Page:Chertkov - Christian Martyrdom.djvu/113

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us, endeavour to become Christians. In regard to some of our actions, our understanding may not be sufficiently enlightened.

Thou art probably acquainted with the teaching of vegetarianism; we are sharers in these humanitarian views. Lately we have ceased to use flesh as food,[1] and to drink wine, and have forsaken much of that which leads to a dissipated life, and darkens the light of the human soul. Refusing to kill animals, we in no case regard it as possible to deprive men of life. If we were to kill an ordinary man or even a robber, it would seem to us that we had decided to kill Christ.

The State demands that our brethren should learn the use of the gun, in order to know well how to kill. The Christians do not agree to this; they are put into prisons, beaten and starved; the sisters and mothers are coarsely defiled as women, very often with railing exclamations, "Where is your God?" "Why does He not help you?" (Our God is in heaven and on earth and fulfils all His will.)

This is sad especially because it is all taking place in a Christian country. Our community in the Caucasus consists of about twenty thousand men.[2] Is it possible that such a small number could injure the organism of the State, if soldiers were not recruited from among them? At the present moment, they are recruited, but uselessly: thirty men are in the Ekaterinograd penal battalion, where the authorities are only tormenting themselves by torturing them.

Man we regard as the temple of the living God, and we can in no case prepare ourselves to kill him, though for this we were to be threatened by death.

  1. The Spirit-Wrestlers were vegetarians, at least as far back as the beginning of this century; towards the middle of the century they had relaxed in this respect, as well as in regard to their other principles.—(Ed.)
  2. In this number are also included the five thousand who have betrayed their original principles, and whom we have described as the "Small Party " in Chapter I.—(Ed.)