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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Non-Resistance Asserted by Daniel Musser Part 3

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 Non-Resistance Asserted by Daniel Musser Part 3


by Daniel Musser

Part 3


The ground on which we propose to prove non-resistance to be consistent with the Bible, and the Old and New Testament to be consistent with each other, and both to be in harmony with the idea of God’s immutability, is, that God had created man in such a state that he possessed a principle within him, which would have preserved order, decency, justice, and righteousness on earth (however great the number) without any Law or Government. This principle within man, which constituted God’s image, was his love, and was both government and law to man. This principle was lost in the fall. Consequently, he lost the governing power, and in its stead self-love, which is a principle of disorder and confusion, was received in the heart. As it was the will of God that order should be preserved on earth, and a governing influence had to be exerted, He established Government with all its necessary attendants of law, and the sword to exert this controlling influence over the restive, unholy, and unruly principle of self-love. This was made necessary by man’s change, is perfectly consistent with God’s immutability, and is a confirmation of God’s unchanging love to man. In love God had created man, and his unchanging love and good will to man induced Him to give man government as the only means which would control him until he was brought back again to the state from which he had fallen. From the fall of man to the coming of Christ, all men stood in the same relation to God, and were in the same condition and circumstances. By the coming of Christ, and the sacrifice of His body on the tree of the cross, all those who embraced His merits, by faith, were restored in their relation to God to the state they were in before the fall. They are made partakers of the Holy Spirit, by which the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and, as Peter said, are made partakers of the Divine nature, which is the image of God. Here man is brought into a new relation to God, his sins are washed away, his circumstances and condition are changed, and God also changes his law. It is God’s unchanging love that induced Him to send His son into the world, and to give himself for man’s redemption. Having redeemed him and brought him into this new relation, He gives him a spirit and law with commandments consistent with his changed circumstances and condition. These now need no outward governing influence of law or commandment to lead them to do what is right. [8] They will do right and obey the law of love written in their hearts, regardless of Law or commandment, either of God or man. That is, not because God’s word commands it, but because of the love they possess in their hearts, they would be constrained to do so if God never had given the command.
As these now stand under a new relation to God, by which their condition and circumstances are changed, it is no violation of God’s immutability to change the law that is to govern their conduct and actions. The Old Testament gave man the Law that should be his rule of life in the condition he was then in, but spoke of a change that was to come. The New Testament, or Gospel, gives the law that is to be the rule of life under the changed condition referred to in the Old Testament. There is therefore no disagreement between the Old and New Testaments, or any violation of God’s immutability.
But all men were not changed in their relation to God by the coming of Christ and the institution of the Gospel. Those who did not believe remained in their sins and under the Law, and were not affected by the Gospel until they believed and embraced it. Consequently, the principle of self-love was not destroyed, and this being what made Government and Law necessary, they had to be continued in the world the same as they had been before the coming of Christ.
The commands in the New Testament are therefore not given to the unconverted. They still stand where man did before the Gospel was promulgated, and are under the same influence. This is the reason why Government is still recognized in the New Testament. Because there is a very large portion of mankind that does not accept the Gospel offer, God still needs to continue government in the world, and He has so ordered that there can be no conflict [9] between the kingdom of Christ and that of this world. Whenever Christ spoke of the world and its institutions, He spoke of them as something foreign. Of His disciples, He said that they are not of the world. If they were so, the world would love them; but now He has chosen them out of the world, and therefore the world hates them. When his disciples showed their self-love and the spirit of envy, He called them to Himself and told them very affectionately, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you.” This shows that Christ separated His kingdom from that of this world, as His commands make it impossible for those of His kingdom to take part with that of this world. They are in the world, but they are not of the world.
When man fell by transgression, he was placed under the Law. Paul said that as many as are under the Law are under the curse. All men must have been under that curse until Christ came, became a curse for them, and thereby delivered them. Our opponents say all men are under the Law. Then, according to Paul, all would have to be under the curse. But Paul said, “Ye are not under the Law, but under grace.” Certainly those who embrace Christ by faith are made free from the Law. But those who do not believe remain under the Law and under its curse. Under this Law God commanded Israel to fight, and the opponents of non-resistance say, because God approved it then, it must be right now also. In one sense this is true. To all who are now in the same circumstances, or in the same relation to God now that those were then, it is right. They to whom it was right then were under the Law. To all who are under the Law now it is still right. But it does not follow, because it was right for those who were under the Law then, and is also right for those who are under it now, that it must be right for those who are under the Gospel. It is urged that “right is right at all times, and in all places.” This is true, but the inference drawn from it is not true. It is a misconception that, because it was right for the Jews to fight, it is right for the Christians also to fight. I would ask the author of that sentiment whether it is right for us to eat swine’s flesh, and whether it was right for the Jews do so; whether it is right for us to wear garments partly of flax and partly wool; and whether it was right for the Jews to do so. Is God then mutable?
Moses permitted the Jews to put away their wives for certain causes, which our Savior did not approve in his kingdom. Jesus told us there is but one cause that would justify such an act. [10] If Moses allowed this or gave the Jews this precept, it was certainly not sin for them to do so. But can anyone say that it would not be so for a Christian now? In the beginning there was no such liberty; “from the beginning it was not so;” but when man’s relation to God was changed because of sin, and the flesh was weakened and the heart hardened, God permitted it. But when man’s condition was improved, being made partaker of the Divine nature, and his relation to God changed, Christ, as the perfect lawgiver, restored the ordinance to its primitive state again. It might perhaps be said, speaking strictly, that neither war, nor the Jewish mode of divorce were right in themselves; but man’s condition made it a necessary evil or the lesser of two evils, one of which was inevitable. God permitted it with Israel, but Christ forbids it in man’s altered relation under the Gospel. When I say “man’s altered relation under the Gospel,” I always mean those who are truly converted. The relation of the unconverted is not changed.
One of our opponents says, “Non-resistants fail to see any law in the Gospel, yet there it is with all its majesty, demanding repentance or death.” We do hold that there is no other law in the Gospel except the law of love. The Gospel does not demand repentance of those who are under the Gospel. It demands it of those who are under the Law. The children of God, who are in the kingdom of Christ, are not demanded to repent. They have nothing to repent of, unless they fall into sin. Their sins are forgiven and washed away, and they are completely clean. But those who are under the Law, who, though they believe in Christ, are yet ashamed to confess Him, or are afraid of the persecution, or do not believe in Him, or have said in their hearts they will not have Christ to rule over them, these are invited to repent and come over to Christ’s kingdom and receive His favor.
The kingdom of Christ and that of this world are certainly distinct. The unconverted compose the kingdom of this world. The converted compose the kingdom of Christ, Kingdom of God, or Church of God. Those of the kingdom of this world certainly have no lot, part, or interest in the kingdom of Christ. The law of Christ’s kingdom, or the law of love, as necessarily prohibits those of the kingdom of Christ from taking any part in the affairs of that of this world. This mystery is dark to great multitudes, but how can it be otherwise? No one can be a citizen of two kingdoms at the same time; he cannot serve two masters. The kingdom of Christ and that of this world might be compared to two natural kingdoms whose authority was over territory that lay in contiguity with each other. The laws of these two kingdoms might be very different, yet the subjects of each would be satisfied that they have justice done them, and so would be happy. But the King of one of the powers offers those of his kingdom a very exceeding rich reward or treasure, at some future period. He also offers or makes it known in the other kingdom that any of its subjects who will leave their King, and come over to him, shall be considered as his subjects and receive the reward equally with his own subjects. Those who would refuse to accept this offer would of course fail of the reward, but they would not fail because they obeyed the laws of the King whose subjects they were, but they would fail because they did not come over to him who offered the favor. They are not censured for obeying the law of their King; only they cannot expect to receive the favor of him, whose offer they have rejected. Thus Christ came and established His kingdom, and invited those in the kingdom of this world to repent and be converted to Him, and they should have the reward of eternal life. But those who are contented with the reward of this world will not heed His invitation, and we cannot find a single promise to them of eternal life, on any other condition. We confess that God had made those things duties under the Law which our opponents claim, and it is their duty still, so long as they are subjects of the kingdom of this world. But if Christ is our King, we must hear Him. No one will be condemned for doing those things which are duties under the old Law. There are numbers of unconverted persons who are as moral, honest, upright, and faithful in the discharge of all their moral and social duties, as any disciple of Jesus Christ. Even an infidel may be this. These enjoy their reward of natural prosperity, comfort, and enjoyment of the blessings of this life. But it is not possible they can enjoy the love of God, unless they are converted and receive the Holy Spirit. [11] Neither have they promise of eternal life. If this were not so, salvation would be obtained of works without faith. These men may be officers in Government, may be Generals in the field, or soldiers in the ranks, and commit no sin in those duties, and will not be condemned for them any more than they will for any other moral duty they perform. It is asked, “Is there one law for sinners, and another for Christians?” I say yes! Sinners are under the law of justice, where all men were before Christ came. Christians are under the law of grace and love, where Christ put them. The others are where Christ left them, because they would not obey His call.
There are great numbers of persons whom we must esteem very highly for the excellence of their moral virtues and honorable principles, who would yet be as the young man was, very sorrowful if they must sell or give up all the respect and esteem they have in the world to become a disciple of Christ. But as I have said, an infidel may be all this, so that these virtues, however estimable, do not make a Christian.
One of our opponents says, “The law of God allows the individual to defend himself except in one case, that of persecution for righteousness sake. I am permitted, yes even enjoined, to resist all evil.” If by “the law of God” the author means the Mosaic Law, there is this error in it that the Law alluded to makes no exceptions for righteousness’ sake. It plainly says, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” and there are no exceptions made. And if by the “law of God” is meant the commands of Christ to his disciples, then the other part is without warrant. Christ plainly said that we shall “not resist evil,” and there are no exceptions made in regard to the evil. Christ said, “If they sue thee at the law, if they take away thy goods, if they smite thee on the cheek.” He here notices three different kinds of evil, legal injustice, theft, and personal violence, in none of which we shall resist. There is neither command nor precept in the whole Gospel that says we shall resist evil of any kind. [12] If a man attacks me with intent to kill, no matter what the object is, it is an evil; and if I choose to kill him (as the author says) to prevent him from killing me, I certainly resist that evil. In such a case I recompense evil for evil, and Paul said that we shall do this to no man. Man may argue that it is no evil to kill a man under such circumstances, but Paul’s meaning is clear, for he afterwards said in the same chapter, Romans 12, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ saith the Lord. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This argument shows that the author does understand that Christ forbids resistance to some kinds of evil, but where is his warrant for confining it to that of persecution for religion only? This is certainly a clear assumption! Christ named the most aggravated cases of evil. To sue one by law and take away their coat is certainly very oppressive. There can hardly be a case imagined which would be harder than this. To strike one in the face is as great an indignity and insult as could be offered. To take our goods by stealth is very provoking, and persecution for righteousness’ sake is the most unjustifiable of all persecution. To persecute from motive of interest would not seem to be so utterly diabolical as for righteousness, doing good. This is so unreasonable, so fiendish, that no man will admit it. They will always frame some pretext for an excuse. Christ has evidently mentioned the most extreme and aggravating cases for some purpose. Is it reasonable that we should not resist in such aggravated cases of evil, and yet do so for some minor or trivial cause? Christ could not mention every individual species of evil, so he mentioned the most aggravated cases, knowing that if these must be borne, there are no others that could justify resistance.
It is said, “The key to the whole scope of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ teaches the individual and not the State. Governments have no future beyond this life, and are incapable of immortality. Christ teaches the individual duty to the individual.” Assuming that all that the Apostles taught is the same as if Christ had taught it himself, it is evident that we are taught more than individual duty to individuals. He taught all the duty we have to perform. It is true, Christ and the Apostles do not teach the state, or any individual their duty as a servant or officer of the State. Families have no future, nor are they capable of immorality; yet we are taught in the Gospel what is the duty of the husband to the wife, of the father to the children, of the master to the servant, of the wife to the husband and children, of the children to the parents, and of the servants to the masters. These are highly important duties and cannot be violated or neglected with impunity, and serious consequences may result even to society from their neglect. But how much more important is the duty of the governor of nations, or the fate of vast armies, where one man often has the comfort and even life of thousands of persons in his hands. The highly important trust of many officers of Government, and the many allurements attending their positions, would certainly call for some warning and wholesome instruction to enable them to escape the dangers to which they were exposed. Is it not singular that Christ and his Apostles should have omitted giving any instructions to the believer in such important positions and dangerous exposures, if it were, as is often asserted, the duty of Christians to serve their country in the ranks, or as an officer in the field, according as he could best serve the interest of his Government, or to serve in other positions in the Government, when they pointed out their duty in so many positions of so much less importance? Their duty to the Government is especially dwelt upon, but never a word about the duty in the Government. [13] This, in connection with Christ’s commands, is conclusive evidence that Christ never designed they should occupy a place there.
This absence of direction in regard to duties in the Government also shows very conclusively that none of Christ’s commands are given to the unconverted. They had the Government, and he left it to them with the directions they had before, which were all they had need of.
It is said, “Non-resistants fail to recognize any organizations but their own contracted sects,” and that they “ ignore the authority of the United States as far as they dare.” This is an error. True non-resistants admit the authority of the Government of the United States and admit that it is God’s ordinance to man for good. Not one will ignore its authority or resist its power, even if they had opportunity or ability to do so. They acknowledge their duty to honor and obey it in all things, except where a duty is attempted to be imposed which is contrary to the teaching of the Gospel. Here they think they should obey God rather than man, but in no case resist. We are told to “read the 13th chapter of Romans, and open our eyes to the light of Heaven.” The Apostle Paul is here speaking to his brethren and has no allusion to the unconverted. Every soul of them is commanded to be subject to the higher powers. The Apostle evidently does not intend here to assert that his brethren should obey the powers when they would make an unscriptural request of them. No professed Christian will assert this, and it would be at variance with the Apostle’s own practice. Then it proves nothing for our opponents, until they prove that the Gospel makes it a duty to fight. More than this, we may refuse to obey and still be subject. If the powers ask that which we cannot conscientiously perform, they can but attach a penalty for disobedience. We submit our body and our all to them; they may impose a fine, confiscation of property, imprisonment, or death upon us. If we submit without resistance, we are still subject to them.
The Apostles Peter and Jude disapproved of those who speak evil of rank and title. Peter likewise said that we shall be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, and Paul said that he would not have spoken evil of the high priest if he had known that he was ruler of the nation. Of these things, true non-resistants make conscience.
We freely admit that there is no power but of God and that the powers that be are ordained of God. And also, that whosoever resists the power resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Non-resistants do not resist the Government when they refuse to fight. What have they done? The Government first called for volunteers. No true non-resistant could respond to the call. They remained at home and pursued their peaceful avocations as before. The powers next ordered a draft for men, but generously offered to exempt such as were conscientiously non-resistant. The non-resistants are not responsible for the conduct of knaves who perjured themselves. Next, the powers again ordered a draft without exempting any for conscience sake. The request was personal service or money – three hundred dollars. The personal service they could not render. The money belongs to the kingdom of this world, and they had a right to demand it as their own. Paul said that we shall pay tribute and custom to whom it is due, and said we shall do so because of the duties the Government has to discharge. They now ask for our person or the money. The latter is theirs and we make conscience of the duty to pay it, and feel that it would be wrong to refuse to do so. [14] But suppose the powers would order a draft and refuse anything but personal service. Then there would be no way but submit to the consequences of refusing to obey, whatever the consequences would be, but resist the power we could not.
The commands of the Gospel are founded upon a different principle from what those of the Law are. The Law holds out a promise to those who are under it, that they shall receive a reward for obeying its commandments. The Gospel invites those under the Law to embrace its principles and receive its favors, and prompts those under it by a principle of love, to obey its commands out of gratitude for the favor already bestowed on an unworthy object. The motive of obedience under the Law is to receive reward. These Paul called servants. But the motive of obedience to the commands of Christ in true New Testament believers is gratitude for the favor God has already bestowed. These Paul called sons. The true believer does not inquire so much what is his duty to do to be saved, as what he can do to honor God for saving him. The one is the legal principle; the other is Divine love.
The kingdom of Christ is founded on the principles of love, forbearance, patience, and passive submission to injustice, wrong, and evil in any shape. The kingdom of this world is founded on the principles of justice and resistance of evil. The kingdom of Christ is composed of truly converted or new born souls, who have received the spirit of Christ and who must be actuated by the same principle which influenced Christ, and moved him to come into the world to save sinners who were his enemies. It is plainly to be perceived that this spirit or principle is directly opposed to the principle that must rule in the kingdom of this world. The first is that of love, returning good for evil, long-suffering, forbearance, and in short, what Paul terms the fruits of the spirit. The latter is an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; punishment of evil by retaliation or overcoming evil by coercion. The believer, being in possession of the spirit of Christ, and under the influence that actuated Christ, must of necessity be prompted to the same course of conduct and actions towards his fellow man as Christ was. It is plain then that this would forbid him to take any part in an institution, organization, or ordinance in which he must of necessity violate the principle on which his own kingdom is founded or the spirit of which he is born.
This is the ground upon which non-resistance is based. It is the spirit that influenced Christ, and if the spirit of Christ is not in us, then we are not His. To be consistent, then, we must be in this world as pilgrims and strangers. A pilgrim or stranger has no rights, and does not belong to the country or kingdom where he stands in that relation. A pilgrim or stranger is ineligible for office, and is not fit, by reason of some disqualifying principle which is attached to him, to discharge the duties or trust of an officer of the Government. Thus the children of God, by reason of the principle above referred to, are disqualified to discharge the duties of office in the kingdom of this world, and are said to be pilgrims and strangers on earth. They live in the kingdom of this world by tolerance only, and hold possessions or property only by permission of the powers that be. When one is in a strange country, so long as their affections and interests are in their native land, they are satisfied to bear the disadvantages they labor under there. They do not feel concerned about the laws or institutions of the country wherein they are strangers. They have no right as a citizen to vote in elections, to seek to influence legislation, or in any way to control the policy of the Government; and if they have any petition to make, they make it through their own government or its accredited agents. Thus it is with non-resistants. They are disqualified to discharge the duties of office in the Government by reason of a responsibility they are under to obey a higher power, and to discharge duties which are inconsistent with the best interests of the Government. They have higher interests at stake than they have in the kingdom of this world, and they are satisfied to suffer the disadvantage of being aliens in view of the attachment, or affection and interests, they feel in the land of their birth. They are commanded to pray for Kings and all in authority, that they may have a peaceable and quiet life. Thus if they have any petition to make, they make it through the head of their own Government, who has promised to protect his own, and they have the confidence that he will protect them; not in property and person, but in spirit, and in the joy and comfort which believers enjoy by the love shed abroad in their hearts through the Holy Spirit. If God sees fit, he can move the hearts of those in power to grant a peaceable and quiet life to his people, which they are in duty bound to receive with gratitude from his hand.
Government is bound together by mutual interests, and is established for the good of the community on the ground of mutual benefits, and mutually to bear the burdens attending its support. For anyone to seek to influence or control the authorities or laws for their advantage, or claim the protection of the power, and then refuse to bear their proportion of the burden of defending the power, is inconsistent and dishonest. Strangers have no right to come into a country unless the authorities permit them. Neither will they allow them to do so – unless it is their interest they should do so. If they permit or invite them to do so, they yet have no rights but what are given them, until they renounce their allegiance to their native land and swear fealty to the land of their adoption. In that case they not only obtain rights, but are also under all the obligations of native inhabitants.
No government can exist without the sword and occasionally having war, and the idea of having government without it is an absurdity. Therefore, if we will not use the sword, we must separate ourselves from the kingdom of this world. Otherwise, we are inconsistent and liable to censure and suspicion. Foreigners who would claim exemption from military duty, and who would yet criticize the acts of those in authority, seek to control elections, shape the laws of the country, or influence the policy of the government and nation would be looked upon with a great deal of suspicion.
True non-resistants do not censure the present Chief Magistrate for the policy he has adopted, or the measures he is endeavoring to carry out. It may be the very best for the country that he could have done. Neither have they any right to censure his predecessor. Neither of them claims to be infallible in judgment, and it is fair to presume they both acted from honest convictions. The Lord himself said that he “rules in the kingdoms of men, and gives them to whomsoever he will,” and Solomon said, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord pondereth the hearts. The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord; as the rivers of water, he turneth it whithersoever he will.” If nations are just, upright, and faithful to the law on which government is founded, God will also give them wise and prudent rulers, and they will enjoy peace and prosperity. But if they become proud, arrogant, unjust, and unfaithful, God also has ways to reach them with the rod of affliction and vengeance. Our nation in time past has been signally favored and blessed. It has grown and prospered, almost beyond precedent. It was called a Christian nation and boasted of the number and splendor of its churches, but where was the spirit of Christ? There was little of the contrite heart and humble spirit, with which the Lord delights to dwell; or the trembling at God’s word, to which He will look. But there was in the heart of man much of that spirit which made Nebuchadnezzar say, “Is this not great Babylon, which I have built for the house of the kingdom.” King Nebuchadnezzar was visited with an awful judgment from God to make him “know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” The king was warned of God and advised to break off his sins, do righteousness, and show mercy to the poor so that it might tend to the lengthening of his tranquility. Must we not admit that our nation has long been warned? Has not the threatening rod long been held out over us? But, we may say, no man regarded. True, days of fasting and prayer were appointed and observed; but were they such fasts as the Lord chooses? Did any break off their sins, and work righteousness? They acknowledged with their mouth that they are sinners, but in their hearts they continued in pride, folly, wantonness, and all unrighteousness, as they did before. Let no one therefore look to the powers as being the cause of this calamitous war or to bring its end; but everyone look to his own heart, break off his sins, and do righteousness, and there will assuredly be a lengthening of tranquility where it yet exists, and a speedy return to it where it has been lost.
Whenever there is war, one part must be on the side of injustice and wrong. Both may, but one must be. This must be the case in our present civil war; yet we must all believe that very great numbers, even on the unjust side, honestly and sincerely believe that their cause is just. Great numbers of men, with the highest order of intellect, and enjoying favorable opportunities for forming correct conclusions, after giving the subject in dispute their most careful attention for years, have arrived at very different and opposite conclusions in regard to the side which is right and just. It is fair to presume that numbers on either side are honest in the views they hold. The judgment of the most able men is liable to be influenced more or less by their interests, and all are by their surroundings. We of the North mostly think the northern cause is just; perhaps if we were in the South, under different circumstances, we would think differently. One of these parties must be wrong, and if well-informed men of good minds do thus err in their judgment, how are the masses, who are less favored with natural gifts, and are less intelligent, to be expected to judge correctly in such intricate and complicated affairs.
There are hundreds of thousands of men here, on either side, arrayed in deadly strife against each other, most of whom do not know that they are fighting in an unjust cause. One party must be, and the majority are ignorantly slaying their fellow-creatures, who are contending for right and justice. This is truly lamentable, yet in all wars it is unavoidable. Let any candid mind ask itself whether it is possible that God could place his children in a situation in which it would become their duty to kill, or try to kill their brothers or fellow-creatures, who are fighting for justice and right. The first and highest interest of a child of God is in Heaven, about which their minds are most engaged, and it is not to be expected that they should be able to form correct conclusions about the complex affairs of state, or the intricacies of international law. Certain facts may come to their knowledge, and from these they may make conclusions of what is right and wrong; but when they know that there may be circumstances connected with the case of which they are ignorant, they do not pretend to be competent to form conclusions upon which they can rely for truth. Some of our opponents admit that it is wrong to fight in an unjust cause. But how are we to know certainly that our cause is just, so that we might not be found to fight against God. Look at those of every denomination who take up arms in self-defense. There is brother arrayed against brother; no doubt each thinks he is right; and even in the North, among our own neighbors, we find one brother denouncing the other as disloyal, and using the most vile epithets that language can invent to make each other odious and hateful. This is unavoidable under the doctrine they advocate, and must ever be the case. But God has so provided for his children that, whether North or South, or under whatever external influence they are placed, their duty is plain. They are called, or chosen, out of the world. Their duty is to suffer wrong rather than to resist evil; and so they are not perplexed or harassed about political questions. There is no impediment in the way of union and harmony between them, and nothing to hinder the world from seeing the love that exists between them. Christ told his disciples very frequently that they shall love one another, and that the world shall know them by the love they have for one another. Peter said that they have purified their souls unto unfeigned love of the brethren, and charged them to love one another with a pure heart, fervently. John said, “Beloved, let us love one another,” and he said, “We shall love, not in word, but in deed and in truth.” Is it reasonable that God should impose such a duty upon us as to fight, maim, and kill our brother? We cannot get past this. The doctrine will place us in this position. But take the true non-resistant doctrine, and see how beautifully it harmonizes with the Gospel teaching, and how free and untrammeled it leaves us. It ever leaves the way open, and the poorest, most illiterate, or least-informed disciple of Jesus has a sure and unerring guide in the most difficult and intricate questions of state that can arise. They are commanded to submit to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; to obey magistrates, not speak evil of dignities, pay tribute, custom and honor to whom it is due; fear God and honor the king, and give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, but to God the things that are God’s.
In religion, we must have a standard. There must be supreme authority, and everything else must yield to it. The New Testament is this authority in the Christian religion. To this all other things must yield and become subservient; reason, necessity, and even the Old Testament must yield to and be subordinate to the New. In studying the New Testament, the principle or spirit that pervades its teachings must be observed. This, with its chief and plain commands, must form the ground of explanation for those that are darker or more obscure in their meaning; and our reasoning, our conduct, and our life must be in accordance with this spirit, principle, or plain command. Any person who reads the New Testament with attention, and an unprejudiced mind, must be convinced that its general tenor of instruction is that of submission to injustice and wrong, and non-resistance of evil. But this doctrine is at variance with our carnal nature and will. We desire to convince ourselves differently, and so call in the Old Testament, and make it take precedence over the New; and then necessity and uncaptivated reason are called to the assistance of the carnal will, and those passages in the New Testament, which can be wrested so as to favor the idea, are construed so that the plain declarations of the Gospel, with its evident spirit and principle, are made subordinate to carnal reason and necessity.
Thus it is with the passage referred to in Romans 13. The Apostle said there, “Let every soul be subject to 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.” We all know that there are times when certain laws are enacted which are offensive to certain communities, and they threaten to, or in fact resist the execution of such laws. If we had non-resistant brethren living in any such infected district, or if we had knowledge of any residing in the South, at the time when the present rebellion broke out, and who we feared might be carried away by the current of popular feeling, I know of no language more suitable to address to them than the words of the Apostle here quoted. I have before observed that Christ and the Apostles give their commands to believers only. This is especially to be borne in mind in considering this command of Paul. These words must be made to harmonize with the general tone and spirit of the Gospel, and they can only be made to do so on the true ground of non-resistance. Scripture must be so construed, as never to close the way to the humblest believer, or to bind one and loose another. The Gospel is given to serve every creature alike. God is no respecter of persons, and is unchangeable; and, as He is unchangeable, so must his religion be. It has been the misfortune of popular religion to change with popular opinion; but the religion of Jesus Christ is the same everywhere, and at all times and places.

“The man who obeys God needs no other authority over him.” – Petr Chelčický.
[9] The words “no conflict” do not make sense here. Perhaps Musser meant “no incompatibility,” not in the sense that they are in harmony with one another or anything like one another, but in the sense that both can exist at the same time.
[10] Tolstoy, in What I Believe, makes a good case that even this one justification is not the correct interpretation of the Greek.
[11] Musser’s theology is a bit murky at this point. He previously stated that those under the Law before Christ, who believed that he would come, were “justified.” He also said that all men were under the law of justice before Christ came, and all would include the entire nation of Israel. They were not converted in the Christian sense, and they certainly did not receive the Holy Spirit, and yet God unquestionably loved them.
[12] Musser is speaking of violently resisting evil, and in other places encourages passive resistance. We are certainly to morally and spiritually resist evil. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
[13] This is a weak argument, as are all arguments based on silence, and Musser should have known better. We should keep in mind that, although the scriptures were also intended for our instruction, they were also written for a specific, living audience. That audience simply did not include rulers and governors, and the evangelists were not in the habit of writing, “This does not apply to you now, but when it finally does, do this…” It is always better to argue from what Jesus and the Apostles did tell us. Their explicit commands are enough to clearly and easily support non-resistance.
[14] Musser had the advantage of living in Pennsylvania and must have thought the Union cause was just. Would he have been as happy to pay the same fee in Georgia, knowing that it promoted and preserved the evil of slavery?

 2007/8/17 8:35Profile

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