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able argument against its lawfulness. War unquestionably costs money, and so do food and clothing. But the sums expended in war would, if applied to that purpose, found so many schools and universities, and educate so many children! The amount expended for food and clothing would found a larger number of schools and universities, and educate a larger number of children. You should ask, not, Will it cost money? but, Is it necessary, is it just? Would you weigh gold in the balance with duty, justice, patriotism, heroism? If so, slink back to your tribe, and never aspire to the dignity of being contemptible.
But having established that war may be necessary and just, the question comes up, What is the duty of the citizen or subject, when his governinent is actually engaged in war? This is a question of some moment, especially at the present time, when there are so many among us who entertain very loose notions of allegiance, and hardly admit that loyalty is or can be a virtue. We may answer, in general terms, that, when a nation declares war, the war is a law of the land, and binds the subject to the same extent and for the same reason as any other law of the land. The whole question is simply a question of the obligation of the citizen to obey the law. So far as the subject is bound to obey the law, so far he is bound to render all the aid in prosecuting the war the government commands him to render, and in the form in which it commands it.
If the government leaves it optional with the citizen whether to take an active part in the war or not, he is unquestionably bound to remain passive, if he believes the war to be unjust. Consequently, no foreigner, owing no allegiance to the sovereign making the war, can volunteer his services, if he entertains any scruples about its justice. But the subject, though entertaining doubts about the justice of a given war in its incipient stages, believing his government too hasty in its proceedings, and not so forbearing as it might and should have been, yet after the war has been declared, after his country is involved in it, can retreat only by suffering grievous wrongs, and seeks now to advance only for the purpose of securing a just and lasting peace, may, no doubt, even volunteer his active services, if he honestly believes them to be necessary; for the war now has changed its original character, has ceased to be aggressive, and become defensive and just. In such a case, love of country, and the general duty of each citizen to defend his country, to preserve its freedom and independence, override
, the scruples he felt with regard to the war in its incipient stages, and enable him to take part in it with a safe conscience. But, however this may be, it is clear, that, when the government has actually declared war, and actually commands the services of the subject, he is bound in conscience, whatever may be his private convictions of the justice of the war, to render them, on the ground that he is bound in conscience to obey the law. If he takes part in obedience to the command of the government, he takes part, even though his private conviction is against the war, with a good conscience; because the motive from which he acts is not to prosecute a war he does not regard as just, but to obey his sovereign, which he is not at liberty not to do, and which he must do for conscience' sake.
The law binds in conscience, because all legitimate government exists by divine appointment, and has a divine right to make laws. For the same reason, then, that we are bound in conscience to obey God, we are bound in conscience to obey the law. The sovereignty resides in the nation, but is derived from God.“ By me kings reign and lawgivers decree just things.” “Let every soul be subject
· to higher powers; for there is no power but from God; and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist purchase damnation to themselves." Since, then, the nation is sovereign by divine appointment, it follows necessarily, that, when the sovereign authority of the nation declares war, and commands the service of the subject, he is held, on his allegiance to God, who is the King of kings and Sovereign of sovereigns, to render them, and cannot refuse without purchasing damnation to himself.
The nation is not constituted sovereign by the assent of the individuals of which it is composed, for it must be a sovereign nation before individuals have or can have the right of assenting or dissenting. The error of Rousseau and of some of our own politicians is in assuming that the sovereignty, the authority to institute government, to make and execute laws, inheres primarily in the people distributively, as equal, independent individuals, and is subsequently possessed by the people collectively, as a political organism or person, by virtue of the assent of the people taken distributively. The motive for advocating this view is two
fold : the first is, to make the basis of sovereignty purely human ; and the second, to take from actually existing gov. ernments all claims to inviolability, and thus establish a sort of legal right on the part of subjects to rebel against the constituted authorities, whenever they judge it to be expedient. The doctrine is the offspring of an age disposed to revolt from both God and the state, and can be regarded only with horror by the Christian and the patriot. The true doctrine is, that every nation, that is, every people taken collectively, as a moral unity, as a collective individual, is, by the fact that it is a nation, sovereign, and sovereign by the ordinance of God. Being thus invested by the divine will with the political sovereignty, the nation acting in its sovereign capacity has, saving the divine law, the right to institute such forms of government, or to adopt such methods for the expression of its sovereign will, as it in its prudence judges best. It may institute a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a pure democracy ; it may combine these three forins, or any two of them, in any proportion and degree, and establish such mixed governments as it pleases ; or, it may reject all these forms, and, as with iis, establish representative government, to be carried on through the medium of popular election. Which is wisest and best is for each nation to decide for itself. In point of fact, we suppose all are best where they fit, and worst where they do not fit. But however individuals may speculate, and whatever preferences as simple individuals they may have, the nation acting in its sovereign capacity is the sovereign arbiter, and alone decides which shall be adopted, and having once decided, that form which it adopts is legitimate, exists by divine right, and its legitimate acts are laws, and bind in the interior as well as in the exterior court.
This is as true of the actual American governments as of any others.
The American people were created by their colonial governments, established by legitimate authority, bodies corporate and politic subject to the crown of Great Britain. But the charters granted by the crown, creating the colonial governments, and reserving the allegiance of the colonies, expressed or necessarily implied reciprocal obligations. There was an express or implied contract be tween the crown and the colonies. When the crown, on its part, broke the contract, as we alleged it did, it forfeited its rights, and the colonies were ipso facto absolved from their allegiance, and necessarily became ipso facto free and inde
pendent states or nations, as Great Britain herself subsequently acknowledged them to be. As independent nations, they possessed by the ordinance of God, who makes every nation, in that it is a nation, sovereign, the right of self-government, and were free to devise and adopt such forms of government, not repugnant to the divine law, as they in the exercise of their sovereign wisdom judged to be most expedient. They, in the exercise of the right given them by Almighty God, established the representative form of government, under a federal head. This form of government, therefore, exists with us by divine right, is an ordinance of God. As such it is sovereign and inviolable; as such it has from God authority to enact laws for the common good. Then, since we are all bound in conscience to obey God, we are bound to obey the government, and when it enacts war, just the same as when it enacts any thing else.
Ignorant, conceited, and unbelieving politicians, who would be free to rule, but not bound to obey, may affect to be startled, whenever there is speech of the divine right of government; but we really say nothing that militates in the least conceivable degree against popular sovereignty.
Our real offence consists, not in denying the popular sovereignty, but in asserting for it a divine sanction. What, indeed, is it we say? Simply, that the nation, that is, the people as a moral unity, or collective individual, as distingnished from the people taken distributively, is sovereign by the ordinance of God; from which it follows, that the people taken distributively owe allegiance to the nation, and are bound to obey all the sovereign enactments of the government, not merely because it is human government, but because it is human government governing by divine right. This abridges no right of the sovereign people, but confirms its rights by the highest of all possible sanctions. It leaves the nation free to adopt, if it chooses, a pure democracy, and commands is, even though individually disapproving that form of government, to obey it for conscience sake. word, the doctrine we lay down makes the nation—that is, the whole people taken collectively-sovereign and inviolable, and the form of government it adopts, legitimate and sacred, as the ordinance of God. It no doubt, there. fore, stamps with the divine well as the national displeasure what by a strange perversion is termed sometimes • the sacred right of insurrection,” and utterly condemns all
attempts at rebellion or resistance to established government, in the legitimate exercise of its legitimate functions, as so many attacks on the inviolability of the nation, and therefore on the inviolability of God himself, who ordains that every nation, in that it is a nation, shall be sovereign and inviolable. It can tolerate no efforts of any portion of the people to change by violence any established form of government for the sake of establishing another form which they may believe to be more for the common good. But it leaves individuals perfectly free to labor through legal forms, in an orderly manner, for the amelioration of the laws and institutions of the country, and the nation itself, when acting in its sovereign capacity, as we did at the epoch of what we call our revolution, or as we do through the legal conventions of the people, to change even the form of the government, and to ordain such new methods for the expression of its sovereign will as it may believe to be most for the common good.* It leaves the people as the commonwealth and the people as individuals all the freedom there is this side of license, and forbids nothing that is compatible with national sovereignty and inviolability. It can be objected to, then, by none who are not prepared to object to all government, all law, and all order.
The duty of obedience to law is precisely the same under a republican government as under any other form of government. For though the people make the law, yet it is not in the same sense as that in which they are held to obey it. They make the law in their collective sense, as a moral unity, or public person; they are held to obey in their dis. tributive capacity, as simple individuals. In their quality of electors, acting through legal forms prescribed by sovereign authority, the people with us make the law, but it is only when so acting that they make it, have any voice in making it, or incur any responsibility, be the law what it
As individuals acting in any other capacity, they are subjects, and in the same sense and to the same extent as they would be in case they enjoyed no elective franchise at all. The law is as imperative with us as it is under any other form of government, and can no more be resisted with a safe conscience than elsewhere.
This assumed, the individual in his quality of subject
* See St. Th., Summa, 1. 2, Q. 97, a 1, and St. Aug., De Libero Arbitrio, I., c. 6.