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Warfare, True and False
ANNIE M. KNOTT, CSD


         Readers of the Bible are apt to overlook the fact that although the idea of peace figures largely therein, a great deal is also said about warfare. This is not confined, moreover, to the wars of the Jews, which are recorded at considerable length in the Old Testament, for we find frequent reference to another sort of warfare in the New Testament, one of the most significant statements concerning which is in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, where we read about one who is called "Faithful and True," and who is also spoken of as "The Word of God." Respecting this great spiritual idea symbolically presented as a warrior leading the armies of heaven, we are told that "in righteousness he doth judge and make war."

         As we study the Old Testament records, and find how material warfare was employed by the Hebrews to compel alien peoples to accept their religion, we can only note through the centuries the melancholy effects of such a method of advancing the cause of Truth on the human plane. At the same time we become aware in Christian Science that the struggle between right and wrong, between Truth and error, will go on through the centuries until right prevails, and the righteousness which is the unvarying demand of divine law is established over the whole earth. On page 568 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy, in commenting upon St. John's vision as presented in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse, says that here "the Revelator first exhibits the true warfare and then the false." To the Christian Scientist all warfare means a mental struggle between right and wrong; and while the warring instincts of the human mind are constantly seeking to express themselves, there is also a deep-seated desire for peace, — a desire which is too often blind to the true elements of peace as spiritually understood. St. James characterizes this in deeply significant words when he says: "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

         It goes without saying that if the deepest desire of all men was to express absolute purity in thought, word, and deed, the struggle in the individual consciousness would lessen until finally the Master's benediction, "My peace I give unto you," would be realized. St. Paul learned many lessons from the Roman soldiers with whom he was closely associated for a number of years. For three years he was a prisoner in the garrison at Caesarea; and later, during his residence as a political prisoner in Rome in the reign of Nero, it seems that a member of the imperial guard was detailed to be his custodian, and when they were out in the streets a chain bound the wrist of the one to the other. It is very important to note that while Paul uses the figure of human warfare to a considerable extent throughout his epistles, never once do we find him expressing any censure of the fearless men with whom he was associated. It is said that one after another of these men became converts to Christianity under his teachings; and they doubtless learned that while warfare would probably continue for a long time, yet the motive of the individual warrior should be to express righteousness and to look constantly for the triumph of good over evil. In his first epistle to Timothy we find him admonishing this young disciple, that through his study of the Holy Scriptures he might be enabled to "war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience." Paul tells us that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds."

         The trouble with most people is, that they have not understood how to use the divinely provided weapons of which Paul speaks, and which he found to be mighty; and this may be said to apply to every one of us. One thing is sure, however, that there will be no peace for us as individuals, nor for the world at large, until we have learned to distinguish between the true warfare and the false. We may perhaps have to begin by doing that which is nearest right on the human plane; and to the extent that our motives are pure they will be mighty, and will lead beyond all question to victory. We are often tempted to be moral cowards, to seek what Mrs. Eddy calls "a false, convenient peace" (Miscellany, p. 211); and while this may seem to satisfy for a season, it will never bring the results which must be attained in order to establish the kingdom of God on earth. He who said, "My peace I give unto you," also said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword." He without question never used any weapon but the sword of Spirit, and he taught his followers how to use it, but he at the same time taught that there must be no sluggishness or apathy in his service, for not so could the kingdom of God be established upon earth.

         When we come to live in entire harmony with divine law and are governed wholly by Truth and Love, then we shall find the most terrible manifestations of evil fading out into nothingness before the light of Spirit which we radiate. Then will come to an end the age-long warfare of mortals, and those who have put off mortality can say as did Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

 

"Warfare, True and False" by Annie M. Knott, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, October 6, 1917
 

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