THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU
TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN OF COUNT LEO TOLSTOI
BY CONSTANCE GARNETT
New York 1894
The book I have had the privilege of translating is undoubtedly
one of the most remarkable studies of the social and psychological
condition of the modern world which has appeared in Europe for
many years and its influence is sure to be lasting and far
reaching. Tolstoi's genius is beyond dispute. The verdict of the
civilized world has pronounced him as perhaps the greatest
novelist of our generation. But the philosophical and religious
works of his later years have met with a somewhat indifferent
reception. They have been much talked about simply because they
were his work but as Tolstoi himself complains they have never
been seriously discussed. I hardly think that he will have to
repeat the complaint in regard to the present volume. One may
disagree with his views but no one can seriously deny the
originality boldness and depth of the social conception which he
develops with such powerful logic. The novelist has shown in this
book the religious fervor and spiritual insight of the prophet;
yet one is pleased to recognize that the artist is not wholly lost
in the thinker. The subtle intuitive perception of the
psychological basis of the social position the analysis of the
frame of mind of oppressors and oppressed and of the intoxication
of Authority and Servility as well as the purely descriptive
passages in the last chapter--these could only have come from the
author of "War and Peace."
The book will surely give all classes of readers much to think of
and must call forth much criticism. It must be refuted by those
who disapprove of its teaching if they do not want it to have
One cannot of course anticipate that English people slow as they
are to be influenced by ideas and instinctively distrustful of
all that is logical will take a leap in the dark and attempt to
put Tolstoi's theory of life into practice. But one may at least
be sure that his destructive criticism of the present social and
political REGIME will become a powerful force in the work of
disintegration and social reconstruction which is going on around
us. Many earnest thinkers who like Tolstoi are struggling to
find their way out of the contradictions of our social order will
hail him as their spiritual guide. The individuality of the
author is felt in every line of his work and even the most
prejudiced cannot resist the fascination of his genuineness
sincerity and profound earnestness. Whatever comes from a heart
such as his swelling with anger and pity at the sufferings of
humanity cannot fail to reach the hearts of others. No reader
can put down the book without feeling himself better and more
truth-loving for having read it.
Many readers may be disappointed with the opening chapters of the
book. Tolstoi disdains all attempt to captivate the reader. He
begins by laying what he considers to be the logical foundation of
his doctrines stringing together quotations from little-known
theological writers and he keeps his own incisive logic for the
later part of the book.
One word as to the translation. Tolstoi's style in his religious
and philosophical works differs considerably from that of his
novels. He no longer cares about the form of his work and his
style is often slipshod involved and diffuse. It has been my
aim to give a faithful reproduction of the original.
In the year 1884 I wrote a book under the title "What I Believe"
in which I did in fact make a sincere statement of my beliefs.
In affirming my belief in Christ's teaching I could not help
explaining why I do not believe and consider as mistaken the
Church's doctrine which is usually called Christianity.
Among the many points in which this doctrine falls short of the
doctrine of Christ I pointed out as the principal one the absence
of any commandment of non-resistance to evil by force. The
perversion of Christ's teaching by the teaching of the Church is
more clearly apparent in this than in any other point of
I know--as we all do--very little of the practice and the spoken
and written doctrine of former times on the subject of non-
resistance to evil. I knew what had been said on the subject by
the fathers of the Church--Origen Tertullian and others--I knew
too of the existence of some so-called sects of Mennonites
Herrnhuters and Quakers who do not allow a Christian the use of
weapons and do not eater military service; but I knew little of
what had been done. by these so-called sects toward expounding the
My book was as I had anticipated suppressed by the Russian
censorship; but partly owing to my literary reputation partly
because the book had excited people's curiosity it circulated in
manuscript and in lithographed copies in Russia and through
translations abroad and it evolved on one side from those who
shared my convictions a series of essays with a great deal of
information on the subject on the other side a series of
criticisms on the principles laid down in my book.
A great deal was made clear to me by both hostile and sympathetic
criticism and also by the historical events of late years; and I
was led to fresh results and conclusions which I wish now to
First I will speak of the information I received on the history of
the question of non-resistance to evil; then of the views of this
question maintained by spiritual critics that is by professed
believers in the Christian religion and also by temporal ones
that is those who do not profess the Christian religion; and
lastly I will speak of the conclusions to which I have been
brought by all this in the light of the historical events of late
May 14/26 1893.
I. THE DOCTRINE OF NONRESISTANCE TO EVIL BY FORCE
HAS BEEN PROFESSED BY A MINORITY OF MEN FROM
THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY
II. CRITICISMS OF THE DOCTRINE OF NON-RESISTANCE TO
EVIL BY FORCE ON THE PART OF BELIEVERS AND OF UNBELIEVERS
III. CHRISTIANITY MISUNDERSTOOD BY BELIEVERS
IV. CHRISTIANITY MISUNDERSTOOD BY MEN OF SCIENCE
V. CONTRADICTION BETWEEN OUR LIFE AND OUR CHRISTIAN
VI. ATTITUDE OF MEN OF THE PRESENT DAY TO WAR
VII. SIGNIFICANCE OF COMPULSORY SERVICE
VIII. DOCTRINE OF NON-RESISTANCE TO EVIL BY FORCE MUST
INEVITABLY BE ACCEPTED BY MEN OF THE PRESENT DAY
IX. THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPTION OF
LIFE WILL EMANCIPATE MEN FROM THE MISERIES OF OUR PAGAN
X. EVIL CANNOT BE SUPRESSED BY THE PHYSICAL FORCE OF THE
GOVERNMENT--THE MORAL PROGRESS OF HUMANITY IS BROUGHT ABOUT
NOT ONLY BY INDIVIDUAL RECOGNITION OF THE TRUTH BUT ALSO
THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PUBLIC OPINION
XI. THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPTION OF LIFE HAS ALREADY
ARISEN IN OUR SOCIETY AND WILL INFALLIBLY PUT
AN END TO THE PRESENT ORGANIZATION OP OUR LIFE
BASED ON FORCE--WHEN THAT WILL BE
XII. CONCLUSION--REPENT YE FOR THE KINGDOM OF
HEAVEN IS AT HAND
"Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you
free. "--John viii. 32.
"Fear not them which hill the body but are not able to
kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to
destroy both soul and body in hell."--MATT. x. 28.
"Ye have been bought with a price; be not ye the servants
of men."--I COR. vii. 23.
"THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU."
THE DOCTRINE OF NON-RESISTANCE TO EVIL BY FORCE HAS BEEN PROFESSED
BY A MINORITY OF MEN FROM THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY.
Of the Book "What I Believe"--The Correspondence Evoked by it--
Letters from Quakers--Garrison's Declaration--Adin Ballou his
Works his Catechism--Helchitsky's "Net of Faith"--The Attitude
of the World to Works Elucidating Christ's Teaching--Dymond's
Book "On War"--Musser's "Non-resistance Asserted"--Attitude of
the Government in 1818 to Men who Refused to Serve in the Army
--Hostile Attitude of Governments Generally and of Liberals to
Those who Refuse to Assist in Acts of State Violence and their
Conscious Efforts to Silence and Suppress these Manifestations
of Christian Non-resistance.
Among the first responses some letters called forth by my book
were some letters from American Quakers. In these letters
expressing their sympathy with my views on the unlawfulness for a
Christian of war and the use of force of any kind the Quakers
gave me details of their own so-called sect which for more than
two hundred years has actually professed the teaching of Christ on
non-resistance to evil by force and does not make use of weapons
in self-defense. The Quakers sent me books from which I learnt
how they had years ago established beyond doubt the duty for a
Christian of fulfilling the command of non-resistance to evil by
force and had exposed the error of the Church's teaching in
allowing war and capital punishment.
In a whole series of arguments and texts showing that war--that
is the wounding and killing of men--is inconsistent with a
religion founded on peace and good will toward men the Quakers
maintain and prove that nothing has contributed so much to the
obscuring of Christian truth in the eyes of the heathen and has
hindered so much the diffusion of Christianity through the world
as the disregard of this command by men calling themselves
Christians and the permission of war and violence to Christians.
"Christ's teaching which came to be known to men not by means of
violence and the sword" they say "but by means of non-resistance
to evil gentleness meekness and peaceableness can only be
diffused through the world by the example of peace harmony and
love among its followers."
"A Christian according to the teaching of God himself can act
only peaceably toward all men and therefore there can be no
authority able to force the Christian to act in opposition to the
teaching of God and to the principal virtue of the Christian in
his relation with his neighbors."
"The law of state necessity" they say "can force only those to
change the law of God who for the sake of earthly gains try to
reconcile the irreconcilable; but for a Christian who sincerely
believes that following Christ's teaching will give him salvation
such considerations of state can have no force."
Further acquaintance with the labors of the Quakers and their
works--with Fox Penn and especially the work of Dymond
(published in 1827)--showed me not only that the impossibility of
reconciling Christianity with force and war had been recognized
long long ago but that this irreconcilability had been long ago
proved so clearly and so indubitably that one could only wonder
how this impossible reconciliation of Christian teaching with the
use of force which has been and is still preached in the
churches could have been maintained in spite of it.
In addition to what I learned from the Quakers I received about
the same time also from America some information on the subject
from a source perfectly distinct and previously unknown to me.
The son of William Lloyd Garrison the famous champion of the
emancipation of the negroes wrote to me that he had read my book
in which he found ideas similar to those expressed by his father
in the year 1838 and that thinking it would be interesting to me
to know this he sent me a declaration or proclamation of "non-
resistance" drawn up by his father nearly fifty years ago.
This declaration came about under the following circumstances:
William Lloyd Garrison took part in a discussion on the means of
suppressing war in the Society for the Establishment of Peace
among Men which existed in 1838 in America. He came to the
conclusion that the establishment of universal peace can only be
founded on the open profession of the doctrine of non-resistance
to evil by violence (Matt. v. 39) in its full significance as
understood by the Quakers with whom Garrison happened to be on
friendly relations. Having come to this conclusion Garrison
thereupon composed and laid before the society a declaration
which was signed at the time--in 1838--by many members.
"DECLARATION OF SENTIMENTS ADOPTED BY PEACE CONVENTION.
"We the undersigned regard it as due to ourselves to the
cause which we love to the country in which we live to
publish a declaration expressive of the purposes we aim to
accomplish and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward the
work of peaceful universal reformation.
"We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government. We
recognize but one King and Lawgiver one Judge and Ruler of
mankind. Our country is the world our countrymen are all
mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all
other lands. The interests and rights of American citizens are
not dearer to us than those of the whole human race. Hence we
can allow no appeal to patriotism to revenge any national
insult or injury...
"We conceive that a nation has no right to defend itself
against foreign enemies or to punish its invaders and no
individual possesses that right in his own case and the unit
cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate. If
soldiers thronging from abroad with intent to commit rapine and
destroy life may not be resisted by the people or the
magistracy then ought no resistance to be offered to domestic
troublers of the public peace or of private security.
"The dogma that all the governments of the world are
approvingly ordained of God and that the powers that be in the
United States in Russia in Turkey are in accordance with his
will is no less absurd than impious. It makes the impartial
Author of our existence unequal and tyrannical. It cannot be
affirmed that the powers that be in any nation are actuated by
the spirit or guided by the example of Christ in the treatment
of enemies; therefore they cannot be agreeable to the will of
God and therefore their overthrow by a spiritual regeneration
of their subjects is inevitable.
"We regard as unchristian and unlawful not only all wars
whether offensive or defensive but all preparations for war;
every naval ship every arsenal every fortification we regard
as unchristian and unlawful; the existence of any kind of
standing army all military chieftains all monuments
commemorative of victory over a fallen foe all trophies won in
battle all celebrations in honor of military exploits all
appropriations for defense by arms; we regard as unchristian
and unlawful every edict of government requiring of its
subjects military service.
"Hence we deem it unlawful to bear arms and we cannot hold any
office which imposes on its incumbent the obligation to compel
men to do right on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore
voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and
judicial body and repudiate all human politics worldly
honors and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat
in the legislature or on the bench neither can we elect others
to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. It follows
that we cannot sue any man at law to force him to return
anything he may have wrongly taken from us; if he has seized
our coat we shall surrender him our cloak also rather than
subject him to punishment.
"We believe that the penal code of the old covenant--an eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth--has been abrogated by Jesus
Christ and that under the new covenant the forgiveness instead
of the punishment of enemies has been enjoined on all his
disciples in all cases whatsoever. To extort money from
enemies cast them into prison exile or execute them is
obviously not to forgive but to take retribution.
"The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that
physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration and
that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by
love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is
not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us
from harm; that there is great security in being gentle long-
suffering and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who
shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword shall
perish by the sword.
"Hence as a measure of sound policy--of safety to property
life and liberty--of public quietude and private enjoyment--as
well as on the ground of allegiance to Him who is King of kings
and Lord of lords we cordially adopt the non-resistance
principle being confident that it provides for all possible
consequences is armed with omnipotent power and must
ultimately triumph over every assailing force.
"We advocate no Jacobinical doctrines. The spirit of
Jacobinism is the spirit of retaliation violence and murder.
It neither fears God nor regards man. We would be filled with
the spirit of Christ. If we abide evil by our fundamental
principle of not opposing evil by evil we cannot participate in
sedition treason or violence. We shall submit to every
ordinance and every requirement of government except such as
are contrary to the commands of the Gospel and in no case
resist the operation of law except by meekly submitting to the
penalty of disobedience.
"But while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance
and passive submission to enemies we purpose in a moral and
spiritual sense to assail iniquity in high places and in low
places to apply our principles to all existing evil
political legal and ecclesiastical institutions and to
hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world will have
become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. It appears to us
a self-evident truth that whatever the Gospel is designed to
destroy at any period of the world being contrary to it ought
now to be abandoned. If then the time is predicted when
swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning
hooks and men shall not learn the art of war any more it
follows that all who manufacture sell or wield these deadly
weapons do thus array themselves against the peaceful dominion
of the Son of God on earth.
"Having thus stated our principles we proceed to specify the
measures we propose to adopt in carrying our object into
"We expect to prevail through the Foolishness of Preaching. We
shall endeavor to promulgate our views among all persons to
whatever nation sect or grade of society they may belong.
Hence we shall organize public lectures circulate tracts and
publications form societies and petition every governing
body. It will be our leading object to devise ways and means
for effecting a radical change in the views feelings and
practices of society respecting the sinfulness of war and the