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Paul allowed the possibility of his having committed a crime for which he ought to die, and expressed his readiness in that case to submit to the law; “ If I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die (p).” Upon these grounds we may safely admit, that THE LAWS OF THE REALM MAY PUNISH CHRISTIAN MEN WITH DEATH FOR

HEINOUS AND GRIEVOUS OFFENCES.

The last paragraph relates to the lawfulness of Christians serving in the wars. When soldiers came to be baptized by John, he did not command them to relinquish their way of life, and consequently he did not consider it as incompatible with the engagements into which they were entering ; but he ordered them“ to do violence to no man, to accuse no man falsely, and to be content with their wages (9),which was in fact permitting them to remain soldiers ; nor did St. Peter command Cornelius to give up his situation in the Roman army when he embraced Christianity (r). St. Paul speaks of soldiers without any censure upon their profession, but rather considers it as furnishing full employment for those who engaged in it: “ No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this

life,

(p) Acts, c. 25. v. 11.
(r) Acts, c. 10. v. 1, &c.

(9) Luke, c. 3. v. 14.

life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (s);” and by this example of soldiers he exhorts Timothy to diligence in his calling. It may here again be observed, that the injunctions in the New Testament to obey the civil magistrate are general, and therefore they extend to the case of serving in the wars; and it is manifest that no nation could maintain its independence, if it did not resist by force the

aggressions of its ambitious neighbours. We learn from Tertullian, that the primitive Christians served in war under heathen emperors (t); and Augustine calls soldiers, non homicidas sed ministros legis-salutis publicæ defensores (u)." Vegetius, a writer upon the art of war in the fourth century, gives this account of the oath taken by the Christian soldiers, “ Jurant per Deum et per Christum, et per Spiritum Sanctum, et per majestatem imperatoris, quæ secundum Deum generi humano diligenda est et colenda (x).” But though these reasons and authorities may convince us that in the present state of things, IT IS LAWFUL FOR CHRISTIAN MEN, AT THE COMMANDMENT OF THE MAGISTRATE, TO WEAR WEAPONS AND SERVE IN THE WARS, yet

every

(s) 2 Tim. C. 2. V.4.

(t) De Cor. Mil. (u) Cont. Faust. 22. 74. (x) Inst. Rei Mil. lib. 2. cap. 5. VOL. II.

Oo

every one will acknowledge, that if the mild and benevolent religion of Jesus had a general and complete influence, not only private quarrels and dissensions, but public wars also, would cease throughout the world.

ARTICLE THE THIRTY-EIGHTH.

Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not

common.

THE RICHES AND GOODS OF CHRISTIANS ARE

NOT COMMON, AS TOUCHING THE RIGHT, TITLE, AND POSSESSION OF THE SAME, AS CERTAIN ANABAPTISTS DO FALSELY BOAST. NOTWITHSTANDING, EVERY MAN OUGHT, OF SUCH THINGS AS HE POSSESSETH, LIBERALLY TO GIVE ALMS TO THE POOR, AC

CORDING TO HIS ABILITY.

THIS article consists of two parts; the former declares that private property is not inconsistent with the profession of the Gospel ; and the latter asserts the Christian duty of charity to the poor.

THE RICHES AND GOODS OF CHRISTIANS ARE NOT COMMON, AS TOUCHING THE RIGHT, TITLE, AND POSSESSION OF THE SAME, AS CERTAIN ANABAPTISTS DO FALSELY BOAST. The admonitions in the New Testament to the practice of charity; the particular precepts addressed to the high and to the low, to the rich and to the poor; and the commendation of those Oo 2.

virtues, gerous (a) Acts, c.4. V.32. (b) Acts, c. 5. v. 4. c) i Tim. c. 4. v. 8.

virtues, which can be displayed only in the lower ranks of life, all plainly prove that the Gospel was not designed to introduce a community of goods. It appears, that in the days of the Apostles several of the new converts delivered

up all their wealth and possessions for the use of their Christian brethren (a); but this was a voluntary act; a charitable contribution springing from their own zeal, and not commanded by their inspired teachers; on the contrary, St. Peter said to Ananias, “ While it remained, was it not thine own? After it was sold, was it not in thine own power (6)?” Thus St. Peter admitted the right of Ananias to have retained the whole of his property, although he reproved and punished him for his dissimulation and falsehood. It is evident that private property is essential to the very existence of civil society; and it is not to be believed that the Gospel, which “ has the promise of this life as well as of that which is to come (c),” would destroy, or in any respect weaken, a principle which is the foundation of every social comfort; and indeed none of the early sectaries ever thought of maintaining such an opinion. But in the beginning of the sixteenth century the Anabaptists of Germany, among other absurd and dan

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