dove of peace

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(Perversions of Scripture corrected)
by A. Ballou


"Christ against War!" exclaimed Parson Hor;
"He taught the reverse in texts I'll rehearse.
Just turn Matthew o'er to 10:34.
Where plainly we read the doctrine I'll plead--"
"Think not I am come to send peace upon earth"
(However the angels might herald my birth);
"Not so; I came not to send peace, but a sword"
(That the war-god may still be adored).
Next Luke 22:36 comes to view--
"Whoso hath no sword, his garment should sell,
And buy one forthwith (to arm himself well)."

"This is the gospel for me, and here rests my plea."

Well, now, Parson Hor, you strike me with awe--
A born-again saint, with Scripture acquaint,
A Collegian taught, with Divinity fraught,
By the Holy Ghost called, and a Pastor installed!
No wonder that people look up to the steeple,
Revering the light that shines from its height,
As descended from heaven.

Yet nevertheless, I can but express
My suspicion that your erudition
Requires some inspection, and even correction.
Will your Reverence excuse the freedom I use
In testing your plea?
"O certainly, Sir, if you needs must demur;
But be sure you will find me correct."

           I venture the issue.
1. If Christ came to propagate war, not peace,
When war universal evinced no decrease,
How useless his mission to help on perdition!
Did Belial need aid for a deadlier raid?
Or Mars sigh for more of carnage and gore?
Came Christ to compete for the highest seat
With the Herods and Caesars of bloody renown?
Is destruction the plume that nods in his crown?
Alas then, how worthless his reign!

2. If War was Christ's mission, how false was the vision
Of Prophets and Seers! as from Scripture appears.
The holy Isaiah 9:6 did declare
The Almighty's decree, that his Title should be,
In chief, "Prince of Peace," with endless increase
Of dominion and power. And so all the rest
Predicted his reign should be tranquil and blest,
That Truth, Love, and Peace in his realm should prevail,
Till nowhere a hammer remained to assail.
Now how did they make this egregious mistake?
Your grand Prince of War, profound Parson Hor,
To be "Prince of Peace"!

3. If Christ was for war, why not keep its law?
No warrior was he, nor adept to its arms,
The triumph of battles for him had no charms;
His time was ne'er spent in drill-field or tent,
As leader or led, official or head.
No weapon of death or of harm did he wield,
Nor wore on his person a helmet or shield.
He sought not sit in Council or Throne,
To give the war-power, or make it his own,
Nor fasted nor prayed, nor blessed its success,
Nor asked its protection from rage and distress.
No smiter he smote, nor wrath would evoke,
But meekly bore wrong from the brutal and strong;
Till, led by his foes as a lamb to the slaughter,
His martyr-blood flowed like out-gushing water,
Whilst imploring of God their forgiveness!
Why thus non-resistant? Why thus inconsistent,
If he was for War, Parson Hor?!

4. If War was his mission, what self-contradiction
His teachings involve, too gross to resolve!
That perfect Peace-fount, his Discourse on the Mount,
Comes square in collision with your supposition.
Matthew 5:38-- to the end I translate--
"Of old you have read, in the law it was said,
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;
But I your Messiah, by spirit of Truth,
Say, Smite not the smiter as he smiteth you,
Harm not offenders as they may harm you;
Resist not their blows with like evil force,
But meekly forbear, and your injurers spare.
Inspire from above, your enemies love.
Bless them that curse you, befriend those that hate you,
Pray for persecutors and despiteful users;
For malice and wrong requiting good will,
Till Love's royal law ye completely fulfill.
Thus shall ye prove yourselves children of Him,
Your heavenly Father, creation's kind King,
Who maketh to rise the sun of his skies
On the evil and good, whatever their mood,
And sendeth his rain on the just and unjust,
Still blessing with favors the vilest and worst.
Be ye perfect like Him."

What else did he mean, Chapter 10:16?
"Behold, I send you as sheep among wolves;
As serpents be wise, and harmless as doves."

Next comes to view 26:52--
"Put up again thy sword to its place
For all perish who thus arbit their case."

Like sense I affix to Luke 9:56--
"The Son of Man is not come to destroy
Men's lives, but to save them, with increase of joy."

And last we are drawn to the Eighteenth of John,
Where Christ, by his foes unjustly arraigned,
To Pilate his office and mission explained.
"Art thou the king of the Jews?" he was asked,
As if treason by chance might thus be unmasked.
The guileless one answered, "Not of this world
Is my kingdom. If so, with banner unfurled
My servants would fight in their Master's defense
To frustrate the Jews in their hostile intents;
But now is my realm not from thence."

"A king then thou art!" the Roman rejoined.
"Yea, king of martyrs, for Truth's sake transformed,
No rival of Herod or Caesar am I;
The Witness of Truth I was born, and shall die."

How can we reconcile sayings like these
With assumptions that Christ was not strictly for Peace,
But sanctioned the horrors of War?

5. Once more, Rev. Sir, I boldly aver,
If Christ was for War, sent forth to destroy,
The Apostles and primitive Christians
Grossly mistook and inverted his teachings.
Their precepts and practice were ultra for Peace,
Enjoining their converts from bloodshed to cease,
Of War's carnal weapons themselves to disarm,
And meekly abstain from all human harm.
Read Paul to the Romans, 12th chapter entire,
Which all who love goodness must greatly admire.
Its Precepts for Peace, let me cite, if you please:
"Bless them that persecute you; bless and curse not."
"Recompense no man evil for evil."
"If possible, live peaceably with all men."
"Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath."
"If thine enemy hunger, feed him;
If he thirst, give him drink."
"Be not overcome of evil,
But overcome evil with good."

How conclusive!
The same apostle, 1 Corinthians 4:12,
Speaking of co-preachers with himself,
Impressively says, "Being reviled we bless;
Being persecuted we meekly endure it";

And endeth his plea, "Be ye followers of me."
So in Thessalonians 5:15, he enjoins to demean:
"See that none render, to men great or small,
Evil for evil, but good unto all."

And Peter, we find, has the same holy mind.
His first Epistle see, [verses] 20 to 23:
"If when ye do right ye are treated with spite,
And meekly ye take, for righteousness' sake,
Inflictions of wrong, your patience still strong,
The approval of God will be your reward.
For this is your call, to be Christlike to all;
Whose example indeed was intended to lead
Our footsteps in pathways of Peace."

Again in 3:9 we have "line upon line":
"Not rendering evil for evil received,
Nor railing for railing when grieved,
But always returning blessing for spurning;
For thus, if ye suffer for righteousness' sake,
Most blessed are ye; fresh courage then take;
And, fearing no terror, conquer all error."

I call this, Parson Hor, Christ's gospel and law.

6. And last I assert that you wholly pervert
The only two texts on which your plea rests.
Just look at the first, which you twistify worst:
Matthew 10:34, whose context you seem to ignore.
"Think not I am come to send peace upon earth;
Not peace, but a sword I came to send forth.
For, to set men at variance, behold, I am come,
The mother and daughter, the father and son,
Parents-in-law against children-in-law;
To make a man's foes quite frequently those
Who birthwise belong to his own household throng.
Who more loveth father or mother than me,
Or daughter, or son, unworthy must be,
To be my disciple in any degree."

What sort of war this, my dear Parson Hor?
Not national war, as blindly believed,
But discord religious, in households conceived.
And this not designed, but by action on mind,
The gospel's effect in calling the elect.
And that "sword" which Christ came to send
Was not one of steel, as you would pretend,
But of Truth, which makes men contend.
Now how, Rev. Sir, can the Clergy thus err?
Each a born-again saint, with Scripture acquaint,
A Collegian taught, with Divinity fraught,
By the Holy Ghost called, and a Pastor installed!!!

Then what wretched use of the passage in Luke:
"Whoso hath no sword, his garment should sell,
And buy one forthwith (to arm himself well)."

We find this expressed just before his arrest,
At the Passover feast, when the mobocrat-band,
Conducted by Judas, were lurking at hand.
The disciples responded, "Two swords, Lord, are here."
"Enough," he replied, as soon will appear.
What, enough, Parson Hor! Two, for twelve men of war?
Well, that same dismal night they went to the fight,
And Peter, with one of those swords, quickly smote
The High Priest's servant in the van of the host,
And cut off his ear, as his blade made a veer.
What next? Did his master approvingly shout,
On! on to the foe!? No indeed, not so,
But instantly healed his enemy's wound,
And then in rebuke to Peter turned round,
Commanding, "Put up thy sword to its place;
For all perish who thus arbit their case."

See again Matthew 26:52,
Where comes the sequel and moral in view.
Two swords were "enough," not for war, Parson Hor,
But to furnish occasion most solemn
Peace to attest, as they grand Christian doctrine.
Emphatic indeed was the lesson thus given,
In a crisis, if ever, when foes should be smitten--
The defense of the Just, outrageously wronged,
By minions of malice stealthily thronged.
No wonder that Peter struck bravely for right,
Not doubting his duty for Jesus to fight,
Since ordered to arm that very same night.
But the moment he smote with his sword,
Lo, his Master at once interposed the stern word,
Which forever forbids his disciples,
However provoking soever the crisis,
To make deadly weapons their dernier resort,
Or by War-deeds dishonor their Lord.

O good Parson Hor, do cease to plead War,
As the doctrine, or practice, of mission of Christ,
Or the business of Christians, elect and baptized.
If the world will be whirled in their vortex of blood,
If vengeance and war they will nourish and brood,
If they will not have Christ for a Master,
But cling to the sword and wrathful disaster,
For heaven's sake, Sir, let the born-again few
Adhere to his precepts, and prove themselves true!
Why not, Parson Hor?

"You sorely perplex me, and almost convert me;
But worse I'm perplexed, and still harder pressed
With a pinching conviction, that somehow,
Such a change of position won't pay now.
Where are the true Christian churches, pray tell,
That this doctrine of Peace won't repel?
Whose members with War-men have ceased to unite?
Who crowd not their polls, nor in office delight?
Who could live in this great bustling world
True to a banner above it unfurled?
Where are the pulpits, with rich congregations,
To welcome such strict ministrations?
Where are the Colleges, and Divinity Halls,
Professorships, Doctorates, and salaried calls?
Where is there anything temping n earth
To ambitious minds that value their worth--
Anything paying and pleasant, but what
In some way with War has cast in its lot?
Now, ingenious good Sir, you may shrewdly infer,
That if things can be changed, and better arranged,
So that Peace shall pay as War does today,
I shall yield up my sword-plea with grace,
Texts and all, and gladly change face."

Alas, I see where the pinch comes at last,
And fear that the War-god for life holds you fast,
Yet will work with the few, the faithful and true,
For the great Revolution, whose happy solution
Would win Parson Hor from the priesthood of War.