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cription, would be carried on. Every belligerent nation, with scarcely a single exception, scornfully rejects the imputation of being the original aggressor, and professes to prosecute its warlike measures for purposes of selfprotection. And so long as we admit, that defensive wars are allowable on Christian principles, so long we grant, for all practical purposes, every thing which the advocates of war wish. The true doctrine is, that human life, both in its individual and corporate state, as one and as many, is INVIOLABLE; that it cannot be taken away for any purpose whatever, except by explicit divine permission ; and that war, in every shape and for every purpose, is wrong, absolutely wrong, wholly wrong. Any doctrine short of this will fall altogether powerless and useless upon the broad surface of the world's crimes and miseries ; it will dim the light of no sword; it will wipe the tear of no widow and orphan.
The question of the right of war, including in the term Defensive as well as Offensive war, may be examined in a threefold point of view, (1) by the light of nature, (2) by the principles of the Old Testament, (3) by the principles of the Gospel. This is the course, in the examination of this subject, which is taken by Grotius in the first Book of his Law of Nations ; a method of reasoning upon it, which is at once simple and satisfactory. Our first inquiry, therefore, is, whether war, in any of its forms, is permitted by the light of nature.
The light of nature is nothing more nor less than the light of natural reason and conscience. But as the light of nature is understood to embrace in its influence all mankind, and of course to be accessible to the perceptions and convictions of all, the common view, which is taken of it, is, that the doctrines, which it developes and establishes, are easily perceived, are almost intuitive ; that the preparative steps of reasoning are few, convic
tion being flashed upon the mind at once. Accordingly if any one will take the trouble to inquire, he will find that writers on Natural Law, (a portion of Law which is understood to rest, not upon enactments, treaties, or conventions, but upon nature,) seldom introduce long and abstruse trains of reasoning. On the contrary, the propositions, which they lay down, involving as they often do immense consequences, are generally sustained by a plain and frank appeal to the intuitive common sense and common feeling of mankind. In the dispensation of the elements, the leading principles of moral duty, nature has made no distinctions, has constituted no aristocracy; but has showered them down upon the learned and the unlearned, much as the rains are said to descend, without regard to character, upon the just and the unjust. To determine right and wrong is of more consequence than to comprehend the doctrine of the planetary system ; but while it required, in order to unfold the wonderful laws of the planets, the gigantic intellect of Newton, the higher gift of the determination of right and wrong is bestowed upon the simplest peasant, upon the man, who cannot repeat the enumeration table. To determine, therefore, whether a thing is agreeable or not to the light of nature, all we have to do, is, to determine whether it is agreeable to the common sense and common feeling of mankind. The prevalent sentiment of mankind, even if it should be interrupted and broken by a few discordant voices, will not be likely to be an erroneous one.
Let us then take the simplest case. Is it right, merely for our own gratification, to put a man to death, who has not injured us personally, nor done injury to the community? No one will pretend, that on such a question there is need of laboured argument; the decision is made at once ; promptly, intuitively, and unanimously.
Again, is it right to put a man to death, who has merely committed an offence against property, the crime of theft? The reply, notwithstanding the strange practice of some nations, is equally prompt and decided. Furthermore, is it right to put a man to death for some assault upon and injury to our person, which does not go so far as to affect life? In all these cases, the answer, resulting from the common perception and the common feeling of mankind, cannot be mistaken. We have here, not indeed the light of a long deductive and demonstrative process, but what we may properly term the light of nature. On questions of this kind the ignorant man pronounces his opinions, as promptly and decisively as the philosopher. It is his nature, which speaks. If he is asked to give the reason, why a man should not be put to death for nothing, or for theft, or for a blow upon his person, his answer is, that he has no reason to give, except that such is his conviction, founded upon the instinctive suggestions of his nature. It is his nature which controls his conviction ; there is something deeply abhorrent to his natural and moral sensibilities in the shedding of blood ; there is a voice within him, coming up from the sacred depths of the conscience, which pronounces it wrong. Kindness, benevolence, abhorrence of the shedding of blood is an attribute of humanity. So fully are we persuaded of this, that we cannot deny, that we have no great respect for the sensibilities of that man, who can look upon the butchery of a lamb or of any dumb animal with feelings of perfect indifference. How much analogy is there between the feelings of such a man and the benevolence of that God, who hears the ravens when they cry, who gives their meat to the young lions, and without whose notice not even a sparrow falls to the ground? But when we see the knife applied to the throat of a human being, or the guillotine suspended
over him, or the bayonet plunged into his breast, the remonstrances of nature are loud and overwhelming; and the man, who can be indifferent there, who feels at such a time no instinctive oppositions of heart and conscience, has but little claim to be regarded or treated as a man.
But there are perhaps other cases, which are attended with more difficulty. We will suppose, that an individual attacks us with dangerous weapons and with an evident intention to kill, and that at the same time we are not in a situation to make our escape.
Shall we not in that case defend ourselves ? To this question we may answer in general terms, that, reasoning as we now do from the light of nature, undoubtedly we may. Not only the prompt decisions of reasoning and the dictates of conscience would permit us to make such defence; but we are also strengthened in our opinion of the propriety and rectitude of such a course by the consideration, that we have within us naturally the principle of RESENTMENT. This principle like all the other principles, coming under the general head of the Natural Sensibilities, has a two-fold operation. It operates in the first place instinctively. When children, for example, are accidentally hit by a stone or a Savage by an arrow, they feel a momentary, instinctive rage against the inanimate object, and smite it or break it to pieces. And it cannot be doubted, that our Maker exhibits his beneficence, in giving this instinctive form of operation to this principle. It is the object and the result of Instinctive resentment to place us suddenly on our guard, and in the attitude of self-defence, against unforeseen and unexpected attacks. It operates in those cases, where, if we were obliged to wait for the more tardy results of reasoning, we should infallibly suffer. There is another operation of resentment, distinct from its instinctive operation, which Mr. Stewart properly calls DELIBERATE. It appears more
slowly ; always implies the exercise of the reasoning power; and is more permanent than instinctive resentment. But, in both its forms, it seems to be an original principle, and is understood to be implanted for necessary and beneficent purposes. Now with such a mental constitution we cannot suppose, when left to the mere instructions of the light of nature, that we are prohibited from defending ourselves when thus attacked.
But the question yet more difficult arises here, whether, in acting on the principle of self-defence, we may not only repel our adversary, disarm him, disable him, and confine him ; but whether we may also take his life? And here we may assert without hesitation, and are sustained in the opinion by some of the illustrious names of unchristianized antiquity,) that the light of nature authorizes us to go, in our efforts at self-defence, to the mere line of present and future protection, and no further, except it be for the good of the aggressor himself. The principle of resentment is a protective, and not an aggressive principle; it was designed to preserve ourselves, and not to bring suffering on others. Such is the original constitution of the human mind, that, in its unbiassed and just action, it condemns and proscribes decisively and forever all retaliatory and revengeful feelings. In all cases, therefore, where we can preserve our own life without the extinction of that of our adversaries, we are bound, on the basis of enlightened conscience and reason to preserve both. We come, then, to an ultimate case. We will suppose ourselves unable to disarm our adversary, and that we are morally certain, if we do not take his life, he will take ours. Here we suppose, although some minds would be slow in coming to the conclusion, that mankind generally, unaided and unenlightened by Revelation, would claim the right of putting to death their antagonist.-And on this basis, reasoning from in