CIVIL GOVERNMENT (1913)
by DAVID LIPSCOMB
This E-text was created by Hans Rollmann (firstname.lastname@example.org) in 1994 for discussion on the Stone-Campbell list and has been placed in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text.
It is reproduced from the 1913 edition of David Lipscomb's (1832-1917) CIVIL GOVERNMENT from a copy in the library of Pepperdine University, Malibu, California and was typed by my son, Hans-Paul Rollmann.
Italics are rendered in this ASC version by capital letters, and the page numbers of the 1913 printed edition are given on top of each page between double slashes (//1//).
Soon, I shall also make available as aids for interpretation:
1. the entire text as an executable file which runs on a PC without any additional reader or wordprocessor;The text has been proof-read only once. Please send any corrigenda you may find to my address (email@example.com). I shall revise this edition as needed.
2. a complete index of all words;
3. word frequency statistics for all words in the 1913 edition.
Let the study begin! HANS ROLLMANN, Christmas 1994
Its Origin, Mission, and Destiny,
- AND THE -
Christian's Relation To It.
McQUIDDY PRINTING CO.,
The writer of the following pages was early in life impressed with the idea that God as the Creator, and preserver of the world, was its only rightful law-maker and ruler. And that all the evil that afflicted humanity and the world, had arisen from a failure on the part of man to whom the rule of the earth had been committed by God, to maintain in its purity and sovereignty the authority and dominion of God as the only rule of this world. From the Bible he learned man had sinned against God, that an element of discord and confusion had hence entered into the world, and the world was out of harmonious relations with God and the universe. This being true, it early occurred to his mind, that the one sure and sovereign remedy for these evils, was the absolute submission to God on the part of man, and a restoration of his authority and rule in all the domains of the world. In the study of the Bible, he saw the one purpose of God, as set forth in that book, was to bring man back under his own rule and government so to re-establish his authority and rule on earth, that God's will "shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
To this end, man's duty is to learn the will of God, and trustingly do that will, leaving results and events with God. It became a fixed principle with him, that in religion man must in faith do what God has ordained he should do, what he has declared would be well-pleasing to him; and then leave all in the hands of him who overrules the universe.
While I failed to see then as I now see, that religion embraced every duty and every relation of man and moulds every thought, purpose and action of his being, the feeling would creep into my mind that even in political affairs man should do only what God commanded him. Finally the years of sectional strife, war, bloodshed, destruction and desolation swept over our land, and the spectacle was presented, of disciples of the //iv// Prince of Peace, with murderous weapons seeking the lives of their fellowmen. Brethren for whom Christ died, children of him who came to heal the broken-hearted, to be a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow, were found imbruing their hands in the blood of their own brethren in Christ, making their sisters widows and their sisters' children orphans. It took but little thought to see that this course is abhorrent to the principles of the religion of the Savior, who died that even his enemies might live. He had plainly declared that his children could not fight with carnal weapons even for the establishment of his own Kingdom. Much less could they slay and destroy one another in the contentions and strivings of the kingdoms of this world. It took but little thought to see that Christians cannot fight, cannot slay one another or their fellowmen, at the behest of any earthly ruler, or to establish or maintain any human government. But if he cannot fight himself, can he vote to make another fight? What I lead or influence another to do, I do through that other. The man who votes to put another in a place or position, is in honor, bound to maintain hum in that position, and is responsible for all the actions, courses or results that logically and necessarily flow from the occupancy and maintenance of that position. A man who votes to bring about a war, or that votes for that which logically and necessarily brings about war is responsible for that war and for all the necessary and usual attendants and results of that war.
But some may say, It is a Christian's duty to vote against war and against that which will produce war. Yes, but how can he know which course will, or will not bring about war? Many men voted for secession of the States South, with a view that that was the only way to prevent war. Some thought separation, as between Abraham and Lot's families, would end the strife that would be interminable within the Union. Others thought, argued and voted, If the Southern States show a united front there will be no war. If we are divided the division will invite war. So voted for secession to avoid war.
With these difficulties, inconsistencies and troubles lying in the way, I determined to take the Bible and as a wholly new question study the origin of human government, its relations to God, to man, to the church of Jesus Christ, and the connection of the Christian therewith and his duty to it. It did not take //v// me long to reach a conclusion, which is given in the following pages. The study and constant review of the subject, the criticisms made of my writing on the subject have strengthened the conclusion, and leave me not a doubt as to its truthfulness.
The substance in this book was published in the GOSPEL ADVOCATE in the years 1866-67 - and again in Christian Quarterly, of current year. With the request that each reader will carefully and prayerfully examine the Scriptures of sacred truth, to see if these things are true, and if true accept the truth and courageously maintain it, the writer commends this volume and those who read it to the God of all grace and love.
THE ORIGIN, MISSION, AND DESTINY
CHRISTIAN'S RELATION TO IT.
We use the term "CIVIL GOVERNMENT" in this book as synonymous with HUMAN GOVERNMENT, in contradistinction to a government by God, or the DIVINE GOVERNMENT. The design in writing this book is to determine definitely the origin, mission, and destiny of human governments, their relation to God, and the relation the Church and the individual Christian sustain to them.
In the beginning God created the earth and all that therein is. Over the material world and all the lower creation, he gave man control.
"Let us make man in our own image, after our own
likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the
sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle,
and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing
that creepeth upon the earth." (Gen. i: 26.) "And the
Lord God commanded the man." (Gen.ii:10.)
Without reference to what the command was, this indicates that while God committed the government of the under-creation to man, he reserved to himself the right and prerogative of governing man. God would govern and guide man; man would govern the under-creation, and so the whole world would be held under the government of God, man immediately and the under-creation through man.
But, man refused to be governed by God. First as an individual he violated the specific command of God. "A //8// little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." This leaven of disobedience wrought the rejection of the Divine government, and was transmitted from the individual to the family, to the tribe, to the race. "While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way." When man was off his guard the enemy of God and man implanted the seeds of distrust and disaffection, and the heart, the mind and the life of man became disloyal to God.
"The serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely
die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof,
then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods
knowing good and evil." (Gen.iii:4,5.)
The act of individual disobedience culminated in the effort of man to organize a government of his own, so that he himself might permanently conduct the affairs of earth, free from the control of God, and independent of God's government. The first account we have of organized human government, is (Gen.x:8.)
"And Cush begat Nimrod, he began to be a mighty one in
the earth. * * * The beginning of his kingdom was Babel,
and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
Nimrod was the grandson of Ham, and the founder of the first government organized outside of the family institution, ordained by God from the beginning. Nimrod made other families tributary to himself, and established a kingdom of which he was the head. The declaration, "Let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth," (Gen.xi:4), shows the animus and the spirit of the movement, and that it was intended to resist the purpose of God to govern them and to distribute them over the face of the earth, and to maintain themselves in a government of their own organizing. The effort to unite themselves more closely that God's rule united them, resulted in the confusion of their language and their division //9// and dispersion. The design and purpose of this beginning of human government on earth was to oppose, counteract, and displace the government of God on earth.
The institution of human government was an act of rebellion and began among those in rebellion against God, with the purpose of superseding the Divine rule with the rule of man. Its founder was Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, whose family was accursed. In accordance with a well-defined principle of God's over-ruling providence, the family of this founder has been the greatest sufferer by the institution which he originated. Josephus, with whatever credit he may be entitled to in reference to matters so remote, says that "Nimrod, the founder and leader, appealed to them that it was too humiliating and degrading for wise human beings capable of forming governments of their own, to submit to the government of another." Josephus B. 1 ch. iiii says,
"When they flourished with a numerous youth, God
admonished them to send out numerous colonies, but
imagining that the prosperity they enjoyed was not
derived from the favor of God, did not obey him. Now it
was Nimrod who excited them to such affront and contempt
of God * * * He also gradually changed the government
into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the
fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence
on his own power."
This is quoted to show the government existed before Nimrod, else he could not CHANGE it. Undoubtedly the government instituted by God - the family government - existed. He changed this by subjugating a number of families and tribes into one government under himself. The quotation so far as Josephus is authority in the matter, shows that the human government and dependence upon that government for good - was the means adopted to wean them away from fidelity to God and his government, and it was instituted for the purpose of supplanting God's government.
It is clear that human government had its origin in the rejection of the authority of God, and that it was intended //10// to supersede the Divine government, and itself constituted the organized rebellion of man against God. This beginning of human government God called BABEL, confusion, strife. It introduced into the world the organized development and embodiment of the spirit of rebellion, strife and confusion among men. God christened it BABEL. It soon grew into the blood-thirsty, hectoring Babylon, and subjugated the surrounding families, tribes and kingdoms to its dominion, and became the first universal empire of the earth, and maintained its sway until the days of Daniel.
When we consider that God and the early inhabitants of the earth named things, persons, and institutions from their chief and distinguishing characteristic, it cannot be doubted, that God intended in calling this first government established by man "confusion," and in so speedily confusing the language of its founders, to foretell that the chief and necessary results flowing from the displacement of the Divine will and the establishment and perpetuation of human government, would be confusion, strife, bloodshed, and perpetual warfare in the world. The results have vindicated the truth of the prophecy couched in the name. The chief occupation of human governments from the beginning have been war. Nine-tenths of the taxes paid by the human family, have gone to preparing for, carrying on, or paying the expenses of war.
All the wars and strifes between tribes, races, nations, from the beginning until now, have been the result of man's effort to govern himself and the world, rather than to submit to the government of God. I am not intimating in this, that human government is not necessary, I believe that it is necessary, and that God has ordained it as a punishment to man for refusing to submit to the government of God and it must exist so long as the human family or any considerable portion of it refuses to submit to the //11// government of God. Human government originated in the rebellion of man against his Maker, and was the organized effort of man to govern himself and to promote his own good and to conduct the affairs of the world independently of the government of God. It was the organized rebellion of man against God and his government. The essential character of this government, as protrayed by God will be given here-after.
Babylon, the first universal empire of earth, growing out of this rebellion of man against God, continued until overthrown, displaced and superseded by the Medo-Persian Empire. This Babylonish empire, with all its possessions, conquests, and honors, "was left" to the Medo-Persian. The Medo-Persian exercised universal dominion until overthrown by the Grecian power, to whom it "was left" with all of its glories, honors, and possessions. The Grecian succeeded the Medo-Persian, and continued until subdued by the Roman, to whom "were left" its power and possessions. The Roman continued until broken in pieces by the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands. The fragments of this Roman empire remain until the present day. All the human governments of earth are the broken fragments - or the offshoots of these - of the Roman empire. We emphasize this line of descent of the human or civil governments of earth, because it is usually claimed that the civil governments of this day are successors and offshoots of the Mosaic dispensation, or of the government God ordained among the Jews.
They clearly run back through the Roman, the Grecian, the Medo-Persian, the Babylonian, and for its origin to Babel of Nimrod on the plains of Shinar. The connecting links are few and there can be no doubt as to the line of succession.
On the other hand, God has always kept on earth a //12// government of his own, in contrast and in conflict with these. In Eden the government was direct, individual and personal. God spake directly to man and gave specific commands to be obeyed.
Men multiplied into families. God gave the law to the father and made him the law-giver, the mediator, and priest to his family. When the family of Abraham grew into the proportions of a nation, God gave it laws suited to a national existence. Moses became the law-giver of this nation. He is sometimes called the law-maker. This is a mistake, God was the law-maker. He gave the law to Moses, and Moses gave it to the people. God has never authorized any being or power beneath his own throne to make laws to govern his own people. This is the prerogative he has reserved to himself. God is the only law-maker of his people, the only rightful law-maker of the universe.
This government of God among the children of Israel was corrupted and perverted, but some of the Jews were schooled by it, and trained, as were others, not Jews, by the providence of God, for service in a higher and more perfect kingdom of God. God then took the Jewish national government out of the way, and superseded it with the kingdom of heaven - the Church of God, which was fitted for the service of individuals - few or all - in all nations, and aspires to universal and eternal dominion on earth. It is to embrace all people, all nations, kindreds and tribes, and to mingle and mould them into one universal brotherhood, to break in pieces and destroy all earthly kingdoms and dominions, and fill the whole earth and stand forever. The mission of this Church is to rescue and redeem the earth from the rule and dominion of the human kingdoms, from the rebellion against God, and to reinstate the authority and rule of God on earth through this own kingdom. Through and in it Christ must reign until he shall have //13// "put down all rule, and all authority and all power." Then will he deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, and himself be subject to God, that God ruling in and through his restored kingdom on earth, may be all and in all, the only ruler of the heavens and of the earth. These two lines of government, the Divine and the human, reaching from the beginning down to the present day, have been kept distinct and separate by God, often commingled and dove-tailed one into the other by men, with what relations and results to each other we will examine.
tHE RELATION OF THE DIVINE TO THE HUMAN.
We have called attention to the origin of human government. It originated among the enemies of God, animated by a spirit of rebellion against God. The human and the Divine each passed through the same stages in reaching its culmination. The individual, the family, the nation, the universal dominion. Abraham, first after the flood, was set apart to raise a holy family to God, and so became the father of a people loyal to God, and furnished a people that would maintain the government of God on earth. He was required to separate himself from his own family and kindred, from the land of his nativity, and from the home and friends of his childhood, and to go forth, a stranger among strangers, in a strange land. He was not to affiliate, or his children to inter-marry with the people of this land. He was to start a family that should be a separate, distinct, and peculiar people among the nations of earth, consecrated to the establishment and maintainance of the government of God among and over men. That it might have no family ties to draw it into alliance with the peoples who sustain the human government, Abram married his own sister. Isaac's wife was the daughter of his mother's brother who lived in a foreign land. Jacob's wives were the daughters of his uncle. From these kindred they were //14// widely separated. Jacob left the father of his wives under circumstances that forbade future affiliation. Isaac was the only child of his mother; and while yet youths enmity was engendered between Jacob and Esau that separated their families forever. God was severing natural ties, and overruling blood relations that might militate against the separation and exclusiveness of his people. The family was then cemented together and separated from all other people by four hundred years of a common and cruel slavery, and a forty-years journey through the wilderness in which all persons who were matured at the exodus from Egypt died to free them from all the influences, habits, and love of Egypt. This was done to gain a favorably separated point for starting them on their mission of consecration to the upbuilding of the Divine Government; that in them he might find a people with no love for, and no ties to lead them into affiliation with other peoples, or into the service of the human governments, but that they should be wholly consecrated to the upbuilding and maintainance of the Divine Government. God's special commission to them was to destroy all the nations inhabiting the land, all the nations with which they came in contact. The mission imposed upon them was perpetual enmity, the work to which they were called was a war of extermination against all people maintaining a human government. This war was waged against the people not as individuals or families, but as members and supporters of human governments. If individuals and families seem to have been special objects of destruction, it was because those families had been especially sinful in maintaining the human government, and were hopeless in their enmity to the rule of God. But at any and every period of time the way was open for these families, and every member of them, to pass out of the //15// families devoted to human government, and for their entrance into the family devoted to the government of God. And whenever one passed from under the human into the Divine, the obligation to destroy was changed into the requirement to protect, nurture, and support as a member of the household and family of God. The law was,
"Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy
God is in the midst of thee, a great God and a terrible.
And the Lord thy God will cast out those nations before
thee, by little and little: thou mayest not consume them
at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.
But the Lord thy God shall deliver them up before thee,
and shall discomfit them with a great discomfiture, until
they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into
thine hand, and thou shalt make their name to perish from
under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before
thee, until thou have destroyed them." (Deut.vii:21-24.)
"When the Lord thy God shall deliver them up before thee,
and thou shalt smite them; then thou shalt utterly
destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor
shew mercy unto them: neither shalt thou make marriages
with them; thy daughter thou shall not give unto his son,
nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son."
Notwithstanding these fearful denunciations and prohibitions, they took their wives from them from the beginning, and the way was always open for the adoption of any of them into the family of Abraham who might wish to serve and honor the God of Abraham. Rahab was married to an Israelite. She abjured her nation and the human government, and through fear of the Lord God, accepted his rule, and cast her lot with his people Israel. The Scriptures mention as honored among the Israelites, many of them serving in the Temple, Doeg, the Edomite, (1 Sam. xxi:7); Uriah, the Hittite, (2 Sam. xi:3); Araunah, the Jebusite, (2 Sam. xxiv: 18); Zelek, the Ammonite, (2 Sam. xxiii: 37); Ithma, the Moabite, (1 Chron. xi: 46); and Ruth, the Moabitess, besides many others. A number of these entered into the line from which the Savior sprung. In the days of Solomon, the number of these among the laboring people amounted to over 153,000.
"And Solomon numbered all the strangers that WERE in the
land of Israel, after the numbering wherewith David his
father had numbered them; and they were found an hundred
and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hundred.
And he set threescore and ten thousand of them TO BE
bearers of burdens, and fourscore thousand TO BE hewers
in the mountain, and three thousand and six hundred
overseers to set the people at work." (2 Chron. ii: 17,
These examples show that while the law was inexorable in requiring them to destroy the members of these sinful families while upholders of these human governments, yet when any of them entered the family of Abraham to build upon the government of God, the law for their destruction was abrogated with reference to them. This shows, too, that there never was a time when the door of God's kingdom was closed against any being desiring to serve him. At no time has he been a respecter of persons, but at all times "whosoever feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted of him." In those days all who obeyed him must identify themselves with his people, the Jews. The true and real aim was to destroy the human governments that stood against God; and the people were destroyed only as the destruction of the governments and punishment for treason against God demanded the destruction of those upholding and wedded to them.
The subjects of his government were clearly forbidden all affinity, affiliation or alliance with the earthly governments, or those sustaining them. Before they entered Canaan, God, through Moses, told them,
"I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your
hand, and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou
shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin
against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely
be a snare unto thee." (Ex. xxiii: 31-33.)
The same warning and admonition is repeated on almost every occasion of instruction. See Ex. xxiv: 12, and Deut. vii: 2:
"Thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them. Thou
shalt make no covenant with them: nor show mercy to
When these nations in Canaan has been destroyed, save a remnant, God still admonished them.
"Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the
remnant of these nations, even these that remain among
you, and make marriages with them, and go in unto them,
and they to you; know for a certainty that the Lord your
God will no more drive these nations from out of your
sight; but they shall be a snare and a trap unto you, and
a scourge in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until
ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God
hath given you." (Joshua xxiii: 12, 13.)
These laws and warnings might be quoted to weariness. Solomon violated these laws and married those not desirous of serving God or promoting his government, and who were idolaters. Notwithstanding his wisdom and greatness and favor with God, his heart was turned away from God, and resulted in the rending the kingdom from his family.
"Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, forasmuch as this
is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and
my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely
rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy
servant." (1 Kings xi: 11.)
This shows the difference between marrying one who sought union with the family of Abraham from a desire to serve God and to maintain his government, and marrying strangers who were not servants of God. The one weaned the heart of even Solomon from God; the blood of the other flowed into the veins of the Son of God.
Another example we find in Isaiah xxxix: 6. Hezekiah was a true servant of God. He had been sick and had recovered. The king of Babylon sent messengers with presents to congratulate Hezekiah upon his recovery. Hezekiah, flattered by the friendly attentions of this mighty king, in a friendly mood showed these messengers all the wealth of the king's house, and the wealth and sanctified vessels of the Lord's house. For this, God said:
Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house,
and that //18// which thy fathers have laid up in store
until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing
shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall
issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take
away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king
They were carried captive, as thus foretold; after a long period of slavery, as punishment for their friendly overtures to the king of Babylon, they are disposed to turn to God and serve him as loyal subjects. They had in their captivity married ungodly wives of the people among whom they were living. So inexorable was the law of God, that husband and wife, parent and child, must separate in obedience to its behest, before God would deliver them.
"Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put
away all the wives, and such as are born of them,
according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that
tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done
according to the law." (Ezra x: 3.)
God could not accept or bless them while in affinity or alliance with those not submitting to his government.
into the likeness of the human was not admissable. The subjects of God's Government were forbidden all affiliation or alliance with the human governments. It was a still more heinous sin to pattern the Divine after the human, or dovetail the human into the Divine. This changed, corrupted, an perverted the Divine. Even when the appointments and institutions ordained by God to secure justice and maintain righteousness between man and man, were perverted into instruments of injustice and oppression, and those selected to administer justice took bribes and perverted judgement, and the elders and children of Israel sought relief in a kingly government which seemed to them to be working well among the nations, and to their "sanctified common sense" seemed good to them, God pronounced it a fearful rebellion against him and his government.
CHANGING THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD
"And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made
his sons judges over Israel. And his sons walked not in
his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes,
and perverted judgement. Then all the elders of Israel
gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto
Ramah: and they said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and
thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to
judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased
Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And
Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto
Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that
they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but
they have rejected me, that I should not be king over
them. According to all the works which they have done
since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even
unto this day, in that they have forsaken me, and served
other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore
hearken unto their voice: howbeit thou shalt protest
solemnly unto them, and shalt show them the manner of the
king that shall reign over them." (1 Sam. viii: 9.)
Samuel warned and protested,
"This will be the manner of the king that shall reign
over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto
him, for his chariots; and he will appoint them unto him
for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and
HE WILL SET SOME to plow his ground, and to reap his
harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the
instruments of his chariots. And he will take your
daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to
be bakers. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and
of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his
servants. And he will take your men-servants, and your
maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your
asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth
of your flocks; and ye shall be his servants. And ye
shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye
shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not answer you
in that day. But the people refused to hearken unto the
voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a
king over us; that we may also be like all the nations;
and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and
fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the
people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice,
and make them a king." (1 Sam. viii: 11-22.)
In this it is clearly taught: (1) To seek to change an //20// appointment of God even when perverted by bad men to wicked ends, is a grievous sin, a rejection of God, a following another God. (2) God ordains for men what they persistently desire, even if it is an institution that displaces his appointments and overthrows his rule. (3) He ordains it as a punishment for rejecting him and his government. As a way through which they are made to "eat the fruit of their own way and be filled with their own devices." (4) All of God's ordinances are not necessarily good or desirable for his children, but are good for the end and work for which he appoints them. (5) He ordains one class of institutions through which to bless his obedient servants; he ordains a different class for punishing the disobedient. Each is good for the work for which it is ordained. Each is equally the ordinance of God. Please remember these.
God ordained the Jews a king, not because he saw it was best for them, or promotive of their good, but to punish them. They rebelled against him, were reckless and persistent in that rebellion, and he ordained the kingdom as a punishment for that rebellion. The king was given as they desired, but God warned them that he would be a burden and a punishment to them for their sin in desiring to change the laws and appointments of God. Their kings, despite an occasional good one, led them further from God, deeper and deeper into sin and rebellion; led them into idolatry, involved them continually in war and strife, brought them into frequent alliances with the rebellious and idolatrous nations of earth that supported human government, all of which brought upon them the desolation of their country, the consuming of their substance, the destruction of their cities, the slaughter of their armies the captivity and enslavement, in foreign lands, of their people. When these afflictions, instead of driving them back to God and to his institutions, led them farther from //21// him, more and more to forget him, and made them more and more rebellious against him, he took from them their king and country, left them without a head, and destroyed them as a nation. In view of these things, Hosea (xiii; 9-11) exclaims:
"O Israel, thou has destroyed thyself; but in me IS thine
help. I will be thy king: where is ANY OTHER that may
save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges in whom thou
saidst, Give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in
mine anger, and took HIM away in my wrath."
This plainly teaches that to supplant the Divine with the human, to copy after the human, or to add the human to the Divine, was to reject God, to incur his anger and to bring upon themselves the destruction of God's fierce wrath. He tolerated them for a time so as to give them an opportunity to return to him. When the afflictions brought upon them failed to do this he took from them their earthly head, their king, destroyed them as a nation, and "scattered them among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other." They did not cease to worship God. They were still very zealous in that service but they had introduced the human government into the Divine Institution, and divided their fealty between God and the human government. This was their destruction.
God's dealings with the Jews farther prove that he often ordains and regulates institutions which he does not approve or ordain for the good of his people or for his own glory, but which he tolerates or ordains and directs for the punishment of rebellion and rejection of him, and often out of this while destroying the wicked, he brings good to his faithful children. He so overrules that the ordinance that works evil to the rebellious, brings good to the faithful. But the point before us is, that God neither permitted the subjects of his government to form alliances, or affiliate with the human governments, or consort with their //22// subjects, not to participate in their affairs to sustain and uphold them; nor did he permit them to introduce the human order into his government. Every alliance with, participation in, or adoption of the human into the divine met with the stern condemnation and punishment of God. Isaiah (xxx: 1-4) says: "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin; that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore, shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion." And verse 7, reads: "For Egypt helpeth in vain, and to no purpose; therefore have I called her Rahab that sitteth still." That is, whenever God's children sought the alliance of a human government or institution for help and for good to them, that help became the means of their confusion and the occasion of their shame. It was a distrust of God who proposed to be their strength, their "shield and their exceeding great reward." And God was a jealous God, and would not permit his children to seek other help than his own, and in and through his own government. The remainder of this chapter and the 31st, repeat and enforce this truth so clearly taught, and where God gives no direction, his children should sit still - do nothing. Indeed this lesson is indelibly stamped on every page and chapter of the record of God's dealings with the Jewish people.
The one great purpose of God's dealings with the children of Israel, was to teach them to serve him in his appointments, to trust him implicitly and faithfully: to have no part nor lot in the kingdoms and institutions of man's make and build, and that in doing thus the omnipotent strength of the living God was pledged to their defence and //23// success. That when they trusted the institutions and kingdoms of man's make, they always brought to them confusion and ruin.
WHAT HUMAN GOVERNMENTS DO FOR MAN.
In this description given by Samuel of what this human government would be and do to the Jews, God clearly describes what it does and is to all people. Every human government uses the substance, the time, the service of the subjects to enrich, gratify the appetites and lusts, and to promote the grandeur and glory of the rulers. And it is not true that in democratic or any other kind of governments the people themselves are rulers. They choose the rulers, at the instigation of a few interested leaders, then these rulers rule for their own selfish good and glory as other rulers do. The picture here drawn is not that of the worst and most despotic forms of governments, among the ignorant and degraded, but as it would and did exist among the Jewish people, with the best rulers that could be found. The substance of the people is, under forms of law taken now for the personal gratification and the display of our rulers just as Samuel told it would be in the Jewish nation. The licentiousness, the lewdness, the wars growing out of rivalry of different aspirants to rule, and of the desolation and bloodshed growing out of national rivalries are not mentioned by Samuel. He gave a picture of the mildest and best human governments as contrasted with the Divine. The rulers of the human oppress the subjects for their own benefit. The ministers of the Divine government deny themselves for the good of the subjects.
Jesus declares this: "Ye know that the princes of the//24//
Gentiles exercise dominion over them (their subjects) and
they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it
shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great
among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of
man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and
to give himself a ransom for many." Mat. xx. 25.
Here the inherent distinction between the two governments, is marked and emphasized. Man in setting aside the government of God and forming one of his own, cut himself off from the blessing, the service, the strength, the help that God bestows on the subjects of His government, and took on himself the burdens and oppressions and oppressors imposed by the human governments. But it is a decree of the Almighty that when man chooses his own way he shall eat of the fruit of that way.
"Because I called, and ye refused; I have stretched out
my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought
all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I will
laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear
cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your
destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and
anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me,
but I will not answer; they shall seek me early but they
shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did
not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my
counsel; they despised all of my reproof. Therefore shall
they eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with
their own devices." Prov. i. 24.
So long as men refuse the rule of God, God ordains they shall be ruled by their own governments and eat the fruit of their own ways and be filled with their own devices. Showing clearly that when men turn from the government of God to their own inventions and governments, then God ordains these governments as means of punishing them for their rebellion, and while this punishing them, they are God's ordinances for this work and none should resist them. In doing so they are resisting the ordinance of God.
But it is not in man to form government in which the selfish element will not prevail, and which will not be used to tax and oppress the ruled for the glory and aggrandizement of the rulers.
THE RELATION OF THE HUMAN TO THE DIVINE,
and the destiny of each is presented clearly by Daniel. //25// Israel was then in captivity in Babylon as a penalty for the sins of Hezekiah for too great affiliation with the messengers of Nebuchadnezzar in showing them all the treasures of the king's house. The sons of the blood royal and the princes of the house of Israel were servants in the king's palace, placed there "to be taught the language and learning of Babylon," that they might teach these to their brethren, that Israel might be led to forget God. The promises of God seem about to fail; his government seems at an end; his people are helpless slaves in a foreign land. The prospect is gloomy. The night is dark. Often, when to human sight the prospects of the success of God's people and his cause seem darkest, then to the trust of faith come the clearest revelations, giving the strongest assurance of the fulfillment of all God's promises. So it was at this time.
Nebuchadnezzar, the great king, saw the vision that proclaimed his downfall and the downfall of all human governments. Daniel, the slave, interpreted the vision for the king, and it was also for the strengthening of the faith of God's people. The image was that of a man, indicating the human origin of the governments typified by the image, in contrast with the Divine origin of the kingdom typified by the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands. Daniel interprets: the head of gold represents the kingdom of Babylon of which Nebuchadnezzar was head; the silver, the Medo- Persian; the brass, the Grecian; the iron, the Roman. The little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, represents the kingdom of God. It is not originated, shaped, or put into motion, or maintained by human power. It is God's government. The lesson taught is, that the human governments must, one and all, be destroyed; and in their destruction, one after another, each became the prey of, or "was left" with all its strength, its riches, and its glories to the destroyer. It became the //26// heritage of those who overthrew it. The last kingdom having received the riches, power, and strength of all those preceding it, the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, smote the iron, but broke in pieces the brass, the silver, and the gold, because the strength and the power of all were transmitted to and concentrated in this last one. In taking these kingdoms that attained to universal dominion, these mighty kingdoms that seemed to have destroyed all opposition, and to have left no power that could possibly come against them or destroy them; but had combined and concentrated all the power of all the earthly human kingdoms in themselves, to show that they must be destroyed, must be left to other people, the God of heaven certainly taught what must be the destiny of all human governments and all institutions of man's make. One common destruction awaits them all.
"They became like the chaff of the summer threshing
floor, and the wind carried them away, that no place was
found for them. And the stone that smote the image became
a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (ch. ii:
In contrast, we read, verse 44,
"In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set
up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the
kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall
break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it
shall stand forever."
Many prophecies, types, and illustrations in this prophecy of Daniel teach that this kingdom of God shall be for a time weak, feeble, and unpromising. It will be prevailed against, overrun, brought to the verge of ruin, to the jaws of death - to the very gates of hell itself - yet it shall never be destroyed. God gives evidence, clear and unmistakable of his will and power to overthrow all these mighty kingdoms of earth, even by the weakest of his children, when faithful. The mighty kingdom of Babylon is arrayed against its own slaves, but who are the servants of God. The result of the conflict is told by Nebuchadnezzar:
"I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him
that liveth forever; for his dominion is an everlasting
dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation;
and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as
nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army
of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and
none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest
thou?" (Dan. iv: 34, 35.)
In the overthrow of Babylon, Daniel and his fellows, as slaves, passed to the conqueror. The Medo-Persian empire came in contact with the Divine government in the persons of these slaves. God joined issue with each government at the point at which it claimed the greatest strength. The result of the conflict with the Medo-Persian is told by Darius the king, in Daniel vi: 26.
"I make a decree, that in all the dominion of my kingdom
men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is
the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom
that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall
be even unto the end."
God, in the darkest hour of his kingdom, when represented only by the slaves in bondage, showed to these kings that had subdued the whole earth, and through them to all nations and peoples for all time, that these human kingdoms must all be destroyed, must come to nought, that the mission of his kingdom is to break in pieces and destroy all these kings and kingdoms of human origin; but that the kingdom that he sets up shall never be destroyed. His kingdom shall not only break in pieces these kingdoms, but it shall CONSUME them, the last vestige of them.
"The judgement shall sit, and they shall take away his
dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And
the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the
kingdom under the whole heavens shall be given to the
people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is
an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and
obey him. Here [hitherto or this] is the end of the
matter." (Dan. vii: 27.)
That is, the end of all the conflicts and strifes of earth, will be the complete and final destruction, the utter consuming of the last vestige of human governments and institutions, and the giving of the dominion, and power, and //28// authority of the whole earth to the people of the saints of the Most High. Then, and only then will peace and quiet prevail on earth, and union, harmony, and good will reign among men. God and his people are not to conquer and possess the kingdoms as one human kingdom overthrows and possesses another - that is to displace the rulers and officers appointed by the human and to rule in and through their organizations. That would be to acknowledge man's institutions preferable to his own. All these kingdoms are to be broken in pieces, and CONSUMED. They are to be destroyed and supplanted by the kingdom which the God of heaven shall set up. They are to become as the dust of the summer's threshing-floor, that is driven before the wind, no place is to be found for them, but the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands is to become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth. The mission of the kingdom of God is to break into pieces and consume all these kingdoms, take their place, fill the whole earth, and stand forever. How could the individual citizens of the kingdom of God found, enter into, and become part and parcel of - upbuild, support, and defend, that which God's kingdom was especially commissioned to destroy? We find, then, beyond a doubt, that the commission given by God to the Jews to destroy the kingdoms of Canaan, to make no affinity, alliance, or confederation with them, is through Daniel extended to the everlasting kingdom of God, and its commission so widened and enlarged as to break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of the earth.
God hath a controversy with the nations of the earth.
"A noise shall come even to the end of the earth; for the
Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead
with all flesh; as for the wicked he will give them to
the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts,
Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a
great tempest shall be raised up from the uttermost parts
of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that
day from one end of the earth even unto //29// the other
end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither
gathered nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of
the ground." (Jer. xxv: 31-33)
The conflict between the human and the Divine is irrepressible, eternal, and must continue unto the complete and final destruction of the one, and the universal and final triumph of the other.
WICKED MEN AND NATIONS, GOD'S SERVANTS AND ORDINANCES.
We have found that God ordained institutions of evil when his people desired those that he did not approve as good for his people, to punish them, for forsaking the institutions that he ordained through which he chose to govern them, and through which he proposed to bring good to them. These institutions as in the case of the kings ordained in Israel, not only punished them, but often became the means of their deeper corruption, and wider departure from his service. This is in accord with the principle announced in Isaiah lxvi: 3,
"Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul
delighteth in their abominations; I also will choose
their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them;
because when I called, none did answer; when I spake,
they did not hear; but they did that which was evil in
mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not."
Or Prov. i: 29, 30, 31, "For that they hated knowledge, and
did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my
counsel; they despised all my reproof; therefore shall they
eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their
In other words, God ordains that men shall have the institutions that they choose in preference to his appointments, and that they shall reap the results of their choosing. The result always is punishment, and if the evil course is persisted in, their final destruction. But these institutions ordained to punish the sins and iniquities of his children, were God's ordinances for this purpose, and they were good for the end for which they were established - //30// the punishment of rebellion. They were not necessarily good for his children, nor were they, because ordinances of God, necessarily legitimate institutions for the affiliation and fellowship of God's children. Because the institutions that were especially ordained for punishing the rebellious are the institutions his subjects were forbidden to use, rely upon, or make alliance with, or participate in. Then God's children were not permitted to affiliate with, or participate in, use, or rely upon, all the ordinances of God.
TOPHET, OR HELL, IS ORDAINED OF GOD.
"For a Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is
prepared; he hath made it deep and large; the pile
thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord,
like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." (Isa. xxx:
Whether or not this refers to hell, the Gehenna of everlasting destruction, or to its earthly type, it is true that hell, the vortex of eternal ruin, is an ordinance of God for the final punishment of rebellion. God ordained institutions for governing, controlling, and blessing his faithful children; with these God's children could affiliate, could work in and through them. There were also ordinances of God to punish his rebellious children, to destroy his obdurate enemies. Into these God's children could not enter, affiliate with, could not support or direct, and on them they could not rely for help. Not only were these evil institutions God's ordinances, but wicked men who directed them were recognized as his servants. They constituted the constituency or the subjects of these Divine institutions because God used them to accomplish his work of punishing sin, and destroying his enemies. In this sense, God ordained all the institutions of earth, and used the vilest sinners of earth as his servants. He used the rebellious and the wicked to punish his disobedient children, and to destroy others whose measure of wickedness was full; then in turn, he punished the wicked individuals and peoples //31// that he had used, for doing the very work he had used them to accomplish, because they did it from a wicked, selfish, and cruel spirit.
"The Lord made the wicked for the day of evil." (Prov.
Take as an example, the king and kingdom of Babylon and Assyria. Their character as a wicked, rebellious, impious king and nation, has been clearly presented to us. Yet, Isa. x: 5-13, says:
"Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in their
hand is mine indignation! I will send him against an
hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath
will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take
the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the
streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his
heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and
cut off nations not a few. For he saith, Are not my
princes all of them kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish? is
not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? As my
hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven
images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; shall
I not; as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do
to Jerusalem and her idols? Wherefore it shall come to
pass, then when the Lord hath performed his whole work
upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit
of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory
of his high looks. For he hath said, By the strength of
my hand I have done it, and by wisdom; for I am prudent;
and have removed the bounds of the peoples and have
robbed their treasures, and I brought down as a valiant
man them that sit ON THRONES."
This clearly reveals these truths: (1) The Jewish people were rebellious; (2) God used the Assyrians, an idolatrous, cruel nation, to punish them; (3) that he calls this wicked nation the "rod of mine anger," the rod which he would use to punish Jerusalem and Judea that needed chastisement. He calls Judea a hypocritical nation, pretending to serve him, yet not doing it, and says:
I will send him [the Assyrian] against this Judah to
He was to take the spoil, the prey, and tread them down as the mire in the streets. "Howbeit he meaneth not so." It is not in his heart to go, because God bids him, nor for //32// the purpose of carrying out the will of God; but he is a blood-thirsty, ambitious tyrant, thinking only to conquer and destroy nations to gratify his own ambition and greed. So far from doing it to please God, he thinks the God of the Jews not so great as the images and idols of other countries that he has conquered. He boasted that of his own wisdom, strength, and valor he had conquered these nations. So God says:
"When the Lord has performed his whole work upon Mount
Zion and Jerusalem, [has fully punished them for their
sins], I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the
king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks."
God overrules this proud, cruel, domineering spirit of the wicked nation, to punish his disobedient children, then punishes the nation for doing this work. He claimed that he would permit only so much punishment on Judea as he purposed, so absolute was this overruling control that he exercised over Nebuchadnezzar, that he speaks of him as an axe or a saw in his hand.
"Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth
therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that
Assyria is an axe in the hand of God with which he hews down wicked nations. These exemplify two other Scripture truths.
The wicked are the sword of the Lord.
"Deliver my soul from the wicked WHICH ARE thy sword;
from men, WHICH ARE thy hand." (Ps. xvii: 13.)
God overrules the wicked to punish his people and destroy his enemies. The other truth is:
"Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder
of wrath shalt thou restrain." (Ps. lxxvi: 10.)
That is, God will so overrule the wrath of man as to accomplish his praise; whatever wrath would go beyond this God will restrain, as is exemplified above; it was to God's praise that rebellious Jews should be punished; God directed the bitter wrath and cruelty of Assyria so as to punish the //33// Jews just so far as that punishment would reflect honor and praise on God. He restrained the wrath of Assyria, that it should not go beyond that point.
It was not to God's praise that his chosen people should be wholly destroyed; hence,
"Hath he smitten him as he smote those that smote him?"
(Isa. xxvii: 7.)
Again, "For I will make a full end of all the nations
whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full
end of thee; but I will correct thee with judgement, and
will in no wise leave thee unpunished." (Jer. xxx: 11.)
But other nations sustaining openly and fully a rival government to his, when there was no hope of their turning to him in subjection to, and support of his government were destroyed unto the end,
"For the nations that will not serve thee shall perish;
yea those nations shall be utterly wasted." (Isa. lx:
When a rebellious nation was for a time exalted and seemed to prosper, it was in order that the destruction might be sudden and marked, to be seen of all men as a warning.
When the wicked spring as the grass, and all the workers
of iniquity do flourish, it is that they may be destroyed
forever." (Ps. xcii: 7.)
But as we follow up this history of Assyria and Judah, we find in Jeremiah (xxv: 8-14,)
"Because ye have not heard my words, behold, I will send
and take all the families of the north saith the Lord,
and I WILL SEND unto Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,
my servant, and will bring them against this land, and
against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these
nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and
make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual
desolation. * * * And these nations shall serve the king
of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when
seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the
king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for
their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will
make it desolate forever. And I will bring upon that land
all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all
that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath
prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and
great kings shall serve themselves of them, even of them:
and //34// I will recompense them according to their
deeds, and according to the work of their hands."
Now, follow this history up to the 50th and 55th chapters of Jeremiah, and read there the terrific appeal God makes to marshal the nations against this Babylon for the crimes committed by Nebuchadnezzar, "my servant."
"For, lo, I will stir up and cause to come up against
Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north
country; and they shall set themselves in array against
her; from thence she shall be taken. * * * Set yourselves
in array against Babylon round about, all ye that bend
the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows; for she hath
sinned against the Lord: * * * for it is the vengeance of
the Lord; take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do
This was all done because she had been the servant of the Lord in punishing Israel, and in cutting off and destroying nations not a few.
"Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think
so; but it is in his heart to cut off and destroy nations
not a few."
The end of this fearful marshalling of the nations to the destruction of Babylon, by this vengeance of the Lord, was:
"Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for
dragons, an astonishment, a hissing, without an
inhabitant." (Jer. li: 37.) Read the whole of chapters 50
Yet of all that mighty host of nations, summoned by God to spoil and destroy Babylon, not one knew the Lord God, and each in its turn was doomed to destruction for the cruel, blood-thirsty spirit that led it to war upon Babylon. Yet God said of this cruel horde:
"The Lord hath opened his armory, and hath brought forth
the weapons of his indignation; for the Lord, the Lord of
hosts hath a work to do in the land of the Chaldeans."
(Jer. l: 25.)
This wicked horde of idolatrous and degraded nations constituted the armory of the Lord, from which he drew the weapons that would execute his indignation on those who established governments of their own, in opposition to the government of God. God had a work, a work of destruction to do in the land of the Chaldeans, and he used //35// these wicked people drawn from his armory of rebellious nations, to destroy the Chaldeans. The end was,
"Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wolves
shall dwell there, and the ostriches shall dwell therein;
and it shall be no more inhabited forever, neither shall
it be dwelt in from generation to generation."
is presented to us as another idolatrous king whom God uses, not to punish his people for their rebellion, but to deliver them from their captivity, and to restore them to their own land. He united the Medes and Persians, and strengthened and so combined and directed the power of weaker nations, as to overthrow and destroy Babylon. He found the Jews in bondage in Babylon, and ordered their freedom and restoration to Judea, and the building of their temple. God, through Isaiah, (xliv: 28, and xlv: 1-6), says of Cyrus,
"HE IS my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure;
even saying of Jerusalem, she shall be built; and t the
temple, thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the Lord
to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have
holden, to subdue nations before him, and I will loose
the loins of kings to open the doors before him, and the
gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make
the rugged places plain; I will break in pieces the doors
of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; and I will
give thee the treasures of darkness, the hidden riches of
secret places, that thou mayest know that I am the Lord,
which shall call thee by thy name, even the God of
Israel. * * * I have surnamed thee though thou hast not
known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else; beside
me there is no God; I will gird thee though thou hast not
known me, that thou may know from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the
Lord and there is non else."
God called Cyrus, "My shepherd, mine anointed," and told that he led him, called him by name before he was born; told what should be his work and fortune; that by his order his people should return to Judea; that Jerusalem and the temple should be rebuilt; and yet Cyrus knew not God, but was a wicked, idolatrous king. Clearly he //36// did it with no view of honoring God. It was done to make friends of those who were oppressed and enslaved by Babylon. His course was that of a scheming, ambitious king seeking to circumvent and strength himself against his enemies. He neither was seeking the good of the Jews, nor the honor of God. He knew not God. Yet God called him, "My shepherd," because he overruled his wicked ambition to deliver and carry back to Judea his scattered sheep, and his anointed, because through him his temple was rebuilt.
While Cyrus was this gathering to their own land as a shepherd, the scattered flock of God, and ordering the rebuilding of the Temple, God permitted no affinity with his people, or dependence upon his government for help or support. It was at this return to Jerusalem, that they were required to put away their wives and their children, that they had married and begotten in their captivity. When they were on their way back to Judea beset by their enemies, Ezra says, (viii: 22, 23):
"For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers
and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way:
because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of
our God is upon all them that seek him, for good; but his
power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.
So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was
entreated of us."
Clearly indicating that it was a distrust of God to seek or rely for help upon the human government, even when God was overruling the wicked ambition of this ruler to deliver his people, and to bring them back to their land, and to rebuild the Temple of God. The king ordered gold and silver supplies to a certain amount, with all the sacred vessels that had been taken from Jerusalem to be given to them. This was doubtless a return for the spoliation made upon them, when they were taken captive, and as necessary to the accomplishment of his purpose.
This shows that all ordinances of God are not fit to be //37// used by the children of God, and all servants or ministers of God are not his children.
"Who maketh the winds his messengers, his ministers a
Only those ordinances which are ordained for his children are fitted for the service of his children, and only those servants or ministers who voluntarily seek to do his will because they know him, and in order to honor him, are the accepted and approved servants who will receive his blessing. God clearly overrules the wickedness of men to accomplish his purposes, and in so using their wickedness, he calls them his ministers or servants, his shepherds, or his anointed, according to the work he uses them to do. He overrules this wickedness so as to accomplish his purposes and ends, both with reference to his children, punishing or delivering as they deserve, and in punishing or destroying his enemies according to his purposes, and yet so overruling, that in the end the wicked persons or nations which he uses shall reap the bitterest fruits of their sin and crime.
In illustrating this principle of God's dealings with men, we have at some length dwelt upon the facts presented in the cases of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, as the principle is so clearly set forth in these cases that none need mistake. But the same principle is manifest in his dealings with Pharaoh and Egypt, with the nations in Canaan. God said in his first promise to drive out the nations before Israel:
"I will send hornets before thee, which will drive out
the Hivite, Canaanite and the Hittite from before thee.
I will not drive them out from before thee in one year,
lest the land become desolate, and the beasts of the
field multiply against thee. By little and little I will
drive them out before thee, until thou be increased and
possess the land."
These tribes were left to aid the children of Israel by preserving the land in a state of tillage and preventing the //38// country being overrun with wild beasts, until the Jews would so multiply as to fill the land. But the children of Israel intermarried and affiliated with these nations and they became a chief curse to the children of Israel. The children of Israel, instead of destroying them, made them pay tribute, and made alliances and treaties with them. God (Judges ii: 2,) reminds them that his law was:
"Ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this
land; ye shall throw down their altars, but ye have not
obeyed my voice; why have ye done this? Wherefore, I also
said, I will not drive them out before you; but they
shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be
a snare unto you."
This proved to be true. The book of Judges is but a recounting of Israel's sins, they are delivered into the hands of their enemies, to punish them; a deliverer in turn arises to destroy their enemies who punished them.
Hell is an ordinance of God for the punishment of the obdurately rebellious. In punishing the rebellious, it is a terror to evil works and a minister of good to the children of God. It ministers good to them by discouraging sin and weaning them away from sin. In the same sense, the devil is the servant or minister of God to execute wrath and vengeance on the enemies of God. The devil is the chief and leader of all rebels against God. God so overrules his rebellion as to make his domain, his home, a fit place for the punishment of the perversely rebellious. God uses the devil as his servant, his minister to inflict punishment on all those who are finally impenitent. God so overrules the devil while inflicting punishment on other rebels, himself, as the chiefest sinner, suffers the fullest measure, the most excruciating torments of this home of the damned.
Another thought, is, God declared he would drive out those nations before Israel, if Israel would be faithful to him as the only governor of the world. He would go //39// before them, send his angel before them, send hornets before them, and drive their enemies out. Many such expressions indicate that had the Jews been faithful to him, the deliverance would have been without suffering or loss to them. This principle is laid down in Isaiah xxvi:3:
"Open ye the gates that the righteous nations that
keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in
perfect peace, WHOSE mind IS stayed ON THEE."
And Proverbs xvi: 7,
"When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his
enemies to be at peace with him.
So in these wars, when the children of Israel pleased the Lord he delivered their enemies into their hands without suffering or loss to them. When they sinned, God imposed war upon them, their victories were at the cost of suffering and bloodshed. When they sinned grievously, when they joined affinity with the human government, defeat and disaster befel them. Continued alliance with and dependence upon human governments, brought captivity and slavery in foreign lands upon them and finally their dispersion and destruction as a nation. This indicates that the necessity of war and conflict was laid upon them as a punishment for sin and rebellion against God, as a warning and training for a more perfect trust in God. Had they fully trusted God, and had they been faithful to him, God would never have used them as his sword to execute vengeance on his enemies. They were only used to punish others as a punishment to themselves.
It is clear that the influence upon man, that arose from forming and conducting human governments, was to wean man from the government of God, make him feel independent of that government and of his Maker. It inspired his heart with the idea that man is more than a servant. He naturally magnifies his own works and his own institutions, so that but few men give their time and service to //40// the human government, but that they soon come to think the human much more essential to the world's well-being, than the Divine government. The introduction of human additions into the Divine institution has the same tendency. Men who introduce, operate and support human additions to the government of God, soon come to so magnify these human additions, that they esteem them of more importance to the well-being of the servants of God, than any of the God-ordained appointments of his institution. This is but the working of human nature. A proper understanding of these principles and manners of God's working among, and dealings with the world, is essential, in any just understanding of the origin, mission, and destiny of human governments, their relation to God, and of the relation that the Christian and Church of God sustain to them.
We have made this partial summary of the illustrations God gives us of the spirit which originates human governments, and of the dealings with them and their subjects who refuse his government so as to maintain the governments of man. It has been only a partial summary. The examples on each point might be multiplied ten-fold; and the writer does not believe there is an example in the Old Testament that antagonizes the conclusions to which these examples point.
These conclusions may be re-stated as follows:
1. God created man as his own servant, to govern and control him; and in pursuance of this design has at all times kept in existence a government of his own, changing it to suit the changed condition and character of those willing to submit to him, reaching from the beginning until the present time.
2. That institution gave room for no human legislation; God is the sovereign and sole law maker for it and he has ruled in it to guide and bless his children.
3. Man, in the spirit of rebellion against God and with the view of living free from the control of God, and independent of his authority, instituted governments of his own, and those governments in their changing forms have existed from the days of Nimrod to the present time.
4. God, from its beginning, recognized this human government as rebellion against him, and as the organized effort to throw off his authority and to conduct the affairs of the earth free from God's rule and dominion.
5. Regarding them thus, God always forbade that his subjects should join affinity or affiliate with the subjects of the human government, or that they should make any alliance with, enter into, support, maintain and defend, or appeal to, or depend upon, these human governments for aid or help.
6. That alliances with these human governments or their supporters arose from distrust of, and were sins against, God, and without exception were punished. That these alliances were sources of corruption to the children of God, weaned them from God, from his service, and from fidelity to his appointments, and brought weakness, shame, and disaster, instead of strength, security, and safety.
7. That the copying after the human, or dovetailing it into the Divine government was a rebellion against God, and a rejection of him as their ruler; was the destruction and corruption of his government, a transforming of the Divine into the human.
8. That God ordained the human government to punish those who rebelled against his government by choosing the human, and he used and overruled this human government to punish his rebellious children, and to destroy his enemies. For this purpose God ordained and used it, and for these ends it was the ordinance of God. It was good for the purpose for which he ordained it.
9. The builders, rulers, and supporters of these governments were wicked, rebellious men. God overruled their wickedness to punish the rebellious children, and to destroy his enemies. In this work he called them, "my servants," "my shepherd," "mine anointed," yet when he had used them in accomplishing this work, he so directed that those used by him as his ministers of vengeance, themselves were destroyed for their wicked, revengeful, and rebellious spirit.
10. God's government was his medium for receiving the service of his loyal children, and was his instrumentality through which he bestowed blessings upon them. While his servants were faithful to him in this government, he permitted no evil to befal them, fought their battles for them, delivered them from their enemies, and kept "in perfect peace those whose heart was stayed on him."
11. God had two classes of ordinances: (1) His own government for the maintainance of his authority, the spread of his kingdom and the promotion of virtue and holiness, and the protection, blessing and salvation of his children, and (2), human government, his sword, his battle axe, his armory, to punish his disobedient children, and to execute wrath and vengeance on, and to destroy his enemies. Corresponding to these were the two classes of servants, his loyal and obedient children, and the wicked spirits who set at defiance his authority, build up institutions to supersede his government, which were overruled by God to punish wickedness, and in turn to be destroyed for their wickedness. In these diverse and contrary senses and characters, heaven and hell, Jesus Christ and the devil are ordinances and servants of God, to accomplish the diverse works.
12. The government of God and those of man were antagonistic and rivals of each other, each contending for the rule and dominion of the world. Between them there was an irrepressible conflict. God especially commissioned his local government to drive out and destroy the human governments and their subjects that inhabited the country they possessed. That this war of extermination was waged against the human governments and their subjects, not against them as individuals or families.
Daniel's prophesy foretells that God's government would be extended to the dominion of the whole world just as his local government would be extended to the dominion of the land of Canaan. This prophesy projects the lines of separation, and the conflict between the human and Divine, into the illimitable future, and especially commissions this universal and everlasting kingdom to break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of earth, all the kingdoms and institutions of man's make, and to possess and fill the whole earth, and itself to stand forever.
According to this clear prophesy, the conflict will know no cessation, will be unto the end, till one is destroyed and consumed, and the other brings the whole earth into subjection to the King of kings. The end, as foretold by Daniel:
"The kingdom and the dominion and greatness of the
kingdom under the whole heavens shall be given to the
people of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting
kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."
With this conflict thus projected into the future, we will follow the stream of revelation, and in the New Testament seek to learn the relation of these kingdoms to the perfect kingdom of God, the Christian's relation to them, and their final destiny.
In the former chapter we showed that civil or human government originated among the rebellious portion of the human family; that it was recognized as the effort to live without God and his government; that a conflict was kept up through the entire period of the Old Testament dispensation; that the special commission of the children of Israel was to destroy these governments in the land of Canaan, and to establish in their stead the government of God; that in the destruction of these governments all who clung to and upheld them were to be destroyed. There was an irrepressible and perpetual conflict between the Divine and the human. A war of extermination was declared by God against the governments of earth. God ordained the human institutions to punish the rebellion of man. So long as man rebels, these institutions that arise out of the rebellion must perish. The subjects of the Divine government could not participate in the human, could not form affiliation or alliance with the subjects of the human, nor inject or dovetail the human into the Divine. They were necessarily and essentially antagonistic, and fealty to both could not be maintained by the same person. We showed that Daniel (ii:42) in prophecy projected that conflict into the illimitable future and extended it to all the kingdoms of earth; that "the God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed; it shall break in pieces and consume all these (human) //45// kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." These human kingdoms "shall be destroyed and consumed unto the end," or to a complete and everlasting destruction. This idea of the essential antagonism and irrepressible conflict between these kingdoms was impressed by God, through the patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, indelibly upon the minds and lives of His people. Not only was it impressed upon the Jews, but it was accepted as true by the rulers and subjects of the human governments.
The prophecies of the Old Testament caused the Jews to look forward to the coming of a Divine Deliverer to rescue them from the rule of the human power under which they were living and to re- establish the rule of God on earth. The rulers of the human government had accepted the truth of this coming of one sent from God, and instinctively felt the result of his rule would be the overthrow of their authority and rule, hence their effort to destroy him at his birth.
"Now, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the
days of Herod, the king, behold wise men came to
Jerusalem saying, where is he that is born king of the
Jews? For we saw his star in the East and are come to
worship him. And when Herod, the king, heard it, he was
troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. * * * Then Herod,
the king, privily called the wise men and learned of them
carefully what time the star appeared, and he sent them
to Bethlehem and said, go and search out carefully
concerning the young child, and when ye have found him
bring me word, that I also may come and worship him. * *
* They came into the house and saw the young child with
Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshipped * *
* and being warned of God in a dream that they should not
return to Herod, they departed into their own country by
another way. * * * An angel of the Lord appeared to
Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child
and his mother and flee into Egypt and be thou there
until I tell thee, for Herod will seek the young child to
destroy him. * * * Then Herod, when he saw that he was
mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent
forth and slew all the male children that were in
Bethlehem and in all the borders thereof, from two years
old and under, according to the time he had carefully
learned of the wise men." (Mat. ii: 1-16.)
Christ thus was recognized from before his birth as coming as the enemy of, and to make war upon the human government, and the rulers sought from his birth to kill him.
Christ came as the anointed of God to establish and build a kingdom that should break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of earth, and that should fill the whole earth and stand forever. As in the beginning of the typical institution of Judaism, God sought favorable conditions for launching his kingdom, free from temptation to entangling alliances, and affiliations with human governments, so He now chooses a period when the human government adopted into Judaism, was destroyed and the nation with it. (Hosea, xiii: 9.)
The Jews themselves were in oppressive bondage to the Roman government. At this juncture the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as preached, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand," could only have been understood as referring to that kingdom which the God of Heaven should set up, whose mission was to destroy all other kingdoms, and to fill the whole earth. To him who thus claimed to be of God, the Jews, in their oppression, gladly gave heed as to one by whom they expected deliverance from Roman bondage. Jesus was acknowledged by God as "my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased."
He soon meets the Devil who had seduced man the ruler, and with him the world from its loyalty to God, and who held it in bondage to himself as the ruler of the world. The significant point of the advent of the Son of God into the world is that Christ and the devil met here in person to lead in the conflict for the mastery of the world. Christ came to rescue the world from the dominion and rule of the evil one into which it had fallen, and to bring it back to its primitive and pristine allegiance to God his Father. //47// This was his mission to earth. Having received from his Father his commission he entered upon his work. The devil met him in person as the leader of the hosts. A test of power between the personal leaders is first made. The earth is the battlefield and on the result of this conflict depends the eternal future of the world.
The devil was in possession of the world. It had been transferred to him by man to whom God had committed the rule, under himself, of the world. Christ came to rescue it from his dominion, to bring it back under the authority of God, and to restore it to its normal position in the universe under the rule of God and to bring it into harmony with laws governing the universe.
Jesus could accomplish this work only through a life of self- denial, of persecution and sorrow, ending in the shameful death of the cross. Then when the work should be completed, he must surrender the redeemed and regenerated kingdom up to the Father, and himself be subject to the Father, or he must be second in position in the rule of the kingdom he has rescued.
The fierceness of the conflict, the cost to himself, the suffering and anguish of the cross, the anticipation of which made great drops of bloody sweat ooze from his brow and fall down to earth, he had fully foreseen and appreciated. He was "as a lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
"Who was verily foreordained before the foundation of the
world, but was manifested in these last days for you who
by him do believe in God." (1 Peter i: 20.)
These sufferings and sorrows, the death of cruelty and shame had been fully laid open to him. His sensitive nature felt the shame and suffering and the degradation of the grave more keenly than any human being could feel it, and he recoiled from it with a keener sense of anguish, than human hearts, dulled and blunted by sin and fleshly lust and passion could ever feel, and in deepest humiliation //48// and agony cried, "Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me."
With a full realization of all this strife, sorrow and suffering, ending in the degradation of the grave, pressing upon his soul, in the beginning of his ministry he was led of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
The devil realizing the conflict before him, determined to seduce Jesus from his loyalty to God, and to induce him to enter his service. When Christ was hungered, depressed with bodily weakness, and the afflictions before him, overwhelmed with the herculean task he had undertaken,
"The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain
and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world and the
glory of them, and saith unto him, all these will I give
thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Jesus saith
unto him 'Get thee hence, Satan,' for it is written, thou
shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou
Then the devil left him, and angels came and ministered to him. Luke records, (iv: 5):
"The devil taking him up into a high mountain showed unto
him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,
and said unto him, all this power will I give unto thee
and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me, and
to whomsoever I will, I give it. If therefore thou wilt
worship me, all shalt be thine."
It is needful to observe (1) the devil claims the kingdoms of the earth as his. They had been delivered into his hands, and to whomsoever he willed he could give them.
That the devil possessed the kingdoms of the world is often denied. He here says, "they were delivered unto me." This was done certainly when man, having been intrusted with the rule and dominion of earth, betrayed the trust, hearkened to and obeyed the devil instead of God. Man the ruler transferred his allegiance, and with his own, that of the earth he ruled, from God to the devil. Satan was in possession, then, of these kingdoms and the glory of them, he claimed the power to bestow them upon whom he would; he proposed to give them to Christ Jesus, if he //49// would fall down and worship him. The mission of Jesus Christ proves this claim of the devil to be true. He came to rescue the world from the possession and rule of the devil and to destroy the power of the evil one. It is objected.
"God made no attempt to abolish civil goverment; he
attempted to be the law-maker for one nation, and made
his law their civil law. He never tried to force those
laws upon other nations, or to legislate for them. There
is not one word of condemnation of any civil government
in the Bible unless that government enacted laws contrary
to natural equity, or was led by an unprincipled ruler."
God never attempts to do any thing. He always does it or he does not do it. He did make laws and hence was the LAW-MAKER for his people, the Jewish nation. He neither attempted nor forced his laws upon any people, neither the Jews nor other. All must voluntarily accept them or he will not be their God and law-giver. God was no respecter of persons. He revealed himself and his will to all alike in the beginning and as Paul, Rom. i: 21, says,
"Because when they knew God they glorified HIM not as God
neither were thankful; but became vain in their
imaginations, * * * professing themselves to be wise they
became fools * * * and worshipped and served the creature
more than the Creator."
Imagined they could make governments better than God, and served the creature by honoring their own in preference to God's government. Every one who honors and serves the human government and relies upon it, for good, more than he does upon the Divine government, worships and serves the creature more than he does the Creator.
For THIS cause God gave them up to be a law unto themselves, or to make their own governments and to work their own ruin. In the beginning, God gave his law to all alike. When all save one family turned away, he gave his law to this family. No nation with a human government was ever accounted the people of God. And his children were forbidden affiliation with them. But any and all persons //50// of every national and family could become of his people by submission to his government.
The first fundamental principle of natural equity, was and is, that people created and preserved by the God of Heaven and earth, should submit to the government of their Creator and preserver. To establish another government is to violate this, hence all who established other governments violated the principles of natural justice, and are condemned by God, to destruction unless they repent. God has at no time in the world's history accepted a people with a human government as his people, save the Jews who added the human to the Divine. This was recognized as a rejection of God as their ruler that resulted in their rejection by God and their destruction as the people of God.
Jesus knew who held possession of the kingdoms of the world and whether he had the power to bestow them. Unless the devil possessed these kingdoms and had power to bestow them, the offer could have been no temptation to Christ. It was a temptation, and he "suffered being tempted."
It is objected that if the statement of the Devil be true,
"The devil had possession by the will of God, the
language demands this, for it hath been delivered unto
me. And Christ came to rescue it from his dominion by the
will of God. A seeming conflict in the purpose of God."
The language "it hath been delivered unto me" does not demand that it should have been delivered by the will of God. The history shows man delivered it at the suggestion of the devil and God punished him for it. But it is true it was and is God's will that when man sinned he and the world which he rules should be given over to the rule of the devil to punish him for his sins. God uses the devil to rule and punish sinners. Just as it is God's will the persistent sinner shall be given over to the rule of the //51// devil in hell forever. It is also true that God desires Jesus Christ should deliver man and with man the world committed to his rule from the rule of the devil, both in this world and in the world to come. But not that he should deliver them while yet in sin. But that he should turn them from sin, and so rescue them from the devil. There is not even a seeming conflict in the purposes of God. Again it is objected,
"If it be meant that civil government and nations were
under the control of the devil, and that Christ come to
rescue them from him, then Christ has failed, because we
all know, civil government and nations are now more
nearly universal than ever before, and that every
disciple of Jesus is a subject of some nation and is
subject to civil government."
How civil government is now more universal than heretofore we do not understand, inasmuch as from the days of Nimrod civil government has extended over all the families of the earth. Rebellion against God has been universal from the beginning, civil government has been co-extensive with it. But it is not true that civil government is honored and feared and that men stand in awe of it and reverence its rule as they did in past ages. They now under the enlightening rays of Divine truth understand government is for the people and not the people for the government and that rulers are men - selfish, wicked, corrupt men, with no more rights than others and human government is losing its hold on the affections of men. But this objection is made in a misapprehension of the order of God. Suppose we were to say God declared a war of extermination against sin six thousand years ago and sin is as universal now as it ever was, therefore God has failed in his war upon sin. This is just as true as that the war against human government has failed. The infidel can set aside the whole idea of Divine rule with this very argument. But the truth is this. It is God's will that human government shall exist so long as man or and considerable //52// portion of the human family refuses to be governed by God. He ordained human government as a punishment for rejecting his government. Wherever and so long as man rejects God's rule, he must be ruled by men, or as here developed he must be ruled by the devil. But Christ came to destroy human government by calling man back from sin to the rule and service of God. Man must come voluntarily at the call of Christ. Then Jesus proposed to destroy human government only as he destroyed sin and rebellion against God. If there has been a failure it is not in destroying human government, but in destroying sin and rebellion since he proposed to destroy that only as these were destroyed. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." He wishes human government to continue so long as man continues to sin. It is not wrong for the government of the devil to exist so long as men rebel against God and prefer to serve the devil. The wrong is in the rebellion that produces these governments and then, that those who have ceased to rebel against God and have have taken the oath of fealty to him, should still support and strengthen these governments that have grown up as the fruit of this rebellion. Jesus Christ desires to destroy these governments only as he destroys sin which necessitates them. Only as his own government increases to fill the earth, just as God desires hell to exist so long as sin exists. It is right hell should exist so long as sin is in the universe to punish sinners and deter from sin. But it is wrong for the servants of God to enter into, become subjects and managers of the institution of hell.
Then Christ recognized the claim of the devil to the possession of the kingdoms of the world as true, and the devil is henceforth called int he Bible the Prince or ruler of this world.
The special point of the temptation is this: Christ had //53// come to rescue the world from the dominion of the evil one, and to bring it back to God.
He is to rescue it through suffering, persecution, reproach, the death of the cross, the degradation of the grave, and after it shall be rescued he must surrender it up to God and himself occupy a secondary place in the rule of the world. Now, says Satan, but worship me, do obeisance to me, acknowledge my supremacy, instead of God's, and without suffering, persecution, sorrow, the cross or the grave, all shall be yours, and you will then have the same dignity and honor under me without suffering, as you will have under God, when you shall have endured all. Christ felt the temptation most keenly.
The condition of the world proclaims the evil rule of the world, the degraded condition of humanity, the suffering, sorrow, death that reign here all proclaim that he who reigns is not the All wise Creator and ruler of the universe.
God created the world free from sin and from evil.
"The Lord planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he
put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground
made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to
the sight, and good for food, the tree of life also in
the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of
good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the
In this earth-home of man there was nought to mar his happiness, to disturb his peace, or to detract from his full enjoyment of life. No briars, no thistles, no thorns, no noxious weeds grew. The Spirit of God brooded over all, and impregnated every breath of air with his own life-giving, life-perpetuating and health-inspiring tonic. Sickness did not enter, nor death spread its dark pall over this paradise of God; but perennial youth, drinking fresh vigor, from life-giving fountains, and inhaling exhilerating breezes from the throne of God, was the heritage of every living creature. With God's Spirit brooding over all, and pervading every breeze, no fierce passions raged, no venomous //54// serpent hissed, no beasts of prey prowled through this garden of love, no pitiless storms beat, no fierce tornadoes desolated this joyous and peaceful abode.
To man, a prince of his realm, bearing his own image, God entrusted this fair dominion, as a home and a possession, to be ruled in the interest and for the honor and glory of God. To promote the honor of God - the ruler, was to increase the good and glory of the whole universe and of every being in this universe.
In this beautiful home, man knew no toil, no weariness, no care, no anxiety, no pain, no sickness, no sorrow. In this home no envious spirits, nor evil desires dwelled, no wicked passions raged in human hearts. This earth of ours was the outer court of the Heaven of Heavens, the home of God, the Father of the universe.
God had entrusted this world with the power and glory of it, to man as his servant. Man betrayed the trust, rejected the rule of God and transferred his allegiance and the allegiance of the world from the God of Heaven to the devil. Hence the Devil said,
"It has been delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will,
I give it."
The result of this treason and transfer was, God ceased to be the ruler and the devil became the god of this world. The Spirit of God refused to dwell in the defiled temple on the polluted earth and withdrew in grief to the home of God in Heaven. The devil as the Prince of this world, infused his subtile spirit and poision of death into the fountains of waters and into every breeze that floated over land and sea. This earth was changed from a nursery of life and joy into a charnal house of death and sorrow, a whited sepulcher without, "within full of dead mens bones and all uncleanness." Briars, thistles and thorns grew spontaneously from this garden of God. The paradise of God //55// became a dried and parched waste - a desert of noxious weeds. Toil, pain, sickness, anxiety, care, sorrow, mortality and death became the heritage of humanity.
By this treason of man the evil one became the ruler; "the god of this world," "the prince of the power of air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph.ii:2) showing that the evil spirit took up his abode in and so tainted the air we breathe, that the spirit of rebellion and the poison of death are inhaled with every breath we draw. Man was separated from God, "became carnal, sold under sin."
He found "another law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members." Man was helpless under this bondage to sin and sank downward to continually deeper depths of woe.
Mental decay and inactivity quickly followed spiritual stupor. With spiritual and mental torpor came the degrading rule of unbridled lust and passion. Paul drew a fearful picture of the depths of degradation to which man bearing the image of God descended, under this transfer of his allegiance from God to the evil one.
"Because that knowing God they glorified him not as God,
neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings,
and their senseless (insensate) heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and
changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the
likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds,
and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God
gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto
uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among
themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for
a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than
the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause
God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women
changed the natural use unto that which is against
nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural
use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward
another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving
in themselves that recompense of their error which was
due. And even as they refused to have God in THEIR //56//
knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do
those things which are not fitting; being filled with all
unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;
full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity;
whisperers, back-biters hateful to God, insolent, haughy,
boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to
parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers,
without natural affection, unmerciful; who knowing the
ordinance of God, that they which practice such things
are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also
consent with them that practice them." (Rom. i: 21-32.)
This is given as the result of man's transfer of his allegiance from God to the devil. With this torpor of the soul and stupor of the mind and reign of lust, the body is enfeebled, diseases preyed upon the body, and plagues and pestilences swept the human family from the earth. War with its desolation and bloodshed and bitter cruelty, was the normal condition of humanity, thus distorted and perverted by the spirit of the devil.
With this degradation of man, the entire under creature subject to his rule sympathized. "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same, in hope", and "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain until now."
The earth shared the curse of this rule of the devil. It became barren and desolate, producing only briars, thistles, thorns and noxious weeds, and became "a hold for unclean beasts and foul birds."
It is a slander upon Almighty God to say, his rule and dominion of the world, brought this condition of affairs. The devil's rule and dominion brought these terrible evils to man and to all that is subject to him. To deliver the world from the rule of the devil and from this terrible condition produced by his rule, was the end and purpose of the mission of Christ Jesus, into this earth.
If the world is not under the rule and dominion of the devil the mission of Christ is meaningless. He came to rescue and redeem the world and to destroy the Devil and all his works.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh
and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the
same; that through death he might destroy him that hath
the power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. ii: 14.)
The point fully and clearly developed in this, is, that Christ Jesus recognized the kingdoms of this earth and the glory of them as belonging to the devil. The earth had been delivered unto him as ruler and prince, and all these institutions, kingdoms, governments, had grown up under his rule and authority, and they constitute the institutions and organizations through which he has governed man and the world, and in which he rewards his servants.
The devil is the "prince of the world,"
"Now is the judgement of this world: now shall the prince
of this world be cast out." (Jno. xii: 31.)
"Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince
of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." (Jno. xiv: 30.)
Of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged."
(Jno. xvi: 11.)
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course
of this world, according to the prince of the power of
the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience." (Eph. ii: 2.)
He is the prince of the world because they have been delivered into his hands, and he has builded up the kingdoms of the world that he may rule through them.
Christ having resisted successfully these tempting offers of the devil, and having shown his true loyalty to God, the angels of God came and ministered unto him. He then lays down the principles that must govern in his kingdom. They are epitomized in 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew. These principles are diverse from and antagonistic to the principles that have obtained and must ever obtain in all human governments. No human government can possibly be maintained and conducted on these principles laid down for the government of Christ's subjects in his kingdom. The spirit that prompts the practice of the principles is opposed to the spirit needful for the maintenance //58// of human governments. The two spirits cannot dwell in the same heart, nor the same temple, or institution. A man cannot be gentle, forgiving, doing good for evil, turning the other cheek when one is smitten, praying "for them that despitefully use and persecute" him, and at the same time execute wrath and vengeance on the evil-doer, as the human government is ordained to do, and as it must do to sustain its authority and maintain its existence. In recognition of this antagonism Christ, in giving the platform of principles, (Matt. vi: 21,) says:
"No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate
the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the
one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and
Mammon as the God of this world rules in the kingdoms of the world. God can be served only in the "kingdom which the God of heaven shall set up." The God of this world is served in the kingdoms of this world. Christ plainly declares a man cannot serve in both. He concludes this platform of principles by the warning,
"He who hears these sayings of mine and does them shall be
likened unto a wise man who built his house upon the rock."
It shall stand forever. He who hears these sayings and does them not, builds on the sand, to be overwhelmed in destruction.
This carries the idea that the institutions ordained of God will stand forever; those not founded in his word, hence of human origin, must be destroyed and will engulf in the same destruction, those who serve in them.
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Christ, from this time onward, preached the coming kingdom. It was the burden of his thought, the theme of every discourse. His disciples were taught to pray that it come. His parables, his teachings, all presented some thought, some feature, or relationship of that kingdom. Its spirit toward its own subjects, the faithful and //59// unfaithful, toward the subjects of human governments; the time of its complete organization, its mission, its relationship to human government, its end, final destiny, and its relation to himself and to God, the Father, are carefully presented, exemplified, and enforced. It is true that when Christ was in person here on earth, the devil was also here. It is true that when God has exercised wonder-working power on the earth, He has permitted the same character of manifestation to the devil. When Christ bestowed miraculous power on others, the devil did the same. There was always the clear line of distinction kept up between the Divine and the demoniac. The Divine spirit dwelling in man uplifted and blessed him and made him a blessing to others. The demoniacal possession afflicted and cursed the possessor, and made him a curse to others. Jesus, in his work, showed his power over the evil one by casting out demons and relieving those afflicted by them. All disease, sickness, mortality and death came upon man as the result of the transferred allegiance of man and the world, from God to the devil. Christ, in healing the maladies and afflictions of humanity, and in restoring life to the dead, manifested His power over the devil. In this was a conflict between Christ and the devil. But it is of his teaching in reference to the relations and contact of His kingdom with the kingdoms of earth that we desire to inquire. (Matt. xv: 13.) In speaking of practices not ordained of God he lays down this broad truth:
"Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted
shall be rooted up."
This is a declaration that all institutions and organizations not planted by God shall be destroyed. This truth is far reaching. The material, moral and spiritual world have all been blighted by the rule of the devil. The //60// poison of death and ruin has infected the whole realm of nature. The declaration is that every evil - material, moral, or spiritual, every influence that has been put in operation by the devil, shall be antagonized and counteracted and destroyed by Christ Jesus. Especially is it true that every institution, organization or kingdom established under the rule of the evil one shall be rooted up and destroyed. Christ's mission is to destroy the works of the devil, and all these kingdoms and governments of earth are the works of the evil one.
(Matt. xvi: 13.) When Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, Christ responded,
"Blessed art thou, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and
blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, who
is in heaven, and I say unto thee that thou art Peter,
and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of
hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto
thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever
thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
Undoubtedly this is a repetition of the prophecy of Daniel,
"In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set
up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed. It shall
not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces
and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand
Here it is called a church against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, the kingdom of heaven, the terms of entrance into which shall be ratified in heaven.
But Jesus in declaring that the gates of hell shall not prevail against this kingdom or church, implied that they must prevail against every other kingdom or institution of earth. If there are other institutions or kingdoms against which "the gates of hell shall not prevail," there is neither point nor force in saying they shall not prevail against this kingdom or church built by Christ. Whatever else may be meant by "gates of hell prevailing against," it carries the idea of the destruction of what is prevailed against.
The expression necessarily declares that every institution, kingdom, and organism of earth, save this kingdom of the God of heaven, this church builded by Jesus Christ, shall be engulfed in the vortex of everlasting ruin. This church or kingdom alone shall never perish. All these kingdoms of earth shall be broken in pieces and consumed by the kingdom of God which alone shall stand forever. Jesus spent his life after his recognition as the Son of God, in thus teaching and manifesting the superiority of his kingdom over the earthly kingdoms. His life was a continual conflict. The rulers of the earthly governments came in contact with him only to persecute. But he saw the final conflict must come.
"The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers
take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his
When he turned his face toward Jerusalem for the last time, he realized that the final fierce conflict was at hand. He exclaimed (John xii: 23-27.)
"The hour has come that the son of man should be
glorified. * * * Now is my soul troubled, and what shall
I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this
purpose came I unto this hour. Father glorify thy name.
Then came a voice from heaven saying, I have both
glorified it and will glorify it again. The people who
stood by said it thundered; others said an angel spoke to
him. Jesus answered, * * * Now is the judgement of this
world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out,
and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men after me.
This said he signifying what death he should die."
In the final conflict between the Savior and the devil, Jesus felt sure of triumph, the casting the devil out of his position as a ruler of the world. Yet the conflict, the anguish, the lifting up on the cross, oppressed him sorely. The prince of this world was coming in the person of the rulers of human governments. Again, in Jno. xiv: 30.
"Hereafter I will not talk much with you, for the prince
of this world cometh and hath nothing in me."
He was coming in the person of the ruler his earthly kingdom, had nothing in Jesus or his work, hence would //62// so persecute him that Jesus would not have opportunity to talk much with his disciples. Again, (John xvi: 13), in declaring the mission of the spirit, "he will convince the world of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged." In judging the ruler of this world, and overcoming him, he would show the world that all his subjects and institutions would be overthrown.
The conflict with the devil, ending in the triumph of Jesus Christ, was a judging, a condemnation, an overthrow of the devil, an assurance that he would be destroyed and all his servants judged and condemned.
But the truth clearly revealed in these things, is, that the civil power and the rulers engaged in the work of persecuting the Son of God, are the ministers of Satan, doing his work. Through these, his ministers, Christ is arrested, buffeted, scorned, spit upon, beaten, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross and killed; He was carried down by these powers of darkness to the grave, the prison-house of the devil, the ante-chamber of hell, where the devil held undisputed reign. Bound in the fetters of death, in the dark dungeon of the grave, betrayed of man and forsaken of God, within the personal power and domain of the devil he makes the final struggle with "him that hath the power of death, that is the devil." In the grave the battle was fought, in the grave the victory was won for man's redemption. Jesus overcame the devil in his own home, triumphed over death, hell, and the grave, and came forth the glorious conqueror. In this conflict, reaching from the cradle to the grave, between Jesus and the devil, the civil power was the minister and instrument of the devil.
The rulers sought his life at his birth, desolated the homes around Bethlehem by the destruction of every male child "two years old and under." The civil power dogged his pathway through life and nailed him to the cross //63// in his death. "The prince of this world hath nothing in me."
THE CHURCH AND THE CIVIL POWER.
The appetite for blood being whetted by the death of the Master, the blood of his followers is demanded to satiate its greed. Stephen soon falls a victim, and the first church, both men and women, are scattered abroad everywhere by the bloody hand of the civil power. Saul, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, made havoc of the church, and is commissioned to "hale any he found of this way, men and women, to prison."
"King Herod stretched forth his hand to vex certain of the
church, and killed James, the Lord's brother, and because he
saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter
also and cast him into prison, intending after the Passover to
bring him forth to the people."
God opened the prison doors, and delivered him. Paul and Barnabas were assaulted at Iconium, stoned at Lystra, fled through Derbe and the cities of Lycaonia, were beaten and cast into the dungeon and their feet made fast in the stocks at Philippi, and persecuted at Thessalonica. The remainder of the Acts of the apostles tells of the persecutions, trials, strifes, stonings, bonds and imprisonments of Paul to the end. He had the testimony continually with him that "in every city bonds and afflictions abide me." His prison was often his church-house, the prison-box his pulpit, and much of his evangelistic labor was done wearing a chain.
This life of strivings, conflicts, and persecutions was ended by death at the hands of the civil rulers. The other apostles had much the same history. All, it is believed, like the Master, ended their lives by the sword, the stonings, the cross, the fire and fagot of the civil power. Every inch of ground gained and held by Christ and his apostles //64// was gained and held against the fierce persecutions or more hurtful temptations of the civil power.
The civil power sought to throttle the church, as it sought to destroy its founder, in its infancy. The life of his physical body was a type of the life of his spiritual body, the church.
The relationship of Christ and his church to civil power is plainly declared in his own teachings and actions.
"When they came to Capernaum they that received tribute money
came to Peter and said, Doth not your Master pay tribute? He
saith yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus
prevented [anticipated] him, saying, What thinkest thou,
Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take tribute, of
their own children or of strangers? Peter saith to him, Of
strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free?
Notwithstanding lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea
and cast a hook and take up the first fish that cometh up, and
when thou hast opened his mouth thou shalt find a piece of
money, that take and give unto them for me and thee."
This indicates that Christ's teaching had raised the doubt with the Jews, whether he would count himself a child or a stranger under the civil government. Although born a citizen, Jesus apprehending the questionings of their mind, solved it, refused to claim the exemption of a child, and once and forever places himself and his disciples among the strangers to these governments. Some may think this hardly required by the context. A pondering of all the parts necessitates the conclusion.
Besides one of the oldest manuscripts has added as the close of the last sentence, "seeing we are strangers to the kingdoms of earth," as a reason why they should pay it. While we do not hold this as a part of the genuine text, it shows us that this was understood from a very early date to be the meaning of the passage. And this meaning was much more likely to have come down from the early apostolic age, when the cruel rulers were persecuting Christians, than to have been added at a later date when the church was in affiliation with civil government. Then it //65// must be construed to mean that Christ intended to teach, that he and his servants were not children of civil government. He and his servants constituted the government of God in contradistinction to the human governments of earth, which the Savior clearly teaches were the governments of "the prince of this world, who hath nothing in me."
No clearer evidence could be furnished that it was well understood by the enemies as well as the friends of Christ, that his mission was to destroy the governments of earth than the record, Matt. xxii: 15, Mark xii: 14, Luke xx: 20. Knowing this they sought to commit him against the lawfulness of giving tribute to Caesar and thus find ground for accusation to secure his condemnation.
"Then went the Pharisees and took counsel against him how
they might entangle him in his talk, and they sent unto
him the lawyers with the Herodians, saying, Master, we
know thou art true and teachest the way of God in truth,
neither carest thou for any man, for thou regardest not
the person of man. Tell us therefore, what thinkest thou?
Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? But Jesus
perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye
hypocrites? Show me the tribute money, and they brought
him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image
and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then
saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the
things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are
God's. When they heard these words, they marvelled, and
left him and went their way."
This clearly shows that it was well understood that Christ was to destroy the kingdoms of earth. These lawyers under the guise of friendship sought to entrap him into expressions that would convict him of treason, that they might secure his condemnation. He not only thwarted their purpose, but taught the lesson in an empathic way of the Christian's duty to human kingdoms. Tertullian, who was probably born within a half century after the death of the apostle John, gives this explanation of this saying of the Savior:
"The image of Caesar which is on the coin is to be given
to Caesar, and the image of God which is in man is to be
given to God. Therefore thou must indeed give thy money
to Caesar, but thyself to God, for what will remain to
God if all be given to Caesar?"
No better explanation has ever been given of the Savior's words. It teaches what the Savior taught: pay your tax, but you are not children or servants of the earthly governments. Give your personal service and your bodily powers to God. Tertullian not only gives this as the meaning of the Savior, but he shows what was the prevailing impression of the teaching of the Savior and the apostles, within the first century after the establishment of the church. These ideas must have come down from the days of the apostles. They could not have originated after the church found favor with the civil power.
John. xviii: 33, Pilate asked Jesus,
"Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered him,
Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it
thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation
and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me. What
hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this
world; if my kingdom were of this world then would my
servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the
Jews, but now is my kingdom not from hence."
Christ disavows the earthly character of his kingdom; declares that it is of a nature so different from all worldly kingdoms, that his servants could not fight for his kingdom; if they could not fight for his kingdom, they could not fight for any kingdom, hence in this respect could not be members and supporters of the earthly kingdoms. This is also a declaration that he does not belong to the Jewish nation. He was born a Jew, and the Jewish people anxious to regain their nationality, were willing to follow any leader that would promise them freedom from the Roman yoke, and a restoration of the earthly kingdom of Judaism. The Roman governors were sensitive toward all such, as disturbers of the peace and quiet of the people, and //67// exciters of insurrection. Hence Pilate, the representative of the Roman government, asked Jesus, "Art thou the king of the Jews?" He replies, "Do you ask this of yourself, or did others make the charge?" Pilate refers him to his own Jewish nation and the priests. He responds, "my kingdom is not of this world." I am not a member of the Jewish worldly government. I seek no earthly throne. My subjects cannot fight. This candid answer quieted the fears of Pilate, and he testified, "I find no fault in him." Yet to please the Jews he scourged him and delivered him to them to be buffeted and abused. They demand his death because he claims to be the Son of God. Pilate trembles with fear at such an idea, and seeks to let him go. The Jews cry, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend." Pilate fearing to be charged with treason to Caesar, signed the death warrant of the Son of God and delivered him to be crucified. All showing that he claimed, and that his enemies recognized that he claimed, to be a child of no earthly kingdom, but that the kingdom he came to establish was unlike and separate from any and all earthly kingdoms. Yet that he was in antagonism to Caesar, was the ground on which his death warrant was extracted from Pilate.
The Savior said to his disciples,
"He that hath no sword let him sell his garments and buy
one. * * * They said Lord here are two swords, and he
said unto them it is enough." (Luke xxii: 36.)
This is seemingly out of harmony with the Savior's teaching. What does it mean? We can only tell what was done with the swords. Judas and his band came against the Savior,
"With lanterns and torches and weapons. * * * Then Simon
Peter having a sword drew it and smote the servant of the
high priest and cut off his right ear. * * * Then said
Jesus unto Peter: Put up thy sword into the sheath; the
cup which my Father hath given me shall I not drink?"
(John xviii: 3-10.)
He here taught his disciple could not use the sword of violence to prevent the suffering brought on us through obeying the will and fulfilling the commands of God. Matt. xxvi: 52, Jesus says,
"Put up again the sword in its place; for they that take
the sword shall perish by the sword."
The only use made of it was to teach these lessons, both seeming to prohibit the use of the sword, and this last teaching, not that every individual who used a sword would necessarily perish by the sword, but that all institutions builded by the sword or by violence, must perish by the sword or violence. All human governments are builded by the sword, therefore must perish by the sword. Christ's church must be so builded as to stand forever, therefore it cannot be built by the sword. It would seem that the sword was used to teach, that even though in the power and possession of the children of God they are not permitted to use it.
The apostles were imprisoned and punished for preaching the gospel, and were forbidden to preach any more in the name of Christ; they respond:
"Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto
you more than unto God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak
the things which we have seen and heard."
And this was the spirit that guided the apostles in all their preaching. They paid taxes and treated the human rulers with respect, when they did not interfere with their duty to God. When they did this, all Christians, as Christ had done, disobeyed the human ruler and obeyed the God of heaven. They showed in this that they were subjects of the kingdom of God and only in a secondary sense of a human ruler.
"No man can serve two masters. He will love the one and
hate the other, or he will hold to the one and despise
the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
The first of all commandments is,
"Shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
all thy soul, and all thy mind and with all thy body."
To love a ruler is to serve him from the heart. Ye cannot serve God and the ruler of this world. All the powers of the soul, mind and body must be devoted to the service of God.
The letter to the Christians at Rome was written by the apostle Paul, during the reign of Nero, the most cruel and wicked persecutor of the church of God, as well as the most depraved in personal character, that ever sat upon the throne of the Roman empire. His residence was in Rome where these Christians dwelt. They were the special objects of Nero's hatred. He accused them of setting fire to the city as an excuse for gratifying his own ferocious spirit. Renan says:
"Never before had such refinements of cruelty been
witnessed. The usual punishment of such unfortunates was
to be thrown to wild beasts, or to be burned in the
amphitheater, with an addition of cruel scourging."
"Poor, timid maidens, with modest gestures veiling their
nudity, were tossed by a bull and torn in pieces on the
pebbles of the arena."
They were put to death, not for the public good, but to gratify the cruelty of one man. These Christians at Rome, enduring these things, were liable to be excited to take vengeance in their own hands and rise up and slay or burn out their cruel persecutors. But Paul writing to them admonishes them,
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things
honest in the sight of all men, if it be possible, as
much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly
beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place
unto wrath; for it is written: Vengeance is mine, I will
repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger
feed him, if he thirst give him drink: for in so doing
thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not
overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Let every
soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no
power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the
ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to
themselves damnation, for rulers are not a terror to good
works but to the evil. Wilt thou not then be afraid of
the power. Do that which is good and thou shalt have
praise of the same. For he is the minister of //70// God,
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath,
but also for conscience' sake. For this cause pay ye
tribute also; for they are God's ministers attending
continually upon this very thing. Render to all,
therefore, their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due;
custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom
This is the most complete statement of the Christian's relation to the civil government found in the New Testament, accepting as we do that the higher powers here refer to the civil government.
Many hold that this passage refers to church authorities, but this application involved difficulties to my mind inexplicable. So I believe that the higher powers refer to civil government.
The Holy Spirit then warns these Christians that they must not avenge themselves, they must suffer wrong, for it is written: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Christians are forbidden to take vengeance, God will avenge their wrongs. The higher powers are immediately introduced as God's agency through which he will take vengeance and execute wrath.
We found that he so used the wicked nations under the Old Testament dispensation. This higher power is a revenger to execute wrath on him that doeth evil. The Christian has been clearly forbidden to take vengeance or execute wrath, but he is to live peaceably with all men, to do good for evil. Then a Christian cannot be an officer or executor of this higher power. Human governments, we found in the Old Testament, as Babylon, Assyria, and others, were ordained of God, and used to punish other wicked nations. Kings and rulers were used as "my servants" to punish wicked people.
"But God maketh the wrath of man to praise him; the
remainder of wrath will he restrain." (Ps. lxxvi: 10.)
God uses the wrath of man to promote his own praise, for the greatest good of his people.
Wrath that would go beyond this, God will restrain. With these thoughts, this higher power is ordained of God as all human government is, to punish those who refuse to obey God. The civil ruler is a minister of wrath, whom God uses to punish wickedness and rebellion. The government which he here calls his ordinance, is the Roman, in direct line of descent from that of Babylon, through that of Medo-Persia, and of Greece. He whom he calls the minister of God is the vile persecuting Nero, with his subordinates. How can he be said to be a "minister to thee for good?" In the same sense that "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord;" in the same sense that he makes the wrath of man to praise him, while the remainder of wrath, which would inflict more punishment than would redound to his praise, he restrains. So much of wrath as promotes the true good of God's children, he permits to come upon them; all that would go beyond that, God restrains. In the same sense that Nebuchadnezzar was his servant - that Babylon was his battle axe. Then all the persecutions that came upon the Christians, even in the days of Nero, were needed by the children of God, to promote their true and eternal welfare. All the afflictions that were to come upon them were for their good. They are for their good in the courses they pursue - in the position in which they place themselves. In different courses, they would not be needed for their good. One chief good was to wean them from love of the kingdoms of the world. How can this wicked ruler be a terror to evil works and not to good? Because if God permits only so much punishment to come upon his children as will promote their true good, all the evil that comes upon them is intended by God, to restrain and deter them from sin, and to encourage them to do good. Besides it is true that the essentials to all quiet, stable government are such as to make //72// even evil men in authority prefer goodness, forbearance, quiet and industry, The qualities inculcated by the Christian religion, to the turbulent, disorderly and rebellious spirit, the concomitant of sin and godlessness. And it is only when there is animosity toward good men on account of fidelity to principle, or to parties that are offensive, and that are persecuted for their principles, that even wicked and tyrannical rulers would not encourage and reward the orderly, quiet spirit in preference to the disorderly and wicked. And God overrules the most wicked government to the destruction of the wicked. All government then is a terror to evil-doers and not to good. This is true of hell itself.
Hell, in our former essay we found, was an ordinance of God to punish wickedness. The devil, the ruler over hell, is God's minister to excute wrath and vengeance in the unseen spirit land. Ruled by the devil who seduces men to sin, it is overruled by God to punish sin and sinners, and so to deter from sin, and encourage to good. It is a terror to evil-doers. Hell itself ministers good to the obedient servant of God. To seek to resist or overturn hell as the institution of God for punishing sinners and destroying sin, would be to resist the ordinance of God, and would bring swift damnation to the inhabitant of the spirit land that would dare such a thing. So, too, human government is God's ordinance to punish sinners. So long as sinners are in rebellion against God and his authority and refuse to be his servants, so long would it be resisting the ordinance of God to resist the human government and seek to overthrow or destroy it. It is God's ordinance for punishing sin and sinners, and as such it is right and good for the end for which God ordained it.
Because hell is an ordinance of God is no reason that his //73// true servants, the angels, and "spirits of the just made perfect," should seek to enter it, guide and direct its operations and partake of its spirits and its rewards. No more is the fact that civil government is an ordinance of God, a reason why his children on earth should enter into and carry forward the operations of civil government; drink into its spirit and partake of its rewards. It was not ordained for them, but for the "lawless and disobedient."
In the spirit land there are two institutions or ordinances of God, heaven and hell. They are equally ordained of God. One to foster and reward fidelity to God, the other to punish sin and rebellion against God, and in doing this be a terror to evil-doers and not to the good. They are are ruled over by two different beings, both ministers of God. One his own son, who so rules in heaven as to encourage and reward fidelity to God. The other, Satan, rules in hell, so as to punish sin and rebellion against God, and in doing this to deter from evil works. These two institutions have their counterparts in this world. The church of Jesus Christ embodying the true servants of God, and so ruled, as to promote fidelity in God's children, by the Lord Jesus Christ. The other, human government, the embodied effort of man to rule the world without God, ruled over by "the prince of this world," the devil. Its mission is to execute wrath and vengeance here on earth. Human government bears the same relation to hell that the church bears to heaven.
God always selects servants or ministers to do his work, that in character are fitted for the work to be done. For example, Christ must needs die. God selected the money-loving, cold-hearted, calculating, Judas Iscariot, to betray him, because he was in character suited for the diabolical work. When the mother of our Lord was to be cared for, //74// He chose the gentle, tender, loving John. God without doing violence to his own character and the eternal harmony of his laws, could never have selected John to betray the Savior. He was unfitted for it. He could not choose even Peter. Peter, impulsive and rash, could rush forward and involve himself in difficulties, that would lead him to deny his master, but there was nothing of the cold-blooded traitor in his character. So in the unseen state he selected Jesus to rule over heaven and receive the fullness of its joy in bestowing joy and happiness on others. God could not choose Christ to minister wrath in hell. Recognizing fully the righteousness and justice of the punishment of the rebellious in hell, it would yet have been inflicting the torments of hell upon Jesus to require him to stir up the fires of wrath, and execute vengeance in hell on the wicked. God chose the devil, one fitted in character for this work, and so overrules that in inflicting wrath on others, the devil as the chiefest sinner, suffers the most excruciating horrors of hell. So in the institutions here on earth. In his church or kingdom, the best, truest, most faithful men are chosen to encourage and promote virtue and loyalty to God. And it is of his kingdom of loyal subjects that it is said,
"When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice,
but when the wicked bear rule the people mourn." (Prov.
This is spoken of God's people, those under his government, not of human governments. Abraham, Moses, David, Hezekiah, Samuel, Daniel, Peter, James, John and Paul, are samples of those chosen to rule in God's kingdom, who always brought gladness of heart to the people. The wicked who attained the rule among God's people brought sorrow. Oh the other hand, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, Darius, Nero, are the ministers of God to rule over the //75// kingdoms of this world, to execute wrath on the evil-doer. Daniel said,
"The MOST HIGH ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it
to whomsoever he will and setteth up over it the basest
So in the kingdoms of the world, God often chooses as his ministers to execute wrath, the basest of men; those in character fitted to perform the work of vengeance to be done; and to resist them as rulers of the kingdoms of earth would be to resist the ministers of God.
To return to the Scripture quoted: In view of the fact that civil government is an ordinance of God, even the infamous Nero, a minister of God, we must be subject, not only for wrath (fear of punishment) but also for conscience sake. That is, as a duty we owe to God, we must submit to them in the place, God has put them. "For this cause [as a duty you owe to God] pay ye tribute also;" for they are God's ministers attending continually upon this very thing - "executing wrath." This is exactly what Christ did; paid tax, although in doing so he classed himself as a stranger and not a child of human government - the same government concerning which Paul now writes to the Christians at Rome. As God appoints ministers having characters fitted to do the work for which he appoints them, and Nero was a chosen minister to do this work, it is clear that a true humble faithful Christian could not be chosen to do the same work. The relation Christians bear to this government is expressed by the words "be subject." The same relationship and the duties required by it are presented in (1 Tim. iii: 1,)
"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and
powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good
Again, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the
Lord's sake; whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto
governors, as unto them that sent by him for the punishment of
evil-doers and for the praise of them that do well. For so is
the will of God, that with well doing you may put to shame the
//76// ignorance of foolish men. As free and not using your
liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of
God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the
king." (1 Pet. ii: 13.)
Here the end for which human government was ordained and the special conditions of the people under these governments are kept constantly in view by the apostle. When writing to those at Rome directly under the rule of the king he told them to be subject to the king as supreme; in the provinces distinct from Rome, to which governors were sent he says to them "be subject to governors as unto them sent for the punishment of evil-doers." The human governments of the New Testament dispensation were but a continuance of those of the Old Testament, and of precisely the same nature. The people of God must needs occupy something of a different position to them, now, as their existence under the old dispensation was national and limited to certain territories, hence the limits were local and territorial lines. Now God's kingdom is spiritual and universal. It can exist in and under any and all the kingdoms of the earth, but it is of none. While existing in them it is as essentially distinct and separate from all as the kingdom of Israel was distinct and separate from the human governments by which it was surrounded and whose destruction it sought.
"Be subject to," "submit to," both translated from one word are the terms that the spirit of God uses to define the Christian's connection with, and prescribe the duty he owes to these governments. Submit means "to yield one's person to the power of another, to give up resistance, to surrender." It carries the idea that the person or body that submits, is entirely distinct and separate from and in antagonism to the person or body to which it submits. The Christian then is not part of the body to which he submits, or to which he brings himself under subjection. He is //77// distinct and separate from it. We cannot be said to submit to ourselves, or to a body of which we are a part and parcel, and with which we are in harmony, and which we aid to conduct or manage. Submission carries the idea of antagonism and opposition which are restrained and held in abeyance. This is the relationship everywhere defined as that which connects the Christian with the governments under which they live. They are to submit to the powers that be, not the powers they prefer, not the powers they may believe constitutional or best, but those they are under. It is argued against this, that we are commanded to submit to God - children to their parents, wives to their husbands, and the members to the elders. Therefore antagonism is not involved in the expression. Antagonism in all these relationships is the ground of the admonition. Were there none, there would be no need of the admonition. And the admonition requires only a submission without active participation. But in these relations to God, to the parents, to husbands, to elders, still other terms as love, honor, are added. To submit is to restrain that antagonism that it shall not grow into active resistence by the party in subjection. If no further command was given to regulate these relations than to submit, all that could be required, would be, not to let this difference and the antagonism grow into active conflict. But we are told not only to submit to God but to love him with all the soul and the mind and the body, this leads to active, hearty, soul-felt participation in carrying forward his government. So the child is commanded to love the parent, the wife her husband, and all the members of the church must have a care one for another, they were to be members one of another, and to labor together for their mutual good, the advancement of their common cause, to love as brethren and be true children of God. When in a state of separation and //78// rebellion the command, first is, submit, do not actively antagonise or rebel, then from that they are to grow up in these closer relations and work to full-hearted participation, fellowship, oneness in each of these relations. It is the obligation of oneness in these higher relations, that require and involves the joint support and participation. But as no higher or closer relation than submission is required toward civil government, all the Christian can do in that relation, is to refrain from active antagonism and conflict, and to quietly and passively submit within the prescribed limits, but no intimation of obligation or license to participate in or in anywise fellowship and support is found.
This rule affords the Christian the only safe guidance amid the strifes and conflicts of the kingdoms of earth for supremacy. He is to submit to whatever one he may fall under; he is to become the partisan, the supporter, the defender, of none. Daniel clearly acted on this principle. When under the government of Babylon he submitted to Nebuchadnezzar and was faithful and true to him as his slave. When Babylon was overthrown by the Medo-Persian he submitted to Darius, and served him with equal fidelity. This submission to the human was always modified and limited by the highest obligation to obey God. Hence Daniel, trustworthy as a slave in all things that did not conflict with duty to God, went into the lions' den rather than disobey him. So with Christ, so with Peter, James and John, and all true Christians. But they are to submit - be subject to, - not participate in the governments under which they live. Luke xxii: 24, Christ, when there was strife among the disciples, said:
"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them,
and they that exercise authority upon them are called
benefactors. But ye shall not be so; but he that is
chief, as he that doth serve. For which is greater, he
that sitteth at meat or he that serveth. Is not he that
sitteth at meat? But I am among you //79// as one that
serveth. Ye are they that continue with me in my
temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom as my
Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink
in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve
tribes of Israel."
His disciples certainly could not serve in the earthly kingdoms, where the principles of service were in direct antagonism to the principles that must govern his servants in his kingdom. He places in contrast to the earthly kingdom, this kingdom he appoints to them, as his Father had appointed to him. This kingdom would be governed by the principles he proclaimed.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the
power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that
ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in
Here the human governments are placed among the powers of the wicked one, and their entire work was against the church, and the Christian must needs clothe himself with the whole armor of God, that he might withstand them and fight against them as enemies of God.
"The friendship of the world is enmity with God;
whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of
God." (Jas. iv: 4.)
Friendship to the world means friendship to its institutions and governments.
"I exhort therefore that first of all, supplications,
prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made for
all men, for kings and for all that are in authority;
that we may lad quiet and peaceable lives in all
godliness and honesty."
This Scripture admonishes us to pray for kings, for rulers and those who have authority over us, and the question comes in, Can we pray for the rulers, if these kingdoms are organized in opposition to the kingdom of God, and by those in rebellion against God? Again it is said, what we pray for, we must work for. If we pray for rulers, and for good rulers we must work to obtain them, encourage and sustain them. It is true, that we should work for that //80// for which we pray. Look at the teaching of this Scripture again. Prayers, supplication, thanksgiving, for rulers and all that are in authority; - for what? That they may be strong and prosper, and be permanent as rulers? Nay! but that we Christians, within the domain of those in authority, "may be able to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." Not that their kingdoms may be blessed, prospered, strengthened or built up, but that God's children may be blessed. The prayer is not for the good of the human ruler, but of the Christian subjects. We find precisely a similar case in Jer. xxix: 7. The Jews were in captivity in Babylon, were sent there on account their wickedness. God intended, as was shown in a former article, in a few years, to destroy Babylon as the most corrupt and wicked of all nations of earth. It was to be cursed, blighted forever on account of its wickedness. Yet Jeremiah writes to those Jews in Babylon,
"Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to
be carried away captives, and pray the Lord for it, for
in the pace thereof ye shall have peace."
There was no thought of good to Babylon, but of destruction and ruin, yet while you are in the wicked city seek the peace of the city because in its peace ye shall have peace. In seeking the peace of the city, they were not to strengthen or build it up or identify themselves with Babylon. Jeremiah the prophet warned the people to do no violence in order to be freed from a hated rule, but if they would pursue that course of submission, that will bring peace to the wicked and doomed city, while it remains, their own peace and quiet will be promoted. Again, this teaches that servants of God need not do violence to deliver themselves from the power of wicked rulers, for if they will live quietly, use no violence, they will find favor and peace, and God will use other wicked nations to overthrow their oppressors and so bring deliverance to them. "The //81// wicked are the sword of the Lord." To pray for rulers that we many lead peaceable lives does not involve a participation in the affairs of government. This would destroy the peace and quiet of life, the thing to be sought.
Paul says, Col. ii: 13,
"And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision
of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him,
having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the
handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, which was
contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to
his cross, and having spoiled principalities and powers,
he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in
Here his resurrection from the dead and the open and declared triumph over the devil in the resurrection, is called, the spoiling and triumphing over the powers and principalities of earth. It is a recognition that to triumph over the devil, was to triumph over, spoil and destroy his kingdoms or principalities on earth. Christ triumphed over him in the grave.
"For as much then as the children are partakers of the
flesh and blood, he also, himself likewise took part of
the same, that through death, he might destroy him that
had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver
them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime
subject to bondage." (Heb. ii: 14.),
It may be questioned, if Christ triumphed over the devil, overcame him in the grave, how is it that he still exerts an influence and dominion over earth? God committed the rule of the world to men. "The gifts and callings of God are without repentance." That is, God having committed to man the rule of the world, he will not turn from it and destroy man or take from him the rule of the world and give it to another class of beings. Hence the world and the whole under-creation must share man's destiny, whatever that may be. God does not force man to follow him. He showed to man his superiority to the devil, conquered him in his own dominion, "led captivity [death] captive and gifts unto men." Yet man slowly, reluctantly accepts //82// the rule of God, and although death was conquered, and the way of man's escape made plain, deliverance can come to the world only as man chooses to resist the devil and obey God. He still has the power to serve the devil and in face of all that God has done to deliver him from the evil dominion, the world is still under bondage; still refuses freedom from sin. Deliverance comes, but it comes slowly. Because man is unwilling to serve God, he still serves in the human kingdoms instead of the kingdom of God.
Christ's mission into the word is presented in 1 Cor. xv: 24,
"Then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the
kingdom to God, even the Father. When he shall have put
down all rule and all authority and power. For he must
reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The
last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath
put all things under his feet. But when he saith all
things are put under him it is manifest that he is
excepted which did put all things under him. Then shall
the Son also himself be subject unto him, that God may be
all and in all."
This declares that everything that is in the world, that exercises rule, authority or power, save as that rule, authority and power come directly from God, and are used under his direction, to promote the rule and dominion of God, is an enemy of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, and must be destroyed by the rule and dominion of the Son before the kingdom and dominion of the world can be delivered up to the Father. Jesus Christ came into the world to fulfill the law, to take it out of the way, to offer it up to God on the cross, a fulfilled law. His first work was, with his winnowing fan to purge out all the corruptions of the law and all additions thereto, and then to fulfill the pure perfect law as it came from God. This he did. So now he came to rescue the world from the dominion of the evil one, and to destroy everything that exerts power or authority or //83// dominion in the earth, and to establish the kingdom if God on earth. When that work is done he will deliver the redeemed kingdom up to God the Father, and himself be subject to the Father, that God may be all and in all, the only sovereign and ruler of the universe. Every being then will render homage and obedience to God. Then, and only then, will peace and harmony and good will dwell among men, and then every being in the universe will realize that his happiness will be promoted, by promoting the happiness of every other being, and all guided by one law will work in unison and harmony to the promotion of the glory of God and the good of men.
But before that consummation can come "every plant not planted of God shall be rooted up." Every institution or organization of earth that exerts rule or authority or power must be destroyed. This earth in the material, moral and spiritual world must become again a garden of God's own planting. Not a brier, or thistle, or thorn, can grow in the material, moral, or spiritual world. Only those plants planted by the Father's hand and nurtured by the Father's love will grow in that redeemed and rescued Eden of God. Jesus Christ must put down and destroy all the powers and dominions of earth. He must reign until this is done. He reigns in his church; and his church is the kingdom established by God, which shall break in pieces and consume all earthly kingdoms, and which shall fill the whole earth, and itself stand forever.
Christ's mission - the mission of his kingdom - is to put down and destroy all these kingdoms, and to destroy every thing that exercises rule, authority or power on earth. How can the servants of Christ and the subjects of his kingdom, enter into, strengthen, and build up that which Christ and his kingdom are commissioned to destroy. How can a Christian enter into and serve the human, how can //84// he divide his fealty, his love, his means and his time, his talent between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the evil one? Death came with the rule of the devil. All that came with him must be destroyed by Christ; must be rooted out as not planted by the hand of God.
"Jesus conquered death. Why then does he permit it to run
riot on all that pertains to earth?"
Death came as a result of sin. It results from sin, yet is the boundary line of sin. Beyond death active sin cannot go. Death must remain then until man ceases to sin, else man would be a sinner on earth, forever. But when all sin and rebellion, all the institutions of the evil one have been destroyed, then death as the last enemy itself shall be destroyed. When death is destroyed the mortal will be "clothed with immortality and death will be swallowed up in victory." This passage from 1 Cor. xv: is so in harmony with the prophecy of Daniel, the teaching of Christ, and the constantly declared end of Christ's mission on earth, that its meaning cannot be mistaken. Christians cannot support, participate in, be a part of that which Christ commissions them to destroy.
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they
escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, [Moses]
much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him
that speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the
earth; but now he hath promised saying: Yet once more I
shake not earth only but also heaven. And this word, yet
once more, signifieth the removing of those things that
are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things
which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore, we,
receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have
grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence
and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire." (Heb.
Here is a promise of removing all things save the true kingdom which cannot be moved or destroyed. Our God is a consuming fire, - to consume what? Not his own kingdom that cannot be moved; but all these earthly kingdoms that have grown up under the dominion of the evil one. //85// These will be destroyed by the consuming fire of Divine wrath. The exhortation of the apostle is, seeing these things are true, "let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." The ground of this exhortation is, if we serve these earthly kingdoms we shall be destroyed with them. We must share the destiny of the kingdom we serve. If a man identifies himself with an earthly kingdom, sustains and upholds it he must share its destiny.
Of the same purport precisely is the language, 2 Peter iii: 5,
"For this, they are willingly ignorant of, that by the
word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth
standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the
world that then was, being overflowed with water,
perished. But the heavens and the earth, which are now,
by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire
against the day of judgement and perdition of ungodly
men. * * * But the day of the Lord will come as a thief
in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away
with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat, and the earth also, and the works that are
therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these
things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought
ye to be, in all holy conversation and Godliness, looking
for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord,
wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and
the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless
we, according to his promise, look for a new heaven and
a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore
beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent that
ye be found of him in peace without spot and blameless."
The earth and the works therein "shall be burned up." What works? Not God's works. Not the kingdom which cannot be moved, and that shall stand forever; but the works, the institutions that have grown up under rule of the devil in this world. They are to be destroyed, to be burned up, while the kingdom of God as the ark of safety will ride the sea of fire, bearing all committed to its keeping into the new heavens and to the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
We think to those who will study these things, there can //86// be no possible doubt but that the kingdoms of the world, the human kingdoms, were formed by man in rebellion against God. That God determined to destroy these governments, and that in destroying them he will destroy all those who sustain and uphold these governments and become identified with them. Daniel declared that the kingdom of God should break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and that it should fill the whole earth and stand forever. Christ recognized the kingdoms of the earth as the kingdoms of the devil, and that they should all be rooted up, that all the institutions of earth, save the kingdom of heaven, should be prevailed against by the gates of hell. Paul declared the civil ruler was ordained of God for the punishment of evil-doers; a work which he expressly declared Christians could not do but which the kingdoms of the evil one were ordained to do. He declared the exercise of the civil authority, to be a bearing the sword to execute vengeance and wrath, he told the disciples they could not execute vengeance, and that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds," 2 Cor. x: 4, showing clearly that the Christians could not use these civil powers to promote righteousness, morality, or good to humanity. Christians cannot use them? They are to serve God in earnestness and loving loyalty and in the spirit of meekness and love to obey him, and he will so bless us.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, that the man of God may be
perfect; thoroughly furnished unto all good
Under this Scripture we may expect, if not specific precepts, at least general directions for man's guidance in all the relationships of life. We do find directions for guiding Christians, as parents and children, as husbands and //87// wives, as masters and servants, as neighbors and strangers as friends and enemies, as those who do wrong and those who suffer wrong, guidance is given Christians in every possible relationship into which a Christian may enter, except that of civil ruler or manager of the affairs of the governments of earth, if it be admissable for him to be this. The Christian's duty, as subject of earthly governments, is definitely revealed; but not a word, nor an example is given as to his duty, or the rules that should govern him as a manager or ruler in human governments. And yet this is the most important relationship, involving the weal or woe of a greater number of human beings than any other relationship into which he may enter, if it be lawful for him to enter this. Why this failure to prescribe duty here, except on the ground that these earthly kingdoms are of the evil one, and have grown up in rebellion against God, and the mission of the church and the children of God is to displace and destroy them with the Divine government? They are ordained of God to punish evil, to execute wrath and vengeance, and for the government and punishment of those who refuse to be governed by God. Themselves in turn to be destroyed together with those who are indissolubly wedded to them. It is the duty of the Christian to submit to the human government in its office and work and to seek its destruction only by spreading the religion of Christ and so converting men from service to the earthly government to service to the heavenly one, and so, too, by removing the necessity for its existence and work. No violence, no sword, no bitterness or wrath can he use. The spread of the peaceful principles of the Savior, will draw men out of the kingdoms of earth into the kingdom of God. But "no man can serve the two masters. He will love the one and despise the other." Two distinct and antagonistic spirits dwell in the two //88// institutions. A man must drink of the spirit of the institution which he serves.
The great weakness of the church to-day is that the children of God enter into the kingdoms of this world, imbibe the spirit of those kingdoms, bring that spirit into the church of God, defile the church and drive out the spirit of Christ. The spirit of self- aggrandizement, reliance upon human wisdom, human devices, and institutions, ambition for worldly honor and glory, bitterness and wrath are as prevalent in the church as in the world. The spirit of gentleness and meekness under trials, insults and persecutions, is as seldom found in the church as in this world. The reason is that Christians enter the human governments, imbibe their spirit, participate in their works, and bring this spirit into the church of God. The spirit of Christ is driven out of the church and the distinction between the church and the world is destroyed.
The talent to which the church is entitled is now devoted to the service of the civil government. Nine-tenths of those devoted to the support and upbuilding of the human governments in civilized nations, are men, or children of men, claiming to be citizens of the Divine kingdom. Nine-tenths of those who, in civilized countries, engage in war and shed the blood of their fellow-men, are of the same class; those who have pledged themselves, their lives, their talents, their all to the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. Nine-tenths of the rulers and officers of all the civilized governments of the world, are citizens or children of citizens of the Divine government. Nine members of the church of Christ seek service in the human government where one devotes himself to the service of God in the Divine government. The citizens of the Divine government give nine dollars to advance the honor and glory, and the building up of parties to control the governments //89// of the evil one, where they give one dollar to carry forward the work of the Divine government. J. M. Barnes, in a little church in Alabama, found five candidates for civil offices - but not one desirous of doing the work of a bishop in the church of God. This is a fair sample of the spirit of those who enter the church, to say nothing of the thousands raised by the church who for the sake of earthly glory never enter it.
The young, the children of the church, saved by the moral and religious training of the church, from wrecking their ability and their talent in paths of dissipation and degradation, give their talent, their strength, and their life to the upbuilding of the earthly kingdoms, while God's kingdom languishes and suffers for want of true, earnest faithful men to carry forward the work God has committed to it. As in all compromises between right and wrong, wrong is benefited, and right suffers, the kingdoms of the evil one are built up by the material prepared by the church of God.
The kingdoms of the world originated in rebellion against God. For four thousand years God constantly schooled his children against reliance upon or affiliation with these human governments or their subjects in any way. Every act of affiliation, partnership, friendship or treaty with them was regarded and punished as treason against God. The spirit of complete antagonism, and the wide separation between the two, were marked, emphasized and fostered by Almighty God.
At the end of the Jewish age, Christ, commissioned from heaven, came to earth in person to lead in the final conflict. The devil in person takes command of the opposing hosts. The kingdoms of the world are recognize by Christ as the kingdoms of the devil. Christ's subjects are in the world but not of it. His kingdom is not of this //90// world; his subjects cannot fight with carnal weapons. Their citizenship is in heaven, the weapons of their warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. His children are pilgrims and strangers in the earthly kingdoms. They seek a city which hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God. They are not to seek for earthly honors; not to fear him who is able to destroy only the body; but to fear him who hath power to destroy both soul and body in hell. They are to "submit, be subject to, the powers that be." This line of connection with and separation from the human government, is carefully defined, but in all the Book of God, we fail to find a single expression or example indicating that the child of God may engage in, carry on, upbuild or uphold a kingdom of earth. How can God's children uphold and upbuild that which is in rebellion against God, and which God has especially commissioned his Son and his church to destroy.
None can doubt that the final end will be the destruction of all earthly kingdoms, that they may give place to the reign of the Divine kingdom. How can this be when the children of the Divine kingdom give their lives to uphold the earthly kingdoms? As things now go, every individual in the world might be converted to Christ and yet the earthly kingdoms would remain in all their present strength and vigor, and the spirit of the world would be cherished in the church of God. But if every man converted to Christ withdrew from the support of the earthly kingdoms, these kingdoms would weaken and fall to pieces, for lack of supporters; "little by little" giving way before the increase and spread of the kingdom of God. It would no more do to destroy them suddenly, lest the wild beasts of ruin and destruction and anarchy possess the land, than it would have done to suddenly destroy the //91// inhabitants of Canaan on the advent of the children of Israel lest the wild beasts multiply in that land against the people of God. God must in the police regulations of the world retain his institutions ordained to execute wrath until his own children possess the earth. God has two processes continually going forward, by which he world is to become the possession of the "saints of the most high."
1. The work of conversion goes forward taking men, one by one, out of the service of the earthly kingdoms and transferring them to the service of the Divine kingdom.
2. He uses one wicked nation, one earthly government to destroy another nation or people, hopelessly given over to sin and rebellion. The compromises of the children of God with the human governments, that obtain now, thwart both these processes.
1. Conversion to Christ does not take the person out of the kingdoms of the evil one. It does not weaken the kingdoms of this world. It does not consecrate the talents, the means, the strength, the life of the converts to the support and spread of the kingdom of God. It does not separate them from the spirit of the kingdoms of the world, it does not bring them under the guidance of the kingdom of Christ. Conversion to Christ now does not weaken the kingdoms of the devil. It does not strengthen the church of God, but oftener, by bringing in an evil spirit, weakens it.
2. The children of God are so mixed and mingled with the kingdoms of the world, that God cannot destroy the wicked kingdoms, without destroying his own children. Hence the call of God is:
"Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of
her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev.
This is spoken of the Babylon of human government. We cannot find one word of ground, in all the New Testament, for the children of God participating in the //92// kingdoms of the evil one. The practice weakens the church of God; deprives it of the service, the talent, time and devotion of its children, gives its strength to the building up of what God proposes to destroy. It brings the spirit of the world kingdoms into the church of God, corrupts the church, drives out the spirit of God, destroys the sense of dependence upon God, causes the children of God to depend upon their own wisdom and devices, and the arm of violence, and the institutions of earth rather than upon God and his appointments; weans them from trust and faith in God, and from service in his kingdom, diverts their minds, means and service from the church to the kingdoms of the world, and so defiles and corrupts the church that God cannot bless that church.
What the church needs now is a consecrated membership that will sanctify the man, - soul, mind and body, to the service of God. That will consecrate the talent, the time, the means of God's people to the service and advancement of God's kingdom; that will cause every Christian father and mother, like Hannah of old, to accept children as the gifts of the Lord, to be consecrated to his service from childhood. Now the mothers and fathers in Christ, oftener than otherwise, object to their children devoting themselves to the service of God. They prefer that they should do service and gain honor in the earthly governments. It is all folly and delusion to think of converting the world to God, with the present affiliation between the church of God and the kingdoms of the devil, and this giving the means and service due the church, to strengthen and upbuild her enemy. There can be no hope for the conversion of the world, until these two kingdoms be recognized in their true, antagonistic spirit, mission and destiny.
On the passage Matt. xvii: 24, (see page 64) in reference to the tribute money the Diatessaron of Tatian which //93// is usually credited to the latter part of the second century, gives the following translation:
"And when Cephas had entered the house, Jesus prevented
him, saying to him: What seems to thee Simon? From whom
do the kings of the earth receive tribute and custom:
from their own sons, or from aliens? Simon said to him,
From aliens. Jesus said to him, Therefore the children
are free? Simon says to him, Yea. Jesus said to him, Then
do thou also give as being an alien to them. But lest we
be brought into straits go thou to the sea and cast a
While we do not even claim with assurance that this work belongs to the second century, it does undoubtedly belong to a very early date. Whether the expression "as an alien to them" is a part of the original text or not, it shows beyond a doubt what was the prevailing understanding of the meaning of this text at the date of the publication of this work. It is also much more probable that this idea came down from the days of the apostles than that it originated after civil offices were opened to the Christians and many of them were holding them.
We directed attention in the first chapter, on this subject, to the fact that civil or human government originated among the rebellious and was the embodied effort of man to live free from the control and government of God; and that the whole of the Old Testament history is a record of the establishment and perpetuation by God of a government of his own, whose mission was to destroy these earthly governments and to bring all people to submit to this, his own government. It is said that human government "is a part of man's nature. God in creating man with his peculiar nature, became by that act the author of civil government." It grew out of man's nature only after that nature had been perverted to the service and brought under the dominion and corrupting influences of the evil one. All the sin and the corruption and the rebellion of the world have come up as a part of and result of the same nature perverted and defiled by the service of the evil one. If God, by creating man, became the author of all that has grown out of his perverted and corrupted nature, he then is the author of all the sin and rebellion of the world. The truth is, man's nature was defiled and whole being corrupted by sin. Out of this corrupted nature has grown the evils of the universe. All the institutions and evil influence of earth have sprung from this polluted fountain. All the institutions that grew out of this sinful fountain are necessarily evil. A depraved human nature can produce only corrupt and sinful institutions. It acting in //95// and through these institutions is more and more defiled by them. Hence "evil men and seducers wax worse and worse." All the institutions of God have been established with a view of counteracting and destroying these productions of a corrupted human nature, and of cleansing and purifying that nature itself, that it may be fitted for service in the Divine institutions, and that it may cease to be a prolific source of evil plants. The fact that human government is an outgrowth of perverted human nature, is a sure guarantee that its essential elements are evil, and that it is founded in a spirit of rebellion against God,
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is
not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be."
The carnal, natural mind before it is brought into harmony with the will of God, by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit by the implanting of the Divine seed, cannot be subject to the will of God, and can produce no fruit acceptable to God.
All the dealings of God with man, all the messengers and messages that God has sent to man, were intended to implant the word of God in the heart of men and so change that heart, from its rebellious spirit and life, and so eradicate and destroy the institutions and influences of earth that have grown out of that polluted soil, as to make the heart and the life flowing out of that heart pure and holy, and to build up institutions in which God's Spirit would dwell, and that the nature of man once purified, in these Divine institutions might find an atmosphere of purity and love, in which man could develope a life in spiritual strength and holiness, and that his life might bear as fruits the graces so helpful to man and pleasing to God. Verily, the truth that human government is an outgrowth of human nature, is no evidence that God is its author, or that it is well pleasing to God, or that the children of //96// God should sustain, support, perpetuate it, and drink into its spirit. But just the contrary.
It not only originated among the rebellious, but God from the beginning treated it as an out growth and development of rebellion against him, and its authors and supporters as his enemies.
God did not tolerate affiliation or affinity between the Divine and the human, nor between the subjects of the one and those of the other; and that prophetically this conflict, irrepressible and uncompromising was projected into the future, and extended to the limits of the world. The earthly kingdoms, that had the impress of their builder - man - upon them, were one and all to be broken in pieces and consumed by the kingdom which "the God of heaven shall set up, and which shall fill the whole earth and stand forever." In this old dispensation the conflict was between the subordinates, the servants of God and the subjects of the evil one, but in the New, Jesus Christ who had undertaken to rescue the world, and the devil meet in fierce personal conflict. In accord with this, the kingdoms of the world, both by the devil and by Christ Jesus, are declared to be the possession of the devil and in his hands, to be disposed of as he saw fit. Christ had come specifically to rescue the world from the rule of the evil one, and to destroy all institutions that had grown up under his care, and to bring the world back to the dominion of God the Father, and to restore it to harmonious relations with the entire universe, ruled over by God.
Of these conclusions it seems there can be no doubt. Take these truths as the key notes out of the Old and New Testaments and they are without point or meaning. The end of this conflict is thus described:
"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the
kingdom to God, even the Father. When he shall have put
down all rule and all authority and power. For he must
reign till he //97// hath put all enemies under his
feet." * * * "And when all things shall be subdued unto
him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him,
that God may be all and in all."
There can be no doubt of the destruction of all that exercises authority, power, or dominion on earth, by the reign of Christ.
Rev. xi: 15, declares as a future consummation of this conflict on earth,
"The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of
God and his Christ."
Many insist that this means, the conquest will be brought about by the conversion of all the people, and the civil governments will then be manned by Christians, and so will be Christian governments by having only Christian rulers and officers. But the declaration was,
"It shall break in pieces and consume all these and it shall
fill the whole earth and stand forever."
These kingdoms were to be broken in pieces, and become as "the chaff of the summer's threshing floor and the wind carried them away that no room was found for them." For God to adopt them and rule through them, would be for God to displace the servants of the evil one, and in and through the institutions of the evil one to govern the world. God will overrule the kingdoms and governments of the world to the destruction of each other, that they may give way for his government, but he could not rule in, and exert his dominion through the governments of the evil one. To do so would be to proclaim to the universe the superiority of the institutions of the evil one. Besides, "these shall be moved," "shall be burned up."
"Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father shall be
God overrules these to the destruction of those institutions and punishment of the people that are not pleasing to him. But these human governments shall be "moved" and "burned up," while his kingdom "can not be moved," //98// but with "a new heavens and a new earth," shall be the dwelling place of the righteous forever.
The term Babylon is used almost from the beginning to the close of the Bible. It had in the beginning, a clear and well defined meaning. It preserves the same meaning to the end. In the beginning of the human race persons, things, institutions, were named according to the leading quality or characteristic of that which was named. The first human government was called "Babel," which means confusion.
It was clearly so called, because man's effort to govern himself brought confusion and strife. The effort by man to live without God, and to govern the world, resulted in confusion and strife from the beginning. It brings strife, war and desolation still. The people of Maine and Texas, of England and India, could never become enemies or be involved in strife and war, save through the intervention of human government to spread enmity and excite to war. Individuals in contact might, through conflict of interests, or personal antipathy, become embittered, and engage in war with each other, but distinct nations or peoples could have no strife save as they should be excited and carried on by these human governments.
All the wars and conflicts of earth, all the desolation, ruin and blood-shed, between separated nations, or distinct peoples, are the fruits of human government. The government of God breaks down divisions among those who accept it, and brings peace and complete union to all who submit to his rule. Whatever tends to wean men from this government of God, and to substitute other governments for it, brings confusion and strife.
Then, in every way, the introduction of human government brought confusion, division, strife. This, its chief //99// result, its characteristic fruit, gave to it the name Babel, Babylon. As all human governments sprang, in some sense, from this first, Babylon became a patronymic, and is so used in the Scriptures, of human government. The term, Babylon, then, in the Scriptures, always refers to the original human government, or to human government in general. It is never bestowed upon the Divine government or any corruption of it. The Divine government, or the church, is frequently in Scripture represented by a woman. The corrupted church, by a lewd woman. The pure church, by a virtuous, faithful woman.
We rely but little upon interpretations of unfulfilled prophecy, yet there are some unfulfilled prophecies in such perfect harmony with those that have been fulfilled and with the leading purpose of God as declared in the whole Bible, that we may venture to say that they do not teach certain things. They probably do teach others.
"And the great city was divided into three parts, and the
cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon came in
remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the
wine of the fierceness of his wrath."
Here a city of nations is spoken of. A city of nations must be a multitude of nations viewed together. Then Babylon came in remembrance before God to give to her the cup of the fierceness of his wrath. What is Babylon? The seventeenth chapter, first verse,
"I will shew unto thee the great whore, that sitteth upon
many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have
committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth
have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So
he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and
I saw a woman set upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of
the names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color,
and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls,
having a golden cup in her hand full of the abominations
and filthiness of her fornications: And upon her forehead
was a name written - MYSTERY - BABYLON THE GREAT, THE
MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
The points we wish to bring out are these: The whore is the corrupted church. The waters, the spirit declares, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues; the beast a human government. Babylon typifies the human governments of earth. The kings of the earth had committed fornication with the church. All affiliations on the part of the church, or members of the church, with human governments are characterized as fornication or adultery.
These kings of the earth had been in alliance and affiliation with the church. The woman was carried by a bloody human government, "a scarlet colored beast full of names of blasphemy."
"The woman (church) was arrayed in purple and scarlet and
decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having
a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and
filthiness of her fornications."
These were the rewards of her alliance with the kings and kingdoms of earth. The superscription on her forehead was descriptive of her character. She, the Mystery, dwelt in Babylon. She was the mother of those who committed fornication with the governments of the earth. Babylon and the woman who was allied with Babylon certainly were not the same. She was joined in alliance with the kingdoms of the earth, and supported by the human governments. This false church, bad woman, was drunken with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. This blood she had shed through her alliance with the earthly kings, and by the use of carnal weapons. What shall be the end? These kings that carry the bad woman will come to hate her and will finally destroy her.
"The ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these
shall hate the whore and make her desolate and naked and
shall eat her flesh and shall burn her with fire. For God
shall put it into their hearts to fulfill his will, and
to agree and give their kingdom unto the beast - until
the word of God be fulfilled. And the woman which thou
sawest is that great city which //101// reigneth over the
kings of the earth."
Which we take to teach that God will use these human governments with which the church has committed fornication to destroy the corrupted church. Those she used to punish others will destroy her. This will be another exemplification that God uses the wicked to punish the rebellious, and that those who take the sword shall perish by the sword. It is wrong for Christians to persecute, to use violence in opposing the false churches that maintain themselves by alliance with or by use of the civil power; still God will use these human governments to destroy the churches that have sought alliance with them. But the point especially before us, is, that Babylon was, and is, not the false church, but it is the civil or human governments of earth, and in this instance united with, and supporting the false church. This great Babylon, the human governments that have grown up in rebellion against God, he first uses to punish and destroy the false church that has been in alliance with the civil power, then Babylon itself, having subserved its end, comes in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
"Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be
thrown down and shall be found no more at all."
The result of that judgement is presented in the 18th chapter of Revelations. "I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power and the earth was lightened with his glory," and he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying,
"Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and is become
the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul
spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
This was certainly the human governments that have held universal sway over the peoples of earth.
It was of this Babylon of human government that another angel cried, saying,
"Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of
The result of this downfall of all these human governments and churches in alliance with them, that had enjoyed the power and protection of human governments, is presented, also the rejoicing the true saints who always suffered at their hands.
"In her (the false church) was found the blood of
prophets and saints and of all that were upon earth."
The 19th chapter declares, of the destruction of these governments of earth which are the possession of the evil one,
"After these things I heard a great voice of much people
in heaven saying, Alleluia, salvation and glory and power
and honor unto the Lord our God."
The remainder of the book of the Revelation is taken up with the final triumph of the church or government of God after the destruction of this government of man that has been the enemy of God and his government from the beginning.
Protestants habitually refer this language concerning the lewd woman that is in Babylon to the Romish church. But if the Romish church be the mother of harlots, who are the harlot's daughters. "Like mother, like daughters." All affiliation of the government of God, or of the subjects of that government with the human government, or its subjects, was declared by God, from the beginning, to be adultery. Then the church that joins affinity with human government is guilty of adultery - is a harlot. The church that led the way in it is the mother, the others who follow in that affiliation are the harlot's daughters. What is the difference between those which like the church of Rome, or the other state churches, make alliance with the civil power, and those churches which, while not supported by the state, yet rely upon the state for protection, and through their membership serve and support the human //103// government? The non-state churches just as much support the state, train their children to serve the state, give their brightest children to the state in preference to the church as fully as the state churches do.
The difference is, the one gets support from the state, in turn, the others support the state, deprive themselves of the service and devotion of their own children in order to support the human government, but get no support from the state in return. The difference between them is presented in the type of harlot who is guilty of lewdness for hire, and the wife who shares her bed with another, without hire. One is hired to commit adultery by her lovers, the other hires her lovers to come in to her. The state churches get support for the service to the state, the non-state churches serve the human government, and get no pay.
The term "beast" is used in the Bible frequently and always refers to human government. When particular animals are mentioned, the unclean and beasts of prey represent the human kingdoms or kings, and the clean inoffensive animals, as the lamb, the sheep, the dove, represent the kingdom or servants of God. In all the historic accounts of the kingdom of God and human government no account is found of affiliation of the pure woman with human governments. No prophetic vision ever saw the beast carrying the pure woman, or supporting the true church, but always it supported and made alliances with the lewd woman.
While these things are true beyond successful dispute, we are told the Scriptures show that God's children did participate in the management and support of the human government. Joseph and Daniel are instances in the Old Testament, and Cornelius, the Philippian jailor, and //104// Erastus in the New Testament. Joseph and Daniel served in their position only when in slavery, and did what service they rendered in these governments as slaves of their masters, and not as officers or rulers in the state. They did not seek to support, maintain, exalt or perpetuate the governments in which they served. Slavery then involved the right of the king to the life of the slave. Joseph was sold by the Ishmaelites to Potiphar, whom he served as his slave, faithful and trusted, but a slave. He was imprisoned by Potiphar as his slave; remained in prison over two years at the will of Potiphar; was brought to Pharaoh's attention when he had the dream. He showed he was under Divine guidance in the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. Whether Pharaoh bought him of Potiphar we are not informed, but he went into Pharaoh's service as his slave, and so served through the fourteen years of abundance and of famine. Joseph gathered the harvest during the years of plenty as Pharaoh's slave, his personal slave. He sold the food as Pharaoh's slave. He sold the food as long as there was money and brought the money into Pharaoh's house. (Gen. xlvii: 14.) He bought the cattle then, and afterwards the land. "And Joseph bought all the land for Pharaoh." Then he bought the people. "Behold I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh." Joseph was a faithful and trusted slave, but only a slave. Had Gen. Jackson, while president, ordered one of his slaves to do any service, he would have done it as the slave of Gen. Jackson, and not as an officer of the government. So of Joseph. He was so far from being a voluntary officer of the government, seeking to build up and strengthen the government, that is was a service hated by him. He regarded it as a deep degradation to so serve.
"Joseph said unto his brethren, I die, and God will
surely visit you and bring you up out of this land unto
the land which he sware unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
and Joseph took an //105// oath of the children of
Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall
carry up my bones from hence."
Oh, no, Joseph was not a citizen of the kingdom of Egypt, nor an officer, supporter, or upholder of the Egyptian government. He was a slave in a foreign land; faithful as a servant of God should be to his master. He felt the humiliation and shame of this slavery so keenly, that before dying he took the oath of his brethren, that his bones should not be left in the land of his degradation and slavery.
Daniel was situated as was Joseph. He was a slave first to the king of Babylon. God gave him favor with his overseer, then through his wisdom gained for his the respect and consideration of the king. He was faithful to the king as his slave, but faithful in bearing to him testimony of God against him. But he was a slave and not an officer or supporter of the Babylonish government. On the other hand he foretold its destruction, and the ruin of its king. When the government was overthrown by Darius, as the slave of the conquered king, he passed to the ownership of the conqueror and became the slave of Darius, to whom he was faithful as he had been to Nebuchadnezzar. He obeyed his master, served the new one as readily and faithfully as the old. He was no partizan, friend, supporter or officer of either government. As a slave he obeyed his master, and was faithful in all things, save when obedience to him involved disobedience to God - rather than obey then he was cast into the lions' den.
If any think Daniel was a voluntary supporter and upholder of these governments, let them read the prophecy of ruin and destruction he spoke against them, and against all human governments. How his heart joyed in foreseeing their destruction and the triumph over them of the kingdom which the God of heaven should set up. Let them read the ninth chapter and see the deep humiliation //106// and shame he felt in having to serve the ruler of this human government, when God's government by the sins of his people was subverted and in ruin.
"In those days (when thus honored by the king) I Daniel
was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread,
neither was flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I
anoint myself at all."
Certainly he regarded all this service an accursed slavery and a burdensome bondage from which he prayed deliverance. In the 9th chapter Daniel says,
"I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and
supplication, with fasting and sack cloth, and ashes, *
* * we have sinned and have committed iniquity and have
done wickedly, and have rebelled even by departing from
thy precepts and from thy judgements; neither have we
hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in
thy name to our kings, our princes and to our fathers,
and to all the people of the land. O, Lord, righteousness
belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces as at
this day; to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem and unto all Israel, that are near and that are
far off, through all the countries whither thou hast
driven them, because of their trespass, they have
trespassed against thee. To the Lord our God, belong
mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled
against thee; neither have we obeyed the voice of the
Lord our God to walk in his laws, which he set before us
by his servants the prophets. Yea all Israel have
transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might
not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon
us, and the oath which is written in the law of Moses,
the servant of God, because we have sinned against thee."
The chapter is full of these confessions, supplications, deprecations of the curse of God that is poured out upon them, unto this bondage and slavery they were enduring. Certainly Daniel was not a voluntary office-holder, or a supporter of human government. He was a slave in bondage for the sins of his people and prayed humbly and earnestly for deliverance. No encouragement or authority can be found for the voluntary holding of office in, or upholding the human government, now so common among servants of Christ. The only lesson taught by the cases of Joseph and Daniel is, that it is right for God's children, when slaves, //107// to do faithful service to their masters, not as eye servants, but they must do service "heartily, as unto the Lord." They teach the same lesson of duty that is taught in the New Testament, submission to the powers that be. When the power changes, the duty of the Christians changes with it. Submission to whatever power is over them, partisanship to none. When the requirements of the government are contrary to the law of God, refusal, even to the lions den, or the fiery furnace, but no participation in, no support of, no affinity with human government is found.
THE NEW TESTAMENT OFFICE HOLDERS.
A number of those mentioned in the New Testament as converts to Christ held office. Among these were Matthew, the eunuch, Cornelius, Paul, the Philippian jailor, and as is supposed, Erastus. It is not said of any one of these that he gave up his office. Of these, we know the after lives of Matthew and Paul, only. We know that they gave up their offices, from the record of those lives. Those whose after lives are given, having surrendered their offices, creates the presumption that the others did so, too. It is not said that those who worshiped idols, ceased to worship them on their conversion to Christ. It is not said that those who stole or lied, or were habitual drunkards, or whoremongers, ceased to follow those sins; yet no one doubts they did forsake these sins, because it was well understood that the Christian religion demanded the cessation of such courses; and no declaration that they ceased the practices was needed. Now, if it was equally true that it was well understood by all, friend and foe, that a profession of the Christian religion involved a ceasing to support human government, it would no more need a declaration that an officer, on his conversion, ceased to hold his office, than that a rogue, on his conversion, ceased to steal. //108// The failure to mention one would be no more evidence of its approval than the failure to mention the other. All, both friend and foe, did understand this very thing. The long tutelage of Judaism in separation from human governments had impressed it. The Savior had declared he was not a citizen of even the Jewish government. His opponents understood it. This apprehension was the ground of the slaughter of the male children in and around Bethlehem. Christ, in the payment of the tax required of strangers, but not of the children, refused to claim that exemption, to which his birth entitled him, and placed himself among the strangers to human governments. It was on the clear apprehension of this truth by the Scribes and Pharisees and lawyers, that they based the effort to entrap him in reference to paying tribute to Caesar. It was clearly understood he was proposing to build a kingdom that would uproot and destroy Caesar's kingdom, and they thought he would forbid the paying of tribute to him and thus furnish them an accusation, to secure his condemnation. It was on this well understood truth, that he was in antagonism to the governments of earth, and so an enemy of Caesar, that his death warrant was extracted from Pilate. His disciples so understood, and asked: "Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" It was so strongly impressed that the Holy Spirit must needs bid the disciples, "Be subject to the powers that be." "Submit to kings and governors." "Obey magistrates," etc. This general and well defined understanding of both friend and foe on this subject, taken together with the fact that those converted officers, whose lives are given, all gave up their offices, makes the presumption strong, that all did give up their offices, and certainly throws the necessity on those who would affirm the right of Christians to hold office, of finding a clear precept, or example for the same. Can it //109// be found? While I have a right to demand the proof that they did hold office, I yield the vantage ground to which the position is entitled and affirm not one of them continued to hold office. The centurion and the jailor were officers in the Roman government. It was persecuting Christians. The work of the centurion at the crucifixion of Christ, was to have him crucified, then to seal and guard the tomb. His duty was to arrest, scourge and place in the stocks, or execute men and women convicted of being Christians. It was the duty of the jailor to imprison Christians, place their feet in the stocks, lacerate their bare backs, cast them into the dungeons and keep them fast and safe. This work of arresting and imprisoning Christians, a Christian could no do. The escape of the Christian prisoners subjected the jailor to such torture, that he of Philippi preferred death by his own hand to incurring it. He was saved from this by Paul assuring him, "We are all here." His conversion caused him to loose them at once. Now, if their escape without his connivance involved such punishment, what must his wilful loosing them bring on him? Yet he took them out and incurred the risk. Beyond a doubt the wonderful occurrence excused his course in the eyes of the magistrates on the ground, but as the governor was not present, was not so terror-stricken, and still continued the persecution, it is probable that greater wrath was excited against the jailor, aggravated by his becoming a Christian, and hence himself a criminal to be punished with death, and that he paid the penalty by torture and a dreadful death, unless he fled.
Had we his later history, it would much more likely be //110// of his death than of continuance in office. Then the government itself was seeking to destroy Christians. They were regarded as rebels and traitors to the government. It could not have tolerated Christians as its officers, had they been willing to continue in office. It is certainly true that neither Cornelius nor the jailor continued in his office.
Erastus, it is claimed, at the time the letter to the Romans was written, was acting as treasurer of the city of Corinth. The ground for this is, Paul writing to the church at Rome from Corinth, said,
"Erastus, the chamberlain of the city, Saluteth you and
Quartus a brother."
While the treasurer, or properly steward, of the city, may mean the treasurer to the city government, it may mean the steward for the church in the city. The whole context is so directly concerning church matters that this would seem the more reasonable, and as we shall find by further consideration more in harmony with what else we know of Erastus, and of the relations of the government to the church and to Christians. Some writers report that he held this same position in the church at Jerusalem at an earlier period. This letter was written during the intensity of the persecution of the church by Nero. It is morally impossible the government seeking to annihilate the church, should, in so prominent and influential a city as was Corinth, having constant communication with all parts of the empire, tolerate a Christian in so high and important an office as treasurer of the city. It is impossible that it should have tolerated so active, well-known, and earnest a Christian as was Erastus.
Erastus is first introduced to us in Acts xix: 21. After Paul had left Corinth, and while at Ephesus, "he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself staid in Asia for a season."
Erastus with Timothy was traveling with him on one of his missionary tours. This was in the year 59. Paul had left Corinth before this, and Erastus may have been converted during his years and six months stay at that city. But the report of his having been at an early day with the church in Jerusalem has been already referred to, and indicates the probability that he went with Paul to Corinth from Jerusalem as a missionary worker. But he sent Erastus with Timothy from Ephesus into Macedonia. We know not how long they remained on the Macedonian mission, but doubtless some time, as their trip seems to have been to supplement an intended visit of Paul which was, for the time, delayed. Macedonia was from three to five hundred miles both from Ephesus and Corinth.
Paul remained in Asia for a season, doubtless through the winter and until the next season for navigation. But in the 20th chapter, after the escape of Paul from the Ephesian mob, we are told he followed on to Macedonia, where he doubtless joined Timothy and Erastus, whence he went to Greece, of which Corinth was the chief city. Timothy did not accompany him to Corinth, but Erastus most likely did. Paul remained three months at Corinth, and wrote the letter to the church at Rome during this stay, in the year 60. Erastus was then called the chamberlain. He was no nearer Corinth when in Macedonia than when in Ephesus. He doubtless spent some time in Macedonia. He would not have gone three or four hundred miles out of his way to Corinth, unless it had been necessary that he should remain with these Macedonian churches for a time. While at Corinth, in the year 60, Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, and then calls Erastus the chamberlain of the city. The case is this then. It is doubtful if Erastus had been a citizen of Corinth up to this time, but if he was, he had been absent with Paul two or more years, on a //112// missionary tour through Asia and Macedonia. He reaches Corinth and within three months after his arrival Paul calls him treasurer of the city. Does any one believe that after a two years' absence on a missionary tour preaching, he arrived at home and in this prominent city was so soon made its treasurer? Certainly not.
Some years after this, Paul writing to Timothy, giving an account of those who had been his companions in labor, said: "Erastus abode at Corinth." This would hardly have been told if Corinth had been his original home, but it indicates that after traveling around as a missionary, he made his final stopping place at Corinth. Then Erastus was certainly not the treasurer of the city. If the expression means really the treasurer of the city organization, it must have been in consequence of having held that position before his conversion, as we call a judge by his title after the expiration of his office. But I think it simply means he was the stewart of the church in the city of Corinth, as he is reported previously to have been in Jerusalem.
Some writers, seeing the impossibility of the traveling companion of Paul being the treasurer of the city, conclude that two different persons of the same name are mentioned, but circumstance indicate clearly that all the references are to the same person. It is impossible he should have been the treasurer of the city at the time the Roman letter was written. If he was not then, he could not have been for two or three years preceding this, for he was absent preaching with Paul. If he was a former citizen of Corinth, he must have been converted during Paul's eighteen months sojourn there, so could not have been the treasurer of the city after his conversion. This vanishes the last vestige of an example of a Christian holding office in the New Testament times.
In the prison at Philippi, when the magistrates sent to let them go, Paul said unto them,
"They have beaten us openly and uncondemned, being
Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they
seek to thrust us out privily? Nay, verily; but let them
come and fetch us out. And the sergeants told these words
unto the magistrates, and they feared when they heard
that they were Romans, and they came and besought them
and brought them out and desired them to depart out of
Paul (Acts xxi: 39), at Jerusalem was beaten by a Jewish mob,
"They went about to kill him, when the chief captain took
soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them, and when
they saw the chief captain they left off beating Paul.
Then the chief captain came near and took and commanded
him to be bound with two chains, and demanded who he was
and what he had done * * * Paul said I am a man which am
a Jew of Tarsus, a citizen of no mean city, and I beseech
thee suffer me to speak unto the people."
"The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the
castle and bade that he should be examined by scourging;
that he might know wherefore they cried so against him,
and as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the
centurion that stood by: Is it lawful for you to scourge
a man, that is a Roman and uncondemned? When the
centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain,
saying: Take heed what thou doest, for this man is a
Roman. Then the chief captain came and said unto him,
tell me, art thou a Roman? He said yea. And the chief
captain said, with a great sum obtained I this freedom.
And Paul said, I was free born. Then straightway they
departed from him, who should have examined him, and the
chief captain also was afraid after he knew that he was
a Roman and because he had bound him." (Acts xxii: 24.)
After Paul had been taken in custody by the Roman officers, and by them tried and no evil found in him; forty Jews bound themselves under a solemn oath to "neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul." To further this end, the high priest and the chief of the Jews requested Festus "that he would send him bound to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. Festus was disposed to grant the favor and said to Paul:
"Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem and there be judged of
these before me? Then Paul said, I stand Caesar's
judgement seat, where I ought to be judged. * * * I
appeal unto Caesar."
This claim of Paul to the privileges of Roman citizenship and the appeal to Caesar are regarded as authorizing Christians to engage in managing human government.
We are all by birth or adoption subjects of the government under which we live, but that does not obligate us to actively participate in the affairs of government. Women in one sense are citizens, yet barred from active participation in the affairs of government. Paul claimed,
"Men and brethren I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.
Of the hope and resurrection of the dead, I am called in
Yet he was not a member or an active supporter of the sect of the Pharisees, but the Pharisees were being used to persecute him, chiefly for the faith he had in common with them, and he used the fact of his agreeing with them to avoid persecution by them. When the Jewish mob was persecuting Paul without using the Romish government to aid them, he did not claim the protection of that government, but when the Romish authorities were used to persecute him, he used the rights and immunities guaranteed to him as a Roman citizen by that law to protect himself against oppression through the law. This did not indicate that he sustained and upheld that law. During the existence of the rebel government, when a loyal man's liberty or property was endangered by the officers of the rebel government, he did not hesitate to avail himself of the guarantees and rights that the rebel government granted him to avoid harm to his person or property. He did not in doing this recognize himself as under obligation to support that government, nor was it a recognition of its right to exist. Paul used the privileges the law guaranteed him to protect himself against the oppression that law was used //115// to inflict. When the pretense of a trial in Jerusalem was urged as a means of delivering him to a Jewish mob, he took advantage of a privilege the law guaranteed him, to appeal to Caesar, and go to Rome instead of Jerusalem for trial. A Christian on trial would be justified in using any priviledge the law guaranteed him to avoid the oppression inflicted on him through the law. When subjected to the penalties he is entitled to the immunities and privileges guaranteed by the law to avoid the inflictions, and punishments of the law.
The whole drift, teaching and example of the Scripture, both of the Old and New Testaments, forbid the idea of the servants of God becoming participants in the government that originated in the rebellion of man against his maker. All of which Christ came to destroy, and which must be destroyed, consumed, before Jesus Christ the Savior delivers the kingdom up to God the Father, that God may be all in all.
Then neither, Matthew, nor Paul, nor Cornelius, nor the Jailor, nor Erastus held office after becoming Christians. They could not have retained office; because, 1st. The end of the church of Christ, which they entered, and the principles of the religion which they embraced, forbade it. 2nd. The government in which they held office, was seeking through persecution to exterminate the Christians as private citizens, much less could it honor them as its representatives, and the executors of its laws. 3rd. They could not have held these offices, because the special duties they would have been required to perform were utterly abhorrent to the Christian. They would have been called upon to persecute, imprison, beat, and even put to death men and women, whose only crime was believing in Jesus as the Lord and Savior. No Christian could hold an office which imposed such duties.
EARLY CHURCH WRITINGS AND HISTORY.
We now introduce some early writers in the church to show that the idea of separation from affiliation with civil government was inherited from the apostles.
Justyn Martyr, A. D. 150, in his apology to the emperor in behalf of Christians, presented all the reasons he could to propitate the favor of the emperor toward the Christians. He assured them, (apology 2nd),
"Taxes and customs we pay the most scrupulously of all
men, to those who are appointed by you, as we are taught
of him," (Jesus.)
This was given as the extent of their connection with the government.
Tertullian lived about A. D. 200, born within fifty years of the death of John. He says,
"The image of Caesar, which is on the coin, is to be
given to Caesar, and the image of God, which is in man,
is to be given to God. Therefore, the money thou must
indeed give to Caesar, but thyself to God, for what will
remain to God, if all be given to Caesar?"
Showing the order as received from Christ was to pay taxes, but to give not personal services to the civil government. Tertullian said,
"If He (Christ) would not even once exercise the right of
dominion over his own, for whom he did the most menial
services, if he, fully conscious as he was of his regal
power, yet shrank from being made a king, he gave a
perfect example to all his disciples to avoid all which
is high and glorious in earthly rank and power."
Tertullian says also,
"The Caesars themselves would have believed in Jesus
Christ //117// if they had not been necessary for the
world, or if Christians could have been Caesars."
This clearly means that Caesars in the sense of civil officers could not be Christians without surrendering their positions.
Origen, in reply to Celsus, an able writer against Christianity, charging that Christians enjoyed the benefits, with out contributing service to the government, said,
"The Christians render greater assistance to their
country than other men, inasmuch as they instruct the
citizens, and teach them to become pious toward God, on
whom the welfare of cities depends and who receives those
whose conduct, in a poor and miserable city, has been
good, into a Divine and heavenly city."
Celsus argued it was their duty to perform the duties of magistrates in their native cities. Origen replied,
"But we know that in every city, we have another country,
whose foundations are the word of God, and we require it
from those who are competent by their talent and pious
lives, to take upon themselves the offices requisite for
the maintainance of order in the churches."
Then the talent of the church was devoted to the service and up-building of the church. Now the talent and character nursed and developed by the church, are, as a rule, devoted to building up and operating the human governments, while the church languishes and suffers, for lack of the services of its children, to manage its internal affairs or carry its truths to the world.
We will let these quotations from these three prominent writers of the two first centuries suffice. We now give statements from some prominent historians of the early church.
Neander says of the early Christians:
"It was far from their imaginations to conceive it
possible that Christianity should appropriate to itself
the relations and offices of the state. The Christians
stood aloof from the state, as a priestly and spiritual
race, and Christianity seemed able to influence civil
life only in that manner, which it must be confessed is
the purest, by practically endeavoring to instill more
and more of the holy feeling into the citizens of the
Gibbon gave as the secondary causes of the wonderful progress of the Christian religion.
1. "The inflexible, and if we use the expression, intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit, which instead of inviting, deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses.
2. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth.
3. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church.
4. The pure and austere morals of the Christians.
5. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman Empire." Vol. 1 p. 505.
"The Christians felt and confessed that such institutions (human governments) might be necessary for the present system of the world, and they submitted to the authority of their pagan governors."
"This indolent or even criminal disregard of the public
welfare, exposed them to the contempt and reproach of the
pagans, who very frequently asked what must be the fate
of the Empire, attacked on all sides by barbarians, if
all mankind should adopt the pusillanimous sentiments of
the new sect." Vol. 1 p. 552.
But as the Christians increased in numbers they began to grow worldly.
"The church still continued to increase its outward
splendor as it lost its internal purity and in the reign
of Diocletian, the palace, the courts of justice, and
even the army concealed a multitude of Christians who
endeavored to reconcile the interests of the present with
those of a future life." Vol. 1 p. 586.
"If we seriously consider the purity of the Christian
religion, the sanctity of the moral precepts, and the
innocent as well as austere lives of the greater number
of those during the first ages who embraced the faith of
the gospel, we should naturally suppose that so
benevolent a doctrine would have been received with due
reverence, even by the unbelieving world. That the
magistrates instead of persecuting would have protected
an order //119// of men, who yielded the most passive
obedience to the laws, though they declined the active
cares of war and government."
A. D. 284-300. "A sentence of death was executed on
Maximilianus an African youth, who was produced by his
father as a sufficient and legal recruit, but who
obstinately persisted in declaring, that his conscience
would not permit him to embrace the profession of a
"On the day of a public festival Marcellus a centurion
threw away his belt, his arms, and the insignia of his
office, and exclaimed with a loud voice, that he would
obey none but Jesus Christ the eternal king, that he
renounced forever the use of carnal weapons, and the
service of an idolatrous master. He was condemned and
beheaded for desertion." Vol. 2 p. 60.
"The Christians it was charged by Galerius renouncing the
gods and institutions of Rome, had constituted a distinct
republic." Vol. 2, p. 62.
"The humble Christians were sent into this world, as
sheep among wolves, and since they were not permitted to
use force even in defence of their own religion, they
should be still more criminal if they were tempted to
shed the blood of their fellow-men in disputing the vain
privileges or sordid possessions of this transitory
life." Vol. 2, p. 255.
"The Christian subjects of Armenia and Iberia formed a
sacred and perpetual alliance with their Roman brethren.
The Christians of Persia in time of war were suspected of
preferring their religion to their country." Vol. 2, p.
"The Christians after the conversion of Constantine,
still resorted to the tribunals of the church to decide
their claims and pecuniary disputes." Vol. 2, p. 280.
Gibbon supposes there may have been Christians in the army of Marcus Antoninus, the thundering legion, but owns there is doubt about it. Lardner also thinks it doubtful. Gibbon, Vol. 2, p. 46.
It is reported that Christians were in this army about to die of thirst and prayed to God, and a rain and thunder storm were sent in answer to prayer. The term Christian came quite early, to be loosely applied as it is now. Many who claimed to believe Christ divine, although they did not obey him, were called Christians. They belonged to families and communities that recognized Jesus as Lord. It was doubtless this class that was in the army. A.D. 361 - The apostle Julian the emperor "refused to //120//
give the government of provinces to Christians because as
he said, their law forbids the use of the sword fro the
punishment of such as deserve death. Julian not only
deprived the Christians of magistracy and of all honors
and dignities but of equal rights of citizens." (Lardner
Julian was raised a Christian, a man of learning and discrimination, knew perfectly the faith of the Christians, and what that faith had been from the beginning. He apostatised to pagan religion, and as the Christians had become popular and under Constantine had been encouraged to depart from the well known practise of the early church and to hold office, as he dismissed them from office or refused their applications he taunted them it was contrary to their law.
Gibbon, vol 1 p.550, says: "Their (the Christians')
simplicity was offended by the use of oaths, by the pomp
of magistracy, by the active contention of public life,
nor could their humane ignorance be convinced that it was
lawfull on any occasion to shed the blood of our fellow
creatures, either by the sword of justice or by that of
war, even though their criminal attempts should threaten
the peace and safety of the community."
Again, vol.1, p.557: "But while they inculcated the
maxims of passive obedience, they refused to take any
active part in the civil administration or military
defence of the empire." "It was impossible that the
Christians without renouncing a more sacrad duty could
assume the characters of soldiers or magistrates or
We could greater multiply similar testimony to these. Accounts are given of the gradual participation of the Christians in civil government. But the so-called conversion of Constantine greatly accelerated and spread the custom. Prince Julian was raised in the Christian faith. He apostatized to paganism and became Emperor. Gibbon says:
"The hopes of the future candidates (Christians) were
extinguished by the declared partiality of a prince,
(Julian), who malicously reminded them that it was
unlawful for a Christian to use the sword either of
justice or war."
Gibbon, vol. 2, p. 255, says of the Christians,
"Faithful to the doctrine of the apostles, who in the
reign of //121// Nero, had preached the duty of
unconditional submission, the Christians of the three
first centuries preserved their consciences pure and
innocent of the guilt of secret conspiricy or open
rebellion. While they experienced the rigor of
persecution, they were never provoked to meet their
tyrants in the field, or indignantly to withdraw
themselves into some remote and sequestered corner of the
Again, p. 256: "But the Christians, when they deprecated
the wrath of Diocletian, or solicited the favor of
Constantine, could allege with truth and confidence, that
they held the doctrine of passive obedience, and that for
three centuries their conduct had always been conformable
to their principles."
Mosheim, Murdock's Translation, vol. 3, p. 200, article, Anabaptist, says,
"Prior to the age of Luther, there lay concealed in
almost every country of Europe, but especially in
Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland and Germany, very many
persons, in whose minds was deeply rooted that principle
which the Waldenses, the Wickliffites and the Hussites
maintained, some more covertly, others more openly,
namely, that the kingdom set up on earth or the visible
church, is an assembly of holy persons, and ought
therefore to be entirely free, not only from ungodly
persons and sinner, but from all institutions of human
device against Sin."
Again, same page: "This principle lay at the foundation
of whatever was new and singular in the religion of the
Mennonites, and the greater part of their singular
opinion, as is well attested, was approved some centuries
before Luther's time, by those who had such views of the
nature of the church of Christ."
On page 213, he gives these doctrines that were common for centuries before Luther, now brought into notice by Menno,
1. "They should receive none into their church by the
sacrament of baptism unless they are adults and have the
full use of their reason. (2.) That they should not admit
magistrates nor suffer their members to perform the
functions of magistracy. (3,) That they should deny the
justice of repelling force by force. or of waging war.
(4,) That they should have strong aversion to all
penalties and punishments, especially capital punishment.
(5,) It forbids their confirming any thing by an oath."
As late as 270, Lardner, Vol. 2, p. 668, tells us, "Paul,
bishop of Antioch, was tried by a council of bishops."
Among the charges was, "He accepted secular dignities,
and chose rather to be considered a judge than a bishop."
THE CHURCHES FROM THE FOURTH TO THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.
The corruption and secularizing of the churches were //122// gradual and produced division. Those who maintained the purer faith were called Donatists and Novatians in the earliest division.
"These Donatists in a council A. D. 411, at Carthage
lacked only eight churches of being equal in
representation to the Catholics. These and the Novatians
maintained the the church ought to be made up of just and
holy men, or at least of those who are so in appearance,
* * * They thought they ought to be kept separate from
the world, a religious society voluntarily congregated
together for pious purposes. They were very careful to
remove from their places of worship everything that bore
any resemblance to worldly communities."
The controversy between them and the other party grew bitter, Constantine endeavored to settle it. The Donatists inquired,
"What has the emperor to do with the church? What have
Christians to do with kings? What have bishops to do at
The Emperor persecuted them. Orchard, vol. 1 p. 88.
These dissenters from the dominant church, existed in all countries to a greater or less extent, and wore different names conferred upon them from the different locations or from some noted leader. Those in distant countries had no communication with each other. The uniformity with which those who rejected the Romish church held the doctrine of separation from civil governments shows that these things had a common origin in the beginning and spread from the one central head.
Orchard vol. 1, p. 117, "The dissenters of the oriental
(Asiatic) churches, refused oaths, remonstrated against
penal sanctions, and denied the authority of magistrates
Page 145, Of the dissenters of Italy, Paterines, A. D.
300, "The two edged sword was the only weapon this people
Page 142, A. D. 750, "The public religion of the
Paterines consisted of nothing but social prayer, reading
and expounding the Gospels, Baptism once and the Lord's
supper as often as convenient. Italy was full of such
Christians. They said a Christian church ought to consist
of good people only, a church had no power to frame any
constitution, that is to make laws, it was not right to
take oaths, it was not lawful to kill mankind, nor should
he be delivered up to the officers of justice to be
//123// converted, faith alone could save a man, the
benefit of society belonged to all its members, the
church ought not to persecute, the law of Moses was no
rule for Christians."
Page 145, "The Paterines were become very numerous and
conspicuous at Milan * * * Nor had they any share in the
state, for they took no oaths and bore no arms."
Page 150, "Arnold presumed to quote the Scripture, 'My
kingdom is not of this world.' The Abbots, the bishops,
the pope himself must renounce their state or their
Page 151, Arnold's friends were numerous, but a sword was
no weapon in the articles of his faith."
Page 234, A. D. 1207, "The Waldenses of Picardy and
Bohemia executed no offices, and neither exacted nor took
oaths. They bore no arms, and rather chose to suffer than
to resist wrong. They professed their belief in Christ by
being baptized, and their love to Christ and one another
by receiving the Lord's supper. They aspired at neither
wealth nor power, their plan was industry."
Page 241, A. D. 1400, "It would appear the the Vaudois,
Waldenses, or Picards did not enter Ziska's army during
the war. We know their principles were opposed to war,
and they do not seem at any time to have borne arms.
During such commotions, it is said of them that they were
always coming and going. When persecuted in one city they
fled to another."
Page 261, The dissenters of Piedmont, (existing from the
earliest days down to Luther) "Their rules of practice
were regulated by a literal interpretation of Christ's
sermon on the Mount. They consequently prohibited wars,
law-suits, acquisition of wealth, capital punishments,
self-defence and oaths of all king."
Page 309, A. D. 1433, "A third party was called
Waldenses, or Picards who interfered not in political
Menno page 367, A. D. 1536, "Drew up his plan of doctrine
and practice entirely from the Scriptures. He retained,
indeed all the doctrines commonly received among them in
relation to the baptism of infants, the millennium, the
exclusion of magistrates from the Christian assemblies,
the abolition of war, the prohibition of oaths, and the
vanity as well as pernicious effects of human science."
Page 309, "They are said to have lived as peaceable
inhabitants, particularly in Flanders, Holland and
Zealand, interfering neither with church (Catholic) or
state affairs. Their manner of life was simple and
exemplary. They like their ancestors sought to regulate
their conduct by Christ's sermon on the Mount."
The Munster rebellion in Germany, that has always been held as a reproach to the Anabaptists, to break down //124// man governments and establish the kingdom of God on earth, was a misguided and frenzied outburst of this same principle that had been perpetuated from the days of the apostles.
There was at the time a feeling of discontent among the people on account of the oppression of the human government sanctioned by the state church. The dissatisfaction with the existing state of affairs was widespread. The laboring people naturally sided with the religious teachers who were declaiming against the tyranny of the priests. A few turbulent men failing to appreciate the spirit of the Christian religion and that its "weapons of warfare were not carnal," appealed to the idea that human governments were to be displaced by the government of God, and excited the populace to a war of destruction of human government. It was simply a misguided zeal and frenzy taking advantage of the old idea of the antagonism of the human and the divine government, to excite war upon the oppressive governments. I have quoted these extracts from Orchard recognizing that he is not always entirely reliable; either from a failure to go to original sources of information, or his judgement was warped by a party bias, in his effort to trace a regular succession of churches practicing immersion from the apostolic times to the present day, but the points here presented are outside of the field of modern religious controversy. Indeed they antagonize the practice of all the churches with which church historians affiliate, and they would have been inclined to suppress truths of this kind rather than give them prominence. All church histories corroborate these statements. Armitage in his history of the Baptists, while admitting that the Montanists held certain errors, says page 176.
"The one prime idea held by the Montanists and in
distinction from the churches of the third century, was,
that membership in the churches should be confined to
purely regenerate //125// persons; and that a spiritual
life and discipline should be maintained without any
authority of the state."
And this corresponds with other accounts of the past and future history of these people.
Page 195, As evidence of the corruption and apostacy of
the churches in the 4th century, Armitage says, "They had
become numerous and influential. In the great cities they
had large and costly temples furnished with vessels of
gold and silver; their faith was much the rising fashion;
the army, the civil service, the court were filled with
Christians, and the old Christ-likeness had gone."
Their being in the army and civil service showed corruption. Of the Albigenses page 278.
"They rejected the Romish church, and esteemed the New
Testament above all its traditions and ceremonies. They
did not take oaths, nor believe in baptisimal
regeneration; but they were ascetic and pure in there
lives; they also exalted celibacy."
As said elsewhere, in different places the development of the faith of the dissenters from Rome, was diverse and often mixed with error. These in Southern France, are said to have fostered celibacy. But this was not common. But all the purer bodies of them refused oaths and service in the state affairs.
On page 280, "They sought no secular gain or earthly
Page 281, "They take no oaths."
"Hub-Meyer was the noblest of Swiss Baptists" Armitage 339. Our readers will note that Armitage and other baptist historians call all who immersed believers, baptist, albeit they refused to be called by any name save Christian.
On page 355 "A very small party, those of Munster,
believed in establishing Christ's kingdom by the sword at
the cost of sedition and revolution. We have seen that
the party represented chiefly by Hub-Meyer, believed in
government, paid all taxes and obeyed all ordinances that
did not interfere with the the free exercises of
religion. But, as a magistrate must bind himself by civil
oath and use the sword, they held that a Christian could
not be a magistrate, because the apostles knew nothing of
church taxes imposed by the state, held no office and
took no part in war. They thought civil government was
necessary for the wicked, but their foes either could or
would not understand them. Their modern enemies evince
the same state of mind."
It seems that later Hub-Meyer and a party with him, recognized Christians might act as judges, but a large party refused to go with him in this concession.
On page 356, "Denk whom Haller calls the Appollo of the
Anabaptists, says, "The Apostles treat earnestly that
Christians must be subject to government. But they do not
teach that they may be governors, for Paul says, 'What
have I to do to judge them that are without?' He would
have Christians withdraw from politics, and have
unconverted men to wield the sword of the civil and
military ruler as a thing entirely separate from the
Page 374, Dryzinger only three years after the craze (Munster) was examined as to whether he and his brethren approved of these vile proceedings. He answered "we would not be Christians if we did."
Another said, "We are daily belied by those who say we
would defend our faith with the sword, as they of Munster
did. The Almighty God defend us from such abominations."
Another Martyr, Young Dosie, who endured cruel slaughter for his love to Christ, said to the Governor's wife,
"No madam, these people greatly erred. We consider it a
devilish doctrine to resist the magistrates by the
outward sword and violence. We would much rather suffer
persecution and death at their hands and whatever is
appointed us to suffer."
"A formal convention of their leaders at Augsburg
discountenanced all political measures."
Melancthon examined some of them, page 404, "He asked
them of obedience to civil magistrates. They said, they
needed none, they cleave to God alone, they did not
condemn civil government for the world. If the
magistrates would let them alone in their faith they
would cheerfully pay their taxes and do as they were
Page 414, Of the Waldenses of the Netherlands,
"Halbertsma asks, 'How is it possible to find better
citizens?' They brought into the treasury their thousands
every year, and never took out a penny as officials (held
no office.) They set fire to no property, but dug wells
to put out fires. They fired no musket, but they nursed
the wounded. They were not soldiers but furnished the
sinews of war." (paid taxes.)
Quotations from all church histories to the same purport might be made to weariness.
Many nominal dissenters, those in sympathy with them, but not real members of the church engaged in war and //127// politics - and often corruption and departures worked their way among them and they took part in state affairs.
The emigration to America was very much under the idea that none but Christians would compose the government, and the church government would be the only rule recognized. Yet the Puritans placed the sword in the hands of their rulers to enforce church censures, and discipline. Roger Williams and his associates had a clearer conception of the Bible teaching. But the temptations to take part in civil affairs were strong and all went into it. They persuaded themselves there was a difference between the despotic and republican forms of government.
But that this principle was recognized still as held among those called baptists, we find from the decree of the General Court of Massachusetts, Nov. 13th 1644.
"It is ordered and decreed, that if any person or
persons, within this jurisdiction, shall either openly
condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants or go about
secretly to seduce others from the approbation or use
thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at
the ministration of the ordinance, or shall deny the
ordinance of magistracy, or the lawful right and
authority to make war or to punish the outward breakers
of the first table, and shall appear to the court
wilfully and obstinately to continue therein after due
time and means of convictions, every such person or
persons shall be sentenced to banishment."
The first table here refers to the first half of the ten commandments, which were supposed to be written on one of the tables of Moses. Some had denied the right of the civil power to punish violation of these. They denied the right of Christians to be civil magistrates, and the lawfulness of Christians engaging in war. On this account they were condemned to banishment from the state of Massachusetts.
Through the Old Testament this separation was taught. It was clearly maintained in the New. The church received the practice from the apostles, and maintained it with great uniformity to the close of the third century. //128// Corruption, worldly ambition and desire of power and place, worked their way into the church, but all through the dark ages, the purest and best of disciples of Christ, maintained the position. If the church ever attains to its primitive purity and efficiency it must be by a return to this clearly established principle of the separation of all its members from worldly governments, and the consecration of the affections, time, means and talents of all its members to the upbuilding of the church of God and the salvation of the world.
We have noted these things from the days of the apostles down to one hundred years ago, to show that the idea of separation from the state and from all participation in civil affairs, was universal among Christians for the first two or three hundred years. That then they began to grow worldly, apostatized from fidelity to God, lost faith in him, formed alliance with the civil power, became supporters of human government and imbibed the spirit of the civil institutions with which they affiliated. Still there have been individuals among the Baptists and disciples who have held these views.
The following petition was presented to the authorities of the late confederacy by a number of disciples in Middle Tennessee during the war of the rebellion, indicating their position on this question.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES
WHEREAS, "A large number of the members of the churches
of Jesus Christ throughout this and the adjoining
counties of the State of Tennessee, feel a deep sense of
the responsibility they are under to recognize the Bible
in its teachings, as the only infallible guide of their
life, and the supreme authoritative rule of action, and
as being of superior authority to and more binding upon
the subjects of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, than the
rules and regulations of any human government or power,
they would respectfully represent.
1. "That they are fully satisfied that God, through the
//129// Scriptures of Sacred Truth, demands of his
servants that they should submit quietly, heartily and
cheerfully to the government under which they may live,
in all cases, except when compliance with the civil law
would involve a violation of the law of God. They are
deeply impressed with the truth that when there is a
conflict between the requirements of worldly government
and the law of God, the duty of the Christian, is, upon
the peril of his well-being, to obey God first, let the
consequences be to him what they may.
2. "They are firm in the conviction of the truth, that no
man who regards the authority of God, the spirit and
letter of the Sacred Scriptures in their proper division
and application, the life and teachings of the Son of
God, or his Holy Apostles, as given for the guidance of
his followers, can in any manner engage in, aid, foment,
or countenance the strifes, animosities and bloody
conflicts in which civil governments are frequently
engaged, and in which they often involve their subjects.
"The measure and limit of their duty to, and connexion
with the governments under which they live, as laid down
in the Sacred Scriptures, is not an active participation
in its affairs to destroy or upbuild, but simply a quiet
and cheerful submission to its enactments, in the payment
of tribute and any demands on our property or time,
modified only, but the first and highest obligation to
"With these considerations of what our duty to God requires at
our hands, the enforcement of the 'Conscript Act' for the
purpose of raising and maintaining an army, for the carrying
on of this unhappy war, in which our country is involved,
cannot fail to work indescribable distress to those members of
our churches holding these convictions. Some of them will be
driven as exiles from their homes, for no political
preferences, but because they dare not disobey the
commandments of God. Others may be thrown into seeming
opposition to your government, suffering imprisonment and
punishment as may be inflicted on them. Others still by the
pressure of circumstances, may be driven to a deeply sadder
fate, the violation of all their conscientious convictions of
duty to their Maker and Master, whom they have under the most
solemn vows, pledged themselves to serve.
"In view of these things, we are induced to make a
statement of these facts to you, with the hope that some
relief may be afforded to those of our members thus
"We are the more encouraged, too, in this hope, from the
fact that we perceive that the Congress of the
Confederate States of America, with a commendable regard
for the conscientious convictions of its subjects, made
provision upon certain conditions for the exemption of
the members of certain denominations of professed
Christians, from the performance of requirements
repulsive to their religious faith. With the view, too,
that this //130// law might not act inviduously with
reference to individuals or bodies of individuals, not
specially named in said act, the power was vested in the
Honorable President, of making such further exemptions
as, in his judgement, justice, equity or necessity might
demand. We respectfully petition of you that those
members of our churches, who are now, and have been
striving to maintain a position of Christian separation
from the world, its strifes and conflicts, may be
relieved, on terms equitable and just, from requirements
repulsive to their religious faith, and that they may be,
at least, placed upon a footing similar to that in which
denominations holding a like faith are placed."
BEECH GROVE, Williamson county, Tenn., Nov. 13th, 1862.
"This document was signed by the elders and evangelists
of ten or fifteen congregations, and was the means of
saving all those members of the church who would take
this position, set forth above, and stand firmly to it,
from service in the war through which we have passed. A
petition of a similar nature varied only to suit the
changed demands, was presented to the Federal
authorities. We will publish this in our next week's
issue. We publish these as historic accounts of the
position assumed by the churches of Christ in Middle
Tennessee in hours of fearful trial and trouble to
Christians. We believe this position alone saved them
from almost total ruin. Copies of these were filed with
the then Governor, now President Johnson. Copies were
also sent to the Review and Harbinger for publication,
but neither of them published them."
The following petition was presented to the Federal authorities when in power in the State.
TO THE RULING AUTHORITIES OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
WHEREAS, A large number of the members of the Churches of
Jesus Christ feel a deep sense of the responsibility they
are under to recognize the Bible in its teachings, as the
only infallible guide and authoritative rule of action,
and as being of superior authority to, and more binding
upon the subjects of the kingdom of Jesus Christ than any
human rules or regulations, they would most respectfully
1. "That they recognize the necessity for the existence
of civil government, so long as a considerable portion of
the human family fails to submit to the government of
2. "That while God demands of his servants that they
should submit cheerfully and heartily, to the government
under which they may live, in all cases, except when
compliance with the requirements of civil government,
involves the violation of God's law, they are deeply
impressed with the truth that when there is a conflict
between the requirements of civil government and the law
of God, the duty of the Christian is, upon peril of his
//131// eternal well-being, to obey God first, let the
consequences be to him what they may.
3. "They are satisfied that the measure of their duty to
civil government, as defined in the Bible, is to submit,
not by personal participation in affairs of government,
to uphold or destroy, pull down or upbuild, but simply,
as a duty they owe to God, to submit, and in that
submission, modified only as above to discharge the
offices of good citizens in all the relations of life.
4. "They are firmly impressed with the truth that no man
who regards the authority of God, or of his Holy
Apostles, as set forth in example and precept, for the
instruction and guidance of his followers in the future
ages of the world, can engage in, or in any way aid,
foment or countenance the strifes, animosities and bloody
conflicts in which civil governments are frequently
engaged, and in which they involve their subjects.
5. "The spirit of the Church of Christ and the spirit of
civil government are different. The one is a spirit of
force, as all history attests, that no civil government
ever did arise except by force, violence and the
destruction of life. So they must maintain that existence
by force. We suppose the future, with but slight
variations, will repeat the history of the past. But
Christianity permits not its subjects to use force or do
violence, even in defence of its own existence; its
guiding spirit is one of love, 'peace on earth and good
will toward man.'
6. "This difference in the spirit of the two
institutions, the government of God and the government of
man, together with the diversity of the means essential
to the prosperity and success of each respectively,
necessarily, at times, involves a conflict in their
respective requirements. We, therefore, in behalf of the
churches of which we are members, respectfully petition
of you that the requirements which, as we believe,
conflict with our duties to God, may be remitted to those
members of our churches who have been, and are now,
striving to maintain a position of Christian separation
from the world, its conflicts and strifes, as set forth
in the preceding articles.
7. "We firmly believe that the oaths of allegiance, and
the oaths to support and defend the governments of the
world, now imposed as necessary to the transaction of the
common affairs of life, are contrary to the spirit and
teachings of the Savior and his inspired Apostles, and
involve, if strictly complied with, a violation of some
of the plainest precepts of the Christian religion. We
therefore, feel that in taking these oaths and
obligations, and in performing those requirements that
have an appearance of countenancing bloodshed and
violence, we are violating the obligations of fealty we
have taken to our Heavenly Master. We imperil the well-
being of the church, dishonor God, and involve ourselves
in eternal ruin. We, therefore, respectfully ask a
release from the performance of these requirements, and
others //132// of a similar character, assuring you
again, that we recognize it as a solemn duty we owe to
God, to submit to the government under which we may live,
in all its requirements, save when that government
requires of us something contrary to the letter and
spirit of the Christian religion, as revealed in the
TO HIS EXCELLENCY ANDREW JOHNSON, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:
"We, the undersigned, having been appointed a committee
by an assembly of members of churches of Jesus Christ,
met at Leiper's Fork, Williamson county, Tenn., to
present to your Excellency their grievances, and in their
and our behalf to petition of you a release from certain
requirements made at their hands, would most respectfully
represent that the mass of the members of the churches of
Jesus Christ, in the counties of Davidson, Williamson,
Maury and Hickman, and many scattered through other
counties of Middle Tennessee, believe that all military
service, or connexion with military service, is utterly
incompatible with the spirit and requirements of the
Christian religion. Believing this, they cannot comply
with the requisition recently made of them in common with
other residents of the State, for enrolling themselves
for military service without a violation of their solemn
conscientious convictions of duty to their Lord and
Master, and a violation of their vows of fealty to him.
We, therefore, in behalf of these churches and members of
churches, respectfully petition of you, in the exercise
of your authority, a release from those requirements,
that are repugnant to their religions faith, upon terms
that you may consider just and right. We desire to assure
you in this request and movement, upon the faith and
integrity of Christians, we are acting from no factious
or political motive, but from the single desire of
preserving our faith and profession of Christianity pure.
Praying earnestly that your counsels and the counsels of
the rulers of our country may be so conducted as to
restore to our country a speedy and lasting peace, we are
most obediently and respectfully yours.
The Christian is to pay his taxes, and perform all duties laid upon him by the government, that involve no active support of the government, and that involve no violation of the commands of God and the spirit of the religion of Christ, as a part of his duties to God - as his religious duty. God has so ordained that he must. The cheerful performance of these duties must not depend on the character of government, nor upon his approval or disapproval of the government. //133//
Christians are to be supporters and partisans of none. They are to be active opponents of none. Quiet submission to the requirements in all things not contrary to the will of God and then a quiet submission but persistent refusal to do the thing commanded, is the part of the Christian. A Christian can engage in active rebellion against no government. Neither active support or participation, nor active opposition.
RESULTS OF AFFILIATION.
The effects of the affiliation is seen in the persecuting spirit. No church ever thought of force to repress error, or to uphold truth until it had first imbibed the spirit of the civil power. The civil power is founded on force, lives by it and it is its only weapon of offence or defence. Christians enter civil government, drink into its spirit, and carry that spirit with them into the church. All force in religious affairs is persecution. This spirit of force is antagonistic to the spirit of Christ. They cannot harmonize. They cannot dwell in the same bosom. "No man can serve two masters," or cherish two antagonistic spirits. The result of it is, that the spirit of Christ, the spirit of self-denial, of self-sacrifice, the forbearance and long suffering, the doing good for evil, so fully manifested in the life of and so fully taught by Jesus Christ and the apostles, are almost unknown to the Christian profession of this day. The sermon on the Mount, embraced in the fifth sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew, certainly contain the living and essential principles of the religion the Savior came to establish, those which must pervade and control the hearts and lives of men, without which no man can be a Christian. They are enforced by such expressions as these.
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully
use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children
of your Father which is in Heaven."
And again, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and
doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built
his house upon a rock, * * * Whoever heareth these
sayings of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto
a foolish man etc., which built his house upon the sand."
THESE sayings of mine, refer to the sayings presented in this sermon of Jesus, which constitute the laws that must control the lives of his subjects, and must rule in his kingdom. They are given as principles to be practices, without which we are not and cannot be children of our Father which is in heaven. Yet the religious world of to-day both Protestant and Romish, believes these principles not applicable at the present day. The laws and the spirit of civil government are more looked to, to guide the church and regulate the lives of its members, than the teaching of the Bible. Indeed it is usually regarded that the church member may do any thing the civil law allows and what it allows is not to be prohibited in the church. This comes from the members of the church going into the civil governments, imbibing their spirit, adopting their morality and bringing them both into the church of Christ. A man cannot cherish in his heart two spirits, one to rule his religious life, the other to rule his civil life. He cannot adopt two standards of morality, one for his church life, the other for his political life.
"A man cannot serve two masters, he will love the one,
and hate the other, or he will cleave to one and despise
That the political affairs, and the standard of general morality may be elevated by the affiliation, is possible, but the true spiritual life is destroyed by the affiliation.
The antagonism between the principles laid down by Christ and those of civil government is so marked that in history, the statement, that they regulate their conduct by the sermon on the Mount, is equal to saying they take no part in civil affairs.
The only people who claim to make the "sermon upon //135// the Mount" their rule of life, are the small religious bodies, who take no part in civil affairs. Some bodies of Quakers, Mennonites, Nazarenes and Dunkards, and individuals among the larger brotherhoods.
But who can study the New Testament, the life of Christ, his teaching through his mission, the admonitions of the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostles and for a moment doubt, that Christ specially gave this sermon to regulate the hearts and lives of his followers. He gave it at the beginning of his ministry that all might understand the life, to which they were specifically called.
The apostle Paul Romans xii: 19, reiterated the principles of this sermon on the Mount.
"Dearly beloved avenge not yourselves, but rather give
place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine,
I will repay saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy
hunger, feed him; if he thirst give him drink, for in so
doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not
overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
1 Peter ii: 19, "For this is thankworthy, if a man for
conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your
faults ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do
well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is
acceptable with God. For even hereunto were called:
because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an
example that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was
reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he
threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth
righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own
body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should
live unto righteousness: by whose stripes we were
The spirit of Christ is driven out of the church and the spirit of the world takes its abode in it by this affiliation.
So long as the idea prevails that it is allowable for Christians to enjoy the honors and emoluments, and engage in the contests for worldly glory and honor by managing the affairs of the civil or worldly governments, and yet enjoy the blessings of God, in this world and in that which is to come, so long will the young seek the service of the human //136// rather than that of the Divine. While they are taught they can satisfy the flesh and still enjoy the blessings of spiritual life, they will follow the way of the flesh. Along with displacing the spirit of Christ, in the church, with the spirit of the world, the world absorbs the talent, the time the means that belong to the church, and leaves the church devoid of the spirit of Christ, stripped of its strength and talent and left without means.
Various difficulties are presented to the position here taken. Such as, If Christian give the government up to sinners and those rejecting God, what will become of the world? What will become of Christians? If all were converted to the Christian religion, we would still need civil government. How would the mails be carried? How could the affairs of Railroads, Manufactures, and the many large corporations needful to the well-being of society be managed?"
To this last difficulty, it is responded, when all are converted to Christ, all dominion and power and rule on earth will be put down and destroyed, and the rule and the dominion and the kingdom under the whole heavens will be delivered up to God, the Father, that he may be all and in all. To the wisdom, and power and management, of him who created and rules the heavens we will cheerfully commit the adjustment and management of all things pertaining to the world, to man, and his well-being here or hereafter. And no true believer in God can have any apprehension of failure in ought that pertains to man's well-being here or hereafter.
God was an immediate and ever present ruler to man as he was first created and placed in Eden. Man refused to obey God, chose the devil as his ruler, and with himself carried the world into a state of rebellion against God. God ceased to be an immediate and present guide to man. //137// "The voice of the Lord God" ceased to walk with, and guide him in his paths. The spirit of God forsook man and ceased to inspire his heart. Man's sin and rebellion separated between man and his God. But when man shall cease to sin - when man shall lay down the arms of his rebellion, when man shall come out of the earthly government of God, when "all rule and all authority and all power shall have been put down," then the kingdom shall be delivered up to God the Father, and he will be our God, the God of the human family, and of this earth - and shall again dwell there and they will be his children and walk under his guidance and direction. He will be all and in all.
As to the other objections, while God does not rule in, as a present guide to man in this world while in rebellion against him, he does overrule the affairs of earth so as that no evil shall come to him that trusts in the Lord, so that "all things shall work together for good to them that love the Lord," so that he "will keep him in perfect peace whose heart is stayed on the Lord, because he trusted in him." Isa. xxvi: 3, so that "when a man pleases the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Prov. xvi: 7. So that "He maketh the wrath of man praise him, and the remainder of wrath he will restrain." Ps. lxxvi: 10.
Then again Christian men, as has been heretofore presented, cannot be governed by Christian principles in civil government. Civil government rests on force as its foundation. The weapons of the Christian are not carnal, but spiritual. A ruler or an officer in civil government cannot carry into the execution of these laws, the principles of the religion of Christ. To forgive his brother seventy times seven, on repentance, would destroy all authority in //138// civil affairs. It is certainly true no Christian should go where he cannot carry the practice of the principles of the religion of Christ. The Savior presents the essential antagonism when he says, "ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them (their subjects) and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister and whosoever would be chief let him be your servant: even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many."
A man cannot be a follower of Christ and a ruler in the governments of earth.
Again, Christian men out of place are as liable to do wrong as others. The protection and security of the Christian, is, that while he is doing his duty as a Christian, in the walks God has appointed him,
"God will not permit him to be tempted above that he is
able to bear."
But when he steps outside of the paths God has marked out for him, he loses this protection. Hence we find religious men often falling victims to the snares and temptations of the world as others. It is because they step outside of the limits of the Christian walk, and so forfeit the protection of God.
Again, the Christian spirit is a frank, open, unsuspecting one. A man that is suspicious of all, looking for evil in every one, is a poor Christian. An unsuspecting nature in political affairs will be imposed upon, taken advantage of and will be frequently used to carry out the aims and purposes of designing and corrupt partizans. There is but little doubt that Garfield's frank, confiding and unsuspecting nature, led him without evil intent, into connection with the Credit Mobiliar, which was a reproach to him. The very nature that was an ornament to the Christian //139// so laid him open to the designs of the designing and corrupt, that some of his nearest friends think it was to the credit of his administration that he died early. While we have Garfield up as an example. It is well-known that in early life he was a preacher. In later life he turned aside to politics, and war, both essential to the conduct of civil government.
After his experience through the war, it is said that he always refused to preach or to preside at the Lord's table.
The reason was. His hands were stained in the blood of his fellowmen, and inasmuch as David was prohibited building in the material earthly temple on account of his hands being stained in blood, he could not take an active part in leading the hosts, or building up the spiritual temple of God. This shows a commendably sensitive conscience. But every man who voted to bring on or perpetuate that war, was just as guilty before God as the men who actively participated in it. Their souls were just as much stained in blood.
This statement was published in the WATCHMAN, Boston, Mass., soon after Garfield's death, after it was in type we learn through Elder F. D. Power, the preacher in Washington city, that Garfield did after the war preside at the Lord's table and exhort his brethren, though he never entered the pulpit.
He heard that God's agent heard God. He that gave a cup of cold water to the least disciple of Christ in the name of Christ did it to Christ himself. This establishes fully what we do through another or cause another to do, we ourselves do and are responsible for.
Then again, he who maintains and supports an institution is responsible for the general results of that institution. The general and necessary results of human government //140// are war and the use of carnal weapons to maintain the government. Every one then that actively supports human government, is just as responsible for the wars and bloodshed that grow out of its existence and maintainance as are the men who actively wage and carry on the war. Then every one who voted to bring about and carry on the war was just as much unfitted for service in the kingdom of God as was Gen. Garfield or any other soldier in the army. The same is true of every man that supports and maintains human government.
But religious men fail to make the best and fairest rulers in human government from other causes. The religious sentiment in man is the strongest, deepest, most permanent element of his nature. When this element is developed and cultivated and fully aroused it is uncompromising and unyielding. God never intended it should be aroused to use carnal weapons. Aroused and guided by the principles of love - and directed by the word of God, it is unyielding in self-sacrificing devotion to benefit and save man. But warped and perverted by the principles that control in civil governments and using the sword - it is implacable, unmerciful. In other words men with their religious natures developed, then perverted by personal ambition, as politicians, rulers and warriors, are the most intolerant, implacable and cruel of rulers.
The worst despots of earth have been those that have commingled religious fervor with the ambitions and strifes of political rulers. The bloodiest paths, the most cruel desolation made in our country during the late war, were made by preacher- warriors. The most intolerant of rulers - those slowest to end the bitterness and strifes of the war are the religious bodies. The religious element in man is the permanent uncompromising enduring element of his nature. And the very qualities that make him a cruel and //141// unrelenting despot with carnal weapons in his hand, make him the self-sacrificing, devoted servant of God, willing to endure all things to save his enemies when clothed with spiritual weapons. Saul the vindictive persecutor, haling men and women to prison, and giving his voice for their death, with carnal weapons in his hand, and the Apostle Paul dying daily and willing himself to be accursed to save his brethren the Jews, shows how differently the same person under the differing conditions, acts. This shows that religion and devotion are only good in the path and for the ends for which God has fitted them. They are not in place ruling with the sword.
Religious influence exerts a moralizing influence in society that benefits it and helps even civil government, but religion exerts its most benign effects as it influences persons and communities to adopt in their lives the precepts and principles of the religion of Christ Jesus and so leads the world to a higher standard of morality and virtue.
OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES.
There are requirements sometimes made of persons by the government that they have difficulty in determining whether they violate the law of God in doing them. Among them is jury service. The rule determined in the preceding pages, is, the Christian should take no part in the administration or support of the government. Jury service is a part of its administration, and frequently lays on the juryman the duty of determining the life or death of his fellowman, and leads into affiliation with the agencies of government. Some anxious for office say, a postmaster is not a political office. Hence he may hold it, that clerkship in the executive offices are not political - but they are part of the essential elements of the civil administration, and make the holder a supporter of the government. Yet there are employments sometimes given in carrying on government //142// operations that a Christian it seems to me might perform. The government builds a house. House building is no part of the administration of government. A mason or carpenter might do work on this building without other relation to the government than that of employe to the government. The government wishes a school taught. Teaching school is no part of the administration of the government. It seems to me a Christian might teach a government school as an employe without compromising his position. As a rule he may work as an employe of the government but may not be an officer or supporter. As a rule the government exacts an oath of its officers, to support the government but it does not of its employees. Its employes in building, in school teaching, in surveying, are frequently foreigners who do not owe allegiance to the government, in these a Christian it seems to me might work. This work constitutes no part of the government administration and requires no affiliation with or obligation to support the government.
We find in primitive times Christians were prohibited engraving drinking cups, shields and ornaments for the god's, and making swords as encouraging that for which these things were used.
Clement of Alexandria about A. D. 175, says, "For those
men ought not to engrave idolatrous forms to whom the use
of them is forbidden. Those can engrave no sword, and no
bow, who seek for peace; the friends of temperance cannot
engrave drinking cups." Neander p. 184.
"Those who exercised trades contrary to the general and
recognized principles of Christianity were not admitted
to baptism, before they had pledged themselves to
relinquish them. They were obliged to begin a new trade,
in order to make a livelihood or in case they were unable
to do so, they were received into the number of the poor
of the church. Among these trades were reconed all which
had the smallest connection of any kind whatever with
idolatry, and might contribute to its furtherance as
artists and workman who made ornaments and images of the
gods. Tertullian said, To obtain honor for idols, is to
honor them yourself * * * you offer up your own spirit to
them //143// your sweat is their drink offering and you
light the torch of your cunning in honor of them."
Neander, p. 161.
All which means that the Christians came into the church with their whole hearts, and tolerated no divided fealty and service in its members. The service of God, the conforming their lives to the teachings of God's word, the building up of his church, the spread of his kingdom, the teachings of his holy word to the world, were the leading purposes and business of all Christians. To this one end, all who came into the church devoted their talents, their time, their means. Nothing counteracting this main work was tolerated. The man whose calling was not in harmony with this great work of the church, must give up that calling, or he could not be recognized as a member of the church of God. The consecration of all the powers of mind, body and soul, to the service of God on the part of every man, woman and child, was the rule of the church. A sedulous guarding against dividing the fealty and service with other institutions, and against the members remaining where they would imbibe a different spirit to bring into the church, is manifest. They sought first and only the kingdom of God and his righteousness. They were willing to sacrifice worldly honor, riches and glory, to the advancement of this work. Their children were trained for the service of God in the church.
When Christians thus consecrated themselves to the service of God and rendered to him an undivided fealty, the word of the Lord multiplied greatly. It ran and was glorified among men. Multitudes at home and abroad were converted to Christ.
The great weakness of the church to-day, is, when men are brought into the church they are not consecrated to the service of God and the upbuilding of his kingdom. The children of God devote more time, more talent to the service of earthly kingdoms and institutions than they do //144// to the church of God. What they serve most they love best. They drink into the spirit of the earthly institutions and bring that spirit into the church of God. They bring the habits of thought - the reliance upon human wisdom, and devices and inventions of men into the church of God. They drive out the spirit of God, substitute human wisdom and ways for the wisdom and power of God and in every way defile the church of God and work its ruin and the shame of our holy religion.
QUESTIONS OF PRACTICAL MORALITY CONSIDERED.
Questions come up in the workings of society and before the voters of a country that involve moral good to the community. Such are the questions regarding the restriction of the sale of intoxicants, the licensing of race courses and gambling houses and places of licentiousness. It is strongly denied in such cases that the government that restricts and prohibits sin can be of the devil, and hence it is claimed a Christian should vote on all such questions of morality.
To the first, it is replied, the devil has always been quite willing to compromise with Christians if he can induce them to divide their allegiance and to give the greater service to the upbuilding of his kingdom. He offered this compromise to the Savior when here on earth. Was quite willing the Savior should rule, and doubtless in his own way, and make things as moral and respectable as he desired them, if it only promoted the growth of his kingdom and extended and supported his rule and dominion. This very proffer that the Master rejected, his disciples accept and act upon in supporting human government.
"The Holy Spirit warned Christians, that, false prophets
would transform themselves into prophets of God and the
devil himself into an angel of light." (2 Cor. xi: 13.)
There is no doubt the devil is willing to turn moral reformer and make the world moral and respectable, if thereby his //145// rule and authority are established and extended. And it may be set down as a truth that all reformations that propose to stop short of a full surrender of the soul, mind, and body up to God, are of the devil.
To the claim that a Christian is bound to vote, when he has the privilege, for that which promotes morality, and to fail to vote for the restriction and suppression of evil is to vote for it, we have determined that, to vote or use the civil power is to use force and carnal weapons. Christians cannot use these. To do so is to do evil that good may come. This is specially forbidden to Christians. To do so is to fight God's battles with the weapons of the evil one. To do so is to distrust God. The effective way for Christians to promote morality in a community, is, to stand aloof from the political strifes and conflicts, and maintain a pure and true faith in God, which is the only basis of true morality, and is as a leaven in society, to keep alive an active sense of right. To go into political strife is to admit the leaven of evil into the church. For the church to remain in the world and yet keep itself free from the spirit of the world, is to keep alive an active leaven of morality in the world. If that leaven loses its leaven, wherewith shall the world be leavened? or if the salt lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted or saved? God has told his children to use the spiritual weapons, has warned them against appealing to the sword or force to maintain his kingdom or to promote the honor of God and the good of man. When they do as he directs them, and use his appointments, he is with them to fight their battles for them and to give them the victory. When they turn from his appointments to the human kingdoms and their weapons, they turn from God, reject his help, drive him out of the conflict and fight the battles for man's deliverance with their own strength and by their own wisdom. Human government is the sum of human wisdom //146// and the aggregation of human strength. God's kingdom is the consummation of Divine wisdom and in it dwells the power of God.
To use the human is to reject Divine wisdom and divest ourselves of Divine help. To use the Divine is to follow Divine wisdom and to seek and rest upon Divine help. There can be no doubt as to which is the Christian's duty. Then the Christian most effectually promotes public morality by standing aloof from the corrupting influences of worldly institutions and maintaining a pure religious morality. The same difficulty was propounded in the early churches,
Neander says, "The Christians stood aloof and distinct
from the state, as a priestly and spiritual race, and
Christianity seemed able to influence civil life only in
that manner which, it must be confessed, is the purest,
by practically endeavoring to instill more and more of
the holy feeling into the citizens of the state."
And Origen said, "The Christians render greater
assistance to their country than other men, inasmuch as
they instruct the citizens, and teach them to become
pious toward God, on whom the welfare of cities depends,
and who receives those whose conduct in a poor and
miserable city has been good, into a divine and heavenly
The same objections were made to the positions of the early Christians, that are made to-day to this position. They then beyond doubt held the same position we advocate. We make the same reply these early Christians made. We occupy the same position they did. Let us serve God with all our mind and strength and soul in his kingdom, and he will be our strength and our shield.
And true faith in God will lead us to trust him do his will, use his appointments diligently and faithfully and leave results with him; knowing that when we obey him and so "work out our salvation with fear and trembling, it is God which worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure." And when Gods works in and through us, all good results must follow.
THE POWERS THAT BE - WHO ARE THEY?
THYATIRA, MISS., JULY 26, 1869.
BRO. LIPSCOMB: - Who that has mingled in the society of
the present day, but has had reason to think, and
evidence to know that we greatly lack the zeal, purity
and simplicity taught in the New Testament. By what badge
or sign do we distinguish the professed Christian from
the man of the world? Both thrown into the common
whirlpool of secular affairs, it is often a difficult
task to distinguish between them. Certainly we too often
fail to realize our responsibility as professed followers
of our Savior. Are we not commanded to be as a city set
upon a hill, etc? Does Paul not admonish us to "let our
conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ?" (Phil.
Again, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather reprove them." (Eph. v: 11; also
James iii: 13; 1 Peter i: 15, and Heb. xiii: 5.)
Religion was designed by its divine author to keep the
whole man in order, whether he be engaged in business, in
keeping company, or devotionally. But how often do we
witness long and animated conversations, in which almost
every other interest is discussed, save the one eternal
interest? "Whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap."
There is no medium ground; ALMOST a Christian is not a
Christian at all. True we may live up to the forms and
ceremonies of religion and show to outsiders a TOLERABLE
EXTERNAL, and yet fall far short of the Christian
Many of us act as though we believed that to con orm to
the teachings of the church, read the Bible occasionally,
hear sermons when convienient, engage in benevolent
enterprises when not too expensive, keep the Lord's day,
receive the Lord's supper, etc., will suffice. But when
we scrutinize our actions we must all confess that our
course is pharisaical.
We ought to examine ourselves, see our own weaknesses,
acknowledge them, condemn ourselves on account of them,
and repent by turning from them. But I did not set down
to write an essay on christian deportment, but to ask
In the 13th chapter of Romans, Paul says: "Let every soul
be subject to the higher authorities, for there is no
authority but from God, the authorities that are, have
been appointed by God. Therefore, he that resisteth the
authority, resists the appointment of God, and those who
resist receive to themselves condemnation," (Anderson's
trans.) Are we to conclude from this that God appoints
the temporal government of the world? If so, in what
sense is it to be understood? If He appoints them in the
sense often advocated, it appears to me they would be
more in harmony with his revealed word. Is there anything
in the establishment and preservation of human
governments above and beyond the capacity of man? But in
their ever //148// changing unjust course without
stability always on the QUI VIVE for something more, are
they not peculiarly of men?
When God appointed a government for the Jews, he did it
in such a way as not to leave them in any doubt about it,
and in it we see the wisdom of God. But may this passage
not refer to the authorities of the church?
R. W. L.
We answered the above questions so frequently and fully
a few years ago that we feel indisposed to answer them
again, yet new readers make it necessary to repeat the
truths on this subject as on every other. We hesitate the
more to respond to them because we cannot answer them in
as few words as we desire without being misunderstood.
Many excellent brethren of sound and critical minds, have
been disposed to refer this scripture to the church
authorities. After a full, and we think thorough
investigation of the subject, we are satisfied that it
refers to the civil or political governments of the
My first reason for thus believing is, God never ordained
his true and faithful children for the performance of
such a work. But that he always ordained the wicked to do
the work here assigned these "Ministers of God."
The object for which this minister is ordained is as an
avenger "to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." Now
God never ordained one of his true, obedient and
spiritual children as an avenger to execute wrath, either
in this world or the world to come. In the world to come
the devil is appointed to execute wrath on the evil
doers. Christ and the holy angels are appointed to bless
and render happy the well doer. In the preceding chapter
the apostle tells the Christian he cannot take vengeance.
"Avenge not yourself, but rather give place unto wrath.
If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him
drink, for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on
his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with
good." Now God tells the Christian, you must not take
vengeance, you must do good for evil. I will avenge the
wicked, you cannot. Now the Christian was God's minister,
ordained for doing good to men, of returning good for
evil, and the minister of God for this work could not
But God says vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the
Lord. But God acts through ministers. The Christian is
his minister to do good and to bless; he cannot take
vengeance, but God has other ministers, "the powers that
be," that He so overrules in their wickedness and sin as
to make them his ministers of wrath, his "avengers to
execute wrath on him that doeth evil."
The idea is common that all of God's ministers are good.
This is an error. His ministers are in character fitted
for the work he appoints for them to do.
Thus Judas Iscariot was a wicked man. A money loving
traitor at heart. In the providence of God for the
salvation of the world, it is necessary that Jesus the
Christ should be betrayed and crucified. God wants a
minister to do this work. He did not chose the gentle and
true-hearted John as his minister for this work. John was
not in character fitted for it. John was in character
fitted as a minister for another work. His gentle, kind,
tender disposition made him a peculiarly well fitted
minister to care for an old decrepid, heart-stricken and
bereaved mother in Israel, and because of this fitness
Jesus made him his minister to care for his own bereaved
mother. Peter might in a moment of weakness and
discouragement deny his master, but it took a different
character to betray him. Hence Peter was chosen or
ordained as a minister, but not as a minister of wrath
and treason. Because Judas possessed this money loving,
traitorous heart, God chose him as his minister to betray
his Lord, and then damned him with endless infamy for his
depraved and wicked character.
"For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who
believed not, and who should betray him." "Have not I
chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of
Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he that
should betray him, being one of the twelve." (John vi:
Then Judas Iscariot was not made wicked or corrupt by God, but
God seeing his money loving disposition, and knowing that when
once the love of money gets a firm hold on the heart of an
individual that it prepares that heart for treason to every
principle of honor and virtue, chose him on account of this
character as his minister to betray his son into the hands of
God in his providential dealings with man used such
characters as his servants or ministers for effecting
works of cruelty, that were necessary to be performed as
parts of his government over the human family. When a
nation or people is wholly given to wickedness, when it
refuses to obey God, his honor requires that nation
should be destroyed. When his servants and followers
become disobedient, hard-hearted and rebellious, his
honor and their good require their chastisement, that
they may be humbled and brought back to God. In such work
God has always chosen the wicked and corrupt as his
ministers or servants, and then in the performance of
this work secured their own punishment.
The Jews disobeyed God - became fearfully rebellious. God
determined to punish them. He chose a wicked nation with
wicked and blood-thirsty rulers as his servants or
ministers to do this work.
(Jer. xxv: 8.) "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts
because ye have not heard my words, Behold I will send
and take all the families of the North, saith the Lord,
and Nebuchadnezzar //150// the King of Babylon, my
servant, and will bring them against this land, and
against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these
nations round about, and will utterly destroy them and
make them an astonishment and an hissing and perpetual
desolation. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of
mirth, and the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of
the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of
the candle. And this whole land shall be a desolation and
an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the King
of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass when
seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the
King of Babylon and that nation, saith the Lord for their
iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it
perpetual desolations, And I will bring upon that land
all my words, which I have pronounced against it. * * *
For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves
of them also, and I will recompense them according to
their deeds and according to the works of their own
This shows that the Jews were rebellious. God determined
to punish them with desolation and captivity. Other
nations around were hopelessly corrupt. He determined to
destroy them. He chooses a servant in character and power
fitted to the work of slaughter and desolation. The
people of Babylon are strong, are wicked, are depraved,
would glory in such work. God chooses them as his
instruments to accomplish the work, and calls their king
Nebuchadrezzar, "my servant," to do this work. He does it
from no love to God, no disposition to honor God, but
from an ambitious and blood-thirsty spirit, to gratify
his love of power, conquest and aggrandizement. He is
unconscious that God is using him. He is wholly ignorant
of the purpose of God. It is a case simply of God
overruling human ignorance and human wickedness to
accomplish his own purposes. It is a case in which the
wrath of man is made to praise and glorify God." "Surely
the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of
wrath shalt thou restrain." (Ps. lxxvi: 10.)
But when God's purposes have been accomplished by the
destruction of the nations, and the captivity of Judah
for seventy years; when Babylon has completed the service
which God accomplished through it, he says: "It shall
come to pass when seventy years are accomplished, that I
will punish the King of Babylon and that nation, saith
the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the
Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations." It is
a plain case of God using one wicked nation to punish
another, and then destroying the one that is used. God
called the wicked king "my servant," and the wicked
nation "my battle axe to destroy nations, not a few." In
the fiftieth and fifty-first chapters of Jeremiah may be
found the account of the most fearful destruction of
Babylon when her seventy years were accomplished. God
sometimes used men not so wholly corrupt, but worldly,
wicked men, and overruled their pride, liberality,
ambition, love of applause to serve him in a //151// way
less blood-thirsty and cruel, though still of a nature
that his chosen servants could not perform. Cyrus was one
of these. Isa. xlv: 1-5-7, says: "Thus saith the Lord to
his anointed Cyrus whose right hand I have holden to
subdue nations before him, etc." "For Jacob, my servant's
sake, and Israel, mine elect, I have called thee by thy
name. I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known
me. I have girded thee though thou hast not known me."
Here God uses Cyrus, an idolatrous prince who knew not
God; who was ambitious of power, place and renown; makes
use of him and overrules this spirit of love of renown
for magnanimity, to cause him to restore his people to
their own land, and to enable them to rebuild the temple
of God. Not because he desired to honor God, but because
he desired the worldly honor of re-establishing the
ancient and renowned temple of Jerusalem. God controls
his ambition in this line to accomplish his purposes and
calls him his "anointed" servant to do this. Yet he was
an idolatrous, wicked, pagan prince, ambitious only of
fame and glory for himself.
Servants and ministers mean precisely the same in the
Bible. God always uses or ordains those to do a work who
are in character fitted for its performance, and then
always rewards the work performed according to the
character suited to its performance. A bloody, cruel work
demands a bloody, cruel character to perform it. A
bloody, cruel destiny is God's reward. "He that taketh
the sword shall perish by the sword." A work of treason
to holiness, to virtue, to purity, demands a treasonable
heart, corrupted by the love of money. A work of love, of
gentleness, mercy and good will, demands a character
pure, gentle full of mercy, love and affection for the
distress of humanity; the rewards are those of joy, peace
and mercy from God. "With what measure you mete it shall
be measured to you."
God in the unseen world, ordained the wicked one; the
enemy of truth and righteousness to execute wrath and
vengeance on the finally impenitent. As his reward he is
to share with them the woes of hell forever and ever. He
ordained Jesus the merciful high priest of salvation, who
was touched with a sense of our infirmities and bore the
stripes of us all, as his servant to minister salvation
to the humble and true in the world to come. As his
reward he is to enjoy the most ineffable glories of the
better land forever. He will occupy his throne at the
right hand of the Father.
God ordains in this world his humble and true followers
as his ministers to do works of love, mercy, long
suffering and tender pity, and receive the reward of
mercy and love in return here and hereafter.
The wicked, the corrupt, the rebellious, are his chosen
ministers, "avengers to execute wrath on those who do
evil," and in turn receive according to their works. The
sharp sword of God's unquenchable wrath will repay. Then
if man wishes a //152// merciful reward he must so act as
to form for himself a character suited for a minister of
mercy and that will secure him a merciful reward, not a
These civil powers were then God's ministers for
executing wrath; they were wicked, corrupt and cruel.
Nero, the prince of cruel, blood-thirsty demons, was the
great ruler. The cruelty was so great there was danger of
Christians resisting, striving by violence to overturn
the government. He commands them to be subject to these
authorities. God is using them as his ministers of
vengeance to execute wrath on the evil doers." Of course
they will reap the reward of wrath and vengeance from
God. As they have done to others so shall it be done to
But the difficulty is, They are said to be ministers of
God to Christians for good. That Christians are told to
do well and they shall have praise of these rulers. This
is true in more senses than one. Persecutions to the
church have been for good to the Christians. And yet the
gentle spirit of Christian forbearance has extracted
praise, respect and honor from the most cruel agents of
persecution. "All things work together for good to them
that love God, to them who are called according to his
God permits persecution to come only so far as is good
for the Christian, the remainder of wrath God
restraineth. So these powers work for the good of the
Christian even in their persecution of Christians as well
as in their suppression and destruction of the evil doer.
As God ordains ministers for wrath as well as for mercy,
he ordains institutions of wrath as well as institutions
He ordains an institution of mercy - His Church - and
asks the world to enter, do mercy and receive mercy.
Those who accept the invitation act and live in it. It is
ordained for them. But for those who refuse to enter and
become ministers of mercy, he ordains institutions fitted
for their rebellious character in which they work, while
rejecting God's institution of mercy for his children.
These institutions of wrath God ordains for wrath; they
will be destroyed after serving their purpose here.
People build them up unconscious that God is ordaining
them for the destruction of the builders - of those
refusing his government of mercy.
God ordains for people just such institutions as they
deserve. If they are obedient and submissive, his
merciful government is their heritage.
If they refuse to obey God's government, he ordains they
shall be governed by the oppressive rule of man's own
governments, of which the devil is the great head. Hence
God ordains these governments of wrath for the children
of wrath. They are not ordained for the purpose or the
people for which God ordains his church, but for the
wicked. See how God ordained a kingdom for the Jews. (1
Sam. viii). He ordains a government not to bless but to
punish for their rebellion in //153// refusing to submit
to God's government that he had established for their
good. So God ordains institutions to punish and destroy
the wicked and rebellious, he brings through these,
persecutions upon his children to humble and purify them.
"Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people be
not afraid? Shall there be evil in a city and God hath
not done it?" (Amos iii:6.) "I form the light and create
darkness. I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do
all these things." (Isaiah xlv: 7.) Evils of a physical
nature are here spoken of and it is a declaration that
God in his providence brings war, famine and ruin as a
consequence of man's sins.
The idea is then, the powers referred to here are civil
or political powers. They are ordained of God as
instruments of wrath for the children of wrath, to be
conducted, and operated by the ministers of wrath and
their destiny will be a destruc- of fierce wrath. That
God's children must submit to them as such, not strive by
violence to destroy them. When in the providence of God
they are no longer needed, he will destroy them, cause
them to destroy and eat up one another. No Christian then
can become a partaker or participator or partisan of them
lest he partake of their woes; quiet, passive submission
that involves no violation of the laws of the spiritual
kingdom, is the measure and limit of their connexion with
them. God's kingdom of mercy - His Church - is his
institution in which his children of mercy must operate,
and in it receive the rewards of mercy.
A number of our most studious and devoted brethren of the
older class adopted and maintained this position. Among
the older ones were T. Fanning, P. S. Fall and B. U.
Watkins. We give the following article written for the
GOSPLE ADVOCATE, for the year 1870, by B. U. Watkins.
One of the signs of the great Apostacy, was the union of
Church and State. Its chosen symbol was a woman upon the
back of a seven headed and ten horned beast. It is almost
uniformly admitted, among American Protestants, that this
is a well chosen symbol to represent the absurd, and
unnatural union of Church and State. It is generally
conceded, that the woman represents the Church, and the
beast the old Roman civil government. This being true, it
would appear far more natural for her to be riding the
beast, than for him to have his locomotion promoted by
the help of the woman!
When the State comes forward and proffers its assistance,
and the Church voluntarily accepts of such help, it might
be a question, which would be the most to blame; the
Church for //154// accepting, or the State for offering
such assistance. But when the Church gives, unasked, her
power to the beast, no excuse can reasonably be pleaded.
If the State supporting the Church, is called an
adulterous union, I am unable to see, why the union is
not equally intimate, and criminal, when the Church
supports the State, by participating in all its
responsibilities. When the Church offers her fellowship,
and co-operation in framing all the laws of the land, and
in choosing its judicial and executive officers - when
even her members refuse not to become legislators, and
are even forward to fill all the offices of human
governments, I cannot see, but the relation between
church and State, is as intimate as ever, and just as
Ezekiel chided the ancient Hebrews for seeking such union
with the nations; and he compares Israel to a woman of
the lowest infamy.
It is exceedingly painful to me, to see how aptly these
symbols of John and Ezekiel apply to modern professors.
But how greatly would I rejoice, if the reformation of
the 19th century would arise and put on her beautiful
garments, and show herself to be the true spouse of
Christ. May the good Lord grant that this noble
brotherhood, that I so dearly love, may soon see the
But here, I am met with the objection, that these
institutions are ordained of God. And he who resists them
resists an ordinance of God, and shall receive
punishment. Let me here pause, and remark, that I would
sooner be understood as taking the popular view of this
passage, rather than appear to countenance any kind of
war. Nothing is further from my intention.
But the fact of civil government being ordained of God,
is no proof of Divine approbation. So long as it can be
clearly shown that he has ordained that one sinner should
punish another, so long as we read in Isaiah, that Cyrus
was sent against Babylon, although he knew not God, so
long as we find it not difficult to admit the application
of the above passage, to civil government, whether such
be its meaning or not. To make the admission saves much
time, and leaves the argument much more compact.
Something is gained and nothing lost by granting all we
can to our opponents.
That God can overrule sin, without being responsible for
its commission, and without having any complicity with
it, is a thing so plain, that to turn aside to explain it
would almost be an insult to those for whom these columns
are writen. Let a hint suffice. Pharaoh was raised up by
God for a certain purpose, although his behavior was far
from being approved of God.
With a few axioms I will close this article.
Axiom 1st, No man has the right of making laws for his
own government. For such a right would include the double
//155// absurdity of making him independent of God, and
responsible only to himself!
Axiom 2nd. A republican government is one in which power
is thought to be delegated by the people to their rulers,
in their act of voting.
Axiom 3rd. But a man cannot delegate a power he himself
does not possess.
Hence, INFERENCE 1st. As man has no inherent legislative
power, he cannot transfer it to another.
Hence, INFERENCE 2nd. Voting is therefore a deception,
and a sham, making a deceiver of him, who votes, and a
dupe of him who fancies himself the recipient of
B. U. WATKINS.
MAINE PRAIRIE, MINN.
We give the following extract from Pres. Fanning out of much that he wrote as indicating his position.
"Our Savior came to earth to subjugate bloody and
deceitful men. When it was in power 'to call to his aid
more than twelve legions of angels,' he quietly submitted
to death rather than violate the rule of action that
governed his life. The early Christians, it cannot be
denied, followed the example of their Master. They took
'joyfully the spoiling of their goods' and submitted to
death rather than employ the weapons of Satan for their
protection. We are cheerful, however, to say that God has
ordained means in the hands of violent men, for the
protection of the faithful from violence; but the wicked
are the sword of the Lord. If our readers will admit the
existence of a class of persons on earth who are truly
spiritual, there need be no further controversy on the
subject. All the powers of the world are created by
violence, and must necessarily be upheld by force; but
the Lord established his kingdom by peaceable means - by
love and kindness. Worldly governments are all under the
prince of this world, and the government of Christians is
administered by the Prince of Peace. These two characters
of government are antipodal to each other. Spiritual
government is to 'break in pieces and consume' all of
Satan's principalities; but the great work is not to be
accomplished by violence but by love. Christ was not of
the world neither were his disciples, and Christians in
the nineteenth century should not be instruments in the
hands of the devil to carry out his purposes."