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thor to whom I have before referred.* Let it be admitted, that the precepts, of “ obeying in all things,” and “submitting to every ordinance of man,” justify the servant and the subject respectively, in coming under unlimited engagements, and in performing all which they may involve; you create a machinery for private and public crime, of the very highest power, with this peculiar convenience for the human materials of it, that their moral nature is suspended or annulled in this relation. The guilt, according to this system, all concentres in the few with whom it originates ;-not at all with those who have consented to be at their full disposal, and who are, in effect, the indispensable agents of their designs! +
5.“ Notre pere Bauny a encore bien appris aux valets à rendre tous ces devoirs là-innocemment à leurs maîtres, en faisant qu'ils portent leur intention, non pas aux péchés dont ils sont les entremetteurs, mais seulement au gain qui leur en revient!" Pascal Lett. Prov. let. sixme. “ Father Bauny has besides ingeniously instructed domestics how to perform all such services innocently for their masters, by making them direct their intention, not to the sins of which they are the agents, but solely to the gain which they derive from their commission."
+ If it be said, “ The subject is bound to the State by a stronger obligation than the servant to his master, and therefore the cases are not parallel,” I reply - Even were this proved, my argument on the moral responsibility of subjects preceded the illustration in question, and does not depend on it. But, though the relation of a servant be much more easily dissolved, in modern times, than that of a subject can or ought to be, this does not weaken the obligation involved in it while it subsists. The obedience of servants is more frequently, and, at least as strongly, enjoined in scripture, as that of subjects. (Vide page 73.) It will be scarcely said, that less obedience is due from them, while their service continues, now that it is happily become voluntary, than when it commenced in capture or purchase. This would be like saying, that less obedience is due to a constitutional than to an arbitrary government. The reverse is evidently the truth. Liberty heightens both the subject's and the servant's moral obligation to obedience; but still to such obedience only, in either of these relations, as is consistent with moral or Christian responsibility to the Supreme Governor.
It would be most uncandid to infer, from the above remarks, that I suppose there are no men of rank, whose unlimited service could be engaged in with a safe conscience. On the contrary, I doubt not, there are many; and they are the very persons who would never exact such a condition, or intimate its importance. But, if it were assumed, that both the sovereign and his ministers, in any European State, are of this latter character in private life, this would be far from proving that Christian subjects might engage, with a safe conscience, in the unlimited military service of that State. The private practice of some sovereigns, and some statesmen, has been Christian, yet the conduct of the State, especially in commencing and carrying on wars, has approximated much more to that of the ancient heathen; and it is quite compatible with a belief that our own is the best government in the world, and that we have had better sovereigns, statesmen, and legislators, than any other nation) to believe that it has engaged, and may again engage, in unjust wars, and that to enter on its unlimited service in arms * is unlawful for a Christian. Every moral agent (at least every one who has seen the ten commandments, and heard the lessons of the New Testament) is bound to consider, when such an unlimited service is proposed to him, whether some of the acts to which his skill and strength may be applied, are not likely to be unchristian ; and this they undeniably are, judging from the conduct of all governments, and from the spirit of multitudes in all nations.
* I am aware that the term unlimited may be cavilled at. It may be said, Troops have been raised, to serve only in Europe, or only in Asia ; and such service is not unlimited. I would explain, therefore, that I use unlimited, as the best single word that occurs to me, for expressing not duly limited. There is room enough for unjust war, either in Europe or Asia ; and it might as well be said, the soldier's service is not unlimited, because he is not liable to serve in the cavalry, infantry, and artillery, by turns. Perhaps the term general might have been in some respects more suitable to my meaning, but it is wanted for another purpose in these Letters, as opposed to specific. Thus the general engagement of a inilitia-man may be to serve in the British isles; but be may volunteer a specific service to Holland, and yet neither service be in any sense unlimited.
It is the Christian's duty to defend his country.-Practical
meaning of country.— The natural country.— The political.- The State.- Naval defence.-Compulsory land and sea service considered,
It was argued, in iny last communication to you, that no Christian can, consistently, enter on the unlimited military service of any government.* I now proceed to observe, that, if a Christian be convinced, (as I am myself conviuced, on the grounds stated in my former Letters,) that a national force for the public peace and security of his country is not more unchristian than a municipal force, he will recognise the right of every government to call on its subjects for home service; that is, to bear arms for the defence of their country
* This does not imply an opinion, that those who have entered on such an engagement ought to violate or refuse to fulfil it. The obligation of an oath, taken at the commencement of military service, seems to preclude this; but it appears right, that those who hold these principles should solicit a transfer into corps whose service is limited.
within its borders.* He will see that, unless we were warranted in expecting miracles, a
* It may be doubted, by some, whether the State has a right to compel a military service even thus strictly limited; since it is supposable that this force may be very unjustly employed against the people, and subjects may conscientiously refuse a service in which they are liable to become instruments of such injustice. But, as long as a government can claim allegiance, so long it may claim to maintain its own existence; that is, to raise and to employ a strictly defensive force, and to decide on its requisite amount: if a large proportion of its subjects should allege conscientious objections (either real or pretended) to all military service, the yielding to such a plea would either dangerously impair the public safety, or impose a very disproportionate burden of service on the remaining population. The right of requiring such service must, therefore, be admitted, as long as the relation of subject is recognised and understood. What high degrees of misgovernment may justify a Christian in considering that relation dissolved, it is not at all my object to discuss; but those who think it may with a safe conscience be hastily and lightly broken, must either overlook or strangely interpret some apostolical injunctions ; more strangely than they who cite them in support of passive or unqualified obedience. The persons who object, on conscientious grounds, to all military service, are, (and I think are likely to be,) even among real Christians, comparatively few. While, therefore, substitution is so practicable, not to permit it, would be, on various accounts, harsh, unjust, and impolitic. And, while voluntary defenders of the State can be readily obtained, it may be even inexpedient to adopt the levy by ballot: bit, if that be found necessary, the claim of service by substitution from those who (although able) are not willing to engage in the home defence of their country, is not unreasonable. It is, however, remarkable, that two governments under which the small and scattered sect of Swiss Mennonites has been successively placed, exacted, as I was informed by one of their number, (see Letters Descriptive of a Tour in 1816, p. 251,) neither personal nor substitutional service from them. If the plea of conscience could procure unconditional exemption, it might be very conveniently and extensively assumed.
Although examples should be adduced, of the unjust employ of domestic military force, (that is, a force whose terms of service are limited to home defence,) yet, speaking generally, there is far more analogy in the services of such a force (whether against insurgents or