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ITS CONSEQUENCES.

45

Paul to the Romans,* says, “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.”

Though there may occasionally occur instances of a firm and lasting friendship subsisting between persons differing in fortune and station, it will be the safer course to represent to the young that such instances are rare, and that they will act wisely, and for their own happiness, if content to seek associates amongst persons in their own sphere; carefully avoiding the two extremes: that is, neither courting with servile eagerness the notice of individuals in a station much above them, nor slinking away into low company, by which must be understood, persons of low and mean habits and ideas, not in the Apostle's acceptation of the term, “low estate."

If the writer, herself, may be allowed to venture an opinion on this subject, she hesitates not to declare her own conviction, that there can subsist neither friendship nor pleasurable intercourse between persons in whose pecuniary circumstances, to say nothing of inequality of rank, there is any great disparity. The pleasure, if felt on one side, cannot be reciprocated by the other.

Whether this ought, or ought not to be, is another question: the existing state of the case is all with which we have any concern at present.

There can be no real friendship without a perfect understanding and sympathy subsisting between the parties. How can the rich understand or sympathize with the troubles and anxieties of those who struggle against, we will not say absolute poverty, but straitened circumstances? To them, the small contrivances and resources of persons who have but little to expend, must appear absurd, if not mean, at any rate, wholly unintelligible; while the superabundance of the wealthy, forced continually upon the notice of the poor, if it create not envy and discontent, will subject them, by comparison, to unnecessary humiliation.

* Chap. xii. v. 16.

In urging the incompatibility of intimacies with the rich and great, I allude chiefly to those who may be said to have been born in the purple; the case is altered when the wealthy acquaintance has himself risen from humbler circumstances-risen by his own talents and exertions to rank and affluence. From experience he is enabled to appreciate the circumstances of his less fortunate friend; to understand his feelings, sympathize with his joys or his sorrows, and give him such counsel as experience prompts. Such association involves no loss of self-respect; but, on the contrary, is honourable, and will hardly fail of being productive of much benefit to one party and of gratification to both.

CHAPTER III.

Toleration-Religious Intolerance-Early Heresies–Rise and Power of the Romish Church-Persecution for Opinion sake

_Toleration in the minor details of Life-Intolerance of Youth -Intolerance of the Aged_Exclusivism in High Life-Religious Exclusivism.

In its widest and most general acceptation, TOLERATION, and its opposite, INTOLERANCE, relate to matters of religious opinion; but, like Humility and Pride, and, in fact, all other great virtues and vices, they extend to, and display themselves in the minor details of life, over which they exercise an important influence.

Were I to treat of Toleration merely in reference to religious controversy, I should be led into so vast a field, that my progress towards the sole and simple end I have in view would be hopelessly impeded, and my task would be left but half performed after all. Still, it would be a glaring omission were I not to place it first before my readers in its primary sense. The subject, moreover, is one that concerns us all, though most important, unquestionably, in reference to the clerical character, owing to the influence which that character in its public functions exercises.

The religion taught by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, breathes, throughout, a mild spirit of toleration, mercy, and peace; yet, strange to say, it has been made the instrument of inflicting more persecution, more rigorous tyranny, more remorseless cruelty, than any system devised by the heathen world. But no-it was not the religion preached by Christ that inflicted the wrong; it was a base counterfeit, invented and put forth by the pride and selfishness of men, to extend their own power and glory, and not the honour and glory of God and of his Son.

It is not my design to enter upon a history of the persecutions the early Christians suffered at the hands of the Pagans. That it was intolerance of the deadliest kind, and a blot upon human nature, is certain; but then it was pagan human nature, unenlightened by divine knowledge. I proceed rather to notice intolerance of quite as sanguinary a dye, perpetrated by Christians against Christians, in the name of that purer faith, and by those who professed to have received the light of the Gospel.

We read, in Ecclesiastical History, that at a very early period a disposition evinced itself to place human opinions upon a par with divine truths; thus fulfilling the prediction of St. Paul, who foretold that the time would come when the true and primitive faith would be blended with and corrupted by the vain traditions of men. These opinions became subjects of controversy, and were

RISE AND POWER OF THE ROMISH CHURCH. 49

upheld and lauded by some, and censured and condemned by others, according to the notions, or perhaps the interested motives, governing the minds of the several parties; and thus sectarian ambition and sectarian animosity were engendered.

We who know to what a height of rancour and bitterness these feelings have been carried even in our own times, need not be surprised that in an era more remote, when external circumstances were still more favourable to their indulgence, they should have attained their greatest altitude; and that the heresies thus arising, when they came to be supported by the power and authority of the whole Roman empire, should become instruments of tyranny and oppression, perpetrating acts of vengeance and cruelty the most atrocious.

When we consider that out of these dogmas actually was constructed the Romish Church, we cannot but feel that to that church is applicable the charge of heresy, which it has ever brought against the reformed religion-a religion certainly much more nearly approaching the pure and primitive faith professed by the earliest preachers of the Gospel

In a church organized like that of Rome, it was impossible that either candour, toleration, or clemency should find place, since any one of those virtues would have been fatal to its existence: and never perhaps was a structure of man's formation so gigantic in its proportions, so subtle and widely extending in its influence, so irresistible in its

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