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2. It will be manifest from this discussion in what sense God is the author of civil government. Not in the sense that he has prescribed any one particular form of government, which he has stamped with the exclusive seal of legitimacy, imposing it alike upon all nations. Not that it may be administered independently of him, or contrary to his will. But in the sense that he requires man, as a citizen, as in all other relations, to be the subject of law; and that he commissions rulers to enact and administer such laws only for the good of the ruled, and in obedience to his requirements as supreme ruler.
3. We may learn, from the principles here stated, what are the great purposes for which civil government has been instituted. Not to place power in the hands of the few for the oppression and enslaving of the many. Not to allow the strong to lord it over the weak. But it has been instituted to restrain the lawless; to protect the defenceless and innocent; to prevent civil discord and confusion, and to promote and secure, in all possible respects, man's highest well-being as a citizen.
4. We may also learn the intrinsic folly of the no-government theory. What does it really assume? That man as a citizen is not to be the subject of law. That in this relation, he is not bound to obey the law of nature, and the law of love; that he is not subject to the authority of his Maker.
The no-government theory is: "No authority but the authority of God." But we have seen that God requires us to submit to human authority: namely to civil government; to "be subject to the higher powers" and "obedient unto magistrates;" and that to "for conscience sake" and because they are his ministers." The theory then amounts to this, that there is one part of the law of God, namely, that which requires of us obedience to the civil authorities, which we may not obey, and which duty to him forbids us to obey!
5. We are now prepared to understand what are some of the more important duties of the Christian citizen.
I. It is his duty to manifest the highest respect for the civil authority, as such, and to aim at sccuring such respect on the part of every other citizen.
2. To bear his just proportion of the necessary expenses of government.
3. To aim in elevating to office those, and those only, who he has reason to believe will manifest, in their official acts, a supreme regard for the well-being of the governed, and for
the will of God. The proper criteria by which to judge before hand of a man's qualifications for civil office, may be two; his past official acts, if he has held office already, and his private character. He who rules unjustly in one capacity, will in another; he who regards not the rights of his fellow, or the will of God, as a man, can not safely be expected to regard them as a ruler.
4. It is the duty of the citizen, when called to office himself to be controlled in his official capacity by the great law of love; to regard his oath of office as binding him to rule "in the fear of God." And here we would notice an important error, upon this point, which has received the sanction of high authority in our own State, within the last few years. It is that this "oath of office" which is administered to the civil ruler binds him to aid in sustaining even those laws which are known to be unjust. The bare statement of such an oath will be sufficient to reveal its utter absurdity. "I solemnly promise and swear, by my respect for Almighty God, that whenever the laws of my State shall be contrary to the law of God, I will obey those laws, and disobey God!" Can this be the nature of the oath of office? We answer, No. The very fact that God is appealed to in the case, of necessity implies that He is to be regarded as the supreme ruler, and that he who swears to 66 support the constitution and laws of his State," is pledged to do so only "in the Lord."
5. Farther it is the citizen's duty to obey the laws of his country, so far as they are consistent with the law of God; and to disobey them in all cases when they require that which is contrary to his law; submitting peaceably to the penalty of unrighteous laws when he cannot escape. He is to bear testimony, in word, and in deed, against unrighteous laws, and to use all his influence to secure their repeal. These things we have a right to expect of every Christian citizen. "We are to look for a man's religion in all his relations to human government." God expects it; men expect it; the interests of humanity and the glory of God demand it; and he who refuses, as a citizen, to live and act out these great principles, is, in this respect at least, false to his Christian profession.
6. We see also the principle upon which consistent AntiSlavery men are justified in disregarding the slave laws that exist in certain portions of our country. They are bound to do it by the claims of humanity, and by the law of love. They must take part with the oppressed, or be cursed of
their God! When they aid the fugitive in his escape from bondage, they know what they do, and why they are doing it. If indeed Slavery answers the true ends of governmentthe restraining of the lawless, the protection of the defenceless, and the promotion of the well-being of those it enslaves, then do we do right to perpetuate its existence. But if it is an open violation of all that is sacred in the eyes of lawof the claims of humanity, of the law of love, and of the statute book of heaven-then, by the sacredness of those claims, let slavery die; and let those laws be nullified which aid in upholding it.
7. In questions that pertain to Christian morality, the law of the land is in no case the ultimate standard of appeal. The question what is required, or permitted, by this, is not the only, or the most important question. To the multitudes who seek here an excuse, or a justification, for their wrong doing to the rumseller, the sabbath-breaker, and the slaveholder of our land, there are other inquiries of far deeper interest. They are such as these. Is this right? Is it benevolent? Am I, in this employment, aiming to bless my race; and to do my Maker's will? Are these the acts that are "acceptable," and "well pleasings to God." Unless these inquiries can be affirmatively answered, there is no safe hiding place in mere civil law.
8. We see that public sentiment is greatly perverted with reference to the subject of civil government. For a Christian, or a Christian minister, to meddle with politics, has been regarded as a dishonor, and a defilement. For him to carry his religion to the ballot-box, and hold fast his integrity there, is to subject himself to persecution and reproach. And yet civil government is as really an institution of God as the Sabbath, or the sacraments of our holy religion. Men have assumed this position to cover up the consciousness of guilt; because afraid to lay their politics beside the Bible; the pure principles of the gospel of Christ. And how have the men been treated in this land of liberty and boasted republicanism who have dared to assert the principles which we have here endeavored to establish, and to act upon them? Often they have not been left even to endure the penalty of unrighteous laws; but have been the victims of brutal violence, and passion unrestrained. Men have been lynched, flogged, imprisoned, mobbed, murdered, in the midst of a nation that proclaims "equality" and "inalienable rights" as the grand basis of natural existence; and for what crime? For obey
ing the law of nature, the dictates of conscience, the great principle of benevolence, the mandate of heaven, in opposition to unrighteous human laws. Witness the lynching and flogging of Amos Dresser, in a public place, and in defiance. of law, upon the bare suspicion of his being a friend to the enslaved! Witness the murder of Elijah P. Lovejoy in Republican America, for maintaining the freedom of speech, and the liberty of the press, against the encroachments of petty tyranny! Witness the branded hand of Jonathan Walker, and his confinement in the dungeons of the South, for being true to the instincts of humanity, and the claims of his God! Aye, and heard we not, but recently, a saddening voice, from the cold, damp dungeon of the Penitentiary, telling us that, to the great Moloch of Slavery, had been sacrificed another victim? And, American citizens, the professed followers of Christ, and even some among the ministers of his holy religion, look calmly on and hold their peace, or else approves the deed! O, "I tremble for my country, when I remember that God is just, and that his justice will not always sleep."
But we forbear. The subject has grown upon our hands, and we have already extended our article beyond the limits we at first assigned. We are fully aware of our own inability to do justice to the theme, yet we can say in truth, we "have done what we could." It has been our aim to discuss principles, and to exhibit their practical bearing: to set up the great way-marks which should guide the Christian in the discharge of his civil duties. If, by the blessing of God, we have succeeded to any extent in shedding light upon this important subject, or, if what we have written should be the means of enlisting some abler pen, we shall feel that our labor is amply rewarded.
By REV. EDWARD H. FAIRCHILD.
THE object of this article is to give the writer's views in regard to the true nature and use of Church Creeds.
In reference to the propriety of creeds, there is, among the different denominations of Christians no dispute. A church without a creed, that is, without articles of faith, distinct from the Bible, containing their views of the teaching of the sacred scriptures, would be a thing in the world, of which it might be said, "See, this is new." Whether these articles should be written or unwritten, is a disputed question, which it is not my object to discuss. Whether written or unwritten, they are equally creeds, and equally liable to abuse.
There are in the United States, five or six denominations of professing Christians having no written creed, and professing to have no creed but the Bible. Yet none need be told that the Disciples, or Campbellites, believe in immersion, and the baptism of believers, exclusively; or that the denomination styling themselves the Church of God, believe in feet-washing; or the Universalists in universal salvation. But how do we learn that they hold these views? Not from the Bible, but from their creeds, published from mouth to mouth, and from generation to generation. It is not my purpose to show that their creeds are contrary to the Bible, or contrary to each other, but that they have creeds, though not written, yet legible, and definite, and at least, as easily interpreted as some that are written?
Taking it for granted that churches will, and should, and must make use of creeds in their organization and discipline, the subject now under consideration is, What is the great end to be aimed at in the use of creeds, and what kind of a creed would be best adapted to accomplish that end.
In order that we may contemplate this question aside from all collateral ones that tend to darken and vex it, let us suppose that the World's Evangelical Alliance had ordained twelve of their number without regard to their peculiar views, twelve in whose piety they had unlimited confidence, who loved each other with that pure brotherly devotion which faithful