What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?

What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?

What follows is a Speech by Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, in his hometown of Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852 to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. He was invited to give his thoughts on the 76th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His speech subverts the expectations of patriotism by condemning the institution of chattel slavery in the United States. While we disagree with his tacit approval of Constitutionalism and the necessity of the American war for “independence,” Douglass nevertheless makes salient points about American hypocrisy:

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country schoolhouses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.

The papers and placards say, that I am to deliver a 4th [of] July oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for it is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall, seems to free me from embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable—and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former, are by no means slight. That I am here today is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say, I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence, I will proceed to lay them before you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young. Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your “sovereign people” (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown . Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper.

But, your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would, certainly, prove nothing, as to what part I might have taken, had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men’s souls. They who did so were accounted in their day, plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right, against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers. But, to proceed.

Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back.

As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed by the storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger, as it breasted the chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and best of British statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest eloquence of the British Senate came to its support. But, with that blindness which seems to be the unvarying characteristic of tyrants, since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, the British Government persisted in the exactions complained of.

The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by England; but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present ruler.

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so, than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day, were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it. Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change, (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians.

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it.

On the second of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the dismay of the lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed that dreadful idea with all the authority of national sanction. They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it.

[We] solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be [totally] dissolved.

Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded; and to-day you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is yours; and you, therefore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation’s history —the very ring—bolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny.

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day—cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight.

The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. But, besides general considerations, there were peculiar circumstances which make the advent of this republic an event of special attractiveness.

The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime.

The population of the country, at the time, stood at the insignificant number of three millions. The country was poor in the munitions of war. The population was weak and scattered, and the country a wilderness unsubdued. There were then no means of concert and combination, such as exist now. Neither steam nor lightning had then been reduced to order and discipline. From the Potomac to the Delaware was a journey of many days. Under these, and innumerable other disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and independence and triumphed.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final;” not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them!

Fully appreciating the hardship to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the corner-stone of the national superstructure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even Mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while the quick martial tramp of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one of thrilling and universal interests nation’s jubilee.

Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes which led to this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I do. You could instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of knowledge in which you feel, perhaps, a much deeper interest than your speaker. The causes which led to the separation of the colonies from the British crown have never lacked for a tongue. They have all been taught in your common schools, narrated at your firesides, unfolded from your pulpits, and thundered from your legislative halls, and are as familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of your national poetry and eloquence.

I remember also that as a people Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed by some as a national trait—perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact, that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans, and can be had cheap will be found by Americans. I shall not be charged with slandering Americans if I say I think the American side of any question may be safely left in American hands.

I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other gentlemen whose claim to have been regularly descended will be less likely to be disputed than mine!

My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and his cause is the ever-living now.

Trust no future, however pleasant, Let the dead past bury its dead; Act, act in the living present, Heart within, and God overhead.

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child’s share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have “Abraham to our father,” when they had long lost Abraham’s faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham’s great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men, shout —”We have Washington to our father.”—Alas! that it should be so; yet so it is.

The evil that men do, lives after them, The good is oft’ interred with their bones.

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view. Standing, there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery—the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse;” I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be fight and just. But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less, would you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man, (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgement that the slave is a moral, intellectual and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws, in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, their will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively, and positively, negatively, and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood and stained with pollution is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employments for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. Take the American slave-trade, which, we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year, by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states, this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) “the internal slave trade.” It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government, as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words, from the high places of the nation, as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade, as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish themselves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass without condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh-jobbers, armed with pistol, whip and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field, and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man, with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul! The crack you heard, was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard, was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow the drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell’s Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves, the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woolfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming hand-bills headed “Cash for Negroes.” These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners. Ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number have been collected here, a ship is chartered, for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.

In the deep, still darkness of midnight I have been often aroused by the dead heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror. Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the way to the slave markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

Is this the land your Fathers loved, The freedom which they toiled to win? Is this the earth whereon they moved? Are these the graves they slumber in?

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason & Dixon’s line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and children as slaves remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the Star-Spangled Banner and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman’s gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your lawmakers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment’s warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there are neither law, justice, humanity, nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side, is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats of justice are filled with judges, who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding in the case of a man’s liberty, to hear only his accusers!

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenseless, and in diabolical intent, this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe, having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.

I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance, and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the “mint, anise and cummin” —abridge the fight to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church, demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal! And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to solicit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old Covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door, and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox, to the beautiful, but treacherous queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country, (with fractional exceptions), does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy, is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as “scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.” But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, Welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything—in preference to the gospel, as preached by those divines. They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny, and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke, put together, have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action, nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty, and leave the throng of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that “pure and undefiled religion” which is from above, and which is “first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation—a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, “Bring no more vain ablations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea! when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow.”

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in connection with its ability to abolish slavery.

The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that “There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it.”

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday school, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds; and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared—men, honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The Lords of Buffalo, the Springs of New York, the Lathrops of Auburn, the Coxes and Spencers of Brooklyn, the Gannets and Sharps of Boston, the Deweys of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land, have, in utter denial of the authority of Him, by whom the professed to he called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example or the Hebrews and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, they teach “that we ought to obey man’s law before the law of God.”

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the “standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ,” is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher of Brooklyn, Samuel J. May of Syracuse, and my esteemed friend [Rev. R. R. Raymond] on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave’s redemption from his chains.

One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the American church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by the churches in England towards a similar movement in that country. There, the church, true to its mission of ameliorating, elevating, and improving the condition of mankind, came forward promptly, bound up the wounds of the West Indian slave, and restored him to his liberty. There, the question of emancipation was a high[ly] religious question. It was demanded, in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, and Burchells and the Knibbs, were alike famous for their piety, and for their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an anti-church movement, for the reason that the church took its full share in prosecuting that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this country will cease to be an anti-church movement, when the church of this country shall assume a favorable instead or a hostile position towards that movement.

Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria, and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and bodyguards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation—a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against her oppressors; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a threepenny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard-earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe “that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth,” and hath commanded all men, everywhere to love one another; yet you notoriously hate, (and glory in your hatred), all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare, before the world, and are understood by the world to declare, that you “hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that, among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, “is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose,” a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country.

Fellow-citizens! I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a by word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!

But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that the right to hold and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic. Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped to palter with us in a double sense: And keep the word of promise to the ear, But break it to the heart.

And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest imposters that ever practiced on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape. But I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the constitutional question at length – nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq., by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerrit Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour.

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which, the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon, as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but, interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? It is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a tract of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation, for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, common-sense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of slavery is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a fight to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this fight, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tell us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.

Now, take the constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion. Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are, distinctly heard on the other.

The far-off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen, in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. “Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it.

God speed the year of jubilee The wide world o’er When from their galling chains set free, Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee, And wear the yoke of tyranny Like brutes no more. That year will come, and freedom’s reign, To man his plundered fights again Restore.

God speed the day when human blood Shall cease to flow! In every clime be understood, The claims of human brotherhood, And each return for evil, good, Not blow for blow; That day will come all feuds to end. And change into a faithful friend Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour, When none on earth Shall exercise a lordly power, Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower; But all to manhood’s stature tower, By equal birth! That hour will com, to each, to all, And from his prison-house, the thrall Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive, With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive, To break the rod, and rend the gyve, The spoiler of his prey deprive- So witness Heaven! And never from my chosen post, Whate’er the peril or the cost, Be driven.

The Obligation

The Obligation

“It appears to us as a self-evident truth, that, whatever the gospel is designed to destroy at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned.” (William Lloyd Garrison. Declaration of Sentiments Adopted by the Peace Convention, Held in Boston in 1838)

The fourth tenet of Abolitionism is one that describes a sense of personal responsibility that is unified in scope and nature among all professing Christians regardless of age, sex, race, culture, or preferred churchian denomination. This is because the Weightier Matters of God’s Law, as recalled by Christ, do not offer room for truancy for any individual, nor deferred responsibility unto civil or faux-ecclesiastical institutions. Plainly, it is the duty of every person that takes Christ’s name to repent of taking it in vain and actively seek His literal Kingdom in starting or joining an abolitionist society, to be adhocratically yoked together with other true believers in an organized, global network that practices a daily ministration of freewill offerings, seeks justice, loves mercy, and corrects oppression within its ever-growing civil Kingdom. All professing Christians have the ability and duty to make effective Abolitionist Ideology in their daily lives, and to center their lifestyles around the Gospel of God in a proactive way. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:14)

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The vast majority of professing christians claim to love God and love their neighbor as themselves, but they do not keep God’s commands and follow Christ’s instructions, nor do they build their neighbor up to love and good works, strengthen the hand of the poor and needy, bring justice to the fatherless, or plead the widow’s cause. They are more content to fatten their hearts in the day of slaughter under false gods, while outsourcing these responsibilities to their socialist bureaucracies that offer social programs and authoritarian administrations which pervert these weightier matters. An easy excuse to justify not being our brother’s keeper is to imagine that he is someone else’s problem, and to raise up compartmentalized organizations and industries of employment to preemptively dismiss him as someone else’s problem, or rather to make him the problem of collective society through tax-funded benefits or interdependent and specialized examples of careerism in a socialist economy. This slothful and covetous attitude to dismiss the plight of one’s neighbor was just as common in the first century as it is today, especially among those who professed to be God’s chosen people.

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

In order to justify himself to God, this lawyer imagines that his liturgical, innocuous, and vapid superstitious “religion” is the correct benchmark for his obedience. He has obtained the right formal education, holds the right theological positions, goes to temple on the convenient days, labels himself among God’s chosen people, and ticks any other positional box on the checklist labeled “orthodoxy.” He belongs as a citizen to a specific civil society, is a patriot to those who share that citizenship, and understands who his political enemies are. He pays his taxes. He performs his designated role of employment to help maintain his society. He does what is expected of him without much fuss, and little aspiration to rethink the legitimacy of these concepts. Clearly, when confronted with the truth claims of Christ’s preaching that demolishes these presuppositions in convicting him, he seeks to paint Christ into a corner with some real elementary theological rhetoric.

But Christ, with a little bit of common sense, demolishes the lawyer’s worldview in order to contrast it against the spirit of God’s commands. The parable of the Good Samaritan reveals that God does not so much care about one’s profession, philosophical or “theological” positions, ethnic or political affiliations, or whether they honor Him with their lips. What God does care about is static when contrasted against these things and is characterized by whether one obeys His commands. Clearly, this is irrelevant to whether one can trace their lineage through some “Jewish” pedigree or belongs to a civil society that claims that “God blesses” it out of sheer wishful thinking.

In fact, the first greatest commandment, that every individual is obligated to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind” is inherently a political one, declaring that God alone should be your God, preventing you from serving more than one master by raising up other gods, or civil rulers who call themselves Benefactors, but exercise authority by maintaining their socialist providence towards society through bureaucratic force and taxation. The Israelites were once expected to perform this obligation by learning to reject Pharaoh’s political administration over their provision, protection, and essentially their whole adoptive Egyptian society, and to turn back to God to fulfill that position for them exclusively. They did do that, and God rewarded them with salvation from their civil bondage in Egypt which was characterized by a twenty percent income tax. The Jews under the Pax Romana faced a similar choice, to either repent of their sloth, and covetousness for Rome’s provision, and to make God their sole provider, protector, and civil Father again, or to continue in their idolatry and remain among Caesar’s civil citizens. Thousands of Jews did choose to be counted in Christ’s Kingdom at Pentecost, but many of them, maybe including this lawyer, decided to continue to be Romans. It should be expressed that the Kingdom of Heaven, like the kingdoms of the world, does not permit or bar entry based on one’s ethnic or genealogical affiliation: Concerning the man in Christ’s parable who was beaten and robbed, it was his Jewish compatriots who both had upstanding “religious” and legal positions in their shared society that ignored their neighbor. However, it was the conventional political enemy of all three, the Samaritan, that went out of his way to sacrifice his time, energy, and purse to restore the man to full health. God merely loves those who love Him by loving their Neighbor as God intended, without being a “respecter of persons” or valuing the outward aspects of any individual.

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This is the purpose of the second greatest commandment, another obligation of every professing believer: to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Without practical application or scripturally consistent insight, the phrase becomes just another empty platitude. The example of the Good Samaritan, however, reveals that God expects us to commit to the personal responsibility of direct action on behalf of our neighbor in need, not relegating him to civil bureaucracies or social programs maintained by centralizing institutions. All of scripture communicates that God blesses private religion and condemns public religion, and the actions of the parable’s protagonist are in harmony with that notion. The priest and the Levite determined the victim to be “someone else’s problem” to be processed outside of their own, personal sense of mercy, and therefore to become a burden on society as a whole through institutionalized care. It is necessarily true that a culture characterized by careerist institutionalism and compartmentalized “professional” services and responsibilities fosters hardened hearts in individuals towards their neighbors. When everyone benefits from a centralized system of service, nobody becomes the benefit themselves out of freewill love and social virtue. They just pay for it with their taxes. It is for this reason, for example, that motorists are quick to continue past stranded people and broken down vehicles on the highway, citing that surely tax-funded roadside services will be along shortly to take control of the situation. This sentiment is prevalent among civil slaves of socialist societies, allowing each other to become dependent on food stamps, public schooling, local police precincts and firefighters’ associations, and any other institutional bedrock to love their neighbor for them, all at the expense of their own unpaid labor.

The two greatest commandments, the obligations of every soul, are so closely related that Scripture actually often equals the direct, intentionally personal love of one’s neighbor with the love of God Himself:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

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Perhaps it would be prudent to express and expound on a few examples of obligations that Scripture gives for those called by God’s name. For instance, what are the weightier matters of God’s Law which are so intrinsic to the duty of the Christian worldview? It can be argued that Christ’s examples in the above passage succinctly surmise one of them: Mercy, which is a synonym for Assistance, being one of the two modes of Abolitionist Ideology. The other weightier matters are just as intrinsic to the Christian worldview.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

It is the duty of every professing Christian to be familiar with the Law of God by which to have a baseline to pass good and proper judgment as it pertains to keeping God’s Kingdom reflective of God’s Law. This judgment comprises the other mode of Abolitionist Ideology: Agitation, which is the willingness to rebuke sinners in their sin, and keep stumbling believers righteous so that they may remain in good standing in their congregations. Those congregations are connected by an organized system of welfare comprised of freewill Assistance, or mercy. It is the weight of faith that makes these other two matters possible. Its confidence and probity lead the faithful to be loyal to the source of the Law, and therefore unaffiliated with other lawgivers and their worldly kingdoms. Most saliently, those without good works will be recognized as those who have no faith. All believers are faithful to that in which they place their faith.

“What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:14-17)

It cannot be estimated that the obligation tenet allows for the utilization of political power, as if magistrates in authoritative civil positions are obligated to use their socialist positions to “love their neighbor” as a collectivist, and tax-fueled expression of society as a whole. It is this kind of twisting of scriptural injunction and Biblical sentiment that Christ explicitly condemns when He confronts Pharisaical political office.

“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:9-13)

Corban was a socialist security scheme, promising the people that the elderly would be taken care of so long as all the people were enrolled by contract into a bureaucratic civil society. That care would be paid for with public benefits by force through taxation. It is this relationship to society that absolves individuals from taking direct care of their biological, aging parents, because that responsibility has now been foisted upon society as a whole. This dishonoring of one’s father and mother is not the only example of Corban usurping the obligations of one’s personal responsibility to the weightier matters, however. The people also ceased doing justice and correcting their neighbors, having relied on the civil magistrates to police society through their bureaucratic legalism and capital punishments. The concept of personal responsibility towards “strengthening the hand of the poor and needy” was equally perverted by outsourcing this idea to social welfare schemes through applying for civil benefits. And in many societies, the personal responsibility to teach each other, especially children, is outsourced to pagan institutions of tax-funded public education, perverting sound Biblical curriculum in the process.

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But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:22-27)

It should be stressed here that the doing of the word is narrowly associated with the personal responsibility intrinsic to the society model of adhocracy defined by the Kingdom of God, and not the externalization of social virtues to pagan institutions in every other kingdom. To make children subject citizens of civil fathers in human civil government through birth registration is to render them orphans to their natural fathers. To marry women to civil institutions though marriage certification is to make them widows to their wouldbe husbands, by making marriage a three-party contract with the State. But the major takeaway at the end of the first chapter of James’ letter, is that it is the obligation of every believer to take care of these orphans and widows while remaining unstained from the “world.” This is the same world that Christ declares his “Kingdom is not of” in the first place, addressing Pilate’s political administration under Caesar and his one world government of top-down ecclesial bureaucracy known as the Pax Romana. The definition of that word for world is: “an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government.” Simply put, Christ’s declaration that Pilate had no jurisdiction over Christ’s Kingdom to judge the allegations of the Pharisees against him, is echoed in James’ declaration that Christ’s people must perform the weightier matters without being under “worldly” jurisdictions, or utilizing their socialist and authoritarian infrastructures. “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3) Going under the political power of ruling men is something that scripture always condemns as evil, even going so far as likening the sacrifice of another man’s livelihood for the funding of institutional services to murder and bloodlust which leads to making the members of society slothful, ignoring their own wickedness, distracted by their own oppressive leisure.

“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15-17)

“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you. For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.” (Jeremiah 5:25-28)

“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge: But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-22)

It is the remembrance of salvation from the subject citizenship of civil masters that should inspire mankind to properly keep the weightier matters out of personal responsibility as free souls under God within the jurisdiction of His Kingdom. When they lived under taxation, they were the oppressed who were ensnared and trapped into subject citizenship for socialist welfare and perverted justice while their masters grew rich and fat upon the hierarchy of their pagan society. When they were liberated into God’s Kingdom, they were to love their neighbors as themselves, and treat orphans, widows, and sojourners as they wanted to be treated while under human rulers.

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“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:15-18)

There are no different expectations for the performance of justice as there are for the administering of mercy. It is still the obligation of every believer to rebuke, correct, and chastise one’s neighbor rather than outsourcing that necessity to socialist institutions and bastions of legislative, executive, or judicial perversion. It is the Christian prerogative to reprove such works of darkness without partaking with them:

“Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:7-11)

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?” (Micah 6:8-10)

“Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:3)

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

A believer who is slothful in being a preservative agent of righteousness within the Kingdom of Heaven will be cast out from the Christian civil society and must go back under the rule of men. This is echoed in the fact that Agitation is one of the modes of Abolitionist ideology. It is that willingness to declare the Perfect Law of Liberty to a society heading towards moral and fiscal bankruptcy that is expressed as a “light of the world.” The early Christians were baptizing former Romans into their civil society, convincing them by the good works that come with obeying God’s Law. The Christian Kingdom was growing in prosperity and population the entire time that the Roman kingdom was waning in the darkness of late-stage empire. But these good works were renewed at every available opportunity through the personal responsibility towards holding each other accountable within the Kingdom of God. 

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Often this injunction to “assemble” together is twisted by churchians to refer to church attendance on Sunday mornings where the assembling consists of sophistry, sing-alongs, and maybe some potluck interaction. In the first century, however, the principle of assembling into abolitionist societies was a political endeavor to maintain a free society, separated from Roman subjugation and its civil enrollment. It was the obligation of every believer, as commanded by Christ, to be organized into adhocratic congregations of ten families.

“And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down.” (Luke 9:11-15)

“He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.” (Mark 6:38-44)

This command was not a one-time event in order to display a miracle of multiplied providence. It was a model for a free society that the early Christians practiced and organized themselves after, calling it the Kingdom of Heaven, and it was a promise of prosperity if they were to obey this obligation. In order to have their own kingdom, they needed to have natural, adhocratic political units (Abolitionist Societies) so that they could efficiently “break bread from house to house” in their daily ministration, as performed by their servant ministers, and to expect God to multiply their freewill offerings as Providence for those within His Kingdom. It was effective for these five-thousand elders, or patriarchs, to congeal their families in this multitude gregariously, first by fifties, then by hundreds, until each congregation was formed by ten families in a decagon, and each decagon served by its own minister who also acted as a connection point to other ministers of other decagons. The purpose of insisting on referring to congregations as decagons in this context is to give an etymological reference to explain why these servant ministers were called deacons: who are servants of ten families. One synonym for deacon is tithingman, which is also a servant of ten families. A tithe is a freewill offering given by one elder to a minister based on his character, and service to the patriarch’s family. As such, it is one-tenth of the total freewill offerings a good minister should expect to receive, to sustain him as needed.

“To this day, at least among the Jews, all it takes to form a synagog is ten elders! Ten men, rather. They constitute enough for one ruler, and without any rabbii called they constitute a synagog and the elder who was chosen by the ten heads of household conduct the services. That’s the way it was. The apostles as they went out established, Paul for example, church after church in one place after another and he appointed and ordained elders, and he moved on.” (Rushdoony, R. J. The church under god’s law. RR323A2 – The World Under God’s Law.)

It is unfortunate that Rushdoony makes the same common error as most churchians in confusing the role of “pastor” for the term of “elder,” but in overlooking this persistent mistake, it’s easy to see the common thread concerning the pattern of “ten.” Pastors, or ministers, were the called-out servants of society, though definitively not “rulers.” Elders were the “heads of household,” referring to the oldest man, or patriarch, in each extended family. They could be considered rulers in a free society, but only over their own house and collection of capital, equity, and allodium in addition to their use by those within his filial jurisdiction.

The term for “company” used by Christ is hijacking the Greek Symposium which was a culturally significant assembling of men in Ancient Greece for the purpose of having friendly discussions over drinking and banqueting. The idea that each company in the above passage had their own banquet “table,” separated from the tables of other companies stresses the intimate pattern of God’s society where there are ten families per congregation. The benefits of the Symposium in ancient Greece included keeping its members honest and candid, where its hard discussions in friendly settings promoted lasting virtue in its attendants. Likewise, the sumposion in the relevant passage is partially derived from “pino” which refers, “figuratively, to receive into the soul what serves to refresh strengthen, nourish it unto life eternal.

The term for “rank” in the passage, from the Greek prasia, refers to a garden bed, which is separated by dividers to isolate kinds of vegetables. The Hebrew idiom, from which it is derived means the same thing: “they reclined in ranks or divisions, so that several ranks formed, as it were separate plots.” Clearly, the connotation of “rank” does not refer to hierarchy or authority, but is about an adhocratic way to network small groups of citizens into a free society, specifically by tens, then fifties, then hundreds… and as such could ensure an efficient way to account for everyone enrolled into the Kingdom of God. This pattern was indispensable during Pentecost when thousands of Jewish patriarchs accepted Jesus Christ as the King over their families and were baptized for them into His Kingdom. This method of adhocratic organization was effective and efficient to organize them into new congregations so that they could be enrolled into the daily ministration of charity performed by their called-out servant-pastors.

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It is absurd and self-defeating to expect to perform the weightier matters without seeking and belonging to a society based on this Kingdom model. This way of political organization and the weightier matters are inseparable conceptually and ontologically, because only in a fractal network is a society reliant on the personal responsibility of every man, woman, and child to the proliferation of God’s Law without perverting justice, mercy, or faith. Instead of political parties and bastions of bureaucracy, righteousness is maintained by family members and their called-out servants. Socialist compulsion is replaced by freewill tithing. Civil contracts are replaced by faith. Covetous entitlements are replaced by hope. Taxation is replaced by charity. To reiterate the point more succinctly: Abolitionist Societies networked together across the planet, in accordance with God’s Law, keeping the weightier matters, free from subject citizenship to the civil administrations of human rulers is the exclusive definition of the Kingdom of Heaven. This pattern for political affiliation in a free society is the obligation of every believer, lest they take God’s name in vain.

If you are curious as to what a society might look like that has long forgotten the value of personal responsibility and scriptural obligation to God’s model for society, then you only need to look at the current state of affairs in any given pagan society characterized by Egyptian bondage:

For instance, when your culture is starving for nobility of character and moral action, it obsesses over entertainment showcasing, say, superheroes. Instead of doing hard things, it worships fictional depictions of those who do, living vicariously through their mythical exploits and feats of character and moral excellence.

More nefariously, it is quick to believe the institutional propaganda that agents of institution are themselves worthy of hero worship. These priests and priestesses of their respective pagan temples, from policing agents and firefighters, or doctors and nurses, or celebrity pastors and careerist philanthropists are gatekeepers; unquestioning respect for their profession is necessary to be members-in-full-standing of our socialist culture at large. Part of the institutional propaganda to galvanize this brainwashed respect is carefully repeated in pithy cheerleading: “Support our troops.” “Back the Blue.” “Support Healthcare Heroes.” “They are on the frontlines.”…

The reality is that, not only is true heroism incompatible with any example of careerism, but these institutionalists pervert in practice the very ideals they profess to hold. They are each pillars of oppression and deceit and barbarism in their own specific ways, but they unanimously have one truth with which they are in contradiction: heroism is about who you are as a person of self-sacrificial integrity, not what you do for a living as a cushy job with guaranteed income.

Heroism is a lifestyle of honor and compassion reflected in a person’s character, and not a costume of combat boots, scrubs, and badges. Heroes do not slay dragons for a paycheck. Bounty hunters do. Heroes do not rescue princesses for money. Delivery boys do. Heroes do not live off of guaranteed income provided by tax funds extracted from their neighbor by force as is common in a socialist society. Extortionists do. “Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.” (Peter S. Beagle)

Real heroes serve, not merely call themselves servants (public or otherwise) while they exercise authority or hold rank. Real heroes sacrifice their wealth and comfort in order to better serve people of their own ambition rather than collect a salary for their deeds. Real heroes maintain lifestyles in contradiction to institutionalism and inspire others to do the same. Real heroes lay down their very lives for their friends, and not just put on a uniform for them. Real heroes sacrifice everything to provide liberty to their neighbor, even in the face of retribution from the “heroes” of institution who come to crucify them. It is the obligation of every believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to emulate Him in being a real hero.

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Come-Outerism: The Duty of Secession from a Corrupt Church by William Goodell

Come-Outerism: The Duty of Secession from a Corrupt Church by William Goodell

What follows is a historically relevant precedent for an apologetic in favor of the idea that it is the obligation of every professing abolitionist to confront and agitate professing christians on the grounds of their being derelict in their responsibilities towards the weightier matters of God’s Law, their sloth in failing to seek God’s Kingdom, and how their distracting rituals in their government-owned buildings are not safe spaces to shield them from the harsh truth that they take God’s name in vain.

While Goodell provides a tacit logical proof in support of a continued grass-roots approach towards repentance, revival, and obedience to God, we recognize that some of his presuppositions are inaccurate: specifically, he is mistaken about how Scripture defines a “church” and how it does not refer to a musty building with sing-song and sophist rituals, or even to a fellowship of believers, but to the network of ministers who sustain their congregations of families in a daily ministration of their charity. If Christians sought the Kingdom of God as they should, and kept Heaven’s political model for society, then their adhocratic accountability would entirely remodel what we call “Christianity.”

Anyway, the pamphlet is long enough without needing too thorough of an opening disclaimer:

NEW YORK:

AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,

142 NASSAU STREET.

1845.

James G. Birney has proved that the “American Church is the Bulwark of American Slavery,” and Stephen S. Foster that “the American church and clergy are a Brotherhood of Thieves.” Having thus shown the American church to be corrupt, we present our friends with another link in the chain of argument, from the hand of William Goodell of Utica, being his well-known Essay on the “Duty of Secession from a Corrupt Church.”

The American Anti-Slavery Society is frequently charged with being opposed to all church organizations. The charge has been again and again both denied and refuted. Those who care to know our views in regard to the churches of the country and the course we urge our members to adopt, will find them clearly defined in the following pages. Though we differ on other points, on this Mr. Goodell and ourselves are entirely agreed.

The very head and front of our offending

Hath this extent — no more. W. P.

DUTY OF SECESSION FROM A CORRUPT CHURCH.

Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ — Rev. xviii. 4.

Our Protestant commentators tell us that by the ‘Babylon‘ of the Apocalypse, we are to understand a CORRUPT CHURCH, and that the proclamation which John heard in heaven — ‘Come out of her, my people’ is to be regarded as a divine admonition to all faithful Christians, warning them to secede from such a church, as from the Anti-Christ, doomed to perdition, at the brightness of the Savior’s appearing. It is true they suppose, that the corrupt church, particularly intended, is the church of Rome; but it is nevertheless equally true that their construction of the passage involves and is founded upon the principle, that whenever and wherever a church, (however distinguished, once, by the divine presence and favor) becomes corrupt and apostate, it is the duty of all true Christians connected with it, to secede from it, because it has thus apostatized, and is become corrupt. It has never been doubted that the church of Rome was once a true church, and the reason always given for coming out of her is her apostacy and corruption.

Nor is it pretended that the Romish church is the only corrupt, apostate, anti-Christian church that the world has yet seen, and that is now to be found. The Greek church has commonly been considered by Protestants to be essentially on the same foundation with the Romish. And both in Old England and New England, the founders of our present churches and denominational arrangements have repeatedly gone through the process of ‘gathering churches out of churches’ (Cotton Mather’s prediction concerning the churches in New England.), on the same principle. The Puritans derived their name from their efforts to secure, in this way, a pure church. And if it be true, as it doubtless is, that secessions have often been made on lighter grounds than the alleged apostacy, and anti-Christian character of the church seceded from, that fact only places in a still stronger light the universal recognition, by Protestants, of the duty of seceding from an anti-Christian church. Indeed, to deny that duty would be equivalent to renouncing the Protestant faith, and would require our return to the Romish communion.

Our commentators, moreover, do not commonly construe the Babylon of the Revelations to mean exclusively the Romish church, nor do they confine the application of the command, in the text, to the Protestant reformers, nor to the duty of seceding from the Romish communion. Thomas Scott says, expressly:

‘This summons concerns all persons in every age; they who believe in Christ, and worship God in the spirit, should separate from so corrupt a Church, AND FROM ALL OTHERS THAT COPY HER EXAMPLE of idolatry, persecution, CRUELTY and TYRANNY, and avoid being partakers of her sins, even if they have renounced her communion, or else they may expect to be involved in her plagues’.

In describing, still further, the anti-Christian practices, on account of which the Romish church, and ‘all others that copy her example,’ should be renounced, and separated from as corrupt and anti-Christian, the same writer adds:

‘Not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, which is the most infamous of all traffics that the demon of avarice ever devised, but by no means the most uncommon. The sale of indulgences, dispensations, absolutions, masses and bulls, hath greatly enriched the clergy and their dependants, to the deceiving and destroying the souls of millions, and thus by feigned words they made merchandize of them ‘, nor has the management of Church preferments and many other things, been any better than trafficking in human souls; and it would be gratifying if we could say that this merchandize has been peculiar to the ROMISH anti-Christ.’

Again, in his ‘Practical Observations‘ on the chapter, the same commentator says:

‘Too often INJUSTICE, OPPRESSION, fraud. avarice or excessive indulgence are connected with extensive commerce, and to number the persons of men with beasts, sheep and horses, as the stock of a farm, or with bales of goods, as the cargo of a ship, is, no doubt, a most detestable and unchristian practice, fit only for Babylon the Great.’

And, after alluding again to those who ‘traded in the souls of men,’ in the way of ecclesiastical traffic in cures and benefices, he adds:

‘How fervently should we then pray that God would raise up reformers, who may contend as firmly, as perseveringly, and as successfully, against this vile merchandize, as some honorable and philanthropical persons have against the accursed slave trade. For, when Christ shall come again, to drive the buyers and sellers out of the temple, he will have much to do with other places besides Rome’

Again:

‘But the vengeance of Heaven is coming upon Rome, not for gestures, garbs and ceremonies, though multiplied, ridiculous, and of bad consequence in themselves, but for idolatry, ambition, OPPRESSION, CRUELTY to the people of God, imposture, AVARICE, LICENTIOUSNESS and spiritual TYRANNY. These are the sins, which have reached to the heavens, the iniquities which God remembers, and the evils FOR WHICH we must STAND ALOOF from her communion, and that of ALL OTHERS THAT RESEMBLE HER, or we shall be involved in their destruction.’

Thus we have Scott’s authority for identifying the abominations of a pro-slavery Protestant church with those of the church of Rome — for applying the warning voice of the text to the former as well as to the latter — for insisting that cruelty, tyranny, injustice, oppression, the trafficking in the ‘souls of men,’ the numbering of the persons of men with beasts, sheep and horses — with bales of goods — are preeminently among the iniquities, a participation in which makes a church (however once favored and spiritual) an anti-Christian church — ‘the evils for which we must stand aloof from her communion, and that of all others that resemble her, or we shall be involved in their destruction.’

It was a flagrant outrage upon self-evident and fundamental morality on the part of the Romish church, that arrested the attention of Luther, and convinced him that such a church could not be the true church of Christ That sale of indulgences to commit crime was nothing different, in character, from the tacit consent of the American churches in general, and with few exceptions, that those to whom they extend religious fellowship, and with whom they voluntarily sustain ecclesiastical relations, may continue to practice abominations equal to any conceived or provided for by the customers of John Tetzel: and this is true, whether commercial, political, ecclesiastical or social advantages constitute the purchase money pocketed by the churches. The common complaint, that the agitation of the subject disturbs and endangers the churches, and hazards their peace, sufficiently attests this.

But are our commentators right in teaching the duty of secession from a corrupt and anti-Christian church — a church guilty of cruelty, tyranny, oppression, avarice, injustice — a church that trafficks in slaves, in bodies and soul of men — a church that consents to, or tolerates, or licences such abominations among its allies and supporters? And were the Protestant Reformers right, in acting upon this same principle of secession from such a corrupt church?

In maintaining the affirmative of this question, we shall endeavor, first to explain, and then prove and illustrate, the duty of secession from an apostate church.

I. FALLACIOUS CREDENTIALS.

The discussion before us requires a clear understanding of what is meant by a corrupt, or apostate, or anti-Christian church. In order to this, it may be well to notice a few things, very commonly relied upon as evidences or credentials of a sound Christian church, which, on reflection, will be found to be no evidences at all; being common to true churches and to many of those that have apostatized.

1. HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS.

Many persons seem to take it for granted, that their church must be a true church, because it was founded by the authority of God, and by wise and good men, or because it consisted of good men, at the time of its organization or at some past period of its history — because it was founded on the true model, was enriched with divine influences, was abundantly favored with effusions of the Holy Spirit, and was remarkably instrumental in the conversion of sinner and the spread of the true religion.

Many of the descendants or successors of the Puritans seem to reason in this way. So do many of the followers John Wesley. At least, they evidently feel thus, if they would not adventure to frame an argument upon the assumption. On the same principle, other sects boast the apostolical succession of their ministers and bishops. The Romanists, by the same rule, prove their church to be the true church, and all seceders from it to be schismatics. And the Pharisees could defend themselves in the same way, again the scathing denunciations of the Messiah, who reproved them for their oppressions, by boasting, ‘We have Abraham for our father!’

This method of proving a church to be a true church of God, will never become plausible until it is made to appear that men, whose forefathers or predecessors were righteous, were always righteous themselves, or that God will accept men for the righteousness of their progenitors or predecessors, whatever their own characters may be. But it is a method which will probably continue in use, so long as anything else besides the exhibition of present good fruits and of sound Christian character shall be made a test either of church membership, or of the character of an assembly or church.

2. RITUALS — OBSERVANCES.

Either with or without a reference to the historical documents of their sect, many persons seem to claim a Christian character for their respective churches, on account of their present adherence to a scriptural church polity — regular organization — regular ordained pastors— exact and scrupulous observance of positive institutions — rites— ceremonies — ordinancesbaptismssacrificesfastsfeastssabbaths — meetings — prayersworship.

One sect is founded and supported on the simple ground of its supposed scriptural accuracy in respect to water baptism — another on the ground of its supposed observance of the precise day originally designated as the Sabbath — another on the ground of its rejecting outward rites and observances altogether. Partizans of these and other religions sects not unfrequently manifest their reliance on these circumstances, in estimating the Christian character of their church or sect. Tell them wherein their church or sect has openly violated the fundamental principles of a sound Christian morality — trampled upon the crushed poor, or neglected to plead faithfully in their behalf— alas! they know it all — they confess it all — they lament it all. They are even loud, perhaps, in their complaints of these delinquencies; they have been so, for many years, and they see no prospect of a change for the better. But they cannot think of seceding from their sect or church. Oh! no! That would be the sin of ‘schism.’ Why so? Because they think their church is, after all, a true Christian church, and they thus judge, because their definition of a church of Christ obliges them to give the Christian name to all the churches that they regard as having been scripturally constituted and regularly organized and governed, and who maintain in their purity and integrity the scriptural observances and rituals of religion.

If this sort of credentials can prove a church to be a true church, then the Pharisees, in Christ’s time, and their fathers in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, could have readily proved themselves to constitute the true church of God. The first and fifty-eighth chapters of Isaiah, and the seventh of Jeremiah, will show in what estimation God regards credentials of this sort, when separated from a practical regard for the oppressed and the crushed.

3. AN ORTHODOX CREED.

But when, in addition to their historical and ritual credentials, the members of a church can point to their correct orthodox creed, they often seem to think that the evidence is complete, and that no dereliction of duty towards the oppressed can prove that such a church is not a true church of Christ.

A profession of correct Christian principles is a very good thing, but it is only a profession, after all, and professions without practice will avail nothing to prove Christian character, either in an individual or in a church. The creed of a church is its profession — and if it be a correct creed, it is a profession of sound principles — nothing more. These principles or ‘doctrines’ are ‘according to godliness.’ — They furnish the grounds, the reasons, the motives for a correct Christian practice. If truely loved and obeyed, a correct Christian practice and a sound Christian character will be the result. An intelligent profession of these principles amounts to an intelligent promise to perform all the duties of religion; and therefore a church covenant is appended to the church creed. But what if the promise is habitually and constantly broken, at vital points, instead of being performed? Will the promise avail instead of the performance? If so (but not otherwise) a correct orthodox creed may prove the Christian character of a church that neglects and refuses to plead for the Lord’s poor! Till then, it will be true that the orthodox creed of such a delinquent church will be its condemnation, instead of its security. It will be the sure evidence of its guilt It will testify that (unless the creed were stupidly adopted, without a consideration even of its meaning) the church has sinned and is sinning against its known and recognized principles of duty, and must therefore be doubly condemned. The orthodox Pharisees, on this account, were more pointedly condemned by the Savior than the heretical Sadducees, who made lower professions. The grossly heretical churches of our own day, that do not plead for the oppressed, have sinned against less light, and probably contracted less guilt, and become less intolerably odious and offensive in God’s sight, than many of the churches that rely on the evangelical creeds to screen them from censure on account of their practical derelictions. They do less dishonor to God, to Christ, to Christian principles — to the very principles in the distinctive profession of which they glory; and on the loving reception of which human salvation depends. When God rises to judgment, the churches that ‘hold the truth in unrighteousness’ must drink a double portion, and drain the cup of trembling to the last dregs. Far be thy feet, Christian reader, from the threshold of such churches then! In that day it will be seen that the positive institutions of Christianity and the revelations of a sound Christian faith, in their integrity and purity, were talents put into the hands of the churches, to be improved; and that if buried and disregarded, they will prove swift witnesses against them.

4. MISSIONARY ZEAL — EFFORTS TO CONVERT SOULS — RELIGIOUS EXCITEMENTS.

These are often regarded as the sure signs that a church is, of course, a true Christian church, and no exhibitions of its inhumane CRUELTY and its CONTEMPT or fundamental MORALITY will reverse the decision! All this betrays an utter ignorance or forgetfulness of true religion itself— of the things wherein it essentially consists. ‘This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.’ The ‘pure religion’ of James — of the ‘golden rule’ — of the two great commandments on which ‘hang all the law and the prophets,’ seems to have no place even in the conceptions of those who rely on such tests.

Equally regardless are such men of the facts of the world’s history and of its present spiritual condition. The Pharisees could compass sea and land to make one proselyte. In their devotions, they were sufficiently vociferous and earnest, breaking out, as by irrepressible impulse, at the very corners of the streets. They were by no means the cold-hearted, stiff, dull, phlegmatic formalists that some men picture them to be. Paul regarded himself as having been exceedingly mad, absolutely insane, with the prevalent enthusiasm of the sect, before his conversion. The same spirit composed the atmosphere of the Romish church, at the very period when its spiritual despotism and its manifold corruptions were engendered and ripened into giant maturity. The present mummeries and superstitions of that church are but the skeletons, the shells, the monuments of its ancient enthusiasm, fanaticism, mysticism and rhapsody. (See Spiritual Despotism’ by the author of ‘Natural History of Enthusiasm— a work in which the rise of the Papal power is traced with a graphic pencil, and shown to have grown up, along with its absurd and blasphemous pretensions and dogmas, out of the rank soil of a spurious; religious excitement, in which reason and common sense were outraged, and the practical duties of life set aside, as unworthy the attention of the spiritually minded and devout.) To galvanize this skeleton into its former life and activity, to revive again and to restore the departed spirit of its now unmeaning rituals — the spirit of the most soul-stirring and wide-spreading enthusiasm the world oversaw — appears to be the object of Dr. Pusey, and the writers of the ‘Oxford tracts.’ And not a few of the most zealous among the English clergy, of the ‘evangelical‘ stamp, the patrons of ‘revivals,’ have been captivated by them, and drawn away to ‘wander after the beast, whose deadly wound’ is likely to be ‘healed ‘ by the process. If modern travellers may be credited, something of the spirit invoked by the Puseyists has been conjured up, in Popish countries, not infrequently, within the last century.

At Naples, in Sicily, in various parts of Italy, in Portugal, and in South America, there have been repeated religious excitements, among the Romanists, in our own day, the description of which casts into the shade — so far as excitement and intense emotion are concerned — the religious excitements of our own country. Whole cities have spontaneously thrown aside their secular avocations, for a succession of days, and in some cases for weeks, it is said. The population, en masse, have eagerly thronged the streets in procession, moved by alternate terrors and transports — sometimes wringing their hands in agony, dashing themselves headlong upon the pavements or into the mire, and imploring the intercession of the ‘Blessed Virgin’ for the forgiveness of their sins. Then receiving absolution from their priests with frantic gestures and clamorous exultations. But did these Romish ‘revivals ‘ bring forth the fruits of righteousness? Ah! that is the question by which Protestant as well as Romish revivals should be tested. What should be thought of revivals conducted by itinerating evangelists, who carry on, likewise, a traffic in men, women and children, during their revivals? Such things have been witnessed, and a prominent minister lately preached, in Baltimore, with a pair of handcuffs in his pocket, which, immediately after the sermon, he put upon a female slave, on ship board, to be transported to the South. And we have, all over the country, ‘revivals’ conducted by preachers who will not plead for the enslaved — nor listen to such a plea — nor suffer their church doors to be opened for one — by preachers in close fellowship and brotherly intercourse with the slave-buying preachers of the South (The editors of our northern religious newspapers, for the most part, are just as ready to record, in tones of gratulation, the revivals in the slave States, as any other; though they cannot be ignorant that the preachers are commonly slaveholders, and that the mass of the converts continue to be either slaveholders or slaves!), and making up a common purse with them, to send the gospel to the heathen! What shall we think of such efforts to convert sinners and to evangelize the world? Can such ‘missionary exertions and revival efforts,’ with the excitements growing out of them, prove that a church, though devoid of humanity, and trampling decent morality and common honesty under foot, is a true Christian church? If so, why may we not join with the clergy of Rio Janeiro and of Naples, in promoting revivals, and with the Jesuits in carrying the gospel to China? No revivalists have got up greater excitements. No Missionaries have been more enterprising, or have numbered a greater company of Converts. There is a philosophy that counts it a sign of a sickly state of religion to make nice metaphysical distinctions between true religion and false. The healthiest state of religion, it teaches, is that in which men are religious, without knowing why or wherefore — without understanding or inquiring wherein true religion consists. If this be sound philosophy, and if ignorance be, therefore, the mother of devotion, all we need is zeal and excitement, and we may venture to harmonize with all who exhibit quantum sufficit those qualities, without stopping to dissect, to analyze, to scrutinize either their character or their fruits. But if religion be a ‘reasonable service’ — if God invites us to ‘consider our ways’ — to ‘know what manner of spirit we are of — to ‘examine’ ourselves — to ‘try the spirits whether they be of God’ — to ‘beware of false prophets — to ‘take heed and beware of men’; — then the philosophy of unconscious, unknowing, undiscriminating, impulsive, mystic, unexplainable religious excitement should be tossed to the breeze or into the moonbeams; and manly reflection, and logical scrutiny, and homely common sense should be welcomed into the field of experimental religion, as well as of everyday business and demonstrative science. The missionary and revival claims of churches in league with oppressors will be understood and adjusted then.

Are we censorious, severe, profane or hostile towards revivals of pure religion, because we thus speak? Turn over the voluminous writings of our own distinguished American theologians, on this very subject. Examine what Edwards, and Bellamy, and Smalley, and Hopkins, and Emmons have written concerning religious revivals and conversions, and upon the necessity of discriminating between true false and the true. You shall there see, in substance, all we have here written, and much more, that we have not room to write. You shall learn from those unimpeachable witnesses, the abundant occasion there has been, in this country, to enter into discussions and discriminations of this sort. You shall be instructed that religious excitements are, (of themselves, and aside from the good fruits they produce,) no evidences in favor of either an individual or a church, being common to all the religions of the known world, the false as well as the true, the Romish as well as the Protestant, the Pagan as well as the Christian — that they are as common on the banks of the Ganges as on the Connecticut or the Hudson — that nothing short of practical good fruits and holy living can furnish any evidences of truly gracious affections, and that where love to God and man, and a filial discharge of the relative duties of life, are not exhibited, all religious emotions, and excitements, and transports, are worthless and vain. (To this very point, the closing part— the climax of ‘Edwards on the Affections’ is devoted, and the absurdity of the too prevalent notion to the contrary is shown up with the cool, latent, solemn, weighty irony for which the gigantic author is so remarkable. Edwards on the Revival contains much to the same purpose.)

An almost incredible amount of labor, (and by the ablest and most honored ministers of the country,) has been expended to expose the worthlessness of ‘revivals’ that do not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. And yet, after all, the ’well substantiated and unrebutted charge against a large‘ portion of the ‘American churches,’ that they are the very ‘bulwarks of American slavery,’ with all its abominations and its blood, is gravely met, forsooth, with the plea that these churches must not be charged with apostacy, because they are blessed with ‘revivals.’!

5. CONVERSIONS — PIOUS MEMBERS AND MINISTERS.

It will be pleaded, nevertheless, that there are, to some extent, true revivals of religion in the churches that stand aloof from the cause of the enslaved — at any rate, that some instances of true conversion take place in their midst, and that among their members and ministers they enrol many persons of undisputed piety, including a large portion of the active friends of the enslaved. How, then, it will be asked, can we come to the conclusion that they are not to be regarded as true churches of Christ? And how can we be called upon to abandon the churches which Christ has not abandoned, and whom be still visits with the converting and reviving influences of his Spirit? Answer, — Zecharias and Elizabeth, and many others of their day, were pious persons, and were converted, of course, in the bosom of the Jewish church. But the Jewish church, at that time, was, nevertheless, apostate, and as such, was doomed to be cast off speedily, and overthrown. And the multitude of converts, afterwards, under the preaching of John the Baptist, of Jesus Christ, and of their disciples, and even on the day of Pentecost, did not prove the Jewish church to be in a sound state, nor avert the catastrophe that followed. The great majority, including the leading and governing influences and officials, were corrupt, and, instead of repenting, filled up the measure of their iniquities, in the midst of these conversions and “revivals.” And so the Jewish Church, as such, was broken off for its unbelief.

The Romish church, in her worst state, could boast her truly pious members and ministers. True conversions, of course, took place in her bosom. Who doubts the piety of Thomas a Kempis, and Fenelon, and Massillon, and Bourdaloue — men whose writings are still read for edification and instruction by the best Protestant Christians? Luther and the reformers were converted while members of the Romish church. Was that circumstance a good reason why they should not repudiate and abandon her, as anti-christian? By this rule, the Protestant Reformation could never have taken place. For none would abandon the Romish church for her anti-christian character, before they were themselves converted, but as soon as they there converted, the rule we have under consideration would require them to regard the church wherein they were converted a true church, because of their conversion, and therefore it would be schismatic to secede.

It is commonly held that the true church was comprised for the most part within the Romish communion, until the time of the Reformation, when it ‘came out’ in accordance with the admonition of our text. Had they listened to the objection under review, they would, nevertheless, have remained. And when the Protestant secession took place, it was not on the principle that no true Christians were left behind, or that conversions there had utterly ceased to take place; but it was on the principle that the church, as such, the church as a body, the church as governed, was anti-Christian and corrupt.

The truth is, the converting grace and power of the Holy Spirit are not limited wholly to the churches and the communities that Jesus Christ regards as truly Christian — nor to the instrumentalities that true churches embody and wield in his service. God converted Abraham amidst the idolatrous worshippers in Ur of the Chaldees; but that did not prove the idolaters true worshippers, nor nullify the call to Abraham to come out from among them, and be separate. He converted Cornelius, and ‘in every nation, he that fears God, and works righteousness, is accepted of him.‘ Mahomedans and Hindoos, when converted at all, are converted before they secede from their anti-christian, ecclesiastical connections, but this does not prove that those connections are sacred, and divinely appointed. In short, the objection assumes a principle which would prove that the wide world itself is the Christian church, for it cannot be doubted that conversions sometimes take place in the world and without the employment of any direct instrumentalities by an organized church.

We conclude, then, that neither historical credentials, nor ritual observances, nor orthodox creeds, nor missionary zeal, nor religious excitements, nor real conversions, nor a minority of truly pious members and ministers, nor all of these combined, can prove a church, as a whole, to be a true Christian church.

II. DEFINITION OF A CORRUPT CHURCH.

What then do we mean by a corrupt church?

A church is not to he renounced as corrupt and anti-christian, merely because its members are not absolutely faultless — nor merely because it may contain some corrupt and wicked members, whose hypocrisy is undetected by their associates — nor because its faith and practice may be, in some measure, and in minor particulars, ‘defective and faulty.’

But a church becomes manifestly corrupt and anti-christian, whenever a majority of its members, or its leading and governing members, and officers, and influences, become so. A Christian church is an assembly or congregation of ‘faithful men’ An anti-christian church is an assembly or congregation of unfaithful men. The character of an assembly or church is nothing distinct from the character of the members of which it is composed, and the influence which, as a body, it exerts.

A professed Temperance Society ceases to be really such; when its members, or a majority of them, cease to be temperance men, and to exert, individually, and as a body, an influence in favor of true temperance. And so a professed Christian church ceases to be truly Christian, when its members, or a majority of them, cease to be so, and when, at vital points, they fail, either individually or collectively, to exert an influence in favor of righteousness, humanity and truth.

A church may prove itself corrupt and anti-christian, by its course, in either of the following particulars, viz:

By its renunciation of any of the fundamental truths of the Christian religion;

By trampling on humanity, or disregarding its essential claims;

By habitually violating the precepts of a sound Christian morality;

By becoming carnally minded, and covetous, instead of spiritually minded and benevolent;

By an absence of the spirit of Christ — or by ceasing to do his work — the work for which Christian churches were founded;

By despotic usurpations — and lording it over God’s heritage;

By willfully retaining ungodly and wicked men in their communion and fellowship: for ‘a little leaven leavens the whole lump.’ (I Cor. v. 6 -13.) The church becomes responsible for, and is infected with the iniquity which it sanctions by its fellowship with the transgressor.

III. SECESSION. A REASONABLE AND INDISPENSABLE DUTY.

What good reason can anyone give for retaining a connection with a corrupt church — an anti-christian church — such a church as has been described? For what purpose should you remain? What obligation do you thus discharge? What divine precept do you thus obey? What heaven-appointed relation do you honor? It cannot be the relation between Christians and the church of Christ, for an anti-christian church is not His.

What is there to cling to, in remaining with such a church? Do you thereby fasten yourselves to the throne of the Eternal — to the great principles that form the pillars of the universe? Do you thereby cling to God, to Christ, to the Holy Comforter, the Reprover of Sin, the Revealer of Righteousness and Judgment to come? On the other hand, do you not weaken, if not sever, the cords that bind you to these, to the kingdom of heaven, by cherishing connections of so opposite and hostile a character? Ponder, carefully, a few of the reasons why you should secede from such an apostate church.

1. IT IS A SHAM CHURCH — A DECEPTION.

Its credentials are fallacious, its claims are not valid. It relies on its historical documents, its parchments, its rituals, its creeds, its professions, its partizan zeal, its proselytizing activity, its periodical or occasional excitements. It claims to be true, because there are true men who have not yet deserted it! It claims to be Christ’s church, because its iniquities have not yet wholly intercepted and quenched the overflowing streams of divine mercy, and driven away the Divine Spirit from all of its members, and from the entire human race! This is the full inventory of its fair claims. Here its appeal rests. Farther than this, it cannot honestly go. As for performing its abundant promises, as for preaching deliverance to the captives, executing judgment for the oppressed, pleading the cause of the poor, delivering the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, remembering them that are in bonds as bound with them, showing the people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sin, coming up to the help of the Lord against the giant crimes of the age, cleansing her own garments from the clotted gore of human victims —this. This is a work that she cannot pretend to have performed, to have commenced, to have desired, to have contemplated, at all! How worthless, then, are her claims! Such a church professes to be what it is not. It is a counterfeit, an imposition, a deceit, a sham. What right can any man have to cling to a deception, to say by his connection with it that he considers it a veritable reality, a thing of worth, and deserving veneration and confidence? Reader! If you believe such a church to be Christ’s church, you are deceived, and do dishonor the Savior, and the institutions he has founded. If you believe no such thing, and yet maintain a connection with it, you certify to an untruth, for your connection with it says to everybody that you consider it a true church.

2. CONNECTION WITH SUCH A CHURCH MUST BE SINFUL.

You cannot maintain a connection with a corrupt church without becoming partaker of her sins, and receiving of her plagues. So says the voice from heaven, which John heard, In Patmos. And conscience, and reason, and common sense testify to the same thing. In all human affairs, the principle now insisted upon is practically recognized.

3. GUILT OF ACCESSORIES.

All communities hold persons responsible for the crimes to which they are accessory, by giving countenance and support to the principals, or actual offenders. If a person merely looks on and sees the commission of a crime, but does nothing to prevent it, if he conceals it, or still associates with the wrong doers, thereby giving them the currency and support of his influence in society, and thus enabling them to continue and extend their injuries in the community, all men will hold such an individual responsible for the crimes of his associates; and, in most cases, the civil law itself will deal with him as severely as with the principal transgressors themselves.

If an organized society or association of any description commits a criminal act — if, for example, it authorizes the murder of one of its own members, or of any other person, whom it may deem an enemy or offender — if the murder be accordingly committed by the officers or committees of the society, or by volunteer executors of its will — an intelligent and right-minded community will hold each and every member of that society responsible for the crime, if they knew of it either before or after its commission, and did not do all in their power to prevent it, or to bring the criminals to justice. And, in case the society, as such, or its leading members, seek to shelter the criminals, or justify or apologize for the crime, or refuse to repent of its commission, the persons who still continue to remain members of such a society, will always be held more or less culpable or guilty, whatever protestations of their own personal innocence they may make. This weight of responsibility will rest on them, so long as they live, unless they withdraw their fellowship and support from the society or association that committed the crime, or sheltered the criminals. God has so framed the human mind, that men must, and will, of necessity, throw the blame of a society’s criminal acts upon the individual that continues to give the society his support. And God himself has abundantly revealed (as in the text) his own fixed and settled determination to do the same thing. On the same principle, the punishment of national sins falls upon the individuals, however humble their station, of whom the guilty nation is composed.

Suppose now, that, instead of the crime of murder, a society commits the crime of enslaving or imbruting their fellow-men, or of countenancing its members, or others, in that practice, what reason can be given why the same principle should not be applied? And suppose that society should call itself a church, a Christian church — a Presbyterian church — a Methodist church — a Baptist church — a Congregational church — can anybody tell why the same rule should not apply to the associated body, and to the members of whom it is composed? Will the sacredness of church institutions release them from the operation of those great moral laws by which God governs the universe? Such a thought would savor of blasphemy! It would contradict the express declarations of God. It is specially and emphatically in respect to a corrupt church that God says, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and receive not of her plagues.‘ Of all the societies that ever existed among men, a professed Christian church is the association to whom the universal principle of holding the members responsible for the acts of the body, should be most faithfully applied. — For the nature of the organization, and of the objects it was designed to promote, gives prominence to individual accountability, and repudiates the doctrine of subjecting the conscience of the individual, or of the few, to the control of the many. The very business of this organized society, is to teach and exemplify human duty, and when it becomes itself a transgressor, and betrays its high trust, a ten-fold weight of obligation rests on the individual member to withdraw the support of his connection with the apostate body.

A church, like every other associated body, is nothing distinct from the individuals of whom it is composed. And their individuality is not to be destroyed or merged in the ‘corporation.’ To deny the duty of secession from a corrupt body, is to deny and reverse these self-evident axioms. It is to make the man the creature of the association. It is to nullify the command, ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.‘ It is, moreover, to deny, in effect, that accountability or guilt can pertain to associated action, for if these do not pertain to the individuals of whom the body is composed, they can exist nowhere, at all.

4. SECESSION IS REQUIRED BY COMMON HONESTY.

It cannot be consistent with honesty to remain connected with a corrupt and anti-christian church, especially with a church that will not protest against the dishonest robberies and thefts of slavery — a church that maintains fraternal fellowship with the robbers, which is ‘a companion of thieves, and a partaker with adulterers.‘ If there be any dishonesty in slavery, there is dishonesty in the churches that sustain it, and there is dishonesty in those individuals by whom such dishonest churches are knowingly sustained. To deny this, is to deny that men can he ‘partakers in other men’s sins.’ And it must he doubly dishonest to remain connected with such a church, when convinced that the church is anti-christian, apostate, corrupt. For such a church, as already noticed, is itself a deception, a counterfeit, a sham. And he that knowingly gives his countenance and endorsement to a deception, a sham, becomes himself a deceiver. He leads others, so far as his influence extends, to rely upon that which he is persuaded, in his own mind, is unworthy of confidence — to rely upon that upon which he is unwilling himself to rely — a plain breach of the command, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’

Suppose you should join with some of your neighbors in establishing a bank, the business of which, you suppose, is to supply the community with a sound circulating medium, a truly trustworthy currency, that may be depended on, a currency of intrinsic value, and, in reality, what it professes or purports to be. But, after a while, you discover that the main business carried on by the company or the directors, is to manufacture and put in circulation a spurious or counterfeit currency, of no real value, but which the people around you, relying on the reputation and standing of the company and its members, (including such men as yourself,) are ready enough to receive, and render an equivalent for, and pass from one to another. Some of them part with all they have to obtain it; they hoard it, and think themselves independent for life, while you know or suspect that they will find themselves bankrupt, whenever a scrutinizing eye, that of a creditor, perhaps, comes to be fastened upon it.

What would people think of you, if, with a full persuasion of all this, you should continue your connection with such a company? And what would you think of yourself? Would you ever suspect yourself of being an honest man? Or could you satisfy your own conscience, or vindicate your course to your neighbors, by merely declaiming against counterfeit money, and scolding, perhaps, at the directors, for making and passing it? Or could you satisfy yourself or your neighbors, by pleading that the company was regularly organized — that its officers were duly elected and commissioned — that the forms and etiquette suitable, or authoritatively prescribed for such companies, had been scrupulously observed — that they had been very active, zealous, indefatigable, in prosecuting their business, and in multiplying to the greatest possible extent, the specimens of their workmanship, acid in filling every nook and corner of the land or of the world with them? Would you maintain that, after all its delinquencies, it was, nevertheless, a true and trustworthy banking company, on the whole, because of these things, or because, in addition to them all, it had for a long time, in years past, very faithfully circulated a sound currency, and because, even now, a certain proportion of genuine and good money was to be found among its issues?

Would your remonstrance against the spurious emissions satisfy your own conscience, or your injured neighbors, so long as you continued your connection with the company, supported its cashier and clerks by your payments, met with the company at its festivals, enjoyed its warm fires and its sumptuous fare, pocketed your portion of the dividends, and discountenanced, by your example, the efforts of those who would leave the charter of the company taken away, for its malpractices, and the community warned against its deceptions?

The cases, to be sure, are not parallel, in all things, for parables, (as the old divines tell us,) ‘do not run upon all Fours’ — they do not, and cannot agree in all the minor traits of the picture. The finite cannot fully explain the infinite, nor things temporal shadow forth, perfectly, the things unseen and eternal. The loss of an estate, by counterfeit money, is a small matter, compared with the loss of the soul, by receiving, as trustworthy, a counterfeit and worthless religion. The man that makes and passes counterfeit money commits a small crime, and inflicts a light injury, in the comparison with him who gives currency to a spurious religion. A sham church is as much more mischievous and abominable than a sham bank, as the bankruptcy of the soul for eternity, is worse than pecuniary insolvency for life.

The difference between time and eternity, between gold and heaven, between dollars and holiness, is the measure of the different degrees of criminality between the adherent and supporter of a sham bank, and the adherent and supporter of a sham church. No wonder, then, that God says, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

If the keepers of a lighthouse, on the sea-coast, instead of maintaining a true light, should hold out a false light, calculated to deceive the mariner, and make him think himself on a remote and safe point of the coast, when, in fact, he was about running on a reef of rocks, all mankind would cry out against the inhumanity of the person who should continue to lend the keepers of that lighthouse his support, while he knew perfectly well the mischiefs they were doing.

5. COMMON HUMANITY REQUIRES IT.

But the church is set to be the lighthouse of the world, and a false church is a false lighthouse, and lures men to destruction. The man that knowingly supports such a church, is equally guilty with those whose character and teachings make it a false church. Nay, he is, oftentimes, more guilty than they, because he sins against more light.

The pro-slavery members and ministers of a pro-slavery church may really think it to be a true Christian church. But abolitionists belonging to such churches know better, or ought to know better, and cannot well plead ignorance in extenuation of their conduct, in supporting such false and mischievous moral lights. If the light that is in them be darkness, how great is that darkness!

6. DUTY TO THE UNREGENERATE.

Men who know not, experimentally, the truth and reality of religion, have a claim on us for truthfulness and fidelity in all our exhibitions of the religion we profess. Those exhibitions are most impressive that are made by our example. When they see us maintain a visible connection with a church, they have a right to infer that we regard it a true Christian church, and that the example there exhibited is, in our view, and in the main, and notwithstanding our complaints of some defects, a fair Christian example, a specimen of Christian conduct, an exemplification of the religion of Jesus Christ. But if the church is radically corrupt and apostate, then we hold up to them a false specimen of the Christian religion. If they rely on our truthfulness and fidelity, they will be led into fatal mistakes in respect to the nature of that religion. If they are disgusted with it, on account of its injustice and despotism, their rejection of it will be likely to involve their rejection of Christianity altogether, believing (as they must needs do, if they credit our testimony,) that injustice, pride and despotism are not inconsistent with the Christian religion. But if injustice, pride and despotism, be their besetting sins, and if they are intent on finding a religion that will allow them in the practice of these vices, then our testimony will embolden them to trust in the religion of a pro-slavery church, (and the more especially if we profess to be the earnest friends of the enslaved,) — but such a religion being a false religion, and not the religion of Jesus Christ, will do them no good, but bind them more firmly in the delusions of the grand deceiver of souls.

7. DUTY TO OUR FAMILIES.

Some abolitionists cannot bear to think of disconnecting themselves with the pro-slavery churches to which they belong, because, as they say, they want to take their families to some religious meeting on the Sabbath, and they know of no other place of public worship where they could attend. But the first question to settle is, whether slavery be a self-evident and aggravated sin, utterly inconsistent with the Christian religion, and whether an earnest advocacy of the claims of the oppressed be essential to the character of a true Christian, IF THIS BE THE TRUTH, THEN AN INCORRIGIBLE PRO-SLAVERY OR NEUTRAL CHURCH IS AN ANTI-CHRISTIAN CHURCH. And to educate your family in such a church, is to educate them in a false religion, which they must renounce before they can be saved; and the renunciation of which, as already observed, with the renunciation of the Bible itself! If you would do all in your power to shut up your children to the horrible alternative of either embracing a false religion, or else rejecting religion altogether, the most effectual way of securing the result will be, while you profess to abhor and loathe slavery, to educate them in a pro-slavery church to which you lend the sanction of your own membership and support.

Would you educate your children in the Romish church, or teach them to worship in a Mahomedan mosque, because you could get access to no other place of public worship?

You know you would not. And there are professed Protestant Christian churches in this country, whose errors are such, in your view, that you probably would not educate your families in their places of worship. But can they be more odious in God’s sight, or more dangerous to your children, than those professedly evangelical and orthodox churches, where the Lord Jesus Christ himself, (in the persons of his crushed poor, ‘the least of his brethren,’) is scornfully thrust into a corner, or out of doors, and where not a lisp must be uttered in his behalf?

8. DUTY TO THE CHURCHES — TO CHURCH MEMBERS.

We are bound to deal truthfully and honestly with the members of the churches with which we have connected ourselves. If we think them true Christians, and the churches true churches, then we ought to walk lovingly with them, and not pester them incessantly with ‘doubtful disputations’ concerning minor points in which we do not happen to be precisely agreed. Let them go their own way, and we will go ours, in respect to such things. But if the points on which we differ are manifestly vital points, in which the very pith and essence of true religion are, in our view, plainly involved, and if their course be exactly opposite to ours, it follows clearly that either they or we are fundamentally wrong, and that, on one side or the other, there must be a radical change, or else there can be no foundation left, upon which we can truthfully and honestly walk together, in the mutual recognition of each other as Christians. A solemn re-examination of their ground, must then become the duty of both parties. If, after such a review on our part, we still find ourselves unable either to change our opinions, or to conceive that the point at issue is otherwise than fundamental to true religion, then we are bound in common honesty and common humanity to acquaint our associates with the convictions to which we have arrived. And if they cannot be persuaded to review and to change their position, we are bound, as faithful men, to shape our conduct in accordance with the principles we profess, and separate ourselves from them.

9. COVENANT OBLIGATIONS.

Nothing short of this is demanded by the covenant obligations into which we enter, on joining ourselves to a church. — We then solemnly promise to watch over and admonish each other in love. If we see the members of the church astray, and that too on points essential in our view to human salvation, and do not warn them of their danger, their blood and our own broken vows will settle, together, upon our guilty heads. And no mere lip-service will suffice to the discharge of this duty, if our actions do not agree with our words; which they cannot, if we continue to sustain church relations with those whom we regard as having proved themselves by their practice to be deficient in the vital elements of sound Christian character, and whom we cannot reclaim.

10. OUR SINCERITY — INTEGRITY — AND USEFULNESS.

How can we secure the respect and the confidence of our neighbors, (whether church members or others) unless our faithfulness be exhibited, when the proper occasion presents itself, in the manner that has been described? We profess to believe, for example, that human rights are inalienable and self-evident — that chattel slavery is the most palpable and deadly violation of those rights — that its victims have a claim upon the prayers and exhortations of all men, especially of all Christians — that Christian character is, in fact, defined and moulded by the advocacy of their claims. Yet we continue by our church relations to certify, to endorse, as it were, the Christian character of those who notoriously neglect, and even contemn and deprecate the performance of that heaven-imposed duty! Here our acts are in direct contradiction to our words. And which will our neighbors believe? If our remonstrances and arguments and scripture quotations were beginning to make church members tremble and inquire, our fraternal recognition of them as Christians, at the communion table, and in other associated religious action, takes back again all we had said. Their consciences are relieved. They conclude we are insincere or mistaken, for they know we are inconsistent, and they are more and more disgusted with our apparent pertinacity and stubbornness in pressing upon them sentiments by which we ourselves will not practically abide, and which our actions show that we do not regard vital to Christianity, after all! Is it strange that, under such circumstances, a number of abolitionists, retaining church connections year after year with churches whom their professed principles should lead them to discard as anti-christian; have been dealt with by those same churches, and suspended and excluded, {not for their abolitionism — Oh! no! this is always disclaimed,) but for their disturbing the peace of the church, and annoying the members perpetually with their notions which they evidently hold as notions, merely, and not as principles, upon which their own lives are to be squared, and their ecclesiastical relations determined?

Abolitionists are evidently losing the public confidence, on account of their inconsistency in this respect, and especially are they losing their influence with the members of the churches to which they belong. Just as their reputation and influence were destroyed at one time by their adhesion to the political parties [All political parties in this country must sustain slavery; since all voters and office-holders, either by implied or express oath, agree to sustain the United States Constitution; and that is a pre-slavery instrument Abolitionists, therefore, should have nothing to do with any political party. — Note By The Editor.] that sustain slavery, so do they now suffer, in the same way, from their support of the churches that are equally subservient to the same wicked system.

Abolitionists who have seceded from their old political parties on account of their pro-slavery character, and yet cling to churches and ecclesiastical bodies of the same character, bring their sincerity, even in their political efforts, into suspicion, and diminish their strength, even in that favorite department of their activity.

11. DUTY TO THE SLAVE.

We cannot discharge our duty to the slave, while connected with a pro-slavery church, any more than we can while connected with a pro-slavery party in politics. The churches can no more be neutral than the political parties. And the churches not enlisted on the behalf of the enslaved, are as truly the props of the slave power, as any political party in the land, indeed, such churches furnish, to a great extent, the moral atmosphere in which the political vices of the country vegetate. (The legislature of the State of New York excused themselves from recommending the constitutional extension of the elective franchise to the colored people, because as they alleged, the Christian churches did not give them an equal place in their houses of worship, and seminaries of religious learning!) And the morals of the State can hardly be expected to be in advance of the Church. To support a pro-slavery church is to place our feet upon the necks of the crushed poor — and upon their mighty Avenger and our own Judge, who has declared that he will constitute them his representatives at the last day, and treat us according to our treatment of them. Of course, we must abandon such churches, if we would not ‘partake of their sins, and receive of their plagues.’

12. THE HONOR OF GOD — OF CHRIST — OF RELIGION — OF THE CHURCH.

All these require that Christians should secede from a corrupt church. Such a church professes to be a true Christian church — to exemplify true religion — to follow Jesus Christ — to do the will of our great Father in heaven. But all these professions are hollow and vain. Most manifestly is this the case with those churches that sympathize with oppressors, that will not plead for the oppressed — nor testify against a system of man-stealing, of theft, of forced concubinage, of impurity, of cruelty, of compulsory heathenism, of tyranny, and of blood. To endorse the pretensions of such churches, as true churches of Christ, is to dishonor, wrongfully, the institution of the Christian Church — is to belie the nature of true and undefiled religion — it is virtually to blaspheme Christ — it is to insult the God of purity, the Avenger of the oppressed. To say that these churches are his churches — that their religion is his religion — that their character is his character — is to say the very worst thing of him that can possibly be said. But to retain membership in these churches is to say that we do regard them as his churches. And to say that they are his churches is virtually to say that they bear in a good measure his moral image, and that the character they habitually exhibit is recognized by us as a reflection of his own!

Many who would deem it a sin and a disgrace to support a pro-slavery party in politics, or to vote for any pro-slavery man as a candidate for civil office, will nevertheless support a pro-slavery church, a pro-slavery religious sect, and pro-slavery teachers of religion; thus plainly declaring, by their acts, that they consider a political party a more sacred and holy thing than a church — that while they cannot endure the spirit of slavery in the former, they can very well tolerate it in the latter — that a man whose moral character does not qualify him to be a constable or a path-master, may nevertheless be a member, or even minister of a Christian church! What a practical insult to Christian institutions— to church and ministry — have we here! Can it be that such persons honor the church and ministry of Jesus Christ? One is almost tempted to suspect that they sympathize with those who would bring those divine institutions into contempt certain it is, that this is the natural tendency of their course. Nor will it remove the difficulty to plead that men may be entitled to a place in the Christian Church, yet nevertheless lack the information and clearness of vision requisite to the proper discharge of a civil office. Our teachers of religion, at least, should know as much, on great ethical questions, as our legislators, and magistrates, and constables. And besides, the question of supporting the old political parties and their candidates, is a moral question, and not a question of intellectual qualification, at all. The friends of freedom require of them no test but that which the nation itself has, long ago, declared to be self-evident, and made the foundation of the government. From President down to path-master, the candidates all acknowledge the ‘self-evident truth.’ Not a man of them is so stupid as not to know the difference between a man and a brute. And all the friends of freedom ask of them is to ACT in conformity with this knowledge.

Let them only do this — let them but ‘remember them that are in bonds as bound with them,’ and the ‘independent nominations‘ of abolitionists would be instantly abandoned. It is a MORAL disqualification, and NOTHING ELSE, that deprives them of anti-slavery votes. And yet this same moral disqualification is made no obstacle to the introduction of these same men into the Christian ministry and the Christian church! Very evidently, no community that permanently insists on a higher MORAL TEST in political life than in ecclesiastical life, will loner retain any affectionate reverence for the latter. The moral test must rise as high, at least, in religion, as in politics, in the Church, as in the political party. Otherwise, the moral test in political life cannot be maintained, and will be abandoned in despair. There can be no possible alternative, unless it be the utter DISGRACE and ABANDONMENT of church institutions, altogether. The problem whether an embodied political morality could long survive an embodied religion, is one which we need not now stop to discuss. Those who think l could, must already have arrived at the conclusion that churches are of little or no value — a conclusion that it will be impossible for those to avoid, who think to secure liberty by political action without their aid. Our ‘liberty party’ men may very honestly and very properly disclaim the anti-church doctrines that another class of abolitionists propagate. [This is intended by the writer as a reflection on those who are commonly known as ‘Garrison Abolitionists.’ But he overshoots the mark. That body have never maintained, as abolitionists, any ‘anti-church doctrines,’ other or different from those set forth by the writer himself in this tract; which they now and here republish as one of the best expositions of their views. If individuals have taught any other doctrines, the “class” he refers to, is not responsible, since it has never endorsed them. — Note by the Editor.] But they ought to know that no such disclaimers, however earnest and sincere, can do away the anti-church tendencies of an attempt (should it be made) to save a corrupt and sinking State without the aid of a purified and true church — a tendency from which their own minds could not long escape, though they may be insensible of it, now.

13. CHRISTIAN USEFULNESS

Requires that Christians should secede from corrupt churches. In such churches they are fettered and crippled, and prevented from doing the good they might do, as individuals, if connected with no church at all. But Christian churches were designed to enable Christians to do more good, by a connection with them, than they could do while standing alone. So long as true Christians remain connected with corrupt churches, they not only diminish their power, and curtail their opportunities of doing good, but all the good they do accomplish, and all the good fruits they exhibit, are made subservient to the honor and credit of a corrupt church, and are used up so to speak, in their service, instead of going to the support of a true church; just as Romanism has been strengthened by the adhesion of pious members, and as the Colonization Society, for a long time, deceived and sponged up, and turned into its own impure channel, all the anti-slavery feeling of the free States. In the same way, there are now scores and hundreds of pro-slavery churches, with pastors and officers of the same stamp, sitting like an incubus upon the poor slaves, and upon the cause of Christian freedom, that derive their main strength, or much, at least, of it, from the support of the professed friends of the enslaved. In multiplied instances, churches of that stamp (leaving pecuniary support out of the account) keep up a creditable appearance of being Christian churches, merely because there are abolitionists enough connected with them to carry on their prayer-meetings, conferences. Sabbath schools, Bible classes, and monthly concerts for them, while the majority, or the officials, content themselves, chiefly, with an attendance on the Sabbath day exercises; and with a magisterial supervision that shuts out the claims of the enslaved, erects the negro pew, forbids the use of the house for an anti-slavery meeting, refuses to read a notice, and snarls, perhaps, at the mention of the oppressed in a prayer.

14. TEMPTATIONS — APOSTACY

Evil communications corrupt good manners‘ in a meeting-house, and in a church, as well as everywhere else. ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ is a prayer that requires of the petitioner that he runs not wantonly into temptation, nor remain there, without necessity and without warrant How shall a Christian and a friend of freedom secure himself from the seductions that must beset him in a corrupt church — in a pro-slavery church? What necessity is laid on him to encounter this temptation? Or where is his warrant for so doing? What right has he to expect the divine protection while disregarding the injunction — Come out of her, my people. In what way can such a person be preserved from temptation and from apostacy, but by being induced to comply with this command?

If he continues to protest against slavery as a heinous sin, and against the support of it by the church, as inconsistent with her Christian character — and if (the church still retaining its position) he nevertheless continues his connection with it, and thus endorses its Christian character, then his acts contradict his professions, and he makes shipwreck of his fidelity in this way. The only alternative left him (short of secession) is the more common one of relaxing, modifying or suspending his testimony against slavery, defending his continued connection with the church by seeking out apologies for the church itself, and thus bringing his principles down to the low standard of his practice. Scores of prominent ministers, and thousands of active church members, once zealous in the cause of Christian freedom, have in this way, and for the sake of peace and quiet with their religious associates, and of maintaining a reputable standing among them, (and under the delusion of making themselves useful by this means,) relaxed their exertions in the cause of the oppressed, till their voices are no longer heard in their behalf, and they cease to identify themselves with their former fellow-laborers in the cause. This well known power of pro-slavery churches and ministers to neutralize first, and then silence, their anti-slavery members, constitutes altogether the most formidable obstacles with which the anti-slavery cause has ever had to contend, and the prolific parent of apostacy, in its varied forms. The recreancy of professed abolitionists in their political relations, may be chiefly charged to the delinquencies of the churches and ministry by whom their political ethics have been shaped; and little must that man know of human nature, or of human history, who should expect the purification of the State, without the purification of the Church.

As this power of a pro-slavery church and ministry is most effectual against freedom, so we know it is the power most relied upon by the conservators of oppression, both at the North and at the South. Such churches and ministers calculate, with certainty, upon the ultimate dereliction of the abolitionists whom they can retain in their connection. Hence their confident boasts and predictions, that ‘the excitement’ will speedily subside. And hence, too, their sensitive outcry against any, attempts at secession, on the part of those whom they stigmatize as ‘fanatics,’ ‘incendiaries,’ and ‘disorganizers,’ and whom they ought to have excommunicated as such, long ago, if they were sincere, and probably would have done, but for their encouraging prospects of success and progress in curing them of their sympathy for the enslaved. The Christian church was designed as an asylum into which men of integrity might run, in order to secure themselves from the evil communications and temptations that almost overwhelm them elsewhere. But when churches become the most effective tempters to transgression, it is high time for the people of God to ‘come out of them, lest they partake of their sins, and receive of their plagues.’

15. PERVERSION AND MISCHIEF.

And this suggests the general remark, that Christians are bound to secede from corrupt and apostate churches, because instead of answering the original ends of their institution and organization, they become, by their perverted use, the most effective of all possible or conceivable instrumentalities for destroying the cause of righteousness they were designed to promote, and for promoting the cause of unrighteousness they were intended to destroy. Universal church history may be cited as presenting one extended commentary on this remarks and those who shall come after us will read and perceive, in the records of our own age and nation, one of the most striking illustrations of the same truth. Common sense teaches us the absurdity of sustaining arrangements and wielding instruments that produce results directly opposite to those which they were intended to subserve, and which their supporters design to promote. To this, likewise, the sacred Scriptures agree. The salt that has lost its savor is to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. The well-arranged and highly cultivated vineyard, that instead of producing grapes, brought forth wild grapes, was to be trampled down and laid waste. (Isa. ch. v.) Of churches, as well as of individuals, it may be demanded — ‘If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?‘ And the candlestick that cannot be made to diffuse useful light, is to be removed out of its place. To cling to a corrupt and perverted church organization is to sacrifice the end to the means. It is to idolize the instrument, instead of using it, nay, after it has become an instrument of evil instead of good. This is the essence of superstition, and the very way in which the worst superstitions are engendered, introduced and perpetuated.

16. CHURCH DISCIPLINE

The duty of secession from a corrupt church is the same thing, in essence, as the duty of maintaining gospel doctrine in a true church. In both cases, the pith of the matter is the separation of the good from the evil, and the evil from the good — that the faithful may be preserved from corruption, and that the apostates may be rebuked, and, if possible, reclaimed. In both cases, the duty devolves on each and every member of the church, and is not confined to majorities or to those in official stations. IT WAS AS COMPETENT IN LUTHER TO EXCOMMUNICATE THE POPE AND THE ROMISH CHURCH, AS IT WAS IN THE POPE AND THE ROMISH CHURCH TO EXCOMMUNICATE LUTHER.

17. DEFINITION AND OBJECT OF A CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Secession from an anti-christian church is demanded by the very definition, as well as by the object of a true church. ‘A church of Christ is an assembly of believers’ — ‘a congregation of faithful men.’ All, therefore, who honor and prize the Christian church, are bound to secede from a congregation of practical unbelievers — of unfaithful men. To do otherwise is to sin against the organization itself It is disorganization of the worst kind. It mixes good men with bad men in the church Just as they are mixed in the world, and thus it practically denies the distinction between the church and the world. Equally clear is it that no Christian can have a right to support a church, or remain connected with it, if the church does not promote the object for which Christian churches were originally founded. Christian churches were organized to separate God’s people from a wicked world — to embody their Christian example — to secure their mutual watch-care over each other — to maintain wholesome discipline — to act as a reformatory body —to instruct the ignorant — to rebuke and reclaim the transgressor. To support churches that fail to do these things, and that do the very reverse of them all — (churches that knowingly admit and retain the wicked within their enclosures, that exhibit an ungodly example, that strengthen the hands of the wicked, that oppose reformatory efforts, that stifle instructive discussion, that apologize for flagrant transgression) — to support such churches, we affirm, is to oppose the high and holy objects to which Jesus Christ instituted a church on earth.

18. CHURCH OR NO CHURCH.

In a word: the reasons for seceding from a corrupt and un-godly church are the same with the reasons for joining and supporting a true Christian church. For the one is the opposite of the other. No man can belong to, and support a true church and ministry, while he belongs to and supports an anti-christian church and ministry. All the time he retains a membership in a corrupt church, he neglects, of course, the duty of joining himself to, and supporting, and being supported by, a true Christian church. He does that which, if every other Christian should do, there would be no Christian church (as an organized visible body) on the earth, and there would be no organized churches, except corrupt, anti-christian churches, to be used for the conversion of the world. Whether the final triumphs of Christianity are to be achieved under such auspices, let those judge who have learned that ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

IV. HOW THE DUTY SHOULD BE DISCHARGED.

The duty of secession from a corrupt church implies, of course, that all proper and scriptural measures for its reformation have been kindly and faithfully, but unsuccessfully employed. Such a work as secession is not to be undertaken without counting the cost, nor without seeking counsel of God) in humble reliance upon the divine aid. No selfish or partizan feelings should be admitted or indulged. The too common practice of breaking up church relations in a pet, in a spirit of personal contention, with angry altercation and expressions of resentment, cannot be too pointedly condemned. Whenever churches are divided in this way, the seceders, though they may have the right on their side, (and though the deserted church may be never so corrupt,) can accomplish little or nothing in favor of the objects they would promote. Their bad temper and wrong conduct will be observed and perhaps magnified, and the moral effect of their testimony will be neutralized, if not destroyed. And when the excitement shall have subsided, they will discover, perhaps themselves, that they have acted passionately and rashly, and not in the spirit of Christ. Intelligent Christian principle, and a deliberate, conscientious, holy, disinterested regard to God’s glory and the good of mankind, having had little, comparatively, to do with their movements, do not now come to their aid, to sustain them in their new and trying position. They are thus exposed to the dangers of seduction and compromise; and, under given circumstances, will be likely to recede from their ground, and join affinity, either in church relations, or by associated religious effort, with the same corrupt churches from whom they have come out, or with some others of a similar description. Thus the cause of church reformation will be retarded, on the whole, instead of promoted, by their secession. On this subject, we cannot now treat as fully as its importance demands, but we may be certain that the true spirit of Christian reformation is evermore the spirit of holy love, of consecration, of humility, of prayer, and of a sound mind.

As a matter of form, it should be added that, whatever efforts may have been previously made to enlighten and reform a relapsed church, the final measure of secession should not ordinarily, if ever, be taken, without distinctly stating to the church in some formal way, by letter or otherwise, the grievances of which the parties complain, and stating also that unless those grievances are redressed, by a return of the church to the path of Christian duty, a division or secession must, of necessity take place. If this communication produces no salutary effect, the way will then be open for going forward in the work of secession, and of organizing a new church. This measure will cut off occasion for saying that the secession was irregularly made, and that it was a breach of the covenant obligations into which Christians enter, when uniting themselves to a church.

V. OBJECTIONS AND ANSWERS.

1. ‘Schism! schism!! schism!!!’

What! ‘Schism’ to come out of Babylon? If it be schismatic to be separated from the churches of Jesus Christ, then it is ‘schismatic ‘ to remain in an anti-christian church — not schismatic to come out from it.

2. ‘But we are too few and too feeble.’

In whom then, is your strength, your life? Is it in yourselves, or is it hid with Christ, in God? You had better not enter into or hold any church relations, until you learn that the strength of the church is in Jesus Christ — not in herself, nor in the number and reputable standing of her members. ‘Where two or three are met together, in my name,’ says the Savior, ‘there am I in the midst of them.’ And he says this with special reference to church organization and church action. [See Matthew xviii.1] If the real Christians belonging to a church are ‘too few and too feeble’ to constitute a church by themselves, how much more strength do they gain, in addition, by their connection with those who are not the people of God, and who oppose, instead of cherishing their aims? You would not, (would you?) maintain ecclesiastical connections with Belial, on account of the pecuniary strength he might afford you?

3. ‘But what if I cannot find “two or three” to come out of Babylon with me? Must I come alone?’

Yes, certainly, if you would not ‘partake of her sins and receive of her plagues.’ At Constantinople, at Rome, at Mecca, you would not ask whether you ought to stand alone, or stand with the enemies of the cross of Christ would you? Why, then, ask the same question in the State of New York, or in New England, or in Ohio?

4. ‘But we are conscious of a low tone of spirituality among ourselves, and do not feel competent to the task of organizing a new church.’

No wonder your spirituality is at a low ebb, and that you are chilled, almost to death, by the icebergs that embrace you. How are you to get warmth in such company? The slaves, it is sometimes said, are not yet prepared for freedom. But is slavery the school in which to prepare them? God commands you, to come out from among them, and be separate, ‘and he will receive you.’ This plain command you disobey, and excuse your disobedience by pleading that you have little spiritual life. Disobedience is not the way to gain spiritual vigor. The way to gain more spiritual strength is to exercise what you have. Then shall ye know, if ye follow on, to know the Lord. Ye are not straitened in him. Ye are straitened in your own selves. To obey is better than sacrifice. Let not obedience be deferred, because the fire on the altar burns dimly.

5. ‘But by separating from the church with which we are connected, we shall lose our influence with the members, and can then do them no good.’

How much good are you doing them, now? What progress have they made under your influence, during the past year? for the last five years? Is it you that are exerting an influence upon them or is it they that are exerting the influence upon you. The probability is, that you have lost your influence upon them, already, by your inconsistency, in maintaining a connection with a church that your professed principles require you to regard as anti-christian; and that no measure, except secession, on your part can give you any hold upon their consciences, or make them believe that you are sincere, and in earnest. The case must be so, if you have continued your connection with them for many months after the righteous cause they contemn had been fairly presented, or offered to be presented before them, and they had turned a deaf ear, or rejected the claim. If your duty in this respect has not yet been discharged, you should lose no time in discharging it, and not make the neglect of one duty your excuse for neglecting another. The claims of the slave have been distinctly before the nation for ten years. And the justice of the claim was declared ‘self-evident’ by the same nation, nearly sixty-seven years ago. It is the simple question whether a man should be made a chattel — a brute — and such a question need not perplex a Christian church, many weeks.

6. ‘Our secession would weaken and discourage those who, in the main, hold our views, but who cannot, at present, be persuaded to abandon their church.’

Answer. — They ought not be weakened and discouraged in a course of wrong-doing. Your example of obedience may encourage them to the discharge of the same duly. What if Luther had remained in a corrupt church, until he could have persuaded all whom he considered true Christians, to come out with him? and until he could thus persuade them without setting himself the example! (Will any suggest that the principles of Christian union are violated by leaving a corrupt church? Those principles, certainly, cannot require us to cling to such churches, nor to the corrupt portion of them. Such a union would be anti-christian union. And as to the sound portion of such churches, we cannot be bound to hold anti-christian connections, in order to remain with the seceders from such church will establish new ones on the principle of receiving all Christians, they will be guilty of no schism, and it will be no fault of theirs, if some of their brethren consent to a separation from, rather than quit a corrupt church, to go with them.)

7. ‘But secession, as a means of reformation, is without precedent Even Luther did not secede, till he was first thrust out of the church.’

Perhaps the church of England, the Puritans and other Dissenters, might furnish us with a precedent for secession, not to claim higher authorities, which our objector might be inclined to dispute. (What was it but secession when the Apostles organized new churches among the Hebrews and the Gentiles? Whenever the members of an old church organize a new one, are they not accounted seceders? But the Jewish church was a national church, from which the ancient prophets could not secede, as they might have done under the New Testament economy persons from its communion? What occasion or what meaning could there be in the command to ‘come out from a corrupt church, if we were to remain till we are thrust out?) But if the practice were without precedent, it would not be without command. The text is explicit — ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.’ Suppose nobody had ever furnished us with a ‘precedent,’ by complying with the divine injunction, would that blot it out, or excuse our neglect of it?

8. ‘But we must wait till we are excommunicated for our faithful discharge of duty, before we secede.’

Who says so? Does God say it, in the text, or anywhere else? And what is the philosophy of the maxim? How can we faithfully discharge our duty, while our actions contradict our professions, and while we give our support to an anti-christian church? And suppose Satan should adopt the more cunning policy of not casting us out of his Babylon, at all? Must we remain there, and give it our sanction, until the mighty Angel from heaven takes it into his hand, and plunges it like a mill-stone into the sea, to be found no more at all? Shall we not be in danger of sinking with it, and of remaining in it, whether Satan ever gets ready to thrust us out of it, or no? What says the text? And what warrant have we for deferring to obey the divine mandate, until Satan chooses to give the signal for us to obey? Or will it be said that a church does not give evidence of being anti-christian until it excludes all pious persons from its communion? What occasion or what meaning could there be in the command to ‘come out’ from a corrupt church, if we were to remain until we were thrust out?

9. ‘But if the persons whom you call upon to secede from a corrupt church, be admitted to be Godly and righteous person, now, notwithstanding their present connections, (and to such only is the exhortation addressed,) how can it be made to appear that their quitting the church is necessary to their escaping the divine judgments? If they are Christians already, is not that sufficient? Will secession change their character? Will it make them more than Christians? Or will the Judge of all the earth destroy the righteous with the wicked?’

Imagine to yourself the righteous Lot, addressing this same plea to the angel that was urging his speedy flight from Sodom? What would you say to such an argument? Would it not occur to you that the righteous are scarcely saved? That persevering obedience to the divine commands is the only condition of their salvation? That in such obedience, the salvation of the Bible essentially consists?

But be it so, that good men may live and die in the bosom of a corrupt church, and escape final perdition, at last — what then? They may possibly do thus, because they are not aware of the corruption of the church, or because their duty to come out of it, has not been distinctly presented to them. If their ignorance be their excuse, can you make the same plea? Or are you content to do wrong, to support a counterfeit church, and thus destroy souls, so long as you can be persuaded that you are safe, yourself? Is this the religion that can preserve you amid the seductions of a corrupt church? Beware! It is a hazardous experiment, at best, and remember that severe chastisements and lamentable privations, short of final banishment, may punish your derelictions of duty.

10. ‘But we make a wide distinction between Christian fellowship and church connection. We do not extend Christian fellowship to corrupt churches, or to the corrupt portion of them. Our connection with these is merely nominal — it is a nonentity.’

But the church of the living God, to which you ought to belong, is no ‘nonentity’ — no counterfeit — no sham. And a vital connection with such a church and its members is not ‘merely nominal.’ What right, or what good reason can you have for maintaining a nominal connection with a nonentity’ — a sham? A ‘nonentity,’ too, that claims to be a true church of Jesus Christ? That is recognized, and honored, and confided in, as such, because, perhaps, of your ‘nominal’ connection with it? Of all shams, church shams are the worst, and from their sure doom, how shall their supporters be divorced?

To say that you maintain a connection ‘nominally,’ is to say that you maintain that connection ’by name, or in name only.’ (‘Nominally. By name, or in name only.’ — Webster’s Dictionary.) It is to say that you profess to maintain a connection which you do not maintain really! What right have you to make such a hollow profession? After all, are you quite certain that a connection is merely ‘nominal’? When Paul urged the Corinthian church to put away from themselves that wicked person, (I Cor. v.) he demanded, ‘Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?’ What if the Corinthians bad argued that the connection was a merely nominal one?

11. ‘But is not the kingdom of heaven likened unto leaven hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened?’

Yes, truly. And this parable was designed to illustrate the power of truth on the heart, or the power and progress of the gospel, or of a true church (remaining such) in converting the world. And mark! the leaven must be wholesome leaven, not saturated with poison! The figure is never used in the Bible to show that Christians must remain in a corrupt, anti-christian church, in order to restore it, nor has church history yet recorded the successful experiment. The old leaven of iniquity is always to be purged out of the church (1 Cor. v. 7.) — the very doctrine for which we contend.

12. ‘But the tares and the wheat must be permitted to grow together until the harvest.’

Where? In the church? Or in the world? Christ’s own exposition of the parable (Mat. xiii. 38,) informs us explicitly that the field in which the tares and the wheat are allowed to ‘grow together’ is ‘The world Nothing of the kind is said about the church. And those who apply to the church what Christ says of the world, very evidently take it for granted that there should be no distinction made between the church and the world; and no more church discipline maintained in the one than in the other! Disorganization follows, of course.

13. ‘But we cannot see into men’s hearts’ — ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ (Mat vii. 1.)

This text, as Scott justly observes, cannot forbid the exclusion from the church of such members as disgrace their profession — nor forbid Christians to withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly. In the same chapter, Christ bids us, ‘Beware of false prophets,’ and because we cannot see directly into men’s hearts, bids us know ‘the tree by its fruits.‘ Censorious and rash judgments alone are condemned. Some judgment of men’s character, we cannot but form and express.

14. ‘Does it not savor of Phariseeism to secede from churches, and call them corrupt?’

No. Not if the evidence of their corruption is plain and palpable — no more than it does to refuse the admission of openly wicked men into the church, in the first place — no more than it does to gather churches out of the world, in any case, (unless all are permitted to join that church, who desire it.)

GENERAL REMARK.

Of each and every one of these objections, and of many more, like them, it may be observed that, if valid, at all, they are equally so against secessions from all corrupt churches (the Romish, for example,) as well as from corrupt Protestant churches, in America. They likewise forbid all excommunications of unworthy members. They equally forbid all tests of church membership, particularly those predicated on evidences of Christian character. They involve principles which, if carried out, would disband all the church organizations in the world, except those (such as national churches for example,) that claim or welcome the entire community, good and bad indiscriminately, as their members. Above all, they are objections against the discharge of a plainly revealed Christian duty.

It will be understood that we advocate secession from anti-christian churches, with the view of organizing Christian churches in their stead. Of this work, we intend to treat in our next number. [With regard to the formation of new churches, abolitionists, as such have nothing to do. Their duty is performed, and their responsibility ends, when they have persuaded a man to disconnect himself from a pro-slavery body. His conduct after that, in relation to church organizations, must be left to himself and his own convictions. — Note by The Editor.]

The Rules

The Rules

“The fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite.” (Franz Kafka)

Where does one begin? I assume this endeavor will be slow going and murky and even tedious. I do not have an office in which to shut myself to keep me from various disappointing distractions, and any effective amount of scotch may shed a hypocritical light on anything I have to say. On an embarkation like this one, an effort to express something greater than oneself, it seems to be ritualistic good form to invoke the muse. But this is not epic poetry like Homer or Milton or Shakespeare and I do not rightly know if the same rules apply to prose anyway, or even non-fiction. If there is a muse for the inspirations I would like to receive, she has not shown up yet (she has undoubtedly learned how to treat me by watching other women in my life), but like Ernest Hemingway says “The shortest answer is doing the thing.” And as Peter S. Beagle says, “If the Muse is late for work, you start without her.” I feel already as though what follows will contain a lot of quotes from various authors and other people of note. It may be important to say that I hope that what has attracted me to their expressions is similar to what may have attracted you to mine. As is articulated by Nietzsche, “Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood… Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms does not want to be read but to be learned by heart.” And Robert Louis Stevenson iterates, “The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.” Maybe Mr. Stevenson would not mind if we borrowed a prayer to serve as our invocation to the muse:

“Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety, and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavours. If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temparate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.”

If there is anything I could ever find praiseworthy in any human individual, it would be consistent sincerity. “There are honest people in the world, but only because the devil considers their asking prices ridiculous.” (Beagle) Sincerity is foundation, potential, greatness. We could learn a great deal from our domestic partnerships with our dogs. They wear their hearts on their fur, to make an idiom precise. And they are unfailing about it. It is naturally difficult for us to believe that any member of humanity that we have encountered, claiming to be sincere and forthcoming, lives up to the diagnosis. At least not without regular examples thereof. Periodic displays of generosity, counseling, leadership, and maybe even things miraculous go undervalued when we presume their bearers to be insincere. (Matthew 12:22-37, for example). Harmoniously, “All decent men must be hypocritical, if you assume that decency can’t exist.” (T.H. White)

We do not recognize sincerity in others because we have lost our enthusiasm to drum it up in ourselves. It is human nature to take things for granted, to submit to the distractions, to disremember where our passion should lie. “If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless.” (Moliere) Our forgetting of the importance of people is directly related to our unwillingness to fling ourselves straight into life. To partake in a little life-experience, to garner an education about the world or about ourselves. “I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.” (Henry David Thoreau) Instead, we accumulate things in our lives, we give our lives complication and attach to them accessories. Things unessential and cumbersome and distracting. We take our own souls for granted and the games we play take precedence over mental, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. “The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.” (Hemingway) Life-experience leads to self-actualization which leads to the understanding of our fellow man. Essentially we become, for another individual, somewhere to lean when they are out of their depths. More and more members of each generation forget this, contented in their distractions, and the cumbrous concern and collective weight of the human condition falls on fewer and fewer shoulders. “The world is full of willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.” (Robert Frost) We are comfortable in our unthreatening lifestyles, grasping at our diversions and showing all the efficacy of a lotus-eater. “Feasts must be solemn and rare, or else they cease to be feasts.” (Aldous Huxley) We call it a comfort-zone or a blind spot, but I think the Spanish, in the context of their most famous art-form, the bullfight, have a much keener word. Querencia. This is a safe-zone for the bull in the ring when facing down the matador. In us humans, it represents our bastions of complacency and selfishness. Our excuses for refusing to hit bottom and strip away all that is unnecessary and distracting in order to take up the mantle of our spiritual purpose. These places we feel the safest are the ones we will defend with the tenacity of denial, even if we have to bloody those we love the most when they desire the dismantling of these querencias. We will not give them up, this side of the grave, and will most likely take them there with us. For the drunk, it is the bottle. For the complacent, it is apathy. For the rebellious, it is pride. For the codependent (if you will excuse the term), it is placating in fear. Hemingway describes the Querencia perfectly well, and though the description is long, it may shed light on the tactics found in our human nature:

“Aside from the normal physical and mental stages the bull goes through in the ring each individual bull changes his mental state all through the fight. The most common, and to me the most interesting, thing that passes in the bull’s brain is the development of querencias. A querencia is a place the bull naturally wants to go to in the ring; a preferred locality. That is a natural querencia and such are well known and fixed, but an accidental querencia is more than that. It is a place which develops in the course of the fight where the bull makes his home. It does not usually show at once, but develops in his brain as the fight goes on. In this place he feels that he has his back against the wall and in his querencia he is inestimably more dangerous and almost impossible to kill. If a bullfighter goes in to kill a bull in his querencia rather than to bring him out of it he is almost certain to be gored. The reason for this is that the bull, when he is in querencia, is altogether on the defensive, his horn stroke is a riposte rather than an attack, a counter rather than a lead, and the speed of eye and stroke being equal the riposte will always beat the attack since it sees the attack coming and parries or beats it to the touch. The attacker must lay himself open and the counter is certain to arrive if it is as fast as the attack, since it has the opening before it while the attack must try to create that opening. In boxing Gene Tunney was an example of a counter-puncher; all those boxers who have lasted longest and taken least punishment have been counter-punchers too. The bull, when he is in querencia, counters the sword stroke with his horn when he sees it coming as the boxer counters a lead, and many men have paid with their lives, or with bad wounds, because they did not bring the bull out of his querencia before they went in to kill.”

Maybe what follows will be an easily avoidable dare. This is excusable in the bull, since the command is to die, albeit nobly. But the command for you is to live. To come out of your querencias and join the action. I know that all call-to-arms go largely unmet and most press-gangs are absconded from pretty easily, so I will not be colored surprised if it happens here en masse. Stevenson contradicts the assumption, however, “We must accept life for what it actually is – a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.” So maybe somebody will learn what life is for and may duck from under the weight of fear; whether it is fear of work, fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of sorrow, fear of magic, or fear of poetry. ‘“All lives are composed of two basic elements,” the squirrel said, “purpose and poetry. By being ourselves, squirrel and raven, we fulfill the first requirement, you in flight and I in my tree. But there is poetry in the meanest of lives, and if we leave it unsought we leave ourselves unrealized. A life without food, without shelter, without love, a life lived in the rain—this is nothing beside a life without poetry.”’ (Beagle) It is my opinion that anybody who still enjoys literature, like people who throw themselves into life with desperate sincerity, and takes it to heart (like all things bloody and aphoristic) already has a head start on becoming well-rounded, dependable human beings. Heroes, if you will. Mountain movers. Shakers of foundations. The benefits of this kind of education is best expressed by T.H. White: “Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.” He also conveys: ‘“The best thing for being sad…is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then-to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”’ We all have purpose, and if nothing else will, fulfilling our purpose will bring us poetry. If we are to raise anchor and become people of purpose, naturally we have to learn a thing or two about moving upstream. We have to learn to develop character because little else will serve as a sufficient rudder.

So, if we must begin learning something, we might as well make good on our transaction and start now. It is not that I have anything new to offer the collective bank of human knowledge, nor is it that my savoir-faire has afforded me some special insight to the human condition. It is only because I consider myself sincere, that I say what I have to say. Sincere and sad, since fruits of wisdom (if you want to call these wisdom; I do not particularly find the term embedded in myself) are unfortunately coupled with sorrow, invariably. It has taken a long time and strenuous throes of reflection over personal life-experience to develop the following “rules”. They are more like observations about the nature (nurture?) of maturity and responsibility that grow from sincerity. Ideas to follow when we get unsure how to treat each other and ourselves. The fact that there are ten of them is no coincidence. They do not each correspond to one or more of the Commandments, I just get the impression that any advices for life, exceeding ten, would be overkill and tedious. Not that we will not reach that point anyway, I am sure. “When you’re good at something, there’s a demand for it.” I suppose it would be unwise (there is that word again) to impose a conscription on those of you who read this. I do not require obedience to any of the rules because I know how blissful commitment to ignorance can be. In any case, enslavement to ideals, no matter how beneficial, is best expressed by White: “There was just such a man when I was young—an Austrian who invented a new way of life and convinced himself that he was the chap to make it work. He tried to impose his reformation by the sword, and plunged the civilized world into misery and chaos. But the thing which this fellow had overlooked, my friend, was that he had a predecessor in the reformation business, called Jesus Christ. Perhaps we may assume that Jesus knew as much as the Austrian did about saving people. But the odd thing is that Jesus did not turn the disciples into storm troopers, burn down the Temple at Jerusalem, and fix the blame on Pontius Pilate. On the contrary, he made it clear that the business of the philosopher was to make ideas available, and not to impose them on people.” And so, for the sake of expediency (and availability):

Rule number one. Never let go of a good thing.

I can hear you think that this sounds like common sense. To which I would reply something to the effect of, “So should all the other rules.” Maybe, then, “a good thing” needs a proper definition. The good things challenge you to better yourself; they are good for you. They are good whether or not you feel good about them, and that is where you have to look and what you have to assess. Good things are not necessarily based on how you feel because emotions change and are duplicitous. I would wager that all of the negativity of human history is accounted for in the unchecked acting on emotions. A good feeling about a good thing is a bonus, but the heart should not take the reins. Not in decision-making. “The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.” (Napoleon Bonaparte) The things that build you up, keep you in check, and keep you anchored are the good things. Good things, including people, are not the things that placate for you or walk on eggshells around you while you are acting childish. They do not avoid the truth to spare your feelings because you do not grow that way. C.S. Lewis says that “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” Never let go of the things that demand growth from you. The good things will be there to protect you and hold your hand, but they will also teach you to protect yourself and encourage you to learn how to walk and fight and provide protection and encouragement for others. The good things will implore your progression down the right path even when you do not want to go. The good things will not let your self-hatred and self-pity get in the way of your mental, emotional and spiritual maturity. Speaking of self-depreciation:

Rule number two. Do not deny yourself regret, but do not devote yourself to it either. Addendum: The same should be said for catharsis.

“The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity.” (Lord Byron) It is part of human nature to hurt other people. And ourselves. We are always burning bridges and providing cases for our damnation. If you do not have room to regret your mistakes and atrocities then you do not plant the seeds to grow and learn from them. Ignoring your shame will only result in your repetition in the things that make you shameful. “After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.” (Henry David Thoreau) He also says “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” Regret is healthy for you. Every action you commit yourself to has ripples and consequences so far-reaching and unpredictable that no amount of forethought will prevent your conscience to come out completely unscathed. “I’m saying you’ve already done plenty of things to regret, you just don’t know what they are. It’s when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you’ve done, and you wish that you had it do over, but you know you can’t, because it’s too late. So you pick that thing up, and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don’t matter in the end. Then you will gain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.” (Roger Rueff) Regret is unavoidable, but we should use it in a healthy manner. Self-hatred is an easy and addictive trap to fall into. It feels good to beat ourselves up about the wrongs we have done. It makes us feel pious in a way, and it allows us to continue to feel bad without ever having to do any good. But as Aldous Huxley purports, “Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” Another drug to which we commit ourselves is catharsis. It is healthy when used appropriately, though. It is good to rage every once in a while because it has a similar nourishment as sleep. For the body and the mind. Only after confrontation can we reach understanding. Only after a tussle can we reach catharsis. Sometimes we have to accumulate a few scars for people to take us seriously. Just make sure you do not hurt anybody who does not deserve it, and make sure anybody you chew out is aware that you love them. Be aware that moments of catharsis should not be frequent lest they become addictive. Constant liberation is a form of running away from our problems and duties. It is like hitting rubber with a hammer; an illusion of progress. A cathartic lifestyle makes us busy and sidetracked. As Hemingway says, “Never mistake motion for action.” And as Thoreau says, “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” In order to avoid drowning ourselves in regret or in the over-exertion of catharsis, we ought to take a look at the next rule:

Rule number three. Accept the consequences for your actions before committing to your actions.

This is a lesson in being decisive and resolute. “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.” (Frost) An indecisive character usually reflects one unmarked by courage. And, truth be told, courage comes with life-experience and knowledge of the world and it comes with trial and error. Any consequences that we may have witnessed can be catalogued in memory, and any future choice we have to make can be compared to these past consequences. Basically, learn from yourself and from other people. Every course of events in various circumstances follows the same pattern fairly consistently and that is part of the poetry of life. And so, with this knowledge, we must own our successes and mistakes before they happen. We are going to be held accountable for them after they come to pass, so we must show our resolution for accountability while planting the seeds. Maybe that means some of us should be less clumsy when it comes to decision-making. And especially when it comes to indecision-making. There is not so much grey in the world as people would like to believe, most of our crossroads will yield hues more black and white, and I have gathered that maybe some consequences are just hard to bear, which accounts for this desire to call them grey. It is acceptable, in my opinion, to complain about the difficulty of various responsibilities, but they should not dictate our deliberations to commit to them. Right is right, no matter how hard it is. And our fates, and our ideas about saving our own hides should not account in our heroism. It is true, as Albert Camus says, “There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” At least not in this life, but whose opinion are you really going to care about? Taking responsibility for your actions is no easy task. Most of the things worth committing to may take years to come to fruition and your road may be ugly and dangerous and you may not get any sleep as you go. You may not even get your desired end. “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.” (Hemingway) Keep in mind that the ends do not justify the means. The ends do not even justify the ends. But the means always justify the means. Even if you do not succeed in your endeavors, it should be enough that you do not lose your strength of character in your attempts. Or else you have already lost your right to your desires. But, “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” (Thoreau) We should choose the right course of action, despite how aggressive their consequences might be to ourselves or to those close to us. Because how are we to lead by example and teach others to do the right thing, come what may? To best clarify this question, all I can say is, when coupled with the other rules, it is easier to tell which actions are right and which are wrong.

Rule number four. See all the angles. Or see enough for everybody else to not know any better. Rule number four and a half. Play only the good angles, even though this is infinitely more difficult. (If you are prescient, you never have to evacipate.)

To be a good strategian, it is proper to understand how your actions will play out. To live a poetic life you will have to learn to direct the consequences of your actions merely by predicting which actions are best to be committed to. If you can understand the potential and probable outcomes for the choices you must make (or avoid) in any given circumstance, then you can understand which actions (or inactions) are best to choose in those circumstances. But even your consequences have consequences and so forth. Now, I am well aware that only one being in existence can truly see all the angles, but hyperbole makes for a good cattle-prod. “Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.” (Bonaparte) In order to see all the angles, we must gather as much information and place ourselves in as many people’s perspectives as may be involved. And in order to see more angles than other people, well, Hemingway has the remedy, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” It is best to keep our views of things fresh. Our first instincts incline us to view circumstances subjectively and selfishly. It is also beneficial, as heroes and dependable human beings, to also look at them from the shoes of others and also from an objective point of view, disregarding anybody’s stake in the circumstance. It seems like a lot of work, and not many were born with this gift, but there are tools in which to immerse yourself that provide development for such critical thinking. And with enough experience, you can see all the angles in any available circumstance simultaneously and almost instantly. Another way of describing the seeing of all the angles is looking at the whole picture. Yet another way to describe it is lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is a way of thinking that seeks a solution to an intractable problem through unorthodox methods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical thinking. This is a developmental tool that allows you to define the avenues your mind goes down while simultaneously discovering new avenues that may benefit its travels. It also helps to develop a superb memory. Deductive reasoning, when combined with sincerity is a basic contrivance of those successful in intrepidness. It will keep you pragmatic and resourceful and therefore dependable. “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” (Camus) For this reason, it is best to only play the good angles. Attempt to leave for posterity as small amount of evil as possible. Make your steps careful and precise and do not hurt anybody that does not deserve it. If you become proficient in seeing more and more angles, you can predict probable reactions from people. You can crawl around inside their heads and repair some the wires that have been disconnected by life, the world, and their own self-hatred. You can predict their thoughts and emotions and apprehensions and give them somewhere to lean. You can become a decent friend and a capable parent, and you can pass these traits along by your example. “There isn’t any formula or method. You learn to love by loving—by paying attention and doing what one thereby discovers has to be done.” (Huxley) Playing a good angle is about precision and accuracy. It will be a confident endeavor, and most importantly, it will be done with conviction. And maybe even consideration. “Wrongs have to be redressed by reason, not by force.” (White) Playing a good angles also involve consistency, as will be shown in the next rule:

Rule number five. Never be unwilling to deal with a problem or right a wrong. Your negligence means the abandonment of your peers.

Fear of consequence is no excuse for negligence. Your fears and misunderstandings should never not be subject to confrontation. Without self-actualization, you are just like everyone else. And everyone else is banal. You may feel sorry for those around you who are struggling, but if this is all that is inspired in you, then you are useless to them. Maybe that is harsh and aggressive, but if you do not think that it is true then you do not love the ones around you who suffer. You have a level of control and capability in any encounter you find, whether or not you are in the middle of it. There is always a level of real help that you can commit to and pity does not stand on its own. Your friends and associates will perceive you as dead weight if all they can draw from you is negligent spectating while they are in the thick of their personal battles. I am sure you have careful denials and defense mechanisms if you are afraid to provide emotional and spiritual nourishment and comfort to your neighbor, but Leo Tolstoy sums them all up pretty nicely, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means —except by getting off his back.” There is a degree of self-sacrifice in contributing something worthwhile to the lives of the people around us. You have to be willing to give much, if not everything, in order to make some good in the world. “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” (Einstein) Nobody takes a leech or a mosquito seriously and only finds them an annoyance in their insincerity. So if you want to see real change and real progress and leave a real mark on the world before you die, you must lay your life down before it. The risk you run there contributes to your heroism. “Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.” (Beagle)

Rule number six. Some things are not difficult to see, they are just hard to look at. It is good to know the difference.

Denial is unbecoming on any human being in any circumstance. Veracity, in essence, is something obvious, although it can be difficult to accept. “Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.” (Tolstoy) We have a natural knack for taking things for granted. It gives us an excuse for not fleshing a thing out and instead we look at it with all its embellishments and misdirection. “Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.” (Camus) We hinder our powers of observation and we drown out our curiosity in fear. We love a good ruse and we are very meticulous about the masks we wear. We express too much shame and are ever willing to conceal a part of ourselves, and over a long enough timeline, we become what we pretend to be. “Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.” (Camus) And as is expressed by Beagle, “…no cat out of its first fur can ever be deceived by appearances. Unlike human beings, who enjoy them.” We commit to distractions to shelter us from the truths that we are unwilling to accept. We bury ourselves under them and make excuses for the covering of ourselves. It only takes a small degree of effort to see and understand the truth, and our determination to not be sincere in this effort is, at base, emotional. It is evidence of another querencia. “Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” (Huxley) Because knowing would require that we take up arms for it. And who wants that responsibility? So when things are hard to look at, it is best to muster up all the courage we have and face them head on. Consequences be damned. The truth must be got at, if nothing else. “The hardest thing to remember is that what we each really want is the truth of our lives, good or bad. Not rocking the boat is an illusion that can only be maintained by the unspoken agreement not to feel and in the long run it never really works. Let go of saving the boat and save the passengers instead.” (Kenny Loggins)

Rule number seven. The more things you know are true, the more responsibilities you have. A life marked by caprice reveals a tenacity for evasion.

If we do happen to lay down the masks and strip away the obscuration, then the truth that is left must be acted upon. It must be acted upon despite our emotional stake or the feelings of those around us. If we recognize truth, we must not let others be satisfied with skating by in ignorance of truth. In other words, putting everything on the table makes for healthy relationships. Caprice and coquetry are evidence of insincerity, particularly when a revelation and reckoning is involved or called for. “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” (Einstein) We ought not let such things slide from the people around us. And doing so, reveals a transparent lacking in desire for their good. It shows a lack of love, because disappointment is the sincerest form of affection. If we did not love someone then we would not care whether or not they hurt themselves or people around them. So if we are to not avoid the truth, then idly watching another living in denial is inexcusable hypocrisy. I am aware that a common response to calling somebody out on their self-degrading lifestyles yields a projection of, “do not judge me,” but silence is enablement and to condone a thing is also to pass judgment. Yet condemnation always gets a bad rap. Tolerance is the great virtue of postmodern thought. But condoning a thing is contributing to it, no matter how tired you are with dealing with it. “The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else do it wrong without comment.” (White) Again, silence is enablement. If this were not so, only one third of the angels would have been damned instead of two. Sitting on the fence to avoid confrontation is irritable to everybody in a conflict and it decreases the chances for any soldier to trust those who do so, especially if the conflict ends in their favor. This is indicative of a fair-weather relationship.

I know most of these rules are about negligence and inattention and disregard and non-commitment, but with the internet, television, games-mania, smart phones, bar-scenes, and all our other querencias, are you really surprised? The people who commit to harming themselves and the rest of us are fighters. Granted, to persist in a metaphor, they are closely akin to bulls in china shops. The people who want to see them free of their self-hatred and selfishness and see the lotus-eaters free of their apathy are also fighters. Maybe even matadors. The negligent are not fighters. They are more analogous to the steers who are present at the unloading of the bulls before the bullfight. They are not aggressive like the bulls, they simply want to make friends with them, personifying conciliatory behavior, and lead them into the corrals. However, they often take the grunt of the bulls’ aggression and are often gored and physically pay for it with their lives. So maybe with one more rule addressing the steers, I can be satisfied with my attempts at being thorough.

Rule number eight. Just when doing a bad thing is merely your other option, is doing nothing acceptable. “Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

Now this is a different boat entirely than the boat that Mr. Loggins mentioned at the end of rule six. This boat is headed in the right direction, and this boat is what rescues the passengers when that other boat has been rocked. This boat has a precise purpose on a difficult course, and on which everybody on board is a member of the crew. Now nobody wants to do an inherently bad thing, but people will not complain much when given the option to do nothing to allay the causes or effects of a bad thing. But as Einstein posits, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” (And idle hands eventually become mutinous.) Spiritual non-violence is suicide when pitted against an intimidatingly strong will and the steers get gored all the same. “The middle of the road is where the white line is—and that’s the worst place to drive.” (Frost) Note that I am not describing survival here. I am not saying we should defend ourselves for the sake of ourselves because I believe martyrdom is the keenest way of leading by example. “Martyrs do not underrate the body, they allow it to be elevated on the cross. In this they are at one with their antagonists.” (Kafka) Martyrdom, specifically, is neither doing a bad thing, nor is it doing nothing. So self-defense in these matters can be a form of retreat. It is pride in our self-importance and fear for our own hide. But neither are we to lay down and be consumed by the self-seeking and then cut our losses and lick our wounds. Placating for those who do wrong to or around us, as has been described, does not show love for them, but fear of them. We do not see them for what they are. When we first meet someone we love, we look over any of their imperfections in favor of how much we love them, and after they have disappointed us, we start to emphasize their flaws and forget about their good qualities. “We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love—first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.” (Camus) We find ourselves doing nothing in our disappointment and we give up and we forget about potential. We allow the disillusionment to make us dead weight and we forget about potential. We sabotage and complain and rock the boat and we forget about potential. We do nothing without realizing that doing nothing is doing a bad thing. “We are not what we are, nor do we treat or esteem each other for such, but for what we are capable of being.” (Thoreau) Instead of refining an individual, instead of pruning them, and demanding growth from them, we sit and do nothing and hinder those who have not given up on potential. We get in the way of those who row because capitulation seems like a good idea. We buckle under the weight because we take it personally and we do not lean on the others who row alongside us. “By imposing too great a responsibility, or rather, all responsibility, on yourself, you crush yourself.” (Kafka) And so we give up because we simply do not want to continue, reminiscent of the prodigal son’s older sibling.

Rule number nine. “So few people get what they want, and the ones that do aren’t really the lucky ones anyway… The lucky ones are the ones that do what they are meant to.” (Scott Spencer)

It is not enough to chase after your desires or follow through with your ambition. The people around us will always need our attention, faculties, and self-sacrifice. Anybody can live for themselves and chase their personal ambitions, and if they do not reach their goals, then they compromise their desires and spin their wheels for a few years and get complacent. They reach a dead end and berate themselves for it and do not pick up the pieces. If they succeed in their ambition, they will either find a new ambition to live vicariously through or they will sit themselves down and promptly say, “now what?” Lord Byron says, “Men think highly of those who rise rapidly in the world; whereas nothing rises quicker than dust, straw, and feathers.” Napoleon Bonaparte expresses the problem and implies an answer “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”; “Men take only their needs into consideration—never their abilities.” Meaning they focus more on their ability to receive and not their ability to give when they should be doing the opposite. Instead of giving what we can and doing what we are supposed to, we focus on what we can take, on what our self-entitlement will allow us. I suppose self-sacrifice is not a very agreeable idea to commit oneself to and selfishness has come back into popular opinion as sort of an asset to have (though it never really left). Neither of these opinions will get us anywhere, at least not for long, and he who believes otherwise makes no effort to learn from natural history. Specifically, symbiosis and commensalism. Facility, everyone has, and facility naturally cannot exist without function. The natural function of any special ability that we may have is meant for the benefit of those around us, and as Einstein says, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Our capability is something deeper than artificial charity. When we give or when we do, it ought to come from the heart and for the salient benefit of the intended. “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” (Douglas Adams) To give altruistically, not expecting or demanding anything in return, is still to commit a transaction. You are not giving something for nothing, but are receiving foundation, a sort of reference point, as you build your relationships with your peers. You gain a favorable reputation and you are leading by example. It does not take much sincere service for you to not be surprised when miracles happen around you and through you, and once you are past this point, you do not want to give up committing to them. Once you sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the people around you, once you dedicate yourself to the growth and development and stimulation and inspiration to those in need of these things, then you can know what it is like to receive them in turn, and appreciate them when you do. And, as C.S. Lewis says, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare” because “if you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Rule number ten. If you do not know what you want, you do not know who you are, and you end up with a lot you do not want. If you get your priorities straight, everything else will fall into place.

This is a foundational rule. So foundational, that I have placed it last so that it is most likely to leave an impression. Our desires tell us and others a lot about ourselves. They express for us the thoughts that soak up our time and the ideas to which we cling. Our desires define us. Our paths can be predicted just by looking at them. If we do not know what we want, and do not figure it out immediately, then we become stagnant, aimless, and confused. And then we can take no steps towards sincerity. “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” (Thoreau) But of course, as Kafka states, “Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.” You must dictate your desires with wisdom. The more you know, then the more you know what is important and your desires can be tuned accordingly. Your desires, if directed solely by your selfishness, reflects a sort of ignorance and fear of accountability. Instead, you ought to desire to be devoted to doing the right things. “The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.” (Huxley) Prioritizing in this way will open the door to a life, not led more easily, but more fully. Your successes and rewards will be more lasting and definite and complete. And your failures will be met with more support and resistance. Your solidity will only be matched by your pliability. Desiring to do the right thing will add force to your ambitions and resolve to your endeavors because when you realize that something is worth having, it is worth fighting for. And worth losing over. “Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald) But be aware that you will not struggle alone. And you will not lose forever. “Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.” (Byron) It is easy to operate once you have your priorities figured out, it is just difficult to prioritize. Therefore, it is more important and essential to your growth. The need of it is concrete and the call for it is audible. If you make the right things your priority, if you place your needs before your wants and the needs of others before your wants and the wants of others, then your life is more easily directed and able to be juggled. You have less restriction and more room to breathe and move around a little. The road on which you travel, and hopefully on which you learn to lead, will be better paved and your footsteps will be better planted. The rain will still fall, but you will not sink into the mud of your own selfish ineptitude. And you will not drag others down with you. Most importantly, you will hold them up when they start to slip themselves. Your conviction will serve as illumination in the darkness and you can test any obstacles by it. And you will know greatness and magic and reward. And, dare I say, perpetual meaningfulness in your existence.

I do not believe everybody was cut out to be a leader, but I do believe everybody is meant to be in a progressive state of self-actualization. Tenaciously heroic, if you will. At least in their own social circles. A sincere life is one hard-led, especially in a society that calls for banality and cocktail parties. “There is an old saying that there is no country as unhappy as one that needs heroes.” (Beagle) Being an example is a daily, personal struggle, and as Carl Sandburg says, “Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.” Maybe the key to a life marked by bravery is persistence. One thing that can be said about the dogged is that their epitaphs are never written in lies or embellishments; their histories are available for everybody to see, are they not? Everything on the table. In order to achieve our desired reputation we cannot take our aphorisms for granted. We must refresh their meanings from the perspective of every available human experience, whether it be true or fictional, anticipated or biographical. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” (Thoreau)

It is true that steadfastness does not account for all parts of success. “I always say perseverance is nine-tenths of any art—not that it’s much help to be nine-tenths an artist, of course.” (Beagle) For the rest, we must rely on divine right and grace, if you believe in that sort of thing. Faith and leaps of faith are the ingredients needed for the true and real magic we long to see that make our lives worth leading. There are no miracles without them and life loses a lot of its flavor and luster in their absence. We are meant to do and be good things and most of the time, we shy away from them because we lack the courage to just simply accept them. One should never doubt the possibility of good news, no matter how small the probability of their being true. One can always think, with great conviction, of less probable miracles that have happened. Most miracles go unexpected. But that is our fault, not God’s. If we were more bold, we had learn to expect them. I am sure genuine boldness is a fruit of the Spirit. Even if it is a fruit best served fermented. In order to do the things people regard as miracles, you have to do a lot of self-sacrificial time, and it will not be pretty. Noah’s time at sea, Jonah’s time in the whale, or Christ’s time in the desert, are prime examples. “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” (C.S. Lewis) In order to do the good things, you must be good too. Or at least try to be. Maybe obedient is a better word. You have to want to be good, at the very least. “Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.” (Camus) You are allowed some relapses, but upon seeing the light of refinement and reformation, and experiencing some of the real magic found there, you ought not try to escape it again. “Don’t look back and don’t run. You must never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention.” (Beagle) or “Running away will never make you free.” (Loggins) Everybody struggles, sure. But there are alleviations against this. A very keen and easy battle plan, if kept consistently, is to hold a fast and a vigil maybe once a year for the curses you carry. And if you are not at war with any part of your life, then you are not being very sincere and should keep a vigil and a fast for the purpose of unearthing the demons about which you should be fasting and vigilant. This will keep you grounded and anchored and all things beautiful. Twenty-four hours, once a year can be devoted to reclamation of your soul, even for the least capable of people. Today, on this date, happens to be the day I keep mine every year. (This is my attempt at avoidance of hypocrisy, not indiscreet, insincere piety.) T.H. White illustrates grandly the sincerity of this concept coupled with our purpose in gallantry:

‘“If I were to be made a knight,” said the Wart, staring dreamily into the fire, “I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, as Hob does with his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.”

“That would be extremely presumptuous of you,” said Merlyn, “and you would be conquered, and you would suffer for it.”

“I shouldn’t mind.”

“Wouldn’t you? Wait till it happens and see.”

“Why do people not think, when they are grown up, as I do when I am young?”

“Oh dear,” said Merlyn. ‘”You are making me feel confused. Suppose you wait till you are grown up and know the reason?”

“I don’t think that is an answer at all,” replied the Wart, justly.

Merlyn wrung his hands.

“Well, anyway,” he said, “suppose they did not let you stand against all the evil in the world?”

“I could ask,” said the Wart.

“You could ask,” repeated Merlyn.

He thrust the end of his beard into his mouth, stared tragically into the fire, and began to munch it fiercely.”’

Maybe I should end it with this quote. I am sure you have gotten the idea by now and are tired of the long-windedness. Writing this all down has felt like what, I imagine, would be similar to passing a kidney stone. “An empty stomach is not a good political advisor.” (Einstein) But, what is one more body amongst foundations? And maybe now I can have a little of that scotch. “It is my right. A hero is entitled to his happy ending, when it comes at last.” (Peter S. Beagle)

If I am going to send you on your way, maybe unconvinced of the salience of my efforts, I may leave you with a little recommended reading. Most of the titles I have to offer are considered classics and as Thoreau says, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” Reading, itself, gives us an opportunity to pick the minds of great men who were inspired by their life experiences coupled by their creative faculties. It takes a great deal of self-sacrifice to record the conclusions found after much reflection and deliberation. The reason this is done is to share with the rest of us the fruits of hard-pressed labor. The best books, if read carefully, provide walkthroughs for life and relationships. “Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.” (Huxley) When it comes to literature, I am of the express opinion that Franz Kafka hits the nail squarely on the head. It should also be applied to television and movies and music and hopefully the books I mention live up to his standards:

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

This novel expresses resolve to benefit the people around us that we love. It involves prime examples of intense self-sacrifice and efficient thinking in solving heavy problems. It displays true courage and patience and even redemption.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

This is the most educational novel I have read about the intricacies of life and purpose and revelations found therein. There is much valor and heroism contained in this fiction, and it provides infinite refreshing angles at which to look at life. It expresses the human condition almost wholly, and demands many return journeys into it throughout your life.

The d’Artagnan Romances by Alexander Dumas

Once started on The Three Musketeers, the trilogy ought not to be put down. Dumas provides the importance of gallantry and spirit and courtesy when met with various enemies. He expresses the need for good nature in our thickest battles and how hope should be tempered with ability and persistence. Most importantly, he shows the benefits of surrounding ourselves with good things and not letting them go despite life’s attempts to disrupt your pairing. There is also much critical thinking and looking at all the angles, which makes it indispensable.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

It is a shorter book on the list, but its saliency is noteworthy. It provides an alternative lifestyle to that of placating steers. It shows the importance of bravery and creativity when your surroundings call for banality. Even in the face of the consequences. It shows how the world will try to break you when you stand against it and demands that you do it anyway and with applaudable good nature.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

I am under the opinion that anything by Beagle is amazing and useful. His literature is riddled with aphorisms and heroism and the poetry of purpose. The Last Unicorn shows resolve in our tasks despite not always having a clear path by which to see. It also shows the importance of not letting go of the good things and that sometimes they are all we have. It gives a clear picture of tenacious sincerity and of remarkable intrepidness despite the ugliness of the odds.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A story of redemption, regret, and a call to not commit to defeatism. It deserves many repeat readings because it provides great insight to the human condition, especially in despondent conditions. It shows the importance of fleshing out the motives of those around us and of strategy. It expresses the satisfaction to be found in selflessly acting towards those that need it, without regard to our own hides. It shows what acts of faith may have in store for us in regards to reward and lives worth living. It reveals the need for courage in unsure actions despite ourselves and our selfish desires.

The Abolitionist Approach to Systemic Racism

The Abolitionist Approach to Systemic Racism

Societies that devolve into internal competitions of class, sex, creed, or race, are societies that have already been conquered by their own sloth and covetousness, exposing themselves to be no longer ruled by God. If they ever were. In short, these competitions begin and end as political footballs for false gods and their sensationalist talking heads. The goal of which is to manipulate and radicalize their civil slaves against each other to distract them from their common enemy: Institutionalism. It is necessary, in this divide and conquer strategy, to raise up villains from the masses, creating scapegoats out of comrades, and then to propagandize all of the duller points of revolution and regime change repeatedly until the social smokescreen is thick enough for these forked-tongue oppressors to get away with enacting legal policies that further their Satanic agendas over society, irrespective of class, sex, creed, or race. The popular but hypocritical conflagrations between young socialists and corporate “capitalists,” between feminists and “the patriarchy,” and between those who believe in the validity of modern American Islam and those who believe in modern American “christianity” are all worthy topics, but let us take the current “race war” in America as our example.

It is absolutely necessary to twist an issue of institutionalism into an issue of racism because, while the whole world knows that racism is wrong, nobody is yet ready to admit that institutionalism is wrong. But, in their effort to suppress the inherent malignance of civil and social institutions in favor of crying racism, institutionalists will become racists themselves.

For instance, the term “black community” is an inherently racist one. It demands notions of segregation and compartmentalization, as if there is a special and separate culture comprising only of people with dark skin, or a shared heritage based on skin color. But how black does one’s skin have to be in order to be eligible to be a member of the black community? Do both of their parents need to look black? Only one? Neither, so long as enough of their grandparents were black? How dark does their skin need to be, regardless of their lineage? Are albinic black children tallied amongst the community? You must see how racism becomes the answer to social ills when one refuses to look at the actual problem for them. Even talking heads on both sides of the problem are thinking and talking this way, as they are constituents of the same Hegelian Dialectic. They are two sides of the same plug nickel. In essence, the “black community” is just another Indian Reservation, a self-imposed ghettoization of an entire people group, and racism is not the only similarity between the two.

To dismiss the inherently racist idiom of denoted by the phrase “black community” and address the actual complaints underneath its use, it is necessary to understand that the racism of bureaucratic organizations against the “black community” is a correlative reality and not a causative one. Simply put, the police do not target people who identify themselves as members of a certain race due to the idea that law enforcement institutions are inherently racist, but because the overwhelming majority of the “black race” also identify as perpetual victims as a fundamental part of their culture owed to a twisted view of history. This will be explained shortly.

While the racial statistics about police brutality do not lie, neither do they express any ultimate answers for how to interpret the statistics. They only reveal what is. They do not reveal why. Police states are not innocent, by definition. Policing agents are necessarily socialists who receive tax dollars in order to maintain an occupation, thrive in their personal lives, and oppress everyone with which they come into contact. The police are an entire profession that exists by coveting their neighbors goods in order to exercise authority over them. It should be maintained that this does not just “lend itself” to corruption, it is corruption. Power corrupts because it is the seed of corruption. Institutionalism does not need an excuse to be oppressive, savage, cannibalistic, divisive, entitled, prejudiced, and demonic. It is those things inherently. But because men are not ready to admit that, they allow institutions to focus their destruction and damnation through various excuses. Sometimes it is through the pretext of “religion.” Sometimes it is through the pretext of nationalism. Sometimes it is through the pretext of political party. As we read in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, sometimes it is through the pretext of witchcraft that men in power oppress their fellow men. As we learn from the McCarthy trials, sometimes it is through the pretext of creed. And sometimes it is through the pretext of racism. But invariably these are always excuses. They are curtains behind which the nature of Institutionalism hides. An oversimplified scapegoat makes for an easily distracted frontline of pawns. The pawns will raise up the institutions over themselves and then those institutions will eventually either provide for them scapegoats or incidentally become scapegoats themselves.

The idea that there is a systematized racism in the United states begins with its twisted history, most notably that it coincides with its myopic history of slavery. Despite the fact that slavery in America was not partial to race (130,000 white slaves were sold to the New World under the reigns of King James and Oliver Cromwell), black africans were invariably sold to the old and new world by other black africans, and 3,700 black Americans possessed 12,700 black slaves at the height of American Antebellum), racism was preached from every lectern in every American university (another institution) as a natural extension of Darwinism, which is now the driving presupposition of every institution in the United States including welfare, healthcare, military, and police.

But, as expressed, twisted history demands that one look at slavery through a racist lens, suggesting that oppression was the fruit of racism rather than a generic fruit of institutionalism. This narrative is especially popular within the “black community” who ascribe to their “black culture” and sense of “black identity,” a collective comraderie predicated on victimization, as if institutional oppression against some black people in ancient history demands the perpetual helplessness of other black people in the present day. This same cultural mentality is also present amongst the modern Native American community, resulting in ever-increasingly high statistics of poverty, drug addiction, crime, broken families, and dependency on socialism through familiar institutional snares. A victim mentality and the faux-martyrdom that comes with it lends itself to notions of entitlement and demands for reparation, for the exact same reason why tax slaves beg for social security benefits, or feel entitled to their tax returns or any other boon transacted against their “paying into the system.”

The thing about those who would be perpetual victims, complainers, lifelong martyrs, and anybody else who gives up on hard work, social virtues, personal responsibility, and community ethics in favor of the slothful whingeing about their own inability owed to some past trauma or oppression, is that which they believe about themselves comes true in self-fulfilling prophecy. The perpetual victim creates a power vacuum to be filled by oppression. They cry out to be made victims by holding onto a victim mentality. When they put themselves onto their crosses, they are praying to be nailed to them. And people in power, invariably bullies, are attracted like flies to those who are cry out like they are wounded. Those who have no respect for their fellow man will always oppress those demographics of society who have no respect for themselves. If you want the worst people of society, the institutionalists (in this case the American Brownshirts), to be prejudiced towards you, to profile you, and to basically hunt you, then act like their prey: identify yourself with being oppressed, or always struggling to make ends meet, or keep your neighborhoods at peace, while you also rely on the covetousness of institutionalized welfare through housing projects, or dependence on the socialist system designed to make you an oppressor of your neighbor through receiving benefits paid for by his taxes.

If you want to invite oppression into your communities, prey upon each other through theft, murder, and gangland organizations. If you want to show tyrants that you are easily conquered, do so by murdering your own children through abortion and birth control, or selling them into slavery through social security and public education for tax write-offs. Promote fatherlessness and broken homes. Strengthen the institutions by weakening the families. Be divided and conquered through competition for materialism. Forsake your abilities to provide for and take care of one another, and replace them with consumerism through sex, drugs, cheap alcohol, and self-destructive music and celebrity culture.

The root of oppression isn’t racism. It’s institutionalism. Institutionalism is just the monster of recompense that fills the vacuum created by a slothful and covetous culture that abrogates personal responsibility and replaces it with collectivist misery, and necessarily, dependency on institutions.

The solution has not changed since the creation of mankind: a people who love God, love their neighbors as themselves. They seek to serve their neighbors in adhocracy, in the weightier matters of justice, mercy, through faith, hope and charity. They promote strong families. They protect each other’s property. They keep each other free from civil citizenship under men who are in positions of power. They prefer to serve than to be served. They forgive their enemies because they know hatred and defeatism breeds self-hatred, and atrophy of virtue. They make their neighbors self-sufficient and economically independent, knowing that their neighbor will do the same to them in return. They do not compromise with or tolerate the sin of outsourcing these virtues to socialist institutions through public schooling, food stamps, police forces, or any other civil snare that allows tyrants to rule over them as soon as they take the bait. They certainly do not organize and divide themselves by race, because they know that all men are created by God and all men fall short of His glory. They repent and do hard things, including forgive and forget, and join together with the repentant, regardless of race, to enter into a righteous kingdom as a free society, making obsolete both oppression and the identity of victimhood that demands oppression.

Men, Our Most Critical Need

Men, Our Most Critical Need

The following sermon is lifted from the seventh chapter of This World: Playground or Battleground? by A.W. Tozer. Though he takes for granted modern christianity’s attachment to sophists behind pulpits and to labeling all of christianity “the church,” his sentiments ring true:

The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men—the right kind of men, bold men. The talk is that we need revival, that we need a new baptism of the Holy Spirit – and God knows we must have both – but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit.

We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances. Their only compulsion will come from within – or from above.

This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious acts out of mere custom, nor allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

Much that the church—even the evangelical church—is doing today, it is doing because it is afraid not to do it. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reasons than that they are scared into it. Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe—or fear—the world expects them to do, they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.

The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Its leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it, and their people followed them—sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution—and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.

Another characteristic of the true prophet has been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to bring others under their feet. They have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety. But the free man—never. He has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. If they follow him—well and good. If not, he loses nothing that he holds dear. But whether he is accepted or rejected, he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them.

Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive, it must have men again—the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt, and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way.

And when the deliverers come—reformers, revivalists, prophets—they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side. They will be co-workers with Christ and instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Such men will be baptized with the Spirit indeed and through their labors He will baptize others and send the long-delayed revival.

The Gospel, Part V

The Gospel, Part V

In the first installment of our explanation of the Gospel tenet, we endeavored to show that all gospels are blood covenants with their respective gods, the majority of which sacrifice their citizens on the altars of bureaucracy, through taxation and institutional authority, in socialist fleshpots of mutual destruction. In the second installment, we expressed the revolutionary nature of Christ’s Gospel, focusing on the political meaning of baptism as an exchange of civil citizenship, highlighting the need to be born again into a literal kingdom characterized by liberty, as free souls under God. In the third installment, we elucidated how Christ “became like us in all things” to undergo the same idolatrous and authoritarian temptations that we face, and maintained his integrity in obedience to God. In the fourth installment, we provided an introduction to Christ’s teachings by putting into political perspective some of Christ’s expository lessons, including the Sermon on the Mount. We also put into political context some New Testament events, including the feeding of the five thousand, the Lord’s Table, and the Last Supper. Because so many professing Christians myopically limit the Gospel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and because this sequence of events immediately follows the Passover meal account, perhaps it would be beneficial to address the significance of this biography in the context of Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven in our final installment.

Less than a week before Passover, Christ had been publicly recognized by the people of Jerusalem as the rightful King of Judea, and not just of Judea, but of every Jewish person, even of the ancient kingdom of Israel before it was divided in a civil war under the oppressive administrations of Israel’s pagan-style kings. It is no wonder then that the people of Judea looked to Jesus Christ, a king who came to serve, for salvation from the kinds of kings who came to rule, and whose yokes of taxation and legislative authority were too heavy for the people to bear.

“And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:8-10)

The Greek word hósanna literally means “save us, we pray”, as a combination of two words originating in Hebrew. One is yasha which means “to deliver,” “be liberated, saved (properly placed in freedom),” “deliver, save (properly give width and breadth to, liberate),” and “of God, who saves his people from external evils.” The other is na which means “we pray, now” as a “particle of entreaty or exhortation.” The second time Hosanna is mentioned in the passage, it is followed by the phrase “in the highest,” from the word hupsistos, the superlative form of hupsos, a term of political rank. The entire scene represents the people expressing their recognition that the man in front of them had a legitimate claim to the throne of Judea, as its only rightful, living heir in Davidian pedigree. The practice of hailing a man with palm trees is typical to a royal procession, and in John 12:13, where the story is repeated, the people specifically call him the King of Israel. Even Christ’s enemies had no legitimate excuse to not to recognize Him as their king. After hearing the children in the temple declaring Jesus’ claim to the throne, the Pharisees became angry, but the following exchange took place soon after:

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45)

The Pharisees were not more ignorant than the people who were convinced of Christ’s kingship. They were familiar with Jesus’ lineage to the royal house, and already understood that He was their rightful king. This conversation, however, implies that the Pharisees had to also realize that Jesus must be God. Most of them would never admit to this recognition, however, because their conflict of interest in being politically validated by the most powerful man in the known world, Caesar, and in receiving their standard of living by the heavy legal and tax burdens they placed over the people, would require that they reject a King and a Kingdom characterized by voluntary service and humble stature. It was from these burdens that the people cried out to Christ for salvation, believing on His political campaign message of liberty and its light yoke of personal responsibility and voluntary community in the Kingdom of God. Free people have no need of human magistrates, and the proposition of another Kingdom growing in popularity among the people left only one recourse among the existing political party: the arrest and regicide of the people’s champion as an example to His followers to quell their allegiance to him and to make him bear their sin of insurrection.

“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (John 11:47-53)

The nation of Israel then, like it is today, was validated by its subjection to, and being sustained by, foreign empires to be included in a global orchestra of political cohesion. As mentioned in the first blog post of this series, Israel’s rulers loved Rome, looked to Rome to be its Benefactor, and enjoyed partaking in its social order, redistributed wealth, and civil privileges. The threat of Christ’s message and independent Kingdom, without the need for rulers or treaties with one-world governments, would dismantle the political authority maintained by the Pharisees, and the way of life to which they had grown accustomed under Roman provision and civil structure. To keep the people of Israel as their indentured serfdom, these men only had to pay thirty pieces of silver. Such human sacrifice has always been intrinsic to human civil government, and scapegoats are always purchased with blood money.

On the night of His arrest, Jesus’ kidnappers, as can be expected from men in political power, committed blatant and unashamed conspiracy against their prey. After marching him from Gethsemane, they presented false witnesses of fabricated crimes, they shuffled him between interrogators, and they stripped him of his dignity. This motivation of such an expedited arraignment in front of a kangaroo court was to get the deed done before the His loyal supporters could be alerted to intervene and save him. Passover Week was a busy time for the people, and they were distracted with their ceremonies at the Temple. Planning to go through this farcical process and illegal charade while the people were busy with the liturgical services of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is typical evidence of the schemes politicians will commit to in order to retain their power at any cost.

It was during the early hours of the following morning that Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate, a procurator of Rome. Pilate’s political function was mainly military, with the added obligation of collecting imperial taxes in order to fund his peacekeeping capacity. While he had the privilege of minting coin for the local currency supply, he was only a promagistrate over the region, meaning he had no magisterial power of his own. He only had delegated authority over limited judicial functions, which naturally included mitigating political insurrection and rebellion. He was not elected by the people, but given office by Rome. It was this consigned responsibility which Christ called into question when he says “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:11) It is fairly common, though without merit, to declare that this “power” was given to Pilate from God, assuming that the phrase “from above” is referring to Heaven for some imagined reason. But it is not “the greater sin” for the Pharisees to deliver Christ into the hands of “God’s man” who bears “the lesser sin” in receiving him. It would not be sin at all if it was God who gave Pilate his power over Christ. Rather, it is because Pilate’s entrusted authority from Rome extended over matters of political insurrection as a peacekeeper, that the pretext of condemning Jesus as “reckoned among the transgressors” was successful for the Pharisees, and made them guilty of “the greater sin” in the plot to depose Him. It is Pilate’s lesser sin to sentence an innocent man who was already arraigned by the Pharisees under dubious circumstances. Their own legal agreements with Rome barred them from executing criminals themselves, and so they delivered Jesus to the only man around who had delegated jurisdiction over such matters, complete with fabricated evidence to seal the deal. But not without due hesitation on Pilate’s part, and a sidebar with the defendant:

“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:33-40)

This exchange put to rest the debate of the times as to who was the rightful king in Jerusalem. Since the exile of Hyrcanus, the execution of Antigonus, and the deaths of the ethnarchs, there was no King of Judea. However, by the pedigree of His earthly parents and the providence of His heavenly Father, Jesus Christ had legitimate claim to be the rightful king of the Jews. This was affirmed by the Magi at his birth, recognized by the people of Jerusalem, feared by the Sanhedrin, and even proclaimed by the promagistrate of Rome who expressed it, not once, but twice, and even nailing it to Christ’s cross as a sympathetic expression in favor of His innocence and in rejection of the Pharisees’ decision.

Recalling the second installment of this series, it is necessary to reiterate the fact that when Christ says that His Kingdom is not of “this world,” he is not referring to the celestial body of “Earth,” claiming that His kingdom is in some ethereal, intangible realm, but rather the Greek defines it as the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government,” referring to Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. All of which, in that moment and circumstance, was represented by Pilate. If Christ’s kingdom was of the world of Rome, it would include a bureaucratic hierarchy that existed by force and violence, much like that of the Pharisees who had appealed to Rome to settle the dispute over who should be the Jewish King between brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus some decades prior. Their servants did fight each other on behalf of their respective kings in a civil war before Pompey inserted his Roman military into the situation to bring law and order, and legitimize Judea’s authoritarian king.

Kosmos

Free from that history and the nature of such kingdoms, Christ formed His kingdom to have a different character where His servants are not given over to bloodshed in the pursuit of political power. Pilate knew such behavior was the way of Imperial Rome, but here Christ was declaring that he had no jurisdiction or legal ability to judge Christ or His followers since His Kingdom had no contract or treaty with Rome, especially regarding the charges of insurrection, since His servants did not fight. Pilate, attending to Christ’s answer to his question of “What hast thou done?,” soon learns that Christ and His Kingdom was outside of Rome’s jurisdiction and ceremoniously washes his hands as an expression of dismissing the false charges of sedition and political insurrection against Christ. The washing of one’s hands is a (not exclusively) Pharisean custom to wash away impurity, such as the impurity caused by convicting an innocent man. So Pilate hands the matter over to the Sanhedrin, forcing them to choose between granting the freedom of Jesus, and that of Barabbas. Barabbas, on the other hand, was legitimately guilty of being a violent revolutionary against the Judean government, including the Pharisees themselves and their preferred policies and policymakers in Rome.

“It is possible that Barabbas was merely a robber or highwayman, but more likely, given the use of the term ληστής (lhsth”) in Josephus and other early sources, that he was a guerrilla warrior or revolutionary leader. See both R. E. Brown (John [AB], 2:857) and K. H. Rengstorf (TDNT 4:258) for more information. The word λῃστής was used a number of times by Josephus (J. W. 2.13.2-3 [2.253-254]) to describe the revolutionaries or guerrilla fighters who, from mixed motives of nationalism and greed, kept the rural districts of Judea in constant turmoil.” (Footnote to John 18. From NET Bible)

Surely the Pharisees would choose to release Christ under such circumstances, considering He was harmless to their authority in contrast to Barabbas. However, the reprobate need for compromise inherent to the unrighteous with their power centers, encourages them to make bedfellows with their own political enemies in order to stamp out those who promote righteousness and liberty under God. A lawful King who fires moneychangers and disrupts the systematic concentration of wealth of society through taxation and inflation is a much bigger threat to the kingdoms of “the world” than political opponents who agree with the ideology of archism, but differ only on who should rule. As they emulate, it is better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.

“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.” (John 19:12-22)

Pilate, always unpopular with the Jews, is quick to be intimidated by these threats against his reputation and did not want to fall out of favor with Emperor Tiberius, being his granddaughter’s husband. He may have been bloodthirsty, inflexible, and unnecessarily harsh with the Jewish people, but threats to hold him accountable to Caesar often made him a pushover. To save his own reputation, he must crucify an innocent man. Likewise, to keep their status as rulers over the people, the Pharisees must double down on their rejection of the Kingdom of Heaven and repeat their insistence that Caesar is their lord and savior. Their suppression of the truth is so great that they demand that Pilate remove Christ’s title from Christ’s cross but Pilate’s inflexibility (and maybe a degree of conviction) prevent him from displaying this crucifixion as nothing short of regicide.

According to the Mishnah, at the Temple in Jerusalem at 9 in the morning, the first lamb of the daily Tamid would be sacrificed, which focused on atoning for sins and the restoration of relationship with God. According to the account of the written gospels, at the hill of Golgotha at 9 in the morning, the first-born of creation and the Lamb of God, was self-sacrificed to atone for the sins of those in “the world” and restore the repentant to the Kingdom of God. By noon, the second lamb of the daily Tamid would be presented and tied to the altar in the Temple to be sacrificed three hours later at 3 in the afternoon, for atonement for the sins of the community and for the restoration of fellowship with God. By noon at Golgotha:

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?…

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom… Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:45-54)

Regicide

The impeachment of Christ is coupled with more than a few supernatural assertions, but maybe the most significant for this discussion is the tearing of the temple veil, removing any excuse for the people to continue to perform their religion through a temple made of human hands. As we have discussed elsewhere, the altars of God were always meant to be “built” with living stones, referring to an adhocratic network of righteous people who sacrifice their charity to sustain their neighbor. This is to contrast against the temples of pagan kingdoms which were government buildings of bureaucratic function, where the sacrifices are compelled by taxation and distributed in socialism. Even the temple in Jerusalem was this way, and it is obvious that the building of it was never in God’s design. However, due to the increasing idolatry of the Jewish people to be like the pagan kingdoms of the world, they traded in their pure and undefiled religion for institutional bastions of civic satanism where they raised up human rulers to be their lords and saviors. As we discussed in the first installment, these rulers were invariably “sons of God,” claiming divine right to rule over the people.

A few things are important to note regarding the death of Christ as it relates to the good news of His political campaign on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Firstly, the tearing of the temple veil does not only herald the destruction of the necessity of the inherently useless government building and federal reserve in Jerusalem, but it is also a metaphor for how the consummation of Christ’s ministry at the cross reveals that all bureaucratic institutions in all worldly kingdoms are erroneous usurpers to how God prescribes society should be maintained. The veil separates the initiated higher class of politicians from their uninitiated subject citizens, creating a dependency of the latter onto the former to perform the weightier matters of the Law through authoritarian policies and bureaucratic compulsion. The tearing of the veil intimates that God is not a respecter of persons, and restores to all men the responsibility to perform the weightier matters through justice, judgment, mercy, and faith, and therefore restores their God-given rights to their land, labor, property, and family without the meddling of human civil government.

Secondly, the record of the centurion’s realization that Christ was the Son of God is a competing truth claim to the legitimacy of the authority of all human rulers. A citizen cannot serve two masters, belong to two kingdoms, or believe two gospels simultaneously, and the supernatural power emanating from Christ’s death is as much a testament to his Divine right to be a servant king as the Father’s proclamation at his baptism, and as Elijah’s summoning of divine fire to consume a drowned altar atop Carmel. The majority of miraculous events recorded in Scripture are related to the competition of the Kingdom of God against the kingdoms of Satan, and naturally its victory over them. This is especially true for the ten plagues against Egyptian nationalism (which will be expanded upon shortly), the marching around Jericho during its moon festival, and the aquatic transportation of Jonah to delegitimize the ocean deity of Nineveh.

Thirdly, that His ultimate self-sacrifice as a servant-king entirely contrasts the sacrifices made on the altars of “public servants” and ruling kings over pagan nations. While those false gods sacrifice the blood of their subjects through taxation and inflation which lead to economic dearths and society-wide pestilence, and sacrifice the lives of their subjects through statute labor and military service which lead to lifelong slavery and literal death, Jesus Christ instead sacrifices His own life to rescue the lives of those who would follow Him as King, to liberate them from the kingdoms of bondage, and make them a prosperous nation as free souls under God. In another aspect, it is important to note:

Men sacrifice their unwilling children to the oppression of human civil government through birth certification for tax write-offs and other boons of subject citizenship, securing to themselves the privileges of pagan kingdoms, extracted unwillingly from their neighbor in order to maintain those kingdoms. However, God sacrificed His willing child to the oppression of human civil government through capital punishment and crucifixion for an entire Kingdom redeemed from pagan kingdoms, saving men from sacrificing their children, teaching them to willingly lay their lives down for their friends in order to perpetuate that Kingdom.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

Scripture everywhere declares that the covetous practices that entice people to subject themselves to human authority through contracts to receive benefits at their neighbor’s expense are actually a self-destructive snare that makes them merchandise of ruling men. It is because they lack self-control that their flesh is not consecrated to God, and it is the pursuit of the comforts of the flesh that lead them into bondage. Sin leads to death, so to speak, but Christ voluntarily subjected himself to the ultimate expression of that death: capital punishment. Even though He was an innocent man, Jesus of Nazareth underwent the worst of the torment that is inherent to all pagan governments so that those who found themselves under their power through sin by running headlong into destruction for socialist benefits would not have to experience such justice for their sin. As such, he not only forgave the sins of the idolaters who transgressed God’s Perfect Law of Liberty, but also crucified the very legalistic administrations that kept the people in bondage under the heavy burdens of bureaucratic elements. If “love conquers all,” then it was Christ’s selflessness that triumphed over kings, presidents, and tyrants and gave the deathblow to their self-destructive selfish kingdoms. The Kingdom of Heaven naturally follows His example, inspiring the love for one’s neighbor and personal servanthood as the redemptive and preservative agents of a free society.

There is a historical significance for these implications. When the Israelites coveted their neighbor’s goods by receiving Pharaoh’s benefits, they found themselves in the bondage of Egypt (the undisputed world power of its day) for generations before God liberated them. He did this through a supernatural invasion, as evidenced in the plagues of Egypt being a series of opposing fronts from God against the superstitions of Egyptian civil and economic society. Each one is a testament that He, and not their pantheon of rulers, is sovereign over the elements represented in their institutions and pagan gods. The plagues culminate in a literal wave of death washing over the nation, only to pass over the repentant, sparing them for salvation unto a free society. They were to sacrifice their Passover lambs and coat their wooden door frames with the blood to be eligible to be counted in the Exodus from their bondage. These events and their purpose are galvanized in Hebrew history as a sort of Independence Day which memorializes their being taken out of bondage and into the Kingdom of God. Is it any wonder then why the crucifixion of Christ occurs during the annual Passover celebration? The blood of the Lamb of God is coated on the wooden door frame of the cross to make Christ the doorway out of the civil bondage of Rome (the undisputed world power of its day) and into the Kingdom of God, leading the repentant sinners of the world into a free society. All of those who chose to receive this sacrifice were made eligible to be counted in the second Exodus at Pentecost.

The miraculous imagery does not end with the afternoon of Christ’s crucifixion. A man dead after three days is hardly ever expected to come back from the dead, but the dead have no jurisdiction over the living and the kingdom of Heaven must be reduced to wishful thinking and blind belief in Neverland in the absence of a living King to lead it, so it is necessary for Jesus Christ, the servant king of freemen, to be raised from the dead on Sunday morning in order to lead the people who are to be liberated by his death. Christ’s resurrection is a testament that the kingdoms of the world have no lasting power over the innocent and the righteous because they find supernatural Providence in God. While the jurisdictions of darkness provide only debt, death and destruction, the jurisdiction of light brings life, liberty, and the restoration of all that has been sacrificed on the altars of the jurisdictions of darkness. Not restoration of the principle only, but with interest too.

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-26)

The resurrection of Christ, Paul says, is a prerequisite for being allegiant to the Kingdom of God. One puts their faith into that which they are faithful, and a vain faith belongs to an unfaithful citizen. There is little hope to be faithful to God without being in a free society, and there is no free society without a risen King to lead it. So, without Christ’s resurrection, there is no remission for sin, which is the reason why one even find themselves in civil bondage in recompense for sin. Always mingling the tangible with the ephemeral, Paul declares the victories of King Jesus over the kingdoms of the world, his political enemies, physical death, and the spiritual death inherited by wordly jurisdictions. Christ’s resurrection is a promise of physical resurrection for those who are born again under His jurisdiction, just like physical death is a guarantee for all of those who are born from Adam’s lineage of mortality. And if literal death has no lasting power for those who follow Christ, then what lasting power do the kingdoms of spiritual (and capital) death hope to have over true believers in Christ’s Gospel? Their rules, authorities, and powers are under His feet. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:10)

Resurrection

Before His ascension to the spiritual realm at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus Christ gave “many infallible proofs” for forty days after being resurrected. He continues right where he left off in teaching the people what it means to be a part of the Kingdom of God, and how to maintain it. The most significant of these recorded teachings is perhaps what we call The Great Commission:

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

The word worship here is inherently a political one that means to show homage to men of superior rank, as all men do for whatever magistrates they recognize in their respective kingdoms. This makes simple sense considering that to be an apostle is to be an ambassador for a Kingdom, on behalf of a King, and as we see in this instance, to spread a message of political reconciliation amongst citizens of kingdoms in rebellion. It is to these citizens, and not to their governments, that is referenced in the word “nations,” or “ethnos” in the Greek. It refers to a multitude, as in a tribe or people group, or individuals of the same nature, like a family. This is fitting considering those in bondage under a certain form of government all share the same civil father, which is the meaning of the word patriot. The point of teaching God’s way to those in bondage under a civil father is to adopt them through baptism into the Kingdom of God the Father. It was in the second installment of this series where we tackled the meaning of baptism as an expression of exchanging one’s civil citizenship. That adoption comes with its own house rules, so to speak, which are centered on keeping the weightier matters by obeying God’s Law. This includes organizing the citizens of God’s Kingdom into adhocratic networks of families accountable to each other in faith, hope, and charity, so this kingdom could last from generation to generation. Christ ends the Commission with the promise that He would remain with them until the end of the age, which could very well mean eternity.

The Great Commission is also mentioned in Mark’s gospel account, with some notable details to consider:

“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:14-18)

The first thing to consider here is that the word used for “world” is not the same as the “world” used in the Matthew account meaning Age. This world is, in fact, the same “world” with which Christ explained to Pilate that His Kingdom had no affiliation or political treaty or logical compatibility: the “apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government” of Rome, kingdoms like Rome, and the kingdoms in treaty with Rome under the Pax Romana. This is also the same “world” from which James later warns Christians to remain unstained as they practice their pure religion. This is especially important because the word for “creature” in this passage is not some idiomatic expression referring to all living things including trees, birds, and mammals as a synecdoche for mankind. Rather, it is the word used for founding, establishing, or building ordinances and political corporations, which are the very civil institutions that make up “the world” and enslave the worldly. The King of Heaven desires that His ambassadors go to where the captives are and preach the two-sided coin of repentance and liberation in the shadows of the very bastions of their bondage. Essentially, this is a callback to Moses who marched into Pharaoh’s palace and demanded that he “let my people go” so that they may be given an Exodus and restored to the liberty under God’s jurisdiction to keep His commands and organize themselves into a free society. Those who repent, Mark records, will be baptized into the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore saved from their civil bondage. Those who remain faithful to the false gospels of human rulers, however, will not be saved, but will be given over to the inevitable self-destruction of those kingdoms when they receive their reckoning of fiscal and moral bankruptcy, culminating in weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness of social, economic, and political collapse, as is the fate of all pagan and socialist societies. Mark also records that these evangelists will be supernaturally protected and supplemented as a testament to their message and the Magistrate that sent them, making the implication that it is those within God’s jurisdiction, and not those who merely call themselves Christians, that can expect to see miracles and divine intervention.

It is true that many fans of Christianity and enthusiasts of scriptural scholarship will limit the notions of salvation and damnation to some after-life experience, basically professing that those who have an emotional instance of short-lived contrition where they recite some incantation of mental belief in the existence of a creator god, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are guaranteed to be ushered into a Heavenly place the moment they die, and that those who do not recite this incantation will go to the other place. While not a complete falsification of the Gospel message, this superstitious collection of wishful thinking and veritable witchcraft certainly truncates the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. A more accurate simplification of the truth might could be expressed thusly: Whichever kingdom one belongs to in this life determines the kingdom he will go to in the next. If you are property of the State, belonging to authoritarian kingdoms characterized by contracts, entitlements, and taxation, then you are in bondage under Satan’s jurisdiction, both literally and spiritually. If you have repented and are seeking or have entered into the literal Kingdom of Heaven, which is for free souls under God, and binds them in faith, hope, and charity, then you will be saved from both the present and the future fate of the former, and be given life and life abundantly.

The early Christians understood this relationship, and it was only a week after Christ ascended to the Heavenly realm when they experienced its political and supernatural effects in real time. The Jews would be observing the Feast of Weeks, a celebration commemorating the ratification of their Constitution as a nation, when God had given them the Law with which to maintain their embryonic free society after their declaration of independence from Egypt through Passover and an exodus from bondage. But just like the experience of Passover was renewed and repeated with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, so too was the transcendent experience of Moses on Sinai with his divine constitution renewed and repeated at Pentecost.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance…

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2)

There is much more to the second chapter of Acts than we have presented here, and the content omitted for time and ease should be reviewed and appreciated as a display of supernatural proof accompanying Peter’s logical dissertation regarding Biblical prophecy, as well as the legitimacy of the Kingdom of God, and the servant King who was sacrificed to secure it. Those who believed in Christ’s Gospel before Pentecost had been put out of the temple administrations and barred from its services and civil enrollment. They were excommunicated and banished from the “free bread” and welfare offered by the socialist society of Herod and the Pharisees. They were marked and declined any benefits offered by Herod’s social security schemes. This also meant that they were free from any of the civil encumbrances tied to the bondage of his citizenship, which is why Christ said it made the word of God to none effect. In turn, they would have to be sustained by a voluntary network of assistance, as instructed by both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. At Pentecost, it is recorded that three-thousand souls proclaimed that Jesus was their King, which guaranteed their exile from the kingdom of the Pharisees, Herod, Rome, and any other. This also meant that they could be counted and enrolled through baptism into the Kingdom of God, thereby saving themselves “from this untoward generation” by sustaining each other through the redistribution of charity containing their daily bread. Their salvation was not merely from some afterlife punishment, but from the very form of bondage that Moses had saved their fathers centuries prior. Every man that believed on the political campaign of Jesus Christ was restored unto his family and his possessions and his power of choice, into a kingdom of freemen who experienced the abolition of both death and taxes by the only magistrate who has the power to truly abolish anything. History attests to the success of this Gospel in recording the overtaking of the Roman Empire by the Christian Kingdom. History also attests to the reason why this Gospel was superior to that of Rome:

“Our curiosity is naturally prompted to inquire by what means the Christian faith obtained so remarkable a victory over the established religions of the earth. To the inquiry, an obvious but satisfactory answer may be returned; that it was owing to the convincing evidence of the doctrine itself, and to the ruling providence of its great Author. But, as truth and reason seldom find so favourable a reception in the world, and as the wisdom of Providence frequently condescends to use the passions of the human heart and the general circumstances of mankind, as instruments to execute its purpose; we may still be permitted, though with becoming submission to ask not indeed what were the first, but what were the secondary causes of the rapid growth of the Christian church. It will perhaps appear that it was most effectually favoured and assisted by the five following causes:

I. The inflexible, and if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses. II. The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth. III. The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church. IV. The pure and austere morals of the Christians. V. The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire.” (Edward Gibbon. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 2. 1781)

It was the Christian Gospel that enabled the early Christians to abolish the dominion of Rome over their lives, exactly how the Israelites abolished the dominion of Egypt over theirs in their repentance. It is on this same consistent message of abolition that the worldview of Abolitionism rests. It is not by coincidence that the Gospel fits in the center of the five tenets. ERGON reveals that every other tenet pivots on and revolves around the message and mission of King Christ. Without the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no abolition of the human archism of every other kingdom. The injunction is a simple one: Call on the name of the Lord, not on the names of other politicians, to save you from the fears, dangers, and maladies of this life and the next. Pray to God for the Providence of His daily bread, and not to the false gods for their socialist benefits. Come together to form a network of adhocratic congregations or abolitionist societies of daily ministration in the keeping of the weightier matters through faith, hope, and charity. Be rescued from the unequal yokes of bureaucratic bondage and authoritarian jurisdictions that keep you in a competitive ouroboros of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. These are not new injunctions. This is the message that permeates all of scripture, and with it, all of history: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

The Price We Pay for Negligence

The Price We Pay for Negligence

Below is a short writing titled “The Price We Pay for Negligence” by Francis Schaeffer. For the most part, we are in agreement with his major points: that professing Christians are apathetic and self-destructive, that they do not know Jesus Christ or are willing to keep his commands in any way whatsoever. There are some of Schaeffer’s points on which we do not agree, however: the deist philosophy of the American fathers did not come from the God of the Bible, christianity did not “underpin” the creation of the United States, and the legislation of morality is wholly a bad idea, as we have expressed elsewhere, which means that using “constitutional channels” is forbidden. Rather, Christians should be seeking to keep God’s Law, to do justice and love mercy, and not outsource those injunctions to the institutions of human civil government. Nevertheless, there is a lot of wisdom in Schaeffer’s paper if you take his residual statist presuppositions with a grain of salt:

“If the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. ”

As I state in A Christian Manifesto, America was greatly influenced by Reformation ideals. This is not to say that all the founders were Christian. Nor that the Christians were totally consistent in their political theories. However there was a Christian underpinning which distinguished America’s birth from the French and Russian Revolutions. Even the non-Christians recognised a Creator who gave the “Inalienable rights” in contrast to man or the state being the giver of those rights.

Today, however, we are a nation “under man”—centred around man’s self-appointed autonomy, governed by man’s fluctuating opinions and chiefly existing, it seems, to give man personal peace and affluence. In other words, the Judeo-Christian ethos, based on God’s absolutes, has been supplanted by a secularistic, humanistic, arrogantly arbitrary philosophy.

This worldview is spreading rapidly, and our legal system is a prominent perpetrator of it. Law in this country has become situational law, controlled by a small but dangerously powerful elite. The courts are dangerous because they pontificate arbitrarily what they personally consider to be “good” for society, yet they demand—and aggressively enforce—absolute allegiance to their arbitrary decrees.

But what did we expect?

The humanistic, secularistic thinkers have merely carried their philosophy to its logical end. They have remained true to their worldview in both words and actions while, unfortunately, Christians have equivocated. They simply have not taken the Lordship of Christ seriously.

Instead, Christians have largely shut up their spirituality into a small corner of life—Sunday church or their Bible studies—instead of realising that the Lordship of Christ is to permeate the whole spectrum of life. They have coasted along complacently, often serving up such dogmas as “you can’t mix religion and politics,” or “you can’t legislate morality,” or “we just need to pray and witness to people”—when what they really meant was “we just don’t want to be disturbed.” They were content in their “comfort zone.”

But Christians are paying for their negligence. We have permitted the dominance of a philosophy that sanctions the killing of an unborn child for the mother’s convenience. A philosophy that deems it acceptable for parents to allow a “less than perfect” newborn child to die—again, because it is convenient. A philosophy that can talk of euthanasia of the aged and a general devaluation of all human life. A philosophy that has euphemized a wrong and self-destructive sexuality into “alternative lifestyles.” A philosophy that drives its proponents to unashamedly seek the banishment of all religious influence from the stream of public life, leaving a totally relativistic value system and law.

This secularistic worldview has engulfed every area of society which Christians have chosen to ignore—the government, the courts, education, the media. And it is now threatening the areas which Christians naively took for granted as being beyond its reach: the family, the Christian school and the church. More and more the state is opening the door to restrict the free exercise of our faith through increased regulation.

And if the majority of Christians persist in their complacency, we will increasingly lose our freedoms. Christians largely sleep on, as step after step is taken. It is not too late to change this destructive situation, but it is too late for mere words. It is time for Christians to fight this materialistic, humanistic tide and provide Christian alternatives. It is time that we came out of our cloistered, compartmentalized existence and took our place in the political and legal arenas.

We must continue to pray and witness to people of salvation in Christ. But we must also fight for the sanctity of human life, fight for the protection of the family, fight for the proper education of our children, fight for our right to speak and worship freely, and fight for a church that is bound to the tenets of God and not the state as though it were an autonomous authority.

We must protest. We must resist. Yet we must not move with zeal without also moving in wisdom and scriptural authority. We must understand how God’s Word applies to the whole spectrum of society, and we must know how to use our constitutional channels to work toward change.

We must use the law effectively in the coming years if we are to see any positive change. Our system of law has veered so far from its original mooring that it is going to take aggressive challenges in the courts to thwart the destructive trends. We cannot afford to sit back and allow humanism to increasingly roll over us.

That is why I am glad to see organizations such as the Rutherford Institute come into being. If there is any hope, it is in doing the faith. And by doing the faith, we can be the witnesses Christ desires.

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Prooftexts and Contexts of the New Testament

Prooftexts and Contexts of the New Testament

It is fairly common for those who attempt to argue against the validity of Abolitionism to offend its adherents by either taking scripture out of context or by oversimplifying concepts described in scripture. Granted, the most common and (dead) traditional interpretations and sophistry have served to confuse professing Christians for almost two thousand years, leading them away from the truth, not to mention the thousands of years of perverted scriptural dogma inherited by the Pharisees which are still repeated today. This article will endeavor to catalogue many of these blunders projected onto New Testament scriptures, and express them as they are intended to be interpreted: as compatible with the Kingdom of God and the liberty inherited by those who seek it. For a look at Old Testament scripture please read this post. To budget space on this post, and to assuage the attention span of the average reader, an analysis of Romans 13 is not included within this content. It can be found here instead.

Doth Not Your Master Pay Tribute?

“And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” (Matthew 17:24-27)

Many statists will require that this passage means that Jesus was either in favor of taxation or that He and the early Christians were subject citizens of governments who existed by taxation, but these interpretations would require a lazy understanding of the context. Because Capernaum rested on the border between two administrative regions, it was a prime location for the collection of the yearly national and temple taxes. Moses had inaugurated a tithe like this in Exodus 30:11-16 among all males over the age of twenty, for the maintenance of the tabernacle as an administrative tool for the Levites, and to contribute to the offerings which were welfare for the Israelite community as a nation. This half-shekel, repeated as a concept often in the Old Testament, was partially an idiomatic synecdoche, meaning that it was not a tax for the sake of income for the Levites, but was a renewal of registration for the patriarchs of the congregations of Israel. Its purpose was a form of tallying those who were counted as standing members among the adhocratic network of charity, so the Levites could better organize their efforts to serve the people. After the temple had been built, this half-shekel imposition was adopted, perverted, and codified into the legal system of the Jewish state and, while losing its original purpose, became a burden on the people.

“According to Edersheim (The Life and Times of Jesus), the yearly tax was collected during the Passover season. About a month before Passover, Jewish tax collectors would set up their tax booths to collect taxes from residents in Israel and near Jerusalem. Jews living in foreign lands also had to pay the ½ shekel or the two Attic drachmas tax. But, they could do so at one of the other pilgrim feasts such as the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in the month of Sivan (June) or the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) in the month of Tishri (September/October). Late payments were collected by distraint as late as the month of Adar (February/March). The tax confrontation of Peter by the tax collectors could have happened as late as the month of Tishri, or it could have been much earlier in the summer when the confrontation took place.

I conclude from observing the above facts that this was the Temple tax required by Moses and that because Jesus was not at the Passover the previous spring, the Jews were aware that Jesus had not yet paid the didrachma. They were probably not as much interested in the tax as trying to find an accusation against him.

Therefore, the fact that the tax collectors confronted Peter about Jesus’ tax policy does not appear to be out of custom with the times. Apparently, the tax collectors kept tabs on Jesus and were aware that they had not yet received a didrachma from Jesus.” (Was Jesus Christ Tax Exempt? (2009, August 16). Family Guardian.)

Peter, an impetuous apostle who habitually spoke rashly and in ignorance, obviously acted in haste here when addressed by the tax collectors at Capernaum. Christ was quick to rebuke him, however. His correction includes a contrast between the members of the royal house and the civil subjects of rulers. The word for “strangers” in this passage is allotrios, meaning “belonging to another,” and “foreign, strange, not of one’s own family, alien, an enemy,” but Jesus was born into a regal rank as “the son of David,” through a royal bloodline, making him the rightful king of Judea and heir to his Father’s house, which made him the Lord and owner of the Temple at Jerusalem. As sovereign, He was not subject to the tax law because he was the source of the law, even though it had become perverted through generations of dead tradition. Peter’s indiscretion afforded him the liability to make his “yes” yes in order to not offend the tax collectors and make himself a liar, especially to bring undue suspicion onto Jesus. The tax would not be applied to the other apostles who did not foolishly speak out of turn, nor would it be taken from the troop’s purse. Christ himself did not handle the coins, but knew where Peter could obtain the tribute through some flotsam. Jesus Christ would later dismantle this tax system in the Temple of Jerusalem, and preach the establishment of a new one based on adhocracy and freewill offerings, taking the Kingdom of God from bureaucrats and giving it to those who would produce the fruits thereof. We have written about the implications of that event here.

PeterFishJesusTax

Render Unto Caesar

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (Matthew 22:15-22)

This is probably one of the most common passages that statists attempt to raise up against the claims of Abolitionism in order to legitimize their idolatry. In order to do this, they must dismiss the context created by the scheming Pharisees, and their statist guilt directly repeated in the statism of today. Because there were several Greek words translated “tribute” in the New Testament, it is important to recognize that the tribute referenced in this passage is not the same tribute referenced in the temple tax relevant to the account of Peter’s indiscretion. While that latter tribute originally applied to people whose Lord was God alone, the former tribute only applied to those who made Caesar their lord, through the application of citizenship for his pragmatic providence as their god in their sin. We have written elsewhere about the implications of rendering unto Caesar that which is God’s and how it brings one under the eligibility to be taxed by him. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24)

To bring those concepts into the context of this passage, it is necessary to examine a few of its details. Namely the implications of the contrast between the image of God and the image of Caesar. The coin in the possession of the Pharisees was most likely a variation of the Antiochian tetradrachm. In this case, one reflecting Tiberius with the inscription “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus” on the front and “Pontif Maxim” on the back, therefore delineating him as the “son of God” on one side and “the high priest” on the other. In the most basic and obvious sense, this coin was a perfect example of a graven image, which was in violation of the very laws that the Pharisees pretended to follow, interpret, and enforce. The false god of Augustus Caesar was not only superstitiously considered divine, but was also an appointer of gods because he retained the role of installing the supreme court justices of Rome. He was also the father of the earth over the civil citizens of Rome as their provider and protector, who gave them an allowance through income, but also could extract taxation from them, which is the patrimonial right of kings, or civil fathers, contrary to Christ’s command. This exact idolatry is perfected by Americans today, for American civil government is identical to Roman civil government.

The Pharisees had completely bought into the false gospel of Augustus, worshipped him both literally and figuratively and, as blind guides, lead the people astray into civil bondage all the while calling that bondage the Kingdom of Heaven. They were under social contracts to the Pax Romana, and taught this practice as righteousness despite it explicitly breaking the Law of God. When it came time to choose between Christ and Caesar, they compounded their sin in confirming that they had “no king but Caesar.” They were made in Caesar’s image after all, as legal persons at law, and refused to be born again as freemen in God’s image, under His jurisdiction in His Kingdom.

In calling out their hypocrisy as those who say they serve God but serve human magistrates instead, Christ demolishes their pretense at some moral high ground. It is the position of Christ and abolitionists that one should not owe anything to Caesar and that taxation is a recompense and a justice for the debt that comes with making Caesar your lord. You first had to render unto Caesar that which is God’s, giving up your dominion and placing yourself under the dominion of ruling men. In the transaction, you receive things of Caesar’s like legal titles, legal tender, legal employment, and therefore legal obligations to maintain those things. The purpose of this passage is to compel you to realize that you should not have anything belonging to Caesar to begin with, and to give it back to him so that God may become your provider instead. If you had not sinned by abandoning that which is God’s, you would have retained your rights and responsibilities rather than traded them in for civil privileges and legal liabilities. You could have kept the fruits of your labor rather than subjecting them to Caesar in corvee bondage, for the empty promises of welfare and other boons of civil citizenship obtained at the expense of your neighbor’s taxation. Now that you are trapped by the words of your mouth in your own covetousness and sloth, you must make your “yes” yes, and pay for the consequences for your sins. This, and only this, is what is meant by “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” identical to the tale of bricks that the Israelites had to pay Pharaoh in their Egyptian bondage, before they received salvation through an Exodus, by God’s mercy in their repentance for going under Pharaoh generations beforehand.

YourMoneyYourFace

But Romans 13 Says…

Due to the popularity of this excuse and the length of its content, this prooftext has its own post located here.

Remember Them Which Have the Rule Over You

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7)

The word for rule here is not the typical one for authoritarian office, which is “arché,” meaning “comes first and is therefore chief” which means it “has priority ahead of the rest.” It is the word “hégeomai,” which means “to lead the way” and “carries important responsibility and hence ‘casts a heavy vote’ (influence) – and hence deserve cooperation by those who are led.” This scripture is not referring to men in positions of authoritarian government, patterned after the world, but the servant ministers of God’s titular government, the pastors who lead the people in dedicated, literal service and moral example. They, explicitly according to Christ, did not “come first and are therefore chief.” Christ instructed that they come last in Luke 22. This notion is expanded upon ten verses later.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

The word for “obey” here is “peithó” which is related, not to a relationship characterized by subordination, but by persuasion and confidence in one’s wisdom, to assurance, taking advice, being “won over” and idioms of similar connotation. Likewise, the concept of submission here is a voluntary one, from “hupeikó” “to resist no longer, but to give way, yield,” as in to willingly agree to defer to one’s direction and advice. This is because the ministers “watch for” their congregants in being vigilant in ministering to them “without any unnecessary ‘time off.'” Part of their role in maintaining a free society is to “give account” to the rest of the organized christian network in a record to better distribute the daily ministration. These verses are establishing the importance of a willing cooperation with the ministers as an alternative to enforced social contracts that the people suffered under with the bureaucracies of the world, for their socialist welfare schemes. The whole chapter is a warning against the latter, and an injunction to not be remiss with the former.

Pray for Rulers

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

It is not uncommon to see this passage used to attempt to dismiss the abolitionist worldview. Granted, this is never as a result of careful study, but rather because it is much easier to just flippantly repeat base prooftexts when confronted in one’s idolatry than it is to work through the implications of an opposing viewpoint. We see over and over again that a “plain reading” of scripture (as if scripture was plainly written in modern English) is a lazy reading of scripture, and that there is no “plain reading” that is not tempered by the personal interpretation of presupposition based on hearsay, personal experience, imagination, or some combination of the three. In regards to this passage, interpreting it in the typical statist fashion requires that one presupposes that the early christians had literal kings to rule over them, or men to exercise authority over them. This presupposition denies the fact that Christ did not allow such a model for His kingdom, and that history attests the opposing theme.

The term we see for “king” in this passage is “basileus” which means “leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king,” and “a sovereign (abstractly, relatively, or figuratively).” When the term is used in the New Testament to refer to literal civil rulers, it is often (though not exclusively) in reference to Christ whose kingship was characterized by service and restoring the power of choice to the people after they had sinfully concentrated it into the hands of human rulers by covetous contract and careless consent. In the Kingdom of God, the people recognized no kings of the world who could exercise civil authority over them. Neither did they have a standing army, the power to legislate each other, judges who could rule over them, enforcers of taxation, or any other institutional vice so common to pagan societies. According to the dominion mandate, every patriarch was to be king and priest in his own house. Every person was to legislate themselves, because God writes His Law on the hearts and minds of freemen. Every elder collects taxes of his own family through freewill offerings in a charitable network of free assemblies. This reality is maintained by keeping the natural order of the family, where every wife was one flesh with and civilly covered by her husband, incorporated as one person at law, and every child remained wholly intact under their parents’ authority and dominion. This positioned the power of choice of society into the hands of patriarchal elders who retained the equitable rights to their property and family as natural positions of authority over the fruits of their labor and the products of being fruitful and multiplying.

The phrase “that are in authority” is extrapolated from one Greek word “huperoché” meaning “superiority, excellence, preeminence,” and even “with excellency of speech or of wisdom.” The only place it is translated “authority” is in circular reasoning in this passage, and is not the usual word Greek authors used to describe literal authority. It is from the word “huperechó” which is translated “higher” in Romans 13. We have detailed a more thorough analysis of the word here. It is most often used to reflect excellence of character, especially in regards to service, morality, and humility. There is a form of rank in the government of God, but it is never positional, and always based on reputation and the minister’s performance of his duties. The only authority they had was, not over the people, but over the freewill offerings entrusted to them by the people. Those offerings were consecrated to God to be redistributed to those who had need, as a form of God’s Providence.

Paul describes why supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving should be made for all men, but especially “the elders, and for those that are held to a higher standard of moral excellence (pastors),” and this is so “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” The Elders were to lead their families and the Pastors were to network them together in congregations of faith, hope, and charity by their service. Praying that they may carry out their duties in humility and good character seems like a no-brainer, because this was the nature of a free society: the family unit was the political party, coming together in adhocracy, and the called-out servant ministers were a titular government to organize them. Societies in bondage require that the families are broken up so that their members are dependent on and assimilate into the socialist fleshpots, who all share the same civil fathers and false gods, to have mediators in politicians and lesser magistrates between them and their rulers. For the Christians, however, because they were themselves responsible to keep the weightier matters and organize themselves voluntarily, they only had “one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” When the passage describes Him as savior, it is because they were saved from the wrath of kings to enter into the free society characterized by the Kingdom of God, and only because Jesus Christ gave up everything in order to ransom a repentant people to go under his life-giving jurisdiction in restoring them to the original liberty given to God’s favored creation. It is for this reason Paul had been ordained a preacher of this Gospel message and an apostle (ambassador) to Gentiles who were still in civil captivity.

Submit Yourselves

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” (1 Peter 2:11-18)

Even though the beginning of this chapter describes Peter’s audience as “disallowed of men” (as in cast out from their civil societies), “lively stones” in a “spiritual house” as a “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (as opposed to hewn stones in a carnal, worldly jurisdiction, as civil slaves, who give up forced sacrifices through taxation), a “chosen generation” (as in a nation of one kind of people), a “royal priesthood, an holy nation” (as in a kingdom of priests, freed from former civil slavery), “a peculiar people” (which will be examined shortly) who have been called out “of darkness into his marvellous light” (left the civil jurisdictions of the world to enter the Kingdom of God), those contentious against the Gospel of God still use this passage to legitimize going under the power of human civil government. To coincide with the notion of being “a peculiar people,” Peter also describes his audience as being “strangers and pilgrims” in verse eleven. This idea of God’s people being “in the world, but not of the world” is one that encompasses both testaments, as we have already touched on in the previous blog post:

“To further compound this point, in Daniel 2:25, he is referred to as a ‘captive’ or ‘exile’ of Judah. Often throughout scripture, this concept is coupled with the word ‘stranger’ which sometimes means ‘resident’ or ‘alien‘ as opposed to ‘citizen’ and sometimes means ‘without a share,’ as in possesses no entitlement to the strange nation’s provision.”

It is this same sort of provision and entitlement that Peter recalls with the phrase “fleshly lusts which war against the soul,” because socialist provision from Benefactors who exercise authority brings one into civil bondage. If you abstain from taking government benefits your soul will have peace, because you will be free from bondage, under God’s jurisdiction and eligible for his Providence instead. It is because Christians belong to a separate civil society with its own laws, customs, system of welfare and method of organization that it even becomes relevant to instruct them to have their “conversation honest among the Gentiles.” The word Gentiles comes from the greek “ethnos,” referring to “a race” or “nation,” as people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture.” Compared to God’s people, anybody belonging to another god in another civil society separate from their own, would be considered a gentile. The world of Rome, under which the early Christians were not subject citizens, was a gentile nation. The word for “conversation” in the same verse is from the Greek word “anastrephó” which simply means “conduct” or “behavior,” but is curiously translated “turn upside down” when described of the early Christians in Acts 17:

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.” (Acts 17:5-9)

This connection helps to reveal just what kind of honest “conversation” that the Christians were having with the Gentiles. Their conduct upset the Roman and Herodian Jews because they were not counted among Roman and Herodian citizenship, and preaching repentance unto citizenship of the Kingdom of God. They were not subject to the decrees of Caesar. They had another king entirely. It was for this reason that the gentiles spoke against the Christians as evildoers, and we see in Acts 19 that they were accused of robbing the temple of Diana at Ephesus. Because this temple was actually an international bank, with one of the most secure depositories at the time, it is impossible to consider that this accusation against the Christians was literal. We have written more on the “evildoing” of the early Christians here and here:

“There was a sense in which the ministers were robbing the church of Diana, however. By preaching citizenship of God’s Kingdom, and baptizing ex-patriots of worldly governments into their network of liberty, there were less members of the collective surety to make deposits for the welfare schemes maintained by the temple. Fewer sacrifices on its civil altar means that there was less stability in its function as a Federal Reserve, which hurt its ability to make revenue off of its usury. By all accounts persecution occurs, not because Christians have different superstitious rites and beliefs than pagan societies, but because they have a different political and economic way of life than those maintained by human civil government.”

With this history and exegesis serving as a backdrop, it would be beneficial to examine just what Peter means when he tells his audience to submit themselves “to every ordinance of man… unto governors” who are “for the punishment of evildoers.” Surely, if Peter was known for doing “contrary to the decrees of Caesar,” because He had “another king, one Jesus,” then this concept of submitting to governors and human ordinances must mean that he was inconsistent in advocating that Christians attempt to serve two masters. This, however, is untrue and for a number of reasons starting with the fact that the word for “submit,” grammatically and conceptually following the topic of Christian “conduct” among the Gentiles, is “hupotassó” meaning “to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection,” and “to yield to one’s admonition or advice: absolutely.” These definitions are frequently used for military usage, but there is another definition that should be applied to this passage owed to the fact that Christians had no place in Roman or Herodian military: “In non-military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.'” (“Strong’s #5293 – Ὑποτάσσω – Old & New Testament Greek Lexicon.”) This is the same word and definition used in Titus 3:

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)

The concept of submission here does not mean to go under legislative authority or judicial oversight of worldly magistrates. It means that the christian conversation (conduct and behavior) with the gentiles is to reflect humble cooperation with local customs and to voluntarily respect municipal authority. Paul suggests something similar when he says:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

As “strangers and “pilgrims,” christians should cooperate with local law enforcement voluntarily, even though they belong to another political society entirely, so as to be a witness to the native population who remain civil slaves, under administrative civil law. It should be noted that the word for “ordinance” here is not the usual word “dikaioma,” referring to the sort of ordinances to which Christians were not subject. It is “ktisis,” which is also translated “creature” in the Great Commission when it refers to the injunction of preaching the Gospel to every “civil institution,” in the pursuit of redeeming man from the dominion of man. In 1 Peter 2, christians are merely advised to voluntarily cooperate with the institutions (ktisis) when relevant, even though they are not under their literal authority.

To summarize these concepts: the voluntary cooperation that Christians are to have is with the very civil institutions from which they are politically free, and from which they are preaching repentance in order to make more men free. They do not submit to the laws themselves, because they are free from them, but neither are they creating violent unrest in prideful immaturity, or inciting arbitrary social chaos. As expressed all over scripture, it is these authoritarian “governors” and legalistic institutions that are “the punishment of evildoers” as an ouroboros of self-destructive bondage over their subject citizens through their contracts, covetousness, and taxation, from which the Christians remain civilly separate. Peter elucidates on this punishment for evildoing when he says “And through Covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3)

An added benefit of this voluntary and sober cooperation with local customs and pagan magistrates is that it “may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” The jealousy of civil slaves towards freemen tends to resemble the sort of backbiting that is inherent to raising up strawmen in defamatory accusations. There is no doubt that Christians were rebels against the world order, turning it upside down as they preached the alternative Kingdom of God, but their weapons were spiritual, and not carnal, in their revolution. They did not revolt or instigate physical violence or call for insurgent coups against the status quo. They preached repentance, recognizing that oppression and institutionalism were consequences for the sins committed by the people when they oppressed their neighbor by initially raising up the institutions. These foolish men did not “abstain from fleshly lusts” and, not only did their sin lead them to bondage, but it also led to them to becoming reprobate in their foolishness. We have written on that subject and its parallel sentiments reflected in Roman 1 here. Peter drives home the voluntary cooperative relationship of unregistered christians with another nation’s magistrates by describing them “as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” Their liberty is intrinsic to their amicable ambassadorship to foreign governments, not unlike Jonah’s role in turning Nineveh upside down, reforming their entire civil and political structure just by preaching true repentance. With this bold meekness, prophets naturally honour all men, love their brotherhood of fellow believers, and honour King Jesus, the Christ, walking a fine line between protest and humility to cause a peaceful revolution and revival unto the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 2

And Despise Government

“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption…” (2 Peter 2:10-12)

Even though the context of this chapter is exclusively a warning against false teachers creeping into the Christian community to promote human civil government, many idolaters will still twist this one passage to justify the same form of government it is condemning. The beginning of the chapter begins by warning against false teachers bringing “damnable heresies“, denying Jesus as lord in favor of some human ruler, and how those false teachers will use “feigned words” to stoke “covetousness” which turns people into civil property, or “merchandise,” leading both the blind guides and the blind followers into “damnation” that “slumbereth not.” Peter goes on to compare these heresies to the sin of Sodom, which was initially socialism, necessarily institutionalized by the existence of human civil government, which eventually enabled the people, in their hardness of heart, to commit other misdeeds contingent to the breakdown of the family unit. You discard the relevant importance and use of the family in the creation of civil institutions, dissolving natural relationships in the pursuit of perversion. There is no human civil government without “the lust of uncleanness.” This process of idolatry leading to all manners of social ills is fleshed out here. The word for “government” in verse 10 is “kuriotés” which means “dominion, power, lordship” as “one who possesses dominion.” This is the only place in the New Testament this word is translated “government.” Everywhere else it means “dominion.”

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:8)

The dominion expressed here is not one to be instituted over men by Benefactors who exercise civil authority. Rather, it is those who raise up rulers over themselves that despise their own dominion. They must speak evil of their inherent dignity, granted to them by God by being made in His image, forsaking the Dominion Mandate in abandoning their divinely given rights and responsibilities to steward their own land, property, and families. When they are tempted by covetousness for the comforts of the flesh, to be made in the image of, and as merchandise for ruling men, abandoning their natural and supernatural inheritance like Esau or the Prodigal Son, they become like “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed… and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” They give up the dominion inherent to their birthright, granted by their heavenly Father and natural fathers, and create a power vacuum to be filled by the dominion of civil fathers, no different than the error of Balaam, as expressed by the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We have written extensively on the subject of Dominion here.

But Romans 13 Says…

But Romans 13 Says…

In the two previous blog posts we covered many of the prooftexts commonly used to legitimize human civil government, both in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament. Because the subject of Romans 13 is uniquely exhaustive and tedious, we have decided to give it its own space here. The relevant scripture is as follows:

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 to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: or he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7)

This passage is probably one of the most commonly misunderstood portions of scripture and that is only owed to the treason of translators and the laziness of the vast majority of Christians who are hardly ever concerned with the pursuit of truth, but rather the justification of their own idolatry using twisted scripture to assuage the fact that they take Christ’s name in vain. In context with the rest of the message of Scripture however, this passage is probably one of the strongest in favor of an anarchist political science, and therefore of abolitionism. The initial confusion hinges on the phrase “higher powers,” which is the most accurate translation in all of the english versions of the Koine, while “governing authorities” is the most antonymous because it is not just an oversimplification of the Greek phrase “exousiais hyperechousais,” it is an irresponsible subterfuge expressing the opposite of the intent of the passage.

Hyperechousais” comes from the word “huperechó” which means “to hold above, to rise above, to be superior,” “to stand out, rise above, overtop,” “to excel, to be superior, better than.” According to Strong’s it is “from huper and echo; to hold oneself above, i.e. (figuratively) to excel; participle (as adjective, or neuter as noun) superior, superiority — better, excellency, higher, pass, supreme.” There is a definition that means “to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power,” but this understanding is only applied in circular logic to Romans 13:1, or to a contradictory reference in 1 Peter 2:17, calling King Christ the “superior in rank, authority, power.” The most common place this word seems to be used in the New Testament is in Philippians, referring to the idea of esteeming others as better than ourselves, or of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, or the excellence of the knowledge of Christ as one’s Lord. None of the times the word is used does it convey that human civil government is a “higher,” “excellent,” or “supreme” concept. In fact, it is the testament of scripture that authoritarian positions are, and the idea of going under them is, “lower,” “inferior,” and “reprobate,” as can be exampled in the actions of Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the declarations of Gideon, and Samuel.

Romans13Skeptic

Exousiais” comes from the word “exousia” which means “power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; leave or permission,” “physical and mental power; the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises,” “the power of authority (through influence) and of right,” and “the power of rule or government.” Nowhere in scripture is this last definition qualified with the adjective of “higher,” because that concept exclusively refers to the things of God rather than man-made governments. Exousia is a combination of two words: “Ex” meaning “of” or “from”, while “ousia” means “what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate.” This simple description reveals a simple fact: whoever possesses the dominion retains the right, liberty, or power of choice in how to use it. That will be discussed shortly. There are many words for “power” in the Koine Greek, from Dunamis, dunamai, didomi, arche, ischus, ischuros, kratos, and energes. Many of them could have been used to help convey the notion of human civil government in Romans 13:1, but the nature of the term exousia expresses a competing notion entirely, by both Scripture and history:

“We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right [exousia] to eat.” (Hebrews 13:10)

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right [exousia] to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)

“But take heed lest by any means this liberty [exousia] of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

“After further analysis he defines the citizen as a person who has the right (exousia) to participate in deliberative or judicial office (1275b18–21). In Athens, for example, citizens had the right to attend the assembly, the council, and other bodies, or to sit on juries.” (Miller, Fred. “Aristotle’s Political Theory.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 Nov. 2017.)

“Aristotle says that… The right (exousia) to do anything one wishes…” (Paul Bullen: Lawmakers and Ordinary People. 1996.)

“Brancacci notices that the term used by Enomaos to refer to human freedom is not the typical Cynic one ( ἐλευθερία), but ἐξουσία [exousia], which expresses ‘the new concept of freedom in opposition to the already defunct and unhelpful ἐλευθερία [eleutheria]…'” (Boeri, Marcelo. Bryn Mawr Classical Review. 19 Aug. 2001.)

“This is implicit in Socrates’ observation that ‘where there is such an exousia, it is also [the case] that everyone would privately construct his own life for himself in a way that pleases him’ (577b). Shorey and Bloom translate exousia as ‘license,’ a term that seems appropriate in light of Plato’s presumed objections to democratic disorder. Yet exousia is surely one of democracy’s contested symbols, for it can also represent the capricious richness captured in the image of the multihued garment.” (Mara. Gerald M. The Civic Conversations of Thucydides and Plato: Classical Political Philosophy and the Limits of Democracy. State University of New York Press, 2009.)

Romans13Exousia

In Romans 13:3, the word for “rulers” is “archon,” meaning “a ruler, commander, chief, leader…” which could have replaced the phrase “higher powers” if Paul had wanted to intimate “governing authorities” by that phrase. The same word is used by Jesus Christ in the context of appointing the Kingdom of God to his apostles, and barring his followers from holding civil office. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes [archon] of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant…” (Matthew 20:25-27) Christ did not want the servant-ministers of his adhocratic government to be like the “public servants” and “prime ministers” of the bureaucratic governments of pagan nations because His Kingdom was one bound together in faith, hope, and charity rather than yoked in the unbelief of contracts, entitlements, and taxation. In fact, it was Christ’s purpose to fulfill God’s Law and, by the power of His Gospel, set man free from the dominion of man, making him a free soul under God alone, as is repeated all throughout scripture:

“For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:10-11)

“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” (Leviticus 25:10)

In every case, subjecting ourselves to the higher law of God explicitly means that we retain our original liberty and rights to our property and relationships, because it is only when we have forfeited God’s providential liberties and responsibilities to the arbiters of human civil government that we find ourselves under their lower powers to regulate our lives and bring us under tribute. When we give up our dominion, we deposit it into the centralized hands of rulers who bear dominion over us. God made man upright, in His image, with the natural responsibility to maintain a natural family, work the land, enjoy the fruits of his labor, and to thereby obey the Dominion Mandate. Only when his wealth is his own, without the burdens of legal encumbrance or property and income tax, is he subject to the “more excellent liberty” of God. It is only when his family is his own, without the illusions of legal guardianship and marriage licensing, that he is subject to the “more excellent liberty” of God.

However, God also gives man the liberty to squander his liberty by establishing human civil governments and going under their lower powers, though without impunity. It is not God that institutes rulers, unless it is as a recompense for those who no longer desire to be ruled by Him. Men raise up rulers, which Scripture describes as false gods because they become the providers and protectors, and lawgivers and judges, and saviors and lords over the people who are within their jurisdiction. “The people always have some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness…. This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” (Plato, The Republic, bk. 8, sct. 565) As Romans 13:2 declares, the people receive to themselves damnation… because rulers are a terror to the wicked works that reject God in favor of human rulers. Those who do not give up their rights and liberty, and do good works to retain them, will not find themselves subject to human rulers, so their jurisdictions are not a terror to good works. In fact, because only sinners will find themselves trapped into the fleshpots of human rulers, they are a safeguard for the righteous who remain set apart from their encompassing black holes of covetous and slothful singularity that compresses their wicked with their wakes of temptation and imprisoning mass.

Human civil government is an ouroboros of debt, destruction, and damnation for anyone who legitimizes it, and the Bible says that all of the terrors and maladies contingent on man-made governments occur by consent of the people who partake in their citizenship. “When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they [are] deceitful meat.” (Proverbs 23:1-3) This temptation to yoke together with unbelievers and eat of their socialist provision makes one a surety for that provision. “Let their table become a snare before them: and [that which should have been] for [their] welfare, [let it become] a trap.” (Psalm 69:22) This is because governments are not ever interested in doing good by their subject slaves, unless of course it is to bait the hooks of temptation to acquire their wealth and rights through citizenship and consent to partake in socialism. “The real destroyers of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits.” (Plutarch)

When the Israelites decided to go under the lower powers of Pharaoh, he did not bear his sword against them in vain. They gave up the rights to their property, including land and livestock, and gave up the rights to their labor through a twenty percent income tax. When they petitioned Samuel for a king of their own, they consented to God’s revenge and received the wrath of their “public servant” by having to give up their land and fruits of their labor, concentrating their wealth into the coffers of the king, having their sons drafted into a standing army, becoming employees of the government, and raising up men with legislative and judicial authority to bind them in legal burdens, under heavy administrative yokes. In addition to all of that, their idolatry, paganism, and statism afforded them one more blow of God’s wrath: God would no longer hear their prayers, or their cries of salvation from the just desserts of their rejection of Him. “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)

Romans13-1Saumel8

Even though Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome is a dissertational proof for the efficacy of the Christian worldview as a redemptive solution to the bondage of human civil government and the sins that lead people into that bondage, it is easy to forget that Paul often employs the first person or second person points of view, not as reflections of personal anecdotes, or as direct descriptions of his actual audience, but as rhetorical devices in technical writing. In the case of Romans 13 (and most of Romans), we are witnessing a second-person imperative mood directed at a hypothetically implied situation that might have applied to some of Paul’s direct audience, and maybe even none of them, but are relevant only if the right conditions are met. Those conditions will be revealed in the following:

At Pentecost, those that followed Christ who previously had political affiliation with the social security administrations of Herod and the Pharisees, were kicked out of the temples and synagogues and were barred from receiving the socialist benefits afforded in subjecting themselves to their legislative authorities. These Jews were then free to bind themselves together in freewill congregations, to keep the weightier matters as free souls within Christ’s Kingdom of Heaven. Instead of being baptized into Herod’s citizenship, they were born again into God’s adoptive society. The early Christians had their own political structure, their own customs, their own laws, their own system of welfare and even their own (servant) government. This means that even though they were “in the world” of the Pax Romana as unregistered inhabitants and unenrolled residents, they were not “of the world” of the Pax Romana as civil citizens and numbered persons. It was Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire who commended “the union and discipline of the Christian republic” which “gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman Empire.”

Although the Christian faith promised civil liberty and delivered that liberty to thousands of Jews at Pentecost, as a sort of second Exodus, many who repented of their worldly civil citizenships after Pentecost, and sought to uphold the pure religion of the Christians and be counted in their networks of charity, still had debts and legal obligations to their former civil masters. In short, they still had political liabilities as consequences for the sins that had initially brought them under bondage. “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” (Proverbs 12:24) This made the international Christian community an amalgam of freemen and slaves who bore each other’s burdens and had to navigate serving two masters until either they were freed of their debt or their old “marriage contracts” were nullified by the death of their “former husbands,” referring to the collapse of Rome’s civil and social structure, as is the end result of all socialist societies and unrighteous mammon.

So when Paul starts speaking in the second person imperative in Romans 13, from verse five through verse nine, he is talking to a mixed audience. If any of them were still slaves, then they should continue to pay taxes. For it is this wrath that makes human rulers the servants of God in spite of themselves, punishing the wickedness of sloth, covetousness, and idolatry merely by existing and exercising authority. If tribute is owed, those punished should pay it. If custom is owed, those punished should pay it. If fear is owed, those punished should be afraid. If honor (obligations, burdens) is owed, those punished should pay (fulfill, bear) it. He goes on to explain the end result of this arrangement: Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) Paul himself did not have civil obligations and professed himself to be subject to the original, higher liberty given to man by God, and expressed the inopportune and enslaving nature of discarding that liberty and going into bondage: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

It may still be the recourse of the multitude to appeal to the debate in the same way as most professing christian theologians as they take the conventional approach to dissecting this passage. If that is the case, then there is minimal debate on what this prooftext means, and how it is in favor of a statist interpretation. However, with a little thought, it would show that this is a conflict of interest. 501c3 churches and state-sanctioned seminaries can only ever produce scholars who sympathize with Balaam or the Nicolaitans to justify the worldview that legitimizes their authoritarian organizations. Just like the scholars and Pharisees of Christ’s day appealed to generations of compounded dead tradition and adopted presuppositions through generations of “church history,” so do pharisaical scholars of today. Just like those pharisees said “no King but Caesar“, these pharisees legitimize political office through democracy. Just like those pharisees ruled over the people with religious fervor and political enthusiasm, these pharisees are proud of their government-sponsored degrees and express their self-importance from their pulpits. These are blind guides leading the blind, and so any notion of true liberty, as repeated over and over throughout scripture, must be stricken from churchian dogma.

It should be expressed that the Koine Greek was developed during a similar time period of Greek history as most languages are established during their respective cultures: as Greece and Rome were moving from a period of free republics to a more centralized, authoritarian, and even autocratic empires. Languages change along with those changing social conditions, but those empires were establishing the very same wrath as the rulers described in Romans 13 were supposed to conduct: from heavy taxation, to wars, to food shortages, to oppression, to mass murder of their own citizens, to many other atrocities contingent upon Empire. The Pharisees legitimized civil rulers then just like the Pharisees legitimize civil rulers today, under the same conditions. In every era, there will be scholars who presume to have the answers and deny any possibility of being in error. They are educated by the best professors and attend the best bastions of institutional education, and they all belong to an elite fraternity of historical pedigree and intellectual echo-chambers. Even Saul had belonged to this demographic while he was persecuting Christians for refusing to subject themselves under Caesar’s dominion. It was clear that he did not actually know the God he had prided himself on studying. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) It is true that word meanings will change to be palatable to the sensitivities and political correctness that evolve with the “sophistication” of Empire, but God’s plan for humanity never changes. Since creation, man was always meant to be free souls under His sole authority, rather than property of the State as human resources for the Cains, Nimrods, Pharaohs, Caesars, or Constantines of the world. Anybody peddling a different message, usually for greedy gain and puffed up accolades, is invariably preaching a false gospel“ever learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23)