(Being Chapter 19 of Essay 3 of The Essays on Morality)
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INTRODUCTORY WORDS BY TO SOME EDITIONS BY JOHN BRIGHT.(1)
I know of no better book dealing with morals as applied to nations than Dymond's Essays. As the world becomes more Christian, this book will be more widely read, and the name of its author more revered.
I have been asked on several occasions, "What do you think abut the doctrine of the Peace Society, or of your own Religious Body, in their opposition to War however necessary or however just it may seem to be, or however much you are provoked or injured? I think every man must make up his own mind on that abstract principle; and I would recommend him, if he wants to know a book that says a great deal upon it, to study the New Testament, and make up his mind from that source.
It will be time enough perhaps to discuss that question when we have abandoned everything that can be called unjust and unnecessary in the way of War. Now, I believe, that with wise counsels, great statesmen, large knowledge of affairs combined with Christian principle, thee is probably not a single war in which we have been engaged from the time of William III, that might not have been without difficulty avoided; and our military system might have been kept in great moderation, our National Debt would never have accumulated, our population would have been a great deal less barbarous and less ignorant than they are now, and everything that tends to the true grandeur and prosperity and happiness of the people, would have been infinitely advanced beyond or above what we see now in our own time.
I think unless we begin t ask ourselves how it is that Christian nations--that this Christian nation--should be involved in so many wars. If we may presume to ask ourselves, what, in the eyes of the Supreme Ruler, is the greatest crime which His creatures commit, I think we may almost with certainty conclude that it is the crime of War. Somebody has described it as "the sume of all villainies;" and it has been the cause of sufferings, misery, and slaughter, which neither tongue nor pen can describe. And all this has been going on for eighteen hundred years after men have adopted the religion whose Founder and whose Head is denominated the Prince of Peace. It was announced as a religion which was intended to bring "Peace on earth, and good will towards men;" and yet, after all these years, the peace on earth has not come, and the goodwill among men is only partially and occasionally exhibited; and among nations we find almost no trace of it century after century.
Now in this country we have a great institution called the Established Church. I suppose that great institution number twenty thousand or more places of worship in various parts of the kingdom. I think this does not include what there are in Scotland, and what there are in Ireland. With these twenty thousand churches there are at least twenty thousand men, educated and for the most part Christian men, anxious to do their duty as teachers of the religion of peace; and besides these, there are twenty thousand other churches which are not connected with the Established institution, but have been built, and are maintained, by that large portion of the people who go generally under the name of Dissenters or Nonconformists: and they have their twenty thousand ministers; also men, many of them, well educated, as truly Christian and devoted men, as the others; and they are at work continually from day to day, and they preach from Sabbath to Sabbath what they believe to be the doctrines of the Prince of Peace; and yet, notwithstanding all that, we have more than £30,000,000 a year spent by this country in sustaining armies and navies, in view of wars which, it is assumed, may suddenly and soon take place. Now, why is this, I should like to ask: for all these teachers and preachers profess to be the servants of the Most High God, and teachers of the doctrines of His Divine Son; and being such, may I not appeal to them and say--What have you, forty or fifty thousand, with such vast influence, what have you been doing all the years that you have ministered, and called yourselves ministers of the Prince of Peace?
And I would not confine my appeal to the ministers only, but to the devout men of every church and every chapel, who surround the minister and uphold his hands; who do in many things his bidding, and who join him heartily and conscientiously in his work;--I say, what are they doing? Why is it there has never been a combination of all religious and Christian teachers of the country, with a view of teaching the people what is true, what is Christian, upon the subject?
I believe it lies within the power of the churches to do far more than statesmen can do in matters
of this kind. I believe they might so bring this question home to the hearts and consciences of the
Christian and good men and women of their congregations, that a great combination of public
opinion might be created, which would wholly change the aspect of this question in this country
and before the world, and would bring to the minds of statesmen that they are not the rulers of the
people of Greece, or of the marauding hordes of ancient Rome, but that they are, or ought to be,
the Christian rulers of a Christian people.