« AnteriorContinuar »
war was utterly unlawful, and much more, war in the name of religion, such as the Popes promoted during the great schism. When,' he said, 'will the proud priest of Rome grant indulgences to mankind to live in peace and charity, as he now does to fight and kill one another?”
At the time of the Reformation, the leaders of the Polish Unitarians, both Arian and Socinian, ranged themselves on the side of humanity, declaring against both war and capital punish, ments, and objecting to fill the office of magistrate, on account of the oaths required, and because it might involve the necessity of bearing arms and shedding blood. “ These notions of the morality of the gospel would not suffer the judge Niemoiovius, though a nobleman, to continue on the bench, and he resigned his office.” There were some differences of opinion amongst them on these subjects; but while many held the unlawfulness of war altogether, none seem to have conceded more than that arms might be resorted to in self-defence, according to the very strictest interpretation of that expression. Thus far the continental Socinians were generally agreed. Ruarus, of Amsterdam, alluding to the difficulty arising from the prevalence of wars and capital punishments, remarks, that it was harder for a Christian to fill the office of a magistrate, especially of a chief magistrate, than
“ for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Cheynell, the antagonist of Chillingworth, and one of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, deemed such principles not worthy of toleration. “ Socinians are not to be suffered in any state, for they will not shew any obedience or respect to magistrates; they say they have no power to punish heinous offenders in time of peace, nor have they power to defend themselves, or the people, in time of war. But especially they charge the magistrates to beware how they meddle with good honest heretics.” He afterwards accuses both them and the Anabaptists of inconsistent conduct in the civil war. “It is commonly said that they (the Anabaptists) have lately taken up arms in rebellion against the king. I must confess, I have wondered often when I have heard of this daily complaint, because I know that an Anabaptist doth not think it lawful to be a cutler: he thinks no sword ought to be made, because he conceives it unlawful to use a sword. It is well known that the Anabaptists go to sea without any ordnance in their ships, that they travel without any sword by their side ; but if there be any fighting Anabaptists in these days, I suppose the English Socinians have taught the English Anabaptists to deny those principles in practice which they maintain in dispute.” Ascham, (who was ambassador from the Common
wealth to Spain, and assassinated by some English royalists at Madrid,) contending for the lawfulness of war against Slichtingius and the rest of his (Socinian) tribe,” speaks more honourably of his opponents. “ Whilst all the Christian world is embroiled in war, and that the very state of mankind is nothing else but status belli ; yet not a few perhaps of the best Christians find their consciences checked, as if they had an interdict from heaven, restraining them (even in the extremest necessities) from defending their persons and temporal rights by the effusion of human blood. They conceive such an exactness of Christian patience and charity is now required of us in regard of those excellent promises of reigning with Christ in heaven, that all sort of war fights now against him and his religion. This made an eminent statesman, pleading for toleration of religion in France, say, Qu'il valoit mieux avoir une paix où il y avoient deux religions, qu'une guerre où il n'y en avoit point;that it was better to have a peace with two religions, than a war with none at all. These Christians, of whom we now speak, assure themselves, that if they wallow in one another's blood here, they cannot afterwards tumble together in Abraham's bosom.” For a very curious and interesting account of Cheynell's “ Rise, Growth, and Danger of Socinianisme," and Ascham's “Confusions and Revolutions of Governments,"
from which these extracts are taken, see Monthly Repository for 1815, pp. 81, 431, &c.
Many of the continental Anabaptists shewed no want of a disposition for turbulence and bloodshed; but the pacific principles of their founders were always cherished by others of the party, and have been preserved by their descendants, the Mennonites, or Unitarian Baptists, of Germany, Russia and Holland.
We must not omit an honourable mention of others who, though adopting the military profession, have held out against the common maxim that they had nothing to do with the justice of the cause for which their swords were drawn. Many of the Independents in Cromwell's army threw up their commissions rather than serve in the war which he commenced, in their opinion so wantonly, against Spain, by the seizure of Jamaica. Algernon Sidney argues this point very conclusively against Filmer: “His second instance concerning wars, in which he says, the subject is not to examine whether they are just or unjust, but must obey, is weak and frivolous, and very often false. Though God may be merciful to a soldier, who by the wickedness of a magistrate, whom he honestly trusts, is made a minister of injustice, it is nothing to this case, For if our author say true, that the word of a king can justify him in going against the command of God, he must do what is commanded,
though he think it evil; the Christian soldiers under the Pagan emperors were obliged to destroy their brethren, and the best men in the world, for being so: such as now live under the Turk have the same obligation upon them of defending their master, and slaughtering those he reputes his enemies for adhering to Christianity: and the King of France may, when he pleases, arm one part of his Protestant subjects, to the destruction of another; which is a godly doctrine, and worthy our author's invention. But if this be so, I know not how the Israelites can be said to have sinned in following the examples of Jeroboain, Omri, Ahab, or other wicked kings. It is impertinent to say they were obliged to serve their kings in unjust wars, but not to serve idols; for though God be jealous of his glory, yet he forbids rapine and murder as well as idolatry. If there be a law that forbids the subject to examine the commands tending to the one, it cannot but enjoin obedience to the other. The same authority which justifies murder, takes away the guilt of idolatry.” (Discourses concerning Government, Ch. iii. Sect. 20.)
Now arose the Quakers, whose profession of faith is too well expressed by Barclay not to be given in his own words:
“ If to revenge ourselves, or to render injury, evil for evil, wound for wound, to take eye for eye, tooth for tooth; if to fight for outward and