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ing army to a numerous militia, is, the “ doubt whether any government can long be secure, where the people are acquainted with the use of arms.” An obvious answer to this argument is afforded by the measures of the late war. It was commenced on the plea that popular disaffection existed in this country, fomented by peace and intercourse with France; yet, in the course of it, almost all the regular forces were at times sent out of the island, and it was thought expedient to arm, not only a very numerous militia, but à much greater number of all ranks in voluntary association. This factmust silence (until the government or the people be essentially different from what they were during the late war) the plea, that this nation cannot be trusted with its own defence.

147

LETTER IX.

The duty urged on Christians, of relying on divine aid, in

the use of proper means. Reason for some confidence in the probable concurrence of other nations.

The arguments of my last Letter were advanced in reply to the most material objection that can be urged against the principle for which I have contended ;--that of its being incompatible with the defence and independence of our country. And they conclude so much of my reply to this objection as can be supposed to have any weight with persons who confine their views to second causes. Not that I at all expect even those arguments to have much weight with such reasoners.

The principles with which they are connected will be, in the judgment of sòme, a sufficient demonstration that they are weak and fanatical. But, if any impartial Christian finds himself reluctantly compelled to believe that the force of argument is on the side of those objectors, and thinks it may be inferred from a general observatiou of human affairs, that a modern nation could not pursue a system so defensive as I have traced out, without imminent hazard of losing its independence, I would urge on him a further argument, which, unless our professed belief in the Divine Government be quite nominal, ought surely to inspire confidence. If the forces on which the defence of a country depended were composed chiefly of men who refused unlimited service, from principles of peace and justice, (and this, be it observed, is the very supposition on which the objector's alarn is founded,) these might expect, if it can ever be expected, the real aid of that omnipotent Being, whose protection tyrants and invaders have sometimes impiously and hypocritically invoked. Nor can it, with any reason,

be said, that they might as well expect the protection of Heaven miraculously, i. e. without the use of any defensive means, as in the use of those which are by some affirmed to be inadequate. To argue, that it is right to engage, without limitation, in foreign wars, in order the better to defend our country, and that, if all subjects should refuse doing so, they might as well refuse to bear arms in every case, is not more just than to contend, that a Northumbrian Christian in the "old border-day” would have acted right in becoming a forayer himself, and making inroads on his Scottish neighbours, in order to be better qualified for resisting their ravages at home; and that he who refused to do this, would have served his family and his village as well, by not being armed or trained at all to repel the incursions of the Scots. The principle, in either case, is one which must lead to endless reciprocal aggression ; whereas, while limiting ourselves to that public defence which is judicial, and which there is no warrant to decline in expectation of miraculous aid, we should have every reason to hope for the blessing of Heaven on so sacred a cause. The defence of national freedom and independence by a national army which had conscientiously refused to become, by unlimited service, the instruments of aggressive war, would be a use of arms more sacred than the world has ever seen; for, the weapons of such a host would be used unequivocally and exclusively in the cause of peace, of justice, and of true religion. If ever there can be a war, not undertaken by the express commission of Jehovah, in which He will" gird the combatants with strength unto battle, and subdue under them those that rise up against them,” here, surely, would be the just occasion for such an expecta

For some account of those barbarous incursions, see the fragment " of a Letter from the Earl of Northumberland to King Henry the Eighith, in the Notes to Scott's Minstrel, p. 279.

tion. In snch a contest, the Christian soldier might say, with the Hebrew monarch, “ Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me, in this will I be confident.” We know, indeed, that the courage, strength, and talent of those who engage in the most flagitious enterprises, are derived (as all faculties are) from the Almighty, and sustained by him. He has very often used the depraved passions, which are not derived from him, and which give an oppressive and destructive direction to those faculties, as dreadful instruments of his just displeasure. Thus he speaks by his prophet to the impious Sennacherib; “ Oh Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypocritical nation," &c.* But such leaders and such armies are unconscious unbelieving instruments of that divine justice which is, at last, to return upon themselves. “ Howbeit,” the prophet continues," he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy.”† Such leaders

• Isaiah x. 5.

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+ An exception seems to exist in Kouli Khan, the Persian conqueror of the Mogul empire, who had some consciousness of the nature of the commission which he executed with such unsparing cruelty. “I am no god,” said he,“ to act as a god, nor a prophet, to show the way of salvation, nor a king, to render the people happy; but I am he whom God sends to the nations which he has determined to visit with his wrath.” But perhaps Kouli Khan, though he uttered an awful truth, was not the less an atheist at heart.

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