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by Adin Ballou
Non-Resistance Not Contrary To Nature
Nature and the laws of nature defined – Self-preservation the first law of nature – What is the true method of self-preservation? – Demurrer of the objector – The objector still persists; analogy of the animals – Common method of self-preservation certainly false – Five great laws of human nature considered – These laws radically harmonious – Non-Resistance in perfect unison with these laws – A law of universal nature, like begets its like – General illustrations in common life – Special illustrations: 1. Subdued pride and scorn, 2. The man whose temper was broken, 3. The colored woman and the sailor, 4. The haymakers, 5. The two students, 6. Two neighbors and the manure, 7. Impounding the horse, 8. Two neighbors and the hens, 9. Henry and Albert, 10. The subdued hatter, 11. The revolutionary soldier, 12. Ex-President Jefferson and the cooper’s shop, 13. Wm. Ladd and his neighbor Pulsifer – Conclusion.
The opponents of non-resistance with one voice confidently assert that it is contrary to the known law of nature and therefore must be false, however plausibly defended from the scriptures. It is the design of the present chapter to refute this confident assertion, and to demonstrate that Christian non-resistance is in perfect accordance with the laws of nature considered in all their developments. I shall endeavor to do this with arguments sustained by numerous facts and illustrations drawn from real life.
Nature and the Laws of Nature Defined
What is “nature,” and what are “the laws of nature”? These terms are in very common use with a certain class of persons. But they are more flippantly uttered than definitely understood. Doubtless they may properly be used with considerable latitude of meaning. In the present discussion, however, we must be definite and clear. I shall, therefore, take the term “nature” to mean the essential constituent elements, properties, qualities, and capabilities of any being or thing. The aggregate of these is the nature of any being or thing, whether the particular being or thing considered is ever so simple, or ever so complex. Whatever, in or about a being or thing, is not an essential constituent element, property, quality, or capability thereof, is not an absolute necessary of it. And what is not generally an absolute necessary of a being or thing is not a part of its nature, but merely an incidental or factitious appendage. Take human nature as that particular division of universal nature that we must consider in this discussion. There are elements, properties, qualities, and capabilities essential to the constitution of a human being. These are common to the race. We may say of them in general that they are the absolute inherent necessaries of man – i.e. his nature. But there are many incidental and factitious elements, properties, qualities, and capabilities in and about individuals and communities of the human race that are the results of causes and circumstances, either temporary and transient in their operation or ultimately removable by human efforts. None of these are the essential constituents of human nature. They may all be reversed or removed without annihilating or perverting nature. Let this be well understood. Next, “the laws of nature.” I understand the laws of nature to be those forms, modes, or methods according to which it necessarily operates in its various developments. When any tendency or action of nature is observed to be uniform under given circumstances throughout the sphere of our knowledge, we infer that a certain law or necessity governs it. Consequently, we speak of all things as governed by some law of nature. What to us is uniform and universal, or nearly so, we regard as the result of nature’s laws – a certain necessity of tendency and development, which determines the form, mode, or method of its manifestation. These laws are at best but imperfectly understood, and are more often talked about than well conceived of. They are only secondary causes in a vast chain incomprehensible to finite minds, and which we vaguely trace to a Supreme First Cause – the Self-Existent Divine Nature, God. What we can with any propriety assume to know of those indefinable somethings, termed “the laws of nature,” is only the uniformity and universality of their results within the narrow sphere of our observation. It becomes us therefore to be humble and modest in pronouncing on these laws. We know some things perhaps beyond possibility of mistake. Many other things we know partially and imperfectly, concerning which it is our besetting weakness to presume that we know a vast deal more than we really do. Of the great whole we know comparatively next to nothing. Of the whole, even, of those natures concerning which we know most, we are extremely ignorant – as a few thousand years of existence and continued observation would no doubt convince us. But let us reason as well as we can from what we know, and learn what we may in the great future.
Self-Preservation the First Law of Nature
It is reiterated that “self-preservation is the first law of nature.” I grant it, and then what follows? “Self-defense against whatever threatens destruction or injury,” says the opponent. I grant it, and what next follows? “Generally mutual personal conflict, injury, and, in extreme circumstances, death. Hence, there are justifiable homicides, wars, injuries, and penal inflictions. Nature impels them. Her law of self-preservation necessitates them. They are right in the very nature of things, and therefore non-resistance must be as wrong as it is impracticable. It is contrary to nature, and cannot be brought into practice.” Let us examine these bold assertions. I have granted that “self-preservation is the first law of nature.” Also that this law prompts to self-defense against whatever threatens destruction or injury. I also admit the fact that generally men, in common with the lower animals, fight, injure, and frequently slay each other in self-defense, or for something supposed to be necessary to self-preservation. In granting this last, I only grant that men are generally very foolish and wicked.
What Is the True Method of Self-Preservation
It remains to be seen: whether this general method of self-preservation may be the true method, whether it may not be a very bad method, and whether it may not be a method which absolutely defeats its own designed object. Let us inquire. If it is the true method, it must on the whole work well. It must preserve human life and secure mankind against injury, more certainly and effectually than any other possible method. Has it done this? I do not admit it. How happens it that, according to the lowest probable estimate, some fourteen billion human beings have been slain by human means, in war and otherwise? Here are enough to people eighteen planets like the earth with its present population. What inconceivable miseries must have been endured by these worlds of people and their friends, in the process of those murderous conflicts that extinguished their earthly existence! Could all their dying groans be heard and their expiring throes be witnessed at once by the existing generation of men; could their blood flow together into one vast lake, mingled with the tears of their bereaved relatives; could their corpses be seen piled up in one huge pyramid; or their skeletons be contemplated in a broad Golgotha; would it be deemed conclusive evidence that mankind has practiced the true method of self-preservation! Would it encourage us still to confide in and pursue the same method? Would it suggest no inquiries, whether there was not “ a more excellent way”? Should we not be impelled to conclude that this method was the offspring of a purblind instinct – the cherished salvo of ignorance – the fatal charm of deluded credulity – the supposed preserver, but the real destroyer of the human family? If this long-trusted method of self-preservation is indeed the best which nature affords to her children, their lot is most deplorable. To preserve what life has been preserved at such a cost renders life itself a thing of doubtful value. If only a few thousand, or even a few million, had perished by the two edged sword; if innocence and justice and right had uniformly triumphed; if aggression, injustice, violence, injury, and insult, after a few dreadful experiences, had been overawed; if gradually the world had come into wholesome order – a state of truthfulness, justice and peace; if the sword of self-defense had frightened the sword of aggression into its scabbard, there to consume in its rust; then might we admit that the common method of self-preservation was the true one. But now we have ample demonstration that they who take the sword, perish with the sword. Is it supposable that if no injured person or party, since the days of Abel, had lifted up a deadly weapon, or threatened an injury against an offending party, there would have been a thousandth part of the murders and miseries that have actually taken place on our earth? Take the worst possible view; resolve all the assailed and injured into the most passive non-resistants imaginable, and let the offenders have unlimited scope to commit all the robberies, cruelties, and murders they pleased; would as many lives have been sacrificed, or as much real misery have been experienced by the human race, as have actually resulted from the general method of self-preservation, by personal conflict and resistance of injury with injury? He must be a bold man who affirms it. The truth is, man has stood in his own light. He has frustrated his own wishes. He has been deceived, deluded, betrayed, and all but destroyed by his own self-conceited, evil imagination. He would not be taught of God. He would have his own way. He would be a fool, a spendthrift, a murderer, and a suicide. Yet his Father still calls after him. He offers to make him wise, good, and happy. He offers to teach him the true method of self-preservation. It is found in the non-resistance of Jesus Christ. But he is wretchedly wedded to his old idols, and will scarcely hear the voice of his only true friend. When he will hear, he shall live.
A Demurrer of the Objector
Judged of by its fruits, the common and much vaunted method of self-preservation, by injurious resistance, stands hopelessly condemned. “But,” says the opponent, “you have judged it unjustly. You have charged upon it the destruction of fourteen billion human lives. It is not answerable for a tithe of all this. It is answerable only for the loss of life, etc., in cases of justifiable homicide, war, injury, and penal infliction. All the rest is chargeable on the murderous wickedness of wanton aggressors. Nor do you give it credit for the lives it has actually preserved, and the injuries it has prevented.” Answer. I do not charge injurious resistance with causing all these murders; but I do charge it with occasioning most of them, and above all with being no adequate preventive of them – with not being the true method of self-preservation. It may have preserved many lives, and prevented much injury in particular cases, in certain localities, but what has it done on the whole – on the great scale? And what has it absolutely failed to do? It has absolutely failed to preserve human life to any great extent and to give peace to the world. The whole world is in arms, after nearly six thousand years of close adherence to this method of self-preservation. It costs the human race more to maintain the various means of this method than for religion, government, and education together. There must be a delusion somewhere. If there were no such method in operation, the worst that could happen would be the murders, oppressions, and cruelties of unprovoked aggression. These would be dreadful enough; but they would be nothing in comparison with the results heretofore experienced, and would gradually shrink away from the moral majesty of a renovated public sentiment. Besides, it must be remembered that justifiable homicide, war, injury, etc., are pleaded on all sides with equal earnestness. After a few passes with the sword, a few rounds of musketry, a few assaults and retreats, it is all self-defense – all justifiable homicide, violence, and destruction. All parties are seeking only to conquer an honorable peace. One party has been wronged in point of honor, another in person, another in property, and another in imagination; all are standing on the defensive; all are for carrying out the first law of nature by the common method. There is no ultimate arbiter but the sword. Injury must be resisted with injury. There was a first aggression, but so many mutual wrongs have succeeded between the parties, that none but God can determine which is most culpable. This is the confusion that attends the operation of the general method of self-preservation. It professes to eschew all aggression, but invariably runs into it. It promises personal security, but exposes its subjects not only to aggravated assaults, but also to every species of danger, sacrifice, and calamity. It shakes the fist, brandishes the sword, and holds up the rod in terrorem to keep the peace, but constantly excites, provokes and perpetuates war. It has been a liar from the beginning. It has been a Satan professing to cast out Satan, yet confirming the power and multiplying the number of demons that possess our unfortunate race. It does not conduce to self-preservation, but to self-destruction, and ought therefore to be discarded.
The Objector Still Persists with the Analogy of the Animals
But our opponent will not yield the point. “It is the nature (says he) of all animals to fight for their lives and their rights. It is the nature of man to do so. He is a fighting character by the laws of his being. He always was so, and always will be, while there is aggression, assault, and abuse in the world. When all men are willing to leave off giving just cause of injurious resistance, there will be peace; never before. You may make the common method of self-preservation good or bad, a blessing or a curse, better than nothing or worse than nothing; man will resist – will fight – will act out his nature, cost what it may.” Answer. Not so. You assume too much. Your argument goes too far. Can I not prove by your own reasoning that man is an aggressor, an assailant, an offender, a robber, and a murderer by nature! He has been practicing all this aggression like some of the lower animals – the beasts and birds of prey – ever since the time of Cain. Is this a law of his nature, as well as the other? Because he always has done these things, will he, and must he forever continue doing them? You say injurious resistance, war, and bloodshed will never cease until aggression ceases. Will aggression ever cease? Can it ever cease? Is it not a necessary result of the laws of nature? What is the conclusion from such premises but this – that man’s nature obliges him to aggress and resist just as he does, and there is no hope that he will ever cease doing either. None but an atheist ought to put forth such arguments. I deny that there is any law or necessity of nature obliging man to injure his fellow man, either offensively or defensively any more than there is for his being a drunkard, offensive or defensive, to everlasting ages. He can cease to practice both. He can be cured of his war mania. He can be induced to abstain from committing injury by aggression, and also from committing it in the way of resistance. The question is, whether we shall preach non-resistance to the good, as well as non-aggression to the bad; or whether we shall insist only on non-aggression, leaving the comparatively good to resist injury with injury, so long as aggression shall continue. The good wish the bad to reform. Will they return good for evil, and thereby hasten their reform, or will they return evil for evil, and thereby frustrate that reform? God has ordered the work begun and prosecuted from both ends at once: the bad to cease aggressive injury, and the good defensive injury. Which shall take the lead in the great work of reform? Shall the good wait until the bad cease from aggression before they leave off inflicting injury in self-defense? Christianity says no. It bids them to be “the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world”; to suffer wrong rather than do wrong, “to overcome evil with good.” Is this possible? Or is there some irresistible necessity in the laws of nature, compelling mankind to maintain an endless conflict of aggression and resistance? I deny that there is any such necessity.
Common Method of Self-Preservation Certainly False
It is plain from the foregoing discussion that the general method of self-preservation by injurious and deadly resistance to aggression is a false method; that it has failed; that it has defeated its own designed object; that it has constantly run into the very wrongs it aimed to prevent; that it has made a bad matter incomparably worse; that it is not the dictate of absolute nature, but a deplorable mistake of the human judgment as to ways and means; and that some other method must be substituted for it. It is equally plain that nature necessitates aggression as certainly as it does injurious resistance to aggression; that in fact it necessitates neither; and that non-resistance, as I have defined it, is no more contrary to nature than non-aggression. Both aggressive and resistant injury can be unlearned, abandoned, and forever eschewed, without annihilating or perverting any essential constituent, element, property, quality, or capability of human beings. More than this, men brought up to that moral excellence will be more thoroughly and perfectly men than in any inferior state. Their whole nature – physical, mental, moral, and religious – will then he more symmetrically and gloriously developed than now. If so, non-resistance cannot be contrary to nature. Nor, if embraced and carried into practice, will it fail to ensure the most universal and complete self-preservation. It will prove to be the true method demanded by that first great law of nature.
I now confidently proceed with the assertion that Christian non-resistance is in perfect accordance with the known laws of nature, and absolutely necessary to harmonize their development by correcting the untoward influence of many evil circumstances under which they have heretofore acted.
Five Great Laws of Human Nature Considered
Let us bring into view the prominent laws of nature. I will mention five of the most fundamental. They are self-preservation, social affinity, religious and moral obligation, rational harmony, and progression. These may be pronounced universal and eternal. Under the law of self-preservation, which is substantially identical with self-love, man instinctively desires to exist and be happy. He dreads death; he guards against injury; he endeavors to keep what good he already has, and in a thousand ways strives to acquire more. He is constantly prompted by this law to take care of himself and ensure his supposed highest welfare. But the ways and means are neither dictated nor indicated by this law. These come from another law. Hence it not infrequently happens that men ignorantly resort to ways and means of preserving and benefiting themselves, which frustrate their object, and even result in their destruction. Under the law of social affinity the sexes unite, families are reared up, friendships contracted, communities, states and nations formed, and all the social relations, affections, sympathies, and bonds superinduced. Man is necessitated by this law to be a social being, and to share the good and ill of life with others. But this law does not necessarily teach him the best method of social action – the true ways and means of the highest social usefulness and enjoyment. Hence he often forms the most unsuitable connections, and contributes to uphold the most perverse social institutions. But he always was, for better or worse, a social being, and always must be. Under the law of religious and moral obligation he confesses, worships, and serves a God; feels a sense of dependence, gratitude, and duty; is conscious that there is right and wrong in human conduct; that he can choose either, but that he is accountable for the choice he makes – for his use or abuse of ability possessed; feels guilty when he does what he supposes to be wrong and approved when he does what he believes to be right. Hence arises a perpetual conflict between the lower and higher portions of his nature. The carnal or mere animal mind goes for unrestrained indulgence. The spiritual continually says, “Do right and refrain from all else, however ardently desired.” His propensities would run riot down the broad road to destruction. But his religious and moral sentiments connect him with God and eternity, and forbid him all sensual indulgence that can endanger his spiritual welfare. He must do the will of God; must deny himself; must do right at all hazards. He must not even preserve his life or seek any good for himself by wrongdoing. Thus is he checked, straitened, restrained, and disciplined. But even this law, grand and powerful as it is, does not at once acquaint him with the true God, or with the true right and wrong – the perfect righteousness. Hence, millions have worshipped false gods, been superstitiously religious, and verily thought many things were right, which were in fact utterly wrong. Yet man always was, and always must be a religious and moral being, in some way, to some extent. He cannot escape from this law of his nature. Next comes the law of rational harmony or consistency. This ever prompts men to delight in the harmony of things – the consistency and agreement of one thing with another – and of parts of things with their whole. He is uneasy, dissatisfied, disturbed, and restless on account of incongruities, contradictions, incompatibilities, and hostilities, in himself and all things around him. Hence his intellectual powers, and specially his reasoning faculties, are constantly on the stretch to detect and remove the causes of disturbance, the points of contradiction. If he can do nothing else, he finds fault, grumbles, and complains about this or that presumed evil. If farther advanced, he becomes a reformer and agitates the world. He may be a reformer in religion, morals, government, education, science, art, or whatever comes in his way – theoretical or practical. And if he cannot construct what ought to be, he will at least destroy or modify what ought not to be. This restless activity of the human mind comes from a deep, indefinable, irresistible desire to get rid of contradictions and reduce things to harmony, to consistency. This is the great desideratum. Contradiction and inconsistency are the infallible indications of falsehood and wrong, for truth and right must be harmonious. They cannot involve contradiction and discord, where they alone exist. Here then is a universal, irresistible law of our nature. It has done much to correct and reform the errors ensuing from human ignorance and depravity. But it has an infinite deal more to do. The fifth law is that of progression. This follows close on the heels of the others, or rather co-exists with them. It is this that impels man to aspire after something higher and better than the present. Hence he observes, imitates, learns, inquires, invents, hopes and perseveres, improves, progresses, and will forever progress amid new wonders and with new achievements of mind world without end. His nature will not permit him to become stationary.
These Laws Radically Harmonious
Now all these fundamental laws of our nature must be radically agreeable to each other. There can be no essential incongruity or discord among them. And when they shall have had their perfect work, man must be a lovely and glorious being. The human family must be an affectionate, wise, holy, harmonious, happy family. Look at the legitimate results. The law of self-preservation or self-love will secure its desired object, just when the law of social affinity makes every fellow human be a second self – a co-self – never to be injured. This will take place when the law of religious and moral obligation completely subdues the propensities to the sense of duty, attaches the soul indissolubly to the true God, and renders right identical with the absolute highest good. And this will be hastened by the intense workings of the law of rational harmony, which will detect and expose error, reform abuses, revolutionize false opinions, maxims, institutions, customs, and habits, and bring to light in all things the “most excellent way.” There is a true God, and this law will never let man rest until he finds him. There is a real right and wrong, the eternal reality; and this law will at length bring all men to see and feel it. There is a consistency, an absolute harmony of things, and this law will turn and overturn until it is attained. All this is possible under the law of progression. By this knowledge will be increased, light will be added to light, truth to truth, and triumph to triumph. Ignorance, error, folly, and sin will be left behind. Improvement will follow improvement in all that needs improvement, until the jarring elements are reconciled, and one soft, sweet, supernal harmony consummates the happiness of the whole creation. This is the glorious result to which the declared will of God, the predictions of his holy prophets, and the prayers of saints through all past generations have ever pointed, and do still look forward. Then will there be no war, no violence, no wrong, no sorrow.
“All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail;
Returning Justice lift aloft her scale.
Peace o’er the world her olive wand extend,
And white robed Innocence from heaven descend.”
There shall be none to hurt or destroy, for all the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God.
Non-Resistance in Perfect Unison with These Laws
Now, is the doctrine of Christian non-resistance contrary to these general laws of human nature? Is it contrary to the law of self-preservation? Does it propose to destroy or preserve life; to increase or diminish human injury; to make mankind more miserable or to render it infinitely more safe, secure, and happy? It proposes the very thing that the law of self-preservation demands: the universal inviolability of human life now held so cheap and sacrificed so recklessly. Is this doctrine contrary to the law of social affinity? The very reverse. It stretches forth the hand of love to the children of men, and entreats them to consider themselves one great brotherhood – to refrain from murdering and persecuting each other, to love one another, to bear everything of one another sooner than to kill or injure each other. Is not this just what the law of social affinity demands? Is the doctrine contrary to the law of religious and moral obligation? It is an integral part of the divine law, declared and exemplified by the Son of God. It is the keystone in the arch of moral obligation. And to fulfill it in practice is the highest obedience to God – the purest devotion to eternal right. It is putting duty before all things. Is it contrary to the law of rational harmony? Surely not. It eschews all war, all violence, all injury, all social discord, all combating of wrong with wrong, evil with evil, and lays the only ample foundation, deep on the rock of principle, for the pacification and harmony of the world. If men would only restrain themselves from mutual injury, how soon would they be able to ascertain all important truths, and to correct all essential errors of theory and practice? But now, instead of discussion and argument, brute force rises up to the rescue of discomfited error, and crushes truth and right into the dust. “ Might makes right,” and hoary folly totters on in her mad career escorted by armies and navies. Is our doctrine contrary to the law of progression? It is a striking fruit and proof of that law. It takes for granted that man has been a noisy, fretful, buffeted child long enough; that it is time for him to act like a reasonable being; that he ought to be, and can be governed by moral power; that he has been carnally minded long enough, and ought now to become spiritually minded: that he has quarreled, fought and been flogged enough; that he is capable of acting from higher motives and better principles than resisting evil with evil; and that he can, if he will only try, “overcome evil with good,” and thus approximate the angelic nature. It is emphatically a doctrine of glorious moral and spiritual progress – of progress from barbarism to Christian perfection. Nothing can be more untrue than that non-resistance is contrary to the laws of nature. It is in perfect accordance with them. It is only contrary to the false, foolish, perverse, self-defeating methods, ways and means by which man, in his ignorance and delusion, has heretofore attempted to execute the dictates of those laws. It is at war with man’s ignorance, blind self-will, and vicious habits; but not with his welfare, nor the laws of his nature. As well might the inveterate drunkard, bound to the intoxicating cup by long confirmed habit, plead that total abstinence was contrary to nature. It is in fact this very cup that is contrary to his nature; and though often resorted to for preservation and invigoration, it has crowded him to the brink of an untimely grave. Still he clings to it as his life and health. Just so our drunkards of injurious resistance. They can depend on nothing so confidently as the means of deadly resistance for self-preservation and personal security. They imagine that if they were to renounce these, their lives, rights, and happiness would have no protection left. But they will one day learn better.
A Law of Universal Nature – Like Begets Its Like
I will now introduce another law of nature – a law of universal nature – and including, of course, human beings in its scope. It is this, that like must beget its like – physical, mental, moral, and spiritual. Is non-resistance contrary to this law of nature? Does it beget its like, or does it beget resistance? This is a practical question, and will settle the dispute. Either the true spirit of non-resistance begets a corresponding spirit, or it begets a violent and pugnacious spirit. Which is it? Either the practice of non-resistance tends to disarm and relax the fury of the assailing party, or to encourage, excite, and confirm him in his attack. Which is it? If the latter, it is contrary to that law of nature which necessitates the generation of like by like. If the former, it harmonizes with that law. And if this is true, it is the very doctrine necessary to fill the world with peace. It is worthwhile then to ascertain the truth on this point. Let me commence by asking if the very injury I am endeavoring to get discarded is not generated by injury? Why does the assailed person inflict injury on the offender? “To defend himself,” it will be said. But why defend himself by doing injury to the other party? “Because that, and that only, will effect the object.” How is this certain? What puts it into the heart or the head of the assailed party to repel injury with injury? It is like begetting its like; injury suggesting, prompting, and producing injury. No better way is thought of or desired than life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, blow for blow, force for force, injury for injury. “I will do unto him as he hath done to me. It is good enough for him. He shall be paid in his own coin. He shall be taught better after his own fashion.” This is the feeling and language of the Resistant. Here is a proof that the disposition to injure begets a disposition to injure, and the act of injury induces a counter injury. What, then, will be the subsequent effect? If a man strikes me violently, and I return the blow with equal or greater violence, will not my blow call for a third, and so on, until the weaker party cries “hold”? This is the law of nature. Does the opponent plead that the aggressor, being severely repelled, and knowing himself in the wrong, will retreat and learn to be civil? This will depend on which of the parties can strike the hardest, and injure the worst. If the aggressor is the stronger party he will only fight the harder, until his antagonist is subdued. If, however, he is the weaker party, he will yield from necessity and not from principle – retaining his impotent revenge in his heart, to fester there until a better opportunity. If justice or conscience has anything to do in restraining him, they would work much more mightily on his soul if the injured party should refuse to strike back at all. So the argument in this case turns wholly in favor of my doctrine.
General Illustrations in Common Life
Let us now look into the common affairs of life, amid scenes familiar to common experience and observation. We see one man with very large combativeness and feeble counteracting predispositions. If this man meets with another of the same character, he is almost sure to fight, quarrel, or, at least, violently dispute. He is surcharged and throws off in all directions a sort of phrenomagnetic fluid of war. No sooner does he come in contact with another like himself, than they mutually inflame each other. He carries strife, debate, and violence with him wherever he goes. Even many, who are usually civil and peaceable, are presently provoked into a combat with him. He magnetizes, to a certain extent, every susceptible being with whom he meets. If he can live peaceably with any, it is those only who from natural predisposition, or moral principle, are non-resistants towards him. These he will make uncomfortable; but by bearing with him, and suffering some abuse with patience, they can keep him comparatively decent, and may pass their lives near him without any serious outbreak. Who has not seen some such persons? And who does not know that such can never be cured by violence and injurious resistance? They may be beaten and bruised half to death over and over again, with no other result than to make them two-fold more the children of wrath than before. This kind of evil is not cast out, except by prayer, fasting, and abstinence from violence.
Here is another man with overweening self-esteem. He is proud, haughty, disdainful, and overbearing in all his ways. What happens when two such meet? Is there not a reciprocal inflammation of the irritable organs? Do they not mutually swell, defy, and repel each other? Each will accuse the other of the same fault and denounce such haughtiness as intolerable, never once suspecting that it is a reflection of his own face in the other that seems so detestable. Suppose one of these characters to move among other persons ordinarily humble and unassuming. Let him treat them with marked neglect, scorn, or indifference; and what will be the effect? Their moderate self-esteem will be excited. Their attitude will become more perpendicular. Their heads will poise backward, and they will begin to mutter, “He feels himself above common folks; but he shall knew that others are something as well as himself. We are not to be looked down by his contempt.” Whence this sudden rising of self-esteem in their minds? It has been begotten, or at least excited, by the over-charged battery of the magnetizer. Like produces its like. Reverse the case. Suppose a person of great talents, wealth or weight of personal influence. This character naturally commands great respect; but he is humble, unassuming, and particularly respectful to all around – to the poor as well as the rich, the unlearned as well as the learned, and persons in the lower walks of life as well as those in the higher. How is he beloved and esteemed by the majority of mankind? “He is not proud,” says one.” He is not above anyone,” says another. “I always love to meet him and be with him,” says another, “because he is so kind, unassuming, and friendly with everybody.” Even the envious and grumbling are half disarmed when they come in contact with such a person. Like begets its like, as before.
Yonder is a man excessively given to acquisitiveness. He must always have the best end of a bargain. He must skin something from everyone with whom he has dealings, and is sure to get the half-cent whenever he makes change. He is never pleased but when he is feathering his own nest. Yet no man complains of tight people more than he. He seldom meets with a person who in his opinion is entirely willing to do unto others as he would be done unto. What is the difficulty? This man’s selfishness magnetizes those with whom he deals. His acquisitiveness excites theirs and they stand up for their own. They are not going to be cheated by him. They are determined not to indulge his rapacious avarice. They make it a point not to let him cheat them, filch away their property in a bargain, or extort it in the shape of usury. They even become tenacious about the half cent when they are settling with him. And many, who would not otherwise stand for a trifle, make it a point not to give him the least advantage. “Let us look out for old hunks,” they say. The half-cent is nothing, but he shall not have it. Like produces its like, hence conflicts and resistance. Reverse the character. Suppose a generous whole souled man, always careful to give large measure and weight, always scrupulous not to exact more than his own, and always sure to throw the trifle into his neighbor’s scale, rather than even seem to be small in his own favor. How many of the very same persons, observed to be sharp and close with the acquisitive dealer, relax their vigilance, become indifferent about small matters, and even insist that they will not always take the half cent of a man so willing to yield it. Is not this nature in every day life?
It is not so with a blackguard and a reviler. He assails a man with hard words, abusive epithets, and reviling expressions. Unless the man is particularly on his guard, or naturally of a very mild disposition, or a well principled non-resistant, he will be excited, and ten to one return a broadside as terrible as he has received. His teeth are set on edge and his tongue is fired from beneath. He rails, abuses, reviles, and curses too. But let the true Christian receive this storm of envenomed words, and they strike his shield of self-composure, only to rattle for a moment like hailstones on its surface, and then fall harmlessly about his feet. A second and a third discharge succeed, but he still remains calm. The assailant is half vexed, quite confounded, and soon grows ashamed of himself. He either quits the field or listens to reason, and perhaps is constrained to beg pardon for his rudeness. At all events he never remembers his abuse of a calm, kind-hearted, firm minded man, without peculiar mortification. And if every man who occupies a place in the better ranks of society would treat him in the same manner, he would ultimately be entirely cured of the bad humor about his tongue. So true is it that “a soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.”
These familiar workings of this law of nature ought to open the most unwilling eyes to the fact that non-resistance, instead of being contrary to nature, is in strict accordance with it. And if it is confessedly the object of good men to do away with violence, cruelty, murder, and all the great crimes which blast the happiness of humanity, they ought to know that it never can be done by rendering evil for evil – injury for injury. Like must produce its like, and unless we oppose the injuries of evil-doers with a disposition and treatment the very contrary of theirs, we shall only incite, confirm and educate their evil hearts to worse and worse conduct. We shall only reproduce manifold the very evils we so strenuously resist. Though the injuries we do them are done only in resistance of aggression, still they follow the same law. They produce their like. They breed a fresh brood of injuries. If this is not strictly true in each individual case, it is true on the great whole. The effect, directly or indirectly, sooner or later, will be produced.
Special Illustrations – Facts From Real Life
I now propose to offer a series of facts from real life, illustrative of the truths for which I am contending, and in confirmation of my arguments.
Subdued Pride and Scorn
A lady, in one of the neighboring towns to that in which the writer resides, had repeatedly treated a well-disposed young man with marked contempt and unkindness. Neither of them moved in the upper circles of society, but the lady, without cause, took numerous occasions to cast reproachful reflections on the young man as beneath her notice, and unfit to be treated with common respect. This lady had the misfortune to meet with a considerable loss in the destruction of a valuable chaise, occasioned by the running away of an untied horse. She had borrowed the horse and vehicle, and was required to make good the damage. This was a serious draft on her pecuniary resources, and she felt much distressed by her ill fortune. The young man, being of a kind and generous disposition, and determined to return good for evil, instantly set himself about collecting money for her relief. Subscribing liberally himself, and actively soliciting others, he soon made up a generous sum, and before she became aware of his movement, appeared before her and placed his collection modestly at her disposal. She was thunderstruck. He left her without waiting for thanks or commendation. She was entirely overcome, wept like a child, and declared she would never be guilty again of showing contempt, speaking reproachfully of, or treating with unkindness, to him or any other fellow creature. Was there anything in all this contrary to nature?
The Man Whose Temper Was Broken
A man of my acquaintance, on hearing some remarks I had made on this subject, observed that he knew, by experience, the doctrine was correct; and though he himself had never practiced non-resistance from principle in his general life, he practiced it from impulse on one occasion with astonishing success. He was brought up with a childless uncle of his, who was remarkable for violent anger when excited, and for the cruelty with which he beat his cattle, and such boys as he had taken to bring up, whenever they provoked his vengeance. He could bear but little from boy or brute, and, therefore, was a frequent and furious whipper until considerably past the middle age of life. The narrator stated that he was well nigh a man grown, when on a certain occasion the two went into the woods with the team, in winter, to take home fuel. At length, when on their way out of the woods through an unbeaten path, the sled struck some obstacle concealed under the snow, and the team was completely set. The uncle, provoked at this interruption, cried out to his nephew, who held the whip, to drive on and put the cattle through. He shouted, and used the lash to order, but in vain, the sled was fast. “My uncle flew into a most violent rage,” said he, “and seizing a club from the load came furiously at me with terrible threats, as the author of the whole mischief. I felt entirely innocent, and for the moment determined I would not further resist my uncle’s wrath than to exchange my whip for his club that was nearly of the size of a common sled stake. As he rushed upon me, with uplifted weapon, firmly grasped it with one hand, reached out my cart-whip with the other, and said, ‘Here, uncle you shall not beat me with such a thing – take the whip.’ He instantly relinquished the stick of wood, and seizing the cart-whip, beat me outrageously over the head, shoulders, and back. He then offered me the whip, exclaiming with stern vehemence, ‘Now drive that team home!’ I calmly but firmly replied, ‘No, I have done my best, and shall not try again; drive it yourself, uncle.’ Upon this he violently assailed the poor oxen, shouting, screaming, and beating them quite as mercilessly as he had me, until he fairly gave out from exhaustion. Pausing for a moment’s rest, and coming a little to his reason, he commenced searching for the obstacle, and soon found that a large sized sapling had fallen across the path and become firmly bedded in the subsequent snows. Having ascertained this, he directed me to cut off the trunk, in order to accomplish its removal. I commenced, my back and shoulders smarting grievously from their undeserved stripes. When partly through, I looked up at my uncle and said, ‘Uncle, do you feel any better for the cruel beating you have given me?’ He looked pale and conscience-stricken, and without a word of reply started for home. I extricated the load, and without further difficulty drove the team to its destination. From that time, sir, my uncle never broke out into his old gusts of passion; never struck, scolded, or abused me; never mistreated his cattle; and, going quite to the opposite extreme, suffered himself to be several times almost imposed on by a mischievous lad he had taken to bring up, without inflicting a blow, or even expressing anger. I continued with him several years, and seeing him, as I thought, grown too lax in correcting the lad just named, I one day asked him what had so entirely changed his conduct. He looked me in the face with a melancholy expression. Said he, ‘Do you remember the cruel flogging I gave you when that load of wood got set in the snow?’ ‘Too well,’ answered I. ‘That broke my temper,’ said he. ‘I never had such feelings before. I have never been the same man since. I then solemnly vowed never to strike another cruel blow on man or beast while I lived. And I have scarcely felt a disposition to do so since.’ Large tears rolled down his cheeks, and he turned away in silence. Many a time I have thought of that matter, since my uncle has gone to the grave. It convinces me your doctrine is the truth.” How does it impress my reader? Does it indicate that non-resistance is contrary to or consonant with the laws of nature?
Colored Woman and the Sailor
A worthy old colored woman in the city of New York was one day walking along the street on some errand to a neighboring store, with her tobacco pipe in her mouth, quietly smoking. A jovial sailor, rendered a little mischievous by liquor, came sawing down the street, and, when opposite our good Phyllis, saucily crowded her aside, and with a pass of his hand knocked her pipe out of her mouth. He then halted to hear her fret at his trick, and enjoy a laugh at her expense. But what was his astonishment, when she meekly picked up the pieces of her broken pipe, without the least resentment in her manner, and giving him a dignified look of mingled sorrow, kindness, and pity, said, “God forgive you, my son, as I do.” It touched a tender cord in the heart of the rude tar. He felt ashamed, condemned, and repentant. The tear started in his eye; he must make reparation. He heartily confessed his error, and thrusting both hands into his two full pockets of change, forced the contents upon her, exclaming, “God bless you, kind mother, I’ll never do so again.”
Two neighbors were getting hay from adjoining lots of marshland. One had the misfortune to mire his team and load so as to require aid from the other. He called to him for assistance with his oxen and men. But his neighbor felt churlish, and, loading him with reproaches for his imprudent management, told him to help himself at his leisure. With considerable difficulty he extricated his load from the mire and pursued his business. A day or two after, his churlish neighbor met with a similar mishap, whereupon the other, without waiting for a request, volunteered with his oxen and rendered the necessary assistance. The churl felt ashamed of himself. His evil was overcome by his neighbor’s good, and he never afterwards refused him a favor.
The Two Students
Two students of one of our universities had a slight misunderstanding. One of them was a warm-blooded Southerner. He conceived himself insulted, and began to demand satisfaction according to Southern notions of honor. He was met with a Christian firmness and gentleness. The other calmly told his excited fellow-student he could give only Christian satisfaction in any case; that he was not conscious of having intended him either injury or insult, and that if he could be convinced he had wronged him at all, he was willing to make ample reparation. The Southerner boiled over with chivalrous indignation for a few moments, discharged a volley of reproachful epithets, and threatened to chastise his cowardly insolence. But nothing could move the other’s equanimity. Without the slightest indication of fear or servility, he met his opponent’s violence with true heroism, declared that they had hitherto been friends, and that he meant to maintain his friendly attitude, however he might be treated, and conjured the threatener to consider how unworthy of himself his present temper, language, and conduct were. His manner, look, words, and tone had their effect. The flush of anger turned to a blush of shame and compunction. The subdued Southerner stepped frankly forward, reached forth his trembling hand, and exclaimed, “I have spoken and acted like a fool; can you forgive me?” “With all my heart,” was the cordial response. Instantly they were locked in each other’s embrace; reconciliation was complete; and they were evermore fast friends. The substance of this anecdote was given by a worthy minister of the Baptist persuasion, after one of my lectures on non-resistance; and I think he represented himself as a witness of the scene.
Two Neighbors and the Manure
Two of my former neighbors had a slight controversy about a few loads of manure. One of them was the other’s tenant. The lessor had distinctly stipulated to reserve all the manure of the stable, and had offset it with certain privileges and favors to the lessee. But as the lessee had purchased and consumed from abroad a considerable amount of hay, he claimed a portion of the manure. He proposed leaving the case to the arbitration of certain worthy neighbors. The other declined all reference to a third party, alleging that they both knew what was right, and ought to settle their difficulties between themselves. But the lessee contrived to have a couple of peaceable neighbors at hand one day, and in their presence renewed with earnestness his proposal to leave out the case to their decision. The other, grieved at his pertinacity, promptly replied, “I have nothing to leave out; I have endeavored to do as I agreed, and to treat you as I would be treated. God Almighty has planted something in all our breasts which tells us what is right and wrong; if you think it right to carry off that manure, do so just when you please; and I pledge myself never to trouble you with even a question about the matter again.” This was effectual. The tenant felt his error; all was quiet; the claim expired at the bar of conscience; and non-resistant kindness and decision healed all contention. This was related to me by one of the friends selected as a judge and decider in the case. His peculiar comment was, “That was one of the greatest sermons I ever heard.”
Impounding the Horse
“A man approached his neighbor in great anger one afternoon, saying, ‘Sirrah! I found your horse loose in the road this morning, and put him in the pound, where he now is. If you want him, go and pay the fees and take him out. And I give you notice now, that just as often as I find him loose in the highway, I will impound him at your cost.’ ‘And I,’ said the neighbor, ‘looking out of my window this morning, saw your cows in my cornfield. I drove them all out, and turned them into your pasture. I now give you notice that as often as I find them in my cornfield, I will do just so again.’ The first was humbled, reconciled, sent to the pound, paid the fees, and restored his neighbor’s horse to him with an honorable apology for his ill temper.” – Anonymous.
Two Neighbors and the Hens
A man in New Jersey told Henry C. Wright the following story respecting himself and one of his neighbors. “I once owned a large flock of hens; I generally kept them shut up. But, one spring, I concluded to let them run in my yard, after I had clipped their wings so they could not fly. One day, when I came home to dinner, I learned that one of my neighbors had been there, full of wrath, to let me know my hens had been in his garden, and that he had killed several of them, and thrown them over into my yard. I was greatly enraged because he had killed my beautiful hens that I valued so much. I determined at once to be revenged, to sue him, or in some way get redress. I sat down and ate my dinner as calmly as I could. By the time I had finished my meal, I became more cool, and thought that perhaps it was not best to fight with my neighbor about hens, and thereby make him my bitter, lasting enemy. I concluded to try another way, being sure that it would be better.
“After dinner I went to my neighbor’s. He was in his garden. I went out and found him in pursuit of one of my hens with a club, trying to kill it. I accosted him. He turned upon me, his face inflamed with wrath, and broke out in a great fury. ‘You have abused me. I will kill all your hens, if I can get at them. I never was so abused. My garden is ruined.’ ‘I am very sorry for it,’ said I. ‘I did not wish to injure you, and now see that I have made a great mistake in letting out my hens. I ask your forgiveness, and am willing to pay you six times the damage.’
“The man seemed confounded. He did not know what to make of it. He looked up at the sky – then down at the earth – and then at the poor hen he had been pursuing, and said nothing. ‘Tell me now,’ said I, ‘what is the damage, and I will pay you six-fold; and my hens shall trouble you no more. I will leave it entirely to you to say what I shall do. I cannot afford to lose the love and good will of my neighbors, and quarrel with them, for hens or anything else.’ ‘I am a great fool!’ said the neighbor. ‘The damage is not worth talking about; and I have more need to compensate you than you me, and to ask your forgiveness than you mine.’” – Wright’s Kiss for a Blow.
Henry and Albert
“I write chiefly to give you an account of the power of love that took place in the family of an old friend of mine, who is now no more. Besides other children he left two sons, Henry, aged about twenty, and Albert, about sixteen. The latter possessed what is called a bad, ungovernable temper that gave his mother much trouble; and she (probably in a pet) told Henry he must whip him. He did; but Albert resisted, and he received a severe thrashing. But it did not tame him at all, and he vowed that he never would speak to Henry again until he was old enough to have revenge. While he stayed at home (some months, I believe) he never spoke to Henry. After this he went to sea, and was absent four or five years. But Albert was a boy of many good qualities. He laid up money; and while the vessel was loading and unloading at the ports of the distant countries he visited, he made short excursions into the interior, and made use of his eyes and ears to improve his mind and gain what information he could, and came back an amazingly stout, athletic young man, and apparently greatly improved. He was frank and social with the rest of the family, but not a word did he say to Henry. The latter by this time had become a Methodist preacher, and Albert’s conduct towards him grieved him to the heart. After a time Henry went to Albert, and with tears in his eyes, said to him, ‘Albert, I cannot possibly live in this way any longer. Your silence I cannot bear another hour. You remember you said that when you had whipped me you would speak to me again; I am now ready to receive your punishment. Let us go to the barn; I will pull off my coat – I promise you that I will make no resistance, and you may whip me as long as you please; and we will then be friends. I never should have struck you, if mother had not requested it. I am sorry that I did.’ Albert’s stout heart could bear blows in almost any quantity without shrinking, but Henry’s love he could not withstand. It melted his proud spirit instantly, and in a moment he was bathed in tears. They embraced each other directly. For a time their love was too great for utterance, but soon Albert expressed his regret for what he had said; and they are now, for aught that I know, two as loving brothers as any in the county. And to God, the God of peace, be all the glory.” – Letter from Alfred Wells in the Practical Christian.
The Subdued Hatter
“Some nineteen or twenty years ago, when I was in the hatting business, I employed a man by the name of Jonas Pike, from Massachusetts, who was a most excellent workman in the manufacture of hats. But he was one of that kind of journeymen who would have their trains, as they were familiarly called amongst us in that day. Therefore, as a natural consequence, he was without comfortable clothing most of the time. After he got a shop he would work very industriously until he had earned from twenty to thirty and sometimes forty dollars worth of clothing (for he was always in want of clothing when he commenced work); and then he would get on one of his trains and dispose of every article of his clothing that would fetch six cents, expending all for whiskey. When all was gone, and he began to cool off a little, he would be very ugly; sometimes he would fret and scold, and then he would coax and plead, to have me trust him for a hat or something else that he might sell, and thereby get more whiskey. When I refused him, he would become very angry and threaten to whip me, which I told him he might do as soon as he pleased. But said he, ‘I will not do it in your own shop; if I had you out of doors I would thrash you like a sack.’ After hearing him repeat these sayings several times, I walked out at the door. I then spoke to him, saying, ‘I am now out of the shop, thou canst whip me if thou wishest to do so very much,’ at which he stepped out of the shop, came furiously towards me, squaring himself for a box, and struck me a blow on the breast, at which I put my hand upon my cheek, and held it down to him, saying, ‘now strike here, Jonas.’ He looked at me with surprise and astonishment, then turning round saying at the same time, ‘D—n you, if you will not fight, I will let you alone.’ He went into the shop, sat down, and was quiet. He got sober and went to work, and ever after was affectionate and kind, and very peaceable with me. I employed him several times afterwards to work for me, and he was always very peaceable and obliging.” – Letter from Erastus Hanchett in the Practical Christian.
The Revolutionary Soldier
“A beloved brother, now dead, related to me a circumstance of his life, which I think is worth preserving. He was a soldier in the revolutionary war. After he came here, he became religious, and was convinced that all ‘wars and fightings’ are contrary to the Gospel of Christ. His zeal in advocating his principles, stirred up the enmity of a wicked man in the neighborhood, who threatened, when his son came home from the army, he would flog him.
“Sure enough, when the son came home, the old man told such stories to him about this brother, that it excited him to that degree, that he came to the house where my brother lived, in a rage, determined to fight. My brother expostulated with him, and endeavored, by all the means in his power, to allay his anger, and deter him from his purpose; but all would not do; fight he must, and fight he would.
“‘Well,’ says the brother, ‘if we must fight, don’t let us be like cats and dogs, fighting in the house; so go out into the field.’
“To this he assented. When they had got into the field, and the young bully had stripped himself for the fight my brother looked him in the face, and said, ‘Now you are a great coward.’ ‘Coward! Don’t call me a coward.’ ‘Well, you are one of the greatest cowards I ever saw.’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘I mean as I say – you must be a very great coward to go fighting a man who will not fight you.’ ‘What, don’t you mean to fight me?’ ‘Not I; you may fight me as much as you please. I shall not lift up a finger against you.’ ‘Is that your principle?’ ‘Yes, it is; and I mean to be true to it.’ The spirit of the young soldier fell; and, stretching out his arm he said, ‘Then I would sooner cut off that arm than I would strike you.’ They then entered into an explanation, and parted good friends.” – Non-Resistant.
Ex-President Jefferson and the Cooper’s Shop
“The following was related, many years since, by one of the parties, who was a very respectable citizen of Montgomery County, Pa., since deceased:
“During the presidential term of Thomas Jefferson, two young men from Pennsylvania took a lease from him of his merchant mill at Monticello, one of the stipulations of which was that the landlord should erect for their use, within a given period, a cooper’s shop. The time for a meeting of Congress soon arriving, the President had to repair to Washington to attend to his official duties, where he remained a long time absorbed in national concerns, and the building of the cooper’s shop was entirely forgotten by him. Not so with his tenants, whose daily wants constantly reminded them of the provisions contained in the lease; and finally they determined to erect it themselves, and charge the cost of it to their landlord. On the return of the President to his mansion, the parties met to settle a long account current, which had been running during his absence. The items were gone over and scrutinized one by one, and all were found satisfactory but the charge for building the cooper’s shop, to which he objected, alleging that he could have erected it with his own workmen. Several attempts were made to effect a settlement, but they always failed when they came to the cooper’s shop. The young men became warm and zealous in the affair; and the parties, instead of getting nearer together, found themselves at every interview wider apart.
“In this state of affairs, the father of the young men, who was a mild, affable, conciliating gentleman, possessing some knowledge of the world and its ways, arrived on a visit to his sons, who informed him of their difficulty with their landlord. He requested them to leave it to him, observing that he thought he could effect an amicable settlement in the case. This course was accordingly acceded to, and in due time he waited on the President with the account. It was scanned and agreed to, except the charge for building the shop, which, he said, with some firmness, he should not allow for reasons stated. His opponent, observing his apparent decision on the subject, very gravely remarked, ‘Well, friend Jefferson, it has always been my practice through life to yield rather than to contend.’ Immediately on this remark being made, the president’s chin fell on his breast for an instant, when raising his head in an erect position, he observed in a very emphatic manner, ‘A very good principle, Mr. Shoemaker, and I can carry it as far as you can. Let the account for the cooper’s shop be allowed.’ Thus ended the difficulty, and the parties continued their friendly regard for each other until death separated them. And the cultivation of a similar disposition, ‘to follow peace with all men,’ would terminate thousands of difficulties, add much to the happiness of individuals, and tend to promote the general harmony and order of society.” – Farmer’s Cabinet.
William Ladd and Neighbor Pulsifer
The late William Ladd, denominated the apostle of the peace cause, used to relate the following anecdote. “I had a fine field of grain growing upon an out-farm, some distance from the homestead. Whenever I rode by I saw my neighbor Pulsifer’s sheep in the lot destroying my hopes of a harvest. These sheep were of the gaunt, long legged kind, active as spaniels – they could spring over the highest fence, and no wall could keep them out. I complained to neighbor Pulsifer, and sent him frequent messages, but all without avail. Perhaps they would be kept out for a day or two, but the legs of his sheep were long and my grain rather more tempting than the adjoining pasture. I rode by again – the sheep were all there – I became angry, and told my men to set the dogs on them, and if that would not do, I would pay them if they would shoot them.
“I rode away much agitated, for I was then not so much of a peace man as I am now, and I felt literally full of fight. All at once a light flashed in upon me. I asked myself, would it not be well for you to try in your own conduct the peace principle you are preaching to others! I thought it all over, and settled down my mind as to the best course to be pursued.
“The next day I rode over to see neighbor Pulsifer. I found him chopping wood at his door. ‘Good morning neighbor.’ No answer. ‘Good morning,’ I repeated. He gave a kind of grunt like a hog, without looking up. ‘I came,’ continued I, ‘to see you about the sheep.’ At this he threw down his axe, and exclaimed in a most angry manner, ‘Now aren’t you a pretty neighbor to tell your men to kill my sheep! I heard of it – a rich man like you to shoot a poor man’s sheep!’
“‘I was wrong, neighbor,’ said I, ‘but it won’t do to let your sheep eat up all that grain; so I came over to say that I would take your sheep to my homestead pasture, and put them with mine; and in the fall you may take them back; and if any one of them is missing you may take your pick out of my whole flock.’ Pulsifer looked confounded; he did not know how to take me. At last he stammered out, ‘Now Squire, are you in earnest?’ ‘Certainly I am,’ I answered. ‘It is better for me to feed your sheep in my pasture on grass, than to feed them here on grain; and I see the fence cannot keep them out.’
“After a moment’s silence – ‘The sheep shan’t trouble you any more,’ exclaimed Pulsifer, ‘I will fetter them all. But I’ll let you know, when any man talks of shooting, I can shoot too; and when they are kind and neighborly, I can be kind too.’ The sheep never again trespassed on my lot. ‘And, my friends,’ continued Father Ladd, addressing his audience, ‘remember that when you talk of injuring your neighbors, they talk of injuring you. When nations threaten to fight, other nations will be ready, too. Love will beget love, and a wish to be at peace will keep you at peace. You can overcome evil only with good. There is no other way.’” – Democratic Review.
The foregoing illustrations are from the common affairs of life, and though not involving cases of extreme personal danger and escape, are nevertheless pertinent and important. They show the adaptation of Christian non-resistance to human nature in the ten thousand occurrences of personal difficulty. They demonstrate that it is not contrary to nature, but is peculiarly suited to allay and purify the rising passions of men; that the worst of people are favorably affected by its interposition; that the decent sort might be preserved by it from numberless contentions; and that instead of counteracting the law of self-preservation, it is the highest and surest method of securing the great ends of that law. This will be more fully demonstrated by a continuation of illustrations involving cases of greater peril and deliverance in the next chapter. In the mean time, I can hardly refrain from pressing upon the reader’s understanding and conscience, the question: is not the doctrine contended for most Christian, most rational, most excellent, most admirably adapted to promote peace on earth and good will among mankind? Is it not just what poor groaning nature needs to soothe, restore it to health, and carry it forward to its glorious destiny? It will appear more and more sound and lovely the more it is investigated.
“O, when will man unshackled rise,
From dross of earth refined –
Read mercy in his neighbor’s eyes.
And be forever kind?”