The greatest curse that can befal a country is a peace that fosters corruption. It is pure water that rolls over Niagara; it is bad water that sleeps in the Dead Sea. The peace of the grave is great, but the worms revel there. It is in motion—collision—combat—that power finds development and piety purification. We, of these United States, have had peace, but what has it cost us? The government has become so corrupt as to fall in pieces, of its own rotten weight. Office-holders have preyed upon the public to engorgement. Offices have been bought and sold, and men high in power have blackened their palms with bribes. The whole power of the country has been applied to the aggrandizement of a system of legalized wrong. Those who have loved slavery better than government, or law, or country, or friends, or the good will of mankind, have been petted and deferred to, and courted and honored, while those who have loved freedom and their country, and who, in the country’s exigency, are called upon to defend it, have been persistently abused and maligned. Old landmarks have been wiped out that slavery might thrive. In the name of law, for the sake of slavery, four millions of men, women, and children are denied citizenship. Pure men are knocked down in the Senate chamber for words spoken in debate; and more than half of the nation clap their hands. Men who knew better have longed to compromise with sin for the sake of peace. We have been beset for concessions—asked to cut off our right arms, to throw to the wolves that were following us.

In private life, men have grown mad for money. They had brave schemes afloat for amassing fortunes, and when the war-cloud rose, they turned pale, and whined, and said, “not now, not now.” Their dreams promised such abundant realization, their schemes were working so finely, and they had so set their hearts upon the objects of their life, that they deprecated any disturbance. They could not bear to be torn away from their cherished objects, and were ready to purchase peace at any price. Many a man to-day would be ashamed to confess, even to himself, how much of that which he should hold dearer than life he would have been willing to give for peace. Commerce sold his honor by the bale, and his principles by the cargo; and then he rolled homeward in his coach, and battened in luxury. Men’s spirits grew flat like stale beer with craven hopes for peace, while their hands grew nasty with the bribes they offered for its preservation.

Thank God! this is all changed. The Christian church that had grown sleepy, and had gaped in its prayers, has found something to pray for, and is praying for it. We venture to say that there has been more fervent, earnest, acceptable prayer offered during the past week, and more honest confession of sin made, than during any week of the last fifty years. America has a recognized God to-day; and it is very doubtful whether she would have had one if war had not hurried the nation into His presence. War has broken up the nightmare of commerce. Men who have never thought of anything but money forget their old idolatries, and surrender themselves to the patriotic thrill that leaps from heart to heart like lightning along a chain. The old stuff with which they used to cheat their consciences is swept away like chaff. Brokers and bankers, and speculators and scriveners—lank-bellies and big-bellies—start from their chairs in Wall street, put on their hats, and rush out into the open air and shout. Stock gambling and stock gamblers are at a discount. Out among the farms, where men have plodded through weary years of peace, there rings a voice which transforms the plodders into heroes, and they march off for duty with new and stirring significance added to their life. The dapper young men of the city who have cut tape, and cosseted whiskers for years, grow out of their clothes in an hour, and find themselves men. AN well sang Tennyson, when, apologizing for and rejoicing in war, he said:

“For I trust if an enemy’s fleet came yonder round by the hill,
And the rushing battle-bolt sang from the three-decker out of the foam,
That the smooth-faced, snub-nosed rogue would leap from counter and till,
And strike, if he could, were it but with his cheating yard-wand home.”

Look, for a moment, at the million of low and brutal men who have been metamorphosed in a day by the war news. In the great cities they form the mob—the dangerous classes of society. They throng the barrooms, they haunt the low theaters, they have no intellectual enjoyments, they never see the inside of a church, they are brutal in their tastes and brutal in their habits. By the news of one hour these men, too, are transformed into heroes. They have felt the first genuine thrill of patriotism; they have experienced their first noble purpose; they are for the first time aware that there is something in them that responds to that which is best in the good people around them. The New York “Short-boy” and the pale faced student, the Five Points rowdy and the missionary who teaches his children, are moved by a common impulse. They shout together for their country; they strike hands for its protection. The impulses, emotions and purposes that have moved these men for the last week have done more to elevate them than all the sermons of all the ministers of America could do in a century. They have grown better, larger, nobler, purer men for this experience. Verily war is a means of grace to them.

Again, party names are wiped out, and for once in fifty years men stand together as patriots. We are brothers all, to-day. We know no names but patriots and traitors. We give our hand to the first—our heel to the last. Once we suffered ourselves to be made mean by party spirit, and to become corrupt through it. Now, moved by a common impulse, we rally for the defense of our country; and the shackles of party fall off. Thank God for this. We can all now see, and recognize the fact, that, however widely we may have differed in opinion, our hearts have all been right; that deep down beneath all the errors of the head, there has been beating a true heart, and that we are patriots all, by whatsoever names we may have been divided. Is not this something worth learning? Could we have learned it at the feet of any teacher, other than war?

So, bowed with sadness that it must be, we bend to the necessities of war, believing that it is best for us. Honorable war is better than dishonorable peace. Honorable war is better than corrupt peace. War that stirs us, and calls for self-abnegation and self-sacrifice—war that makes heroic the lives of common-place men—war that binds the hearts of men together as with bands of iron-war that brings forgetful men and women to their knees, and leads them to the acknowledgment of the God of nations—war that inspires with noble motives the brutal elements of society—war that makes us forget schemes of personal gain in devotion to the country—war that recalls and emphasizes the trials of the fathers of the republic—war that shows us what a true peace is worth—such war is not the greatest of evils. Peace must come at last with the millen[n]ium. We are not good enough for it yet. We grow foul with it, like stagnant water. We believe that when this struggle passes by, we shall be a better and stronger nation for it. The medicine is harsh, but who will dare to say that it is not needful? Let it come, then; and may God in his mercy make it the blessing to us which he means it to be!