The Golden Rule (Moses Lard on War; Part 9 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 (Moses Lard on War; Part 8 of 11)

The Golden Rule

My sixth argument is suggested by the following:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 7:12

Fortunately for us, in commenting on this passage, we shall not be met by objections based on supposed or real limitations in its meaning. Here, at least, no reference is made to nations as such, individuals as such, public enemies as such, or private enemies as such. The reference is to men universally, whether enemies or not. Neither nation, rank, condition, age, class, nor individual is excluded. All men are included, with all their relations, whether to heaven or earth, state or church, family or individual. All whose acts can affect us, or whom our acts can affect, are included; hence none are excluded. How, now, are we to act towards these? This the Savior does not absolutely answer in the case of each act; conditionally he does. He answers, it is true; but his answer is contingent, depending on our own previous determination or wish in the particular case. Whenever in a given case we decide what we would have a human being do to us, then he decides what we must do. Would we now, in any case conceivable or possible, have an individual to take our life? The answer is overwhelming – we would not. If an enemy saw us on the battlefield, we would not have him shoot at us; and if he shot, we would not have him hit us. This we know to be true at the bar of our own conscience. We would not even have him aim to hit us; for this would imply a willingness on our part to be hit, which is a thing we are incapable of. If our enemy saw us, we would have him to be, in some way, unable to kill us. We would have him out of ammunition, or his gun out of order, the distance too great, or his skill defective; in no case would we have him kill us. Even if we knew our enemy to be in the right, and ourselves to be in the wrong, or that by the laws, either of nations or of the State, we deserved death, still the same result follows – we would not be killed; we would live as long as nature would let us. If an enemy saw us exposed, we would have him pity a poor fellow-mortal and not shoot; or if he had the advantage of us, we would have him too magnanimous to use it; all this we know in ourselves to be true. If, now, such is the would or the wish of our own hearts, and such we know to be their would or wish, then we know what our conduct is to be, in every case, toward our enemy – we must not kill him. Not only so, we must kill no one, whether enemy or not. Then, if we must not kill, we must not go to war; for when we go to war, this is what we go for. This conclusion seems to me unanswerable, and decisive of the question in issue.

But, now, what exceptions does the Savior’s language admit of, or what means have we of escape from its meaning? I confess I know of none; nor do I see how any can be imagined. The passage seems to me to bring the controversy to an end. And, if so, the question: “Can a Christian go to war?” is settled. He cannot go.

Continue reading to Moses Lard’s seventh argument here:
The Fruit of the Spirit (Moses Lard on War; Part 10 of 11)