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Peaceful Dispositions Post by :goldstar Category :Essays Author :Lydia H. Sigourney Date :November 2011 Read :4103

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Peaceful Dispositions

The history of every nation tells of the shedding of blood. The most ancient annals record "wars and fightings," ever since man was placed upon the earth. Both savage and civilized nations have prized the trappings of the warrior, and coveted the glory of victory.

Yet have there always been some reflecting minds, to lament that the beings whom God had so nobly endowed, should delight to destroy each other. They have felt that there was suffering enough in the world, without man's inflicting it on his brother; and that life was short enough, without being made still shorter by violence.

Among the most warlike nations, there have been a few calm and philanthropic spirits, to perceive that war was an evil, or to deplore it as a judgment, even before the Gospel breathed "good-will and peace," in an angel's song. Though Rome grew up by bloodshed, and gained her dominion by the sword, yet some of her best emperors deplored the evils of war.

Adrian loved peace, and endeavoured to promote it. He saw that war was a foe to those arts and sciences, through which nations become prosperous and refined. He felt that the cultivation of the earth, the pursuits of commerce, and the progress of intellect, must alike be obstructed and languish, while the business of men was in the field of battle.

Titus Antoninus Pius desired to live in peace with every one. "I had rather save the life of one citizen," he nobly said, "than destroy a thousand enemies." His successor, Marcus Aurelius, considered war both as a disgrace and calamity. Though the necessity of the times sometimes forced him into it, his heart revolted, for he was inspired with the love of learning and philosophy.

Yet these were heathen emperors. They had never imbibed the spirit of the Gospel. They were not followers of Him, whose last accents was a prayer for his murderers. The maxim of the ancient Jews was, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But the precept of Jesus Christ is, "see that ye love one another." The contentious spirit was not therefore condemned by the law of Moses, nor by the mythology of the heathen.

Have you ever thought much, my dear young friends, of the miseries of war? of the waste of human life which it causes? of the bitter mourning which it makes in families? You pity a friend who suffers pain, a poor cripple upon crutches, or even a child with a cut finger.

But, after a battle, what gashes and gaping wounds are seen, what multitudes of mangled carcases. How red is the earth with flowing blood, how terrible are the groans of the dying, trampled beneath the feet of horses, or suffocated under heaps of dead. How fearful to see strong men convulsed with agony, and imploring help in vain.

Think too, of the sorrow in their distant homes. Grey-headed parents, from whom the last prop is taken away, lamenting their sons fallen in battle. Wives mourning for their husbands, little children weeping because their fathers must return no more. Neighbourhoods, once happy and prosperous, plunged into poverty, by the loss of those who provided them with bread.

All these evils, and many more, which we have neither room nor time to mention, may come from a single battle. Towns and cities are sometimes burned, and the aged and helpless destroyed. Mothers, and their innocent babes, perish in the ruins of their own beloved abodes.

War produces cruelty, and bad passions. Men, who have no cause to dislike each other, meet as deadly foes. They raise weapons of destruction, and exult in the misery they inflict. Rulers, should take a solemn view of the sufferings and sins of war, ere they plunge the people into it, for differences which might have been amicably settled.

War is expensive. The political economist should therefore oppose it. Great Britain, in her last war with France, is said to have spent more than seven hundred millions of pounds. But the immediate cost of armies, is but a part of the expense of war.

Who can compute the amount of losses by the obstruction of tillage and commerce, and the waste of life; for every full-grown, able-bodied man, is of value to the country that reared him. We may say with the poet,

"War is a game, that, were their subjects wise,
Kings would not play at."

Howard, who felt that it was more noble to save life than to destroy it, visited the prisons of distant lands, to relieve such as have no helper; and blessings, in foreign languages, were poured upon his head. Bonaparte caused multitudes to be slain and multitudes to mourn, and died in exile, on a desolate island. When death approached, to strip the pomp from titles, whose bosom must have been the most peaceful, when about to pass into the presence of God?

The religious sect, who are called Friends, never engage in warfare. The State of Pennsylvania, was settled by them. William Penn, its founder, purchased it of the natives, and lived with them in amity. They gathered around him, with their dark, red brows, and, gazing earnestly in his face, said, "You are our father. We love you."

When he purchased the land of them, he appeared unarmed, under the spreading branches of a lofty oak, and conferred with their chiefs. He paid them to their satisfaction, gave them gifts, and entered into articles of friendship with them and their descendants. "This is the only treaty which was confirmed without an oath," said an historian, "and the only one that was never broken."

These men of peace, treated the sons of the forest as brethren. But in other colonies, there were distressing wars. The settlers carried their guns to the corn-field, and laboured in fear, for the safety of their households. The tomahawk and scalping-knife were sometimes secretly raised, so that when they returned home, there was no wife or children there, only dead bodies. A savage foe had chosen this terrible form of vengeance, for real or supposed wrongs.

If true glory belongs to those who do great good to mankind, is not the glory of the warrior a false glory? Does not History sometimes confer on her heroes, a fame which religion condemns? But we ask how are wars to be prevented? Might not one nation act as mediator between others, as a good man makes peace between contending neighbours?

Why should not one Christian ruler address another, as the patriarch Abraham did his kinsman? "Let there be no strife, betwixt us, I pray thee; for we are brethren." If there have been always wars from the beginning, is this any reason why there should be unto the end? Do not the Scriptures of Truth foretell a happy period on earth, when there shall be war no more? How beautifully has a poet versified the cheering prediction:

"No more shall nation against nation rise,
Nor ardent warriors meet, with hateful eyes,
Nor fields with gleaming steel be cover'd o'er,
But brazen trumpet kindle rage no more,
The useless lances into scythes shall bend,
And the broad faulchion in a ploughshare end.
For wars shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail,
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale.
Peace o'er the earth her olive wand extend,
And white-rob'd righteousness from Heaven descend."

War proceeds from the unbridled passions, or restless ambition of men. Unkind and quarrelsome dispositions in children are the germs of such evil fruit. Ought not then, the remedy to be early applied to the heart, from whence they spring? For if the love of peace, was planted, and cherished carefully in the breast of every little child, would there not grow up a generation, who would help to banish war from the earth?

Avoid contention with your companions. Use no offensive words, and when you see others disagree, strive to reconcile them. Repress every revengeful feeling. If any one has injured you, do not injure them. Try to set them a better example. If any speak unfavourably of you, it is well to do them some good office. Perhaps you can lend them an interesting, instructive book, whose perusal would lead them to kinder dispositions.

To render evil for evil, would make perpetual discord in society. Try, therefore, to be gentle and patient to those who seem to dislike you. Their cold treatment may often proceed from some trifle, which your pleasant manners may reconcile. And it is a pity, to lose for any trifle, the benefits of friendly intercourse.

When in company with your associates, do not insist always on having your own way. If you are in the habit of cheerfully consulting their wishes, they will seek your society, and enjoy it. Thus you will acquire influence over them, and this influence should be exerted for their good.

You know that he who does good to another, uniformly, and from a right principle, promotes his own happiness. It is indeed, easy to love those who love us, but to be kind to those who are unkind to us is not so easy, though it is a nobler virtue.

"Do not suffer yourself to hate even your enemies," said Plutarch, "for in doing so, you contract a vicious habit of mind, which will by degrees break out, even upon your friends, or those who are indifferent to you." This is the advice of a heathen philosopher. But more definite and sublime are the words of our Redeemer, "Love your enemies, that ye may be the children of your Father in Heaven, who doeth good unto the evil and unthankful."

By preserving peaceful dispositions, and persuading those who are at variance, to be reconciled, you will be serene and happy. You will be pursuing an education which will fit you for the society of angels. Have we not read of a country, where there is no war? where peace and love reign in the bosom of all its inhabitants?

That country is Heaven. We hope to dwell there when we die. We would strive to cultivate its spirit while on earth. How else can we be permitted to remain there? The scorpion cannot abide in the nest of the turtle-dove, nor the leopard slumber in the lamb's fold. Neither can the haters of peace find a home in those blissful regions.

That holy Book, which is the rule of our conduct, the basis of our hope, has promised no reward to those who delight in the shedding of blood. But our Saviour, when his dwelling was in tents of clay, when he taught the listening multitude what they must do, to inherit eternal life, said, "Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God."

(The end)
Lydia H. Sigourney's essay: Peaceful Dispositions

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