December 20, 1894
THAT which distinguishes Christianity from every other religion is its spirituality.
WHEN Christianity ceases to be spiritual it ceases to be Christianity; for it has lost its distinguishing feature.
CHRISTIANITY is not of this world, even as its Author is not of this world; and being spiritual, and not of this world, it can be advanced only by means not of this world; hence the words of our Lord: “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
THE sword stands not alone for the weapon bearing that name, but for civil power, for the authority of the State, and for all carnal force in spiritual things. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, hence its interests cannot be advanced by the use of carnal weapons. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
THE AMERICAN SENTINEL has, from the first day of its publication until the present time, adhered consistently to this principle. It has insisted that as the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ is wholly spiritual, it not only cannot be enforced upon any person whatever, but that its promulgation cannot be either helped or hindered by worldly means; that as it cannot be promulgated by the sword, so it cannot be assisted by gifts from civil powers.
STATE support in any degree, whether in exemption from taxation or in direct gifts of land or money, means, at least, a measure of State control. But how can a spiritual church, teaching a spiritual truth, and dependent upon spiritual power, submit in any degree to be controlled by any power except her divine and spiritual Lord?
BUT, as before stated, State aid means State control, either in whole or in part. A State grants a charter to a railroad, giving it the right of eminent domain; and in return the railroad must submit to have its business regulated by the State, to an extent and in a manner beyond the control exercised over other kinds of business.
A NUMBER of citizens contribute freely in work and money to build a grist mill. The mill is built as a custom mill. Later, the owners desire to run it as a merchant mill; but they must first repay every penny donated to assist in building it, because neighborhood aid means a measure of neighborhood control.
THIS principle is clearly stated by Dr. A. P. M’Diarmid, pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Brooklyn, in his pamphlet, “Should Church Property Be Taxed?” He says: “Accepting the support of the State, we must logically accept the authority of the State over the Church. It is, practically, the argument by which the State-church has always been defended.” This is sound; State aid necessarily involves State control, either directly, in legal enactments binding the Church, or in undue influence exerted by the State, and which the Church dare not resist for fear of forfeiting the favor of the State.
LOBBYING, wire-pulling, and compromise are inseparably connected with the acceptance of public lands or public funds. If the civil government, by whatever name it may be called, or whatever may be its form, gives anything to a church, it is in expectation of receiving a return in influence. The church is then expected to support the government, to indorse its laws; in short, to give its moral support in return for the bounty granted by the government. But this no church can engage to do and remain loyal to God. It is sometimes necessary for a church to oppose the policy of a government and disobey its laws, even as did the apostles, and, like them, return to civil rulers this answer: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Therefore, as the chaste woman will not accept presents from a man not her husband, and to whom she is not betrothed, so no pure church should accept bounties from any civil government under heaven.