I wound up leafing through Archibald Alexander's Practical Truths last week and came across a short article titled, "Evils of War." I find it sad that words like these seem to be seldom heard today among conservative and reformed Christian leaders in the midst of war. His opening sentance is, "No man in his senses can believe that it is a right thing for men to destroy each others' lives." He goes on to exaplin that there is a justification for war, but only when it is of "dire necessity." If the government did not have the right to defend and protect itself and others, "the violent would have every thing in their own hands, and the virtuous and peaceable would be the prey of the wicked." You see, I hear a lot of "just war" talk from Christians, and like Alexander I often agree in principle. But what I do not hear is the warning of the evil of war and the great responsibility a man and a country bears when going to war.
Toward the end of this article his words seem appropriate for us today.
The writer expresses no opinion respecting the necessity of the war in which our country is engaged, (1847.) He is no politician, and does not pretend to understand the reasons on which our government acts in the present contest; but of one thing he is fully persuaded, that war is a fearful calamity and a heavy judgment from God on any nation, whether it be entered on for sufficient or insufficient reasons. And as it is much easier to draw the sword than to return it to its scabbard, we may find much trouble and inconvenience before we can bring this contest to a safe and honorable conclusion. As far as we know, our government is solicitous to obtain peace, but our enemies seem not likely to concur in these pacific views.
In these circumstances, the Christian people of this land should unite in earnest prayer that God would remove from our country the pressure of this heavy judgment. God may have seen that we needed chastisement, and therefore permitted this fierce contest to take place, by which so many precious lives have been lost to their country and to their families.
Archibald Alexander was a Reformed theologian, educator, pastor who was eventually called as professor at what is now called Princeton Theological Seminary. His portrait still hangs in the library. This guy is worth a read. Thoughts on Family Worship is a great work and should be in every family's library.