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,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Dec. 27th, 1859
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.
Tue Jul 1 18:23:28 2008