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Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.
-- Micah 4:3-4

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Losing Influence

We have a class of friends who say they are heartily sick of politics, but they continue in them for the purpose of reforming the government - a very laudable end, but rather questionable means. They say they shall lose all effective influence in the political world, if they take the Non-Resistant position.

A few words to those friends. What is it you are so much afraid of losing? Your influence ! And what is your influence in the political world now? You feel the force of Christian principle and moral obligation. Do your political parties feel it? Will they permit you to apply your Christian principles to anyone of their favorite doctrines or measures? Will they allow you to direct, or even to qualify materially any one of those measures? Will they allow you to lead or to advise them? Will they suffer your scruples to interfere with a single unprincipled scheme they chance to embrace? Never. Do they come to you to inquire who are suitable men for office? Never. And when you object to their candidates, on the ground that they are immoral men, will they give way to your objections? Never.

The only chance you have to acquire consequence among them is to yield your scruples, compromise your principles, and support their measures. Then they can use you. Then your Christian profession, and good moral character, serve them well. They are proud of you; and by the help of your respectability, they can hold up their heads in their iniquity. "See," say they, "don't you see what good Christian people, what honest, upright, worthy men belong to our party! Would they be with us if we were so very corrupt!" Thus you serve them as cloaks to hide their deformity, and are the veriest tools in their hands - the tail, and not the head of the party. Is not this the naked truth?

What, then, is your influence? Nothing for good, but much for evil. You cannot lead. Your advice weighs nothing. But your respectability is first rate capital in the hands of selfish demagogues. Take yourselves out of the way, every one of you. Stand on your own ground. Withdraw your respectability, and make it felt in reproof, rebuke, and utter disfellowship of wickedness. Then you will have some influence on the right side. Then you will give a check to popular wrong and folly, which politicians themselves will not know how to overcome.

"But will not bad men do all the voting, and hold all the offices?" And what if they should? How much worse will the conditions of things be than now? The only difference will be that bad men will then work with their cloak off, and without good men to back them up. The consequence would be that their reign would be disgraceful and brief. They would soon fall into a quarrel and devour one another. Meantime the eyes of the multitude would be opened; and they would call for a new and better order of things - for a government of justice, mercy, love and peace. Therefore the influence of good men does not lie in voting at the tail of corrupt party organizations, nor even in holding a few inferior offices at the expense of Christian principle, but in falling back upon moral power, and unitedly insisting on righteousness, equity and goodness, as the basis of individual; social and national happiness.

"But what can so few do?" What do they now do where they are? Mischief, absolute mischief. Standing by themselves, they will become a mighty moral host; increasing every year in numbers and influence, till the world shall recognize them as its true friends. If every town in the United States had an average of fifty men in it, of stern, unbending moral integrity - standing aloof from its ballot-box, and its cartridge-box - ever vigilantly watching its political and legal proceedings, approving the good and rebuking the evil, would the effect be injurious to society? Would not those moral power bands be the greatest conservators of social order and prosperity in their respective neighborhoods? No doubt of it. To this complexion things will gradually come; and from such a complexion they will advance to a peaceful but complete revolution of political institutions. Then will civil government become a simple, efficient and perfectly beneficent means of promoting universal rectitude and happiness in the earth.