A CORRESPONDENT writes:—
The position taken by you, if I mistake not, is that it is wrong to use the sword of the State either to propagate or defend Christianity. How do you harmonize the instruction of Christ in Luke 22:36, with the above positions?
This scripture, taken with its contexts and the recorded events following, and the SENTINEL’S position, are in perfect harmony. To show the harmony, the text with the two following verses are quoted:
He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must be accomplished in me, and he was reckoned among the transgressors; for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold here, are two swords. And he said unto them, it is enough.
The swords were not wanted for defense, but for the fulfillment of prophecy,—“this that is written of me must be accomplished.” Two swords among eleven disciples are declared to be “enough;” another proof that they were not wanted for defense. Only one sword was used, hence one was “enough.” The sword was wanted to fulfill the prophecy,—“he was reckoned among the transgressors [Greek, anomos, lawless].” Peter in resisting the arrest of his Master and striking the servant, transgressed the civil law, and as Christ was his companion, “he was reckoned among the transgressors” or lawless ones. There was in the disciples, and especially in Peter, some of the transgressor’s spirit, manifested in the use of the sword in the garden (John 18:10), and on other occasions. Peter and John proposed the murder of the unbelieving Samaritans (Luke 9:54), which showed an utter misconception of the spirit of the gospel, and a willingness to transgress the laws of the State.
This instance of Peter’s use of the sword brought to the surface the transgressor’s spirit, and besides fulfilling prophecy, furnished an opportunity to rebuke the transgressors, and to forever forbid the use of carnal weapons in the defense of Christianity. This he did in healing the wounded ear (Luke 22:51), the Lord’s last miracle before his crucifixion, and in the words, “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Had these words been obeyed by all of Christ’s professed followers from that day to this, it would have prevented the murder of millions of martyrs.