“‘Christian Citizenship’ in France a Century Ago” American Sentinel 12, 29, pp. 450, 451.

THE duties of Christians with respect to the State were clearly defined in the “Imperial Catechism,” which was imposed upon the church in France by the new empire which had been evolved from the Revolution. They were as follows:—

Ques. What are the duties of Christians, in respect to the princes who govern them? and what, in particular, are our duties towards Napoleon and the First, our emperor?

Ans. Christians owe to the princes who govern them, and we owe in particular to Napoleon the First, our emperor, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, the taxes usual for the preservation and expenses of the empire and of his throne…. To honor and serve our emperor is, then, to honor and serve God himself.

Q. Are there not special motives which ought more strongly to attach us to Napoleon the First, our emperor?

A. Yes; for it is he whom God has raised up in difficult circumstances to reëstablish the public worship of the holy religion of our fathers, and to be its protector. He has brought back and preserved public order by his profound and active wisdom; he defends the State by his powerful arm; he has become the help of the Lord by the [451] consecration which he has received from the Sovereign Pontiff, the head of the universal church.

Q. What ought we to think of those who should be wanting in their duty towards our emperor?

A. According to the holy Apostle Paul, they would be resisting the order established by God himself; they would be rendering themselves worthy of eternal damnation.”

This catechism was highly approved at the time by the papacy, whose legate in France recommended its use in all the dioceses.

The “Christian citizenship” of that day failed. What will be the result to-day? In that day it professed to be following the dictates of Scripture, as it does to-day. And it cannot be denied that the principle of being in subjection to “the powers that be” applied as well in France a hundred years ago as it does in America to-day. That Napoleon was a wicked man and a despot, has not bearing upon the principle. That kind of subjection of which the Apostle Paul wrote in the thirteenth of Romans, is as proper under one government as under another. It did not mean that Christianity should be in subjection to the State, or joined with the State. It did not mean that “every soul” has two masters, of which the State is one, in the sphere of morality. And what it did not mean then, it does not mean now.

Christian citizenship is heavenly citizenship. It is a high privilege, much higher than any earthly government can grant, which is extended to men by the King of the Universe. It is a birthright privilege, obtained by being “born again,” of water and of the Spirit. It is the privilege only of the sons and daughters of God.

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