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humanity by so monstrous a precept, as Except a man hale his father, his mother, his wife, his children, (Oh Hell-kite ! and his poor children) ke cannot be my disciple." Luke xiv. 26. Not one of their religious systems had to fly to the pitiful subterfuge of pretending a mystical or metaphorical sense, to hide the outrageous deformity of such injunctions as those. “If thine hand offend thee, cut it off
. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out." The Pagan satirist Juvenal, on the contrary, has left us in one single line, a principle, the punctual remembrance and invariable application of which for the guidance of our conduct, and our judgment in all cases, not only in theory cannot, but in experience never did fail, to rectify all that was wrong in the heart of whoever made it, the star of his eye's observance.
“ Nunquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia dicit.'' Literally, Wisdom never says one thing, when nature says another.
And hence it is, that in our Theatres, where there is really more truth to be gleaned, than from all the divinity lectures in Christendom, we have heard that beautiful apothegm :
“O holy nature, there is not a creature of our earth, around whose parent bosom thou hast not a cord entwined, of power to hold them to their offspring's claims, and at thy will to draw them back to thee. On iron pennons borne, the blood-stained vulture eleaves the storm, yet is the plumage nearest to her heart, soft as the cygnet's down, and o'er her unfledged brood the murmuring ring-dove sits not more tenderly."
But he who hath once wrought up his fool's mind to an imaginary conviction, of the utter depravity of nature, and hath taken that, which is not only in itself eternally and necessarily RIGHT; but the only test and criterion which its great author hath given us, by the comparison wherewith to discern and measure all other right; to be as eternally and necessarily wrong, i. e. the Christian, as a Christian, is always à savage, his gentlest affections are ferocious, his tender mercies are cruel.
The credit due to the tales of Christians, of eruel persecution inflicted on them,“ in ages long ago betid ;” if we had not means of detecting the imposture, would yet be open to a shrewd misgiving upon our observance of what it is, which we see at this day, that they represent as persecution, of which they are the victims, and what we feel of the persecution of which they are not the victims, and which of course they hold to be no persecution at all.
Though, through the lapse of the last sixteen hundred years and from the whole world's history of so vast a length of time, they are not able to quote so much as one single instance in which a sword was ever drawn, or even a key turned by infidel hands on Christian sufferers; though never, never yet did unbelievers pour down crusading armies on their shores. pillage
their fields, destroy their temples, or interrupt their worship. Yet, will they tell us, that it has been all the while—they, and they alone who have been victims of persecution : and, that they, even they, the greatest monsters of iniquity that ever breathed, wading in blood up to the ears,-reeking with slaughter, banquetting on crime—were the pretty innocent lambs of God, wbo all along were bearing witness only to the truth, attesting their sincerily by their sufferings, and glorifying a crucified Saviour by their deaths. We naturally ask who and where were the sanguinary tyrants who did it all ? And we are told of the Trajans, Adrians, Antonines, and Julians, the most virtuous and philosophic emperors, of whom we only certainly know that they were never unjust even to their enemies, nor cruel to friend or foe. . And what was the mighty provocation that induced such men to depart from consistency, and to exbibit towards Christians alone an intolerance that they had never before shown towards any other religionists whatever ?—Why to be sure, it was even the superior excellence of Christianity ; its more than humanly inoffensive and amiable character. The problem however is somewhat relieved when we get further instructed as to what was the nature of the cruelties they suffered, -those bardships beyond example that they endured. Ah! well a day, among other things, there was the martyrdom of virginity, their dearest and choicest virtue ; the merit of which martyrdom as well as of every thing else which they were called to suffer consisted ip its being voluntarily incurred. Those flames to which they were committed, were the Names of lust which the Christian youth of both sexes, would sometimes venture to defy in all their fury, by venturing to sleep together in the very arms of templation. And often did it happen, that a crying sharne bore witpess to the victory of Satan over the handmaids of the Lord. When it happens to be not the case to exaggerate the number, and renown of martyrs, even an apostle would betray counsel, so far as to give the truth-involving challenge-Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? ' A challenge in any reading of it, pregnant at least with the awkward alternative, that either they were not followers of that which is good, or were not persecuted. And after all the piteous tales that have been wrought up to the highest pitch of description, of hosts of martyrs, of the whole Roman empire and the government, of its most humane and philosophic princes, rendered one great slaughter-house of Christian carnage,-of ten thousand soldiers crucified in one day on Mount Ararat, by the command of Trajan or Hadrian; of eleven thousand virgins put to death at Cologne, and of the salamander martyrs of Lyons and Vienna, under the government of Marcus Antoninus ; we stumble ever and anon on the most awkward and ill-graced admissions of the most
creditable Christian historians, that as it was necessary to supply the place which the Pagan demi-gods and heroes had held in the religious reverence of the people, for that lies of some sort the people would have, so these Christian lies were piously substituted in the room of Pagan lies. The holy caterers for the greedy credulity of the mobility, contrived to slide the butcher on heathenism, and made believe that, their Penates, Nymphs, Dryads, and Hamo-dryads, had all been martyrs for Christianity; but the truth on't was, there were few or do martyrs at all.
Of this sort of accommodation or compromise to the humour of the times, Mosheim presents us with an irrefragible and unanswered document, in the life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, i.e. the Miracle-worker: who among all his miracles, finding the miracle of reclaiming the common people from the idolatry in which they had been educated somewhat too much for omnipotence, most condescendingly received them into the arms of the Christian Church, their paganism and idolatry, in as gross a shape as ever, notwithstanding. So that the world was virtually converted without knowing it; and the rising generation grew up imperceptibly to the substitution of the Virgin Mary for Diana, of Peter for Neptune, Jehovah for Jupiter, and Jesus Christ for Hercules: without incurring the imaginary guilt of apostacy from the religion of their forefathers, or ever being able to trace the data or circumstances of their transition from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. “ When Gregory perceived that the ignorant multitude persisted in their idolatry," (I give now the very words of the authority I quote), "on account of the pleasures and sensual gratifications which they enjoyed at the pagan festivals; he granted them a permission to indulge in the like pleasures in celebrating the memory of the holy martyrs, hoping that in process of time they would return of their own accord to a more virtuous and regular course of life. Thus translated in Mosheim's Eccles. History, vol. 1. p. 202.
This was indeed very obliging; but where forsooth were a sufficient number of Martyrs to be found ? —Why-old rags, rotten bones, chips of wood, rusty nails, teeth, skulls, locks of hair,*were indisputable evidence of the Martyrs and Saints, by whose virtue they still retained the odor of holiness: and as for any more particular information on the subject-good God! who but the Clergy should think of “such knowledge as would be too wonderful and excellent for the people: they could not attain unto it.” It is only since the sceptical art of historical criticism, and the skill of eliciting truth from the collision of conflicting statements, has come into vogue, that infidelity has been able to
* In the Palace of the Escurial, the clippings of St. Peter's nails, and the identical Virgin Mary's pretty curl of hair that made Joseph fall in love with her--poor Joseph-the Amphytrion of the Gospel !
withstand the brow of priestcraft, to overwhelm imposture with the treason of its own evidence, and to challenge the Christian in the terms of his own prescription—“Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked Servant !"" In the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, we have the gratuitous and uncalled for admissions of that Chief of Sinners, that "rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil,”-that “they are God's Ministers for goud, &c.: and his charge to the Christian“ Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power, do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” (Romans 13.) I ask any man who can count his fingers, whether this be a tone of language which could possibly have been used, if the sect of Christians, to whom it was addressed, ever had been the victims of persecution on account of their christianity merely, or were considered by the writer as liable to be so ? And if this were delivered as it purports to have been in the City of Rome, and under the Government of the tyrant Nero ;-when and where, I ask, could it have been that Christians were ever called on to endure (either from pagan or infidel hands) so much as the millionth part of the cruelties they have inflicted on each other, and on all who ever stood in the way of their exitiabilis superstitio. Nor rob we Peter to pay Paul: the first Epistle ascribed to him, contains in its second chapter, the most complete vindication of the Pagans, and of the Pagan Magistracy, from the charge of intolerance, or of a disposition to deal hardly with any sort of good men. Could a higher compliment have been paid to that Hower of christian graces King Henry the Eighth, whom *Dr. Rowland Taylor, even when about to be burned at the stake, (by none but Christian hands,) pronounces almost with his dying breath to be “ that Prince of most blessed memory;" -than Peter pays to Nero" the King as supreme, who only employed his Governors for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well."
In the Apology of Justin Martyr, supposed to have been written within 50 years of the Revelation of St. John—that renowned Father, in complaining of the ill treatment which Christians received under the Emperor, Titus Elius Adrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Cæsar, his son Verissimus, and Lucius the Phi
See His Life, in words worth ecclesiastical biography, sub nom. and let imagination ransack the identity of horrors for any thing more horrible than this madness, of a man believing himself a Martyr for truth, yet dying with a known Lie in his mouth : not even in the death of fire, relaxing from the Esprit du Corps, nor surceasing from the characteristic villainy of religionto curry, favour with tyrants, and buckle the Church's interests on the State's power. The Church maxim has always been, that, if the powers that be, should say it were night at noon-day, the Clergy should swear they saw the moon and stars, and be ready to seal it with their blood-Xavier, Borgia, Henry the Sth, severally were, and the Devil himself would he, a losopher, to whom his Apology is addressed, makes it the main argament of his remonstrance, that “none of their royal ancestors, or imperial predecessors, had ever persecuted the Christians; and that, if they presumed to do so, they should one day dearly pay for it, in fire everlasting : for tell you I must, he adds, that, if you persist in this course of iniquity, you shall not escape the vengeance of God in the other world.”
ligious and gracious Prince.
Without denying or doubting that the temper and conduct of Christians must very often, and perhaps sometimes to an unjust and extreme extent, have brought on them a severe retaliation from men who never professed that their feelings were under any supernatural restraint: it is impossible not to see, that men who could address their Pagan Emperors in such a style, could never have leared from them the animadversion that such a style would have been likely to incur from the mildest and most liberal Prince that ever sat upon a Christian throne. In the fifth chapter of Tertullian's Apology, addressed to the Roman Senate, and dated by Mosheim about A.D. 198, that great father, actually challenges the Senate—“Of all the Emperors down to the present reign, who understood any thing of religion or hu-manity, name me one wbo ever persecuted the Christians ?”
The learned Origen, in the third century (A.D. 253), who, from his experience as well as reading, was intimately acquainted with the history of the Christians, declares, in the most express terms, that “the number of Martyrs was very inconsiderable." Gibbon, Ch. 16. In the time of Tertullian and Clemens of Alexandria, the glory of martyrdom was confined to the single persons of St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. James -Ibid. And of the martyrdom of the two former of these, there is no record in existence, but such as the Church has rejected as spurious and apocryphal. Even Dr. Lardner, whom, in my SYNTAGMA of the Evidences of the Christian Religion, (not without innumerable proofs against his fair dealing,) I designate as the great Christian Evidence Manufacturer, presents evidence in utter defeat of the conclnsions to which he would marshal us. The strongest and most probable proof of all persecutions endured by Christians; the apology of Melito Bishop of Sardis about the year 177, betrays more than it supports the pretence :—“ Pious men (says he) are now persecuted and harassed throughout all Asia by new decrees, which was never done before." The learned Dodwell, in a dissertation expressly on the subject, tho' himself a firm believer in Christianity, has shown, and the ablest Christian writers since his time, have admitted" that whatever may have been the calamities which the Christians in general suffered for their attachment to the Gospel,” (such as rectories, lordships, bishoprica, and fortune buckled on their back to bear her burthen, whether they would or not,) "There were very few who were put to death on that account.'