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christian wars

Plato somewhere says, that when grecians war with grecians, (notwithstanding they were separate and independent dynasties) it is not a war, but an insurrection. He would not consider them as a separate people, because they were united in name and by vicinity. And yet the christians will call it a war, and a just and necessary war too, which, on the most trifling occasion, with such soldiery and such weapons, one people professing christianity, wages war with another people holding exactly the same creed, and professing the same christianity.

The laws of some heathen nations ordained, that he who should stain his sword with a brother’s blood, should be sewed up in a sack, and thrown into the common sewer. Now they are no less strongly united as brothers whom Christ has fraternized, than those who are related by consanguinity. And yet, in war, there is a reward instead of punishment for murdering a brother. Wretched is the alternative forced upon us by war. He who conquers is a murderer of his brother; and he who is conquered, dies equally guilty of fratricide, because he did his best to commit it.

After all this unchristian cruelty, and all this inconsistency, the christian warriors execrate the Turks as a tribe of unbelievers, strangers to Christ; just as if, while they act in this manner, they were christians themselves; or as if there could be a more agreeable sight to the turks than to behold the christians running each other through the body with the bayonet. The turks, say the christians, sacrifice to the devil; but, as there can be no victim so acceptable to the devil as a christian sacrificed by a christian, are not you, my good christian, sacrificing to the devil as much as the turk? Indeed, the evil one has in this case the pleasure of two victims at a time, since he who sacrifices is no less his victim than he who is sacrificed by the hand of a christian and the sword of war. If any one favours the turks, and wishes to be on good terms with the devil, let him offer up such victims as these.

But I am well aware of the excuse which men, ever ingenious in devising mischief to themselves as well as others, offer in extenuation of their conduct in going to war. They allege, that they are compelled to it; that they are dragged against their will to war. I answer them, deal fairly; pull off the mask; throw away all false colours; consult your own heart, and you will find that anger, ambition, and folly are the compulsory force that has dragged you to war, and not any necessity; unless indeed you call the insatiable cravings of a covetous mind, necessity.

Reserve your outside pretences to deceive the thoughtless vulgar. God is not mocked with paint and varnish. Solemn days and forms of fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving, are appointed. Loud petitions are offered up to heaven for peace. The priests and the people roar out as vociferously as they can “give peace in our time, O Lord! We beseech thee to hear us, O Lord.” Might not the Lord very justly answer and say, “why mock ye me, ye hypocrites? You fast and pray that I would avert a calamity which you have brought upon your own heads. You are deprecating an evil, of which yourselves are the authors.” —from The Complaint of Peace

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