Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

be swallowed up, and their estates wrested from them ; that civil government cannot be maintained but by the sword of war; and that therefore they must unsheath it in their own and country's defence. No, no. They have learned another lesson, viz. that “he that killeth with the sword, must be killed with the sword.” Rev, xiii. 10.

And here I cannot well avoid taking notice of the remarkable words wbich immediately follow these expressions; for to me they appear to be a glorious display of the true christian spirit. The words are," Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Where is this patience and faith of the saints? Answer, here in this very thing; in their observance of this very declaration, “ He that killeth with the sword, must be killed with the sword.” Therefore, they being Christ's servants, will not fight; dare not disobey his instructions, and incur his displeasure, by a conduct so violative of the “patience and faith of the saints," as to distrust bis divine protection, and flee to carnal weapons for defence, and for the support of civil government. Their kingdom is not of this world ; their principal treasure is not here below, in earthly possessions, but above in that kingdom which they are commanded to seek in the first place, with the promise of him who cannot lie, that all things necessary shall be added. And they can take his word for it, trusting him not only to add them, but to protect them in the enjoyment thereof, and to support civil government by means most agreeable to his infinite wisdom. Therefore, though they hear of wars, and rumours of wars, they trust in the Lord, and are not confounded, are not troubled about the means of preservation; they fly not to carnal weapons for defence; remembering, and also believing, that “ he that killeth with the sword, must be killed with the sword.” Here," in deed and in truth, " is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Their patience appears in that when they are reviled, they revile not again; when one cheek is smitten, they smite not again, but rather turn the other; in that when their outward interest is in danger, or when it is violently withheld or wrested from them, they dare not consent to the violent use of the sword, even in the hands of a civil officer, in order to recover their property again ; and

Vol. II.-34

[ocr errors]

in their patiently waiting for deliverance in the Lord's own way and time. And their faith appears in their firm dependance on the Lord alone; not doubting that their lives and property will be safe in his protection; not doubting that he can restrain and overrule the rage of cruel adversaries, and the wrath of armed men; and preserve them from “ the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and from the arrow that flyeth at noon-day.”

Now I have heard divers say, that although war was so far from being easily justifiable from the doctrines and spirit of the gospel, that it seemed to be pretty clearly forbidden and condemned, yet they must believe it consistent therewith, from the impossibility, as they supposed, of maintaining civil government without it. This carries the point with them, as a like objection did with the chief priests and Pharisees, “ If we let this man alone the Romans will come and take away our place and nation;" doubtless because they thought their safety and being, as a nation, depended on the use of those weapons, and of such force as the doctrines of Christ utterly rejected and forbid; and that by his being let alone, and suffered to inculcate such doctrines, he might so convince and proselyte the people, (as they saw he spake with authority, and not as the scribes,) that their place and nation would thereby be endangered, and left defenceless, for want of soldiers to wield the sword in their defence. Oh! weak and faithless generation! How bappy had it been for them had they yielded obedience, and given full place in their hearts to the heavenly instructions of this prince and preacher of peace! Then had they been safe in the hollow of that hand, out of which none could pluck them; they would have witnessed surer preservation than e'er was found in, or procured by the use of carnal weapons. But so it was, their eyes were blinded; they knew not in their day the things that belonged to their peace, and so they were hid from their eyes.

This is past, and many are acting over the same thing in substance, in these our days, and that in the same blindness and unbelief in which they acted in that; for when they are told of trusting and believing in the Lord's divine preserving arm, and of the maintenance of civil government without the use of carnal weapons and military assistance, they seem as full of wonder and distrust, and as ready to say how can it be, as Nicodemus was, at the doctrine of the new birth. And so, because their natural reason cannot comprehend the sufficiency of divine influence, or the probability of its being exerted so as to deter evil doers, and support civil government, as they suppose it may be done by swords and guns, therefore, they strive to force Christ's plainly opposite doctrines to a consistency with what they imagine absolutely necessary to the support of civil government and human policy. But they ought to consider that in so doing, they reverse the commandment; and, instead of seeking first the heavenly kingdom, and trusting God, according to his promise, to add other things, they seek first to secure what he has promised to add, and neglect to seek first the heavenly kingdom, which he has commanded them; hoping, it may be, that he will add that to the earthly, though he has not promised, nor indeed have they any solid grounds to expect it, for if they love earthly things more than Christ, he has expressly declared they are not worthy of him.

Now it is observable, that the prayer he taught, agrees exactly with the precepts he delivered. “ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven:" not as in warring, avenging, Justing christendom; no, no, but as it is in heaven, where all is love, harmony, and peace. “Give us this day, or day. by day, our daily bread.” Behold the moderation of the request. Not give us vast estates, to increase our ease, honour, popularity, and power; and to perpetuate our names and families in the earth. Not protect us, in the luxurious enjoyment of an hundred times more than enough, and that at the loss of others' lives, in the field of battle and blood ; but "give us this day, (mark well, this day,) our daily bread.” Were our desires after earthly things, in any good degree conformable to this petition, I believe we should seldom find occasion for the use of carnal weapons. But to proceed. “ Forgive us our trespasses"-how? “as we forgive those that trespass against us." Not as we have loved the world, lusted after, and murdered the workmanship of thy hands, made after thy image, to obtain it, Not as we have rigorously exacted the utmost farthing, and revenged every little injury and offence; no, no: but as we have

forgiven those who injuriously treated us, and trespassed against 11s; for we are taught, that if we forgive men their trespasses, our heavenly Father will forgive ours; and we are taught also, not to avenge ourselves ; and that war proceeds from lust warring in the members, desiring to have wherewithal to consume upon those very lusts. So that lust seems to be the origin from which war proceeds, and the gratification thereof, the centre to which it tends. But as we come to trust in him that clothes the lillies, to clothe us, (otherwise, we should justly deserve to be reproved with an “Oye of little faith!") we renounce the world, pray, “ thy kingdom come, and will be done,” and cheerfully forgive, yea, love and feed our enemies.

This, this is the language of the gospel disposition ; this the spirit of a real Christian : unto whom, it is not difficult to find a way for the maintenance of civil government, without the violation of the Lord's commandments; though it may be hard for him to make a mere nominal Christian, or even a fearful and unbelieving one, whose eye is not single to the Lord, believe it possible: because, to see clearly through the whole mystery of godliness, the mind must be redeemed from the world, and the love of it; for if we love the world, the love of the Father, we are assured, is not in us. And if his love is not in us, it is impossible we should have a firm dependance on, and unshaken faith in him: and so, for want of this dependance, and of the eye being single, the mind turns outward, and seeks protection from the arm of flesh; and being destitute of that fulness of light that attends a single eye, darkness overspreads the understanding, and in this darkness, dark and carnal reasonings enter and prevail; fear, trouble, and alarm, confuse and confound the poor unbelieving, wandering soul.' And thus, instead of exhibiting to the world, an example of true christian faith, fortitude, and patience, he becomes a fearful, worldly politician; flying to the arm of flesh for protection. This is not the patience and faith of the saints ;” no, by no means: neither is it conforming to those holy injunctions, “See that ye be not troubled," “ Resist not evil;" “ Love the Lord with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself,” &c. but is directly the reverse.

« Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding," is an excellent precept; for the world by its wisdom knows not God, nor his way of preservation; and accordingly the son of his bosom, who well understood his counsels, was heard reverently to return him thanks because he had hid those things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Now these babes, having a filial trust in and dependance on the Lord, their holy Parent, they wait for the word from his mouth, and babe-like, pretend not to know better than he, nor to dispute bis divine authority ; nay, nor even strive to pervert or evade the force of his injunctions. They do not presumptuously conclude, they will not observe his laws, nor understand them in their plain and proper meaning, unless he will promise to defend their lives and properties from all invasions. They do not refuse to follow him, unless he will clearly show them beforehand, how, and by what means, he will preserve them; or how he will confound their enemies; but they believe the declaration, that " when a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even bis enemies to be at peace with him." Though for a season he may suffer the wrath of the wicked to rise up against him, and threaten inevitable ruin and destruction; yet, none ever trusted in the Lord, and were confounded; for no weapon formed against such, shall prosper; but every tongue that riseth in judgment against them, they shall condemn. Let it be again repeated, “ Here is the patience, and the faith of the saints."

Oh! my heart's desire and prayer to God is, that his kingdom may come, and his will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. That righteousness may cover the earth, as waters do the seas. That swords may universally be beaten into plough-shares, and spears into pruning-hooks. That nation may not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more at all, for ever;

but that the nations of the earth may become the nations, (yea, and the peaceable followers,) of God, and of his Christ. And this I not only pray for in sincerity, and in feeling fervency of soul, but I also have an unshaken faith and expectation, that such a time will come, that such a reformation will prevail; however enthusiastical it may seem to worldly minded Christians. But

« FöregåendeFortsätt »