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REFLECTIONS ON WAR:
THE BAPTIST MEETING, CAMBRIDGE,
ON TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 1802,
BEING THE DAY OF THANKSGIVING FOR A GENERAL PEACE.
The writer is not aware that the sentiments contained in this discourse require apology; though he is convinced he needs the candour of the public with respect to the imperfect manner in which they are exhibited. If it be deemed an impropriety to introduce political reflections in a discourse from the pulpit, he wishes it to be remembered that these are of a general nature, and such as, rising out of the subject and the occasion, he cannot suppose it improper for a Christian minister to impress. With party politics he is determined to have as little to do as possible, and in the exercise of his professional duties nothing at all. Conscious that what is here advanced was meant neither to flatter nor offend any party, he is not very solicitous about those misconstructions or misrepresentations to which the purest intentions are exposed. It will probably be objected, that he has dwelt too much on the horrors of war for a thanksgiving sermon; in answer to which he begs it may be remembered, that as the pleasure of rest is relative to fatigue, and that of ease to pain, so the blessing of peace, considered merely as peace, is exactly proportioned to the calamity of war. As this, whenever it is justifiable, arises out of a necessity, not a desire of acquisition, its natural and proper effect is merely to replace a nation in the state it was in before that necessity was incurred, or, in other words, to recover what was lost and secure what was endangered. The writer intended to add something more on the moral effects of war (a subject which he should be glad to see undertaken by some superior hand), but found it would not be compatible with the limits he determined to assign himself. The sermon having been preached for the benefit of a benevolent society, instituted at Cambridge, will sufficiently account for the observations on charity to the poor, introduced towards the close. The good which has already arisen from the exertions of that society is more than equal to its most sanguine expectations; and should this publication contribute in the smallest degree to the formation of similar ones in other parts, the author will think himself abundantly compensated for the little trouble it has cost him.
CAMBRIDGE, June 19, 1802.