Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Jonathan Dymond on War
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Original causes - Present multiplicity
Want of inquiry - This want not manifested on parallel subjects
"Balance of power"
Pecuniary interest - Employment for the higher ranks of society
Ambition - Private purposes of state policy
Foundation of military glory - Skill - Bravery - Patriotism - Patriotism not a motive to the soldier.
Books - Historians - Poets
Writers who promote war sometimes assert its unlawfulness.
Palpable ferocity of war
Reasonableness of the inquiry
Revealed will of God the sole standard of decision
Declarations of great men that Christianity prohibits war
General character of Christianity
Precepts and declarations of Jesus Christ
Arguments that the precepts are figurative only
Precepts and declarations of the apostles
Objections to the advocate of peace from passages of the Christian Scriptures
Prophecies of the Old Testament respecting an era of peace
Early Christians - Their belief - Their practice - Early Christian writers
Example of men of piety
Objections to the advocate of peace from the distinction between the duties of private and public life
Mode of proving the rectitude of this distinction from the absence of a common arbitrator amongst nations
Mode of proving it on the principles of expediency
Examination of the principles of expendiency as applied to war
- of the mode of its application
Universality of Christian obligation
Dr. Paley's "Moral and Political Philosophy" - Chapter "on War." Mode of discussing the question of its lawfulness
This mode inconsistent with the professed principles of the Moral Philosophy - with the usual practice of the author
Inapplicability of the principles proposed by the Moral Philosophy to the purposes of life
Dr. Paley's "Evidences of Christianity"
Inconsistency of its statements with the principles of the Moral Philosophy
Argument in favor of war from the excess of male births
- from the lawfulness of coercion on the part of the civil magistrate
Right of self-defence - Mode of maintaining the right from the instincts of nature
Attack of an assassin - Principles on which killing an assassin is defended
Consequences of these principles
Unconditional reliance upon Providence on the subject of defence
Safety of this reliance - Evidence by experience in private life - by national experience
Opinions of Dr. Johnson
Familiarity with human destruction - with plunder
Incapacity for regular pursuits - "half-pay"
Implicit submission to superiors.
Its effects on the independence of the mind
- on the moral character
Resignation of moral agency
Military power despotic
Peculiar contagiousness of military depravity
Animosity of party - Spirit of resentment
Privateering - Its peculiar atrocity
Mercenaries - Loan of armies
Prayers for the success of war
The duty of a subject who believes that all war is incompatible with Christianity
The object of the following pages is, to give a view of the principal arguments which maintain the indefensibility and impolicy of war, and to examine the reasoning which is advanced in its favor.
The author has not found, either in those works which treat exclusively of war, or in those which refer to it as part of a general system, any examination of the question that embraced it in all its bearings. In these pages, therefore, he has attempted, not only to inquire into its accordancy with Christian principles, and to enforce the obligation of these principles, but to discuss those objections to the advocate of peace which are advanced by philosophy, and to examine into the authority of those which are enforced by the power of habit, and by popular opinion.
Perhaps no other apology is necessary for the intrusion of this essay upon the public, than that its subject is, in a very high degree, important. Upon such a subject as the slaughter of mankind, if there be a doubt, however, indeterminate, whether Christianity does not prohibit it - if there be a possibility, however remote, that the happiness and security of a nation can be maintained without it, an examination of such possibility or doubt, may reasonably obtain our attention. - The advocate of peace is, however, not obliged to avail himself of such considerations: at least if the author had no believed that much more than doubt and possibility can be advanced in support of his opinions, this inquiry would not have been offered to the public.
He is far from amusing himself with the expectation of a general assent to the truth of his conclusions. Some will probably dispute the rectitude of the principles of decision, and some will dissent from the legitimacy of their application. Nevertheless, he believes that the number of those whose opinions will accord with his own is increasing, and will yet much more increase; and this belief is sufficiently confident to induce him to publish an essay which will probably be the subject of contempt to some men, and of ridicule to others. But ridicule and contempt are not potent reasoners.
"Christianity can only operate as an alternative. By the mild diffusion of its light and influence, the minds of men are insensibly prepared to perceive and correct the enormities, which folly, or wickedness, or accident have introduced into their public establishments."1 It is in the hope of contributing, in a degree however unimportant or remote, to the diffusion of this light and influence, that the following pages have been written.
For the principles of this little volume, or for its conclusions, no one is responsible but the writer: they are unconnected with any society, benevolent or religious. He has not written it for a present occasion, or with any view to the present political state of Europe. A question like this does not concern itself with the quarrels of the day.
It will, perhaps, be thought by some readers, that there is contained in the following pages, greater severity of animadversion than becomes an advocate of peace. But, "let it be remembered, that to bestow good names on bad things, is to give them a passport in the world under a delusive disguise."2 The writer believes that wars are often supported, because the system itself, and the actions of its agents, are veiled in glittering fictions. He has therefore attempted to exhibit the nature of these fictions and of that which they conceal; and to state, freely and honestly, both what they are not, and what they are. In this attempt it has been difficult - perhaps it has not been possible - to avoid some appearance of severity: but he would beg the reader always to bear in his recollection, that if he speaks with censure of any class of men, he speaks of them only as a class. He is far from giving to such censure an individual application: Such an application would be an outrage of all candor and all justice. If again he speaks of war as criminal, he does not attach guilt, necessarily, to the profession of arms. He can suppose that many who engage in the dreadful work of human destruction, may do it without a consciousness of impropriety, or with a belief of its virtue. But truth itself is unalterable: whatever be our conduct, and whatever our opinions, and whether we perceive its principles or not, those principles are immutable; and the illustration of truth, so far as he has the power of discovering it, is the object of the Inquiry which he now offers to the public.
1Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy.
2Knox's Essays, No. 34.