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know, O christendom! that, in so far as thou hast denied the Lord that bought thee, and hast treacherously refused to hold forth his ensign to the nations, and to lift up his standard of peace among the people; but hast hidden thy light under a bed or bushel, and been ashamed of his blessed testimony, in so far will he deny thee before his Father and the holy angels. He will blot thy name out of the book of life, and deny thee an inheritance among those who have followed him in the regeneration and the daily cross, bearing his reproach among the sons of men, and maintaining his testimony through persecution, scorn, and death. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Therefore, be awakened, О careless christendom! Be aroused, O lukewarm and unfaithful professors of the holy name of Jesus, the prince of peace! Be persuaded, I beseech you, to look around and consider your sad departure from the self-denying life of our holy head and pattern, and from the example and testimony of his primitive followers. They denied themselves, took up their daily cross, and followed their redeemer, bearing testimony to the peaceable nature of the gospel dispensation. Alas ! how unlike the conduct of the present professors ! How contrary to the wrathful, revengeful spirit of fallen, worldly christendom! What lamentation shall be taken up—what language shall be used, to impress the minds of mankind with a proper sense of the woful apostacy that has bewildered and benighted poor christendom! My very soul doth mourn, and my heart is moved within me while I write, in consideration of these things, and as they now seriously affect and impress my mind.
A very sorrowful, yea, even painful circumstance now presents to my view, namely, the case of those who on account of their violation of our christian testimony against war, and the spirit of it, and perhaps from a desire to enjoy a little more liberty, have suffered themselves to be cut off and separated from our religious society, as members. I believe such, if ever they were green and lively, must have been greatly withered, before they could so far deviate, and I greatly fear they will, unless they pass through deep repentance and condemnation, shrivel and die, as members disjointed from the body, or as branches separated from and not abiding in the vine. Oh! how is the cause of reformation wounded by such examples ! How may the hearts of tender inquirers be discouraged, and the mouths of vaunting adversaries opened against them, as well as against the pure truth, by such mournful departures from, and renouncings of the testimony thereof! Oh! that they who have so sadly fallen away, might be persuaded to a serious consideration and amendment of their ways before it be too late. Oh! that they might be brought back to a state of true sensibility and enjoyment of that divine presence, without which a man's life is a burden, and all earthly enjoyments, vanity and vexation of spirit. I feel sincere desires for their awakening and return, that so their immortal souls may rest in the day of trouble. It seems as if I could suffer great tribulation for their sakes, if it might tend to the enlightening of their darkened understandings, and softening their hearts.
“When the Lord turns again the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” Meantime wisdom is justified of her children. . And though the world may lie in wickedness, and even some who have known and tasted the good word of life, and the powers of the world to come may fall away; though the stars may fall from heaven, and Demas may love this present world, yet be encouraged, ye upright hearted testimony-bearers; ye tribulated followers of the Prince of Peace, among all denominations. Be ye strengthened in your zeal and fervent resolution to follow him to the mountain of the Lord, where none shall “ hurt nor destroy.” Give not back, though multitudes of worldly christians reproach and discourage you. As ye abide faithful, ye shall witness preservation, evincing that “ to us a child is born--to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder;" his name is the “wonderful Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace; and of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end :" for he sitteth upon the throne of David, to order it, and to establish it, from henceforth, through all generations. Therefore, hold on your way, hold on your way ye conscientious burthen-bearers ! wherever your lots may be cast, in whatever remote corner of the earth, in whatever outward communion.
The Lord's sheep are not confined to any one outward fold; but though they all know, and are gathered into the one fold of inward rest, yet outwardly they walk, and are scattered among various denominations. This I firmly believe; and wherever they are, I call them brethren; I own them in the covenant and fellowship of celestial affinity; in the bonds and endearments of a spiritual relationship. And charity obliges me to own some who engage in things that I am persuaded are altogether unlawful for me. Thus, I believe the Lord owns some as in a good degree his servants, who yet have not clearly seen the contrariety of war to the life of a truly humble and dependant Christian, who is thoroughly redeemed from the very occasion of wars, and who lives a life of faith and confidence in God, his only refuge. I feel that flowing of universal love towards some, who, through ignorance, the force of education, or bad instruction, remain in the violation of those holy precepts which are to me as binding, obligatory laws. And I am also fully persuaded and assured that they are so far obligatory upon all, that every soul who violates them merely to secure his outward interest, contrary to what secretly reproves and informs him; and is not blinded by the influence of priest-craft or education; but being able to see beyond the one, and soar above the prejudice of the other, will yet, with his eyes thus open, for the sake of self-preservation, rush violently into the field of war: I say, I firmly believe that every one who thus “killeth with the sword, must be killed with the sword” of the spirit. No matter what dark and carnal, though seemingly plausible reasonings he makes use of to justify his conduct, if his own heart, or the witness of God in his own mind, condemns him; God is greater than his heart, and knoweth all things, knoweth he was not without a condemping witness in that mind, and will ratify and confirm that witness and condemnation. And even though he may rebel against the light, till he comes to know scarce any thing of the ways thereof, and is hardened and darkened to that degree, as to be almost insensible of its impressions, and in presumption
declare he believes it is his duty to war and fight; yea, even though, in the height of extravagance and obduracy, he may venture to preach it up as a duty to others, and strive to give sanction to it by the name of the Lord of Hosts, yet I declare on behalf of him and of his despised testimony, that he will strike up a light in such benighted souls, that shall bring to their remembrance the secret reproofs of instruction that they have stifled and trampled upon. He will turn over the leaves of their lives, and cause them to read in legible characters the impressions once made and written by his eternal finger on the table of their hearts. And then, Oh! how will they wish their lives had been governed by the unerring witness of truth.
Oh! that mankind were wise! that they would timely and aright consider their latter end, and seek first the kingdom and righteousness of God, firmly depending on him for an addition of all things necessary and best for them to enjoy. Then would their lives be comfortable, and their latter end blessed with joy and consolation. Then whatever turnings and overturnings the Lord might suffer to take place in the kingdoms of this world; whatever interruptions to the administration of civil government might happen by the unruly passions of wicked men; those that were thus given up in body, soul, and spirit to the Lord, viewing all these things with a single eye, would see and know that all would work together for their good. And were this the case with an whole nation, they, standing thus in the light of the Lamb, would not fear, but would know that although wars, and rumours of wars, may remain for a time in the earth, and among the earthly minded, yet the captain of their salvation, who has the hearts of kings and tyrants in his hands, would preserve them who thus trust in him, as in the hollow thereof, from suffering aught by the malice of wicked princes, or the cruelty of enraged adversaries, but what would redound to their peace, his own glory, and the furtherance of his blessed work on earth, and among the sons of men. For though the times and seasons might be gloomy, though devastation might spread around, and though the course of civil justice might be obstructed, and anarchy and confusion reign for a sea. son, yet would the strength of Omnipotence be engaged on their
behalf; and no doubt he would much sooner restore peace, harmony, and the regular administration of civil justice, to such a nation, so conducting, and out of pure conscience to God, refusing to defend themselves, than if they should revolt from their dependance on the arm of divine strength, and fly to carnal weapons for security. For “cursed is the man who trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord;" but “ blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord alone is.”
I have a firm and fixed belief, that should any whole nation be convinced of the peaceable principles of the gospel, and in sincerity endeavour to live up to them, in their full extent; where such a nation was once invaded from abroad, the warring nation would be many times invaded; and where the regular administration of civil justice would be obstructed in such a nation for a month, it would oftener be so in other nations for years. But, alas ! how many are like poor unbelieving Peter, when he began to walk on the water, though his Lord commanded it, yet for want of faith he sunk amidst the waves, and lost his resolution: but had he firmly trusted in the Lord that called him, without doubting, he would have been enabled to walk on the watery element, and instead of being reproved with an “O thou of little faith! wherefore didst thou doubt ?” he might have been received to his master's fond embraces, with an encouraging commendation and testimony, “ that such faith had not been seen, no, not in Israel.” Oh! the multitudes that cannot enter the heavenly Canaan, because of unbelief.
Now, I have no doubt that this may sound very impertinent in the ear of many a carnal Christian, who in the wisdom of this world, may think himself abundantly furnished with unanswerable objections to such a system. But I would once more desire such to remember the example of primitive Christians. How were they preserved ? How was civil government maintained ? Perhaps it may be said, not by Christians, but by worldly civil magistrates. Perhaps it might be, and I could wish that Christians never had meddled with it, nor attempted to maintain it, any further than they could have done it in agreement with the doctrines of the gospel, and example of the primitive Christians,