« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
should walk in. The attempt was, in a great measure, successful. The work was patronized by kings, taught in the universities, illustrated by learned commentators; and although it met with great opposition, it soon exerted a very decided influence on the cabinets and politics of Europe.
But with all the aid of Grotius and his learned commentators and followers, we are not prepared to admit, that the Law of nations, enlarged and improved as it undoubtedly is, answers the great objects, which it ought to aim to secure. If another Grotius should arise, it is not to be presumed, that he would leave the Law of nations precisely where the first Grotius left it. We venture to hazard the assertion, that the International code opens a vast field for the action of some master mind; that the time has come for a remodelling of some of its features ; and that it is a duty to attempt to place it on higher and surer grounds.
APPROXIMATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW TO THE PRINCI
PLES OF THE GOSPEL,
The remarks of the preceding chapter have prepared us in some degree for what we wish to say in this ; viz, that efforts should be made, not only to improve the Law of nations, by removing the more odious features ; but to bring it into entire conformity with the precepts and spirit of the Gospel. We are aware, when we consider the aggressive and retaliatory tendencies in human nature, that this is no easy task ; but we do not permit ourselves to believe, that it is impossible. On the contrary we have no doubt, that it will be done; and that it will be done too, at no very distant day. The progress of the Law of nations in times past encourages the indulgence of such a hope. We have had occasion, in the preceding chapter, to notice some of the particulars, in which this progressive improvement has been realized. It is but a short time, since prisoners taken in war were treated as slaves ; not unfrequently persons, who in time of peace were so unfortunate as to be thrown upon a foreign shore by shipwreck, were treated in the same manner; it was common for wrecked vessels and cargoes, without any regard to the rights of the real owners, to be seized by private individuals, or to be sequestrated to the use of the government of the country ; poi
soned arms were used, and wells and fountains were poisoned in times of war; and these and other atrocities were approved, or at least were not condemned, by the principles and customs of national intercourse. It is not so at the present time; the doctrines, which were at the foundation of these objectionable practices, have disappeared from the exalted Code, which regulates the society of nations ; and why may we not hope, that the process of improvement will go on, till every feature, which is inconsistent with enlightened reason and humanity, will be done away. We certainly can desire no better augury, than that, which is founded on experience; and it cannot be denied, that the experience of the past, although less flattering than could have been wished, is on the whole favorable to encouraging anticipations in respect to the future.
Nor is this all. We rest here upon the sure word of Prophecy. The Bible, without which there would be but little basis for hope in any respect, anticipates and foretells a better day ; the advent of a period characterized by the blessedness of universal holiness and peace. And not only this, the Scriptures are constantly exerting an influence, which tends to render certain the fulfilment of their own prophetic anticipations. The principles of the Gospel, circulating widely and rapidly among the mass of erroneous worldly principles, are like the little leaven that leaveneth the whole lump; although they operate in such a way as to attract but little observation, they are gradually assimilating whatever they come in contact with to their own purity. It would be unreasonable to suppose, that domestic life and the general frame of society will be raised and purified by these benign influences ; and that the same influences will fail of reaching and purifying the principles of national intercourse. If there is a time coming, (and we cannot entertain a
doubt that there is,) when all nations shall be at permanent peace with each other, then the Law of nations must of course conform itself to this state of things; every dark feature will be expunged ; and it will shine forth with the purity of a divine light.
It is a circumstance, worthy of some notice here, that the various treatises on International Law, in settling the great principles of national action, have failed to allow to the Gospel that weight, to which, on every consideration, it seems to be entitled. All other learning is employed; all other authorities are duly recognized ; while the doctrines of Revelation, more valuable than any other, are in a great degree passed by. There are, indeed, no small number of references in Grotius to the Scriptures, both to the Old and the New Testament; and it cannot be denied, that he speaks of them with marked respect, and that he allows them some weight. But, whether it happened from inattention, or what is more probable from a preconceived bias on the subject, he seems to have entirely misunderstood the intentions and spirit of the New Testament, on the subject of war; and this mistake infuses its influence every where, and alters the character of his whole work. Burlamaqui, Vattel, Martens, and the writers generally on the subject of International Law, so far as we have been able to learn their character, erect their conclusions upon human authority and human reason alone ; and cannot be considered as making any distinct and adequate account of of the Scriptures. We must be permitted to say, that we regard this, as a great error. If the precepts and principles of the Gospel are designed for the regulation of the conduct of individuals, it would be difficult to show, that they are not also applicable to the conduct of nations. In every Treatise, both on individual and national morality, the Gospel ought to be made the
standard. And certainly if we compare, as we ought to do, the principles of the international code with this exalted and unexceptionable rule, we shall find many things to correct.
There is one part of the law of nations in particular, as important certainly as any other, which has failed of receiving that attention, to which it is fairly entitled ; we refer to that portion which relates to the rights of Neutrals. This defect, which in practice has operated to the great injury of pacific and neutral states, has not escaped the notice of some modern writers; and some efforts have been made, not indeed so successful as they were entitled to be, to place this important matter on grounds more favorable to the pacific intercourse of nations and more consonant with the principles of justice. A valuable American writer, speaking of the Law of nations, remarks, as follows. “ There is another part of this Code still in a confused and unsatisfactory condition ; -an adjustment of the rights and duties of NEUTRALS. There have been constant difficulties on the subject of blockades, contrabands, and the right of search ; but none of them are at all new ; they occurred with great severity in the application in the beginning of the last century. In the wars which have just ended, in which this country finally took a part, and which were, in some respects, maritime, not a single principle beneficial to the neutral, has been secured.
Still, he should not be in despair. The great improvements, taking place in society and in the intercourse of nations, will probably in time reach that portion of the code, that relates to him."*
It is encouraging to notice expressions of this kind in writers, who are entitled to consideration. We have no doubt that there will be an improvement in this portion of the International code ; and that at last, in connection
* Lyman's Diplomacy of the United States, Vol. I, Ch. 3d.