Attentive Reader,—Will you consent to forget your former impressions, and stifle your prejudices, while we examine, by the light of Revelation, a theme most dear to the interest of Messiah's kingdom?
At no period in the world's history, has a discussion of war been more imperiously demanded, than at the present. Nations and individuals still settle their difficulties by mortal combat,—not questioning, at all, the divine right of slaying their fellows.
These allusions are not intended alone for savages, or infidels, but for the civilized nations of the earth, and for such professed christians as feel authorized of God and their country, to take the life of their brother man.
We are aware that there are but few persons prepared to examine this matter; and, consequently, we give our views with considerable hesitation. The subject, at present, we expect not to debate to any considerable extent; but we wish to place it in some appreciable form, and give such authority for our positions, as we believe will be convincing to those who are able to hear.
1st. War,—is defined by Mr. Webster, to be—"A contest between nations, or states, carried on by force; either for defence, or revenging insults, and redressing wrongs,—for the extension of commerce, or acquisition of territory; or for obtaining and establishing the dominion of one over the other. These objects are accomplished by the slaughter and capture of troops, and the capture of ships, towns, and property."
The reader will observe that, war is not the punishment inflicted by a state upon a subject, or the chastisement of a parent upon a child; but it involves states and nations, with their sovereigns. Civil wars are such as are prosecuted between the subjects of the same state, for the purpose of settling controversies.
Writers speak of—"Just wars," "offensive," and "defensive wars;" but whether such distinctions are strictly correct, remains a matter of some dubiety. Mr. Paley says:—"Every just war is a defensive war;" from which we might infer that, all others are unjust wars.
Shall we admit the distinction of—"Offensive" and "defensive wars?" We have not read in history of a people who acknowledge themselves the offending party;—all plead justification, on the ground of aggressions from the enemy. Again:—There is scarcely, in the annals of Time, an account of an important war, in which both parties did not operate, both offensively and defensively. The doctrine of attack, advantage taking, and punishing to gratify feelings of revenge, is adopted by all parties engaged in war; and it is universally the case, that so soon as war is declared, the technicalities—of offensive and defensive war—are forgotten. But take any definition of war, given by our most popular writers: the great question to be determined, is:—Are Christians authorized, by the New Testament, to engage in war? There is no philanthropist, or christian, who is not deeply interested in the solution of this subject.
2d. The origin and causes of war, are matters not to be slighted. We presume no one will argue, that man was made to sport with the life's blood of his brother. Moses informs us that man was made—"To till the ground."—Gen. 2:5.
When we view the beautiful order and perfect harmony in the heavenly bodies, and the fitness of everything earthly, to accomplish wise designs, we instinctively listen for Nature's voice to cry: "Peace, peace." Even the brute creation make mournful lamentations over the slain of their species, and thereby give undeniable evidence of the love of life, in all the animal race, and the extreme pain experienced when it is taken away. This tenacious clinging to life in the animal kingdom, gives indubitable evidence, that God has given instinctive laws to brutes, as well as written laws to men. The least sparrow, or even insect, is shocked at death, and often weeps out its life at the loss of its mate.
But what shall we say for man? Has not the Allwise implanted in his nature a love for life,—for mere existence; and bid him instinctively to respect it in all his fellows? He who acts from the dictates of Nature, wills not the destruction of the poorest worm that crawls.
The point established, then, is that while man remained in a state of innocency, he had not in his heart a spirit of destruction. While he regarded the image of God in those who were flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, he could not slay his fellows; but when the Creator's works became mutilated, defaced, and corrupted,—so much so that they did not answer the designs of creation,—for wise purposes, the Almighty destroyed the whole race of man, with the exception of eight souls, by a flood. After the repeoplling of the earth, men soon corrupted themselves, and the Deity permitted one part to take the life of the other; "but from the beginning, it was not so." More, as to the origin of war, at present, would be useless.
The causes of war are numerous, but a few of them must be mentioned. National honor is assigned as the first cause of war. Nations do not wish to be considered cowardly, and think it disgraceful to take an insult; and hence, they are constantly anticipating offences.
The love of conquest is a fruitful source of war; but the love of territory, and plunder, has always had a most powerful bearing on the minds of men. The fame of military chieftains, exerts a vast influence in implanting in the mind of youth, the love of war. An inspired writer says:—"Wars and fightings come of lusts."—James 4:1.—All the causes of war are fleshly;—hence, the idea of "holy wars," is utterly inadmissible.
A few years since, a society in the east made a report upon the causes of war amongst nominal christians, from Constantine to the present, which we give at full length. In that space it seems that there have been 286 important wars, divided into eleven classes, viz:—
44 wars of ambition, to obtain extent of country; 22 for plunder, or tribute; 24 of retaliation, or revenge; 8 to settle some question of honor, or prerogative; 6 from disputed claims to territory; 41 from disputed titles to crowns; 20 under the pretence of assisting an ally; 23 originating from jealousy of rival greatness; 5 have grown out of commerce; 55 civil wars; and 28 on account of religion.
3d. That we may the better see the bearing of war, as well as its causes, we will notice something of its history. The first war of which we have any account, was that of Arioch, king of Ellassar, Chedorlanmer, king of Elam; and Tidal, king of nations, with Bera, king of Sodom.—Gen. 14: 1, 2. The second war was fourteen years after, when Lot—Abraham's nephew—was taken prisoner, whereupon, Abraham "armed his trained servants, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan," and discomfited the five kings. For this deed, "Melchizedek, priest of the most high God, blessed Abraham, and gave him tithes of all."
When Joshua crossed the Jordan, with the hosts of Israel, the seven nations of Canaan manifested such total depravity, that the Lord thought them unfit to live; and, hence, wars of extermination were commenced, and carried on till the nations were destroyed. These were called—"The wars of the Lord."—Nu. 21: 14.
For fifteen hundred years, the Lord—for a very special purpose—supported the family of Abraham, both in peace and in war. The promise was:—"In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." But after the coming of Messiah, God gave the Jews over to hardness of heart and reprobacy of mind. Their depravity was such, that they were only fit to be slain. They were once a brave and mighty people, striking terror into the hearts of surrounding nations; but according to prediction, their valor left them so soon as the Lord withdrew his hand:—"And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life; in the morning thou shalt say,—Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say,—Would God it were morning! for the fear of thy heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see."—Deut. 28: 65, 66, 67. They now have no powers of resistance, but are a proverb for cowardice, and degradation, throughout the world. "How are the mighty fallen!"
A few reflections in reference to the designs of the wars which God sustained with the Jewish nation, will be in place.
First:—As before intimated great corruption existed, before war was tolerated. Secondly:—It must not be forgotten that, no nation was capable of appreciating a pure system of religion before Christ; and, lastly,—It must be kept in mind, that in all circumstances, war has been regarded, by God and man, as a sore calamity. The shedding of blood, it is true, "defiled the land of Israel, and it could not be cleansed but by the blood of him that shed it."—Nu. 35: 33.
It is, also, very remarkable that, notwithstanding many of the wars were the Lord's, and he chose good men for his agents, the shedding of blood disqualified them for many important duties. David, who, while in the innocency of his youth, following his father Jesse's flock, was—"A man after God's own heart;" was disqualified for even building the temple, in consequence of the amount of blood he had shed. When he was old, and about to be gathered to his fathers, he said to Solomon:—"My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God; but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, thou has shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth, in my sight. Behold! a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest, [the Hebrew, menuhah, may, with great propriety, be translated peace.] and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be Solomon; [the Hebrew Shaloum, means peace.] and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name."—1 Chron. 22: 8-10.
From these facts we are led to conclude that, extreme wickedness called for the shedding of blood, in order to rid the earth of some of its curses; but still, the agents, although appointed by the Almighty, were not entirely free from the stain. We desire it to be clearly understood that, under the dispensation of Moses, there was no system of religion to cleanse the soul of man from sin, and point him to immortality and eternal life. God was only preparing our race for better things. In these circumstances, when nations and individuals became too corrupt to live, they were slain by Heaven's appointment. The act of killing even the vile, however, was of no moral advantage to him who did the deed; hence, as a general rule,—"The wicked are the sword is, that wars were barely tolerated, in consequence of the corruptions of the times; but those considered worthy to approach the divine presence, as priests, for instance, were not suffered to shed blood.the Lord."—Prov 17: 13. The conclusion of the whole matter
It is pleasant to think, that notwithstanding the Alimighty permits men to follow their own devices, he always recommends them to walk in wisdom's path; but when his creatures have become abandoned, he has often permitted their destruction. He brought a nation "of fierce countenance, from afar," against the Jews, till he broke up their nationality. Jehovah is still the God of nations, and doubtless, most of the remarkable revolutions of Time, can be traced to prophecy. He not only raised up Pharaoh, to show his power and majesty; but Cyrus, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, and Napoleon were but instruments to scourge his enemies, and rid the earth of its burdens.
The question, with us, is not—whether war is ever admissable; but, who are God's chosen agents to conduct war? As to some of the objects, we have been sufficiently explicit. But to come, at once, to the chief point in the discussion:—
4th. Does the christian institution permit its subjects to engage in war?
The settlement of this point will put an end to all contentions, so far as christians are concerned.
We will submit such arguments to the candid, as satisfy us that christians, as a nation, church, or individuals, have no divine authority for engaging in war, offensive or defensive, for fame, plunder, revenge, or for the benefit of themselves or their enemies. Under this head, we shall adopt the following order:—
5th. The prophecies, in reference to Christ and his kingdom, clearly teach that, the whole tendency of the new institution, was to put an end to war. Isaiah said, when speaking, as all the world agree, of the gospel age:—"They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.—Isa. 2: 4. Again, he says:—"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."—Isa. 11: 9. To the same effect, he says:—"Violence shall no more be heard in thy land; wasting nor destruction within thy borders."—Isa. 9: 18.
Ezekiel writes:—"And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; and I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; and I will make with them a covenant of peace; and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land; and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods."—Ez. 34: 23-26. Jeremiah writes:—"Behold! the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers; I will put my law into their inward parts, and write them in their hearts; and I will be their god, and they shall be my people, and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know ye the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive them their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more."—Jer. 31: 31-35.
In Isaiah, 35th chapter, it is written:—"And a high way shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the way faring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come unto Zion with songs, and everlasting joys upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." More prophecies would be superfluous.
We have been asked the question:—"Why are we not authorized to go to war as well as Joshua, David," &c.? The times have changed. God has established a new dispensation, in which the subdued in heart alone have an inheritance. The road to bliss is now "a high way," and none but the "ransomed shall walk there;" "no lion," or man of lion's heart, "shall be there;" and "no ravenous beasts shall go up thereon;" "the unclean shall not pass over it;" but the redeemed alone shall dwell in Zion. Swords and spears were not to be the weapons of the citizens of this new dispensation. "They shall not hurt, nor destroy, in all my holy mountain," saith the Lord. We would now, most respectfully, ask the lovers of truth, if these plain and pointed declarations do not fully establish the point, that the reign of Messiah was to be one of universal peace? We believe all that is necessary to convince the world of the truth of the proposition, that—Christians are not permitted to engage in the bloody conflicts of the infidel nations, is to let these scriptures have their wonted influence upon the mind.
2d. The New Testament teachings will next be considered. To get fairly at the main point, it will be necessary to notice again, briefly, the Jewish polity. It was a national and worldly institution, to serve—"Till the seed should come," and then it was to be rolled up, as a vesture, and laid aside. "The law of commandments," which tolerated war, was "the enmity" between Jews and Gentiles; but Christ "took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;" and, according to Apostolic teaching, there was "a change made in the law."
Again:—we wish it clearly understood that, Christ's kingdom was not to be propagated by flesh and blood relations. Men were permitted to become the "sons of God," not because they were "born of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God."—John 1: 13. Those who were "drawn by hearing and learning of the father," alone came to Christ."—John 6: 45.
The kingdom of Christ then, it will appear, was to differ very widely from the bloody church of Moses. Now it remains to be shown that the differences are so great in the two institutions, that war could be tolerated in the former, but not in the latter.—Before, however, offering our arguments, we wish to say to those who may desire to find fault with us, we are not contending that war is never justifiable in the nations of the earth. Indeed, we doubt not, it is often Heaven's policy, to regulate nations by the sword; but we wish our readers to understand us to say, that the Almighty acknowledges no nation as peculiarly his, at this day; yet he has "a peculiar people," selected from the nations, and perregrinating "as strangers and pilgrims in the nations;" but who have nothing to do with national policy and revolutions.
Our remarks, then, upon war, we wish to extend no further than the boundaries of Christianity.
We may be told, it is no where written that, war was to be abrogatedby the gospel. True: but we find hundreds of practices amongst the Jews, of which it is no where written:—"They shall not exist in the christian economy;" yet when we find christianity standing just in the place of them, we know it was its tendency to abrogate them. It was not Christ's intention to attack civil institutions, but rather to impress upon his disciples the importance of respecting them. This silence with regard to the particulars of worldly governments, does not argue, that he considered them the very best for me; but rather, that his religion could exist, regardless of particular forms of civil governments.
His servants were to "pay tribute" to governments, and "pray for rulers;" not because the governments and rulers existed by any special appointment of Heaven, but in order that the "disciples might lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness, and honesty."—1 Tim 2: 2. So are christians required to support civil governments yet;—at least, so far as they do not interfere with their duties to God. We presume, there are few civil governments that would interfere with religious scruples; but should they do so, christians should reconcile it to themselves to suffer, as their brethren did under the administration of the bloody Nero.
The servants of the Lord are to keep in mind that worldly laws "are not made for the righteous; but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unruly and profane, for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers, for manslayers," &c—Tim 1: 9.
But should it still be urged that the law of Moses tolerated war, and we can find no direct abrogation of it; we might reply, by stating that the whole law was done away in Christ. Even that on tables of stone, which is called by some, "moral law," was a "death administration," and blotted out to make room for the "administration of the spirit."—2 Cor. 3: 7-12. The conclusion, then, is that christianity is a new institution,—a spiritual edifice,—not depending upon the "strong arm of the law," or "red armed war," for its existence. It was designed to flourish under every form of human government, and even without the form of human legislation.
We presume, there is not a learned man on earth, who will contend, that either civil government, or war, would be necessary for the happiness of our race, if all men were christians.
With these suggestions, we proceed to give, in order, a few reasons, drawn directly from the gospel, for believing that christians have no right to engage in war.
1. If the spirit of war had existed in the government of Christ, we might reasonably suppose he would have appealed to arms to establish it. So far, however, from this being the case, the Apostle applies the language of the Prophet to him:—"He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgement unto victory."—Matt. 12: 19, 20. His laws were to be rendered triumphant and gloriuous, without the aid of earthly weapons. Not so much as a tender reed was to be disturbed, or the smoking flax quenched, for his cause to be victorious. The exhortation to the Apostles was:—"Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."—The whole doctrine of Messiah was, to conquer the world by love. This was contrary to the experience and philosophy of mankind, and it is perfectly antipodal to the sentiments of the world, and even to nine-tenths of the religionists at the present day.
Christ's religion has extended to every nook and corner of the earth, where human beings have been capable of receiving it, and in his transcendent love, and matchless kindness, he has done every thing without an appeal to arms.
2. A distinguishing feature of christianity is, the abrogation of the lex talionis, by the gospel. The law said,—"An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:" but not so in Christ's kingdom. "If ye be smitten on one cheek turn the other," is the teaching of the New Testament religion.—Matt. 5: 38, 39. How the command,—"Resist not evil," is to be reconciled with the spirit or practice of war, we are not prepared to see.
3. In the law of Moses, and amongst most partisans of the earth, the doctrine and practice are:—"Love your brethren, or party, and hate all the world besides;" but christianity says:—"Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven."—Matt. 5: 44, 45. We observe that being children of the Heavenly Father, is put upon the condition of—"Loving our enemies, and praying for those who despitefully use us, and persecute us."
No people have engaged in bloody deeds, without transgressing this precept. Christianity is so unlike the religions of the age, that few of its striking features can be infered from the institutions which are said to be modeled after it. We solemnly appeal to those professed christians, who think it is right, and obedience to the cause of God, for them to take the life their fellows, to say if such things are done in love to their enemies? God has promised his protecting power to his saints, and when we take up arms to defend ourselves, we show very clearly that we lack confidence in our Father in heaven.
4. With regard to vengeance, the Apostle says, Rom. 12: 19, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto warth [sic, wrath?]; for it is written, vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the Lord." From this, it appears that the idea of revenge, is wholly incompatible with the spirit and genius of christianity. The doctrine of Christ is,—"Overcome evil with good." "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head."—Rom. 12: 20. The reader will keep in mind, that these things are to be observed towards enemies.
5. We are commanded:—"To follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which, no man shall see the Lord."—Heb. 12: 14. Eternal life here, is placed upon the condition of following "peace" with the world, and "holiness" towards God.
6. The Spirit of—"Joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, forbearance," &c., which christians are commanded to cultivate, forever precludes the spirit and practice of war. The servant of god, should desire above all things, the conversion of his fellow creatures; and labor to "pluck them as brands from the burning;" but this cannot be done, with swords and staves.
7. Christ's declaration,—"That his kingdom is not of this world, for if it were, his subjects would fight for it," is demonstrable evidence that christian war had no countenance from the Savior. His kingdom was unlike all others: it was spiritual, and to be built and defended by spiritual men and spritual
8. The universal forbearance and failure to resist evil amongst the first christians, is clear proof, that they did not feel themselves at liberty to fight and destroy the Almighty's creatures. Jesus said, he "could call twelve legions of angels to his assistance," but by such means christianity could receive no assistance. Jehovah could have enabled Peter, and Paul to have raised up armies, that would have crushed all opposition; but such a policy would have defeated the whole design of christianity.
We read no place in scripture, or in history, of General Peter, Col. Paul, Capt. John, or even Ensign Luke; and had they engaged in the conflicts of surrounding nations, Christ's religion would have proved worse than useless to the world.
9. Christians during the first and second centuries, presumed not to take the least part in civil governments, or thought of engaging in war. Even the very calm and moderate author, Doctor Paley, says:—"Christianity, soliciting admission into all nations of the world, abstained, as behoved it, from intermeddling with the civil institutions of any."
The first remarkable war after Christ, was that of the Romans against the Jews, when Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70. The possessions of Christians were invaded, and their property confiscated, but neither Josephus, or any other historian, mentions resistance amongst them. There were some forty thousand Christians, at Jerusalem, when the siege was commenced by Titus; but they took no apparent interest in the war; and yet, marvelous to relate, they perished not. God supported them, and in obedience to the commands of Christ, they "Fled to the mountains," and Eusebies plainly tells us (Book 3: ch. 5:)—"That a great body of them, resorted to a village called Pella, beyond Jordan, and by their pacific principles, were preserved safe, amid the desolations and blood shed around them."
Do not all men of information know that Celsus, the arch enemy of the christian religion, accused Christians in the second century, of refusing to bear arms for the Emporer. His declaration was,—"If others entertained the same opinions, the empire would soon be overrun by barbarians."
Maximilian, suffered martyrdom, for saying to the Proconsul Dion:—"I am a christian and cannot bear arms."
Scores of others suffered upon the same ground.
But time would fail me, to detail the testimony of Justin Martyr, Tatian, Clemens of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, Arhchelaus, Chrysostum, Jerome, and Cyral, who all declared that christians countenanced not war; and could not be induced to take the least part in it. In the third century, christians began to deflect somewhat, from the purity of the faith, and a few began to conform to the belligerent world. They at least asked the aid and protection of civil powersl but it was not till the beginning of the fourth century, when the Crescent and the Cross were united, by Constantine the great, that christianity was wedded to the bloody codes of earth.
This, making the cause of the land support religion, and in turn, making religion uphold the frail fabrics of man, gave woeful evidence of the great apostacy, predicted by Christ and his Apostles.
From the days of Constantine, the father of the religon of Papists, to the present, Rome and her naturally depraved daughters have lived, in many countries, by the power of the sword, and sought aid by appeals to the laws which God intended alone, "for the disobedient and for man slayers." Not only have Romanists and Protestants, lived and feasted upon blood; but many of their leaders are at this moment, men famed for spilling the blood of their fellows. Most conquerors from Constantine to Santa Anna, professed to fight alone for God and religion. Such sacred missionaries were scarcely of Heaven's appointment, and the grand mistake of the world, consists in the fact, that men have failed to regard christianity as possessing no affinity for the wisdom of this world, or its institutions. God intended it to turn the eyes of its advocates from evil—to save their feet from the path of mischief, their hands from blood, and to direct their thoughs, and hightest aspirations up to the throne of his favor.
We have adduced nine arguments, any one of which, in our humble judgement is sufficent to satisfy the thoughtful, that from the time the angels announced the birth of the "Prince of peace." to the shepherds of Judea, the servants of the Lord, have been required to cultivate, "Peace on earth, and good will toward all men."
We pretend not to say that these arguments, will satisfy all christians, that there is no such a thing as "christian war. "Indeed, we are persuaded, the education and habits of the times are such, as to permit few to see the transcendent beauties of the kingdom of peace. Neither are we prepared to say, that there are not some apparent arguemtns, which might be offered against these views. We have heard many things said by the advocates of christians wars, and if the reader will bear with us, we will notice one or two christian arguments in favor of them.
7th. From the declaration of the Savior,—"He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Luke 22: 36;) some have concluded, that the Lord intended to teach his Apostles, to defend themselves by the sword. Let us examine the connection. Suppose we admit, that he intended them to defend him or themselves, in the trials close at hand, he would have had all the eleven, at least, weaponed; but they said:—"Here are two swords;" and he replied:—"It is enough."—Enough for what? To defend themsleves and their Master against their enemies? Not at all; but enough to show the use of swords so far as christians are concerned. Shortly after, the Savior was taken prisoner, and the disciples said:—"Lord shall we smite with the sword," and no sooner said, than Peter had stricken off the high priest's servant's ear. But Jesus said:-- "Suffer ye thus far;" or in other words, I have suffered you to go thus far, to teach you that you must not use the sword; "and he touched his ear and healed him."—Luke 22: 51. Matthew adds:—"Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"—Mat. 26: 32, 33. Then, so far from the passage showing that the disciples were to use violence, the very reverse is most obvious.
8th. We are asked the question, "suppose the territory of christians were invaded, and the enemy were about to destroy their property; must they not defend themselves?" The Romans came against the christians in Jerusalem, and in obedience to the Lord, they "fled to the mountains." The innocent Waldenses, often forsook their homes to escape the sword of the bloodthirsty Roman Catholics, yet by this course they maintained their purity, and honored their immaculate Redeemer. Were christians to cultivate peace with their fellow creatures, they would not likely have enemies, except of bloody religionists.
9th. But says another:—"Suppose savages—Indians—were to attack us, what then?" The nation of innocent Quakers, that settled Pennsylvania, with William Penn at their head, did more to tame the wild man of the forest, than all the Puritans and Romanists that crossed the waters. These wild men of the forest had not the heart to molest a Quaker. They were a people of peaceful life. In seventy years, the savages invaded not the territories of these "Friends." In all this time, but three of them suffered, and history relates, that even these were not molested till they so far lost confidence in their God, as to take arms to defend themselves. At the breaking out of the revolution, the military took possession of Philadelphia, and from that date the untamed Indian had his deadly enmity excited, against the city of Brotherly love.
We express our belief firmly, when we say, doubtless the Lord has protected, and will still sustain his people, if they will manifest greater confidence in him than flaming swords and glittering spears. It is difficult to find human beings sufficiently degraded to slay members of the family of man, who cultivate not a spirit of war.
But be this matter as it may, the whole teaching of the New Testament, is to impress the spirit of long suffering and forbearance; and to sacrifice property and life itself, rather than deny the Savior.
Had we space, we would be pleased to answer all arguments upon the subject of Christian wars; but we must bring our remarks to a close, without recapitulation.
We should like, upon a suitable occasion, to notice some of the evils of war upon what is called, christian society, the education of youth &c., but we leave the statements to speak for themselves. If we have taken the right view, christians are in great error and must reform. If we are mistaken, we would gladly be corrected.
Barton W. Stone, on his dying couch, exclaimed:—"Oh! that I had strength to preach and exhort all around me to live like christians, to adorn their profession. God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."