy have even softened the savage features of war, and have rendered the ambition of conquerors odious. And in the religious world, general expectation, founded on sacred prediction, and justified by events of an unequivocal nature, is ready to seize on every indication of an approaching period of peace, prosperity, and glory. to the church of Christ.
Gentlemen, the province of Philosophy is conterminous to that of Religion; and she is next in excellence and loveliness to that immortal offspring of Divinity. Knowledge is her treasure, and the acquisition of it, her employment. She enlightens, liberalizes, and ennobles the miod: and she inquires after truth, not to establish thrones, not to influence in the disposition of crowns or mitres, not to prop and sustain false and hollow systems, which ignorance reared, and ambition maintains. She disseminates truth by the aid of reason to make men happy, and not by the sword to make them slaves. She rejects nothing because it is old, or because it is new-because it is popular, or because it is singular. At an equal remove from prejudice and pride, ber
worst enemy is ignorance, and her grand object is to discover truth, because it is preferable to error.
The subject of these Letters lies not, indeed, in the usual range of philos; hical research; yet the philosopher looks through the telescope as well as the microscope, contemplates mind as well as matter, ponders the future as well as the past, and from physical causes and effects, often makes a transition to the moral order and influence of events.
Philosophy is not more remote from religion than the understanding is from the heart, or thay knowledge is from virtue. They have equal claims to antiquity ; can both complain, with equal justice, of having been corrupted, abused, and traduced ; and both have shared a similar fortune in the revolutions of em. pire and opinion, under the reign of passion, prejudice, and folly. They have revived together, the one assuming as her province the natural, ihe other the moral world. . With these views, Gentlemen, of the sphere of your profession, I cheerfully commit these Letters to your notice and patronage. None can be more sensible than you, of the outrage and devastation war has committed on the republic of letters, and how it has in all ages, shut and sealed up many of the fairest fountains of natural knowledge; so that the philosopher cannot travel far, but he is checked in his progress by the point of the sword, or by resentments which remain when war has subsided. And what is still worse, nations are so impoverished and beggared by war, that they have neither the leisure, nor the means of promoting literature and the arts, did they retain the disposition to do so.
But, should you, after all, conclude that war, though a great calamity, must still be maintained and endured, though deplored as a necessary evil, you will, notwithstanding, as truly as the author, desire the establishment of universal peace, and a good understanding between all nations. You will desire it, for the sake of thousands and millions, who have nothing to gain, but every thing to lose by that scourge of nations ; you will desire it for the honour of our race, who seem hitherto to have merited no better character than that of being murderers and tormentors of each other; an accusation which would be slander upon the savage beasts of the forest; you will desire it for the sake of our own youthful and happy country, wbose guilt and depravity
would be increased, and whose happiness could not bat be diminished by war.
You will perceive that the arguments against taking away life, are principally drawn from two sources :- the authority of the Gospel, and the consideration of a future state. If the Gospel be true, and of divine origin, its authority must be considered as supreme, by every Christian; and that it forbids all resistance, retaliation, revenge, and war, cannot well be denied. If there be a future state of eternal rewards and punishments, and if all men are actually on probation, and will be unalterably sentenced to one or the other of those states, according to their conduct; and if there be some bope, as long as life continues, that a wicked man, however abandoned he may be to every vice, may yet repent and become a subject of eternal felicity ; there surely cannot be a stronger argument that his life should be spared. And this is the true ground on which the Gospel forbids the taking of life. It is indeed because “ life and immortality are brought to: light." :
And, gentlemen, I appeal to your good understanding and philanthropy, whether the eternal happiness of a wretch, who is brought to the scaffold, is not an object infinitely more excellent, interesting, and glorious in prospect, than any conceivable good wbich may result to society from his execution. Let him be confined, but let him live; let bim reform, if he will, and to this end let him be instructed. The immortal ethereal spirit may yet be purified, and, like a beautiful insect from the carcass of a dying worm, may rise to glory. Perhaps, even after the flight of ten thousand ages, some one of you may meet him, a bright intelligence in some exalted sphere, and may, even at that distant period, receive bis thanks for baving used your influence or authori. ty to protract his life.
I am, gentlemen, with great respect,