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who lives by the sword, shall perish by the sword? Can one, who professes the peaceable doctrine of the Gospel, be a soldier, when it is his duty not so much as to go to law? And shall he, who is not to revenge his own wrongs, be instrumental in bringing others into chains, imprisonment, tor
Cyprian, in his Epistle to Donatus, takes a view of such customs in his own times as he conceived to be repugnant to the spirit or the letter of the Gospel. In looking at war, which was one of them, he speaks thus: “ Suppose thyself,” says he, “ with me on the top of
some very exalted eminence, and from thence looking down
appearances of things beneath thee. Let our prospect take in the whole horizon, and let us view, with the indifference of persons not concerned in them, the various motions and agitations of human life. Thou wilt then, Į dare say, have a real compassion for the circumstances of mankind, and for the posture, in which this view will represent them. . And when thou reflectest upon thy condition, thy thoughts will rise in transports of gratitude and praise to God, for having made
thy escape from the pollutions of the world. The things thou wilt principally observe will be--the highways beset with robbers ; the seas with pirates ; encampments, marches, and all the terrible forms of war and bloodshed. When a single murder is committed, it shall be deemed perhaps a crime ; but that crime shall commence a virtue, when committed under the shelter of public authority; so that punishment is not rated by the measure of guilt, but the more enormous the size of the wickedness is, so much the greater
is the chance for impunity.” These are the sentiments of Cyprian; and that they were the result of his views of Christianity, as taken from the Divine Writings, there can be little doubt. If he had stood upon
the same eminence, and beheld the same sights, previously to his conversion, he might, like others, have neither thought piracy dishonourable, nor war inglorious.
Lactantius, who lived some time after Cyprian, in his Treatise concerning the true Worship of God, says, “ It can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war, whose warfare is in righteousness itself.” And in another part of the same Treatise he
observes, that “no exception can be made with respect to this command of God. It can never be lawful to kill a man, whose person the Divine Being designed to be sacred as to violence."
It will be unnecessary to make extracts from other of the early Christian writers, who mention this subject. I shall therefore only observe, that the names of Origen, Archelaus, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, and Cyril, may be added to those already mentioned, as the names of persons, who gave it as their decided opinion, that it was unlawful for Christians to go to war.
With respect to the practice of the early Christians, which is the next point to be considered, it may be observed, that there is no well-authenticated instance upon record of Christians entering into the army for the first two centuries; but it is true, on the other hand, that they declined the military profession, as one in which it was not lawful for them to engage.
The first species of evidence, which I shall produce to this point, may be found in the following facts, which reach from the
year 169 to the year 198 :-Avidius Crassus had rebelled against the emperor Verus, and was slain. In a short time afterwards, Clodius Albinus in one part of the world, and Pescenninus Niger in another, rebelled against the emperor Severus, and both were slain likewise. Now suspicion fell, as it always did in these times, if any thing went wrong, upon the Christians, as having been concerned upon these occasions. But Tertullian, in his Discourse to Scapula, tells us that no Christians were to be found in these armies. And yet
these armies were extensive. Crassus was master of all Syria with its four legions, Niger of the Asiatic and Egyptian legions, and Albinus of those of Britain ; which legions together contained between a third and a half of the standing legions of Rome. And the fact, that no Christians were then to be found in these, is the more remarkable, because, according to the same Tertulliang Christianity had reached all the places, in which these armies were.
A second species of evidence, as far as it goes, may be collected from expressions and declarations in the works of certain authors of those times. Justin the Martyr and Tatian make distinctions between soldiers
and Christians; and the latter says, that the Christians declined even military commands. Clemens of Alexandria gives the Christians, who were contemporary with him, the appellation of " l'eaceable,” or of “ the Followers of Peace;" thus distinguishing them from the soldiers of his age. And he says expressly, that“ those, who were the followers af peace, used none of the instruments of war.
A third species of evidence, which is of the highest importance in this case, is the belief, which the writers of these times had, that the prophecy of Isaiah, which stated that men should turn their swords into ploughshares and their
into pruninghooks, was then in the act of completion.
Irenæus, who flourished about the year 180, affirms that this famous prophecy had been completed in his time; “ for the Christians,” says he,“ have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of
peace, and they know not now how to fight.” Justin Martyr, who was contemporary with Irenæus, asserted the same thing; which he could not have done if the Christians of his time had engaged in war.
" That the prophecy,"