The Sword is also, in the Bible, an emblem of SPEECH, or of the utterance of thought. Thus, in that vision or apocalypse of the sublime exile of Patmos, a protest in the name of the ideal, overwhelming the real world, a tremendous satire uttered in the name of Religion and Liberty, and with its fiery reverberations smiting the throne of the Cæsars, a sharp two-edged sword comes out of the mouth of the Semblance of the Son of Man, encircled by the seven golden candlesticks, and holding in his right hand seven stars. “The Lord,” says Isaiah, “hath made my mouth like a sharp sword.” “I have slain them,” says Hosea, “by the words of my mouth.” “The word of God,” says the writer of the apostolic letter to the Hebrews, “is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit.” “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” says Paul, writing to the Christians at Ephesus. “I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth,” it is said in the Apocalypse, to the angel of the church at Pergamos.
So there is a political scholasticism that is merely useless. The dexterities of subtle logic rarely stir the hearts of the people, or convince them. The true apostle of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality makes it a matter of life and death. His combats are like those of Bossuet, — combats to the death. The true apostolic fire is like the lightning: it flashes conviction into the soul. The true word is verily a two-edged sword. Matters of government and political science can be fairly dealt with only by sound reason, and the logic of common sense: not the common sense of the ignorant, but of the wise. The acutest thinkers rarely succeed in be-coming leaders of men. A watchword or a catchword is more potent with the people than logic, especially if this be the least metaphysical.
When a political prophet arises, to stir the dreaming, stagnant nation, and hold back its feet from the irretrievable descent, to heave the land as with an earthquake, and shake the silly-shallow idols from their seats, his words will come straight from God’s own mouth, and be thundered into the conscience. He will reason, teach, warn, and rule. The real “Sword of the Spirit” is keener than the brightest blade of Damascus.
Such men rule a land, in the strength of justice, with wisdom and with power. Still, the men of dialectic subtlety often rule well, because in practice they forget their finely-spun theories, and use the trenchant logic of common sense. But when the great heart and large intellect are left to the rust in private life, and small attorneys, brawlers in politics, and those who in the cities would be only the clerks of notaries, or practitioners in the disreputable courts, are made national Legislators, the country is in her dotage, even if the beard has not yet grown upon her chin.