Love Your Enemies (Moses Lard on War; Part 8 of 11)

Originally published in Lard’s Quarterly; April 1866. For previous parts, read here:
Moses Lard: “Should Christians Go To War?” (Part 1 of 11)
The Absolute Character of War (Part 2 of 11)
War Defined and Examined (Part 3 of 11)

War Cannot Be Right When Its Cause Is Wrong (Part 4 of 11)
War Is Not of the Kingdom of Christ (Part 5 of 11)
The Will of God is Wholly Against War (Part 6 of 11)
It Is Wrong To Take The Sword (Moses Lard on War; Part 7 of 11)

Love Your Enemies

The following supplies my fifth argument:

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Matthew 5:44

Let any Christian man study the sentiment herein expressed, study the sprit, drink it in till his soul is full of it; till, in other words, he is thoroughly imbued with it; and then let him in candor say whether in his hearing he feels no antagonism between the spirit and that which would lead him to war, lead him to take human life. I set it down as a thing simply indisputable, that no man, be he saint or sinner, can with the sentiment and spirit herein named ever go to war. The spirit of the passage and the spirit of war are hopelessly irreconcilable. They can never be made to agree.

But let us inspect the passage a little closer. In what sense, then, are we to take the word enemy? Of course, if we take it not to express all enemies of whatever kind or name, at least we must take it to express a personal enemy. More than this it may mean, and most probably does; less than this it cannot mean. A personal enemy, then, we dare not hate; we must love him. But if we dare not hate a personal enemy, then we must hate none. And if we must love the personal enemy, I conclude we must love all. These positions will not be dissented from by the Christian. If, now, the Christian is solemnly bound to love his enemy, obviously he is equally bound to do nothing inconsistent with this love. Can he, then, at the instant while loving him and praying for him, and in harmony therewith, take deliberate aim at him on the battlefield, and shoot him dead? The thing is impossible. Human nature is incapable of the deed. No more than the Christian shoot on the battlefield a man whom he loves, and for whom he is praying, than he can the mother that bore him. The feeling of love must be wholly extinguished in is his bosom and all his prayers hushed before he is capable of his deed. But this with the Christian must never be the case. He can hence never go to war. To love an enemy and to want to kill him at one and the same time are feelings grossly opposed. No two can be more so. Yet such must be the state of the Christian’s heart before he can go into a battle; unless he may cease to love, which, of course, he can never do.

In estimating the bearing on war of such as passage as that now in hand, we must remember to look at war and warriors just as they are, and not in the deceptive light with which the glowing pen of the defendant of war sometimes invests them. To die for one’s country is a glorious thing, we are told. So it may be; but it must be a small affair to him that dies. If a glory indeed, it is so for him who lives, and not to him who dies. To follow the drum and fife in martial line, and shout: “On to victory, boys, on!” is very chivalric to be sure; but when a soldier lies mangled on the field, his last blood spouting from his heart, and murmurs with life’s closing sob: “Oh, my wife and little ones!” this is a note in a different tune. To report to His Excellency the number of troops engaged, the magnificent handling of forces on the field, the noble bearing of Gen. A., the strategic skill of Col. C., the dashing charge of Capt. B., the tug of battle, the wavering of lines, the repulse, the rout, the victory, the pieces of artillery taken, the flags captured, – all this reads well. But what is it to all him whose cold and pulseless body lies stiff on the sod through the frosty night, while his desolate wife screams in her distant home, and weeping, dependent children cry: “Father is gone; oh, gone, forever gone!” The poetry is now not quite so exquisite. But to draw the picture of a battle is not my object. I wish merely to call attention to the evidently very loving spirit in which this work of death is certainly done, to the many prayers which are breathed for enemies while it is going on, and to the strict accordance of both with the spirit and tenor of the passage in hand. That is all.

Continue reading to Moses Lard’s sixth argument against war here:
The Golden Rule (Moses Lard on War; Part 9 of 11)

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  1. Pingback: It Is Wrong To Take The Sword (Moses Lard on War; Part 7 of 11) – The Christian Exile

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