what we can do to elevate our character, to add to the happiness of all. and to attain to that righteousness which exalteth a nation. In this spirit, I propose to inquire What, in our age, are the true objects of national ambition; what is truly national glory, national honor; what is the true grandeur of nations? I hope to rescue these terms, so powerful over the minds of men, from the mistaken objects to which they are applied,—from deeds of war and the extension of empire,—that henceforward they may be attached only to acts of Justice and Humanity. . . . Far be from our country and our age the sin and shame of contests hateful in the sight of God and all good men, having their origin in no righteous though mistaken sentiment, in no true love of country, in no generous thirst for fame,—that last infirmity of noble minds,—but springing in both cases from an ignorant and ignoble passion for new territories; strengthened, in one case, by an unnatural desire in this land of boasted freedom to fasten by new links the chains which promise soon to fall from the limbs of the unhappy slave! In such contests, God has no attribute which can join with us. Who believes that the national honor will be promoted by a war with Mexico or England? What just man would sacrifice a single human life, to bring under our rule both Texas and Oregon? It was an ancient Roman— touched, perhaps, by a transient gleam of Christian truth—who said, when he turned aside from a career of Asiatic conquest, that he would rather save the life of a single citizen than become master of all the dominions of Mithridates. A war with Mexico would be mean and cowardly; but with England it would be at least bold, though parricidal. . . . In our age there can be no peace that is not honorable; there can be no war that is not dishonorable. The true honor of a nation is to be found only in deeds of justice and in the happiness of its people, all of which are inconsistent with war. In the clear eye of Christian judgment vain are its victories, infamous are its spoils. He is the true benefactor and alone worthy of honor who brings comfort where before was wretchedness; who dries the tear of sorrow; who pours oil into the wounds of the unfortunate; who feeds the hungry and clothes the naked; who unlooses the fetters of the slave; who does justice; who enlightens the ignorant; who enlivens and exalts, by his virtuous genius, in art, in literature, in science, the hours of life; who, by words or actions, inspires a love for God and for man. This is the Christian hero; this is the man of honor in a Christian land. He is no benefactor, nor deserving of honor, whatever may be his worldly renown, whose life is passed in acts of force; who renounces the great law of Christian brotherhood; whose vocation is blood; who triumphs in battle over his fellow-men. Well may old Sir Thomas Browne exclaim, “The world does not know its greatest men;” for thus far it has chiefly discerned the violent brood of battle, the armed men springing up from the dragon's teeth sown by Hate, and cared little for the truly good men, children of Love, guiltless of their country's blood, whose steps on earth have been as noiseless as an angel's wing. It is not to be disguised that these views differ from the generally received opinions of the world down to this day. The voice of man has been
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.