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abstraction of that number from military duty, but in the moral influence which such may exert upon the minds of others who go forth to the combat. For, claiming to be actuated wholly by considerations of a moral and religious nature, and being chiefly men of real worth and integrity, sincere and honest in their profession and belief, it cannot but be that with reference to those who are cognizant of their opinions, and have respect for their persons and character, the influence exerted will be calculated to fill the mind with doubt, and by so much unnerve the arm as it would strike the blow for the vindication of national right and honor, even though it may not avail to prevent their going into the service of their country. Every doubt of right is traitor to the accomplishment of an intended purpose. It may, therefore, be subserving a purpose of value-" operæ pretium”—to our struggling nationality, if we calmly examine the question as to the rightfulness of the claim of a government to declare and wage a war, to use the military force of its people in defense of its rights and honor, or for the suppression of a rebellion against its legitimate authority.
By those who contend against the lawfulness of war, it is alleged that absolute non-resistance is the doctrine of Holy Scripture. And this it is said is the rule for both the nationality and the individual; both for the authorities of a civil government acting in their official capacity, and the individual subjects of those authorities. But we apprehend that this is not a correct presentment of Scripture doctrine. The "non-resistance" of Scripture applies not, as may be shown, to the government, but is strictly personal, applies simply to the individual. It may be at once admitted that "resistance" is forbidden to the individual under certain circumstances and conditions. Thus, for example, it is doubtless prohibited when by such resistance there could not be secured personal safety, or could not be obtained deliverance from impending evils, or could not be prevented a repetition or aggravation of personal injury. Whenever the objects proposed to be accomplished by such resistance as we can offer are beyond the bounds of human probability or possibility of attainment, then resistance being vain may well be conceived to be forbidden. Hence there is no difficulty whatever in accounting for Christ's prohibition of
any attempt on the part of Peter to prevent, by violence, his own arrest by the Jewish authorities; even though we leave out of view the obvious principle to which it may be referred, of our constant duty to submit to the constituted civil authorities, acting in accordance with recognized law, to resist whom it is to resist the ordinance of God. For, humanly speaking, contravention of the purpose of the authorities was in that case improbable, if not impossible, and the result must have been an aggravation of the injury, and perhaps the involving of the entire discipleship in destruction and ruin. True, if Jesus had chosen to use his own supernatural power, and called for the "legions of angels," his arrest might have been prevented; but in that case the swords of his terrestrial adherents would have been unnecessary, wholly useless. In the view now presented there is seen also the force of the reason which Jesus gave for the prohibition: "They that take the sword shall perish by the sword." For it cannot be that Christ intended to say that all who in any circumstances should take up the sword should perish by the sword, since such an interpretation is forbidden by the facts of history, and would imply ignorance or falsehood on the part of Christ. It must be interpreted with reference to the particular case, and is applicable only to similar occurrences. We must understand him simply to mean that they who, in such cases as this, and against the legitimately constituted authorities in the full and untrammeled exercise of the powers accorded them, shall attempt resistance, shall perish by the sword of its power, that such resistance is helpless and vain, and can but result in the destruction of those who enter upon it. Thus this prohibition is defended as well on the principles of religion as upon the ground of common sense and common prudence.
It may be further admitted that resistance is forbidden when such resistance would partake rather of the nature of revenge than of simple self-protection and defense, or the assertion and vindication of legitimate right. As a rule for judicial action and decision the doctrine "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," may perhaps be admitted. But as a rule for private life and for personal individual action, it is distinctly repudiated by the author of our religion. It was to the abuse of the "public law," in its illegitimate application and indiscriminate
use "by private" parties, that Christ was directing attention when he uttered the injunction, “Resist not (ávтiotñvai, that is, retaliate not upon the) evil" (person). Matt. v, 39, etc. The several illustrations of the doctrine thus enounced show that it was intended only for matters which affected solely the personal feelings and property of the individual. To make this clear, we have only to advert to each of the instances which he proceeds to cite, not one of which seems to be a case which could permanently affect the well-being of the individual, much less his life; and by no fair interpretation can any of them be made to apply to the affairs of a government or a state. His first instance is that of a personal insult and indignity: the "smiting (pañíε, a quick smart slap upon) the cheek," in which case, rather than get into a personal brawl in the effort to retaliate or avenge ourselves, we are taught to endure even a repetition of the injury or insult as a matter of but trivial importance and affecting only ourselves. But in proof that such acts are not to be suffered to pass without rebuke, we have the example of Jesus, who, when struck by the officer near him, because of the supposed rudeness of his response to the high priest, answered with sufficient curtness and spirit: "If I have spoken evil, then bear witness of that evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" John xviii, 22, 23. The same spirit was also manifested by Paul when smitten by command of the high priest, and in this instance there is also inculcated the lesson that expressions of rebuke and severity which may be proper in response to indignity or suffering put upon us by a private individual, are not so proper when that individual is fully understood to be "a ruler of the people." Acts xxii, 2, 3. The second instance is the case of a private lawsuit, the evil which may be done us by a litigious or quarrelsome person. The instance implies at least dispute, and on the one side or other doubt as to how the matter might be determined in a court of law. In such cases the teaching is that it is better to give to the litigious person the benefit of his doubt. The subject of dispute, it is to be noted, "a coat," indicates a matter of comparatively trivial importance, affecting only for the moment the well-being of the injured party. There is further inculcated also a disposition to even do more than is demanded to satisfy the asserted claim, if that be necessary
to restore amity and good will. The third instance is the case of a compulsory exaction of service by one in authority; needlessly it may be, and working temporary and personal injury, yet the service is to be performed not grudgingly, and with intent of vexatiously annoying the authorities in retaliation by a niggardly and rigid interpretation according to its letter rather than its spirit, but with the manifestation of a willingness to do with alacrity not only the literally demanded service, but a much greater one if required to accomplish the purpose of the demand. "If compelled to go a mile" with the intent of accomplishing a certain end, "go with him twain,” if by the one mile the end is not attained. It may receive passing illustration in the noble and generous spirit of the mass of the American people, who, compelled to bear the burdens of a heavy taxation and the drain of men for the prosecution of the purpose of the Government, the suppression of the cruel rebellion, not only do this, but with cheerfulness and unexampled patriotic devotion are contributing of their wealth in such benevolent enterprises as those of the Christian and Sanitary Commissions; and by private and munificent bounties relieving the necessitous, and encouraging those who are engaged in the actual conflict. The fourth illustration is drawn from private and personal charity, and teaches that it is better to relieve the alleged wants of those who apply to us, even though thus we are sometimes imposed upon by the unworthy, than to demand that every one who shall appeal to us for our benevolence shall be rigidly compelled to show that he possesses all the characteristics by which he would be entitled to relief on principles as strict as those involved in the precept an eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth :" the exact measure of relief to be in the exact and rigid measure of the characteristic and necessity. The evident design was to teach that a rule which was intended for judicial cases must not be made the absolute rule of private life, and that the disposition of benevolent love, the charity that "thinketh no evil and worketh no ill to one's neighbor," is a better guide for individual life and personal intercourse, than the determination and effort in every case unfeelingly to exact the demands of a rigid and unbending justice.
Similarly must we interpret the apostle's injunction, “Avenge
not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath," (doтε топоy Topy,) to the wrath, that is, of God, or the constituted authorities, who are God's ministers, and by whom vengeance will be executed as far as is consistent with the true interests of the individual and the purposes of good government. "For vengeance is mine, I will repay it, saith the Lord." It is simply a prohibition of all private and personal revenge, and the direction to transfer the vindication of private and personal right to God and his authoritative representatives upon earth, which right is indeed pre-existent in God, and the transfer is implied in the very organization of all governments; and thus there is also intimated the ground for such non-resistance as is taught in Scripture, namely: the existence of God, in whom by original sovereignty inheres the right of vengeance and protection, and the existence of government, his representative on earth, in which, subordinately to himself, he has vested this right.
In cases dissimilar and other than those which come under the principles now named, it is apprehended that resistance is not disapproved. This, indeed, seems to be intimated in the declaration of Jesus, "I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword." Matt. xx, 34. For in the conflicts and variances which were to arise by reason of the introduction of the Gospel kingdom, it can hardly be supposed that its promulgators and professors were always to yield their rights without an assertion of them by such means as were in their power; and, indeed, somewhat of right to appeal to the sword seems implied in the instruction which he gave his disciples just before he was betrayed: "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke xxii, 36. The additional remark may here also be made, that on a comparison of the narratives of the different evangelists it will be found that Peter was prohibited the use of the sword, not from the consideration of the sinfulness of such use, but simply from the inappositeness of time and circumstances, and the necessity for his arrest and death to fulfill prophecy, and accomplish to the full “love's redeeming work."
It is clear, then, that these passages and those of like character are not applicable to the authorities of a nation acting for it in their official capacity. There is, therefore, nothing in them nor in the true scriptural notion of non-resistance