Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

distant date. It is not an offensive war, to enlarge our territory or advance our power; but strictly a defensive war, entered into with great reluctance to prevent our own eventual overthrow. It is not, then, as some suppose, an attempt to prop up an infidel power like Turkey, but it is a life-and-death contest for liberty and civilisation against slavery and barbarism ; or rather, to prevent the universal prostration of all freedom, civil and religious, under the most crushing despotism which imagination can conceive. Was England, then, to wait till Russia had seized Constantinople, and thus secured for her fleets and armies an impregnable position, or to oppose her deep-laid schemes whilst resistance was possible?

It is with reluctance that we discuss a point which seems so foreign to the gospel; but we believe the conclusion to which all thinking minds have come, is, that if Russia had been permitted to carry out her deep-laid plans in the Baltic, and to obtain also possession of Constantinople, the certain result must have been the universal prostration of civilisation and liberty throughout Europe. * If, then, we think for a moment what would certainly have been our. position a few years hence had no check now been offered to Russian ambition, and what additional suffering would have been entailed by each successive advance in power of that unscrupulous Czar who sways millions with his nod, we may be content to accept war now, whilst success is probable, rather than war hereafter, when defeat would be almost certain. The present war, then, is not a general madness, a blind fury without end or object, but a national instinct of self-preservation, which has therefore enlisted all classes to sup- . port it with a spirit and a unanimity unparalleled in our history. Without entering further into politics, we have been induced to ;ffer these thoughts in the hope of reconciling to existing circum

* There are two narrow straits, cne of which, the Sound, (in which we may mclude the Great Belt,) commands the Baltic, and the other, the Dardanelles, which comraands both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Emperor of Russia was steadily, though stealthily, advancing to the occupation of both these passages. By fortifying Bomarsund, which commands Stockholm, he was advancing first to the conquest of Sweden and then of Denmark, which would have given him the occupation both of the Sound and of the Great Belt, the only two practicable passages into the Baltic Sea. By seizing Constantinople he would have commanded the Dardanelles, making him master of the Mediterranean in front, and of the Black Sea behind, and really constituting him lord over Europe and Asia. Now what would have been the consequence? From his northern position he could have sent this fleets not only to destroy the trade and commerce of England, but to ravage all our sea coasts, burning all our naval and mercantile ports, as Portsmouth, Liverpool, &c. From Constantinople he could have transported his armies by sca to the south of France, cutting off meanwhile our communication with India, and overawing or crushing Germany with his immense forces on the northern frontier. Would England, would France, submit to be what Poland now is? If not, war was unavoidable either now or at some no distant period.

stances the minds of some of our readers, who might, in their horror of war, think peace preferable at any price. One word more before we quit this portion of our subject. If our Puritan ancestors took up arms against their king, and plunged their country into all the horrors of civil war rather than part with their political and religious liberties, we, their degenerate children, may well be reconciled to a foreign war if it be to prevent England being degraded into a Russian province.

But quitting political ground, let us turn our thoughts into a more profitable channel. There are few events of any magnitude in which there is not a Christian view of things; and as we cannot keep our minds from sympathising with that gigantic struggle which is taking place in the East, it will be our wisdom and mercy if we can stand upon our watch-tower and view with a believin eye scenes which are now agitating so many hearts at home and abroad.

I. As almost everything which agitates the mind lays it open to a peculiar class of temptations, our first word shall be a word of warning and affectionate admonition to our Christian readers; and in 'so doing, we shall point out several snares that may be spread for our feet at the present eventful crisis. Let them be assured that, in so doing, we shall not speak of these temptations as mere spectres seen in imagination, or viewed in the dim unknown distance, but practically and experimentally, as we have felt them ourselves.

1. One main temptation, in the present posture of affairs, when with well-nigh every day heart-stirring tidings flash along the electric wire, is undue excitement. As the experience of one heart is often the experience of another, will our readers allow us to mention a little circumstance of personal feeling which may serve to illustrate this?

Lord's Day, Oct. 1st, was a season of more than usual feeling and solemnity with us in the things of God, and the impression remained in good measure on the morning of the following day. About noon on the Monday we sallied forth to breathe a little fresh air, but had not gone many hundred yards up the public street before a large placard, surrounded by a numerous throng, met and in a moment riveted the eye, announcing the “BATTLE OF ALMA AND CAPTURE OF SEBASTOPOL.” It was impossible not to stop for a few moments and read the few lines of the telegraphic despatch. But what was the effect? The heart almost leaped into the mouth; an electric shock ran through the frame, quickening the pulse and step, and filling the mind with a torrent of engrossing, exciting

Haters of op

core, could

thoughts. Where were solemn feelings now! Where was spiritual meditation, secret prayer, or any lifting up of the heart God-ward? Gone, gone. During the rest of the walk,-and, we must confess, almost the rest of the day, the heart-stirring tidings were uppermost. It

may be from want of sufficient grace, or from inability to master the risings of strong natural feeling, but we do acknowledge that the gallant exploits of our brave soldiers and their alleged success in capturing the Czar's stronghold did stir up the blood and make it leap and bound in every artery. pression, lovers of liberty, friends of civilisation, and above all, English to the heart's

we,
could

any of us, read or hear of such deeds of valor and of such triumphant success and remain as cold and as calm as the mountain pool ? United as we trust we are, many of us, dear readers, in a higher, holier, and more enduring tie, as citizens of a heavenly country, is there one of us who, in the thought that he is a Christian, can forget that he is also an Englishman?

But here lies, just now, a great temptation--one against which we shall do well if we can be on our watchful guard,—the temptation of being carried down the stream of absorbing excitement. Now, this excitement of mind, this voluntary yielding up of the thoughts to a rushing troop of spoilers that rudely trample under their hoofs the rising crop of that spiritual-mindedness in which alone is life and peace, is a sad evil. To dwell with avidity on the details of battle and bloodshed, to be as anxious about the siege of Sebastopol as if our very soul and all were at stake, to be daily waiting with excited minds what news from the Crimea each successive post may bring, is most unfavorable to the life of God in the soul and most deadening to every divine feeling in the heart.

To have no sympathy with and take no interest in events of such heart-thrilling magnitude is scarcely possible, or if possible, not desirable, and may rather argue apathy and selfishness than great spirituality. Some of us may have relatives at the seat of war; others may have just received tidings that some one near and dear to them has been struck down in battle or is languishing of wounds in the hospital; and visions of that dear face when last seen, so radiant with nealth, are ever floating before the eyes in appalling contrast with what that face is now. If not so deeply and personally interested, members of the same church and congregation with us may

have sons or grandsons in the tented field or on the storm-heaved deck. Are we to be stocks and stones, devoid of pity and compassion for them ? Vay, even if not so sensibly reminded of the miseries and anxieties which the war creates, can we at night lie down in our warm beds and listen to the howling wind, or see in the starry sky the signs of a biting frost, without thinking of our poor soldiers shivering on the frozen heights which overlook Sebastopol, and exposed every moment to shot and shell hurrying them out of time into eternity? May we not, too, as Christians walking in his steps who wept over Jerusalem, fore-viewed by his all-seeing eye as surrounded with armies, drop a sympathetic tear over the dying and wounded of our fellow-countrymen? Every feeling of patriotism and natural tenderness says, Yes; nor do we believe that the precepts of the gospel

say, No.

The difficulty is to steer the middle course, and neither on the one hand shroud ourselves in sullen apathy under the idea of eminent spirituality of mind and conduct, nor on the other give way to that avidity after intelligence, and that undue engrossment of mind, 'which by exciting it on passing events, opens a door for thoughts and feelings very hostile to vital godliness.

2. Closely connected with this excitement of mind is an evil of scarcely inferior magnitude. - If undue engrossment of thought, if to be, as it were, continually thrown out of gear by shock after shock of exciting intelligence, is to disturb that “quietness and confidence” in which is our "strength,” (Isa. xxx. 15,) what shall we say of the enkindling of a warlike flame in our breast? We may read of bayonet charges by our noble Guards, of the bold dash of cavalry regiments rushing fearlessly on destruction, of the slaughter of thousands of Russians by the deadly Minié rifle, until we seem transported in imagination to the very scene of this blood-fraught strife, and almost to see with our eyes the desperate struggle on the heights of Inkermann. We may be even so carried away by this warlike spirit as almost to exult in the destruction of thousands of those miserable Russians who are driven on to battle like sheep to the slaughter-house. But to convince yourself what a foe this spirit is to all vital godliness, take this test. When your mind is in this excited state, open your Bible at Johu xiv., and try to read that and the following chapters. One of these two things will result. You must either lay down your warlike spirit or lay down your Bible. If enabled to lay down your warlike spirit, you will feel how contrary the precepts and spirit of Jesus are to what you have been indulging, and this will or should fill you

with self-condemnation. If you are, on the other hand, compelled to lay down the Bible with a sigh, as being unable to read it, that of itself is an evidence that it is too holy ground for you to walk on in your present spirit, and therefore that the Scriptures condemn both it and you.

3. As evils are rarely single, but one is almost sure to introduce

“Have you

another, we will, in the same spirit of affectionate warning, mention another temptation which may beset some of our readers at this present crisis.

It is the danger of being entangled with worldly men. Any link of union between us and the world is fraught with temptation, and tends to impair that distinct and separate spirit which the Lord inculcates in those striking words, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Our families in most cases, and our worldly occupations in very many others, connect us with the world more than is good for our souls. We need not, then, any

additional link to bind us to one of our chief enemies. But what an approximating tie may Satan and the carnal mind weave between the church and the world out of this war! heard the important news this morning?" may be the first thread to weave a web of conversation between a child of God and a servant of Satan. The ear thus opened, which would be barred to mere worldly talk, drinks in at once the exciting intelligence. The two men feel alike interested in the subject and make their remarks upon it with an agreement which seems to draw them together. They part, but not as they met. “Well, after all,” says the servant of Satan, “he is not such a bad kind of fellow as I thought. I like very well what he said about the war and the soldiers. He's not so stupid, either, as most of those canting chaps.” The child of God feels that he has not done right in talking about the war to this worldly man; but the poison is at work. He feels a strange thirst. for a little more news from the seat of war. His yesterday's companion is all ready for him. He has been reading up at the pot-house over night all the accounts of the battle, and he is charged up to the muzzle for his new friend. We need not pursue our sketch.. Who does not see the snare thus laid for a child of God, and what it may entangle him in to his soul's injury? It can never be sounded too loudly in the ears of the family of God, that all beyond absolutely needful association with worldly men is fraught with peril. They may draw us on to their ground to our soul's grievous hurt, but we can never draw them to ours to their souls' real good.

4. At the risk of being wearisome in sounding so many notes of warning, we can hardly forbear mentioning another snare, closely connected with the preceding, and perhaps more subtle in operation, if not so dangerous in result. It is the temptation of making the war too much the subject of conversation amongst Christians themselves. Few things are more edifying than spiritual conversation. When the speech is with grace, seasoned with salt, it is not only good to the use of edifying, but it is taken favorable notice of by the Lord himself. (Col. iv. 6; Eph. iv. 29; Mal iii. 16.) But, on

« ZurückWeiter »