The True Character of War

Isaiah 9:5

Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): War is ever a cruel thing.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The noise of war drowns the voice of laws.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And we know with how many miseries war is replete; for when once men begin to take up arms, the gate is opened to robberies and rapines, burnings, slaughters, debaucheries, and all violence.

JOHN TRAPP: War is as a fire, that feedeth upon the people, Isaiah 9:19―there is in war no measure or satiety of blood. The Greek word for war, signifies ‘much blood.’ The Hebrew word מלחמה, signifies the ‘devouring and eating of men, as they eat bread.’ The Latin  Bellum, a belluis, signifies destruction from wild beasts…War is the slaughter house of mankind, and the hell of this present world. It hews itself a way through a wood of men, and lays “heaps upon heaps,” as Samson did, Judges 15:16, not with “a jaw-bone of an ass,” and one after another, but in a minute of time, and by the mouth of a murdering piece.

C. H. SPURGEON: A man of war is glad of weapons which may fly where he cannot.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Against the flying ball no valour avails; the soldier is dead, ere he sees the means of his destruction. If Adam had seen in a vision the horrible instruments his children were to invent, he would have died of grief.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): We see at this day, when the art of war is brought to so high a pitch of perfection, how much money, labour, and blood it costs.

C. H. SPURGEON: Long have I held that war is an enormous crime. Long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale…War is, in itself, so great an evil that there are many other evils necessarily connected with it.

MARTIN LUTHER: War is one of the greatest plagues that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence become as nothing in comparison with it.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): The moral effects of war are also most deplorable.

JOHN CALVIN: In war all humanity and equity is buried.

C. H. SPURGEON: When a man is at war, he is not in the habit of sprinkling his adversaries with rosewater…There have been brilliant exceptions to the general rule, but war is usually as deceitful as it is bloody, and the words of diplomatists are a mass of lies. It seems impossible that men should deliberate about peace and war without straightway forgetting the meaning of words and the bonds of honesty! War still seems to be a piece of business in which truth would be out of place—it is a matter so accursed that falsehood is most at home there—and righteousness quits the plain.

JOHN CALVIN: War is pleasant to those who never tried it.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It is an easy thing to speak of the war in the East—perhaps to plan an attack upon the enemy―but it is quite a different thing to be in the heat of the conflict. One may read of the sad effects of war, and may agree that they are indeed dreadful; but when the enemy is at one own’s door, plundering his goods, firing his home, slaying his dear ones, he is far more sensible of the miseries of war than ever he was―or could be―previously.

JOHN TRAPP: War is uncertain, and oft mischievous to both sides―and the best cause hath not always the best success.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): War is a tragedy which commonly destroys the stage it is acted on…Many a war is ill ended which was well begun.

JOHN TRAPP: War is easily taken up, saith the wise historian, but not so easily laid down again; neither is the beginning and the end of a war in any one man’s power.

MATTHEW HENRY: When war is once begun it often lasts long; the sword, once drawn, does not quickly find the way into the scabbard again; nay, some, when they draw the sword throw away the scabbard, for they “delight in war,” Psalm 68:30. So deplorable are the desolations of war that the blessings of peace cannot but be very desirable.

MARTIN LUTHER: We read of the Emperor Octavian, that he did not wish to make war, however just his cause might be, unless there were sure indications of greater benefit than harm, or at least that the harm would not be intolerable, and said: “War is like fishing with a golden net; the loss risked is always greater than the catch can be.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Among those who read their Bibles, the allowance of defensive war may, perhaps, still be a question. But any other sort of war must certainly be condemned by the man who is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall say nothing, however, or but very little, concerning the criminality of those ambitious and unscrupulous persons who hurry nations into war without cause.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: That nation which, without sufficient reason, commences a war, or provokes a war, has an awful responsibility resting on it; and so also, when a war is in progress, that nation which refuses to make peace, or insist on unreasonable conditions, is guilty of all the blood which may be shed, and all the misery produced.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Greed, avarice, national pride, the desire to possess, to become great and greater than everyone else.  These are the things that ever cause wars.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Doubtless the passions of men are the immediate sources from whence the calamities of war arise: and men are strictly amenable, both to God and their fellow-creatures, for the evils, which, by their undue exercise of those passions, they inflict upon the world―but we are apt to look only to second causes, instead of acknowledging, as we ought, the First Great Cause.

GEORGE LAWSON (1749-1820): We should remember that the sword of war is the sword of the Lord: that He musters the hosts of battle—that when mighty conquerors go forth they are the instruments of His Providence for accomplishing those overturnings which for wise ends He determined before any of us were born. With the same disposition we should read or hear the accounts which we receive daily of those events which are now happening in the world. Let us not forget that all men and their actions are under the superintendence of One who never errs. “I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things,” Isaiah 45:7.

CHARLES SIMEON: War is one of God’s “four sore judgments,” wherewith he visiteth a guilty land, Ezekiel 14:21―one of those judgments with which God punishes the sins of men.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: War is a fearful calamity and a heavy judgment from God on any nation, whether it be entered on for sufficient, or insufficient reasons.

THOMAS FULLER (1608-1661): Woes may come from peace; but they must come from war.


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