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which can interfere with the right of a government to wage and conduct war.
As confirmatory of this right we have absolute authority and warrant of Scripture for saying that THE WAR POWER WAS ANCIENTLY AN ATTRIBUTE OF GOVERNMENTS. Whence it came, by whom it was given, and by whom it was first exercised, may be matters concerning which there may be differences of opinion. But as to the fact of its exercise, and rightfully too, since it was exercised with the approbation of Jehovah himself, there cannot by any possibility be ground for dispute. It was indeed exercised by government in its rudest and most elementary forms, and by governors who were not supreme but subordinate authorities in their land. Thus to instance one case: Abraham, arming his household servants and retainers, pursued after the confederate kings, who, flushed with victory, and laden with the spoils and encumbered with the prisoners taken in their raid upon the Pentapolis, had now ceased from their warring, and were peacefully returning to their own dominions. If let alone they would soon have been out of his country and in their own, and the war would have been over. But Abraham was not disposed to let them alone, so arranging his forces for a night attack, "he smote them and pursued them even unto Hobah," rescuing their prisoners and recapturing the spoil. So far as Abraham was concerned, this action of his in his circumstances would seem to have been an aggressive war, since the incursion of these kings had not affected himself or his immediate subjects in person or property. And yet a priest of the most high God met him on his return, "red-handed" from "the slaughter of the kings," pronounced him blessed in the name of Jehovah, and not a solitary indication is there given of anything but approval on the part of God and his minister. (See Gen. xiv, and Heb. vii, 1.)
In a later age it was exercised not only with the approbation of God, but by his absolute and unequivocal command, and this not simply for the defense of the nation, but for the conquest of a country which for ages had been in the possession of a people of diverse language and lineage, and who most strenously resisted the encroachments and irruption of the Israelites. Under his express direction the war was waged,
and it was carried on not merely for the purpose of subjugation to the government of the Israelitish authorities. It was a war of utter extermination, so that in many instances "not a hoof was to be left." We need but instance in their early history the case of Jericho, which, in accordance with the divine command, they utterly destroyed, saving but a single family, destroying man and woman, young and old, and all their cattle, with the edge of the sword. In a later age we have the case of Saul, who was commanded to go "and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." And because Saul saved Agag the king alive and the best of the cattle, which was contrary to the word of God, therefore the kingdom was "rent" from him and transferred to David. (1 Sam. xv, 3, et seq.) And this power was not exercised merely against foreign foes, and in aggressive and defensive warfare with other nations, but an illustrious instance, and one somewhat parallel with the circumstances of our own nationality, is afforded us of its exercise against those of their own blood and kin, and for the suppression of a domestic insurrection and resistance of the civil power. In their appeal to arms "against the children of Benjamin their brother," they went not forth without the divine counsel and approbation, and three several times there came from him the command to go up against them; the last command being conjoined with the absolute assurance, "to-morrow I will deliver them into your hands." Judges xx, passim.
As further sustaining this declaration, "that the war power was anciently an attribute of governments," it is, perhaps, needless for us to appeal to the multitudinous wars of other realms, and to the patent fact that all history is in the main but a narration of the sanguinary conflicts of the nations on battle fields; their victories and defeats, and consequent rise and fall. We press not upon these wars, nor attempt to found any argument thereupon, because for them we cannot plead express warrant and command of God, and, therefore, from them nothing can positively be determined as to the question of this war power being to them granted by divine authority. We adduce those of the Old Testament, simply as indisputably proving that under its régime this power existed in governments divinely
appointed and directed, and thus to prepare our way for a further use and a better understanding of the teachings of the holy evangel of the blessed Christ.
We aver now that this attribute of human civil government divinely appointed, namely, the war power, has never by express unequivocal precept or prohibition been taken away from it. Christianity, indeed, made no change in the powers of civil government. The powers which it found existent therein were left untouched by prohibitions to their exercise. The primary object of Christianity was not the change and reformation of political institutions, and it did not, therefore, act directly upon them. "The usual system of our Lord himself was to avoid interference in the civil or political institutions of the world."*"Christianity, soliciting admission into all the nations of the world, abstained as behoved it from interference with the civil institutions of any."+ No passage indeed directly and explicitly to this purport of prohibiting the exercise of this power, or taking it away, has ever been adduced from either the Old or the New Testament. Passages have been sometimes wrested from their connection, and forcibly applied to this subject, and made to countenance the idea of a withdrawal of this power, which, when properly examined and interpreted, are found wholly irrelevant to the subject, and can by no fair possibility be made to sustain a declaration against the continued exercise and existence of this attribute of human civil governments.
Many of the passages attempted to be so applied are, as we have seen, precepts intended only for the individual, and the effort is made to transfer their application to the government and nationality upon the plea that nations have no power to do what may not be done by the individual. But this is manifestly untrue. There can be no question but that nations may, in perfect accord with Christianity, levy a tribute or tax upon its subjects, as our Saviour himself, by his payment of tribute, abundantly confirms. They may enact laws which are absolutely binding upon those whom they govern, and for the infraction of these laws may exact or inflict penalties, fines, forfeitures, imprisonments, and we aver also death itself. But these things by common consent are admitted to be unlawful, Id., quoted from Paley, 542.
* Dymond's Essays, p. 543.
if not impossible, by the individual. We may We may hereafter exhibit the grounds upon which a nation may claim to do what cannot be done by the individual, but for the present content ourself with this statement of actual existing fact and practice.
If any one allege, in opposition to the existence and exercise of the "war power," that we are "to love" our "enemies," "to do good to them that hate us and despitefully use us and persecute us," the proper and only necessary answer has already been given, namely: that these precepts are intended only for the individual, and for the regulation of private and personal conduct and relations. If any one, however, insists that they are of national application, we aver that even on this false view of them they are not of the contended-for force. For a parent must love his child. No wickedness or insubordination of the child must be allowed to lessen or do away with that love. Yet the child must not, therefore, be suffered to be without restraint. Chastisement may become not merely a proof of love, but the absolute necessary result thereof. And so, if it be so that a government is to love its enemies, it may be absolutely necessary to use this strong arm in chastisement of the wicked and rebellious, in asserting its right and authority, and for the preventing of other nationalities from having the temptation to violate the benevolent and merciful principles of Christianity by trampling upon and robbing and harassing the unresisting and weak, and by acts of violence and rapine, and finally of successful invasion and conquest, absorbing the entire government and nation.
There is sometimes also quoted in opposition to our view the language of St. James: "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence of your lusts which war among your members?" Clearly, however, this refers not to governments, but may be referred to quarreling and dissensions too often existent among Christian people, the members of the same "household of faith," and also, perhaps, to that inward conflict of which Christian men are cognizant in their own personal experience. Certain it is that the context and the entire connection forbid the supposition of an intention on the part of the apostle to utter any precept, or give an opinion in any way directed to the powers and operations of civil governments.
But it is said that the voice of prophecy declares that wars · shall cease; that Christianity, the peaceable kingdom of “the Branch," shall at last so prevail that "the nations shall learn war no more;" that the "lion" of strife and violence shall ultimately "lie down with the lamb" of peace and love; that they "shall not hurt nor destroy in all" the "Holy Mountain" of the Lord. So let it be. To the prayer that this good time may soon come, "let all the people say Amen." O blessed day, speed thy coming! Bring on, O King eternal, this peaceful golden age! But, alas! that day is not yet. Bear witness, Sumter and Manassas, Antietam and Vicksburg, Richmond and Atlanta; ye burning cities and territories devastated, bereft wives and children orphaned; ye slaughtered tens of thousands, and ye heroic myriads in camp or field, with strong arm and valiant hearts waiting for the fray, with the crushing tramp of destiny driving, rebellious hosts, and sweeping down upon the fair fields of the haughty Southron! Bear witness, O nation-in thy leniency despised, in thy forbearance accounted weak, in thy reluctancy deemed timid; insulted, robbed, hated— as, with thy gathering and marching hosts, thou proclaimest liberty to the bound and oppressed, peace and protection to the obedient and law-abiding, death to armed traitors! The ages are passing, and the day will come; but these respond that it is not yet.
And clearly the period of its coming is dependent upon the passing away of the causes which are provocative of wars, and which seem to make them necessary. When these have ceased, then and not until then can it rationally be expected that wars will cease. When the principles of the Gospel of Christ shall be accepted by every individual, and shall become the universally-obeyed rule of action, then violations of rights will no longer occur, and there will no longer exist the manifestations of inordinate and grasping evil ambition. But there is in all this no valid objection against war now, while confessedly disobedience to the principles of the Gospel is so widely prevalent, and mad ambition "like an untamed tiger wildly rages.' It forms no objection to the present use of remedial agents, while human beings are liable to the attacks of disease, to say that there cometh a time when one shall not say to another, "I am sick." And so a time will come when righteousness