C. Dodgson, Tertullian Vol. 1. Apologetic and Practical Treatises. (1842). pp.184-6. Note E. Of the early views as to military service
185 Fathers did not hold war forbidden.
186 Christian soldier may obey even in unjust war.
Note E, on c. xi. p. 176.
Tertullian, for the most part, in this chapter, rests his objections to military service, upon its involving offices inconsistent with the character of a Christian. Elsewhere, he directly approves of it. Apol. 5. 37. 42. ad Scap. c. 4. There can also be no doubt that war in itself is unbefitting Christians, implies a state of things miserably imperfect, and short of the promises of the Gospel. It seems questionable then, whether in those arguments, which go against military service altogether, he means more than to shew its contradiction to the Christian character in the abstract; and the more, since at the close of the argument he permits |185 Christians to remain in it, if already in it, when called to be Christians, only suffering martyrdom rather than do any thing unlawful; which he would not have tolerated, had he thought it wholly forbidden. It is the free choice of such a profession which he condemns; and serious persons could not have chosen it amid such perils to the Faith.
In like way, Origen, in the passages in which he is supposed to pronounce the service illegal, is mostly speaking of its inconsistency with the character of the Gospel; it was not contrary to that of the Law, which, under certain circumstances, enjoined it, and established a polity which needed it; it was to that of the Gospel, which increased through suffering, (c. Cels. vii. 26.) and in which they were to "beat their swords into pruning-hooks." (ib. v. 33.) In the same spirit, (viii. 73.) he claims for the Christians, as a spiritual priesthood, the same exemption as some of the Heathen Priesthoods had, not to defile themselves with blood; and says truly (with Tertullian, Apol. c.30.33.)that they availed more with their prayers for the Empire than others with their arms; since too there were at all times Christians in the Roman armies, it is not to be taken to the letter, when he says, (ib.) "and we war not with the Emperor, though he constrain us; but we war for him, banded into an army of piety, peculiar to ourselves, by intercessions unto God." At the same time, both the objection of Celsus, and the answer of Origen, imply the fact, which was to be expected, that fewer Christians in proportion were to be found in the armies. Origen, however, no where maintains war to be lawful for Christians, for which Grotius (de Jur. Bell.et Pac. i.2.§.9.n.2.)and Spencer (in 1. viii. c. Cels. 73.) charge him with inconsistency. In iv. 82, where he says, that "the wars of bees are an instruction how just and due wars might, if needs be, take place among men," there is no reference to Christians, in whom alone he held it was inconsistent; i. 1. is plainly an argumentum ad hominem only, that it was lawful for Christians to unite in a way unallowed by the state, to overthrow the tyranny of Satan, as it was "to remove a tyrant, who had taken possession of a city." On the other hand, it does not appear that in speaking against the literal sense of Luke 22, 35. 36. (tom. xv. in Matt. §. 2.) he means to speak against more than private requital of injuries. Lactantius, vi. 20. seems peremptorily to exclude all war. S. Basil also, Ep. 188. ad Amphiloch. (Canon. i.) Can. 13. recommends hesitatingly that such as have actually shed blood in war, be kept from the communion for three years, as having unclean hands.
On the other hand, S. Basil himself attests in the same Canon, "our fathers did not account man-slaying in wars, as man-slaying," adding, "in any opinion, having compassion on those who fought in behalf of chastity and piety," thus bearing witness to the Catholic practice, while counselling a restriction of it. (And of such voluntary self-restriction Theodosius furnishes an instance; "What, when having gained a splendid victory [over Eugenius], yet because the enemies were slain in the battle, he deprived himself of the participation of the Sacraments," &c. S. Ambr. de Ob. Valent. §. 34. In either case, out of reverence, not to approach the Holy Eucharist, with hands which had recently any how |186 shed man's blood. S. Basil himself, in his Homily on the Forty Martyrs, both attests the fact of soldier-martyrs, and praises them, as "having acquired the highest honours with kings, for military experience, and valour of soul celebrated with all, for courage," §. 2. as S. Greg. Naz. (Orat. iv. c. Jul. §. 83 sqq.) implies without disapprobation that there were many Christians in Julian's army. He also (Or. xix. ad Jul. Trib. Exaeq. §.11.) addresses soldiers on their duties, (cp. Ap. Const, viii. 32.) S. Ambrose, (de Off. i. 40.41.) panegyrizes the valour of the mighty men of the Old Testament and of the Maccabean period; though among Christians he instances only the firmness of martyrs: he praises also the pious valour of Theodosius, (de Ob. Theod. §. 7.) as does S. Augustine, (de Civ. D. v. 26.) S. Augustine argues, (Ep. 138. (ol. 5.) ad Marcell.§. 14.) that wars against the evil were not inconsistent with charity; (§. 15. and ad Bonif. §. 5.) that if military service had been forbidden to Christians, the advice, to be "content with their wages," would not have been given in the Gospel. He tells Boniface, himself a soldier, "Think not, no one can please God, who serves in arms of war," appealing to David and the two Centurions, (Ep. 189. ol. 95.) and gives him practical rules, §. 6. e. g. "Peace should be in will, war, of necessity." He defends it further, c. Faust. xxii. 74. 75. and shews that soldiers may lawfully carry on what, in those who declare it, is an unjust war. "But if war is waged out of the cupidity of man, this hurts not the saints----for there is no power, but of God, either commanding or permitting. A just man then, if perchance he be in military service under a king, who is even a sacrilegious man, may rightly war at his command, keeping the due order of internal peace, (to which what is commanded is either certain that it is not against the command of God, or not certain whether it be,) so that perchance the injustice of the command may make the king guilty, but the due order of obeying may prove the soldier innocent."
The sayings of S. Aug. alleged on the other side, are such as these; "We are not to pray that our enemies should die," (in Ps. 37. §. 14.) therefore, it is inferred, those of the land may not be killed in war; "we obtain this from the clemency of the Emperors, lest the sufferings of the servants of God, which ought to be glorious in the Church, should be dishonoured by the blood of their adversaries," (Ep. 139. ol. 158. ad Marcell. §. 2. so Ep. 133. ad Marcellin. fin. 134. ad Apring. §. 3. quoted by Barclay,) therefore, the enemies of the state are not to be repelled by force. So Erasmus. In like way, Barclay (Apology, Prop. 15.) adduces several passages in which the Fathers speak against private resistance, as S. Ambr. in Luc. 22. [v. 36. 1. x. §. 53.] S. Cyrill Al. 1. xi. in Joann. S. Chrys. Hom. 18. in Matt. 5. Hom. 85. in Matt. 26. S. Jerome, Ep. p. 3. t. i. ep. 2. [123. ad Ageruch. §. 13.] or contentions in the Church, as Ep. [77.] ad Ocean. §. 8.
On such authorities, Gibbon says, (c. 15. §. 4.) "nor could their humane ignorance be convinced that it was lawful on occasion to shed the blood of our fellow-creatures, either by the sword of justice or of that of war, even though their criminal or hostile attempt should threaten the peace or the safety of the whole community,"
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