“Editorial” American Sentinel 12, 3, pp. 33-35.

January 21, 1897

WE have set permanently at the head of our columns that the AMERICAN SENTINEL is published in the interests of religious liberty—Christian and Constitutional.

It is published in the interests of Christian religious religious [sic.] liberty first of all, over all, in all, and through all, because that in the realm of the spirit of man, Jesus Christ is the Author of religious liberty and of nothing else.

Jesus Christ created man. He created him with such a nature that his only happiness and his only good can be found in serving his Creator with all his heart, all his soul, all his might, all his mind, and all his strength. For such is “the first of all the commandments.”

Yet for all this, the Creator made man so perfectly free that it rests altogether in the man’s own choice as to whether he will serve his Lord at all. It was so in the beginning, in the garden; it is so yet, and for evermore; because men in his creation is an element in “the eternal purpose which is purposed in Christ.”

Therefore the word in which are revealed the counsels of the Creator in this eternal purpose, that word which liveth and abideth forever, rings out to all, through all the ages, “Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.” “Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.” “If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”

His word is “the word of life.” It is the word of eternal life—the word of life of the eternal One. To whomsoever that word comes, in this there comes to him eternal life. To reject that word is to reject eternal life. And to reject eternal life is to choose eternal death.

He who rejects eternal life, in that very thing judges himself worthy of eternal death. He who chooses eternal death, thus passes sentence of death upon himself. Therefore it was spoken to them of old, and is written to all, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life,” etc. “See I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; … therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Thus it is that the Lord can say truly, “If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not.” That is the truth: and when in that Great Day, the unbelieving meet eternal death, they receive only that which they have freely chosen. And though the Lord created man in the beginning for the highest of all possible destinies, and, when the man by wrong choice lost the way to it, gave Himself that the man might after all attain to it; yet He still leaves him absolutely free to accept or reject this destiny at his own choice.


This is Christianity. This is the divinely-ordained freedom of mankind in religious things. We ask then, Why will not all professed Christians recognize it and act accordingly? They cannot deny that it is the principle of the word of God: why do they not stand unswervingly upon it? They cannot deny that it is the word and the example of the Lord Jesus: why then do they not in strictest integrity “walk as He walked”?

It is perfectly plain that to swerve a hair’s breadth from this principle is to forsake Christianity. For Christians to act in any point or in any degree contrary to this word of Christ, is to act the part of antichrist. This is as plain as that two and two make four.

And yet the professed Christians of almost all sorts are working in almost all ways, to get governmental power in their hands by which they propose to compel men to observe the Christian Sabbath; to compel men to submit to the will of the Church; to compel men by human laws to accept “the reign of Christ on Capitol Hill.” Who does not know that this is so?

And because all such work is antichristian, this is [34] first of all why the AMERICAN SENTINEL is uncompromisingly opposed to it. It is first of all in the interests of true Christianity, or genuine allegiance to the word of God, that we oppose the Christian Endeavorers, the miscalled Christian Citizenship League, the National Reformers, and the whole Church combination of the country, in their efforts to control the civil power. In this matter their endeavor is antichristian. Its only influence is to misrepresent Christianity; its only result will be to envelope men more and more in antichristianity.


The AMERICAN SENTINEL is published also in the interests of constitutional religious liberty. And this because constitutional religious liberty is Christian. The provision respecting religious liberty in all the Constitutions of this country, is the correct statement of the principle announced by Jesus Christ as to total separation of His religion from all governmental recognition.

Nor was it an accident that this is so. The original provision on this subject, which has been followed in all the Constitutions in this country, is distinctly declared to be so enacted because of this principle of Christianity. Here it is with the leading reasons for it, as written by Thomas Jefferson, in 1779:—

“Well aware that ALMIGHTY GOD HATH CREATED THE MIND FREE: that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of THE HOLY AUTHOR OF OUR RELIGION, who being Lord of both body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in His almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time: that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical….

Be it THEREFORE enacted by the General Assembly, That no person shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief: but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

We repeat: This is the original statement upon which the provisions respecting religious liberty, of all the constitutions of the country have been modeled. This original statement was so framed, in order NOT TO BE “a departure from the plan of the holy Author of our religion.”

Let it be borne in mind too, that this original statement of the Christian principle as a constitutional provision was in an earnest campaign against an attempt of a religious combination to secure governmental recognition of “the Christian religion.” Thus in the origin and establishment of the form of government that is distinctively American, an attempt to secure governmental recognition of “the Christian religion” was uncompromisingly opposed expressly in the interests of the Christian religion and in order not to depart from “the plan of the holy Author of our religion.”


It is therefore undeniable that this provision in the Constitutions is the expression of the principle announced by Jesus Christ on this subject, and was intended by those who made it, to be in harmony with “the plan of the holy Author of our religion.”

It is also undeniable that in upholding and defending this provision of the constitutions of the States and the Nation, we are maintaining the vital principle of Christianity for States and nations.

And it is further undeniable that all these churches, leagues, societies, and combinations, that are insisting on the governmental recognition of the “Christians” religion in legislation, jurisdiction, and otherwise, although they call themselves Christians, are violating vital Christian principle: are departing from “the way of the holy Author of our religion:” and are taking a course that is positively antichristian.

Let us not be misunderstood. We do not say that the people of these churches, leagues, and societies, are knowingly and intentionally taking an antichristian course. We simply say, what is plain enough, that they are doing it—without any question or impeachment of their motives. We willingly do them the justice really to think that if they knew it, they would not do it.

The priests, the Scribes, and Pharisees, of Judea did not knowingly and intentionally take the antichristian course that they did in crucifying the Lord of glory. If they had known it, they would not have done it. Nevertheless they did it. And they could not have done it any more completely had they known it. Their ignorance as to what they were really doing, did not alter the nature of what they really did. It only lessened the measure of their guilt in the doing of it. And it was proper for the Christians in that day, to tell those church leaders and religious combinations that they had taken an antichristian course and had crucified the Lord of glory.

So it is now: It is an antichristian course that these professed Christian Endeavor Societies and Christian Citizenship Leagues and Christian churches are taking in their efforts to have the “Christian” religion recognized by the governments, State and national, in the jurisdiction and legislation.

It is antichristian, in that in so doing they override constitutional provisions that are expressive of the principle announced by Jesus Christ for governments, and that were established expressly to place and to keep [35] these governments in harmony with “the plan of the holy Author of our religion.”

It is antichristian also, in that it is in violation of the vital principle of the government of the Creator and the essential happiness of the worshiping creature.

And it is perfectly proper for the Christians of to-day to point out to them and to all, that such a course is antichristian both doctrinally and constitutionally, even though it be unintentionally.

Therefore as the vital principle of the government of God and the happiness of worshiping creatures is the perfect liberty of the individual, exercised freely upon his own choice; in order to publish a paper in the interests of true religious liberty, it must be published in the interests of religious liberty—CHRISTIAN.

And as the provisions of the American constitutions separating religion and government, are expressive of the principle announced by Jesus Christ for governments, and are thus in harmony with “the plan of the holy Author of our religion,” the AMERICAN SENTINEL in being published in the interests of religious liberty—Christian, is published also in the interests of religious liberty—CONSTITUTIONAL, because constitutional religious liberty is Christian.

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