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military service altogether. But it says to them, “Do violence to no man, calumniate no one, and be content with your wages.' Surely it does not prohibit the military service to those whom it commands to be contented with its wages.
Our Lord commends the faith of a centurion who had soldiers under his command, says he had not found so great faith in Israel, and yet does not order him to throw away his arms, or abandon the military service. Cornelius, "a centurion of the band which is called Italian,” is commended as “a religious man, fearing God;" and the blessed Apostle Paul praises Gedeon, Barac, Samson and others. " who through faith subdued kingdoms, became valiant in war, put to flight the armies of foreigners." These considerations show that war is not prohibited by the Christian law. Then it is prohibited by no law, and therefore is not necessarily sinful, but may be just and expedient.
But it is objected, that there are certain passages in the New Testament which, if not expressly, yet by implication, evidently deny the lawfulness of war. 1. All that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” But to take the sword is to use the sword without the order or consent of the proper authority. He who only uses the sword by order or consent of the proper authority, that is, of the political sovereign, if he be a private person, or of God, if he be a public person or sovereign prince, does not take the sword, but simply uses the sword committed to him. Nor are we to understand that all who take the sword on incompetent authority will be literally slain, but that they will perish by their own sword, that is, be punished eternally for their sin, if they do not repent.
2. “I say unto you, not to resist evil; but if any man strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." War is resistance of evil; but this text forbids the resistance of evil; therefore it forbids war. But the precept refers to the interior disposition, and commands that preparation of the heart which does not resist evil by rendering evil for
* “Nam si Christiana disciplina omnia bella culparet, hoc potius miJitibus consilium salutis petentibus in Evangelio diceretur, ut abjiceren arma, seque omnino militiæ subtraherent. Dictum est autem eis, Nemi. nem concusseritis, nulli calumniam feceritis ; sufficiat vobis stipendium vestrum. Quibus proprium stipendium sufficere debere præcepit, militare utique non prohibuit.” Epist. 5., Ad Marcellinum, c. 15.
+ See St. Augustine, Contra Faustum, lib. 22, c. 70, and St. Thomas, Summa, 2. 2. Q. 40, a. 1.
evil, but endures patiently whatever wrongs or injuries are necessary for the honor of God and the salvation of men. It is not to be understood to the letter, for our Lord, who fulfilled it, when struck in his face, did not turn the other cheek, but defended himself by reasoning. It commands patience under wrongs and insults, and forbids us to seek to avenge ourselves on our own authority; but it does not prohibit the redress of wrongs by the proper authorities; because we know from the testimony of St. Paul that the magistrate is "the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Wrongs, when redressed by the proper authority, may be redressed without any malignant feelings, and, indeed, with the most benevolent intentions towards the wrong-doer. Wrongs are not, in all cases, to go unavenged, otherwise God would not have appointed a ministry to avenge them. It is often the greatest of evils to suffer offences to go unpunished, and one of the most certain methods of preventing them is for the magistrate to let it be known and understood that they cannot be committed with impunity.*
3. “Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved, but give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord.” This, though relied on by the peace party, is not to the purpose, for it speaks of private revenge, which every body admits is condemned by the Christian law. It is of the same import with the text we have just dismissed. It simply commands patience under injuries, forbearance towards those who do us wrong, and forbids us to seek redress of wrongs done us in a resentful spirit, or by our own hands or authority. But it does not necessarily imply that the public authority, which is the minister of God, may not redress them, or that the commonwealth may not repel or vindicate attacks upon itself, whether they come from within or from without. To avenge wrongs is not in itself wrong, because it is said the Lord “will repay; " nor is it wrong for the magistrate to avenge them, for “he is the minister of God, an avenger," as we have seen, “ to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil;” and it is wrong for the individual to do it only because in civil society his natural right to do so is taken away, and because it is made his duty to leave it to God or the minister God in his providence appoints.
*“Sunt ergo ista præcepta patientiæ semper in cordis præparatione retinenda, ipsaque benevolentia, ne reddatur malum pro malo, semper in voluntate complenda est. Agenda sunt autem multa, etiam cum in. vitis benigna quadam asperitate plectendis, quorum potius utilitati consulendum est quam voluntati. Nam in corripiendo filio quamlibet aspere, nunquam amor paternus amittitur. Fit tamen quod nolit et doleat, qui etiam invitus videtur dolore sanandus. Ac per hoc si terrena ista respublica præcepta Christiana custodiat, et ipsa bella sine benevolentia non gerentur, ut ad pietatis justitiæque pacatam societatem victis facilius consulatur. Nam cui licentia iniquitatis eripitur, utiliter vincitur; quoniam nihil est infelicius felicitate peccantium, qua pænalis nutritur impunitas, et mala voluntas velut hostis interior roboratur.” S. Aug. ep. 5, c. 14. See also De Serm. Domini, lib. 1. c. 19, and also St. Thomas,
4. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but powerful through God.” But St. Paul is speaking, not of the sword which the magistrate bears, nor of that which the sovereign state, as the minister of God to execute wrath, may put into the hands of its servants, but of the weapons to be used in the conversion of infidels and sinners. These, indeed, are not carnal, but spiritual, and powerful through the virtue God confers on them. Carnal weapons are iinlawful in the work of conversion, for conversion is not conversion unless voluntary. God says to the sinner, “Give me thy heart,” that is, thy will; and this carnal weapons can force no man to give. It can be subdued only by spiritual arms, rendered effectual through divine grace. But this says nothing against the lawfulness of repelling or avenging injustice, whether from subjects or foreigners, by the proper authorities. These several texts, then, make nothing against our general conclusion, that war is not, in all cases, prohibited by the Christian law.
But we are told, still further, that war is opposed to peace; yet the Gospel is a Gospel of peace, commands peace, and pronounces a blessing on peacemakers. Beati pacifici
, quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur. War, undertaken for its own sake, looking to itself as the end, is opposed to peace, and unlawful, we grant; but war, undertaken for the sake of obtaining a just and lasting peace, is not opposed to peace, but may be the only means possible of restoring and securing it. Peace is then willed, the intentions are peaceful, and war, as a necessity, becomes itself a peacemaker, and as such is lawful, and its prosecutors are not necessarily deprived of the blessing pronounced on peacemakers. Hence, St. Augustine says,-Pacem habere debet voluntas, bellum necessitas, ut liberet Deus a necessitate, et conservet in pace. Non enim pax quæritur ut bellum excitetur sed bellum geritur ut par acquiratur. Esto ergo etiam bellando pacificus, ut eos quos expugnas, ad pacis utilitatem vincendo perducas.* The peace is broken, not by the just war, but by the previous injustice which has rendered the war necessary. The war itself is, necessarily, no more repugnant to the virtue of peace than medicine is to health. The mission of our Saviour is not opposed to peace, because followed by certain evils of which he speaks (St. Matt.x. 34-36),and which were not the end for which he came into the world. The preaching of the Gospel is not inconsistent with the virtue of peace, because, through the depravity and wickedness of men, it often occasions discord, divisions, and even wars : nor do they who faithfully preach it any the less “ follow after the things which make for peace.”
In asserting that war is not necessarily unlawful, we are far from pretending that all wars are just, or that war may ever be waged for slight and trival offences. The nation is bound studiously to avoid it, to forbear till forbearance ceases to be a virtue, and appeal to arms only as the last resort, after all other appeals have failed, or it is morally cer tain that they must fail. But when its rights are seriously invaded, when the offender will not listen to reason, and continues his injustice, the nation may appeal to arins, and commit its cause to the God of battles. The responsibility of the appeal rests on the offender whose injustice has provoked it.
It may be said that war is unjustitiable, because, if all would practise justice, there could be no war. Undoubtedly, if all men and nations were wise and just, wars would cease. We might then, in very deed, “beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning-hooks, and learn war no more. We should, not in vision only, but in reality, possess universal peace. So, if all individuals understood and practised the moral and Christian virtues in their perfection, there would be no occasion for penal codes, and a police to enforce them. If no wrongs or outrages were coinmitted, there would be none to be repressed or punished. If there were no diseases, there would be none to cure. If the world were quite another world than it is, it -would be. But so long as the world is what it is, so long as man fails to respect the rights of man, the penal code and police will be necessary; so long as diseases obtain, the physician and his drugs, nauseous as they are, will be indis
* Epist. 205, Ad Bonifacium Comitem.
It is ap
pensable; and so long as nation continues to encroach on nation, the aggrieved party will have the right and be compelled to defend and avenge itself by an appeal to arms, terrible as that appeal may be, and deplorable as may be the necessity which demands it.
The evils of war are great, but not the greatest. It is a greater evil to lose national freedom, to become the tributaries or the slaves of the foreigner, to see the sanctity of our homes invaded, our altars desecrated, and our wives and children made the prey of the ruthless oppressor.
These are evils which do not die with us, but may descend upon our posterity through all coming generations. The man who will look tamely on and see altars and home defiled, all that is sacred and dear wrested from him, and his country stricken from the roll of nations, has as little reason to applaud himself for his morals as for his manhood. No doubt, philanthropy may weep over the wounded and the dying; but it is no great evil to die. pointed unto all men to die, and, so far as the death itself is concerned, it matters not whether it comes a few months earlier or a few months later, on the battle-field or in our own bed-chambers. The evil is not in dying, but in dying unprepared. If prepared,—and the soldier, fighting by command of his country in her cause, may be prepared, -it is of little consequence whether the death come in the shape of sabre-cut or leaden bullet, or in that of disease or old age. The tears of the sentimentalist are lost upon him who is conscious of his responsibilities, that he is commanded to place duty before death, and to weigh no danger against fidelity to his God and his country. Physical pain is not worth counting. Accumulate all that you can imagine, the Christian greets it with joy when it lies in the pathway of his duty. He who cannot take his life in his hand, and, pausing not for an instant before the accumulated tortures of years, rush in, at the call of duty, where “blows fall thickest, and blows fall heaviest," deserves rebuke for his moral weakness, rather than commendation for his “peaceable dispositions."
Wars, we have been told, cost money; and we have among us men piquing themselves on their lofty spiritual views, accusing the age of being low and utilitarian, and setting themselves up as moral and religious reformers, who can sit calmly down and cast up in dollars and cents the expenses of war, and point to the amount as an unanswer