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them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin (instead of condescending to this just request] gathered themselves together unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.' (Judges xix. 20.)
Let us apply this first part of the story to the immediate cause of the bloodshed, which stains the fields of British America, and we shall have the following state of the case. Certain sons of Belial, belonging to the city of Boston, beset a ship in the night, overpowered the crew, and feloniously destroyed her rich cargo. The Government was informed, that this felonious deed had been concerted by some of the principal inhabitants of Boston, and executed by their emissaries; and being justly incensed against the numerous rioters, it requested the unjust city to make up the loss sustained by the owners of the plundered ship, or to deliver up the sons of Belial who had so audaciously broken the laws of the land ; and a military force was sent to block up the port of Boston, till the Sovereign's just request should be granted. The other Colonists, instead of using their interest with the obstinate inhabitants of Boston, to induce them to do this act of loyalty and justice, gathered themselves together unto Boston, to go out to battle against the sons of Great Britain, and by taking up arms against the king to protect felons, made themselves guilty both of felony and high treason.
Return we now to the children of Israel, and let us see if God forbade them to bring their obstinate brethren to reason by the force of arms, and considered the prayers made to him on this occasion, as improper and hypocritical. • The children of Israel, (says the historian,) arose and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin ? And the Lord (instead of blaming their design] said, Jadah shall go up first.' In consequence of this direction, Judah marched up to the enemy. But, alas! the right. cousness of a cause, and the Divine approbation, do not always ensure success to those who fight in the cause of
virtue. Judah lost the day, and 22,000 men. The children of Israel, greatly afflicted with this misfortune, went up and wept before the Lord until even, and asked counsel of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up (a second time) to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?' And the Lord said, “Go up against him.' (Judges xx. 23.) However they were as unsuccessful in the second engagement as they had been in the first. Then all the children of Israel, and all the people went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat before the Lord, and fasted that day until even. And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the Lord said, Go up, for to-morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.' And accordingly, the Lord smote Benjamin before Israel.' (Judges xx. 26, &c.) And the few Benjamites that escaped the edge of the vindictive sword, lamented the obstinacy with which their infatu. ated tribe had taken up arms for the sons of Belial, who had beset the house, in the inhospitable city of Gibeah.
To return. From the preceding scriptural account, it evidently appears, (1.) That God allows, yea, commands, the sword to be drawn for the punishment of daring felons, and of the infatuated people who bear arms in their defence, as the Benjamites formerly did, and as the revolted Colonies actually do.-(2.) That, in this case, a sister-tribe may conscientiously draw the sword against an obstinate sister-tribe; much more a parent State against an obstinate Colony, and a king against rebellious subjects.—(3.) That Providence, to try the patience of those who are in the right, may permit that they should suffer great losses.--(4.) That whilst the maintainers of order and justice draw the sword to ebeck daring licentiousness, it is their duty to go up unto the house of God, and to weep and fast before the Lord. -(5.) That God makes a difference between the enthusiastical abettors of felonious practices, who fast to
smite their brethren and rulers with the fist of wicked. 1 ness, and the steady governors, who, together with their ' people, fast to smite the wicked with the sceptre of , righteousness; and that, while God testifies his abhor. rence of the former fast, he shews that the latter ranks among the fasts which he has chosen, the end of true fasting being to repress evil without us, as well as within us. And, Lastly, That, although no war is so dreadful as a civil war, yet when God was consulted three times following, all his answers shew that the most bloody civil war is preferable to the horrible consequences of daring anarchy: And that it is better to maintain order and execute justice with the loss of thousands of soldiers, than to let the mobbing sons of Belial break into ships oc houses, to commit with impunity all the crimes which their lust, rapaciousness, and ferocity prompt them to.
Now if fasting and drawing the sword of justice, be duties consistent with scriptural religion ; it follows, that praying, and using that sword, are compatible orai.
To be convinced of it, you need only consider the following scripture : Moses said to Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek.
Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass when Moses held up his hand (in earnest prayer) that Israel prevailed : And when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses's hands were heavy, and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people, with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book.' (Exod. xvii. 9, &c.)
66 But supposing war and bloodshed were allowed un. der the Jewish dispensation, are they not absolutely forbidden under the gospel? Is not Christ the Prince of peace, and his gospel the gospel of peace ? And is it not said, that men shall neither hurt nor destroy in
God's holy mountain ? How then can we suppose that drawing the sword, and fasting on that occasion, can be evangelical duties?”
This objection is specious, and deserves a full an
1. Our Lord, who said to his apostles, that a kind of raging spirit goeth not out but by fasting and prayer, said also to them, “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. And they said, Lord, behold here are two swords. And he said, It is enough.” (Luke xxii. 36. 38.) I grant that when · Peter drew his sword, and (rashly] struck a servant of the high-priest, Jesus said unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place : For all they that take the sword [to use it rashly, as thou dost, without any order, and without the least probability of success] shall perish with the sword.' (Matt. xxvi. 52.) From the whole of this evangelical account it
appears, that our Lord allows his followers the use of the sword; and that he only blames it when it is preci. pitate, and likely to answer no other end than that of throwing the triumphant friends of vice into a greater rage.
2. If, indeed, all men were Christians, and every nominal Christian was led by the Spirit of Christ, there would be absolutely no need of the sword; for there would be nothing but justice, truth, and love in the world. But reason dictates, that so long as the wicked shall use the sword in support of vice, the righteous, who are in power, must use it in defence of virtue. The Lord of hosts, and Captain of our salvation, who girds his two-edged sword upon his thigh, or causes it to proceed out of his mouth, to devour the wicked—this righteous Lion of the tribe of Judah, will never suffer Satan and his servants so to bear the sword, as to engross the use of it. This would be letting them have the kingdom, the power, and the glory without controul.
3. The Psalms and Revelations are full of prophecies concerning the righteous wars, which the godly will wage against the wicked, before iniquity be rooted out know them no more, and righteousness shall cover the earth, as the waters do the sea, Isaiah's prophecy shall be fulfilled. “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be esta. blished in the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow into it. The Lord shall then judge among the nations, &c., and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.' (Is. ii. 2, 4.) But till this happy time come; whenever one nation, or one part of a nation, unjustly rises up against another, as the men of Boston did against our merchants, it will be needful to oppose righteous force to unrighteous violence. It is absurd therefore to measure the duty of Christians who live among lawless men, by the duty of those Christians, who shall live when all lawless men shall have been destroyed.
4. If Michael and his angels fought in heaven against the dragon and his angels, I do not see why General Howe might not fight on earth against General Lee. And if the Congress unsheaths the sword to protect felons, redress the imaginary grievance of an insigni. ficant tax, and to load thousands of the King's loyal subjects with grievances too heavy to be borne; it is hard to say, why he and his parliament should not use the sword to redress these real grievances, and to assert the liberty of our American fellow-subjects, who groan under the tyranny of republican despotism.
5. St. Paul, who knew the gospel better than En. glish Mystics and American patriots, asserts the lawful. ness of using the sword in order to maintain good government and execute justice. Hear his doctrine. · The ruler is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for be beareth not the sword in vain : For he is the minister of God, (of that God who says, If ye be obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land : But if ye rebel, ye shall be devoured by the sword.' (Is. i. 19, 20.) And, of consequence he is] a revenger to execute wrath upon him