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On the Sword

they take their cases before the unbelieving judge. If a Christian therefore may and should in the power of the divine word, be a judge with the mouth, he may also be a protector with the hand of him who wins the suit, and punish the unjust. For whoso shall judge righteousness ought not to hesitate to execute and fulfil punishment against the malicious. Who soles a shoe, if he dare not put it on? See, dear brothers, that councils, courts, and law are not wrong.

Thus also the judge may and should be a Christian, although the contending parties sin, because they do not much rather permit themselves to suffer wrong. Therefore a Christian may also, according to the ordinance of God, bear the sword, in the place of God, against the evil-doer and punish him. Though he is for the sake of the evil, he is also ordained by God for the protection and defence of the pious (Rom. xiii., 3, 4). Thus will the Scripture be true where it says: "You have an office not of men but of God; what you judge he decrees above you. Therefore shall the fear of God be with you, and you shall act with diligence, for God cannot see nor forgive iniquity" (2 Chron. xix., 6, 7). This Scripture is given to us as well as to the ancients, since it pertains to brotherly love. Do you say, Well, but is it not our duty not to go to law? Answer: Yes. We ought not to do anything wrong. Therefore it is always the duty of every Christian, should he ever be appointed a judge, to administer justice to citizens and foreigners. That must follow, or the Scripture must be broken to pieces, which no man can ever accomplish.


"If thy brother sin against thee, go and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he heareth thee, thou hast won thy brother. If he