bility of states and empires to the divine law, and the eternal principles of peace, equity, and mercy, it must be admitted that the modern practices of the most cultivated and powerful nations of Europe have often violated these enactments prescribed by God for the government of man in every relation. In Europe and America, with the exception of the Ottoman Empire, the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus are conceded to be obligatory upon nations as well as individuals. Instead, therefore, of following the track of the many distinguished writers upon the law of nations, who have based its obligation partly upon the law of nature, and partly on national recognition, we shall ascend to the fountain of all law, to God, the Supreme Law-Giver and Judge. Reading his law of nations in sacred and profane history, as well as in the nature of man, we propose to apply it in a plain, simple and natural way for the ascertainment of the rights and duties of nations in all international transactions.



All mankind will admit that every member of the human family is bound by the elementary principles of our being to live peaceably as far as possible with all men, to observe good faith, to deal justly and to love mercy. Confucius and

Socrates agreed to this proposition, and the latter by a sublime conception proclaimed the duty of man to practice the justice and benevolence of the Deity. As every individual of every nation is under these moral obligations, it follows that every nation is subject to them and bound to observe them. They are imposed by God for the regulation of the conduct of all men, and the penalty of misery attaches of necessity to the violation of these laws by states as well as by individuals. The Emperor Alexander, the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia, in their celebrated Declaration of September 26th, 1815, laid down this doctrine as the basis of the Holy Alliance, affirming the Gospel to be the true rule of international as well as of municipal law. The high authority of Washington also sanctions this doctrine. In his solemn Farewell Address to the people of the United States, when he was about to retire from the office of President of the Union, he enjoined the national duties of peace, justice and benevolence in these words : “ Observe,” says he, "good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoins this conduct, and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it ?” (See the Appendix for the compact of the Holy Alliance and part of the Farewell Address.) The


duty of a nation is manifestly the same as that of every individual composing it. And it is a self-evident proposition that an act or omission of an individual, whether moral or immoral, is the same when done or omitted by a State, as the moral quality of every action or omission does not depend on the number of persons concurring in it, but on the motive and the thing done or onnitted, To illustrate this by examples, it will be conceded to be unjust that a robber should stop me on the highway and take my property, or that a pirate should enter my ship at sea and seize the vessel and cargo,, or any part of it, or take away some of the crew, or passengers, or ill treat them; or that a neighboring farmer should invade my plantation with armed men, burn my house, carry off my cattle and crops, and devastate my estate by fire and sword; or that, if my ships were wrecked on a foreign shore, the men of the coast should seize my goods to their use and rob and ill treat my mariners;'or, that, if three merchants were trading promiscuously together, and a controversy were to arise between two of them, for one or both of the belligerents to forbid the friendly neutral merchant to trade with the other belligerent, though he abstained from all participation in the quarrel. In these cases all mankind would condemn the robber, the pirate, the violent invading, rapacious farmer, the coast plunderer and the unjust belligerent merchants. These selfevident propositions applicable to a few persons are equally true when applied to states and empires, because God has imposed upon all men in all relations the duty of loving their fellow-men, and doing to others as they would they should do unto them. These are the laws of the Eternal for regulating the rights and duties of men, and they are fixed and unchangeable.

We assume, therefore, in accordance with the Gospel, affirmed by the Holy Alliance of the Sovereigns of Europe, to be the only true foundation of all law, municipal and international, and sanctioned by Washington, that nations are moral and accountable political associations of men, and subject, like each individual of the community, to the obligations to live peaceably with all men, to observe towards all good faith, to deal justly, to act kindly, and to cultivate harmony in all international relations and transactions. In assuming these propositions upon such high authority, we of necessity repudiate all principles resting on FORCE, and we obliterate from what is now inaccurately called the law of nations those draconic chapters upon belligerent rights, revolting to the feelings of humanity, having no foundation in enlightened moral sense, and expressly condemned by the

[ocr errors]

Gospel of Jesus Christ. We set aside the unjust rules of pretended national law, set up by powerful belligerent European nations, even in our day, with a view to rob and plunder all nations by sea and land under specious pretexts. The sword of Mars and human authority we disclaim, and we set up as the standard of national right and duty the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We propose, in pursuance of this plan, to unfold the moral law of nations as established by God himself, the observance of which will yield national felicity and prosperity. Our aim is to instruct nations in the way to true greatness, an enduring permanency and happiness. Or rather we would point them to the celestial hand which indicates the only road of safety and of honor, the true means of national glory and permanent power.

[blocks in formation]

Our first inquiry naturally is what constitutes a nation and its legal organ of international communication. A nation is a political association of men governed by its own laws, claiming and exercising independent sovereignty. It may be more or less civilized, its form may be simple like that of the ancient American nations in Peru and Mexico, republican like that of the United States, an oligarchy like fallen Venice, an absolute mon

« VorigeDoorgaan »