Tag Archives: John Leland

(1) Introduction: Distinct Differences between Church and State Render Them Mutually Exclusive


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


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3. Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology and Their Importance to the Issue of Church and State Relationship in America

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(2) The Holy Spirit, through Paul, Explained the Temporal Earthly and the Eternal Spiritual

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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February
11, 2018


This series of lessons will examine Bible teaching which makes clear that state (civil government) and church are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive—that God ordained each for particular purposes and that He desires that both operate under Him but that neither work with, over, or under the other. The Old Testament develops the doctrine of civil government. There we learn that God ordained civil government to directly control evil since the restraint of conscience was insufficient to control the sinful man. God added the restraint of civil government as a further direct, worldly control over man. The Old Testament deals with Gentile civil government and the theocracy and Israel, their purposes and authorities under God, their history, and prophecies concerning, among other things, concerning their fate. The New Testament announces something new, the church, a spiritual organism made up of spiritual beings.

Combining church and state has had dire consequences, as history shows.[i] Catholic and Protestant theology historically justified (and continue to justify) the union of church and state by examining Scripture not literally, but allegorically or spiritually, when and where convenient to support a desired conclusion (such as union of church and state). Those religious organizations interpret Scripture in such a way as to apply the principles for Israel and Judaism to Gentile nations. Just as religion and state were combined in the Jewish theocracy, this spiritualized and allegorized theology, when implemented, unites church and state in Gentile nations.

JamesMadisonOnC&SMany of America’s founding fathers—most especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson (see [ii], a copy of Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty drafted by Thomas Jefferson)—and other leaders understood that church and state should be separate. From a worldly common sense point of view Madison and Jefferson and others arrived at their understanding by studying the consequences of such unions both historically and also contemporaneously. From a Bible or spiritual perspective, Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, John Leland and other Baptists understood both the problems created by combining church and state and the true reasons for those problems. Backus wrote:

  • “Christians must be careful not to apply God’s principles for the Jewish religion and the nation Israel to church and state. The principles for the two are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive. The government of the Church of Christ is as distinct from all worldly governments, as heaven is from earth.”[iii]

Indeed, union of church and state is contrary to biblical principles; and, therefore, the consequences of church-state union have always been dire and will be so until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom.

God gave both church and state certain powers. God gave the state earthly and temporal power within jurisdictional boundaries which He set out. The power given a church was meant to provide a spiritual and eternal good.

The purpose of the Gentile civil government is fleshly or earthly.[iv] Gentile civil government, according to God, was ordained by God to deal with those temporal earthly matters assigned it by God. God gave man certain authority over man. He gave man the responsibility to rule over man under His rules. Gentile civil government has authority to punish those who commit certain crimes against their fellow man and to reward those who do good. The purpose of the Gentile civil government is to control evil men thereby maintaining some degree of peace in this present world. A civil government, as defined by God, is made up of men under God ruling over man in earthly matters.

Much of God’s spiritual word deals with actions of individuals, families, churches, and nations here upon the earth. Civil governments are not given jurisdiction over many areas of life which are governed by the Word of God. A civil government which ignores God and His Word is setting itself up for judgment.

God ordained a church under God, not a business under civil government, an entity that is to work hand in hand with or perhaps over the state to bring in the kingdom of God, or an entity that is to work under state rules. Admittedly, the ultimate God-given purpose of both a church and a civil government is to glorify God, each acting under God, but neither acting with or under the other. However, the underlying purposes of a church and the state are significantly different: the underlying purpose of a church is heavenly or spiritual; the underlying purpose of a civil government is earthly. God gave neither a church nor the state authority to rule over or with the other. Civil government does not have the authority or the ability (the knowledge, understanding and wisdom) to rule over God’s churches. For reasons already looked at in these lessons, a church is not to join with the civil government in any way.

Christians are told to obey civil government as regards certain earthly matters and civil government has authority over all citizens as to some temporal earthly matters. Individuals, families, and churches are not to be under the civil government with regard to spiritual matters, which include many activities and actions as shown in the Bible.


Endnotes

[i] See the historical section of this study of this abridged course for more on this. See, for a more advanced study, (1) Section 4 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in both PDF and online form or may be ordered in softback and Kindle by going to “Order information for books by Jerald Finney which also has links to the free PDF and Online Form of the book; (2) the section on the history of the First Amendment; and/or (3) An Abridged History of the First Amendment.).

[ii] Virginia Bill for Religious Freedom drafted by Thomas Jefferson:Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and enacted in 1786.

[iii]  Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 561.

[iv] See Section I.A., The Biblical Doctrine of Government of this short course for more on government. For a more advanced analysis, “The biblical doctrine of government” for more on the jurisdiction and purposes of the various God-ordained governments including civil government.

To the New Nation


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 31, 2012


Click here to go to the entire history of religious liberty in America.


Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 10 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment.


To the new nation

Summary of Contents: The Constitutional Convention, submission to states for ratification; James Madison persuaded John Leland that he would stand for religious freedom and Leland withdrew as candidate for state ratification convention in favor of Madison, the Constitution was ratified, Madison was elected as Representative and introduced several amendments, including the First Amendment; the First Amendment was adopted on September 25, 1789 and approved by the required number of sstates in 1791.

Leland-Madison Memorial ParkLeland Madison Memorial Park


A convention was called in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation.

“In a little more than a year after the passage of the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty the convention met which prepared the Constitution of the United States. Of this convention Mr. Jefferson was not a member, he being then absent as minister to France…. Five of the states, while adopting the Constitution, proposed amendments. Three—New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia—included in one form or another a declaration of religious freedom in the changes they desired to have made, as did also North Carolina, where the convention at first declined to ratify the Constitution until the proposed amendments were acted upon. Accordingly, at the first session of the first Congress the amendment now under consideration [the First Amendment] was proposed with others by Mr. Madison. It met the views of the advocates of religious freedom, and was adopted” (Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 163 at 164 (1879)).

After the drafting of the Constitution, it was submitted to the states for ratification. The Baptists of Virginia were against ratification because the Constitution did not have sufficient provision for religious liberty. Patrick Henry had declined to serve at the Convention and was against it. He posed as the champion of the Baptists in opposition to the Constitution. Of course, Madison was for ratification. However, John Leland, the most popular preacher in Virginia, was chosen by the Baptists as candidate of Orange County to the state ratification convention opposed to ratification, and his opponent was to be James Madison. Mr. Leland likely would have been elected had he not later withdrawn. Mr. Madison, when he returned from Philadelphia, stopped by Mr. Leland’s house and spent half a day communicating to him about “the great matters which were then agitating the people of the state and the Confederacy” and relieving Baptist apprehensions as to the question of religious liberty. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Leland withdrew in favor of Mr. Madison and the Baptists of Orange County were won over to the side of Madison (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 150-158; Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought: A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), pp. 166-167).

The Constitution was ratified and election of the officers of government was the next order of business. Patrick Henry, using his influence in the Legislature, prevented Madison from being elected as Senator. In addition, the Legislature drew the lines for Representative district so as to prevent Madison from being elected as Representative. However, he was able to “relieve Baptist apprehensions as to any change in his principles, and assure them of his readiness to aid in securing a proper amendment to the Constitution on the subject of religious liberty.” He was elected.

His first act, after the First Congress was organized, in 1789, was to propose, on June 8, certain amendments, including what is now the First Amendment. His purpose was to “conciliate and to make all reasonable concessions to the doubting and distrustful”—to those, the Baptists, who were concerned about the issue of religious liberty. “Of all the denominations in Virginia, [the Baptists] were the only ones that had expressed any dissatisfaction with the Constitution on that point, or that had taken any action into looking to an amendment.” The Baptists of Virginia had also corresponded with Baptists of other states to “secure cooperation in the matter of obtaining” a religious liberty amendment. No other denomination asked for this change (James, p. 167). A general committee of Baptist churches from Virginia presented an address to President Washington, dated August 8, 1789, expressing concern that “liberty of conscience was not sufficiently secured,” perhaps because “on account of the usage we received in Virginia, under the regal government, when mobs, bonds, fines and prisons, were [their] frequent repast” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 340).  President Washington assured them that he would not have signed the Constitution if he had had the slightest apprehension that it “might endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society” (Ibid.).

Some Baptists and others did not see the need for a religious freedom amendment. Indeed, the First Amendment may not have been necessary to guarantee separation of church and state. Isaac Backus was elected as a delegate to the Massachusetts convention of January, 1788, which considered the issue of ratification of the new Constitution. He spoke at the convention.

“On February 4, [Backus] spoke of ‘the great advantage of having religious tests and hereditary nobility excluded from our government.’ These two items in the Constitution seemed to him a guarantee against any establishment of religion and against the formation of any aristocracy. ‘Some serious minds discover a concern lest, if all religious tests should be excluded, the congress would hereafter establish Popery, or some other tyrannical way of worship. But it is most certain that no such way of worship can be established without any religious test.’ He said ‘Popery,’ but he probably feared, as many Baptists did, that some form of Calvinism of the Presbyterian or Consociational variety was more likely. His interpretation of this article helps to explain why the Baptists [of Massachusetts] made no effort to fight for an amendment on freedom of religion along with the others which the convention sent to Congress” (William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Piestic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), pp. 198-199).

Even Madison, who proposed and fought for the First Amendment, did not believe that it was necessary for the security of religion. He wrote in his Journal on June 12, 1788:

“… Is a bill of rights a security for Religion? … If there were a majority of one sect, a bill of rights would be a poor protection for liberty. Happily for the states, they enjoy the utmost freedom of religion. This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one to oppress and persecute the rest. Fortunately for this commonwealth, a majority of the people are decidedly against any exclusive establishment—I believe it to be so in the other states…. But the United States abound in such a variety of sects, that it is a strong security against religious persecution, and it is sufficient to authorize a conclusion, that no one sect will ever be able to outnumber or depress the rest” (Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), pp. 314-315).

Others were against a bill of rights. “James Wilson argued that ‘all is reserved in a general government which is not given,’ and that since the power to legislate on religion or speech or press was not given to the Federal government, the government did not possess it, and there was therefore no need for an express prohibition” (Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 112). “Alexander Hamilton argued that a bill of rights, not only was unnecessary, but would be dangerous, since it might create the inference that a power to deal with the reserved subject was in fact conferred” (Ibid., citing Federalist Papers, Modern Library ed., 1937, p. 559).

The amendment was adopted on September 25, 1789 and was approved by the required number of states in 1791.

Book Review: The Writings of John Leland

Book Review
The Writings of John Leland
Edited by L.F. Greene, ARNO PRESS & THE NEW YOUR TIMES, New  York, 1969,
Reprinted 2010 by Local Church Bible Publishers, http://www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 2, 2011

Recommended reading: Outcome Based Religion (Click to see review)

TheWritingsOfJohnLeland

Preface

Truth is as essential to history as the soul is to the body.—Frederick.
Quoted on 92 of The Writings of John Leland
“Truth needs no apology, and error deserves none. Prefatory lies have often atoned for ignorance and ill-will in the Eastern and European worlds; but let the sons of America be free. It is more essential to learn how to believe, than to learn what to believe” (92)

Note. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the book The Writings of John Leland, and only the page numbers are noted. Several years ago, I tried to find a copy of the writings of John Leland. I discovered a two volume set of the writings of John Leland online, but the price was $200.00. Two days later, I decided to “bite the bullet” and pay the $200.00. It was too late. The books were no longer available, and I could not find any other sources. Recently, Pastor Jason Cooley informed me that John Leland’s writings are now available for $20.00 from Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com. I bought the book from that source.

Book Review: The Writings of John Leland

John Leland was both a Baptist hero and an American hero. His contributions to religious liberty in America should be known by every American, and especially to every American Baptist. He was a constant and effective promoter the Baptist distinctive of separation of church and state, soul liberty, or religious liberty both before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution. His exploits and thoughts on liberty should stand next to those of George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.

Before the adoption of the Constitution, he was a leader for religious liberty in Virginia: “The Baptists fought to have the act incorporating the Episcopal church repealed. Reuben Ford and John Leland attended the first 1787 assembly meeting as agents in behalf of the Baptist General Committee (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 142-146). On August 10, 1787, the act incorporating the Episcopal church was repealed, and until 2001—when Jerry Falwell and trustees of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, who were joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the Virginia Constitutional provision forbidding the incorporation of churches in federal district court—no church in Virginia could be incorporated (See Falwell v. Miller, 203 F. Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Va. 2002).”  God Betrayed, p. 282.

“It is sad that Christian revisionists, in their successful effort to deceive the entire Christian community and advance their agenda by combining church and state, so that the resulting union of church and state can bring in the kingdom of heaven, have belittled, misrepresented, and/or totally ignored great men such as Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Isaac Backus, Shubal Stearns, John Leland and others. Their efforts have done great and irreparable damage to the cause of Christ.” God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, Texas: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008), p. 208; See EN for more information on books by Jerald Finney; God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed). Tragically, even most Baptists have been deceived by the revisionists, and believe and teach the revisionist lies.

“John Leland, the most popular preacher in Virginia, was chosen by the Baptists as candidate of Orange County to the state ratification convention opposed to ratification of the United States Constitution, and his opponent was to be James Madison. Mr. Leland likely would have been elected had he not later withdrawn. Mr. Madison, when he returned from Philadelphia, stopped by Mr. Leland’s house and spent half a day communicating to him about ‘the great matters which were then agitating the people of the state and the Confederacy’ and relieving Baptist apprehensions as to the question of religious liberty. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Leland withdrew in favor of Mr. Madison and the Baptists of Orange County were won over to the side of Madison” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 150-158; William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought: A Biblical Interpretation of American History. (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999) pp. 166-167.” God Betrayed, p. 285.

In compiling The Writings of John Leland, “Great care has been taken to ascertain truth, and few assertions have been made that are not sustained by documentary evidence of undoubted authenticity.” The book combines what the Elder Leland believed, preached and lived with evidences of a pious character, preaching style, life history and accomplishments, personal demeanor, and his effect on those whom he converted and those to whom he preached” (65).

Reading John Leland’s writings reveals the mind of a brilliant believer. His political insights were, for like of a better word, awesome. His historical and biblical knowledge were of the highest order, but, more importantly, his analyses were brilliant, reflecting the mind of God. Through a short biography, compilation of letters, speeches to political bodies, essays, sermons, etc., The Writings of John Leland reveals, of special interest to this author, the political and spiritual life and beliefs of John Leland. Mr. Leland’s spiritual activities resulted in the salvation of many souls; and, as already noted, he was very instrumental in the adoption of the First Amendment the United States Constitution. He remained active until  his death. He wrote, “I [John Leland] close, by observing that here is an arm seventy years old, which, as long as it can rise to heaven in prayer, or wield a pen on earth, shall never be inactive, when the religious rights of men are in jeopardy. Was there a vital fibre in my heart, that did not plead for rational religious liberty, I would chase the felon from his den, and roast him in the flames” (507).

The remainder of this review will consist of two parts: (1) A summary of Events in the Life of John Leland,” and (2) “A sampling of quotes and matters which Leland addresses in the essays, sermons, addresses, poems, etc. which are included in the book”.

Events in the Life of John Leland (9-40)

Born in Grafton, Massachusetts on May 14, 1754. As a boy, he lost all desire for youthful diversions and, due to conviction in his mind, and would talk on no subject but religion. “Reading the Bible and meditating on the shortness of time, and the importance of being prepared for death and judgment, occupied the chiefest of [his] time.” He began to earnestly seek the Lord (11), and reached conclusions about salvation. While less than twenty years old, he, although naturally bashful publically disputed on the matter of salvation freely by grace with a very respectable preacher (13), then prayed and gave the people present a word of exhortation. The next day, reproaching himself for his forwardness and presumption, he told some that they need not mind anything that he had said, since he was a poor unconverted sinner. He and another young man about his age began to set up evening meetings, to sing, pray, and speak according to their proportion of faith as the Spirit gave them utterance (15). He struggled with his moral evil in himself and “want of will,” and worried about preaching. He was baptized in June, 1774 (16).  He preaches from Malachi 9: “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even send a curse upon you ——.” He continued to preach and doors opened. He finally surrendered to the ministry, without any condition, evasion, or mental reservation (18). [Lady blamed him for being a closed communicant; he asked why he should be blamed for not communing with those who have no fellowship with him (18-19). Joined Bellingham church which gave him a license to do that which he had been doing for a year (19). Oct. 1775 went to Virginia for 8 mo. Married Sally Devine on 9/30/1776. Moved to Culpepper, Virginia. Ordained by the choice of the church, travelled and preached.  Moved to Orange county. Travailed in the desire for salvation of sinners, prays much, baptizes (130), preaches from Orange to York. (20-21). This continues through p. 40.

Pp 41- “Further sketches of the Life of John Leland.” Additional incidents from the editor which continue the history to the time of Leland’s death (1835 to the death of John Leland), including more on the life and character of Mrs. Leland (liberality, courage (e.g., saved her husband from a murderer’s sword (42), life of unceasing toil, always busy, always quiet (43), more on her life history on (43), , her faith firm in Christ, etc. Sketch of John Leland’s last sermon preached 1/8/1841 (46-47). “Thus died John Leland—a man eminent above many for piety and usefulness, whose name is connected with all that is pure in patriotism, lovely in the social and domestic virtues, philanthropic in feeling and action, arduous, disinterested, and self-denying in the labors of the ministerial calling; one whose place in society, in the church, and in the ranks of the ministry, will not soon be filled—in the hearts of those who knew him, never (49).

He died as a witness for the truth, testifying, with his last breath, the value of religion, and that only, which has its seat in the heart. His life had been unostentatious; his aspirations after worldly honors, ever low and feeble; his humility and sense of dependence on God, deep-felt and abiding—and thus he died….” His tombstone read: “Here lies the body of the Rev. John Leland, who labored 67 years to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious rights of all  men. He died January, 14, 1841, aged 86 years and 8 months (50).” His religious creed (50-1).

“Through a long life, Elder Leland sustained, with uniform consistency, the two-fold character of the Patriot and the Christian. For His religious creed he acknowledged no director but the Bible. He loved the pure, unadulterated word of truth and as a minister of that word, zealous and faithful, he preached it, as far as he was able, unmixed with the doctrines and commandments of men, ‘not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.’ He was clear in exposition, happy in illustration, often powerful and eloquent in appeals to the conscience and heart. He insisted, in absolute and unqualified terms, on the great fundamental truths of the gospel, the necessity of regeneration, faith and repentance; but, on points not essential to salvation, though his opinions were no less firmly established, and he never shrunk from advocating them on proper occasions, yet he did not censure or denounce those who differed from him, nor  exclude from fellowship, ass Christians, any who gave evidence of a gracious change, whatever might be their peculiar doctrinal views. He never engaged in controversy; and when any of his published opinions were disputed, or commented upon, as was sometimes the case, with severity, he preferred to  ‘let the matter rest a little, and then give another thrust,’ as he expressed it, to the wwast of time, repetitions, and tediousness of reviews and replies.” (51-52).

His political creed was based upon those ‘sufficient truths’ of equality, and of inherent and inalienable rights recognized by the master spirits of the revolution as the principles for the support of which they pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.’ As a politician, he was above the influence of any but sincere and patriotic motives. He was a statesman, rather than a politician. He studied the fundamental principles of government, and drew his conclusions directly from them, without any intervening medium of self or party interest…. His sentiments, on particular measures, it is unnecessary to comment upon, as they are clearly expressed in his writings. His feelings on the subject of slavery may be gathered from the fact that, during his fourteen years’ residence in Virginia he never owned a slave, as well as from his remarks in the Virginia Chronicle, and from the resolution offered by him, when a member of the Baptist General Committee, and passed by them, in 1789, in the following words: …” (51-52).

 “The great object, (next in importance to his mission as a preacher of Christ,) for which he seems to have been raised up by a special Providence, was to promote the establishment of religious liberty in the United States. His efforts, perhaps, contributed as much  as those of any other man, to the overthrow of ecclesiastical tyranny in Virginia, the state of his adoption, and exerted a beneficial influence, though less successful, towards the promotion of the same end in that of his nativity. In the former, in the years 1786-7-8, we find his name in the doings of the Baptist General Committee, with which he stood connected, as messenger to the General Assembly, appointed to draft and present memorials respecting the Incorporating  act, the application of the glebe lands to public use, etc. Though the cause of religious freedom was the common cause of all dissenters, yet the Baptists, as a sect, took the lead in those active, energetic, and persevering measures, which at length prevailed in its establishment. Many individuals of other denominations took an active part, and aided materially in bringing about the glorious result; nay, that even many of the more conscientious and patriotic among the members of the established church, made praiseworthy exertions in its favor, is a fact too honorable to themselves, and to the state that produced them, to be passed unnoticed. Enrolled among the ardent champions of religious liberty, are the names of Virginia’s most illustrious sons—of Washington, Henry, Jefferson, Madison. To particularize, in regard to the efforts made, and the good accomplished by each, is unnecessary in this place; the following Address an Reply, which are inserted entire, will serve to exhibit the enlarged views and the unselfish spirit of the patriots of that day, as well as the harmony, one might almost say identity, of sentiment that prevailed among them.” … (Address to President Washington: see pp. 52-54.). George Washington’s reply on pp. 54-55, says, in part: “If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention where I  had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the  religious  rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the  general government might even be so administered, as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself, to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution. For you, doubtless, remember, I have often expressed my sentiments, that any man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected  in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience… (52).”

Leland moved to New England in 1791. Immediately “commenced anew the warfare against religious  intolerance, and the defence of the cause that had so signally triumphed in Virginia. During his stay in New London, he published his ‘Rights of Conscience Inalienable,’ and afterwards, from time to time, other works of the same character; some of which will be found in [this volume], and others it has been impossible to obtain. “Our limits do not allow us to enter upon the history and progress of religious liberty in Massachusetts. This may be found elsewhere…. At length, in the beginning of 1811, a decision by Judge Parsons, that no society, not incorporated by law, could claim even the pitiful privilege of drawing back money, awakened the fears of the dissenters, and a circular Address, accompanied by a petition to the legislature, praying for a revision of the laws respecting public worship, was circulated through the state. At the solicitation of the people of Cheshire, Mr. Leland accepted a seat in the legislature, for the special purpose of aiding the measures petitioned for. His speech, delivered during the debate on the subject, may be found in another part of the work (55).”

“A law was finally passed that gave some relief, but not complete satisfaction. The ‘stump’ of the tree of ecclesiastical oppression, so carefully preserved ‘with a band of iron and brass,’ continued, therefore to furnish a subject for his animadversion, in various essays, addresses, etc.  and he improved such opportunities as were offered him, as a matter of duty, and in fulfillment of the public pledge he had  given, that ‘as long as he could speak with his tongue, wield a pen, or heave a cry to heaven, whenever the rights of men, the liberty of conscience, or the good of his country were invaded by fraud or force, his feeble efforts should not lie dormant.’”

A sampling of quotes and matters which Leland addresses in the book

59- His views on church discipline, communion, etc.
65 – Excerpt from Semple’s Virginia Baptists on John Leland.
68- 69 Leland on God’s Sovereignty vs. free will.
69 – 70 Criticisms of John Leland.

 70 “There is evidently a wide difference between searching the Scriptures to find a system of truth, and searching them for evidence to support one already adopted….”

78 (In Preface to “The Bible Baptist): “Truth needs no apology, and error deserves none. Prefatory lies have often atoned for ignorance and ill-will in the Eastern and European worlds; but let the sons of America be free. It is more essential to learn how to believe, than to learn what to believe.
“The doctrine and spirit of the following remarks, are left for the reader to judge of for himself. Truth is in the least danger of being lost, when free examination is allowed.”

78 “Christian writers generally agree to reproach the Jews, for treating the Rabbies with as much respect as they did the prophets; giving as great credit to their traditions as they did to the sacred volume. But many Christian writers are guilty of the same absurdity. It is no more significant for Jews to quote the Talmud or the Targum, to prove a Mosaic rite, than it is for Christians to depend on Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, and the other fathers of the church, for a gospel ordinance.”

73-77 “The History of Jack Nips”: (The boy Leland examiners the teaching of the church; also state constitutions) This examines doctrines of the Presbyterian church: preaching in tones, their orthography, infant baptism of non-believers (who gave their child to God) 73-, baptism of infants who are out of the church and of infants of those who are enemies of the church (75). He does his Bible study of baptism 76. His dad intended him for a minister. His question: “But does God. Those who are sent by men to preach, must look to men for their pay; but those that are sent by God, must depend on him.” He studies all the state constitutions at age 22. He found that “there were not two of them that agreed. What said I, do great men differ? Boys, women, and little souls do; but can learned wise patriots disagree so much in judgment? If so, they cannot all be right, but they may all be wrong, and therefore, Jack Nipps for himself. What encouraged me to search and judge for myself, was this: when I was a small boy, I fancied that I stood in the middle of the world, and that the earth extended no further than my eye-sight explored: but people told me that I was wrong in my judgment; but after a few years study, I found I was half right. That the earth exceeded my eye-sight, I soon found by experience; herein I was wrong. But that I am always on the centre spot of the surface of the globe, is an undeniable truth. And as mature experience convinced me that my boyish thoughts were some of them right, I concluded it might be so with my study in politics” 77.

78- Excellent examination of “baptism” including infant baptism. John the Baptist 79. Inconsistencies of those who promote infant baptism 81. On “Mk. 16.15-16 “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned” 81-2. On Peter’s teaching on baptism 82-3. On Philip 83-4. The next baptizer, Ananias 84. Then Paul 84-6. Baptism of the Holy Ghost 87. The argument that many great reformers and preachers, in past ages, believed and practiced infant sprinkling; if error, would not God have convinced them of it, when he was with them, in so great a degree 89?

91- :The Virginia Chronicle.” Account of the different religious sects in Virginia. Settlement, population 94-95.  The Quakers (persecuted by not put to death) 94. Of the slaves 94-8. Wishes its dissolution, but points out the great problems in so doing. Briefly on their religious worship etc. “THE UNIFORMITY OF RELIGION FOR ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS 98-99. OF THE PRESBYTERIANS 99-100. OF THE METHODISTS (Armenian) (Tremendous footnote on 101 about baptism) 100-1. OF THE TUNKERS 102-3. OF THE MENNONISTS 103-4 (Excellent comments on civil government). OF THE BAPTISTS 104-5. THE PERSECUTION OF BAPTISTS (Excellent reasons why no religious test should be required for office) 105-7. THE REASONS FOR THEIR DISSENT (107-109). THREE GREAT PRINCIPLES (The 3 great principles which divide the Christian world) 109-11. OF MARRIAGE 111-2. THE DECLENSION AMONG THE BAPTISTS (“But as they gained this piece of freedom, so the cares of war, the spirit of trade, and moving to the western waters, seemed to bring on a general declension. The ways of Zion mourned. They obtained their hearts’ desire, (freedom,) but had leanness in their souls. Some of the old watchmen stumbled and fell, iniquity did abound, and the love of many waxed cold…. FN 9N 114 WHY A CONFESSION OF FAITH?) 112-4. THE GREAT WORK (The declension ended in 1785 with revival) 114-6. THE NUMBER OF BAPTISTS 116-7. ON DRESS 117. THE EXCESS OF CIVIL POWER ESPLODED (Tremendous insights on freedom of conscience, chaplains paid by govt. (in army or legislature or elsewhere, the extent of power of civil govt. (can’t use Israel as example), govt. maintenance of religion) 117-9. WASHING OF FEET AND DRY CHRISTENING 120. THE VIRGINIA BAPTISTS COMPARED WITH THE GERMAN 120-1. SOME REMARKS 121-2. THE RIGHTS AND BONDS OF CONSCIENCE 122-3. THOUGHTS ON SYSTEMS 123-4.

125-171 “The First Rise of Sin.” “If the decalogue (the Ten Commandments) is all of a moral nature, the injunction is binding on all nations; and if all nations were under the bond of regarding the seventh day in a holy manner, it is strange that St. Paul never had occasion to reprove the Gentiles, for the breach of it, fas the Jewish prophet had to reprove their own nation; and, besides … If, in the New Testament, Christians are commanded to keep the first day, by Christ or his apostles, that divine appointment is sufficient; human legislatures have nothing to do in ordaining fixed holy days, establishing creeds of faith, requiring religious tests, certificates, or anything of the kind. 146.” [God could not have prevented sin. God decreed that angels and men should not sin. No law was given men or angels to sin. If it was the design, decree, or secret will of God, that creatures should sin, how can it be sin? for sin is the transgression of his will…. If sin is the cause of general good, all creatures should love it; and if creatures should love it, why are they called upon to repent of, and hate it? … And as it was not possible for God to sin, or make creatures sin, so, likewise, (considering him in the character of a moral governor, it was not possible for him to prevent it. Should a legislature do more than make laws, forbidding crimes; … the only means he could make use of to prevent it, would make them entirely miserable…. So it was with God; he loved his creatures, and sought to make them happy; and, as rational creatures cannot be happy without the freedom of their will, this freedom was established in them by God; and, in this point of view, it was not possible for God to have prevented their sin; as the only means that would have secured them from sin, would have made them completely miserable. 141-2.]

171-75: “Letter of Valediction on Leaving Virginia, in 1791.” To slave owners and slaves 173-4.

177-192 “The Rights of Conscience Inalienable, and therefore, Religious Opinions not Cognizable by Law. 1791.” “Did not the Christian religion prevail during the first three centuries, in a more glorious manner than ever it has since, not only without the aid of law, but in opposition to all the laws of haughty monarchs? And did not religion receive a deadly wound by being fostered in the arms of civil power and regulated by law? These things are so 181.” … “To say that ‘religion cannot stand without a state establishment,’ is not only contrary to fact, (as has been already proved), but is a contradiction in phrase. Religion must have stood a time before any law could have been made about it; and if it did stand almost three hundred years without law, it can still stand without it (182).” “… The evils of establishment are many. First, second, third (Uniformity. “Millions of men, women, and children, have been tortured to death, to produce uniformity, and tet the world has not advanced one inch towards it…. The duty of the magistrates is, not to judge of the divinity or tendency of doctrines; but when those principles break out into overt acts of violence, then to use the civil sword and punish the vagrant for what he has done, and not for the religious phrenzy that he acted from. 184), fourth (Leland completely obliterates the objection “that the ignorant part of the community are not capacitated to judge for themselves” which “supports the Popish hierarchy, and all Protestant, as well as Turkish and Pagan establishments in idea.”), fifth(182-6). He shows the biblical problems with the establishment of religion in Conn. (186-90).

193-95. The Modern Priest.

Circular Letter of the Stratsbury Association, 1794. 196-99. The deists and infidels are] “equally-assiduous in declaring what is not true, and never tell us what truth is. With all their boasted illumination in the ground and laws of nature, they never tell us what natural religion is, nor how the God of nature is to be worshiped (197). Tremendous!

213- .The Yankee Spy …, 1794. By Jack Nips. Answers questions about civil govt. including pre-flood, post flood (Nimrod, Gentile nations, the nation of Israel. Sample question with part answer: “Q. Has the ecclesiastical part of the Mosaic constitution ever been abused as well as the political part? A. Yes, and that to a degree. The church of Israel took in the whole nation, and none of that nation: Whereas, Christi’s church takes no whole nation, but those who fear God and work righteousness in every nation….” Circumcision and baptism 217-18. About English govt. 218-19. About the U.S. Const. 219-20. Const. of Mass. 220. A Bill of Rights with that of Mass. examined 22029. “If a  man worships one God, three Gods, twenty Gods, or not God—if he pays adoration one day in a week seven days, or no day—wherein does he injure the life, liberty or property of another? Let any or all these actions be supposed to be religious evils of an enormous size, yet they are not crimes to be punished by the laws of state, which extend no further, in justice, that to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. (221).”

233-55. A Blow at the Root: Being a Fashionable Fast-Day Sermon Delivered 0409 1801. On liberty of conscience 239-. On persecution and murder of heretics by Papists, by Protestants, in Eng., in Mass. (Roger Williams banned, persecution, art. 3 of Mass. Const.), the  reasons given for establishment (to prevent error, to effect and preserve uniformity of sentiment, to support the gospel) examined.

273-81. The Government of Christ a Christocracy, 1804. [On Mass. 279-81].
283-300.An Elective Judiciary, with other things recommended in a speech…, 1805. Addresses the two arguments against electing judges: (1) the people have not wisdom and sedateness enough to select from among themselves , those who are best qualified to be judges and (2) if judges hold their office by t tenure of periodical elections, they will have such strong temptations to please  the strongest party, in order to secure their next election, that they will not judge uprightly.
301-314. Ordination Sermon. Isaiah/s seraphims, Ezekiel’s cherubims, John’s four beasts are the same. What do they represent?
322-29. Various poems.
330-. Essays, 1810. [Why Christ was God 331-2].

[353-358. SPEECH: DELIVERED I THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS, ON THE SUBJECT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, 1811. “Let Christianity stand upon its on basis, it is the greatest blessing that ever was among men; but incorporate it into the civil code and it becomes the mother of cruelties” 356.

356. “If, to escape this-dilemma, we adopt Papal maxim, that government is founded in grace, and, therefore, none but gracious men have a right to rule; and that these gracious rulers have both right and knowledge to legislate about religion, we shall find, what other nations have found, that these divine rulers, will be the most cruel tyrants: under this notion, Mr. Chairman, the crusades were formed in the eleventh century, which lasted about two hundred years, and destroyed nearly two millions of lives. In view of all this, and ten thousand times as much, is it to be wondered at, that the present petitioners, should be fearful of attaching corporate power to religious societies…. The interference of legislatures and magistrates, in the faith, worship, or support of religious worship, is the first step in the case, which leads in regular progression to inquisition; the principle I the same, the only difference is  in the degree of usurpation…” 357.the Gospel, was now the point at issue. On which I reasoned thus: the New Testament I in existence: it as written either by bad men or by good men: to believe that bad men wrote it, requires a a faith more marvelous that it does to believe the truth of any article contained in it. Or bad men to form a book that condemns every species of sin—that lays the honors, pleasures, and wealth of the world in t dust—that enjoins patience under injury, and goof for evil—in short, to sacrifice everything that is pleasing to bad men: who can believe it? … The belief of the gospel never makes good men worse, but often makes bad men better…. 363. Proof of the resurrection 366. What the Bible teaches about disembodied spirits 369-70.

373-5: ADDRESS TO THE ASSOCIATIO OF THE SONS OF LIBERTY, CHESHIRE, MARCH 4, 1813.
381-405. THE JARRING INTERESTS OF HEAVEN RECONCILED BY THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS, 1814. [396-405. The works which were necessary for Christ to accomplish.]
406-39. MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS, IN PROSE AND VERSE. [419-20. Age and Egotism. “We come into the world ignorant. To aa child, every thing is new and impressive, and more so to a young man, that one of a greater age. The young man of genius, is charmed with the logic of his author, and feels impressed with his own arguments. He lays down his thesis, supports it with metaphysical [metaphysics means “a study of what is outside objective experience”] arguments, forms his syllogism, and draws his conclusion, with little or no doubt of the reality of the whole….” If I use this, continue with the rest on p420.][423 “So it is with metaphysical reasoning: the smallest error, in the outset, though undiscovered by the writer or reader, if pursued, under the pretext of consistency, will lead to an amazing distance from the truth.”][426-28: !!!!!!!! NIMROD, MOSES, CHRIST, AND THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][440-46. ON SABBATICAL LAWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][450-53: CATECHISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][496-7. EXTRACT OF AA LETTER FROM J. L. TO HIS INQUISITIVE FRIEND][497-9. SHORT REFLECTIONS.][499-500. THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN][501-7. ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE REQUEST OF THE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE OF ARRANGEMENTS, AT PITTSSFIELD, ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICAN  INDEPENDENCE, JULY 4, 1824][508-16.FORM OF A CHARGE TO A CNADIDATE AT HIS ORDINATION]

 [572-82. SHORT SAYINGS ON TIMES, MEN, MEASURES AND RELIGION, EXHIBITED IN AN ADDRESS, DELIVERED AT CHESHIRE, JULY 5, 1830. On the national debt, the population, the office of Pope created in 606, (religious freedom, marriage of church and state 579-80), ][583-96. THE RESULT OF OBSERVATION, 1830. “In some governments, universal toleration is granted to all kinds of religious opinions. This sounds humane and benevolent, but has a deadly root. If government has power to grant it as a favor, it has equal power to withhold it. In such cases, the citizens enjoy their liberty by a tenure no better than the good will of those in power. But the freedom of religious opinions, not only with societies, but with individuals, is a right inalienable, that cannot be surrendered. Of course, no government can tolerate or prohibit it but by tyrannical usurpation. If men commit overt acts under a pretence of religious impression, let the magistrate punish them for the overt acts, and pity them for their delusion” 594. On the kingdom and also on Daniel Marshall 594.]

[597-9. OATHS, 1830.]

Etc.

Endnote

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from amazon.com at the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

FREE THOUGHTS ON WAR

An essay on pages 457-68 of The Writings of John Leland
Edited by L.F. Greene, ARNO PRESS & THE NEW YOUR TIMES, New  York, 1969,
Reprinted 2010 by Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com

If Christianity forbids national war—if the precepts of Christ, “I say unto you that ye resist not evil,” etc., were intended for the nations of the earth, and are binding on them, as political bodies, it follows, of course, that all the wars that have been since the introduction of Christianity, have been in direct rebellion against God.

Taking this to be the case, what ought to be done to remedy evil, and make an atonement for the long perpetuated crime? Those nations of savages, who have never heard the precepts of Christ, are excepted from present animadversion, but those nations that have been favored with the gospel, and now call themselves Christian nations, are particularly addressed.

A reformation, acceptable to God, consists in a disavowal of crimes—turning to the way of future righteousness—and restoring to the injured that which was wrongfully taken away. In this view of the subject, it becomes the kings and rulers, kingdoms and states, of this world, to confess the sin of war—turn to a course of perpetual peace—and restore all the dominion and territory, that has been taken by war, to those from whom they wrested them. Anything short of this would be hypocritical reformation. It is true, that this procedure, in a retrospective chain, would carry most of the nations and territories back to Rome, with Tiberius Cæsar at their head; in which condition the world was when Christianity was introduced.

This would be utterly impracticable. But the now existing kings and rulers, kingdoms and states, have it in their power to make restoration of the dominion and territory, which they now possess, that were taken from others by the horrid crime of war. And for such rulers and states to plead for peace without a restoration, is like the felon who wishes all others to be  at peace, that he may quietly possess his stolen goods.

When two men are in single combat, and one casts the other, and holds him, he cries, “Will you be peaceable?” But if the master was in the place of the underling, he would think more of extricating himself than he would of peace.

It is now rumored that the great powers of Europe, particularly Russia and Great Britain, are for giving peace to the world. Russia is the strongest power, by land, in Europe, and likely in the world. Great Britain commands the sea, with her navy, which is far superior to that of any other nation, if not to all other nations. Should these nations, therefore, unite to extirpate war from the earth, and establish universal peace, the poor and needy would resound their praise—the widows and fatherless would bless them. But while they proclaim peace, is it their intention to keep their navies, armies and garrisons in such repairs, that other nations cannot effectually resist them? If so, it is but the boast of complete despotism. The plain language of it is this: “We are masters, and intend to be so; we command you all to be peaceable one with another, and with us in particular; if not, see the rod in our hands, by  which we will scourge you until you are peaceable, for we are determined that all others shall be in peace, on the conditions that we prescribe.” Did Napoleon ever wish for more? Can a tyrant ask for more? If this state of the world is desirable, why did not Russia, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and other powers adopt it seventeen years past? What scenes of horror, and seas of blood it would have prevented.

If the now triumphant kingdoms are convinced of the moral evils of war, and wish to make an atonement for the treasure which they have consumed, the powers which they have overturned, and the lives which they have destroyed, let them now confess, reform, and restore all that they can; but, if they justify their past wars, under the pretense that they were necessary, in order to free the world from the tyranny of Napoleon, and bring it  into the happy state which it is now in, other nations may justify future wars, to deliver the world from its  present masters, and bring it into a happier state than it is in at present. But if the conviction of the now triumphant kingdoms is genuine, and their desire is to free the world from the cause of war, without seeking their own supremacy, then let them disband all their troops, and dismiss their military officers—demolish all their garrisons—destroy every ship of war—and convert every implement of war into instruments of mechanism and husbandry. Let them, moreover, restore the provinces and territories, with their respective jurisdictions, which they have taken from others, and make declaration that every section of the world shall attach itself to what government they choose, establish that form of government which is most congenial to their wishes, and have those to administer it whom they prefer, and that every man shall be free in his religion, to worship whom, when, and as he pleases, without any interruption. Let this proclamation be made, and put into effect by the great powers, and followed by all the smaller dominions, and all but tyrants, pensioners, and covetous priests, who make merchandise of what they preach, and the souls of men would hail the halcyon day. For princes to talk about peace, without coming to this standard, is but mocking the people—seeking to be emblazoned for noble generosity after they have killed and taken possession, without restoring to nations their liberties, and guaranteeing to individuals their inalienable rights.

As the project has never assumed the character of system, and been put in operation, it is unknown whether the members that are to compose this congress are to be chosen by the people, or appointed by the sovereigns—whether they are to hold their offices for life, during good behavior, or for limited terms—whether each kingdom and state shall have an equal number of members, or whether kingdoms and states shall be represented according to their numbers—whether, in all cases, a majority shall rule, or in some cases more than a majority should be necessary to carry a point—whether the non-submission of a single power, or several of them in concert, shall be suppressed by force  of arms, or by non-intercourse only.

Should all these questions, and all others that might arise, be cordially adjusted, and a congress assemble in style, it would remind one of what a barbarian said to the senate of Rome: “My own countrymen are hydras, but the senate is an assembly of the gods.”

In a congress thus formed, it is presumed that every member would have the views and wishes of their respective governments at heart. So long as unity continued among them, so long harmony would remain among the confederate nations but in case of disagreement, the same evils that now infest the world would arise in all their baleful aspects. From a knowledge of the physical strength of the greater powers, the smaller ones would feel afraid, as they now do; but supposing the decrees of congress should be contrary to the will of Russia or Great Britain, or against both these powers in connection, would those great powers succumb to the little states for the sake of peace, or would they not more naturally resist? If war is declared to subject the powers that will not acquiesce, the design of the congress, which is to prevent war, will be defeated. If an embargo is appealed to, that none of the confederate nations shall buy or sell any article to the obstinate states, could they enforce it? Would not the avarice and enterprise of the merchant defeat all the laws of congress? It is hard to conceive of any advantage that would arise from a congress thus formed, that does not now exist by friendly embassy, but it is easy to foresee what pomp and expense would attend it.

To prepare a way for a congress to be appointed, to prevent the horrors of war, peace societies are forming to facilitate the grand event. If these societies lay the foundation of their appeal upon this condition: “That on the           day of                              in the year                         all nations, by their agents, shall meet at
for the purpose fo affixing the day, when all armies shall be disbanded—all ships of war be sunk in the sea—alll forts and garrisons be destroyed—all instruments of war broken to pieces—all territory and dominion, taken by force of arms, restored to their best claimants_-all legal establishments of religion repealed, with a pledge that war never shall be appealed to for any purpose, and that no law shall ever be made to regulate religion, all good men, who understand the genius of Christianity, will give them their support. But if their exertions tend only to prevent the military exertions of one nation of the world, while other nations are waxing stronger and stronger, they must not judge that all those who withhold their support are enemies to human happiness.

The remarks already made originated from the supposition that the precept of Christianity, “resist not evil,” was a prohibition of national war; but the precept, connected as it is, looks as much like a prohibition of legal resistance, as it does of military force. If you are compelled, stripped of your coat, persecuted or smitten, never make use of the law to resist the evil, or get redress. Rather than go to law, why do ye not take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? … That the precepts of Christianity, which enjoin non-resistence on the disciples, were not intended as maxims of state policy or civil law, appears pretty evident, from the consideration, that Christ never assumed the character of a worldly king, or civil judge. He said his kingdom was not of this world, and he refused to act as judge, in dividing the inheritance of two brethren, and in pronouncing the penalty of the law against the adulterous woman. The direct tendency of Christ’s kingdom was the eternal salvation of souls; the systems of civil law and national war, have nothing to do with souls and eternity. In the case of the dying thief, both governments show their nature and distinctness. The government of men condemned him to death, which he himself said was just, and the government of Christ pardoned his sin. Christ did not deliver him from the penalty of the law, and the decision of the law did not interfere with the government of Christ, which was wonderously displayed in saying, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The civil judge is not to question whether the criminal is saint or sinner, or how it will fare with him in the world to come; but these characteristics are all important in the kingdom of Christ.

In war, also, which is the same among nations that courts of trial are among individuals, the moral state, and worth of the soul is out of the question, and national justice is all that is (or ought to be) in view. Nothing can be more preposterous and presumptuous than to declaim, or conceive that all who fall in battle, will undoubtedly go to heaven. The agriculturist, the mechanic, the merchant, the sailor, the scholar and the soldier, in this respect, stand on even ground. The truth is, those who fear God and work righteousness, will be accepted of their Maker, and all others will not. The soldier, therefore, who is a devout saint, if he falls in battle, will go from the field of battle to the regions of glory; but he who is a hardened sinner, falling in battle, will sink where he will lift up his eyes in torment.

Christianity was not designed by its author, to be characteristic of the nations of the earth, in their political state; nor was the name given in the days of its purity, to any but the meek disciples of Christ. The name however, has been filched by the enemies of Christ, and Christianity has been prostituted to the vilest purposes. Since Christianity became national, Christian nations have been equally cruel and bloodthirsty, and more unjust and perfidious than Turks or heathens. Nevertheless, Christ has a people among these nations, whom he redeemed and washed with his blood—a peculiar people, zealous of good works; they are not of this world, and the world knows them not. These are his disciples indeed. And to these disciples, there are so many commands of non-resistence, patience, forgiveness of offenses, praying for enemies, rendering good for evil, and blessing for cursing, that if these disciples are not to be considered in a two-fold capacity, it is notoriously wicked for them to bear arms and go to war, prosecute any one for smiting or robbing them, suing any man for debt, or applying to any legal office to secure the titles on their lands.

By their two-fold capacity, is intended, first, their being members of Christ’s body, which is the church; and secondly, their being subjects of the government where they reside.

As members of Christ’s body, or kingdom, their weapons are all spiritual. Force and recrimination are forbidden them. Their law is love. Their armor is the word of God for a sword—faith for a shield, and hope for a helmet. Where legal force, and carnal weapons are used among nominal Christians, to convert heathen, punish heretics, establish creeds of faith and forms of worship, collect money, compel attendance on worship, etc. under a religious covert, the commands of Christ to his disciples are broken. If they think they are serving God in it, they know not what manner of spirit they are of.

In the government of Christ among his members, commonly called church discipline, no force or resisting of evil is to be used. The church is to restore such as are overtaken with faults, in the spirit of meekness, warn the unruly, with all the gentleness of Christ—admonish and reject heretics, and cast from among them wicked persons; but church censure extends no farther than non-fellowship. Fines, imprisonments, punishments and civil incapacities, are not imposed by church censure. A declaration of who and what is fellowshipped, and who and what is not fellowshipped, is all that the church is to do.

But, if the desciples of Christ are considered in the second capacity that has been suggested, members of civil society, other things may be said. Civil society ….

That war, famine, and pestilence, have continued their ravages among men, since the introduction of Christianity, as much as they did before, will be generally granted, it is presumed; and the same is true of earthquakes, eruptions, etc. But for Christ, in his dediatorial character, to direct national war, would be meddling with the government of this world, which does not appear to be included in his mission. He did not come into the world to teach men the arts of husbandry, mechanism or science. He gave no code of laws for the government of nations, nor pointed out the best mode of administration. He left no orders, whether all nations should adopt the ancient Theocracy of the Israelites, or whether they should govern themselves as reason and justice dictate. He came into the world with the avowed purpose, “To glorify God on earth—to seek and save that which was lost—to lay down his life for his sheep—to wash sinners from their sins in his own blood—to magnify the law, make an atonement for sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness—to abolish death, and open a new and living way into the kingdom of glory—to save men ay the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” etc. Having these great works to finish, (all of which tended to the eternal salvation of the souls of men,) he did not intermeddle with the affairs of this world, but left the wheels of commerce and government to roll on as Providence led the way.

The great silence, however, in the New Testament, about war, has more sifnification than words could have. Had Christ given a precept that, in certain cases, it was the duty of kingdoms and states to wage war, every nation would make such cases their own, though the war which they waged was ever so unjust. Had he, on the other hand, given a precept that every species of war was criminal, the whole would have been exposed by robbery and death, by the cruelty of an individual, or a few, at most. But, although there is no direct precept in the New Testament, for or against national war, yet there are some useful hints given to direct our minds in research.

John was the forerunner of Christ, and his ministry is called “the beginning of the gospel of Christ.” He admitted those to his baptism, who repented of their sins, and gave evidence of their repentance, by bringing forth its fruits. Some of these were soldiers, who asked the divine teacher “what they should do?”  John never suggested to them that a military life was incompatible with the gospel, and that they must quit the sword, if they would follow the Lamb of God who stood among them; but prudently answered them,  “Do violence  to no man, (who is a private citizen,) neither accuse any falsely, (for a pretence to kill him,) and be content with your wages.” If your work was unjust, your wages would be unrighteous; but, while you do your duty, be content with your pay, and not covet more.

A centurion (captain of an hundred men) sent to Christ, requesting him to speak a healing word, that his favorite sick servant might live. The condescending Saviour answered his request—healed his servant—gave him no reproof for bearing the sword—no orders to relinquish the army; but said of him, “ I have not found so great faith in Israel.”

Another centurion we read of, who was a devout man, that feared God with all his house, wh gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. The character given him is excellent; but he had not, as yet heard of the gospel way of salvation. As he was at prayer, he was warned opf God, bu a holy angel, to send for a New Testament preacher; and the preacher was also warned by a vision to go to the centurion, and tell him the way of salvation, and what he ought to do. Peter came, accordingly, and preached to him the forgiveness of sins, in the name of Jesus; and, when the Holy ghost fell on him, and those that were assembled with him, Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord; but gave him no reproof for bearing a military commission—no orders to resign  his command of the Italian band.

The parable of the marriage made for the king’s son, and the dinner made ready, is so self-evident in its meaning, that all interpreters are agreed about it. The king’s son, is Christ. The sumptuous dinner, intends the blessings of grace in the gospel, including forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The first bidden guests were the Jews, who made light of it, and murdered the servants of the king: they both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets—persecuted the apostles—pleased not God, and were contrary unto all men. For their opposition to the truth, and malice prepense against the messengers of it, He (the king) sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. That these armies intend the Roman legions, the murderers, the Jews, and the city, Jerusalem, there seems to be no real doubt. This event took place more than three score years after the beginning of the Christian era. Here, then is one instance in which the Almighty made use of war, after the gospel dispensation took place; and wars and rumors of wars have been in the world ever since. Many of the sore calamities, which God inflicts on wicked nations, (spoken of in the book of Revelations,) are evidently effected by the scourge of war.

But one thing should be particularly noticed, viz., that war was never appointed by God, by an original statute. Laws of civil government—putting away wives—war and such like precepts, were not from the beginning. As they all presuppose SIN in creatures, they could not have been appointed until sin had taken place. But after rebellious creatures had kindled the fire of hatred and war, the Almighty varied his precepts to meet their condition, and of course appointed war, which rebellious creatures had made, to punish them for their rebellion. This was the case in Old Testament times, and is as true in these days.

The Old Testament seems to be a kind of accommodation of God to fallen barbarous men, containing the best rules that the condition and general good of the world would admit of, having its special bearings towards the Jews.

The New Testament is not fraught with a code of civil laws, or national maxims, but has the salvation of souls as its object.

It appears, therefore, proper to examine the rise and rage of war among men, and whether any or all wars can be justified, on the principle of eternal right and wrong. Acknowledging this, however, in our examination, that the principle of eternal right and wrong, like a golden cord, runs through the Old and New Testaments, and shines with a thousand times more effulgence, than human reason can paint it with.

It is reasonable to conclude that the parent of all rational beings allots to each of them a certain degree of national right and independence, which no other individual, nor many individuals, in concert, ought to deprive him of. If this was not the case, individuals would never feel guilt for what they do, nor be accountable to their Maker for their deeds; but society must bear the whole. But as guilt preys upon individuals, for overt acts, and as every one must give an account of himself to his Maker, the argument is conclusive that each has a measure of original right, of whie he cannot justly be deprived. In this measure of natural right, exists life, liberty and property. Should one individual, therefore, be attacked by another individual, or a number of them in connection, in quest of life, liberty or property, the injured individual has a just right to use his weapon to defend himself, and if blood and life are lost in the contest, the guilt falls upon the assailants.

If no resistence can be justly offered to repel violence, it would follow of course, that one or two individuals might arm themselves, and destroy whole nations.

This kind of assault began with the first men that ever was born of a woman. His works were evil, and he slew his brother, and has ever since been called a murderer.

In process of time, individuals found it necessary to form into collective bodies, to withstand the aggressions of daring individuals and banditti. And what was unjust or expedient among individuals at first, became unjust or expedient among these collective bodies, now called governments and nations of earth.

As an individual who assaults and kills another, is a guilty murderer, s the nation that wages war, out of vain glory, from enmity, through covetousness, or from any other motive than self-defence, is guilty of murder, and will be treated by the King of kings as such. For notwithstanding any use that the Almighty may make of war, as a scourge to wicked nations, yet the nation that plunges voluntarily into it, is always criminal. Let all unrighteous, offensive wars cease, and there cannot be any righteous defensive wars on earth: for, if there is no assailant, there can be no defendant.

When one nation or government encroaches upon the territory or property of another government, dictates the other about her laws or rulers, or sheds the blood and enslaves the persons of her citizens, whether it is done under a proclamation of war or not, it is offensive war. And after the injured government has remonstrated the exercised all becoming patience, if a cessation and restitution do not follow, a defensive war seems not only justifiable but imperious; for the nation that does not contend for its own right, contends for the wrong of the encroaching nation.

Although Christianity, in its purest state, was not national, but personal and ecclesiastic, yet it is now become a national characteristic, to distinguish those nations where Christianity is professed, from Pagans, Turks and Jews.

Granting the propriety of the title, (which in fact is very disputable,) these nations, as bodies politic, may wage war upon the same footing as other nations, and on no other, viz., to defend their lives, liberty and property from the hands of those who assault them without cause. Nothing can be more horrid and wicked, than for these Christian nations to form their crusades and holy wars to convert the heathen, violently take away the land of the savages and make slaves of the prisoners.

But supposing there was a kingdom or commonwealth, of not only nominal Christians, but of real disciples of Jesus, whose hearts and practices were as perfect as this state of the world admits of, would it be lawful and duty for them to proclaim war, on any account?

This question is predicated upon a supposition which has never existed, it is presumed, since Christianity was introduced among men. The tares and the wheat have grown together, and will continue to do so until the harvest. Some colonies, however, have been settled by companies that made some advances towards it; but Roger Williams, Mr. Davenport and William Penn, with their respective associates, in Rhode Island, New Haven and Pennsylvania found so many tares among themselves, that they were obliged to have civil law (which is always sanctioned by the sword) to govern by. And notwithstanding Williams and Penn were great favorites of the savages, yet those colonies were involved in war.”

There is no doubt but many of those good people, who condemn national war of every description, are sincere in their profession; but should there be a commonwealth, in which all the leading characters, who control the destinies of bodies politic, were real saints, and conscience  bound against all war, should that commonwealth be invaded by a hostile army, of less physical strength than the commonwealth possessed, is there any doubt but what the citizens of said commonwealth would sincerely change their opinion? Would they not be guilty of neglecting the means which were in their hands, to defend themselves from the wrong of others, if they did not? Could not the most pious saint meet the hostile foe, in such a case, with the high praises of God in his mouth, and a two edged sword in his hand? Could he not do as a venerable old man did at Deerfield, in an Indian war? Said he, “I met an Indian, and I loved him; but to defend my right from his wrong, after praying the Lord to have mercy on his soul, I shot a bullet through his heart.”

We may reason from a unit to a universe: that which is right or wrong in an individual, would be the same in a government. Such kind of defensive war, is the only war that can be justified upon the principle of eternal right; all other wars are robbery, piracy and murder. And yet, the misanthropy and barbarity of fallen men are so great, that wars waged in avarice, on purpose to plunder—in ambition to rise high in esteem—or through hatred to a rival, are called honorable wars; and the more they can slaughter, the more splendid is the battle; while those who fall of their own, are said to be covered with glory; and, if they succeed to deprive the nation with whom they are at war, of all its sovereignty and rights, Te Deum is chanted, and the leaders of the war are led in triumph.

Military force, whether armed with staves, stones, battle-axes, swords or fire-arms, should never be called forth, but to repel invasions, suppress insurrections, and enforce the laws. The words of Washington, in his last will and testament, breathe forth the spirit of a good citizen. In bequeathing his sword to his kinsman, he adds, “Never draw it but in defence of your contryu’s rights; and, when drawn, never sheath it until the object is attained.”

It is a melancholy thought, that, in all ages, men, as individuals and as nations, have been so ungrateful, covetous, and full of misanthropy, that justice and goodness could not restrain them without the scourge of severity; but, when the King of kings gives orders to “loose the four angels, which are prepared to kill the third part of men,” it is “in righteousness—HE doth judge and make war.” So individuals, in prosecuting other individuals, and nations, in warring with other nations, should do it out of love to right, and not from a spirit of hatred.

The man who prosecutes his neighbor before a legal bar, does, in fact, declare war with him, as much as one nation does with another when it commences military hostilities. How happy it would be for the world, if there was so much virtue in it, that no kind of war would be necessary! If every man and every nation would do right to their neighbors, there would not and could not be any war on earth. But the reasoning is irrefutable, that those individuals who conduct in a manner that justifies a legal prosecution against them, when collected together in a political body, would conduct so as to justify a war of hostilities against them.

The path is plain before us: let no individual work ill to his neighbor, and let no nation be unjust to another, and war will cease forever.

As things are managed at present, if not in individual, yet a frw control the destinies of each nation. The mass of the people are so ignorant that they know not why war is proclaimed, or so circumstanced that they cannot help it. In such cases, some fight for a living, and others because they are forced to. To conquer or to be conquered leaves them in the same predicament. This is a sore evil under the sun, but it is common among men.

The religion of Jesus, in its genuine course, fills men with such meekness and philanthropy, that, if it was universally possessed, there would be no prosecution at law, nor any wars among men. But, when Christianity is prostituted, to be the characteristic of an unhallowed nation—a principle of state policy—a test to office—a footstool to promotion—a sinecure to religious orders, and a piece of merchandise, it ever will be, as it ever has been, followed by war and slaughter.

Among nations, as among individuals, it frequently happens that each party has injured the other; and, if they plunge into war in that predicament, it is like the potsherds of the earth striving with the potsherds of the earth. Innocency has nothing to plead; justice has nothing to hope. If they mutually make confession and restoration, war will be prevented. If one party only makes all reasonable concessions, and the other party makes none, but rushes into war, the offence lies on the side of the last party, and the first is the defendant.

In this wrong world, right does not always take place. “Truth faileth in the streets, and equity cannot enter;” hence, victory and triumph often attend the basest tyrant, while the unoffending are trodden down like the mire of the street. The king of Babylon conquered and subjugated more than twenty-five kingdoms (see Jeremiah XXV.) and made them drink the bitter cup. The Lord used him as a scourge to those wicked nations; but, as they had done the king of Babylon no harm, he was wicked in his offensive wars upon them; and, therefore, in his turn, the king of Sheshach (Babylon) was made to drink after the.

RIGHT will finally take place. Though the contest between truth and error, right and wrong, is long, and, to appearance, very doubtful in its issue, yet truth and right must triumph at last.

END

THE PARCHMENT. AN ALLEGORY

An essay on pages 435-36 of The Writings of John Leland
Edited by L.F. Greene, ARNO PRESS & THE NEW YOUR TIMES, New  York, 1969,
Reprinted 2010 by Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com

As Meslucius was digging in the earth after golden ore, he found an iron chest, which, to all appearance, had lain there a number of centuries. Opening the chest, he found therein a parchment, preserved entire from the waste of ages, and every line thereon written legibly plain. In composition, it exceeded everything he had ever seen. The boldness o the figures—the pomp and sublimity of the style, surpassed all the writings of the oriental regions; but in detailing facts, and describing moral precepts, such artless simplicity appeared, that a child would unavoidably feel the force of the narratives and injunctions. By the face of the parchment, it appeared that it was written by a number of hands, impelled by one and the same spirit. It detailed events which had taken place before the writers lived, in part; and gave an account of the condition of the world, in the days when they lived and wrote; and, likewise, foretold what future events would take place. But, what was most surprising, it gave an account of a certain disease which had raged among men, and how they found a cure. It particularly pointed out a plague that would prevail at the time when Meslucius found the chest, an prescribed a certain, and the only balsam which would restore to health. On the whole, Meslucius reasoned as follows: “At what time, or by whom , this parchment was written, I cannot ascertain. Whether the great events therein related, took place or not, is uncertain. And whether those future events will ever emerge, I know not. But one thing I know, it gives a true account of the condition which the world is now in; with a number of peculiar circumstances, which puzzle me to ascribe to any calculation, short of the foreknowledge of God.

“The plague foretold in the parchment, I not only see raging with all its horrors among all my acquaintance, but feel its ravages in myself. All medicines have proved unavailing, and I will try the prescription of the parchment.”

Meslucius made application of the balsam, and received immediate cure. He then recommended it to others, and all who touched I were made perfectly whole. After this, neither Meslucius, nor any who were healed, entertained ay unconquerable scruple of the truth of all the facts related in the parchment. The intention of this allegory is easy to conceive of.

The present inhabitants of the earth, came into the world seventeen hundred years since the last part of the sacred Parchment (the Bible) was written; at any rate, all of us found it in existence, at the time when we were first capable of knowing. Let it have been written by whom, and at what dates soever—or let it have been preserved by whom, and by what means, we neither know nor imagine; still, one thing we know, the Bible does exist. And is there any reason in man, or any book written by man, that reveals precepts equal to those in the Bible—that describes a mode of life as harmless and useful as the sacred Parchment? The plague of moral evil, in all its stages and windings, is drawn with more than human pencil. Both flattery and effrontery are avoided, and naked truth shines in all her virgin beauty.

After all the reasonings of men, guilt, with her iron talons, seizes their consciences; nor can they evade the assault with all their vain surmises. Where then shall a guilty sinner find relief? The light of nature, philosophy, and state policy are all silent: neither of them can five a gleam of hope beyond the grave, nor show on forgiven. But the gospel of Jesus, is loaded with such blessings as guilty sinners need. Yes, through the blood of the cross, and the resurrection of Christ, pardon of sin is administered and eternal life made known. When sinners are made sensible of their pollution, and feel the plague of sin, on applying to the Saviour, and receiving the balsam of his grace, they obtain a perfect cure. All whoever apply, are received; all who look do live; all who touch, are made whole. Though Christ crucified, is to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks foolishness, to the men of worldly wisdom scorn; yet to tem who believe, he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. O! that all my dear countrymen might apply to this balm; then would they joyfully believe in the truth of the scriptures.

ON SABBATICAL LAWS

An essay on pages 440-446 of The Writings of John Leland
Edited by L.F. Greene, ARNO PRESS & THE NEW YOUR TIMES, New  York, 1969,
Reprinted 2010 by Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com

The Mosaic institution, which formed the tribes into a theocracy, was very different from the government of any other nation, and from the government of Gospel churches.

The Israelites had no legislature, but received their laws from Jehovah; they had no executive, God was their king. Judges they had, but no salaries provided for them; of course their civil list did not cost them a cent per annum.

Exclusive of their “divers washings and carnal ordinances,” which were typical of good things, they had many laws to regulate   them as a body politic, peculiarly adapted to their circumstances, and binding on no other nation. Their laws for trying jealousy by bitter water; for deciding the cause between the man-slayer and avenger of blood, at the gates of the cities of refuge; against taking usury; to oblige a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother; to release the lands at the jubilee, etc., no other nation has seen cause to adopt, nor felt themselves bound to obey. The incompleteness of the political part of the Mosaic code to govern other nations by, requires no other proof, but just to observe, that the people were forbidden to have commerce with other nations, of course had no commercial laws. Any laws, therefore, which the Jews had to enforce the observance of the Sabbath, or punish the Sabbath-breaker, give no grounds to Christians to exercise like force. The king of Israel gave that people their laws and orders, but Christ has given laws for the regulation of Christianity. Now, if there be any account in the New Testament, that Jesus called upon the rulers of state, to   make and enforce laws, to oblige the people to keep the first day of the week holy, and fine or punish them if they did not; such an account would be direct in point, but such an account we have not.

It has been noticed, in a foregoing page, that the evidence was so clear, that the first Christians assembled in course on the first day of the week, that it hardly admitted of a doubt, and the evidence is about as clear, that it was done voluntarily, as a matter of prudence, without any divine command; hence a disregard of the day was not esteemed a matter of offense. In Galatians, iv., 10, 11, Paul reproves the Galatians for observing days, months, times and years, as the Jews did; for Jewish times, no doubt, are intended. But in Romans, xiv., 5, a day is spoken of, which some regarded, and some regarded not, but none of them were reproved by Paul. It is probable the day here spoken of was the Lord’s day, for if it had been a ceremonial day of the Jews, he would have reproved them for regarding it, as he did the Galatians; but, in the case before us, a regard, or disregard to the day, was not to be a cause of judging and setting at nought a brother, whom the Lord accepted. If, then, a disregard to the Lord’s day was not censurable by the church, can we possibly suppose that it ought to be punished by the state?

For the first eighteen centuries of time, there was no government among men but patriarchal, which took its rise in nature. Next, a more extensive government was formed, by mutual agreement, (Genesis xi., 3, 4,) but, by the address of an ambitious hunter, the government was soon turned into a kingdom. The government of the tribes of Israel was a theocracy (from Theos, God,) because they received all their laws from God. The government of the Christian church is from heaven, and not from men.

Among the nations of the world in general, that government which does not rise in compact, is usurpation and tyranny. When men associate, it is for specific purposes, viz., to protect life, liberty and property, and not to prepare them for heaven. Souls and conscience are inalienable. The gracious an ungracious, all belong to the body politic, and are equally eligible to posts of authority. The work of the legislature is to make laws for the security of life, liberty and property, and leave religion to the consciences of individuals. If the sacred code, in the New Testament, is not sufficient to govern Christians in all their religious affairs, either the wisdom of goodness of Christ is deficient.

Much confusion arises in government, when sins and crimes are blended together. Every state crime is a moral evil or sin, (provided the laws of state are legitimate,) but every sin is not a crime to be punished by law. Malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, pride, impenitence, unbelief, etc., are sins, but not crimes. Suppose, then, that a disregard of the first day of the week is a sin as flagrant as enmity, bigotry or ill-will, yet it is not a crime to be punished by law; for I would here request an instance where Jesus, or the inspired apostles, ever called on the civil rulers to punish Sabbath breakers, or those who disregarded the first day of the week. If there is such an instance, let it be pointed to; but, if not, let clamor cease. When God, by Moses, gave law to the tribes, they had no king, nor any thing that looked like one, but the Almighty, knowing what would take place about four hundred and fifty years afterwards, gave them the character and administration of a king: (Deuteronomy xvii., 14, 20).

When Christianity was first set up in the world, it was small. The power of making laws was in the hands of the enemies of Christianity. Laws to guard the Christian religion could not have been expected, but Christ knew what would come. He knew that about three hundred years thereafter Christianity would rise triumph and; why did he not then give some precept, at least some small thing, that when Christianity should become so general, that then the rulers of state should make laws to establish Christianity, and force the observance of the first day of the week? We look in vain to find any thing like it in the New Testament, and it is generally confessed, that when the event did take place—when Constantine the Great established Christianity in the empire, and forced an observance of the first day of the week, Christianity was disrobed of her virgin beauty, and prostituted to the unhallowed principle of state policy, where it has remained in a criminal commerce until the present moment.

Men of little reading, and less thought, conclude, that if there is no law of state to force the observance of the Sabbath, (for so they name the first day of the week,) it would entirely run out, and not be regarded at all. Why did it not then run out in the three first centuries? How came it to be regarded all that time as purely as it has ever been since? There were no sabbatical laws during that period. Why has it not run out in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York? They have no holy laws in those states, and yet the Sabbath, so called, is not run out, but meeting-houses and public worship in those states are not inferior to those of New England. Those states abound with Quakers, who never thank a legislature for making religious laws, and yet they keep the first day of the week as regularly as the Presbyterians, and the fifth day of the week beside.

The Jews, and some of the Christians, would keep the seventh day—most of the Christians would keep Sunday—the Turks would hallow Friday—infidels no day. Shall that sect, which is most numerous and ambitious, direct the scepter of government to interpose, and force all to submit to one standard, and fine, punish and burn non-conformists? Such has been the course of things, it must be confessed, but does not human nature shudder at the thought, and the spirit of Christianity flee from the sight! Let each sect enjoy their own rights and freedom, in respect of the God whom they wish to adore, the days on which they would pay that adoration, and the modes of performing it. If one sect has the liberty of worshipping whom, when and as they please, why should that sect wish to force other sects to worship whom, when and as they would not?

Legal force is not the armor with which the Captain of our salvation clothes the soldiers of the cross. An honest appeal to the reasons and judgments of men, is all the force that Christians should use to induce others to believe in and worship God as they themselves do. All the punishment that pious Christians inflict on the irreligious, is pity, forgiveness, and prayer, unless the irreligious man breaks out into overt acts, in which case he is to be punished according to his crime. If labor or amusements, on the first day of the week, may be considered as the foulest sins, yet they were no crimes to be punished by law, for the first three hundred years after Christi, nor are they, at this time, crimes in several of the states in our country, and, if laws were fixed as they should be, they would not be crimes any where. If those who keep the first day of the week, in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ, believe themselves to be right, (as they have cause to,*) let them “beseech others, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God, which is a reasonable service,” (Romans, xii, 1,) and not make use of legal force to do it, which will only prejudice others against the day and against themselves.

Where Jews (of which there are eight millions in existence) and seventhdayrian Christians reside, they must either sacrifice conscience, or lose a day in each week. The majority of Christians in our country keep the first day of the week; but if there was a majority who kept the seventh day, and should oblige all others to regard the day, would those who now make the law and plead for its utility, bear the privation of one-seventh part of their labor, or change their day? If they did the first, they would justly complain of partial oppression—if the last, discover the rottenness of their consciences.

It has been observed before, that government should guarantee the rights of conscience to all; consequently if an individual or an assembly should be interrupted by assault, on Sunday, Monday, or any other day or night, either at the meeting-house, a private house, market, field or grove, where he or they should be conscientiously paying devotion to God, the law ought to be open, as it is, to punish the assailants, as disturbers of the peace; for the design of the law is, to punish him who works ill to his neighbor. This law is sufficient for all, every day of the week. It is no assault upon one man’s right for another to refuse to unite with him in his devotion. Those who keep the first day of the week, will work in their fields and travel roads, where Jews assemble in their synagogues, and sevendayrians meet in their meeting-houses on Saturday, and never suspect that they are interrupting them in their worship; why, then, should it be looked upon an interruption for sevendayrians, or those who regard no day, to work in the field or drive their team in the road upon the first day? Yet, in many places, tything-men, or wardens, are chosen as legal officers to prevent labor and recreation on the first day of the week. When I see men turn their backs upon public worship, and pursue their labor or recreation in preference to the service of God, either on Sunday or on any other day, my heart beats in poetic strains,

                         “O might they at last, with sorrow return,
The pleasures to taste, for which they were born,
The Saviour receiving, the happiness prove
The joy of believing, the heaven of love.”

Or breaks out in the language of the Hebrew prophet, “Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” Or vents itself in the words of Paul, “I pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God.”

But when I see a man with the insignia of his office, arrest a fellow-man for non-attendance on worship, or labor or amusement on Sunday, it strains every fibre of my soul. Who that ever read the New Testament, which describes the meekness, patience, forbearance and sufferings of the first Christians, would ever have expected to see those who call themselves Christians, avail themselves of such weapons to suppress vice and support Christian morality? The spirit seems to be the same that influenced Peter to draw his sword and cut off the ear of one who did not reverence Christ; or, like that which stimulated James and John to command fire to come down from heaven and consume those who would not receive the blessed Saviour. The first was ordered to put up his sword; and the last were rebuked, with “ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” It reminds me on an instance which took place with one of Burgoyne’s men, who professed to be a zealous Christian. The man, hearing an American speak irreverently of religion, exclaimed, “How I hate him—I will kill him, because he does not love my blessed Jesus.” About two centuries past, the spirit of witchcraft and witchburning ran through a considerable part of the world, like a raging plague. The rulers used to reason thus: “God will burn wizards and witches in the next world, and we who are God’s representatives, must burn them in this world.” But is is though that the following reasoning would have been better: “God is merciful to the poor, deluded creatures, and lets them live, and we will imitate him.” So in regard to those improperly called Sabbath breakers. If they commit overt acts—if they assault the life, liberty or property of any man, let them be punished by law. But if their only error is not worshipping where, when, and as you do, your only weapon is fair reasoning with them. If God lets them live, though in disregard of Sunday solemnities, let not man kill them.

But how must a tything-man feel? The day he conceives to be holy: no civil or economical business must be done on the sacred day; devotion must employ his time and his thoughts; and yet his office is civil; he receives his authority from the acts of the legislature, and not from the acts of the apostles, and his oath obliges him to profane the day which he conceives to be holy, by performing civil actions, for he has no authority to officiate, except on the time which is holy. When he rises on Sunday morning, instead of having his mind disentangled from earthly things, he is watching the fields and the roads; when going to meeting, instead of watching to prepare his heart for the solemnities of the day, he is watching how others behave; when at meeting, his eyes and his ears, which should be open alone to God, and to his word, are constantly looking and harking to prevent the errors of others. And thus, by law, he is obliged to do evil that good may come. However others may seek to regulate religious societies by law and by force, to me a man cannot give greater evidence that he is ignorant of the precepts and destitute of the spirit of Christianity, than by calling the aid of the civil arm to legalize religious days and modes, and punish those who will not submit.

I shall close this part of the subject, with a few reflections on some late events. When the British, (who are called the bulwark of religion,) landed near Saybrook, it was Sunday. The good people of Connecticut would not assemble to drive them off, because it was holy time, until the enemy had burnt the shipping at Pettipague. The God whom they served did not protect them from the depredations of the old “Bulwark.” But on Lake Champlain, the “Bulwark” attacked McDonough on Sunday. McDonough solemnly prayed for success, and then fought with astonishing bravery. The signal victory which he obtained over the “Bulwark,” together with what was achieved by the land forces, under General Macomb, have met with the thanks and rewards of more states than one. I have not yet heard, however, whether the pious apathy of Connecticut, or the profane heroism of the northern fleet and army, meets with the most applause from those who conceive Sunday to be holy time. It is highly probable, however, that there were no tything-men aboard McDonough’s fleet.

The public assembling of Christians for religious worship, is certainly appointed in the New Testament by precept, and abundantly by example. And, as has been noticed, the evidence is nearly conclusive, that the first Christians generally assembled on the first day of the week, not with a view that it was of moral obligation—not in obedience to the fourth command of the Decalogue, which enjoined the observance and rest of the seventh day—nor in obedience to any command given them by Christ, but voluntarily, as a prudential thing, to perpetuate the event of Christ’s resurrection. Their public assembling, however, was not confined to the first day of the week, but daily, in the temple and other places, both day and night, as opportunity served, they assembled for Christian worship. There were some among them, who did not discover any advantages in their assembling on the first day more than on any other day, and, as the day was not divinely appointed, those who regarded it, did not judge and set at nought those who regarded it not, but left every man to be fully persuaded in his own mind.

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SUMMARY

1. God, for once, rested on the seventh day.

2. No proof that God commanded men to rest on the seventh day during the patriarchal age.

3. About two thousand four hundred years after creation, the holy Sabbath was enjoined on the tribes of Israel.

4. The fourth commandment was not moral, but absolute.

5 The Sabbath was not a day of public worship, but of rest.

6. After the return of the Jews from Babylon, of their own accord they built synagogues, and assembled in them every Sabbath, to read and hear the law of Moses and the prophets, for which they had no command, and received no reproof.

7. The Gentiles were never reproved for Sabbath-breaking.

8. The first day of the week was never appointed by Christ, to be kept different from other days.

9. Proof, nearly conclusive, that the first Christians paid particular attention to the first day of the week; those who did not regard the day, were not judged and set at nought by those who regarded it.

10. The observance of the first day of the week, perpetuates the resurrection of Christ.

11. The appointment of religious days, no article of legislation.

12. The observance of the first day of the week was never enforced by law until the reign of Constantine, in the beginning of the fourth century.

13. Tythin-men are obliged, by their oaths, to profane the time which they conceive to be holy.

14. The public assembling of Christians for religious worship, enjoined by New Testament precept, and abundant examples.

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teaching on “The History of the Religious Freedom in America”

One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

As this study progresses, the Christian who has listened closely to the previous broadcasts will begin to understand the importance of all the prior broadcasts to the issue of separation of church and state and the history of the First Amendment. The historical facts presented in this section should be taught in every American History class. Only when one knows history (plus biblical theology and law) can he understand where he came from, where he is, and where he is going. Only when one knows the facts presented in these studies and included in books by Jerald Finney in more detail, can he understand how we got our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This begins the study of the American application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Since the beginning of the church, Christians believed and practiced separation of church and state. They paid dearly for this practice. In the fourth century certain religious leaders were seduced by Constantine to join hands with the state. Over a thousand years of the worst persecutions imaginable followed as religion worked hand in hand with the state to enforce all ten of the commandments. Anyone who did not bow down to the theology of the state church was imprisoned, horriby tortured, burned alive, drowned, buried alive, beheaded, etc. as the state religion tried to stamp out all forms of what they called “heresy.” The Protestant churches followed the theology of their mother in this matter and continued the persecution. However, forces and circumstances were such in the American colonies that the final result was the first nation, the second civil government behind the colony of Rhode Island, to have religious liberty.

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment and The Light Begins to Shine (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The light begins to shine (August 30, 1009 and August 1, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (1) (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (2) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (3) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (4) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (5) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (1) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (2) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (3) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (4) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (5) , the Separates and Baptists in New England (1) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (2) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

From New England to the South (October  4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (1) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (2) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (3) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (4) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (5) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To the new nation and conclusion (October 18, 2009, September 19, 2010, 1st 15 min. Segment):

END