"Suffering for Righteousness' Sake" 




The Paris correspondent of the Daily Chronicle, referring to the case of Colonel de Saint Remy, who was practically acquitted by a court-martial for refusing to obey an order to expel some nuns from their school, says that it is expected to lead to the liberation of the four soldiers now in prison for refusing, as a matter of conscience, to carry arms, and gives the following interesting account of the different cases:-  

In each case there was no attempt at display. Petit, the young conscript from Verdun, obediently passed through the preliminary military instruction; but no less deliberately refused to wield or even touch weapons intended to destroy the life of his fellow-creatures. Every effort to persuade him failed, and when the Court-Martial sentenced him to three years' imprisonment he calmly remarked that he was condemned because he declined to be a murderer.   

The case of the soldier Gontaudier is still more striking. He came expressly from America to draw his number, which proved that he was not refractory. He implored the Colonel to put him on to some laborious job; but his scruples were recompensed by a sentence of two years' imprisonment. At the end of that term he again declined, and was sentenced to the same punishment.   

"Grasselin, of Belfort, was perfectly docile till the question of taking arms was raised. He then meekly replied: 'I cannot. Jesus Christ has said, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and, 'Love one another.' I am bound, as a Christian, to obey Him.' There was no sign of outside influence, and his father, an Alsatian, heaped curses on his head. His employers state that his character, before entering the army, was that of an evangelist, and that he gave a large portion of his wages to poor people. The doctors affirmed that he was healthy, and of thoroughly sound mind, with an over-keen sense of the Gospel precepts. Grasselin was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.   

Soubigou, of Brest, who also carried his scruples so far as to refuse to eat flesh meat, replied: 'You can imprison my body till I am fifty-five; but you cannot touch my soul.'   

"The Government is embarrassed by the alternative of encouraging others or of showing an excess of clemency. The President of the Republic can certainly cite one remarkable instance-that in which the Committee of Public Safety exempted the Anabaptists from carrying arms, out of respect for their humanitarian scruples. The document is signed by Robespierre Couthon, Saint Just, and Lazare Carnot."  

It is refreshing and encouraging to know that there are men in the world willing to suffer for conscience' sake. These men are not posing before the world, seeking applause as martyrs, but are suffering in silence. God alone knows how many men there are who, without complaint, are enduring affliction for the sake of His truth. The law of God plainly says, "Thou shalt not kill;" and John the Baptist, speaking directly to the Roman soldiers who came to him for spiritual advice, said, "Do violence to no man." If that instruction be heeded, it is evident that it is useless even to carry arms, and therefore the men in question are justified. How sad it is that governments, which delight to assume the prefix "Christian," should persecute men for simply obeying Christ! When we pray "for kings and for all that are in authority," let us also "remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them." 

September 25, 1902 EJW, PTUK 610