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6 And whereas, the history of mankind is crowded with evidences, proving that all attempts to change the heart of man by physical force have been abortive;"
Art. 23. of the Constitution, declares
“ That no man, or body of men, however constituted, or by whatever name called, have a right to take the life of man as a penalty for transgression; that no one who professes to have the spirit of Christ, can consistently sue a man at law for redress of injuries, or thrust any evil-doer into prison, or fill any office in which he would come under obligation to execute penal enactments—or take any part in the military service-or acknowledge allegiance to any human governmentor justify any man in fighting in defence of property, liberty, life or religion; that he cannot engage in or countenance any plot or effort to revolutionize, or change, by physical violence, any government, however corrupt or oppressive; that he will “ obey the powers that be,” except in those cases in which they bid him violate his conscience and then, rather than to resist, he will meekly submit to the penalty of disobedience; and that, while he will cheerfully endure all things for Christ's sake, without cherishing even the desire to inflict injury upon his persecutors, yet he will be bold and uncompromising for God, in bearing his testimony against sin, in high places and in low places, until righteousness and peace shall reign in all the earth, and there shall be none to molest or make afraid."
The rest of the Constitution relates to the operations of the Society. Beside this, they published a Declaration of Sentiments, which more fully explains their principles, their hopes and their plans of operation.
Human governments, founded and supported as they are, by physical force, are to them a stumbling block, and in their opinion the cause of much sin. Hence they declare
“We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human government; neither can we oppose any such government, by a resort to physical force. We recognize but one King and LawGIVER, one Judge and RULER of mankind. We are bound by the laws of a kingdom which is not of this world; the subjects of which are forbidden to fight; in which Mercy and Truth are met together, and RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE have kissed each other; which has no state lines, no national partitions, no geographical boundaries; in which there is no distinction of rank, or division of caste, or inequality of sex; the officers of which are PEACE, its exactors RighTEOUSNESS, its walls SALVATION, and its gates Praise; and which is destinen to break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms.
“Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us, than are those of the whole hu. man race. Hence, we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury. The Prince of Peace, under whose stainless banner we rally, came not to destroy, but to save, even the worst of enemies. He has left us an example, that we should follow his steps.
“ We conceive, that if a nation has no right to defend itself against foreign enemies, or to punish its invaders, no individual
possesses that right in his own case. The unit cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate. If one man may take life, to obtain or defend his rights, the same license must necessarily be granted to communities, states, and nations. If he may use a dagger or a pistol, they may employ cannon, bomb-shells, land and naval forces."
They have no more faith in the Divine rights of Democracy than in those of Kings:
“The dogma, that all the governments of the world are approvingly ordained of God, and that THE POWERS THAT BE in the United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance with His will, is not less absurd than impious. It makes the impartial Author of human freedom and equality, unequal and tyrannical. It cannot be affirmed, that THE POWERS THAT BE, in any nation, are actuated by the spirit, or guided by the er. ample of Christ, in the treatment of enemies: therefore, they cannot be agrecable to the will of God; and, therefore, their overthrow, by a spiritual regeneration of their subjects, is inevitable."
The Peace Society admits the propriety of defensive wars, but the Non-Resistants go against all wars:
“We register our testimony, not only against all wars, whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for war; against every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification; against the militia system and a standing army; against all military chieftains and soldiers; against all monuments, commemorative of victory over a foreign foe, all trophies won in battle, all celebrations in honor of military or naval exploits; against all appropriations for the defence of a nation by force and arms, on the part of any legislative body; against every edict of government, requiring of its subjects military service. Hence, we deem it unlawful to bear arms, or to hold a military office."
They hold that governments can no more force their own subjects than other nations to any obedience:
“As every human government is upheld by physical strength, and its laws are enforced virtually at the point of the bayonet, we cannot hold any office which imposes upon its incumbent the obligation to do right, on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature, or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity.
6 We believe that the penal code of the old covenant, An EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH, has been abrogated by JESUS CHRIST; and that, under the new covenant, the forgiveness, instead of the punishment of enemies, has been enjoined upon all his disciples, in all cases whatsoever. To extort money from enemies, or set them upon a pillory, or cast them into prison, or hang them upon a gallows, is obviously not to forgive, but to take retribution. VENGEANCE IS MINE—I WILL REPAY, SAITH THE LORD.”
Nor do they admit that individuals can enforce their rights against each other by aid of the government:
“ It follows, that we cannot sue any man at law, to compel him by force to restore any thing which he may have wrongfully taken from us or others; but, if he has seized our coat, we shall surrender up our cloak, rather than subject him to punishment":
For, say they, and very truly,
“ The history of mankind is crowded with evidences, proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration; that the sinful dispositions of man can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated from the earth only by goodness; that it is not safe to rely upon an arm of flesh, upon man whose breath is in his nostrils, to preserve us from harm; that there is great security in being gentle, harmless, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth; for the violent, who resort to the sword, shall perish with the sword. Hence, as a measure of sound policy—of safety to property, life and libertyof public quietude and private enjoyment-as well as on the ground of allegiance to HIM who is King OF KINGS, and LORD OF LORDs—we cordially adopt the non-resistance principle; being confident that it provides for all possible consequences, will ensure all things needful to us, is armed with omnipotent power, and must ultimately triumph over every assailing force.”
They are anarchists-but they will use no physical power nor violence to subvert governments. They say,
“We advocate no jacobinical doctrines. The spirit of jacobinism is the spirit of retaliation, violence and murder. It neither fears God, nor regards man. We would be filled with the spirit of Christ. If we abide by our principles, it is impossible for us to be disorderly, or plot treason, or participate in any evil work: we shall submit to every ordinance of man FOR THE LORD's sake; obey all the requirements of government, except such as we deem contrary to the commands of the gospel; and in no case resist the operation of law, except by meekly submitting to the penalty of disobedience.
If they believe in the millenium, they are not willing to sit down and passively wait for it—but for them, now is the time of action.
“It appears to us a self-evident truth, that, whatever the gospel is designed to destroy at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned. If, then, the time is predicted, when swords shall be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks, and men shall not learn the art of war any more, it follows that all who manufacture, sell, or wield those deadly weapons, do thus array themselves against the peaceful dominion of the Son of God on earth.
“And, while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and spiritual sense, to speak and act boldly in the cause of God; to assail iniquity in high places and in low places; to apply our principles to all existing, civil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions; and to hasten the time, when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever."
Having thus declared their sentiments and their designs, they next state their plan of operations:
“Having thus briefly, but frankly, stated our principles and purposes, we proceed to specify the measures we propose to adopt, in carrying our object into effect.
“We expect to prevail through the FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING; striving to commend ourselves to every man's conscience, in the sight of God. From the press we shall promulgate our sentiments as widely as practicable. We shall endeavor to secure the co-operation of all persons, of whatever name or sect. The triumphant progress of the cause of TEMPERANCE and of ABOLITION in our land, through the instrumentality of benevolent and voluntary associations, encourages us to combine our own means and efforts for the promotion of a still greater cause. Hence we shall employ lecturers, circulate tracts and publications, form societies, and petition our state
and national governments in relation to the subject of UNIVERSAL PEACE. It will be our leading object to devise ways and means for effecting a radical change in the views, feelings and practices of society, respecting the sinfulness of war, and the treatment of enemies.
“In entering upon the great work before us, we are not unmindful that, in its prosecution, we may be called to test our sincerity, even as in a fiery ordeal. It may subject us to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself. We anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, calumny. Tumults may arise against us. The ungodly and violent, the proud and pharisaical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, may combine to crush us. So they treated the Messiah, whose example we are humbly striving to imitate. If we suffer with him, we know that we shall reign with him. We shall not be afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. Our confidence is in the LORD Almighty, not in man. Having withdrawn from human protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world? We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, as though some strange thing had happened to us; but rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings. Wherefore, we commit the keeping of our souls to God, in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. For every one that forsakes houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for Christ's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
“ Firmly relying upon the certain and universal triumph of the sentiments contained in this DECLARATION, however formidable may be the opposition arrayed against them,-in solemn testimony of our faith in their divine origin,-we hereby affix our signatures to it; commending it to the reason and conscience of mankind, giving ourselves no anxiety as to what may befal us, and resolving in the strength of the LORD God calmly and meekly to abide the issue.”
We have purposely allowed this Society to speak for itself. We think so new and important a movement in the moral world, should be fully understood, and that no garbled extracts from its own explanations, and no taunts nor misrepresentations of its enemies should convey to men's minds the knowledge of its character.
One would suppose, that a doctrine so mild and peaceful, so full of love and of abhorrence of injury, would have been hailed with gladness, in this warring and distressed world