« PreviousContinue »
I have overcome riches, I have over- in all his holy mountain ;' that when come ambition, I have mastered assaulted by wicked men, he should flattery : fear hath nothing to object be led as a lamb to the slaughter,' against me, drunkenness hath nothing and should make no resistance. to charge upon me, anger is afraid At the nativity of Christ, the angels of me: I have won the garland, in sung, not the glories of war, nor a fighting against these enemies. See song of military triumph, but a hymn his Epistles to Homodorus.
of peace: “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good
will towards men. The words and Thos. Secker, Archbishop of works of Christ are in perfect unison; Canterbury.
examine every part of his doctrine, War in all cases is accompanied and nothing will be found that does with dreadful evils ; of which we are
not breathe peace, speak the lanapt to consider the heavy expense, guage of love, and savour of charity. as if it were the only one, and
How very instructive, that the forget the sufferings and miserable descent of the divine Spirit upon our deaths of such multitudes of human Saviour was in the likeness of the creatures, though every one of them innocent, inoffensive dove! What is a murder, committed by the au
emblem more significant of its nature thors of this calamity. Works, vol. iii. and tendency! And how fully bis p. 376.
meek, unresisting conduct proves its But War is also a state of no less effect! Does it influence men differwickedness than calamity and terror. ently now, that they, though proWhenever it breaks out, one side, fessing to be his followers, and at least, must have acted grievously governed by this dove-like spirit
, contrary to humanity and justice ; con
can be cruel, wrathful destroyers trary too, in all likelihood, to solemn of each other? treaties, and that from no better mo- At the commencement, and in the tives than little resentment, groundless course of his public ministry, he or distant fears, eagerness of gaining taught such doctrines as these : unnecessary advantages, restless am- • Resist not evil, (or, more properly bition, false glory, or wantonness of rendered, resist not the injurious.)power.
To such detestable idols are He that takes the sword shail perish by whole armies and nations deliberately the sword.-All things whatsoever ye sacrificed; though every suffering would that men should do unto you, do thus caused is a heinous crime, and ye also to them.-Blessed are the meek, every death a Murder. Works, vol. jii.
for they shall inherit the earth.-Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.-Blessed are the peace-makers,
for they shall be called the children The Doctrine and Precepts of the to them of old time, Thou shalt not
of God, Ye have heard that it was said Scriptures on the subject of War.
kill, and whosoever shall kill, shall be [From Pictures of War.)
in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with
his brother without a cause, shall be in When the coming of our Redeemer danger of the judgment; and whoever was foretold, it was in language like «shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be this, that he should be called the in danger of the council': but whosoever • Prince of Peace;' that under his shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger reign, 'the war trumpet should be hath been said, Thou shalt love thy
of hell fire.-Ye have heard that it hung up in the hall, and war should neighbour, and hate thine enemy : But be studied no more ;' that there I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless should be nothing to hurt or to offend them that curse you, do good to them
DOCTRINE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
that hate you, and pray for them that out. Only hinder soldiers from doing despitefully use you, and persecute you.' violence to any man, and you stop at
The apostles follow out their Mas- once the whole progress of war; so ter's instructions, by recording in their that if the directions of John are writings such admonitions as the fol- insisted on as Gospel authority, they lowing:
will prove much more against the law
fulness of war, than in favour of it. See that none render evil for evil to
Our Lord says, (Luke xiv. 31) any man.--Avenge not yourselves, but
• What king going to war against rather give place unto wrath.–Follow peace with all men.-As much as in another king, sitteth not down first, you lieth, live peaceably with all men.
and consulteth whether he be able No murderer hath eternal life abiding with ten thousand to meet him that in him. If God be for us, who can be cometh against him with twenty against us ?-Who is he that will harm thousand? Or else, while the other you,
ye be followers of that which is is yet a great way off, he sendeth good ?-Casting all your cares on God, for he careth for you.-We may boldly of peace.
an embassy, and desireth conditions
Doubtless, our Lord's say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do to me.--Though design was to warn people to count we walk in the flesh, we do not war
the cost, before they professed to be after (i. e. according to) the flesh; for the followers of him; that they might weapons of our warfare are not carnal. - not be deceived nor discouraged, and Some affirm that we say, let us do evil that they might act from principle, that good may come, whose damnation and not from hypocrisy. And he is just.–Follow peace with all men, inculcates these things, by referring and holiness, without which no man
to the example of kings in their shall see the Lord.'
consultations about war.
These reWith a variety of similar pas- ferences to war being introduced sages, all breathing the same pacific merely for the illustration of other and forgiving spirit.
subjects, will no
more prove the It is true, that John the Baptist, lawfulness of war, than the reference when inquired of by the soldiers, of the Apostle to the Olympic games what their duty was, does not bid for illustration, will prove the law. them lay aside their profession, but fulness of these Heathen feats. merely exhorts them to abstain from The centurion and Cornelius have violence. This is easily accounted been pointed out as Christian soldiers, for, and it would be wrong to construe and highly approved of God for their it into an indirect approbation of war, faith and piety; nor were they (say since the soldiers never put the the objectors) directed by Christ or question, whether their profession was his apostles to renounce their proa lawful one, but merely what, as fession. In reply be it observed, soldiers, they should do ? And John, that they were first soldiers and then like him whose forerunner he was, Christians, and we have no evidence would not interfere with civil or that they continued in the profession political arrangements, he having of arms; nor are we warranted to higher objects in view. Besides, does say that they were not directed to not his very reply, · Do violence to no renounce that profession, as the man, neither accuse any falsely,' show Scriptures are silent on the subject. plainly enough what his views of their But the idolatrous rites enjoined on profession were, and how much ex- the Roman soldiers were totally inposed he considered them to be to consistent with the Christian character, every kind of rapine and injustice. aside from the unlawfulness of war Obedience to the Baptist's injunction itself; therefore it is very improbable is wholly incompatible with war, they could or would continue in the which is a system of violence through- military profession.
Two of the disciples, while yet In verse 38th of the same chapter, under their Jewish prejudices, ad- after the remark, here are two dressed our Saviour thus : Lord, swords,' our Lord answers,
• It is wilt thou that we command fire to enough.' By this phrase, he signified come down from heaven, and con- with sufficient plainness, to those who sume them, as Elias did?! May should reflect on what he said, that Christians ever bear in mind his arms were not the_resource they answer: Ye know not what manner ought to think of. For what were of spirit ye are of; for the Son two swords against all the ruling of man came not to destroy men's powers of the nation ? The import lives, but to save them.' Luke ix. of the proverbial expression there54, 55, 56.
fore is this, We need no more;' It is objected, that our Lord paid which does not imply that they really tribute-money, which went to support needed, or would use, those they had. military power. To this it is re- The New Testament does not fur: plied, that our Lord set the example nish an instance, (except the repreof giving no just cause of offence to hended one of Peter's) of an apostle any. Tribute was demanded of him or a disciple using a sword or weapon unjustly, according to the existing of defence. laws; but, lest fault should be found, Paul is mentioned as having made he wrought a miracle and paid it. use of a captain and guard of soldiers When the rulers of this world call on one occasion, to secure his person for that which bears their own image But surely few' or none would supand superscription, Christians have pose this an approbation of warfare. no right to withhold from them their He merely made use of these men as dues, for they must render to Cæsar officers of the civil power, who were the things that are Cæsar's.' But how bound by their situation to protect does the lawfulness of war follow from one man against the outrages of ana Christian's rendering to Cæsar his other. The same Paul says elsedue ? Is it because some of the money where, • The weapone of our warfare goes to support war? Probably, are not carnal;' and exhorts Chrisof the money which our Lord paid, tians to put on as their defence the as much went to the support of idol- whole armour of God.' atry, and the games of the day, as to The inconsistency of Christians the support of war.
entering into military service, or enOur Saviour's words (Luke xxii. gaging in war, is plainly implied in 36.) have been thought to authorize Lord's remark on the nature warlike measures : He that hath no of his kingdom, in which he makes sword, let him sell bis garment, and a decided distinction between it and buy one.' But here is no warrant the kingdoms of this world. He says, for hostilities; for, in the first place, "If my kingdom were of this world, a great number of manuscripts, and then would my servants fight;' insome of note, besides many of the timating that the sword must be an oldest editions, read the verse as a unhallowed and improper weapon in prediction, 'He that hath no sword the hands of his followers, who never shall sell his garment, and shall buy can, in pursuance of their true one. Secondly, The whole expres- principles, have the least occasion sion is evidently figurative, and is to employ offensive or murderous intended to give warning of the most weapons. imminent dangers, and of a season We are commanded by an apostle, approaching, when a weapon should to pray for kings, and for all in be accounted more necessary than authority; but it is for this end, that a garment.
we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
in all godliness and honesty.' The But it is objected, that these magistrate is said, not to bear the fellow-creatures are robbers, plunsword in vain ;' but it is plain from derers, and invaders.' But why so ? the context, that this is the sword May not the arguments used for enof judicial authority, and not of listing subjects at home be retorted, military engagement. Besides, the in regard to these foreigners? These expression of bearing the sword,' men, whether bad or good, are only is evidently figurative, and meant to obeying the powers that be,’ in their convey the idea of civil infliction or own country. They are obliged, in severity.
consequence of their allegiance to In Romans, ch. xiii. we are ordered their sovereign, to do us all the mis' to be subject to the powers that be.' chief they can. And if they are In the enumeration of duties which bound apostolically to do what their Christians owe to civil rulers, as laid rulers commanded them, then it is down in that chapter, or elsewhere in their religious duty to invade, molest, the New Testament, subjection is fight with, and murder us!! Thus inculcated; tribute, custom, fear, and the holy precepts of inspiration are honour, are also enjoined, and all brought in, or rather are perverted, these not only for wrath, (i. e. for to sanction the political quarrels of fear of punishment) but also for princes, and to bind Christian subconscience sake, (i. e. from reverence jects on both sides, by the most sacred for a higher authority.) But there obligations to shed each other's blood, is not a word of injunction on the from a principle of conscience ! Can subject of military services; for, at any thing be more perniciously abthat rate, a most unnatural and in- surd, or more awfully impious ? congruous scene would occur, and Be it always remembered, that the Christians in one kingdom might be office of a national ruler is described commanded, and led on to plunge in Scripture, not in relation to his their bayonets in the breasts of their wars with other nations, but in relation Christian brethren in another king- to the peaceable government of his dom, who might be equally under the own subjects. This, indeed, is all that command of their rulers. How would a Christian subject has to do with. this agree with Christ's law of bro- If a prince, from a spirit of ambition, therly love, and with the precept, or from the love of what is falsely not to take away their's, but to lay called glory, will engage in contests down our lives for the brethren? with other nations, let him hire, bribe,
But what is the character of the or persuade those he can to second his national ruler, in the New Testament? efforts ; but Christians have nothing It is, that · he is the minister (or to do with a warfare of this descripservant) of God.' Now a servant tion. Their hostilities are of another of God should do only what God com- kind, directed to other objects, and mands in his own revelation. And promoted by different weapons, where does God command war? Let In 1 Pet. ü. 17. we are exhorted to the passages be collected from the fear God, and to honour the king.' peace-breathing pages of the Gospel It is undeniable, that the second and epistles. But further, it is said, of these exhortations is subordinate He is the minister of God for good, to, and depends upon the first. To that is, to the subject or ruled. Now admit the idea of implicit obedience how can this be, if much of his au- to magistrates, without regard to conthority, and that too often exercised, science towards God, is to condemn consists in calling out and organizing the prophet Daniel and his three his subjects, that they may contend companions, as well as the holy marvi et armis with their fellow-creatures, tyrs, for not relinquishing their faith and extirpate them if possible? at the command of princes.
Paul's record of his own sufferings nesses for Jesus ; and this at a time and imprisonment for conscience sake, when, as Tertullian tells us the sets aside the plea for implicit obe- Christians were sufficiently numerous dience. He also defines the Chris- to have defended themselves against tian
weapons of warfare in his time, the persecutions excited against them and of course in every succeeding by the Heathen, if their religion had time, to be not carnal, but mighty permitted them to have recourse to through God.' Spiritual and carnal the sword.' How different the one weapons will no more unite under the spirit from the other. The warrior is Gospel dispensation than iron and bold and vindictive, ready to defend clay.
his property at the hazard of his life, Such indeed are the dreadful con- and to shed the blood of his enemy. sequences of war, that it is no marvel The martyr takes joyfully the spoiling if the apostle James thus described of his goods, and counts not his life their origin : ' Come they not hence, dear to himself. even from the lusts that war in your Would the pure and beneficent members ?' And of all lusts, can there spirit of Jesus have exulted over the be any more detestable than that desolated plains of Marengo, or the which produces the selfish and re- ensanguined waves of Trafalgar? vengeful disposition to injure others! Would he have taught the horrid re
If war is a Christian duty, why finement and boast of modern warfare, should not the example and precepts the union of carnage with humanity! of Christ, instead of the example Would he have conceived the monof the heroes of this world, be ex- strous absurdity of fighting for the hibited to those who fight, in order to preservation of religion, for the sestimulate them? Is not Christ as curity of social order, or for the worthy of imitation as the Cæsars and establishment of universal peace ? Alexanders of this world! He was How would such a prayer as the a triumphant conqueror, he van- following sound from the mouths of the quished death and hell
, and purchased churches, when united in solemn aseternal redemption for his people; sembly! but he conquered by resignation, and • Oblessed Jesus, dear redeeming triumphed by his death. Here is an Lamb of God, who camest down from example worthy of the highest emu- heaven to save men's lives, and not lation. And why not animate soldiers to destroy them, go along, we humbly by it? Only because it would unnerve pray thee, with our bomb-vessels and their arms for war, and render them fire-ships ; suffer not our thundering harmless to their foes.
cannon to roar in vain, but let thy The spirit of martyrdom is the true tender hand of love and mercy direct spirit of Christianity. Christ him- their balls to more heads and hearts self meekly and submissively died of thine own redeemed creatures, than by the hands of his enemies ; and the poor skill of man is able of itself instead of resistance, even by words to do.!* he prayed, " Father, forgive them, for Or, let us imagine we hear a soldier they know not what they do.'
among these fighting Christians, sayStephen, when expiring under a ing the Lord's Prayer: Our Father;' shower of stones from his infuriate what proof of filial obedience to the murderers, prayed, Lord, lay not divine command, • Thou shalt not kill,' this sin to their charge..
does this man offer, whose heart and Paul, instead of resisting, testified hands are just preparing to cut his that he was ready not only to be brother's throat! Hallowed be thy bound, but to die for the Lord Jesus.” name;' how can the name of God be
The early martyrs resigned up their Jives with patient submission as wit- * See Law's Reflections on War,