Conscientious Objection

Letter to Bro. Thomas in The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come

Is it Lawful for Christians to bear Arms?

My Dear and Respected Brother: 

There is a question which may soon be a practical one, which I would much like you to consider, and, if possible, reply to. It is this: Are we allowed under any circumstances to use carnal weapons? My own belief is that we are not -- not in defence even of our lives or property - Matt. v. 39-41; not in defence of Christ -- Matt xxvi. 50-52; nor in the propagation of the Truth - 2 Cor. x. 3,4. If not then, for these, can we do so to sustain a worldly kingdom? Are we to be numbered among "patriots" and "loyal subjects" -- we who profess to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth; citizens and children, not of Halifax, Edinburgh, London, or New York; but of Jerusalem which is to come?  

The Church of Christ, composed of a people taken out of every nation, cannot be found in the opposing ranks of the armies of these nations, killing and destroying one another. But when the Christian is pressed to serve, how then? Can he under these circumstances draw his sword, and go forth with the armies of the aliens to do battle for their cause? or must he refuse to do so? A reply from you would be very acceptable; as in the present position of national affairs, it is the most interesting matter to us here.

No doubt, 1860 will come pregnant with astounding events, rumors of wars, and then the dread reality will burst upon us. But when ye see these things, be not troubled. We have no continuing city. Our hopes are not linked with the safety and welfare of any Gentile city or kingdom. Come what may, we know that all things will work tgether for good to them that love God, and are the called accorinding to his purpose. Perseucution, tribulation, famine, the sword, &c., shall not separate God's chosen ones from the love of Christ. While, one and all these things try them and prove them to be worthy of a place in their Father's house.  

The brethren and sisters, many of them at least, unite with me in wishing you health and strength to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.  

Believe me, Dear Brother,

Yours affectionately,

      J.R.Lithgow

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dec. 27th, 1859


Reply

Our conviction is that Christians should leave the devil to fight his own battles; and that if he sought to compel them to serve his ranks, they out to refuse to do so. He may fine them or put them in prison; but in these times, and in a Protestant and "free country," will hardly venture to put them to death. The devil cast some of the Smyrneans into prison for disobeying him, which was allowed of God that they might be tried - Rev. ii. 10; and the like may be permitted again. But it is better to pay his fines or to be imprisoned by him, than to serve him in his wars. Let the potsherds of the earth strive together, and the Christians stand aloof. Shall the devil draft me into his United States armies, and brother Lithgow into his British force, and we, brethren in Christ, meet in deadly conflict to slay one another in the devil's interest? Perish the thought! Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Campbellites, Papists, and such like, can slaughter one another for their country's good; but Christians? No, never! We have no "patriotism" and are "loyal" to no Gentile government under the sun. Patriotism is love and zeal for one's native or adopted country right or wrong; and loyalty is firm and faithful adhesion to a king or sovereignty. Our love, zeal, and loyalty for the British daughter of the Italian Jezebel found expression some twenty-five years ago in a solemn renunciation of her authority; and in obeying the gospel of the kingdom in 1847, we gave in all the love, zeal, and loyalty we had at command, to Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. As Christians, therefore, we are his slaves; for he has bought us and all we possess, with his lifeblood. We have no love, zeal, and loyalty for any other country and government than his. We only temporarily sojourn under Gentile governments as necssary evils for the time being; desiring no honors, or emoluments at their disposal; willing to render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and living peaceably under his supremacy until King Yahweh Tzidkainu appears in power and great glory, when we shall heartily unite with him in grinding them to powder and sweeping them as chaff before the tempest.  

Jehovah's kings and priests ought not to be marshalled with the sinners of the world, whose "dearest interests" for the which they fight, are the things which perish. Their dearest interests may be worth their fighting for; but they are too inconsiderable for Christians to regard. If ever there was an occasion when the patriotism and loyalty of Christians might seem to be in demand, it was when the Romans invaded Judea and besieged Jerusalem. Did Jesus in pedicting this event, exhort Christianized Jews to be patriotic and loyal to the State, and defend with their lives and fortunes, on the Gentile principle dulce et decus pro patria mori? Nay. On the contrary he said, "Let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains; let him who is upon the housetop, not come down to take anything ouut of his house; neither let him who is in the field return to take his clothes. " Thus they were exhorted to abandon all in their houses, property and kin, and flee for their own lives, which, being Christ's, were much more precious than the unbelievers they left behind. If an enemy come against Halifax, Edinburgh, London, or New York, no doubt God wil have sent him for the well-deserved punishment of the devils they contain. Shall we Christians assist such devils, alias "rowdies," "dead rabbits," "plug uglies," "owls," "hungry and trading politicians," papists and all the adherents and supporters of all the names and denominations of Protestant blasphemy - shall we assist them with pike and gun to resist the hand of God that smites them so deservedly? Nay, verily. Let us leave them to their deserts and flee. We might lose our property, but no matter. We save our more precious lives, and are not punished with such a base and ignoble multitude.  

When the King comes we will be patriotic for the land covenanted to the fathers. The Holy land is ours, and for that we shall fight; and in the conflict "tread the wicked as ashes under the soles of our feet" - Mal. iv. 3. Until then, we shall give Caesar, or the devil, his due; but not our patriotism and loyalty, which are God's, to defend his perishable goods, chattels, and effects.

But then, says one, they will call us cowards? Who? The blind subjects of Satan's kingdom? What enlightened and independent Christian would care a straw what such poor miserables say? Any dog of a Gentile, whether a street or congressional rowdy, has brutality enough to bark and bite for the gratification of his malignity; but few, very few, of mankind have the moral courage to face authority, and refuse to fight because God for a time forbids it, either for the avenging of ourselves, or the defence of property against the public enemy. There is neither glory nor profit in dying for Satan; therefore our sentence is, refuse all soldiering in the devil's ranks, and leave the consequences to God. - Editor.  


By Dr. John Thomas Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come. Mott Haven, Westchester, N. Y. , March 1860. Vol. X. No. 3.  


Glossary of century terms used.

Plug Uglies

See movie web site for explanations. These terms apply to mafia like gangs in New York where Dr. Thomas lived. A movie coming out called "The Gangs of New York" explains the history of these gangs.  

We quote the web site for the movie.

Here is a little background behind the story of Gangs of New York... "Early Gangs of the Bowery and Five Points" The original Five Points gangs had their genesis in the tenements, saloons, and dance halls of the Paradise Square district in New York City, but their actual organization into working units, and the consequent transformation of the area into an Alsatia of vice and crime, closely followed the opening of the cheap green-grocery speak-easies which soon sprang up around the Square and along the streets which debouched into it. The first of these speak-easies was established about 1825 by Rosanna Peers in Center Street just south of Anthony, now Worth Street. Piles of decaying vegetables were displayed on racks outside the store, but Rosanna provided a back room in which she sold the fiery liquor of the period at lower prices than it could be obtained in the recognized saloons. This room soon became the haunt of thugs, pick-pockets, murderers, and thieves. The gang known as the Forty Thieves, which appears to have been the first in New York with a definite, acknowledged leadership, is said to have been formed in Rosanna Peers' grocery store, and her back room was used as its meeting-place, and as head-quarters by Edward Coleman and other eminent chieftains. There they received the reports of their henchmen, and from its dimly lit corners dispatched the gangsters on their war-like missions. The Kerryonians, composed of natives of County Kerry, Ireland, was also a product of Rosanna's enterprise. This was a small gang which seldom roamed beyond Center Street and did little fighting; its members devoted themselves almost exclusively to hating the English.  

The Chichesters, Roach Guards, Plug Uglies, Shirt Tails, and Dead Rabbits were organized and had their rendevous in other grocery stores, and in time, these emporiums came to be regarded as the worst dens of the Five Points, and the centers of its infamy and crime. The Shirt Tails were so called because they wore their shirts on the outside of their trousers, like Chinamen, and the expressive appellation of the Plug Uglies came from their enormous plug hats, which they stuffed with wool and leather and drew down over their ears to serve as helmets when they went into battle. The Plug Uglies were for the most part gigantic Irishmen, and included in their membership some of the toughest characters of the Five Points. Even the most ferocious of the Paradise Square eye-gougers and mayhem artists cringed when a giant Plug Ugly walked abroad looking for trouble, with a huge bludgeon in one hand, a brickbat in the other, a pistol peeping from his pocket and his tall hat jammed down over his ears and all but obscuring his fierce eyes. He was adept at rough and tumble fighting, and wore heavy boots studded with great hobnails with which he stamped his prostrate and helpless victim.  

The Dead Rabbits were originally part of the Roach Guards, organized to honor the name of a Five Points liquor seller. But internal dissension developed, and at one of the gang's stormy meetings someone threw a dead rabbit into the center of the room. One of the squabbling factions accepted it as an omen and its members withdrew, forming an independent gang and calling themselves the Dead Rabbits (in the slang of the period a rabbit was a rowdy, and a dead rabbit was a very rowdy, athletic fellow.) Sometimes they were also known as the Black Birds, and achieved great renown for their prowess as thieves and thugs. The Battle uniform of the Roach Guards was a blue stripe on their pantaloons, while the Dead Rabbits adopted a red stripe, and at the head of their sluggers carried a dead rabbit empaled on a pike. The Rabbits and the Guards swore undying emnity and constantly fought each other at the Points, but in the rows with the water-front and Bowery gangs they made common cause against the enemy, as did the Plug Uglies, Shirt Tails, and Chicesters. All of the Five Point gangsters commonly fought in their undershirts.  

What is the Five Points? (From the Five Points link on this site)... Named for the points created by the intersection of Park, Worth, and Baxter streets, the neighborhood was known as a center of vice and debauchery throughout the nineteenth century. Outsiders found Five Points threatening and fodder for lurid prose. Describing a visit in 1842, Charles Dickens wrote: "This is the place: these narrow ways diverging to the right and left, and reeking every where with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruit here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays. Many of these pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all-fours? and why they talk instead of grunting?"  

dulce et decorus. etc.

Literally - It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country

emolumentCompensation received by virtue of holding an office or having employment (usually in the form of wages or fees); "a clause in the U.S. constitution prevents sitting legislators from receiving emoluments from their own votes"
Mott Haven, WestchesterLocated at the southern tip of Bronx, New York
pike

A long spear formerly used by infantry.


Tue Jul 1 18:23:28 2008