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Christian Patriotism






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Paul's use of Roman citizenship, in which he was born, does not in any sense conflict with the principles of this book. For it is to be observed that after he became a Christian, Paul never made any use whatever of that citizenship, nor even mentioned it, except when a prisoner in the hands of the Roman power.

So certainly is this so that he allowed himself to be three times beaten with Roman rods, once to be stoned and dragged out of the city of Lystra, and left for dead, beside many other indignities that could not lawfully be put upon a Roman citizen; and yet nowhere in it all did he so much as mention his Roman citizenship.

But when he was in the hands of the Roman officers and authorities, and they would beat him, as at Jerusalem, he said, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?"154 Acts 22:25 Or when, held by Caesar's power at Caesar's judgement-seat, it was proposed to subject him to the judgement of the Jews, and this to please the Jews who were clamoring for his life, he said: "I stand at Caesar's judgement seat, where I ought to be judged; . . . no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar."155 Acts 25:8-11 Or when he and Silas had been unlawfully beaten and put into prison and in the stocks, and the magistrates sent word to let them go, he returned answer to them:

They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us unto prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.156

Acts 16:35-37

Seeing that Paul never made mention of his Roman citizenship except when he was a prisoner, it is evident that what little reference he did make to that citizenship does not conflict with the principle inculcated in his writings and throughout the Bible; namely, that the Christian's citizenship is heavenly and not earthly. He mentioned his Roman citizenship only to insist that the authorities should proceed according to the law which bound them.

Nor does the conduct of either Daniel in Babylon or Joseph in Egypt conflict with the principles here developed from the Scriptures.

Daniel was a captive, and therefore in the condition of a slave, in Babylon. And, though placed in high position and given great responsibility, he was not in any sense a citizen of the kingdom or commonwealth of Babylon, or of Medo-Persia. His patriotism was not in any sense love of the country of Babylon, or of Medo-Persia, but only of Jerusalem, the city of God, and the Lord's holy mountain. Witness his deep anxiety to know when the time would expire and the desolations of Jerusalem be accomplished. Witness his wonderful prayer that God would cause His face to shine upon His sanctuary, and bring His people once more to their beloved Zion.157 Daniel 9 And witness "His windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem," and his prayers there "three times a day."158 Daniel 6:10 Witness his loyalty to the law and government of God, against those of Babylon and Medo-Persia. He was a servant of the kings of Babylon and Medo-Persia: a highly honored servant, it is true, yet always only a servant. Even when he was in his most exalted position, he was still referred to as "that Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah." He served the kings where he was a captive, as he and all his people were commanded by the Lord to do;159 Jeremiah 29 but through it all he was of those who mournfully chanted:

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst thereof
We hanged up our harps.
For there they that led us captive required of us songs,
And they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying,
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord's song
In a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I remember thee not;
If I prefer not Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.160 Psalm 137:1-6, Revised Version

It was in principle the same with Joseph. Originally, in Egypt, Joseph was a bought-and-sold slave. And though from prison exalted to the place next to the throne, he was ever only a servant of the king of Egypt, and was never a citizen of Egypt. His patriotism was not love of the country of Egypt, but of the country promised to his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Witness the impressive fact that he would not allow so much as having his bones buried in Egypt. His dying and solemn admonition, which was faithfully observed and fulfilled a hundred and forty-four years afterward was:

I die; and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.161

Genesis 50:24, 25; Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32

Daniel and Joseph were both originally slaves in the respective countries of their captivity. Their standing and relationships, even in their exalted places, were far different from what these would have been had they been citizens of the respective countries. And what they both would have done had they been citizens, we know perfectly from what was actually done by Moses, the great exemplar of their era, and the prototype of the greater Exemplar of our era and of all eras. Moses was in very deed a citizen of Egypt. He was of the royal family, and indisputable heir to the throne. The responsibilities, with the honors, of Egyptian citizenship were upon him, in the fullest sense of the word. But he absolutely and forever renounced and abjured that citizenship, for naturalization in the commonwealth of Israel, for fellow-citizenship with the saints. He left it all, to go with "the people of God." "The reproach of Christ," and even "affliction with the people of God,"162 Hebrews 11:25-26 were to him of far more worth than were all the honors and treasures that attached to Egyptian citizenship.

This being what Moses did, and Daniel and Joseph being of the same spirit and character, we know by it precisely what they would have done had they been citizens instead of slaves. They would have absolutely and forever renounced and adjured their earthly citizenship, for naturalization in the commonwealth of Israel.

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