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THE PEACE CONGRESS OF 1851, AND THE GREAT
The fourth of these annual public demonstrations in favour of peace, was held this year very appropriately in London. The Exhi. bition of the Industry of all Nations, and the advocacy of Peace between all nations, harmonize beautifully together. Without peace how useless is it for us to know what other nations have to send us, or for them to know what we have to send them in exchange. When the frontiers of States are bristling with the instruments of bloodshed, and the very ocean laden with floating batteries of slaughter, vain is it, then, for the mechanic to produce in his workshop what another country would gladly purchase, vain for the merchant to peril his vessel and cargo amidst the human monsters of the deep. Manufacturing ingenuity, employment of labour, exchange of articles by commerce, and hence the food and comforts of millions, all depend on peace. Nothing, therefore, could be more fitting than that the same city, and the same time, should be selected for the Great Exhibi. tion and the Peace Congress.
It must be confessed that there is much around us very painful for the friends of peace to contemplate. Our own land is at this moment engaged in a most costly, cruel, and uncalled-for war with the native inhabitants near the Cape of Good Hope; the least evil of which is, that the whole colony is not worth the millions of money it has and will cost. Then, our enormous naval and military establishments, after thirty years' peace, are the far heaviest part of our unparalleled taxation, On the Continent, standing armies, reckoned not by hundreds nor by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands, devour the fruits of industry, uphold tyranny and superstition, sustain a few of the vilest despots the world ever saw in power, and crush the press, religion, and liberty; the superstitious or infidel priesthood being of course the great upholders of despots and despotism,-those who ought to be preachers of the gospel of peace, having, as priests of national Establishments, become the tools of the powers who pay them, instead of being, like their professed Master, the friends of the “poor and needy.” Priests of National Church Establishments have, indeed, as a body, always been favourable to standing armies and to war. In one of our unjust wars of the last half century “the whole bench of bishops voted for war.”
With myriads of troops therefore covering Europe, and the national priesthoods glad that it should be so, there would seem to be little hope for the lovers of peace. Still we have hope, strong hope. We think it, indeed, possible that Providence may yet design to chastise the nations with wars and tumults. It is hardly to be expected that the perjury, perfidy, and cruelty of so many monarchs will go un. punished, or that the infidelity of too many continental reformers, and the superstition and disguised infidelity of the continental conservatives, will not be severely visited. Yet we think, first, that bankruptcy is fast overtaking Governments, and will disband many a regiment of those organised murderers, termed soldiers. Secondly, that trade and commerce are becoming so essential to the revenues of Governments, and the comforts of the people, that monarchs and subjects will both have practical reasons for disliking war. Thirdly, that, notwithstanding every effort of the despots to enslave the press, the intercourse between nations is becoming so rapid and frequent, that juster conceptions of human rights and national interests will spread. But, fourthly, our grand hope is, that the Gospel of Peace is to do its promised work. So firmly as we believe it to be the Gospel of God, so firmly do we feel assured that it will yet have "free course, and run and be glorified.”
When christianity first appeared in the Roman empire it soon and naturally awakened enquiry as to the lawfulness of war. Christians soon began to feel it inconsistent to pray, "forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors" (Matt. vi. 12-15), and the next hour to plunge their sword into an enemy's bosom. After Constantine, how. ever, made christianity a State religion, we hear no more of such scruples. And even at the Reformation the reformers sold their work into the hands of princes. The ministers of Christ became the beneficiaries of the State, and served its rulers more faithfully than the great Ruler of all. Hence they have been ministers of war rather than of peace. But God assuredly does not design this to last for ever. The press is become a more powerful teacher than the priest; and through its instrumentality the christian brotherhood is proclaiming the more genial aspects of the blessed Gospel. It is beginning to be better understood that God has given it for the Healing of the Nations ; and one thing is perfectly certain, that in proportion as Christ and his doctrine are known and loved, ambition, pride, and the love of money (the chief fountains of war), must cease, and love, the only basis of lasting peace, must prevail. The Gospel is, indeed, the only system which unquestionably annihilates' war. Mahomet enjoined it. Socrates, the boast, and justly so, of Heathen morality, taught his disciples “how to benefit their friends as much as possible, and to iuflict the greatest evil on their enemies.” Jesus Christ alone has taught us to love our enemies, to forgive them, to bless them. Others have taught how to crush their bodies,–He how to melt their hearts. What, in a word, is the Gospel ? PEACE between God and many--for in it God is love and forgiveness, and by it man returns with trust and penitence to his Heavenly Father. PEACE between man and his neighbourg—for he who has been forgiven so freely and fully, learns that he must “forgive, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven him.” PEACE between all nations,-for in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free,-all in Him are one people, one brotherhood. “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
In the mean time, we cordially hail the efforts of such societies as that which has just held its conference. We deem them all co-operators with the Gospel, glorifiers of its principles. We would also strongly urge on all whom we can influence to support Mr. Cobden in his admirable practical propositions in Parliament, for national arbitration instead of war, and for a mutual reduction of armaments between the nations. While we hold that the prevalence of Gospel principles in the hearts of men generally, is the only basis for permanent peace, we yet think that all who love those principles should aid most zealously every effort towards their practical application,--and we regret most deeply that our Government should be found an oppo. nent of such christian and useful propositions.
Lord, what is man! Thus exclaimed the Psalmist in his day, and thus we often exclaim in ours. To see men, with the bible in their hands, with the gospel sounding in their ears, with disease working in their system, with death cutting down their fellows all around them, with eternity opening before them, with the stamp of immortality upon their souls,-to see men, under such circumstances, rejecting the gospel, slighting the Saviour, and urging on their way to eternity in the dark, is enough to make any thoughtful person exclaim, “What is man !” Let us endeavour to put the sinner's conduct into words, and see how many are prepared to own it as their own, or deliberately subscribe their names to it. Every sinner, who lives in impenitence and unbelief, within reach of the gospel, says,
“I am resolved to persevere in sin, and follow the maxims and customs of those around me, though it cost me the loss of my soul, and expose me to everlasting damnation. I am resolved to reject the Son of GodI will not receive him as God's gift, embrace him as my Saviour, or have him to reign over me. I am resolved that I will not accept the pardon which God presents to me in the gospel, though it cost the Son of God his life to procure it, and I know I must eternally perish without it. I am determined not to submit to the righteousness of God, so that if I cannot be saved in any other way, I consent to be lost for ever. I have made up my mind, that nothing short of Omnipotence shall ever bring me to consent to receive a free salva. tion, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ; God may speak to me in his word, and ministers may preach to me, but unless Almighty power change my heart, I will not have it. I am resolved to slight God's mercy, to resist his Holy Spirit, to strive against the influence of his love, to dare his justice, to defy his power, to refuse his mercy, to brave his threatened wrath, and to harden myself against all his invitations, expostulations, exhortations, and promises. I am resolved that I will not bow to his authority, yield to his entreaties, believe on his Son, repent of my sins, love his name, or obey his precepts. I am determined that there shall never be joy in heaven among the angels of God, on account of my conversion. I never will desert the ranks of Satan, give up my sinful prac ces, crave mercy at God's hands, or take up a cross and follow Christ. I am resolved to keep on in my old course, to persevere in my present path, to associate with my carnal companions, and if it secures my eternal damnation, let it do 80. I will not receive salvation on God's terms, I will not stoop to be saved by grace alone, I will not take the yoke of Christ upon me, and engage to be his subject and servant, though heaven and all the glories of eternity should be secured by it. If I cannot escape the wrath of God, but by faith, repentance, and holiness, why, I must go to hell, for I am resolved not to yield to any such terms. It is of no use for the preacher to spend his breath upon me, my mind is made up, I will be my own master, I will take my own course, and no one has any right to interfere with me, for I shall injure no one but myself. I have no objection to go to church, or chapel, and listen to a good preacher, or to attend to some of the forms of religion, but to give my heart to God, to be crucified to the present world, and to make God's glory the end of life, will never do for me, therefore I must take the consequences. If this is required of those who'would be religious, you may leave off urging me, for I will not yield; you may give over all attempts to convert me, for my mind is made up;
I have heard hundreds of sermons, I have read the bible myself, I have listened to many prayers, but I have hardened myself against the whole, and I am not going to yield now. Tell me no more of a Saviour's love, tell me no more of the pleasures of religion, tell me no more of the terrors of death, tell me no more of the terrible judg. ment-seat, tell me no more of the joys of heaven, tell me no more of the agonies of hell, if thereby you wish to induce me to yield myself unto God, and seek the immediate salvation of my soul, for my
mind is made up, and my daily conduct is enough to convince you of it, if anything would. I am resolved not to yield, let the consequences be what they may; I will go on as I have done, I will not be Christ's servant, I will not be God's son, but I will obey Satan, I will follow the course of this world, I will serve my lusts and pleasures; and in proof thereof, witness my hand, this
in the year of our Lord, ."
Who will now first sign his name? Who will solemnly put his seal to this ? Rather, who will not start back with a shudder, and exclaim, “God forbid !” But why do so ? Do not actions speak louder than words ? Is not the daily practice stronger proof than
just putting the name to a statement once ? If you do not say the above in words, yet if you do so in your actions, where is the difference? Does not God read the language of your life? If you say it practically, why not boldly take the pen and openly append your name? The majority of persons around us are living in enmity against God, they are not subject to his law, neither will they embrace his gospel, then why not sign the name? But suppose such a statement as the above was printed, that it was signed by your own hand, and a copy of it was left at every house in the city, town, or village where you live, would you not feel ashamed to walk the streets ? But why so ? Ten thousand angels, every true believer, and God himself, read it every day in your conduct. As the ministering angels pass by you, they recognise and notice you, as one who refuses to be saved by grace, but prefers to perish in your sins. Every messenger of Satan who observes you, or is employed to blind your mind and tempt you to sin, gazes upon you as one who refuses to receive a pardon from the hand of God, but prefers to lie under condemnation, exposed to all the tremendous horrors of the second death. Every right-minded and thoughtful christian grieves over you and prays for you, that you may not be allowed to perish in your own deceivings. And when the judgment shall be set, and the books shall be opened, your criminality and folly shall be published before assembled worlds. Oh, sinner, sinner! think, think what can be more preposterous than your conduct? What folly can be equal to yours ? Jesus, the glori. ous Son of God, says, “I would receive you, if you come; I would pardon you, if you believe; I would give you the Holy Spirit, if you ask me; I would be a Saviour unto you, if you receive me; but you will not. You will not come unto me that you might live. I would have gathered you under my wings, but you WOULD NOT. “Israel would none of me, so I gave them up” (Ps. lxxxi. 11, 12).
Well, reader, will you sign the above? Why not? Is it true of you, or is it not ?. If you will not sign that, will you honestly, seriously, and solemnly, as before God, sign another ? It is this,
“I resolve, by God's mercy, and in God's strength, to break off all my old sinful habits, to forsake my carnal companions, and to make the salvation of my soul my one grand object. I am resolved to be saved, if the Lord Jesus will save me. I am resolved to be pardoned, if God will pardon me. I am determined to obtain mercy, if God will give it me. I will be a thorough, decided, devoted christian, if God, in answer to prayer, will make me one; and in proof thereof, witness my hand, this
in the year of our Lord,
My dear friend, you may blot out all those "ifs,” for Jesus will save you, and rejoice to do it, if you are willing to be saved by him. God will pardon you, and pardon you abundantly, if you seek it in the name of his beloved Son. He will shew you mercy, and make