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THAT RETALIATION, CAPITAL PUNISHMENTS, AND WAR,
ARE PROHIBITED BY THE GOSPEL; JUSTIFIED BY NO
GOOD PRINCIPLE; NOT NECESSARY TO THE
INCOMPATIBLE WITH THEIR WELFARE; INCONSISTENT
CONTRARY TO THE LAWS OF CHRIST.
FEBLISHED BY DODGE AND SAYRE, 86 BROADWAY.
J. Seymour, printer.
TO DE WITT CLINTON, L.L.D.
PRESIDENT OF THE LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF NEW-YORK,
AND TO THE MEMBERS OF THAT SOCIETY.
SUFFER me, by inscribing these Letters to you, to express my sense of the debt of gratitude due, from every member of society, to the patrons and most active promoters of science and literature. Should this or any other expressions of respect not countervail the hazard of appearing before you, in the support of opinions both singular and unpopular, I must, notwithstanding, hope that, upon mature reflection, those opinions will not be thought wholly without foundation. It has happened in religion, as in natural philosophy and in politics-The true system of the universe was known to the ancient philosophers of Greece, but having been opposed, and laid aside, by men of less research and reflection, it was lost to the world, till revived by Copernicus. So also were the principles of civil liberty known, to some of the ancient nations, but were abandoned and forgotten for many ages, till they were, with arts and literature, recovered from the ruins of antiquity, restored to light, and reduced to practice.
The question has been agitated of late, whether Christians have a right to engage in war. The illustrious Erasmus, as early as the days of the reformation, in his celebrated "Complaint of Peace," called the attention of Europe to this subject. It seems, however, not to have made much progress among the German reformers; but in England a Society, founded by George Fox and others, dared to stem the torrent of popular opinion. They wholly disclaimed war, together with capital punishments, as inconsistent with the laws of Christ; and accordingly assumed the noble appellation of Friends, a name truly appropriate from their distinguishing tenet; but by the felly and malice of the times they