John Lathrop on Peace and War

Here are some thoughts from John Lathrop’s sermon “Peace and War,” which, all in all, was intriguing from a historical standpoint and dreadful from a moral one. It starts out promising (provided you ignore the full title):

The principal happiness which we are made capable of enjoying, will be found in a state of peace with God, and peace with all mankind. It ought therefore to be the principal business of our life, to cultivate peace; that peace which Jesus preached, which his disciples preached, and which is inseparable from the religion we profess. Blessed, said he, who is in a peculiar sense, the author of peace–“Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God.”

It should be the business of the ministers of religion, in all possible ways, to promote peace. The Holy Bible is full of exhortations to this purpose. “If it be possible,” saith the apostle Paul, “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men!”

If only he didn’t go on to reduce peace to a political objective, confusing it with the mere state of mutual non-aggression between the militaries of respective bodies politic.

Our particular attention is called to the blessings which are to be found in a state of peace in the nation to which we belong; and peace with the other nations of the earth. Nothing is more to be deprecated than civil dissension.

As a side note, he spent a curious amount of time in 1811 decrying civil wars and ensuring his listeners that such a spectacle is unlikely to ever happen in the United States. “We hope…that the opposite parties [in our country] will not wantonly provoke and irritate each other.” Oops.

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