Page images

TERTULLIAN strongly condemned the practice of bearing arms. Among many quotations is the following: Shall he, who is not to revenge his own wrongs, be instrumental in bringing others into chains, imprisonment, death ?

CYPRIAN is quoted to much the same purpose. LACTANTIUS says,

It can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war, whose warfare is in righteousness itself.“ To these may be added ARCHELAUS,

AMBROSE, CHRYSOSTOM, JEROM, and Cyril, all of whom were of opinion that it was unlawful for Christians to go to war.

With respect to the practice of the early Christians, which is the next point to be considered, it may be observed, that there is no well authenticated instance upon record of Christians entering into the army for nearly the two first centuries, but it is true, on the other hand, that they had declined the military profession, as one in which it was not lawful for them to engage.”

This is proved by four kinds of evidence. 1. Historical facts.

2. Expressions of certain authors of those early times, who made a distinction between

soldiers and christians : the latter of whom were denominated “ The Peaceable."

3. The belief of the first christians, that the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah and other prophets, concerning the Millennium had already commenced.

“ IRENÆUS, who flourished 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 their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not how to fight.JusTIN, the Martyr, who was contemporary with Irenæus, asserts the same thing, which he could not have done, if the Christians in his time had engaged in war."

To these may be added TERTULLIAN and THEODORET.

4. “ The fourth and last species of evidence


be found in the assertions of Celsus, and in the reply of Origen to that writer. Celsus, who lived at the end of the second tury, attacked the Christian Religion. He made it one of his charges against the Christians, that they refused in his times to bear arms for the Emperor even in the case 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 against the Christians, if the fact had not been publicly known. But let us see whether it was denied by those, who were of opinion that his work demanded a reply. The person who wrote against bim in favor of Christianity, was ORIGEN, who lived in the third century. But OriGEN, in his answer, admits the facts as stated by Celsus, that the Christians would not bear arms in his time, and justifies them for refusing the practice on the principle of the unlawfulness of war.

The author brings authorities to prove, that soldiers, immediately on conversion to christianity, quitted the military service.

Instances are left on record of christians perishing by the hand of the executioner, sooner than engage in war,-as the following:

“ Maximilian having been brought before the tribunal, in order to be enrolled as a soldier, Dion, the Pro-consul, asked him his name. Maximilian, turning to him, replied,

Why wouldst thou know my name ? I am a christian, and cannot fight."

Then Dion ordered him to be enrolled; and when he was enrolled, it was recited out of the Register, that he was five feet ten inches high. Immediately after this, Dion bade the officer mark him. But Maximilian refused to be marked, still asserting that he was a Christian ; upon which Dion instantly replied, “Bear arms, or thou shalt die."

To this, Maximilian answered, I cannot fight, if I die; I am not a soldier of this world, but a soldier of God.” Dion then said, " Who has persuaded thee to behave thus ?" Maximilian answered, “ My own mind, and he who called me." Dion then spoke to his father, and bade him persuade his son. But his father observed, that his son knew his own mind, and what it was best for him to do.

After this had passed, Dion addressed Maximilian again in these words, " Take thy arms, and receive the mark."

“I can receive,” says Maximilian, “ no such mark. I have already the mark of Christ ;” upon which Dion said, “I will send thee quickly to thy Christ.”

“ Thou mayest do so," says Maximilian; “but the glory will be mine.”

He was afterwards led to the place of execution, and put to death.

“ Marcellus was a centurion in the Legion called 'Trajana. On a festival, given in honor of the birth day of Galerius, he threw down his military belt at the head of the Legion, and, in the face of the standards, declared with a loud voice, that he would no longer serve in the army; for that he had become a chrise tian. " It is not lawful,says he, "for a christian, who is the servant of Christ the Lord, to bear arms for any earthly consideration.After a delay of more than three months in prison after this transaction, which delay was allowed for the purpose of sparing him, he was brought before the Prefect. There he had an opportunity of correcting

former expressions. But, as he persisted in the same sentiments, he suffered. It is remarkable that, almost immediately after his execution, Cassian, who was the notary to the same Legion, refused to serve any longer, by publicly throwing his pen and accompt-book on the ground, and declaring, at the same time, that the sentence of Marcellus was unjust. When taken up by the order of Aurelianus - Agricolanus, he is described by the record preserved by Ruinart, to have avowed the same sentiments as Marcellus ; and like him to have suffered death.

« PreviousContinue »