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“Admirabilis autem illa atque plane incredibilis, quae honoribus abdicat cum, qui orta seditione nullam factionem secutus site.” No doubt, he is a culpable neuter that will not defend his governors and his country, when he hath a call: but it is so dreadful a thing to be guilty of the blood, and calamities of an unjust war, that a wise man will rather be abused as a neuter, than run himself into the danger of such a CaSe. Direct. Iv. “When necessity forceth you to go forth in a just war, do it with such humiliation and unwillingness as beseemeth one that is a patient, a spectator, and an actor, in one of the sorest of God’s temporal judgments.’ Go not to kill men, as if you went to a cock-fight, or a bear-baiting. Make not a sport of a common calamity; be not insensible of the displeasure of God, expressed in so great a judgment. What a sad condition is it to yourselves, to be employed in destroying others. If they be good, how sad a thought is it, that you must kill them | If they are wicked, how sad is it that by killing them you cut off all their hopes of mercy, and send them suddenly to hell! How sad an employment is it, to spoil and undo the poor inhabitants where you come ! to cast them into terrors, to deprive them of that which they have long been labouring for to prepare for fa mine, and be like a consuming pestilence where you come ! Were it but to see such desolations, it should melt you into compassion; much more to be the executioners yourselves. How unsuitable a work is it to the grace of love. Though I doubt not but it is a service which the love of God, our country, and our rulers, may sometimes justify and command, yet (as to the rulers and masters of the business) it must be a very clear and great necessity that can warrant a war. And, as to the soldiers, they must needs go with great re gret, to kill men by thousands, whom they love as themselves. He that loveth his neighbour as himself, and blesseth, and doth good to his persecuting enemy, will take it heavily to be employed in killing him, even when necessity maketh it his duty. But the greatest calamity of war is the perniciousness of it to men's souls. Armies are commonly that to the soul, as a city infected with the plague is to the body. The very nurseries and academies of pride, and * Neander in Chron. p. 104.
cruelty, and drunkenness, and whoredom, and robbery, and licentiousness; and the bane of piety, and common civility, and humanity. Not that every soldier cometh to this pass; the hottest pestilence killeth not all; but O how hard is it to keep up a life of faith and godliness, in an army! The greatness of their business, and of their fears and cares, doth so wholly take up their minds and talk, that there is scarce any room found for the matters of their souls, though unspeakably greater. They have seldom leisure to hear a sermon, and less to pray. The Lord's day is usually taken up in matters that concern their lives, and therefore can pretend necessity: so that it must be a very resolute, confirmed, vigilant person, that is not alienated from God. And then it is a course of life, which giveth great opportunity to the tempter, and advantage to temptations, both to errors in judgment, and viciousness of heart and life: he that never tried it can hardly conceive how difficult it is to keep up piety and innocency in an army. If you will suppose that there is no difference in the cause, or the ends and accidents, I take it to be much more desirable to serve God in a prison, than in an army; and that the condition of a prisoner hath far less in it to tempt the foolish, or to afflict the wise, than a military. (Excepting those whose life in garrisons. and lingering wars, doth little differ from a state of peace.) I am not simply against the lawfulness of war; (nor as I conceive, Erasmus himself, though he saw the sinfulness of that sort of men; and use to speak truly of the horrid wickedness and misery of them that thirst for blood, or rush on wars without necessity;) but it must be a very extraordinary army, that is not constituted of wolves and tigers, and is not unto common honesty and piety, the same that a stews or whorehouse is to chastity. And O, how much sweeter is the work of an honest physician that saveth men's lives, than of a soldier, whose virtue is shown in destroying them! Or a carpenter's, or mason's, that adorneth cities with comely buildings, than a soldier's that consumeth them by fire **
• And though I ignore not that it is a much more fashionable and celebrated practice in young gentlemen to kill men, than to cure them; and that mistaken mortals think it to be the noblest exercise of virtue, to destroy the noblest workmanship of nature, (and indeed in some few cases, the requisiteness and danger of destructive valor, may make its actions become a virtuous patriot) yet when I consider the cha
Direct. v. ‘Be sure first that your cause be better than
your lives, and then resolve to venture your lives for them.” It is the hazarding of your lives, which in your calling you undertake : and therefore be not unprepared for it; but reckon upon the worst, and be ready to undergo whatever you undertake. A soldier's life is unfit for one that dare not die. A coward is one of the most pernicious murderers: he verifieth Christ's saying in another sense, “he that sav
eth his life shall lose it.” While men stand to it, it is usu
ally but few that die; because they quickly daunt the enemy, and keep him on the defensive part; but when once they rout, and run away, they are slain on heaps, and fall like leaves in a windy autumn. Every coward that pursueth them is emboldened by their fear, and dare run them through, or shoot them behind, that durst not so near have looked them in the face, and maketh it his sport to kill a fugitive, or one that layeth down his weapons, that would fly himself from a daring presence. Your cowardly fear betrayeth the cause of your king and country; it betrayeth the lives of your fellow soldiers, while the running of a few affrighted dastards, lets in ruin upon all the rest; and it casteth away your own lives, which you think to save. If you will be soldiers, resolve to conquer or to die. It is not so much skill or strength that conquereth, as boldness. It is fear that loseth the day, and fearlessness that winneth it. The army that standeth to it, getteth the victory, though they fight never so weakly : for if you will not run, the enemy will. And if the lives of a few be lost by courage, it usually saveth the lives of many; (though wisdom is still needful in the conduct). And if the cause be not worth your lives, you should not meddle with it. Direct. vi. “Resolve upon an absolute obedience to your commanders, in all things consistent with your obedience to God, and the sovereign power.” Disobedience is no where more intolerable than in an army; where it is often unfit for a soldier to know the reason of his commands; and where self-conceitedness and wilfulness are inconsistent with their common safety, and the lives of many may pay for the disobedience of a few. If you cannot obey, undertake not to be soldiers. Direct. v11. “Especially detest all murmurings, mutinies, sidings, and rebellions.” For these are to an army, like violent fevers to the body, or like a fire in a city; and would make an army the greatest plague to their king and country. How many emperors, kings, and commanders have lost their dignities and lives, by the fury of mutinous, enraged soldiers! And how many kingdoms and other commonwealths have been thus overthrown, and betrayed into the enemy's hands! And how many thousands and millions of soldiers have thereby lost their lives! In your discontents and murmuring passions, you may quickly set the house on fire over your heads, and when you feel your misery repent too late. Passion may begin that which fruitless penitence must end. The leaders of mutinies may easily have many fair pretences to inflame an army into discontents: they may aggravate many seeming injuries; they may represent their commanders as odious and unworthy, by putting an ill appearance on their actions: but in the end it will appear, that it was their own advancement which they secretly aimed at, and the destruction of the present government, or the soldiers' ruin which is like to be the effect. A mutinous army is most like hell of anything I know among God's creatures, and next hell, there is scarce a worse place for their commanders to be in. Direct. v III. “Use not your power or liberty to the robbing, or oppressing, or injuring of any.’ Though military thieves and oppressors, may escape the gallows, more than others; they shall come as soon to hell as any. If you plunder, and spoil, and tyrannize over the poor people, under pretence of supplying your own wants, there is a God in heaven that will hear their cries, and will avenge them speedily, though you seem to go scot-free for a time. You may take a pride in domineering over others, and making yourselves lords by violence of other men's estates, and when you see none that will question you for it, you may take that which you have most mind to. But the poor and oppressed have a just defender, who hath a severer punishment for you than the sword or gallows ' And though he take you not in the very fact, and his sentence is not presently executed, yet be certain of it, that your day is coming. Direct. Ix. “Take heed lest custom, and the frequency of God's judgments, do harden your hearts into a reprobate stupidity.’ Many a man that formerly by the sight of a corpse, or the groanings of the sick, was awakened to serious thoughts of his latter end, when he cometh into an army, and hath often seen the dead lie scattered on the earth, and hath often escaped death himself, groweth utterly senseless, and taketh blockishness to be valour, and custom maketh such warnings to be of no effect. You can scarce name a more strange and lamentable proof of the maddening and hardening nature of sin! That men should be most senseless, when they are in the greatest danger! And least fear God, when they are among his dreadful judgments' And least hear his voice, when his calls are loudest And live as if they should not die, when they look death so often in the face, and see so many dead before them! That they should be most regardless of their endless life, when they are nearest it; and sense itself hath such notable advantage to tell them of all this ' What a monstrous kind of sottish stupidity is this Think whither the soul is gone, when you see the carcase on the earth; and think where your own must be for ever. Direct. x. “Take heed of falling into drunkenness and sensuality, though temptations and liberty be never so great.” It is too common with soldiers, because they are oft put to thirst and wants, to think they may lawfully pour it in, when they come at it, without moderation and restraint: even as many poor men take a gluttonous meal for no sin, because they have so many days of hunger; so is it with such soldiers in their drink: till drunkenness first have wounded their consciences, and afterwards grow common, till it have debauched and seared them; and then they have drowned religion and reason, and are turned sottish, miserable brutes. Direct. xi. “If necessity deprive you of the benefits of God’s public or stated worship, see that you labour to repair that loss, by double diligence in those spiritual duties, which yet you have opportunity for.” If you must march or watch on the Lord's days, redeem your other time the more. If you cannot hear sermons, be not without some
racter given of our great Master and Exemplar, that he went about doing good, and healing all manner of sicknesses. I cannot but think such an employment worthy of the very noblest of his disciples. Mr. Boyle's Experiment Philos. pp. 303, 304.