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PART SEVENTH.
UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF MAN'S REDEMPTION.



CHAPTER VII.


OF UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF CIVIL AND NATIONAL REDEMPTION.


The consideration of the family naturally followed by that of society in general. — Of the two forms of society, namely, Internal snd External. — Internal society the same with civil society. — External the same with international society. — Civil or internal society can be perfected only in proportion as God becomes the lawgiver of it. — Of the law of nations. — Defects in this law.— Its ultimate improvement and perfection. — Reference to the philanthropist, William Ladd. — Extract from a speech of Emile de Girardin.

IT may, perhaps, be thought, that too much time has been occupied in the consideration of the family. Such a suggestion would not be likely to be made on a full examination of all the facts in the case. The truth is, that the family, considered in the various aspects in which it presents itself, — its origin, its history, its perversions, its ennobling joys, its mighty influences, the necessity of protecting it, its gradual perfection,— might well occupy a volume, instead of a few pages. It is a subject, whether we consider its intrinsic nature or the peculiar exigencies of the times, which is worthy of the most extended and able examination which can be given it. The true principles of the family, as well as the practice appropriate to them, its perpetuity as well as its high nature in other respects, ought to be well understood. In all these particulars, undoubtedly, an important work is to be done. And God, intent upon the restoration of mankind to their original purity, has already begun it.

Accordingly, it is one part of God's great work, in the progress of redemption, to write the law of the family in all its parts still more deeply upon the human soul; and also to carry out this divine law practically by reconciling man and woman first to God, and then to each other, by reestablishing marriage upon high religious principles, so that God shall no longer be excluded from that which ought to be especially his own work, and "by turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and of the children to their fathers, lest he come sad smite the earth with a curse." [Malachi 4:5] It is with these words that he closes the Old Testament; — a passage, which indicates what is involved in, and what is expected from the New. If even now there is no name so sacred as that of home, it is destined, in the purificatious of Christianity, to be surrounded with still happier associations. The cloud, which has so long overshadowed it, shall be lifted from the domestic hearth. The bitter tear, which has so long fallen in secret, shall no longer be shed. There shall be light instead of darkness, and songs for mourning.

With the few practical suggestions which have been made in the preceding chapter, we leave it to individuals to decide in what way, among the many methods of cooperation which present themselves, they shall labor in the advancement of this important object. accordingly, we proceed now to other parts of God' s great work of redemption, in which, all who have Christ's spirit, and who sympathize with their heavenly Father as he did, are called upon to unite.

2. Next in order after the society of the family, the subject of human society in its more general forms, naturally presents itself. In proportion as the influences of Christianity are more generally and fully felt, there will be a gradual restoration of human society in all its aspects; — so that, while we cannot always foresee what precise form it will take, we may say, in general terms, that it will be made to harmonize perfectly with the principles of the Gospel.

But in order fully to understand the subject now before us, it is proper to remark, that society may be contemplated in two respects, namely, as Internal or External. Society, in its internal form, is society considered as consisting of men, who live within the limits of the same commonwealth and under the same laws. So that society, regarded in its internal aspect, is the same thing with civil society. Society in its external form is society considered as consisting in the union of commonwealths with other commonwealths in the great society of nations. As the first may be called civil society, because it is the society of citizen united with citizen under the authority of the state; so the latter may be denominated international society; because it is the society of nation united with nation under the authority of the law of nations.

3. Civil society, or society as it exists between man and man united together in the state, is very imperfect. It is true that the great law of progress, which insures the ultimate triumph of good over evil, has reached and beneficially affected the combined man of the state, as well as the man of the family, and the man individual. Men in various ages of the world, Solon, Lycurgus, Burns, among the legislators of antiquity, and other wise and benevolent men of later times, have endeavored to improve civil society; and their efforts have not been without success. But, after all that has been done, it is still attended with great imperfection.

The imperfection of human society is the necessary result of the imperfection of those human laws which give it shape and sustain it. Human laws are imperfect for the simple reason, (at least it is not necessary to mention other reasons,) that the human mind, which is the maker of human law, is not omniscient. Law is, or ought to be, the expression of perfect right. Consequently, there is and can be but one perfect lawgiver, namely, God himself. Man, by the very fact of his creation and dependence, is properly the subject of law, and not the author of law. It is one of the remarks of Hooker, the distinguished author of the work entitled "Ecclesiastical Polity," that the "seat of law is in the bosom of God." Consequently, if views and remarks of this kind are justly entitled to consideration, human law will be perfected, and human society, so far as it is sustained by law, will be perfected, just in proportion as the God of the universe descends and takes possession, and becomes the God of the human mind. When that is the case, law will be the expression of right; and it will not be more just and right in itself, than it will be just and right in its individual application.

4. It could hardly be expected, that, in suggestions necessarily so brief as these, we should undertake to indicate the nature or the degree of the social improvements that are destined sooner or later to be made. To one topic, however, it may be proper to refer in one or two remarks. In all times past, society, (with some exceptions undoubtedly, but comparatively few,) has treated those who have offended against it, on the principles of strict justice, — returning "blow for blow, and stripe for stripe." One of the results of the greater prevalence of the Gospel spirit will be, to mingle mercy with justice, and to save and bless the criminal, at the same time that all necessary measures are taken for the protection of society. Within a few years, benevolent men, in different parts of the world, have directed their attention to this important subject. They have not been ashamed to have it understood that they have felt a deep interest in the situation of their erring and lost brethren, who have violated the rights of the state, — remembering that they themselves also are sinners. In the true spirit, as it, seems to me, of our blessed Saviour, who would not and did not "break the bruised reed," they have gone to the prisoner; they have taken him by the hand; they have fed him, clothed him, instructed him. And while they have pressed upon him the necessity of repentance for sins committed, they have held up, at the same time, the joyous hope of sins
forgiven.

The result of the prevalence of this truly Gospel spirit will be gradually to modify the systems of civil and criminal jurisprudence. Love, founded upon faith, and never at variance with justice, will be recognized as a regulating principle in the conduct of the social body, as it is and ought to be in the conduct of the individual. Society, having faith in God, and in itself as an instrument of God, will no longer crush the criminal whom it holds in its grasp; but will show its confidence in its mighty strength, by mourning for those whom it condemns, and by gently leading them back to truth, to duty, and to happiness.

5. But society has its external, as well as its internal, form. Society, existing in the external form, is the society of nation united with nation. If society is not perfected in itself, that is to say, in its civil or internal form, still less is it perfected in its external relations. Each nation, existing as a corporate civil association, stands at a great degree by itself; recognizing but very imperfectly that bond of international brotherhood, which should bind together nation with nation. One of its first principles is its relative independence; that is to say, while it recognizes in the general sense the principle of union, it claims the right of judging of its own interests, and of deciding for itself in all cases. Consequently, there are frequent collisions. Massive and giant-like in its strength, but, like the sightless Polyphemus of the Grecian poet, nation, blinded by passion, dashes against its fellow-nation; and both are broken by the concussion, and are covered with blood.

6. It is painful, to the pure and fully christianized mind, to read the history of nations. We need no argument to establish the doctrine of the fallen condition of the human race, in addition to that of its history. Beginning with Herodotus and the other Greek historians of that period, and reading the records of mankind in the pages of eminent writers of different ages and countries, what do we find but a series of sorrows and crimes, arising out of the struggles of national interest, and the antagonisms of national passion? In how many battle fields has human right contested with human power, and strength gained the victory over justice! It is not without reason, therefore, that Cowper, whose beautiful poems have the merit of being infused with a Christian spirit, feelingly exclaimed,

“Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more!"


It is the part of Christianity, in the fulfillment of the great plan of redemption, to put an end to this state of things. Christ's work on earth is not accomplished, and of course the work of his followers is not accomplished, so long as wars exist. Let it, therefore, be the language of every Christian heart, — language which shall find its issues in appropriate action, — that wars shall exist no longer.

7. And in this, as in other things, we have grounds for encouragement and hope. The Gospel is like the little leaven, which leaveneth the whole lump; always operating and always certain of securing its object, but not in a manner which attracts much notice. Operating in this gradual manner, the Christian religion has modified and improved the doctrines of international law. The principles which regulate the intercourse of nations, are different, in some important respects, from what they were a few centuries ago. And the difference shows the secret operation and influence of a religious sentiment.

For instance, it was once a recognized principle in the laws of nations, that, if a merchant vessel were wrecked on a foreign coast, the wreck became the property of the occupants of the coast, although the real owners were living. It was an established principle also, not less unjust, that, if a person, resident in a foreign country, died there, his property, instead of descending to those whom he designed and wished to be his heirs, should be taken for the use and benefit of the country where he happened to be resident at the time of his death. It was also originally one of the laws of war, which make a part of the existing laws of nations, that the prisoners taken in the progress of a contest might be put to death. The conqueror was regarded as possessing complete power over the captured; so that he could take away their lives if he supposed their death would turn to more account than their preservation. But, in these and in a number of other respects, the code of nations has been very much improved. A more benevolent spirit now pervades it. But still, it must be admitted, that it is far from being what it should be.

8. Now, it may not be the duty of all Christians to labor directly for the improvement of the code of nations, because Providence may not give to all the power and the opportunity to do so; but it belongs to Christianity, it is a part of the results of the Christian system, not only to improve, but to perfect it. Christianity operating from the centre to the circumference, contemplates universal advancement. It raises all, — and raises all at the same time; — not only the individual, but the family, the state, and the whole world as it is united together by the international code.

Every man, therefore, who fully possesses the Christian spirit, and whom Providence permits to labor in that direction, will bear his part in this great work. His relations to God are such that he will necessarily contribute that mite or talent, whatever it may be, which is appropriate to his personal ability, and his position in the social arrangement. His first work is to perfect his own nature; or rather, to let God do it, by leaving himself is the hands of the divine operator. But in being perfected in himself, he is perfected at the same time in the relations he sustains to others. In being a better man, he is not only a better father and husband, but a better citizen; — and while he labors and prays for the new and perfected life of those immediately around him, he does what he can for the restoration of all others in all places.

9. Think not that nothing can be done, because thou art little in the eyes of this world. The result does not depend upon what thou art in the world, but upon what thou art in God. It is God only, who is the source of all good. Various are the instruments he employs. He selects them, and he places them in the appropriate situations to be used by him. The power, whether it be more or less, is not in the instrument, in itself considered, but in God, who selects and locates it. In a multitude of instances has the declaration of the apostle been illustrated, that "God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty." [1 Corinthians 1:27.] A man of faith and prayer, however humble his situation in life, may yet have influence enough to affect the destiny of nations.

I will refer to an instance, which seems to be appropriate in this connection, and will illustrate what has now been said. Some years since, I was acquainted with an individual who has now gone to his rest and his reward. I have reference to the late William Ladd, the mention of whose name will recall cherished recollections to many hearts. In early life, he followed the sea; — in the course of a few years he became the commander of a merchant vessel, and acquired some amount of property. On quitting the sea, he purchased a farm in the inland town of Minot, in the state of Maine. On reading a tract on peace, written by one of the former presidents of Bowdoin College, he was led to reflect upon the inconsistency of war with the Gospel. Having enjoyed favorable opportunities of education before going to sea, and being a person of a strong mind, he conceived the idea of putting an end to war throughout the world by means of a Congress of Nations, which should have power to establish an international code, and also a High Court of Nations. What a mighty project to be brought about by such limited agency!

A few years before his death, I visited his retired residence. He showed me the room in which he had written the numerous papers, and even volumes, on the subject of war. Walking with him in one of his beautiful fields, he pointed to a small cluster of trees at a little distance, and said, "It was beneath those trees that I solemnly consecrated myself in prayer to this one work of impressing upon the minds of men the principles of peace." For many years he spent a large portion of his time in going from city to city, and from town to town, in almost all parts of the United States, introducing the subject of peace to associations of ministers, conversing with all classes of persons in relation to it, and lecturing wherever he could find an audience. I met with him often, and have been deeply affected with his simplicity and fixedness of purpose. He fully believed that God had inspired within him that central idea, around which the labors of his life turned. And those who knew him intimately, could hardly fail to be impressed with a similar conviction. He corresponded with distinguished individuals in Europe; — he scattered his numerous tracts and other writings on this momentous subject in all parts of the world. For many years the important movements of the American Peace Society appeared to rest upon him far more than upon any other individual. He died; and although he was preceded and has been followed by others of a kindred spirit, he was the means under God, of giving an impulse to the cause of peace, which is felt throughout the world. Society, penetrated by the great thought of universal pacification, seems to be brought to a pause. At Brussels, at Paris, at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, at London, we see nations, as it were, assembled in great Congresses, and consulting on their position and duties, in consequence of the impulse which God was pleased to communicate, in a great degree, through the labors of this comparatively humble individual. Let us not, then, look upon the outward person or the outward situation. It is one of the attributes of God to deduce great results from small causes. Wherever there is faith in God, there is power, — whatever may be the situation of the person who exercises it.

10. I will close the remarks on the subject now before us by an extract from a speech delivered at the late Peace Congress, held at Frankfort-on-the-Maine. It was made near the close of the session by a French writer and orator of great celebrity, M. Emile de Girardin; and was designed to encourage the friends of peace, by showing how very great results often follow from the combined and continuous action of small causes.

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"In relation to the ultimate success of our efforts," said the orator, “my faith is strong. And may I be permitted, as an illustration of the source of my confidence, to make one personal allusion? Last year, after the session of the Peace Congress in Paris, I was greatly exhausted in body and mind, partly by ill health, and partly by the labor and fatigue I had endured in connection with that assembly. Under these circumstances. I retired to a small sea-port town in my native country of Wales, to enjoy a little rest and relaxation. I remember well one day, while oppressed with that despondency which is produced by ill health and reaction after great excitement, I was gazing into the harbor, and saw a large vessel deeply imbedded in the mud, that had been left as a sediment by the retiring tide. What an enormous amount of mechanical force, thought I to myself would be necessary to lift this huge ship from this spot and carry it to yonder ocean! By what means can it be removed from its sunken bed? While I was thus meditating, I beheld the first small wave of the returning tide, as it silently stole along, and gently laved the keel of the vessel. And is it possible, I thought, that an agent so feeble as this can ever succeed in moving it from its place! But I continued to watch. I saw the waters increasing and swelling, until in about an hour I beheld the whole of that mighty mass, with its wood and iron and rigging, tossed like a feather on the top of the waves. And in the course of the evening, I saw it, with spreading canvass going forth from the harbor, and borne onward grandly and gallantly towards its destination on the bosom of the ocean.

"Yes, I said to my own faithless and desponding heart, I will accept this as a symbol. The cause of permanent and universal peace lies thus stranded and sank in the foul mud of prejudices, left behind by centuries of violence and blood. And how is it to be removed? Not by mechanical force of any kind, but by the power of an enlightened public opinion; — feeble at first as the rippling wavelet I saw an hour ago, kissing the keel of that vessel. But the waters are rising. I hear already tbs deep, murmuring sound of their approach. And they will continue to rise and expand, and swell in bulk and volume, till the whole noble vessel shall be fairly lifted from its place. Yes, I do not despair to live to see the time when it shall go forth with outspread sails on the broad ocean, having flying at its mast-head, — not the union-jack of England, nor the American stars and stripes, nor the tri-color of France, not even the symbol of the United Germanic nation, which on every side is waving around and above us here, — but something better and holier than any or all of these, — the broad banner of Universal Humanity, having inscribed upon it, as a motto, that sublime utterance of divine love,—
“God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth.”






THE CAMP HAS HAD ITS DAY OF SONG.

The camp has had its day of song;
The sword, the bayonet, the plume
Have crowded out of rhyme too long
The plough, the anvil, and the loom!
O, not upon our tented fields
Are Freedom's heroes bred alone;
The training of the work-shop yields
More heroes true than War has known!

Who drives the bolt, who shades the steel,
May, with a heart as valiant, smite,
As he, who sees a foeman reel
In blood before his blow of might!
The skill that conquers space and time,
That graces life, that lightens toil,
May spring from courage more sublime
Than that which makes a realm its spoil.

Let Labor, then, look up and see,
His craft no pith of honor lacks;
The soldier's rifle yet shall be
Less honored than the woodman's axe!
Let Art his own appointment prize,
Nor deem that gold or outward height
Can compensate the worth that lies
In tastes that breed their own delight.

And may the time draw nearer still
When men this sacred truth shall heed,
That from the thought and from the will
Must all that raises man proceed!
Though Pride should hold our calling low,
For us shall duty make it good;
And we from truth to truth shall go,
Till life and death are understood.

— Ode composed for the Charitable Mechanic Association of Massachusetts by E. Sargent, Esq.