MEN are human. Human rights are those which belong to men simply because they are men.
Rights, in this connection, signifies that which belongs personally to you and me; and which can never justly be taken away. We cannot resign them, they cannot be justly exercised by any other person or combination of persons anywhere. There is no exception to this; for when we speak of rights it must be unqualifiedly and without exception. To speak of rights with an exception, is to deny in fact the thing which we profess and which we claim in behalf of rights.
Human beings possess rights by direct endowment of the Creator. Whoever disregards the rights of men, shows disrespect to the Creator. Whoever encroaches  upon the rights of men ignores the prerogative of God. Therefore, of all people in the world, those who stand before the world as Christians should be the most respectful of the rights of men, and the most vigilant and tenacious in regarding those rights.
The Bible is given to instruct men how to be Christians. The Bible is addressed to all men for the sole purpose of causing them to become Christians: and meets its purpose only in those who do become Christians. Practically, therefore, the Bible is addressed only to Christians: and the shining in these of the light which they have so received makes them the light of the world.
Sacred regard for human rights is a Christian virtue. And for people who stand before the world as Christians, to disregard human rights is doubly wrong: in that it is wrong in itself, and turns the light into darkness, causing others to stumble on in darkness instead of showing, as they are set to show, the better way.
The fourteenth chapter of Romans briefly covers the whole ground of instruction to all men, and especially to Christians, as to true respect for human rights. This fourteenth chapter belongs really to the thirteenth; for it is a direct continuation of the subject introduced in the beginning of the thirteenth chapter. There is much truth lost many times by holding strictly to the chapter divisions. If it were borne in mind that often the chapter divisions are just where they ought not to be, much would be gained in Bible study.
The thirteenth and fourteenth chapter of Romans deal with exactly the same subject,—the relationship of individuals as Christians to all men both as individuals and as organized in governments—as individuals and as “the powers that be,“—powers that are beyond the individual.
The first verse of the thirteenth chapter says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive unto themselves damnation.”
Next we are told what we are to render to the powers that be,—“Tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” Then the law of God is quoted, showing wherein “the powers that be” have no jurisdiction at all.
While the powers that be may have jurisdiction of things which concern man’s relation to his fellowman, by which “the powers” would protect one from the encroachment of another, these powers have no jurisdiction whatever in those things which belong between men and God. The thirteenth chapter sets forth those things which belong to the powers that be, and all the commandments which are referred to are those which touch only the relation to men with men; and not at all the relation of men to God. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The fourteenth chapter goes right on with the same subject—“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations,” etc. We are not to judge anybody when they do not do as we do; nor when they do not do as we think they ought to do; nor when they do not do even as God says they ought to do.
We are not to judge anybody at all; because every one of us shall give an account of himself to God. “Who art thou that judgeth another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand.” Jesus said, “Call no man master, for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” (Matthew 23:8) James also speaks of this: “Be not many masters, knowing that ye shall receive the greater condemnation.” (James 3:1). Many masters receive greater condemnation: then what would few masters receive?—Less condemnation. Then what would no master at all receive?—No condemnation. The more masters the more condemnation: then only condemnation goes with mastership at all.
Whoever assumes mastership of anybody’s conduct, wishes, faith, rights, or his standing before God, comes under the condemnation of Him who is the master of all individuals alike. As the Lord Jesus has bought at an infinite price every soul in the world, he alone is master of each soul in the world. Each one is responsible to him; and to him alone that person stands or falls. Each one is forbidden to judge any other man, because we shall each one stand before the Judgment seat of Christ to give an account of himself, not of somebody else. I must give an account of myself to God; not of you.
A. T. J.