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FAITH AND PATIENCE
DISPLAYED, IN THEIR NOT MAKING USE OF
IN THEIR OWN DEFENCE.
THE FAITH AND PATIENCE, &c.
I suppose it is an indisputable truth, granted by all, that Christians, for the first three hundred years after Christ's appearance in the flesh, did absolutely refuse to be engaged in outward war; which very clearly shows, that they understood his several injunctions, as, to “ love enemies," “ feed them,” "give them drink," "do good to them that hate you," " resist not evil,” “ turn the other cheek,” &c. as absolutely probibitory, and binding upon them, not to go to war. For what should induce them so steadily to bear a testimony against it, if they did not believe it was inconsistent with pure Christianity? Indeed, it is highly probable, and very reasonable to conclude, that his immediate cotemporaries, and those in the next ages, had great opportunity to understand what he meant to inculcate as gospel doctrines, and what not; as no doubt his companions and followers, might frequently hear him enlarge upon subjects, which are but little touched upon in scripture ; and so while his doctrines were fresh in memory, and Christians fresh in zeal to observe them, war was not allowed among them. But, alas! a sad apostacy soon overtook the Christian church. This was foreseen and foretold by the apostle Paul ; and so darkened were the understandings of the apostatized, that according to the apostle's prediction, they would not endure sound doctrine. Now it deserves our serious consideration, whether the admission of war among professing Christians, was not at this very door of apostacy,--at which also a multitude of other wrong things entered ? whether the primitive testimony against war was not one of those sound doctrines, which the men of that apostatized generation, could not endure? Chris
tians now becoming less circumspect, less fervent, and more unbelieving, and getting into a spirit of covetousness and grandeur, and increasing in likeness and love of the world, might very naturally fall into conformity therewith, and unite in a rain dependance on the arm of flesh, therein endeavouring to defend themselves and their property, by the use of carnal weapons ; their hearts having departed from that firm dependance, on the Lord that reigneth, which doubtless the first Christians maintained. Moreover, in these after-days of luke-warmness and degeneracy, wherein sound doctrine could not be endured, and indeed for that'very reason,) they began to heap unto themselves teachers of men, who, instead of labouring night and day with their hands, like Paul, that the gospel might be without charge, began to prefer a life of ease and luxuriousness; and becoming very avaricious, could nearly stoop to preach almost any thing that would please their feeders ; thus teaching-Oh! lamentable !-teaching for doctrines, the commandments of men. And thus, prince and people being bent on war and destruction, and policy dictating to them to make an engine of the priests, they have sorrowfully abused their calling, so that instead of inculcating peace on earth, and good will to men, and valiantly opposing the lust and revengeful spirit of the people, they have been greatly instrumental in fomenting bloody wars, and spreading desolation through the land, age after age: and, (sorry I am that I have it to say,) they have continued the trade until this day. Oh! sad departure from primitive purity! Oh! lamentable degeneracy from the peaceable disposition of the first promulgators of the gospel of peace!
Now the love of money being the root of evil, as it prevails in these teachers, it blinds the mind, and quite perverts the judgment, or else overpowers conviction, and induces them thus to preach for doctrines the commandments of men. while acting as in the capacity of ministers of the gospel, they have been fixing impressions in the minds of precious youth, which directly tend to harden their hearts against the genuine spirit and influence thereof; using abundance of artful sophistry, and a variety of arguments tending to darken counsel and lead
their bewildered hearers from an honest attention to the dictates of that holy spirit, which inspires the soul with love and good will, and from attention to the benign influence of plain scripture doctrines. Thus their precious souls are greatly injured, and their turbulent and malignant passions inflamed to that degree that they glory in their shame and repeat their violations of Christ's injunction with delight. My very soul hath mourned at hearing them recite the arguments in favour of war, which they have told me the priests have preached to them. Some of the poor creatures have even seemed, by their words, to have a strong belief, that if they die in battle they shall have an immediate passage thence to heaven ; and have added that the ministers have told them so; though others having heard such doctrine, declare they cannot believe it, and allow that some of the priests don't assert so far, though they generally endeavour to animate them to the battle. And I have understood, and been credibly informed, that some of them have found it difficult in the course of the present war to please all their hearers, they not being all of one mind respecting the lawfulness of war; so that what pleased one, displeased another.
Oh! the love of money! What desolations has it made! what havock of human lives! what violations of the gospel precepts ! Can it be believed that worldly hirelings better understand, or can better explain the true intent and meaning of these blessed precepts, than the pious, humble, self-denying primitive Christians ? Surely nay. But the apostacy has entered, wherein it was foreseen that all the world should wonder after the beast, save only those who had the Father's name written in their foreheads; and those, being redeemed from the earth and from among men, were seen standing on Mount Zion with harps in their hands. These are not trusting in man, but in the living God; are not rending and devouring, nor making military preparations to defend themselves and properties; but being Christ's sheep, they hear his voice, commanding them, “ When ye
hear of wars and rumours of wars, see that ye be not troubled." This they dare not violate; nor will they give way to vain fears, so as to seek to the arm of flesh, and carnal weapons, for protection. They are not governed by carnal reasonings, that they shalt