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any active part in the civil administration or the military defence of the empire. Some indulgence might perhaps be allowed to those persons who, before their conversion, were already engaged in such violent and sanguinary occupations; but it was impossible that Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.'
There is one fact worthy of notice, because it is further back in the history of the Primitive Christians, than any thing which has been mentioned. The city of Jerusalem, it will be recollected, was utterly destroyed in about forty years after the crucifixion of our Savior, and the whole nation were overthrown in a most wonderful and unparalleled manner. The Savior had foretold this destruction ; the Christians, who were now very numerous, (for there were many thousands of them so early as the period when Paul attended the meeting of the Elders at Jerusalem,) distinctly saw the approach of a contest, which would overwhelm their beloved city and country.
But it does not appear from any thing said in Josephus or by any writer of that time, that they took any part in that dreadful contest. On the contrary, knowing that their principles were inconsistent with the bloody scenes which were at hand, they entrusted themselves to the divine protection, and made their escape out of the city in the best way they could. A great body of them, as we learn from Eusebius, (Bk. III, Ch. 5,) resorted to a village of the name of Pella, beyond the river Jordan ; and secured by nothing but their benevolent and pacific principles, were preserved safe amid the desolations and bloodshed around them.
In the conclusion of this topic, we would briefly remark that we do not wish to be understood as maintain
* See also Milner's Church History, Cent. I.
PRACTICE OF THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANS.
ing, that the doctrines and practice of the Primitive Christians are absolutely and in all respects binding up
We know that they are not, whenever they are at variance with the doctrines of the Gospel, and with the practice which the Gospel requires. If they had been more united and harmonious in their abhorrence of war and in their repugnance to military service than they appear to have been, even that would not have rendered an appeal to the Gospel unnecessary. Every one is required to make up a judgment for himself on the infallible testimony of the Word of God. And yet we cannot deny, that it is a circumstance calculated to confirm our faith and to give substantial encouragement, that apparently so large a number of the primitive followers of Christ, amid all the warlike prejudices of their age and under the frown of Roman tyranny, refused to bear the sword against their fellowmen, because they considered it to be inconsistent with their Christian profession. Blessed and glorious words of Maximilian, “I am a Christian and cannot fight.”
OF WAR IN CONNECTION WITH THE MILLENNIUM.
There is one view of this subject, which has almost entirely escaped notice; but which, while it must be exceedingly interesting to every one, will perhaps on some minds make a stronger impression, than any other aspect in which it has been contemplated. It is this. War in all its forms is obviously inconsistent with the Millennial state.
In the first place, what do we understand by the Millennium or the millennial state of the world ? We mean a state, where the principles of the Gospel will be recognized, felt, and put in practice; we mean a state, where men will sincerely worship God and will truly and ardently love each other ; where there will be no contention, no jealousy, no acts of retaliation, no strife. This is the view we entertain of it ; and which, if we do not misinterpret them, we are authorized to entertain by the Scriptures. In every age of the world, since the coming of Christ there has been essentially but one opinion on this subject. Amid all the trials, which the Church has passed through, amid all the thick darkness, in which she has been occasionally involved, the faith of the devoted Christian has always invincibly attached itself to this great result. He has believed, and firmly and unalterably believed, that a day of universal peace and puri
ty would at last come; a day, “ when they shall not hurt nor destroy in all the holy mountain.”
Beneath its trees, that spread their blooming light,
In the second place, how shall this result be secured and perpetuated ? Are we to expect a new code, and a new system of methods of operation ? Are we to expect a new Savior, a new Crucifixion, a new and amended edition of the New Testament ? Certainly not. The doctrines of the Millennium are the doctrines of to-day ; the principles of the Millennium are the very principles, which are obligatory on the men of the present generation ; the bond, which will exclude all contention, and will bind together all hearts, will be nothing more nor less than the Gospel of Christ.
The Gospel is a book of principles ; of great, operative, and unchangeable principles. Men condemn it, because they do not understand it; even Christians may be fairly charged with treating it with no small degree of disregard, because in their worldliness they have neglected to estimate its heights and depths. If heaven could be brought down to earth, if Europe and America and all other continents and parts of the world could, at the present moment, be peopled with angels and with seraphic natures, the Gospel, just as it stands, would be sufficient to guide and govern them. The blessed companies of the heavenly world, unlike the children of men, would
ask no higher and better code. But can we regard it as allowable, could we conceive of it as allowable, under any assignable circumstances, for an angel to retaliate upon an angel, for a seraph to exercise hostility upon a seraph, for one of these holy beings to hold in his own hands the right of extinguishing the life of another ? What sort of heaven would that be, which should be characterized by the admission of such a principle ? And we may ask further, what sort of a Millennium will that be, which shall be characterized, either practically or theoretically, in the same way? When men are fully restored to the favor of God, whether in heaven or earth, is there to be one code, one set of governmental principles for them, and another for other holy beings? Certainly not. In all the great matters of right and duty, the law of seraphs is the law of angels, and the law of angels is the law of men. If it is utterly and absolutely inconsistent with our conceptions of the heavenly world, that the power of life and death should be taken from the hands of Jehovah, and that angels and seraphs should have the right of extinguishing each other's existence, it is equally difficult to conceive of such a right in the Millennium. And if it will not be right for the men of the Millennium to exercise the power of life and death over each other, it is not right for them now. We have the same code of government now, which we shall have then ; we have the New Testament now, shall have it then; and not only that, we shall understand it better and love it more. Nothing will be added to it; nothing will be taken from it. If it does not now consider human life inviolable, it never will; if it does not now proscribe all wars among the human species, it never will ; the right of taking human life, if it exists now under the Christian code, will exist as a legal and authorized characteristic, (painful and even horrible, as