Tolbert Fanning — Advocate for Peace in 1861 (Part IX)

Fanning printed a critical response to his peacemaking articles in the September issue of the Gospel Advocate, but not without his own reply to their questions (“Reply to Brethren Lillard, Harding and Ransome,” Gospel Advocate 7.9 [September 1861] 265-276).

Fanning characterized his previous articles for peacemaking as an attempt to be as “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” He used language that he hoped would soothe rather than incite. He bent over backwards in an attempt to persuade disciples that they should not take up arms to fight each other. He hoped that 400,000-500,000 disciples would stand aloof from the fight like “Shakers, Quakers, and perhaps, a few kindred sects” did. Unfortunately, he estimates that about “one fourth of northern professors [disciples] are thirsting for the blood of their professed brethren south” and a larger percentage in the south are “engaged in war.” But, he hopes, the larger portion will remain steadfast that though “politically, they differ” the “differences of opinion” will not “interfere with their christian fellowship.”

The cause of Christ, Fanning writes, is “suffering from political strifes,” and thus he had to speak. And he has said nothing more or less than he has been saying for the past twelve years. Christians as “a peculiar people” must stand above all political alliances, including the temptation to “idolize the American Union” (italics mine, JMH). Christians have equated Americana with eternal blessings, but God’s kingdom will “conquer them all.”

Fanning thinks the present crisis was, in part, precipitated by “higher lawism,” which sought to find a “higher law” than the U.S. Constitution. Fanning is a strict constructionist in reading the Constitution, and more importantly, Scripture. “Higher Lawism” seeks “direct spiritual and political light” from sources other than the Constitution or Scripture. This is the root problem in both political and religious circles, and he has seen it among the disciples as well as other politicos and religionists. Without naming him, Fanning is talking about Robert Richardson of Bethany College whom he had engaged in a dispute on how to read Scripture, pneumatology and epistemology.

Fanning counsels that Christians confess that God is the Lord of the nations–he will decide this outcome. In their confession they should neither “interfere with him or even pray to him to take this side or that, of any national controversy, as the heathen do.” Instead, Christians pray “for the preservation of the people of God, and then, [that] the right, justice and humanity may prevail every where.” Though there may be early indications how God will use this fight and even bring victory to the South, “still we do not know what God has in reserve. We should not be presumptuous, but fear.”

Consequently, the course that the Murfreesboro disciples recommend is to return to “the days of Constantine” where the “partnership between church and state” was the “most deadly enemy to pure religion.” But Lincoln is even more at fault for doing so as he usurps government in order to pursue a form of “higher lawism.”

But whatever the case, “it may be God intends to punish all of us for our wickedness, but we should kiss the rod that smites us.” He concludes:

If then, the Savior and his Apostles preached such doctrine as applicable in their day, and as peculiar to this dispensation, if, when he could have called twelve legions of angels to his defense, he employed no offensive or defensive weapons save the sword of the Spirit, and if all early christians, “took joyfully the spoiling of their goods,” and submitted not only to the sacrifice of their earthly inheritance, but yielded their lives willingly rather than lift the sword for protection, it seems to us, that professed Christians in the nineteenth century should examine the subject carefully, before they attempt with Islams, Romans and Protestants, to propagate morality by the sword. Still, we say, as we have said from the beginning, this is a day of trial.

****Fanning’s Reply****

Dear Brethren:–From the first indication of war in 1860, to this moment, we have been much troubled as to our duty to our country, to our brethren and to our Maker. Not that, we have had any doubt as to the place of human institutions, the mission of the church or the teaching of the Bible in reference to either; but, as christian teachers, are to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” the future at every step, has been so portentuous of evil, that we have feared the capacity of our poor brain, to determine the points involved in the great political and moral struggle of our beloved country, that should be discussed by us and to what extent, it was, or is, our duty or privilege to examine them. Owing still to the embarrassments that, attend out pathway, we consider it proper, before noticing particularly, the essay; to remind our readers of a few important points to which we have heretofore invited attention.

1. We have not considered it the duty of Christians;–men devoted to Christ—not policy professors—to construct, or control worldly institutions; such as civil governments, pseudo-religious organizations, in the form of party churches, or professedly moral reform societies, such as Masonic, Temperance or Odd Fellows, whilst there is a spiritual association quite adequate to employ all of our means for the benefit of our race. We have not denied at any time, that civil institutions, ecclesiastical bodies originating in the wisdom of men, or moral reform societies, have not accomplished some valuable results; but we have been of the judgment that, all the light that shines through these, is borrowed from the great foundation of spiritual life,–the church of God, and that whilst we as Christians are employing our energies to ameliorate the condition of the world by inferior machinery, we must neglect the superior to the discredit of the only organization and government, which have stood the test of the revolutions of eighteen centuries, and which we think, will endure to the end.

But as the war cloud began to rise, and the deep mutterings of Heavens [sic] thunder reached our ears, we observed that, the professed people of God were so deeply involved in the political whirlwinds that threatened the country, that we ventured to utter words of caution to the saints. We dictated nothing, but only exhorted christians to count well the cost in every step. For this, perhaps, by vicious and unthoughtful persons, we have been blamed. Our chief purpose has been to impress upon the brethren, the weight of personal responsibility that rests upon each, and that we all must account to God individually. The decision has been made by each north and south, and no discussion can now change the result; consequently, we have seen not the propriety of any lengthy discussion of matters which cannot be changed. The state of the case, is about the following. Civil war has really been inaugurated in our once prosperous and happy country, political parties, religious factions and reform societies are in deadly hostility to each other. Brethren, in the dominant ecclesiastical bodies, now freely embrue [sic] their hands in each others [sic] blood, but all in the name of their Gods, as it has been from the beginning. Shakers, Quakers, and perhaps, a few kindred sects stand aloof; but the four or five hundred thousand of the professed disciples of Christ in the States, are not entirely assured as to their duty. From all that we have been able to learn, a few of the writers and preachers north, say, “Put down this great rebellion—peaceably, if you can, forcibly if you must.” Perhaps one fourth of northern professors are thirsting for the blood of their professed brethren south.

Possibly, a shade larger proportion of the professed disciples south are earnestly engaged in war. Their position is, that aggressive war is murder, but defensive, to protect home and families, if no really christian, is at least proper in the circumstances. Some, bnth [sic] north and south, are of the judgment, that while all Christians are bound by the law of Christ, to respect civil governments, pray “for kings and all in authority, that they may lead quit [sic] peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty,” and in as much as they hold their property by virtue of their respective governments, all is subject to their maintenance; but that, there is no power in heaven or on earth adequate to force them to imbrue their hands in their fellows blood. Politically, they differ, toto ceolo, but differences of opinion are not to interfere with their christian fellowship.

2d. Touching what we have considered our own duty in the politico-religious strife of the country, we have a few words to say. We have not considered it our privilege to join any political faction, interfere in any of the election struggles, or even to attempt to control in the slightest, degree, any human government of our time, and yet, when we have seen Christians, as we believed, ensnared in political meshes, and the cause of Christ suffering from political strifes, we have deemed to proper, to utter a warning voice. This is mainly, what we have intended by our essays on “the crisis”—the war, and kindred subjects. To be sure, we have not considered ourself [sic] entirely ignorant, of passing political events, and when we were satisfied morality was in danger, we have not hesitated to speak, and we take the present occasion not only to repeat the sum and substance of our political preaching for more than a dozen years, but to more plainly than heretofore, given publicity to convictions repeatedly expressed as to the causes of the civil revolution which has so seriously involved the church of Christ in our century.

We have taught that, Christians are a “a peculiar people,” the kingdom of which they are members, is above all human fabrics, and is destined to conquer them all. It has also been a studied effort to satisfy our brethren that, they had no right to direct the governments of men, but were to submit and be satisfied while permitted to enjoy their christian privileges.

Our grand fathers both fought through the revolution of ’76, to achieve what we have been proud to call our “American Independence” and from our earliest recollection to manhood, we were aught to idolize the American Union. We considered it of eternality duration, till we studied more carefully the nature and purpose of all human governments, when we became satisfied that in the very nature of things, all earthly governments must vary with the circumstances that gave them birth and the fluctuations of time, and thought we plainly saw frailty and death, written upon them all. Thirty years ago, we were satisfied that at least one faction was attempting to seize the helm of our ship of state, and since, we witnessed the great Webster and Clay legislating to give the letter of the constitution authority. It required not a prophet then to see the instrument had had its day, had lost its force, and like the law of Moses, when it grew old, was ready to vanish away. The best system in the world was inaugurated to complete its overthrow. “The Higher Law” of man’s inward promptings usurped the place of constitutional and legislative authority over most of the north, and a part of the south. We had seen Christianity partially nullified in both sections under the influence of this demon. We had seen that the constitution of the country and the Word of God, did not, and could not weigh a feather with political and religious teachers who vehemently preached the higher authority of a “feeling sense” within which defined civil right and constituted and infallible religious test. The doctrine, first approved in this country, amongst the New England clergy, but soon found its way into the halls of Congress and ran like wild-fire amongst the less enlightened. Soon after its appearance in the east, an unlettered politician by flattering the lowest passions of humanity, crawled into the gubernatorial toga of Tennessee, and preached to the great wonderment of the multitude in his inaugural, the inherent ability of man to erect not only a perfect human government, but a kind of divine capacity to construct a spiritual temple, like Jacobs ladder, to reach to heaven. Through the influence of this dreamy philosophy, borrowed from the old world, as reflected by Theodore Parker, Tennessee governor and others, we saw a bright go meteor fall to the ditches and grog shops in our state metropolis. He talked with ghosts, and is still a wizard. Then it was; be it remembered to our credit, that we published and preached every where that, the doctrine subverted the very constitution, essence and spirit of Christ’s religion, and must sooner or later, subvert the constitution and laws of the United States, [sic] More recently, our readers will recollect that we gave a broad side to the monster—direct spiritual and political light—as we thought we saw him looming up in Bethany College. This ghost seeking was the death of Russell, Carman, Young, Happy and others, and so distempered the heart and soul of Richardson, that we fear all christian manliness has forsaken him. He confess his error? No, never.

The demon still walked about as a roaring lion, particularly north seeking whom he might devour, till he seized the dolt who is now president north, and inspired him and his coadjutors to swear that his party should rule or ruin the country. Then it was the ruling people should have said, “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” and finding no agreement, they should have claimed the right of release from oppression and to walk in their own ways. They waited too long, and failed to co-operate with all the states unable to bear the yoke. Eleven, however, have declared their independence, and others must soon do likewise. As a consequence, civil war, bloody and relentless with its thousands of evils exists in our country; and once for all, we wish to say that in governments of earth depending mainly upon force for existence, it is the bounden duty of those who have a right to politically control, to defend vi et armis, by all mans in their power and to the last extremity. One more thought and we shall close our prefatory remarks.

While we maintain that Christians are a peculiar people, and that the church of Christ is spiritual, needing no offensive or defensive weapons to support it, and that it will and must triumph peaceably over all the governments of the world, we rejoice to believe that the nations of the earth, as nations, are objects of the special care of the Almighty. They are his by creation, are in his hands and in the word of David, “The Lord is the governor among the nations.” (Ps. 22, 28.) He controls them in ways which we comprehend not, neither do we wish to interfere with him or even pray to him to take this side or that, of any national controversy, as the heathen do. We can pray as a christian, first, for the preservation of the people of God, and then, the right, justice and humanity may prevail every where. It is true, we sometimes fear our superstitious proclivities are greatly strengthening. Really we have thought we have already seen the finger of God in the American struggle, just where it was not anticipated by the world. Jehovah has for the first time in an age, more than amply supplied the people of the south with all that earth could yield, and the armies of the south have been victorious where there were not more than two to one. Still we know not what God has in reserve. We should not be presumptuous, but fear.

We hope our correspondents have not grown impatient at our long travel in reaching their very respectful communication. We will notice each point with the best ability we possess and fear no evil.

1. In answer to their first suggestion that they “fear” there are “points of view” in which the “influence” of some of our teaching may prove “very undesirable” we beg leave to say that, the rule they adopt—“fear of influences”—is an unsrie [sic] one to determine the truth of any question. Had we been governed by apparent influences, and supposed tendencies, we would have been [sic] abandoned the christian religion long since. In spite of themselves, they have adopted policy, as their standard, and are preaching their own views of propriety, a king od natural higher law of public opinion,–outward pressure from the world, the flesh and the devil, which they think most control our religious teaching. A Christian should ask but one question in reference to all moral decisions, viz: What is truth? what does God say? What is the spiritual teaching? We hope our brethrens “fear of influences” will not more disturb them. We were born in Tennessee, and have preached in the state most of the time for more than thirty years, and have been told a thousand times that the influence of our teaching, was more than “undesirable”—perfectly ruinous to the country, and yet we have pursued the even tenor of our way, and still believe our religious influence has been for good. Our brethren will bear with our frankssne [sic].

2. We have not taught that Christians should “ignore the existence of the war,” as our brethren intimate, but rather that they should consider it as Christians, and not run frantic as many partizan [sic] religionists have done. We are candid to admit that, we are not sure Christians should have any thing more to do with the institutions of the world than to submit to whatever government is placed over them, if under it, they can enjoy their christian liberty, pay their taxes, pray for rulers, etc., that they may not be hindered in their labor in the Lord’s vineyard. We are also free to admit, that if according to our brothern’s [sic] teaching christians are the proper persons to take charge of the world, like Mohammed and the Pope, they should employ the sword, to protect their government, and in the words of our correspondents, “Put forth all their powers of defense and appeal to God to strengthen their arms.” At present, we wish not te [sic] enter further into the argument of this question! But we ask our brethren to determine if this is not what Rome, England and all politico-ecclesiastical establishments have done? Is it connecting church and state? Bringing the church to support the state, and in turn, seeking the friendship of the state to give the success to the church? We cannot be mistaken in the doctrine, and from the days of Constantine in the fourth century, this partnership between church and state has been the most deadly enemy to pure religion. Christianity needs no sword, bruised reed, or a quenching of the smoking flax, for its protection. It dictates no form of human government, may live in any, and asks not the protection of any, further than to be let alone.

3. We have opposed no “organized society,” or denied the necessity of human government, as our brethren charge, and we are sorry that they are inclined to make us say what we never believed or taught. Our view, and we believe the teaching of the Bible is, that “law is not made for a righteous man”—a man governed fully by the principles of Christianity needs nothing more,–but it is requisite for “the lawless and disobedient, for the profane, for murderers, and for all who are not susceptible of sound teaching. While men are rebellious and wicked, they will require governments of force, the sword will remain in requisition to keep them in bounds. We hope this will be satisfactory.

4. Regarding “the higher powers” mentioned by Paul, Rom. 13, 17, we certainly differ. In our interview in Murfreesboro, our positions were distinctly state, and I beg the liberty to stating them again. You assumed that, the higher powers, were not only the civil officers, but these were, or might have been Christians, and the idea of higher authority, was intended to show that when religious and civil authority came into contact, the religious must yield to the civil. This was, at least, the position of the writer of the strictures on our teaching.

Our view was that, if Paul meant civil officers, they were men of the world, and therefore, the necessity of employing the sword in the execution of law, did not necessarily rest upon christians. We did not say that, these higher powers were deacons and elders, as you write, but intimated that, they might have been the seniors, bishops, or overseers, whom the Holy Spirit had designated as the only authorized shepherds of the flock. We have long doubted whether these “ministers of God attending continually” upopn their service, and to whom the brethren at Rome were to be “subject” and “to pay tribute,” or rather, in a fair translation, contributions, in the plural, are constables, sheriffs, hangmen, etc. We are told, “they bear the sword.” Jesus came to “send a sword” and yet it was not of steel, “Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword” by which his people conquered, and the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. We are disposed to conclude, the word sword, is employed as emblematical of the authority of rightful directors in the church. Our brethren’s remarks in reference to our supposed popish tendencies, we consider inappropriate. God has constituted certain persons in the church to execute his law on disobedient members, and it is no popery to maintain that, these are the seniors in each congregation.

5. When we expressed the belief that the church of Christ was destined “to break in pieces and consume” the kingdoms of the world, and “the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High,” we intimated not that “anarchy would bring about that desired end sooner than good government,” as our brethren charge upon us. There is no evidence that any sort of human government will accomplish this end; and yet men in all ages have vainly flattered themselves that by their efforts in constructing governmental plans and systems, they could essentially aid the Almighty. This is the pith of our brethrens [sic] doctrine. They had just as well hold up their feeble tapers at noon to help the sun shine. God will accomplish the end by the sword that proceeds out of the mouth of Him on the white horse, as plainly taught by John, Rev. 19, 21. But Mohammed on the red horse,–the emblem of a bloody religion,–or the pope upon the black horse of mysticism, or modern religionists with swords to establish governments and religions to suit their bloody taste, will have no part in the achievements of the Prince of Peace.

6. While our brethren boast of “the rapid spread of Christianity in our own country, as being greatly due to the protection which it has given to our freedom of conscience, we think it might not be improper to ask, by what rule they have satisfied themselves of the rapid progress of “pure religion.” If we are not mistaken God is testing the genuineness of much of the religion of this country, and if we are not deceived some of it will prove base metal. When you glorify the civil governments for our liberty of conscience, if you mean to say these governments take not cognizance of religion, we fully agree with you, but if you mean to maintain the divine right of every aman’s worshipping God as seems accordant with the dictates of his own impulses, we would respectfully suggest that the Alwise has given no such licause [sic]. He has dictated the forms of belief and worship in the Divine Oracles, and pronounced eternal condemnation on all who do not submit.

We exceedingly dislike the brethren’s continual insinuations as to our disposition to oppose good government. Without boasting, we doubt not we are as loyal as any one of them; and are as anxious that the best human form of government on earth may be established in the south as any man living. We know the political creeds of the country,–have interfered with none,–never expect to do so—but we tell these brethren plainly that the rule or ruin doctrines of certain schools north and south we have always dreaded, and should they ever get complete ascendancy in the respective sections, we shall not consider property, our religious liberty or our life very secure. Brethern, do not preset us in an odious light before the public, to gratify the ignorant spleen of such religious speculators as have had the impertinence to refer to us in your city, in a style well calculated to stir up strife. We can maintain all of our positions when permitted, but both human and christian endurance have a limit.

7. Our brethren must consider us very patient, or they fail to fully appreciate the tenor of some of their remarks. In answer to our pleadings for “moral means” to secure peace in our distracted country, they ask us, “what sort of moral means must be employed when our homes are on fire? Must we stop to sing songs and pray to the neglect of means which are at hand to extinguish it.” Satisfy us that songs and prayer are the only agents to extinguish fire and we will employ no others, but all knowing that water is the proper agent, a maniac alone would sing psalms to the flames. What do our brethren mean? Do they intend to say that, the sword is the proper and only peace agent of earth? More, infinitely more, has been accomplished for the peace; prosperity and happiness of the world, by the love of the Savior, the kindness, innocency and humility of the saints than by all the wars from the debauched Alexander the great to the coarse and bloody Lincoln of the north. We trust in God that he is trying the last experiment of the world to conquer peace, in a civilized and enlightened age, by the sword. The truth is, if Lincoln ever had sound sense, he has lost it, and we verily believe that God has demented and maddened his advisers, enervated all thought, or power in his generals, and turned his soldiers into blinded demons in order to satify [sic] the world of the folly of attempting to unite into a great brotherhood, honest and intelligent men, by freely shedding the blood of the innocent; and yet our brethren in our judgment, are preaching the same doctrine. We must tell them in very great kindness that from the Alpha to the Omega of their remakes, their doctrine is, “Do evil that good may come.” Time and a little more careful study of the Spirit’s Oracles, we earnestly believe, will very much modify their religious sentiments and feelings.

8. Our brethren ask us, “Upon what ground do we assume that the Lord puts it into the hearts of the wicked to resist the oppressor”? We presume it will be sufficient on our part, to prove the fact, without attempting to define very clearly the mode of God’s operating on the nations. David prayed, “Deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword.” Ps. 17, 13. Jehovah called the wicked “Assyrian, the rod of his anger” and declared that, “the staff in their hand, was his indignation.” Is. 10, 5. As a punishment of the people of God, he “gave them over to the sword”—the Babylonians. Ps. 78, 62. Fifteen hundred years before it came to pass, the Lord threatened, if his people rebelled, to “bring a nation against them from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle that flieth, a nation of free countenance and whose tongue they should not understand.” Deut. 28, 49. This was literally fulfilled by the Romans when Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century of the christian era. For nearly eighteen centuries the Jews have been dishonored, and at “the fullness of the Gentiles,” God has threated to “put it into the hearts of the ten horns”—ten European divisions of the politico-religious divisions of the Romish “mother of harlots add abominations of the earth,” to do his will. Rev. 17, 16, 17. These ten powers are now the chief support of the mixed religions of Rome and Protestantism, but ere long, by an Alwise and over ruling Providence that strictly political element of the ten kingdoms will prevail over the false religions with which the nations are cursed, and “the horns shall hate the whore, shall make her desolate and naked, shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” This will be by the sword, by violence. Then will the words be fulfilled, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven (the church of Christ) and ye holy apostles and prophets for God hath avenged you on her.” Rev. 18, 20. Thus the Lord selects wicked agents to accomplish his purpose. To this end he “raised up Pharaoh.” When a people become too proud, arrogant and oppressive for endurance, God in his wisdom, often selects the weaker people and down trodden, for the punishment of the stronger. We wish not to be presumptuous, but it does seem to us, even in our country, as we previously said, we think we can see the finger of God every where, yet we wish not to be presumptuous. The future is dark. By a ruinous policy of government, a part of the people of these once United States, became like Greece and Rome, in the day of their wealth and pride, boastful, tyrannical, ungodly, and determined to rule. The President said, “we (a sectional, self-willed and arrogant faction) take charge of the government.” This monstrous declaration alone, was quite sufficient to put it into the hearts of the weaker people south, upon whom the regulation of governmental affairs devolved, “to fufil the Lord’s will” in humbling the Usurper. It seems to us that Heaven has not only blinded the greater offenders, but said to the less offensive, unsheathe the sword, kill and slay, till the transgressors are better prepared to appreciate the best form of human government ever entrusted to man. It may be God intends to punish all of us for our wickedness, but we should kiss the rod that smites us. In connection, with these, perhaps, speculative views, there is but one more point in the letter of our brethren to which we will call attention, viz: On whom devolves the necessity of shedding blood in defence of political right? We have answered the question in various forms, but we will reap our very deliberate conclusion. If the responsibility of furnishing laws for the disobedient, as well as their execution, rests peculiarly, as our brethren intimate, upon the saints, they are particularly called by God, to buckle on the armor and punish evil doers. They ought to be sure, in the first place, in consequence of their righteousness, to say to the world, “stand aside, we are better qualified to make laws for you than you are for yourselves, and by virtue of our superior qualification, we are Heaven’s chosen agents for the execution of our laws over you.” This is precisely what the North has attempted to do. The rulers have said to the south, preachers and politicians, “you are too ignorant and wicked for self government,” being guilty of too many sins damnable per se, and in the words of the great apostle Beecher, “you must be spanked into obedience.” This is a pretty fair statement of the dominant religious sentiment of the parties struggling for power. Now, if the rulers north or our correspondents are correct in their conclusion, they are perfectly justifiable in cutting the throats of all who are not disposed to yield to their authority. Our brethren tell us that Paul teaches that christian rulers bear not the sword in vain.

We confess, however, that we have misgivings as to the truth of the doctrine pleaded by these brethren, and preachers generally north and south. If we are mistaken, we hope our countrymen will bear with us till we can learn better. In conclusion we would respectfully submit some of the grounds of our doubts. We read in an ancient document called by some, The Book, that, “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lords house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Aad [sic] he shall judge among the nations and rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their speers into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Is. 2; 3, 4.

Luke refers to this prophecy when he said “It was written that repentance and remission of sins shall be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24, 47. If then, the Savior and his Apostles preached such doctrine as applicable in their day, and as peculiar to this dispensation, if, when he could have called twelve legions of angels to his defense, he employed no offensive or defensive weapons save the sword of the Spirit, and if all early christians, “took joyfully the spoiling of their goods,” and submitted not only to the sacrifice of their earthly inheritance, but yielded their lives willingly rather than lift the sword for protection, it seems to us, that professed Christians in the nineteenth century should examine the subject carefully, before they attempt with Islams, Romans and Protestants, to propagate morality by the sword. Still, we say, as we have said from the beginning, this is a day of trial. The professors of religion who feel responsible for the creation and execution of worldly governments, are inexcusable and cowardly if they hesitate to employ force to carry out their creed. Though let every member of the church judge, determine and act for himself. We promise nothing, and cannot tell what circumstances may force us to do. Our reliance so far has been upon God, and our constant prayer to Heaven is, may the right prevail, may the wicked be humbled, the lowly and righteous be exalted, and may God be honored in his institutions, and in his dealings with nations.

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