View Full Version : John Jay on the biblical view of war

Humbled Infidel
11-08-2008, 02:56 PM
John Jay - 1816 http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/historical/images/JohnJaylitho.jpg
First Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay
Founding Father John Jay (http://www.wallbuilders.com/store/product80.html) (1745-1829) was appointed by President George Washington (http://www.wallbuilders.com/store/product129.html) as the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In addition to serving on the Supreme Court, Jay had a very distinguished history of public service. He was a member of the Continental Congress (1774-76, 1778-79) and served as President of Congress (1778-79); he helped write the New York State constitution (1777); he authored the first manual on military discipline (1777); he served as Chief-Justice of New York Supreme Court (1777-78); he was appointed minister to Spain (1779); he signed the final peace treaty (http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/paris.html) with Great Britain (1783); and he was elected as Governor of New York (1795- 1801). Jay is also famous as one of the three coauthors, along with James Madison (http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=70) and Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist Papers (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html), which were instrumental in securing the ratification of the federal Constitution (http://www.wallbuilders.com/store/product104.html). John Jay was a strong Christian (http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=140), serving both as vice-president of the American Bible Society (http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=73) (1816-21) and its president (1821- 27), and he was a member of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In this series of letters, John Jay expounds on the Biblical view of war (http://www.wallbuilders.com/resources/search/detail.php?ResourceID=96).
Letter 1 . . . .
Whether war of every description is prohibited by the gospel, is one of those questions on which the excitement of any of the passions can produce no light. An answer to it can result only from careful investigation and fair reasoning.
It appears to me that the gospel not only recognizes the whole moral law, and extends and perfects our knowledge of it, but also enjoins on all mankind the observance of it. Being ordained by a legislator of infinite wisdom and rectitude, and in whom there is “no variableness,” it must be free from imperfection, and therefore never has, nor ever will require amendment or alteration. Hence I conclude that the moral law is exactly the same now that it was before the flood.
That all those wars and fightings are unlawful, which proceed from culpable desires and designs (or in Scripture language from lusts), on the one side or on the other, is too clear to require proof. As to wars of an opposite description, and many such there have been, I believe they are as lawful to the unoffending party in our days, as they were in the days of Abraham. He waged war against and defeated the five kings. He piously dedicated a tenth of the spoils; and, instead of being blamed, was blessed.
What should we think of a human legislator who should authorize or encourage infractions of his own laws ? If wars of every kind and description are prohibited by the moral law, I see no way of reconciling such a prohibition with those parts of Scripture which record institutions, declarations, and interpositions of the Almighty which manifestly evince the contrary. If every war is sinful, how did it happen that the sin of waging any war is not specified among the numerous sins and offenses which are mentioned and reproved in both the Testaments?
To collect and arrange the many facts and arguments which relate to this subject would require more time and application than I am able to bestow. The aforegoing are hinted merely to exhibit some of the reasons on which my opinion rests.
It certainly is very desirable that a pacific disposition should prevail among all nations. The most effectual way of producing it is by extending the prevalence and influence of the gospel. Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war.
Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

If you'd like to finish reading this historical writing you can do so here. (http://wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=64)


11-08-2008, 03:41 PM
I can really really appreciate historical writings like this. Thank you humble.