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take his own life in case he should endanger mine,—this question, depends on a calm and discriminating consideration of the circumstances of the case. The theory of implicit faith in man's better nature has been refuted by the whole history of martyrdom ; the opposite theory of distrust has been disproved by many instances of determined criminals, and even madmen, overcome by non-resistance, made irresistible to them, by the power of faith and love. The safety of either of these antagonist principles cannot be determined by general rules, but the nature of the case must be the practical guide for individuals and nations. “What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and congulteth whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand !" But it is not only numbers, but natural advantages, and above all the encouraging and inspiring influence of a good cause, which are to be taken into account. It was by partly accommodating themselves to existing circumstances, and partly by forcing circumstances into the service of their determined will, that the ancient Greeks resisted the countless hosts of the great king, and that in more recent times the Netherlanders, the Provinces of North America, and the modern Greeks, established their independence.
With regard to the chances of war a computation has recently been made, with a view to ascertain in how many wars recorded in history right has prevailed over wrong. It is supposed that the number of cases in which the good cause has been victorious, and of those in which it has been defeated, is about the same.
The lisefulness of war as a remedy against injustice has been inferred from that computation. But this conclusion does not seem to be borne out by the facts adduced. The fact that justice does not always prevail in contest only proves that the goodness of the cause is not of itself sufficient to secure to its defenders the victory. The belief in an immediate interposition of Providence, which instituted ordeals, has long been given up as a superstition. Hence, he who maintains the justice of resistance against oppression, agrees with the advocate of non-resistance in condemning any attempt at insurrection made without reasonable prospect of success—unless the tyranny be so atrocious and degrading that the most hopeless struggle is preferable to brutalizing submission.
But while it is true on the one hand that justice, without the means of carrying it into effect, without forecast, activity and decision, does not insure success, it is equally true that of all the favorable auspices under which a man may go forth to mortal strife, there is none so propitious and sure as the consciousness of a good cause. We remember to have seen in Germany in the hands of one of the bravest of the brave who distinguisied themselves in
the war of German Independence in 1813, an old sword that bore this simple inscription:
“Ein gut Gewissen in Sachen
Einen beherzt und froh thut machen." That is,
"A conscience good in what we do
Doth make one brave and cheerful too." The cheerful courage inspired by the justice of the cause we contend for, differs essentially not only from that which seems to be the effect of a vigorous physical constitution, but that also which springs from the intoxicating influence of ambition, or any other selfish passion. The courage of ambition has helped individuals to make themselves the masters of their fellow-men; the courage of conscience has stirred up nations to shake off the degrading habits of servitude, and reënact their abrogated humanity. A single instance like that of the founders of the Swiss Confederacy, pleading their chartered rights as independent members of the German Empire, exhausting all their means of entreaty and protestation against the ambitious rapacity of the Dukes of Austria, despised by her warlike nobility, until at last, grasping the weapons of despair, they rose against their oppressors, and the shepherd's sling once more prevailed against the giant's coat of mail and helmet of brass—this single instance of the only free community in monarchical Europe formed and self-sustained by dint of resistance against tyranny, is sufficient to prove the expediency of war as a last resort of oppressed justice. This and other examples of successful resistance rise in importance when we consider that the history of man does not exhibit more than one instance of a people recovering any considerable portion of their natural rights by frec concession.
Whether he who vindicates the cause of right on the battle field, or he who simply delivers his testimony to the truth and seals it with his blood, be the greater hero, this is a question which has drawn forth different answers. The charm of military eminence, and its vast practical effects, have for a long time so dazzled the imagination, and corrupted the judgment, of men, that they have been disposed to overlook the object, in pursuit of which, and the steps whereby, a Cæsar and a Napoleon rose to greatness. The friends of Peace have exposed this false judgment, and have shown that military prowess may exist with, and may sometimes be traced to, moral cowardice. But the honest zeal to disabuse mankind of so dangerous a prejudice has carried some so far as to deny the existence of military virtue. Some have denounced all military heroism, that of the deliverers as well as that of the enslavers of men, as “wholesale murder.” To us the true characteristics of moral heroism seem to be these three : an honest conviction of
duty, however correct, or however mistaken; an exalted effort on will; and the spirit of self-sacrifice. It is the possession of these qualities which makes us look upon a Washington as a moral as well as a military hero. What instance of unresisting martyrdor is there that supasses in moral glory the deed of Winkelried, who made a breach in the fearful wall of armed spearsmen, the prime of Austria's chvalry, that baffled the boldest attacks of the naked bravery of his countrymen, by grasping a large number of hostile lances and thrusting them firmly into his own bosom, so that they could not be withdrawn before the Swiss host rushed over his body into the midst of the invincible square doomed to become the mausoleum of Arnold Winkelried ?
When we compare this and many other instances of warlike philanthropy with the highest and purest examples of unresisting martyrdom, we feel unwilling to admit any invidious distinction that would ascribe either to the one or the other a higher degree of merit or virtue. There seems to be something in the peculiar physical and moral constitution of benevolent individuals, or in the different influences under which their characters have been formed, that fits and disposes each one more especially either for active or for suffering philanthropy. There are individuals, we know, whose voice and strength failed them when called upon to make a public declaration of their sentiments by word or action, though all the terrors of this world could not force from them a denial of a single article of their creed; and there are others who rejoice in a public, but shrink from a more private, exhibition of fidelity to principle. The crown of martyrdom belongs to him who is ready both to act and to suffer, as the fulfilment of his moral mission may require the one or the other; and humanity will own her votaries, and accept their sacrifice, and not allow those to go down to an unhonored grave who fall in her service, whether grasping the sword, or clasping the crucifix.
Still it may be said with good reason, that although candid and enlightened men will judge the character of individuals by the standard of their own professed principles, the fact that there are conscientious soldiers does not establish the morality of their prosession. The taking of human life, and generally the use of force against beings who are fitted and destined to govern themselves by principles of justice and kindness, is inflicting evil, and therefore wrong, unless it be proved to be necessary to prevent greater evil. Punishment and war can be vindicated only on the ground on which the amputation of a limb, or the use of a dangerous medicine to save the life of the patient, is justifiable. What, then, is the principle of justice, if there be one, that authorizes and regulates the use of force ?
It is evident that no human being can attain to that degree of perfection and happiness in this world, which his own nature points out as his destiny, unless he be free to use his faculties, and the various means of improvement and enjoyment which the Creator has placed within his reach. Every man, in virtue of his being a man, claims the widest sphere of independent existence and action which a human being can possess, consistently with the equal inde. pendence of every other. It is this equal sphere of freedom which we call his right. It includes personal and social rights, as well as rights of property. The duty to respect the rights of all, and the injustice of every infringement, are obvious. Hence the duty to vindicate the just claims of all from injustice, by adequate means, even if these means should be painful to the offender, provided they do not inflict upon him any more evil than is necessary for the purpose of securing the rights of others, which he has violated. He who knowingly violates the right of others shows that so far he is governed, not by his moral, but by his animal, nature. He so far justifies those whom he has injured, in treating him on the supposition that argument and persuasion are less likely to keep him within the bounds of justice, than the application of physical evil sufficient to check his criminal propensity. For though a man cannot by force be made to respect the rights of others, he can by force be made to abstain from violating them. That supposition does not deny the possibility, however improbable, that a man who has shown, by his act, that the mere consideration of its injus tice is not sufficient to restrain him, may be converted by the unmerited forgiveness of the offended. This possibility is acknowledged and implied in the fact, that the use of force in desence of right is a matter of right, but not necessarily a duty. It is a duty in general to repress injustice by the gentlest means, if they bo sufficient; by the severest, if they be necessary. But as there is no external absolute standard to determine the degree of lenity or severity to be applied in every case, it is right, on the one hand, that he whose rights are violated should have the right to forego any or every means of redress and defence, in as much as he has to bear the consequences of his forbearance. But, on the other hand, it would be wrong to deprive the injured person of those physical means which, from the nature of the offence, are more likely to maintain or restore his rights than the use of persuasion, the efficiency of which has been rendered improbable by the very act of the offender. And it is the duty of all who are interested in the maintenance of justice, to afford to every one who is not willing to suffer injustice that supply of physical force which, according to their deliberate judgment, is required to counteract the crimina) motive evinced by the act. Fven in the case of a person who is resolved rather to die than defend himself, the fact that he possesses in himself, or in the community, adequate means to repel force by force, does much to enhance the glory and moral power of his martyrdom.
The general principle, then, which authorizes and regulates the use of physical force, may be thus stated. Coercion should be used so far, and only so far, as it is necessary to check the criminal propensity of those who are not restrained, by considerations of justice, from infringing the rights of others. This principle limits the use of force to the protection of the rights of all; and it is of the utmost consequence to hold fast the distinction between this and every other object, however desirable and laudable.
Thus it is highly important to individuals, and to society, that all superstition and bigotry should be eradicated, and that true religion should be planted everywhere. But we have no right to proinote religion by force, either directly by imprisonment and war, or by connecting with the profession of a certain creed any civil or political disabilities. The most thorough conviction, based on the clearest evidences, that our faith alone is true and conducive to the welfare, temporal and eternal, of mankind, does not justify the use of any means but such as are included in the exercise of our common rights. My personal and social rights authorize me to use my own faculties for the purpose of enlightening and converting all who are disposed to hear me; and I have a right to use my property for erecting churches, and supporting preachers and missionaries. This the extent of my rights of conscience, my religious liberty, which, as it allows to every one an equal range of religious action, every one has a right to defend and secure from encroachment.
The principle that regulates the use of force, as above stated, justifies its employment only so far as it is necessary and sufficient to overcome the criminal propensity that is not restrained by a sense of justice. The restriction of physical power to cases of necessity implies the duty of individuals and of society, before resorting to force, to use every means that may render that resort unnecessary. Hence the individual who is attacked by others, under circumstances in which he cannot apply to the constituted officers of the law, is bound first to remonstrate with the aggressor, then to threaten, and only when remonstrance and threatening prove fruitless, to employ force-unless the conduct of the aggressor should be such as to leave him no time but for immediate resistance. In both cases he is justified in using such forcible measures as are sufficient, and no more than are necessary, for the security of his rights. For the same reason, where the aid of the law is available, the individual must apply to its responsible administrators, instead of resorting to single-handed violence, or of raising a mob. It is for the purpose of removing or diminishing the necessity of coercive measures that laws are made, which are or ought