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If civil government be an ordinance of God, as undoubtedly it is, there can be no doubt that God will enable
true christian magistrate to act his part and do his duty in it, without violation of those precepts, the observance of which distinguish a true peaceable Christian, from a wrathful, warring infidel. Let it also be inquired, how christendom has improved in pure christianity in other respects, since professed Christians have taken shelter under the sword of war and vengeance, and fled for sanctuary to the protection of carnal, fighting captains and commanders. Has self-denial flourished under the spreading boughs of tall cedars? Has the cross accompanied Christians to the covert of the sturdy oaks of Basban? Has the love of God and man waxed warm in the field of slaughter? Have your garments been washed white through great tribulations, in the blood of fellow mortals? Has the sound of drums and trumpets prepared your hearts to worship God in reverence and love? I wish these things might be considered; and a calm inquiry entered into, whether Christians in early ages were mistaken in their testimony; and whether latter ages have been more enlightened? Whether the love of the world is less prevalent?-love of one another more predominant? Whether charity, benevolence, and fervent devotion are more conspicuous ? Is the power of the gospel ministry more efficacious ? Are Christians more successful in converting infidels ? Is scepticism more extinguished? Are faith and love increased ? I believe if impartial answers were given to these queries, each would be negatived with a No, no, the contrary lamentably prevails! I think few are so obdurate, as not to believe that a sad falling short of primitive uprightness, and a great declension from ancient purity, are visibly manifest.
Therefore, O sleeping christendom! awake from thy lethargy, and arise from the dead, that Christ may give thee light; and that thou in his light may see more light, and so the light of the moon become as the light of the sun, and that of the sun as the light of seven days ; that so thou mayst reform from thy many evil ways. I am confident that in such abundant light, thou wouldst plainly see that thy teachers have been strengthen- , ing the bands of iniquity, and as it were shutting up the king
dom of heaven, neither entering themselves nor suffering those that would. And I also firmly believe that in this light, thus powerfully shining and increasing, thou wouldst not only see that war and fighting are inconsistent with pure christianity; but also would have an eye open to see a way for civil government to be far better maintained, than by the point of the sword. That authority in the life, and power, and efficacy of true religion would be afforded which would an hundred times more effectually awe and dishearten heathen nations, than all military preparations possibly can do; and more effectually tend to harmony and concord 'within our borders, than all the military laws held up in terror ever did or ever will do.
The Lord is as able now to prevent wicked men from hurting, his servants, as ever he was, and if it be in their hearts to do so, he can restrain them, that they shall not fulfil their purpose : yea, he can fill their hearts with terror, that they shall not dare come nigh thy dwelling. And if at any time he should suffer them to enter thy dominions, and to threaten destruction and ruin, and even to execute cruelty, I have no doubt that their angry, and proud assaults and insults would far sooner be restrained, and far fewer lives would be destroyed, than if force was resisted by force. And as it is a principle in natural philosophy, that action and reaction are always equal ; so in this case, like begets its likeness ; anger begets anger, smiting provokes to smiting.
Thus from the most trifling causes, thousands and millions of lives have been sacrificed to more than brutal barbarity and revenge; and little petty quarrels, scarce worth a serious thought at first, have by. mutual aggravation been fomented and increased, till they that were brethren, children of the same parents, as well as professed believers in the same common Redcemer, have basely sheathed their swords and stained their hands in one another's blood.
Oh! the human blood that crieth to the Lord for vengeance, from the carth and also from the seas; blood that was shed in quarrels originally of the most insignificant nature, and of almost no importance. And yet-Oh! wretched apostacy!—the professors of our age are preposterously crowning with laurels, the
heads of those who are the most famous for human havock; and he that is the most victorious in destroying human lives, is extolled as most honourable and worthy! Oh! strange perversion of the nature of things !—sad contrariety to the design of the gospel!
But to return. As wrath begets wrath, railing, railing, and resistance, resistance; so on the other hand love begets love, forbearance, forbearance, and forgiveness, forgiveness. And thus, were all christendom true Christians, not resisting evil, but turning the other cheek, or patiently enduring threatenings, and even ravages of inveterate heathens, no doubt to me but it would the most effectually, of any conduct, soften their hearts, and beget relentings and compassion; and some among the heathen would be hereby converted to the Christian faith. Oh! glorious victory! Oh! valiant overcoming ! infinitely superior to all the vain glory of an Alexander, or the shouts and triumphs of conquering commanders. What! an heathen converted to the Christian faith by thy example. A wrathful, wicked warrior turned to truth and righteousness by thy submissive chris. tian temper! Be assured, if thou perseverest to the end, and thus turnest many to righteousness, thou shalt shine as a star in the firmament of God's power forever and ever.
But, alas ! alas !(my soul is grieved at the prospect,) the case is sadly otherwise. Heathens and infidels are much more likely to be hardened in their infidelity, hardness of heart, and cruelty, than to be softened into tenderness, and won to truth and righteousness, by the example of carnal and revengeful Christendom, Oh! had primitive purity remained; had love, benevolence, and forgiveness increased; how would Christians at this day have had to rejoice in the spreading of that gracious declaration, “Peace on earth and good-will to men,” and in the coming of the kingdom of Jehovah on earth, as it is in heaven! How would swords and spears have been beaten into instruments of usefulness to mankind! And how might the sons of the morning have sung and shouted for joy! But though this glorious day is thus long deferred, through the unfaithfulness of Christendom, yet it must in time arrive, and blessed shall he be, who, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, shall to the end valiantly bear his saviour's dying cross, and hold forth a faithful testimony to the purity and peaceableness of the gospel day: he shall die in peace, and rest forever in a mansion of undisturbed tranquillity, and comfort inexpressible.
And now it is in my mind to address myself to those among all denominations who are convinced of the unlawfulness of war, and especially my brethren in an outward fellowship. Dear friends, you with myself profess to believe in the peaceable doctrines of the gospel; profess to trust your all in the mighty God of Jacob. Oh! that our example may correspond with this profession. The reformation must in great measure depend on our circumspection. If we live in those lusts and passions, and reach forth eagerly to compass those gratifications which sow the seeds of war, we must expect to be in some degree answerable for the calamities that ensue. If we indulge the love of money, and strain at wealth and grandeur; if we in food, furniture, and apparel, exceed the bounds of that parrow way that leads to life; if we in these things go beyond that degree which strictly consists with the true harmony of mankind, and example others in a wrong way of living, thereby raising desires in them to strive to advance themselves in the same way, this will tend to kindle undue anxiety and inordinate exertions, and so a wheel will move within a wheel, and in the chain and connexion of things, we shall be found promoters of war and desolation.
Therefore, let us all, who are convinced of this glorious peaceable principle, deny ourselves, and take up our cross, yea, our daily cross, to every thing that tends to retard the universal spreading of righteousness and peace over the face of the earth. Let us endeavour to avoid strengthening the bands of wickedness by word or deed; but especially it lives in my mind to urge the necessity of our dying to the love of the world, and to every desire to possess and enjoy, to taste or be gratified with this world's goods, beyond the bounds of a strict conformity to the self-denying life of Jesus. For every step beyond the necessary supply of nature's wants, I believe tends to feed a part in us that is our enemy, and ultimately to create wars and calamities; and in this sense I do believe many of us are more or less account
able for the present unhappy broils and contentions. And I further believe, and desire to express it in that love that travails for a restoration to primitive purity, that our particular society, when we all come to be content with real necessaries, and indulge no imaginary wants, will both wear a very different aspect from what it has and does; will relinquish many things, now thought necessary; and also will shine forth in ancient lustre ard beauty. And this I believe the Lord is on his way to bring about, and will effectuate.
It has often dwelt on my mind, that if his calls to us immediately by his spirit, instrumentally by his servants, to narrow the path of life ; if his secret influences are not attended to, and our minds given up to follow him in self-denial, he will use means that will narrow the path for us. These things I express, as I have felt them, not once or twice only, but repeatedly. Therefore, Oh! that we may be wise, and dwelling near the fountain of life, draw fresh supplies from day to day, which may enable us to live so as to hasten the reformation in the earth, and hold forth an example to the nations of pure religion, dependance on, and resignation to God; not daring when smitten, to smite again, nor to contribute in any wise to the cause of war and bloodshed; but let all nations sce and bear testimony that it is not in profession only, but in life and practice, that we renounce the service of that roaring lion, whose work it is to promote revenge and slaughter. And no doubt at all, we shall by so doing, find the Lord to be our portion, protection, and exceeding great reward. We shall be enabled to sing in the midst of drums and trumpets, swords and bayonets, cannons and thunderings ; and be much better preserved from harm, than by resisting force by force; and finally shall be conducted safe through the pilgrimage of this world, to an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
“ Here is the faith and patience of the saints." Reader, in much good will to thy immortal soul, I put my pen to paper; so in the same I rest thy real friend,