St. Augustine (354-430 AD)
Book One, CHAPTER 21 -- OF THE CASES IN WHICH WE MAY PUT MEN TO DEATH
WITHOUT INCURRING THE GUILT OF MURDER.
"However, there are some exceptions made by the divine authority to its
own law, that men may not be put to death. These exceptions are of two
kinds, being justified either by a general law, or by a special
commission granted for a time to some individual. And in this latter
case, he to whom authority is delegated, and who is but the sword in
the hand of him who uses it, is not himself responsible for the death
he deals. And, accordingly, they who have waged war in obedience to the
divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in
their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in
this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no
means violated the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." Abraham indeed
was not merely deemed guiltless of cruelty, but was even applauded for
his piety, because he was ready to slay his son in obedience to God,
not to his own passion."
Chptr. 26: "But then every man is not justified in sacrificing his son
to God, because Abraham was commendable in so doing. The soldier who
has slain a man in obedience to the authority under which he is
lawfully commissioned, is not accused of murder by any law of his
state; nay, if he has not slain him, it is then he is accused of
treason to the state, and of despising the law. But if he has been
acting on his own authority, and at his own impulse, he has in this
case incurred the crime of shedding human blood.
And thus he is punished for doing without orders the very thing he is
punished for neglecting to do when he has been ordered." St. Augustine,
City of God, completed in 426
"If the Christian teaching condemned wars of every kind, the injunction
given in the gospel to the soldiers seeking counsel as to salvation,
would rather be cast away their arms and withdraw themselves wholly
from military service, whereas what was said to them was: 'Soldiers
also asked him, "And what is it that we should do?" He told them, "Do
not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied
with your wages." ' Lk 3:14 NAB. [Compare the RSV.] Augustine, Letter
138, 2. Catholic Quotations, p. 906.
See Works of
Augustine, and a biography at the
Catholic Encyclopedia (1913). New Advent also has a collection of his works online.