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whatever engages love or confidence, is sacrificed at its shrine. In instructing us to consider a portion of our fellow-creatures as the proper objects of enmity, it removes, as far as they are concerned, the basis of all society, of all civilization and virtue; for the basis of these is the good-will due to every individual of the species, as being a part of ourselves. From this principle all the rules of social virtue emanate. Justice and humanity, in their utmost extent, are nothing more than the practical application of this great law. The sword, and that alone, cuts asunder the bond of consanguinity which unites man to man. As it immediately aims at the extinction of life, it is next to impossible, upon the principle that every thing may be lawfully done to him whom we have a right to kill, to set limits to military license; for when men pass from the dominion of reason to that of force, whatever restraints are attempted to be laid on the passions, will be feeble and fluctuating. Though we must applaud, therefore, the attempts of the humane Grotius to blend maxims of humanity with military operations, it is to be feared they will never coalesce, since the former imply the subsistence of those ties which the latter suppose to be dissolved. Ience the morality of peaceful times is directly opposite to the maxims of war. The fundamental rule of the first is to do good; of the latter, to inflict injuries. The former commands us to succor the oppressed; the latter, to overwhelm the defenceless. The former teaches men to love their enemies; the latter, to make themselves terrible even to strangers. The rules of morality will not suffer us to promote the dearest interest by falsehood; the maxims of war applaud it when employed in the destruction of others. That a familiarity with such maxims must tend to harden the heart, as well as to pervert the moral sentiments, is too obvious to need illustration. The natural consequence of their prevalence is an unfeeling and unprincipled ambition, wit
an idolatry of talents, and a contempt of virtue; whence the esteem of mankind is turned from the humble, the beneficent, and the good, to men who are qualified by a genius fertile in expedients, a courage that is never appalled, and a heart that never pities, to become the destroyers of the earth. While the philanthropist is devising means to mitigate the evils and augment the happiness of the world, a fellow-worker together with God in exploring and giving effect to the benevolent tendencies of nature, the warrior is revolving, in the gloomy recesses of his capacious mind, plans of future devastation and ruin. Prisons crowded with captives, cities emptied of their inhabitants, fields desolate and waste, are among his proudest trophies. The fabric of his fame is cemented with tears and blood, and if his name is wafted to the ends of the earth, it is in the shrill cry of suffering humanity; in the curses and imprecations of those whom his sword has reduced to despair.
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
EARLY CHRISTIANS ON WAR.
BY THOMAS CLARKSON, THE PHILANTHROPIST.*
THE Bible, rather than any human authority, should be our guide; but, since the early Christians learned its meaning from the Apostles themselves, or their immediate successors, we naturally wish to ascertain how they regarded the custom of war,
and shall endeavor to prove, that so long as the lamp of Christianity, burnt pure and bright, Christians held it unlawful to bear arms, and actually abstained from the use of them at the hazard of their lives ; nor was it till Christianity became corrupted, that its followers became soldiers.
I. The opinions of the first Christian writers after the Apostles relative to war, were alike for nearly three hundred years, if not longer. Justin Martyr, one of the earliest in the second century, considers war as unlawful, and makes the devil its author. TATIAN, the disciple of Justin, speaks in the same terms on the subject ; and CLEMENS, of Alexandria, a contemporary of the latter, is equally decisive against the lawfulness of war.
TERTULLIAN, the next in order of time, strongly condemns the practice of bearing arms. In his Worship of Idols, he says, " though the soldiers came to John, and received a certain form to be observed, and though the centurion believed, yet Jesus Christ, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier afterward; for custom never sanctions an unlawful act.” In his Soldier's Garland, he says, “can a soldier's life be lawful, when Christ has pronounced, that he who lives by the sword, shall perish by the sword ?
Can one who professes the peaceable doctrines of the Gospel, be a soldier, when it is his duty not so much as to go to law ? And shall he who is not to revenge his own wrongs, be instrumental in bringing others into chains, imprisonment, torment, death ?"_“In all this conspiracy of evils against us,” he asks, in his Apology, “what one evil have you observed to have been returned by Christians ? We could in a night's time have made ourselves ample satisfaction, had we not thought it unlawful to repay one injury with another ; but God forbid, that any of this divine sect should seek revenge. If we would not revenge ourselves in the dark, but chose to engage you in the open day, do you think we could want forces? We are but of yesterday, and by to-day we overspread your empire. Your cities, your islands, your forts, towns, assemblies, and very camps, wards, companies, palaces, senate, forum, all swarm with Christians. What war can we now be unprepared
* This tract, though abridged, retains all the original facts and arguments, with a few additions.-AM ED.
P. T. NO, XXIII.
for, did not our religion require us to be killed rather than to kill ? ” The fact of Christians being in forts and camps, is no proof that they were there as soldiers; and the supposition is forbidden by the general tenor of Tertullian's language against war as unlawful for Christians. If they were soldiers, it only proves, what is true, that some Christians, even before the death of Tertullian, entered the army, or more probably, remained in it after their conversion.
CYPRIAN, in his Epistle to Donatus, speaks thus, “When thou reflectest upon thy condition, thy thoughts will rise in transports of gratitude and praise to God for having made thy escape from the pollutions of the world. The things thou wilt principally observe will be the highways beset with robbers, the seas with pirates ; encampments, marches, and all the terrible forms of war and bloodshed. When a single war is committed, it shall be deemed perhaps a crime; but that crime shall commence a virtue, when committed under the shelter of public authority; so that punishment is not rated by the measure of guilt; but the more enormous the size of the wickedness is, so much the greater is the chance of impunity.”
LACTANTIUs, who lived some time after CYPRIAN, says, “it can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war." To these might be added ARCHELAUS, AMBROSE, CHRYSOSTOM, JEROME, and CYRIL, all of whom were of opinion, that it is unlawful for Christians to engage in war.
II. With respect to the PRACTICE of the early Christians, there is no well authenticated instance upon record of their entering into the army for nearly the two first centuries, but they declined the military profession as one in which it was not lawful for them to engage.
i. The first species of evidence on this point may be found in the following facts, reaching from the year 170 to 195. Cassius had rebelled against the Emperor Verus, and was slain soon after. Clodius Albinus in one part of the
world, and Pescennius Niger in another, had rebelled against the Emperor Severus, and both were slain. Now, suspicion fell, as it always did in those times, if
any thing went wrong, upon the Christians; but TERTULLIAN tells us that this suspicion was totally groundless. “ You defamed us," says he,“ by charging us with having been guilty of treason to our emperors ; for not a Christian could be found in any of the rebel armies, whether commanded by Cassius, Albinus, or Niger.” These are important facts; for the armies in question were very extensive. Cassius was master of all Syria with its four Legions; Niger, of the Asiatic and Egyptian Legions, and Albinus, of those of Britain ; which Legions together contained between a third and a half of the standing Legions of Rome; and the circumstance, that no Christian was to be found in them, is the more remarkable, because, according to the same TERTULLIAN, Christianity had then spread over almost the whole of the known world.
2. A second species of evidence may be collected from expres
sions and declarations in certain authors of those times. JUSTIN MARTYR and TATIAN make distinctions between soldiers and Christians; and CLEMENS, of Alexandria, gives the Christians, who were contemporary with him, the appellation of the Peaceable, thus distinguishing them from others of the world ; and he says expressly, the Peaceable never use sword or bow, meaning by these the instruments of war.
3. A third species of evidence may be found in the belief, which the writers of these times had, that the prophecy of Isaiah, that men should turn their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, was then in the act of completion. IRENEUS, about the year 180, affirms that this famous prophecy had been completed in his time ; “for the Christians,” says he, “have changed their swords and lances into instruments of peace, and they know not how to fight.” Justin MARTYR, contemporary with IRENEUS, asserts the same thing. “ That the prophecy,” says he,“ is fulfilled, you have good reason to believe; for we who in times past killed one another, do not now fight with our enemies.” And here it is observable, that the Greek word fight means to fight as in war; and the Greek word enemy means an enemy of the State. TERTULLIAN, who lived after both, speaks in these remarkable words, “ Deny that these (meaning the turning of swords into plough-shares) are the things prophesied of, when you see what you see, or that they are the things fulfilled, when you read what you read; but if you deny neither of these positions, then you must confess that the prophecy has been accomplished, as far as the practice of every individual is concerned, to whom it is applicable.” We might go from TERTULLIAN even as far as THEODORET, if it were neces
cessary, to show that the prophecy in question was considered as then in the act of completion.
4. The fourth and last species of evidence may be found in the charges of Celsus, and the reply of ORIGEN. Celsus, at the end of the second century, attacked the Christian Religion, and made it one of his charges, that Christians refused to bear arms for the Emperor, even in cases of necessity, and when their services would have been accepted. He told them further, that if the rest of the Empire were of their opinion, it would soon be overrun by the barbarians. Now, Celsus dared not have brought this charge, if the fact had not been publicly known; but let us see whether it was denied by those who thought his work demanded a reply. ORIGEN, in the third century, answered him; but, in his answer, he admits the facts as stated by Celsus, that the Christians would not bear arms, and justifies them on the ground, that war is unlawful for Christians.
As the early Christians would not enter the armies, so, when they became converted there, they relinquished their profession. We find from TERTULLIAN, that many in his time, immediately on their conversion to Christianity, quitted the military service.
We are told, also, by ARCHELAUS, 278, that many Roman soldiers who had embraced Christianity after having witnessed the piety and
generosity of Marcellus, immediately forsook the profession of arms. We are told, also, by EUSEBIUS, that about the same time numbers laid aside a military life, and became private persons rather than abjure their religion."
Even Gibbon bears his sneering testimony to the pacific scruples of the early Christians. “ The defence of our persons and property, they knew not how to reconcile with the patient doctrine which enjoined an unlimited forgiveness of past injuries ; nor could their humane ignorance be convinced, that it was lawful, on any occasion, to shed the blood of our fellow-creatures by the sword either of justice or of war, though their criminal or hostile attempts should threaten the peace or safety of the whole community. The Christians felt and confessed, that such institutions might be necessary for the present system of the world, and they cheerfully submitted to the authority of their pagan governors ; but, while they inculcated the maxims of passive obedience,”submission, a very different thing, -—" they refused to take any active part in the civil administration or military defence of the empire."
Here then are facts to show, that for nearly the first two centu. ries, no Christians would either take upon themselves, or continue the profession of soldiers. But it may be said, that the military oath, taken in the Roman armies, and repeated annually, was full of idolatry; that the Roman standards were all considered as gods, and had divine honors paid them by the soldiery ; and that images of the Emperors were to be worshipped in the same manner. Now, these impious customs were interwoven with the military service; nor was any soldier exempted from them. It will be urged, then, that no Christian could submit to such services. Indeed, when a person was suspected of being a Christian in those times, he was instantly taken to the altar to sacrifice, it being notorious that, if he were a Christian, he would not sacrifice, though the loss of his life was the certain consequence of his refusal.
An objector may say, that these idolatrous tests and customs operated as the great cause, why Christians refused to enter the army, or why they left it when converted. True; these tests did operate as one cause. So TERTULLIAN states, and makes this one of his arguments against the lawfulness of serving in the army.
“the military oath and the baptismal vow are inconsistent with each other, the one being the sign of Christ, the other of the Devil;" and he calls the military standard " the Rival, or Enemy of Christ.” All history confirms the fact. Take the following instance. Marinus, according to EUSEBIUS, was a man of family and fortune, and an officer in a legion which in' 260 was stationed at Cæsarea, Palestine. One of the centurion's rods happened to become vacant in this legion, and Marinus was appointed to it; but just at this moment another, next in rank, accused him before the tribunal of being a Christian, stating, “that the laws did not allow a Christian who refused to sacrifice to the Emperors,