“The Mission of the American Sentinel” American Sentinel 12, 23, pp. 354, 355.

THE AMERICAN SENTINEL stands in defense of a principle, and that is why the paper exists. From the day it was established it has been an uncompromising advocate of the absolute separation of religion from the State, not in name only, but in fact. This is a question that concerns every intelligent person in every land under the sun.

Government and religion are both essential, but the spheres of action of each are sharply circumscribed. One presides over the realm of conscience, taking cognizance of the thoughts and intents of the heart; the other deals with overacts, beyond which it cannot go. One leads the individual to do right because it is right, the other restrains him from evil through fear of punishment of hope of reward.

Every individual is endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights. Government is simply a compact entered into whereby the united strength of the majority is exercised in the maintenance of these rights against the encroachments of selfishness and greed. One of these rights is the freedom to worship or not to worship God, according to the dictates of conscience. Jesus Christ, the author of Christianity, gave this liberty of thought and action to all his followers; but this privilege many who have claimed to be his disciples, have refused to their fellows. They have read from his teachings, and from their interpretation of them have formulated a creed. Everything that disagrees with this is wrong, as they view it. Failing by argument to convince those who differ from them, they have sought to invoke the arm of the law to compel an outward acknowledgment under penalty of physical punishment. At best this can only make [355] hypocrites, and a hypocrite is two-fold more the child of the evil one than the open opposer.

Now the point: The trend of passing events indicates that among many so-called Christians there is creeping in the idea that the civil law can be made an adjunct in the propagation of the gospel; and not in our own country alone is this true, but it is pervading Christian country alone is this true, but is it true, but it is pervading Christian lands everywhere. Pride, worldliness and Pharisaism are fast passing into the churches, and just to the extent that the churches have lost the primitive power of the gospel in their work, just to that extent is there a clamoring for civil power to forward their ends, and the logical result of this is but one thing—persecution pure and simple of dissenters.

Against all this the SENTINEL raises a warning voice. There is no power under heaven to make men good at heart but the transforming power of Jesus Christ, and this kingdom is not of this world. His weapons are not carnal, but spiritual; love, not force. In the light of the … and of the sure word of prophecy, the SENTINEL beseeches the people everywhere to open their eyes and discern the signs of the times.

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