“‘Christian Citizenship’ in Practice” American Sentinel 13, 12, pp. 178, 179.

WE have presented several Bible studies with the Christian Citizen on the separation of church and state, which can mean nothing else than the separation from the state those who belong to the church. As certainly as those who are united with the church are united with the state, there is in the very nature of things the union of church and state.

It may perhaps now be well to take a glance at the history of church and state; as we desire to do everything possible to help those Christian Citizen people.

One of the clearest and most profound productions on the history of church and state is the “Ecclesiastical Researches” of Robert Robinson. A close acquaintance with the Scriptures is all that is needed to see that this is so. He declares plainly of the early church, that “Christians of all classes had always thought religion independent of secular government;” and that “this is clear to a demonstration by their conduct.”

“Paganism was the religion of the state, and pontiff was a title annexed to that of emperor. But Christians all disowned by their practice the office of high-priest, while they allowed and obeyed that of imperator.

“These Christians ought to be divided into two general classes. They had all set out with order: but some had degenerated into government; which was a very distinct discipline, and is the true and real seed of every kind of hierarchy. Originally placed by Jesus in a position of perfect equality, they felt their freedom when they met, and so formed a mutual confederacy against sin: having separately no authority at all, and collectively only that of declaring on due investigation that an individual had committed a known crime, which by violating the contract discharged them from their obligations to continue in society with him.

“If any of the number were chosen to officiate for the rest, the offices did not lift them out of the state of brethren into that of rulers…. The whole assembly judged whether their officers conducted their affairs properly: and there was perfect order and liberty but no government.

“Into some of these congregations came that wrong-headed sort of men, who were half-Jews and who thought that Christianity would be mightily improved by inserting the Jewish ritual into Christian practice. Of this sort were all the ‘saints,’ and Jerome expressly says that what Moses and Aaron and the Levites were among the Jews, that teachers and officers ought to be in the Christian church.”

“By slow degrees this Jewish theology depraved the church, and subverted the primitive order by losing the old idea of confederacy against vice, and by elevating the servants of the church into inspectors and watchmen, and guides, and masters, and monarchs, who, as they rose, sunk the people in due proportion—first into carelessness, sunk the people in due proportion—first into carelessness through confidence, next into inability through ignorance, and lastly into the most abject slavery, when tyranny was played off for virtue; and to stamp the people into dust and ashes was the only method of acquiring distinction and wealth, honor, ease, and everlasting reputation. On these piteous ruins rose the saintship of Augustine, and Cyprion, and Becket, and the theology converted these dregs of the world into oracles of God.

This lust of power and government in the church led directly and inevitably to the lust of power and government in the state. “Bishops became a legislative power, and each bishop of a city church exercised this authority in three distinct characters: At home in his own cathedral, assisted by a session of clergy, whom he created and supported, he gave law to his church. In a provincial synod, assisted by other bishops, living within a district of secular division, he gave laws to all the province. In general councils he was one of a body that made laws for the whole empire. Over all in this period was the emperor, who presided as high priest, or as the Emperor Constantine used to call himself, bishop or superintendent of the external affairs of the church.

“In virtue of this office, old in name and new in practice, the emperor defended the church, not the state; suppressed enemies of the church, not those of the empire; called councils, enforced the canons, placed and displaced priests, and became the executive power, not for the benefit of a free commonwealth, but for the support of a dangerous monopoly. Thousands of volumes, ancient and modern, have been written to assort and conciliate this kind of government, but it never can be exonerated.

“Before this time emperors were not under any obligation to think of religion as they were ordered. Their reason and conscience were free, and an emperor might choose his god and his ritual; but now it was understood that he was to obey the church in all matters of religion. This was extremely difficult for the church was divided into two great factions, Arian and Trinitarian [or those who were in power and those who were not], that persecuted each other with a mortal hatred. And it was [180] curious enough to require the emperor to believe a point under examination, which neither side had skill to determine.

“On the other hand, the church was to obey the emperor in secular things; but this was a very difficult undertaking, for cathedrals, and honors, and privileges, and endowments, and a thousand other secular things were so closely connected with this kind of church, and so essential to its very existence, that one absolute emperor might ruin in an instant what another had cherished for half a century.

“There is not an evil that can blast society which is not contained in this fatal coalition. Out of these two absolute powers in one kingdom rise new crimes, new claims, new disputes, a new order of men to investigate them, new canons of law, new officers, new courts, new taxes, new punishments, a new world all in arms, animated with a fury that never sleeps and never cools until one party subdues the other into silence. There was no peace in any kingdom where this system was adopted till either the prince disarmed the priest or the priest dethroned the prince.”—pp. 133-139.

This sketch, though brief, is a complete history of the false Christian citizenship idea, the union of church and state, from its beginning in the Christian era until now; and it is a perfect forecast of the only thing that can possibly come in the United States, and that will certainly come, as surely as the present “Christian citizenship” movement shall succeed in its designs upon the government. A. T. J.

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