“Two Distinct Realms” American Sentinel 14, 43, pp. 674, 675.

THE new journal, Church and State, claims that the church and state are “one in the moral principles insisted upon, as far as law can regulate conduct.”

In this respect this newest advocate of the union of church and state occupies the same old mistaken and fallacious ground that has always characterized, and which must always characterize, all advocacy of the union of church and state. That mistaken and fallacious ground is that the church and the state occupy the same field, but they are essentially one in their purposes.

Of course, if that were true there would be some reason in their joining themselves together. But nothing can be further from the truth than is that conception of things. The church and state occupy realms as distinct as our day and night.

The church is spiritual. The principles, the truths, and the work of the church are altogether spiritual. She makes her appeal to men wholly upon spiritual considerations; and appeals all together to the spiritual part of man.

On the other hand the state is only natural. It occupies only the realm of the natural. The men with whom it deals are natural men. The considerations upon which it proceeds, the principles which are followed by it, and the part of the man with which it deals, are all only natural and of this world only.

And in crossing the line of separation which, in the nature of things, exists between the church and the state, and mingling the spiritual and the natural—this is where the church always has made her great mistake, and has pleased herself with a most mischievous fallacy. And this is always only the consequence of the church’s becoming herself more natural than spiritual.

Then having herself become more natural than spiritual, she seeks to influence men by natural considerations. This in itself is a fearful falling away. But the most mischievous part of the thing is that she seeks upon natural considerations and by natural would be means to influence men to spiritual things. This is utterly incongruous.

The church, claiming to be spiritual and being of right spiritual, has no right whatever to use any but spiritual means with which to influence men in spiritual things. And as the purposes and work of the church are of right only spiritual, it is certain that the church never can of right use any but spiritual means in accomplishing her purposes. To use temporal penalties to accomplish spiritual purposes, to use civil disabilities to secure recognition of moral obligation, is, so far as [675] the church is concerned, simply beating the air; but so far as the people are concerned it is cruel oppression and also absolutely vain.

The reason that ecclesiastical rulers in governments are always more oppressive and cruel than are merely civil rulers, is that the ecclesiastic, looking at all obligations of men in a moral and spiritual light, sees these things in a deeper and more intense sense than it is possible for one to see who views the obligations of men only in a natural and civil light. And the ecclesiastical rulers seeing things in a deeper and more intense sense, in enforcing upon natural men by natural means, these obligations as he sees them, he inevitably goes beyond all bounds of natural justice, outrages the sense of justice in men, and is a cruel oppressor who undermines public order.

For this reason no preacher has any right to sit in his study and exercise devotional functions, until he has attained a high plane of spiritual view, and discerns to an intense spiritual degree the viciousness of vice, and the enormity of sin, and then rush forth to brandish right and left the policemans club over mayor and police as well as over those who are sunken in vice and laden without breaking sins. The gross inconsistency of such procedure is so apparent that it offends and repels the very ones who most need help, and would gladly receive help, if help were really offered.

Every preacher has the right, the divine right, it is indeed by his very profession his bounden duty, by diligent study and the exercise of every devotional function, to attain the highest possible plane of spiritual view and to discern to the most intense degree the enormity of vice and the deadly nature of sin. And when he has done all this then let him, in the depth of intense pity and the greatness and tenderness of divine love, go to the sin-laden and the lost with these SPIRITUAL WEAPONS ONLY. The perfect consistency of this course commends itself to everybody. It wins the confidence, if not the whole hearts, of those who need help, for it is genuine help that is offered. It commands the respect, the confidence, it and even the co-operation of mayor and police in a much easier way and to a far greater extent than it is possible to have in any other way.

Also on the other hand, on the side of the natural, the civil, all is then consistent. For, men who are merely civil rulers and who have no connection with the ecclesiastical or spiritual things, viewing things in the light of natural justice and civil order, when they enforce obligation or laws as they see it, are always within the bounds of natural justice and equity: the sober sense of justice and equity in the people approves it, and public order is conserved.

Therefore it is to the vital interest of every member of the state, in the interests of healthy public order, to see to it that no person who is of the church shall ever have anything to do with the affairs of the state. And it behooves every soul who is of the church to see to it that he himself shall hold themselves strictly within the realm of the spiritual, where he professes to belong.

Only thus can there be the true separation of church and state, which is according to Christianity. Otherwise there is a union of church and state, that inevitably involves untold evils which appear more and more as time may go on.

A. T. J.

Share this: