THE Christian Cynosure, it appears, has partially read—very partially indeed—the December number of the AMERICAN SENTINEL, and is thereby moved to make some comments upon it, its aim, and its work. As the Cynosure is itself an advocate of National Reform, some of its comments are worth a passing notice. Of the SENTINEL the Cynosure says:—
“Its one sole aim is to antagonize and resist those who would have our national Constitution amended. by inserting the single word ‘Christian’ so as to distinguish between the ‘free exercise’ of the Christian religion, and the ‘free exercise’ of child-murder, polygamy, assassination, and whatever crimes are called religion… The sole object of the promoters [of the Religious Amendment] being to prevent the Constitution from covering crime.”
Although one of the editors of the Cynosure is a Vice-President of the National Reform Association, yet that paper has a very poor understanding of the National Reform movement, if it really supposes that the design of the Religious Amendment to the Constitution is the insertion of “the single word Christian.” Perhaps we can enlighten the Cynosure somewhat. We shall try. Therefore we would inform it that in the first National Convention for National Reform that was ever held, a memorial to Congress was adopted, asking for the adoption of measures by that body, for amending the Constitution of the United States. This memorial asked that the Preamble to the Constitution should be amended to read as follows—the amendment in brackets:—
CHRISTIANITY THE TEST OF CITIZENSHIP
“We, the people of the United States, [humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the ruler among the nations, his revealed will as the supreme law of the land, in order to constitute a Christian Government], and in order to form a more perfect union,” etc.
This of itself is a good deal more than the insertion of “the single word ‘Christian;’” but this is not near all that they propose, not by a long way. This memorial continues:—
“And further, that such changes with respect to the oath of office, slavery, and all other matters, should be introduced into the body of the Constitution as may be necessary to give effect to the Amendment, in the Preamble.”
That is to say that the Constitution throughout shall be subjected to a revision so as to make it conform, and give effect, to this amended Preamble. In other words, the whole Constitution shall be revised to suit the National Reformers. It is evident that National Reform involves a vast deal more than the insertion of “the single word ‘Christian’” in the Constitution. If the Cynosure will read the November SENTINEL, 1886, it can get some idea of how much more. The Cynosure needs to be a good deal better acquainted with National Reform, before it undertakes to comment upon the opposition to that movement. Therefore read the SENTINEL, Mr. Editor, read the SENTINEL.
Even though it were true that all that is intended by National Reform were the insertion of the single word “Christian,” we should yet oppose it just as much as we do, so long as the effect of such insertion would be to give to Christians the sole right to citizenship and its privileges and immunities. We have as much regard for Christianity and the Christian name as anybody has, but we do not believe that any set of men have the right to a monopoly of that name, nor under it the monopoly of all human right.
But says the Cynosure, the insertion of this “single word” in the Constitution is “to distinguish between the ‘free exercise’ of the Christian religion, and the ‘free exercise’ of child-murder, polygamy, assassination, and whatever crimes are called religion.” In this expression the Cynosure shows as great destitution of a knowledge of the Constitution as in the other it showed of National Reform. Does that paper mean seriously to assert that the Constitution of the United States guarantees the free exercise “of child-murder, polygamy, assassination,” and other “crimes” as it guarantees the free exercise of religion? Does the Cynosure know no distinction between crime and religion? If it does not, it is time that it understood that the National Constitution does know such distinction. It might be well also to inform the Cynosure that there are now both State and United States laws prohibiting child-murder, polygamy, assassination, and other crimes, and even misdemeanors. Therefore if its further statement be true, that the sole object of the promoters of the Religious Amendment is “to prevent the Constitution from covering crime,” then the “sole object” of the Reformers is wholly purposeless; for when their “sole object” should be accomplished, they would have only what they now have.
But to prevent the Constitution from covering crime, is not the sole object of the promoters of the Religious Amendment. Their object is to so amend the Constitution that it shall recognize and define as crime, that which is not and cannot be crime. They want the Constitution so amended that under it there shall be no distinction between sin and crime; but that all sins shall be crimes, and punishable by the civil law. If it be admitted that all sin is crime, then we freely confess that the Cynosure is strictly correct in saying that the “sole object” of the promoters of National Reform “is to prevent the Constitution from covering crime.” That is, their “sole object” is to so amend the United States Constitution, that under it the National Reformers may put themselves in the place of God to pass upon, to define, and to punish, sin.
Then the Cynosure mentions Masonry and Mormonism, and says that these are “a sort of gentlemen whom our AMERICAN SENTINEL seems to treat with silent respect, though surrounded by them.” So far as Mormonism is concerned, any person who is a reader of the SENTINEL knows by these words that the Cynosure has not read it to any appreciable extent. As for Masonry, if there were on foot a movement to establish a Masonic hierarchy in this Government, as there is to establish a National Reform hierarchy; or if we should see in Masonry any such menace to civil and religious liberty, as there is in National Reform; then we should endeavor to ventilate such iniquity in Masonry, as we do now that in National Reform. But we do not propose to spend any of our time to so little purpose, as the Cynosure has spent all these years.
Next, the Cynosure undertakes to tell exactly what the National Reformers want. That we may the more clearly set forth these wants we shall number them.
1. “We want a Bible oath in our courts, and chaplains, and Thanksgivings such as we now have and have had from the first.”
That is to say, we want a religious amendment to the National Constitution, to give us what “we now have,” and what we always “have had from the first!” In other words, they want what they already have, and they  will subvert the Constitution to get it. That seems a queer sort of proceeding for men of sound minds.
2. “A recognized standard of law and morals so as to know by what God to swear witnesses, and to furnish definitions for public vices and crimes.”
As there has never yet been any difficulty in knowing by what God to swear witnesses; and as the law already furnishes definitions for all public vices and crimes, it would seem that this want stands on about the same level as the other one, and that agitation to obtain it is agitation to get what we already “have and have had from the first.”
3. “We wish for a Constitutional barrier against the religion of Dahomey, which celebrates the king’s birthday by piling up human heads.”
Well did anybody ever! What in the world has our Constitution to do with erecting a barrier against the celebration of the birthday of the king of Dahomey? Is the editorial staff of the Cynosure, or are the National Reformers, afraid that the king of Dahomey is going to send an expedition all the way to the United States to get human heads to pile up in celebration of his birthday? and are they afraid that he will select their heads out all the sixty-five millions here? If they are very sore afraid, we can re-assure them by assuring them that such an attempt on the part of the king of Dahomey, or any other king, would be an invasion of this country; and there is now a “Constitutional barrier” against invasions. Clause 16, of Section VIII of Article I, declares that Congress shall have power, “To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasions.”
But should the terrible king of Dahomey succeed in sinking our navy, and in eluding our militia, and should he actually capture the editorial staff of the Cynosure or some other of the National Reformers, there is still another “Constitutional barrier” against him, for clause 11, of the same Section before cited, declares that Congress shall have power, “To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules CONCERNING CAPTURES on land and water.” Oh, dear Cynosure, you and all your fellow “Reformers” are perfectly and constitutionally safe from being compelled to bear any part in the sanguinary celebration of the birthday of the king of Dahomey. As for the rest of us we will all willingly take our chances, rather than to risk the rule of a National Reform régime. So as this seems to be the most instantly and really urgent of all your “wants,” and as there is now a double “Constitutional barrier” to protect you, you ought just as well stop all further agitation for your National Reform Amendment.
But there is yet one more want that the trembling and affrighted Cynosure utters.
4. “We wish to exclude from our court-houses Chinese oaths, sworn by yellow paper and dead cocks’ heads, and the secret oaths to have throats cut and bodies mangled to enforce partiality or protection for criminals and concealment of crime.”
We cannot possibly see how the ends of justice would be promoted by compelling the Chinese to testify upon an oath that would be no more to him, than one “by yellow paper and dead cocks’ heads” would be to the editor of the Cynosure. To the Chinese such art oath is as sacred, as is the regular judicial oath to the average American; and to compel him to abandon an oath which to him is sacred, and take one which, if anything at all to him, is profane, what more surety, what more ground, would there be upon which to rest confidence that he was telling the truth? Instead of there being any more, there would be a good deal less,—in fact there would be no such surety at all. The trouble is, the National Reformers cannot see anything but that all our courts must be courts of theology and tests of faith, instead of courts of law and tests of truth and justice.
As for “the secret oaths to have throats cut and bodies mangled” etc., we did not know before that there was any need of a Constitutional Amendment to exclude these from our court-houses, because we never before heard, nor do we now believe, that either our courts or our court-houses, administer, entertain, or include any such oaths. It is probable, though, that in this the Cynosure intended a stroke at Masonry, but it is made in such a blundering way that unless the reader were acquainted with the reason of the existence of the Cynosure, he would not detect the object of its aim. We do not believe that there is either righteousness or propriety in secret oaths, but even though there were a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting them, we should like to know how it could be made effective without the establishment of an inquisition to pry into the secrets of every man’s life, and worm out of him, or force from him, the confession of his secret oath. And as between Masonry and even such an inquisition, we desire rather to take our chances against the danger from the secret oath, rather than against the danger which would inevitably inhere in such an inquisition.
WHO IS SINCERE
The Cynosure closes by saying:—
“We can scarcely regard him [that is, the SENTINEL] as sincerely believing that we would ‘call all the bayonets of this mighty nation’ to aid us in voting into our Constitution what our fathers intended to and supposed they had put there.”
That is not exactly what the SENTINEL said. We did not say that they would call all the bayonets of the nation, to aid in voting into the Constitution what they want, but in support of their National Reform “kingdom of Christ” after they have voted it in. But the difference is very slight, and we are not sure but that they will do the one as well as the other, before they get through with their National Reform scheme.
As for the sincerity of our belief on this point, we can assure the Cynosure that our belief of it is just as sincere as is the National Reform avowal of it. And that avowal by no less an authority than National Reform District Secretary, Rev. M. A. Gault, is made in these words:—
“Whether the Constitution will be set right on the question of the moral supremacy of God’s law in government without bloody revolution, will depend entirely upon the strength and resistance of the forces of anti-Christ.”
“It cost us all our civil war to blot slavery out of our Constitution, and it may cost us another war to blot out its infidelity.”
Now we do sincerely believe that bloody revolutions are not accomplished without the use of bayonets; and we actually know that slavery was not blotted out without calling into active and bloody use all the bayonets of this mighty nation. Therefore as the National Reformers coolly and deliberately contemplate the alternative of a bloody revolution, and a war as terrible as our civil war, we do sincerely believe that, if it could not be done without, they would call all the bayonets of this mighty nation to aid in the accomplishment of that wicked work upon which they have set their hearts.
Dear Cynosure, you ought to read up on National Reform. You don’t understand it very well. For your own benefit, and that you may really understand the principles of National Reform, we urge you to read the AMERICAN SENTINEL. We “sincerely believe” you ought to.
A. T. J.