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over the vast continent of Asia from one extremity to the other; overthrowing empires which had stood for ages, and changing not only the government, but in most instances the religion also of the nations subdued; substituting however another, as little calculated to ameliorate the condition, or enlighten the minds of the human race.
The same observations appear equally applicable to the crusades, which took place about this period; and accordingly these events, if noticed at all, are at most only glanced at in the prophetic history. Between the 11th and 13th century, the inundation of immense armies of crusaders carried the tide of war with an almost equal wave in an opposite direction to that of the Tartar hordes, or from west to east. Commenced in an age of darkness and superstition, from a mistaken sense of that religion, which breathes nothing but charity and peace, these fanatical expeditions spread devastation and ruin over all Christendom; being far more fatal to those who embarked in them, than to those against whom they were directed. Eventually unsuccessful even as to the object for which they were undertaken, namely, the delivery of the holy land from the hands of the Turks; it is questionable whether they were productive of any one benefit, to counterbalance the incalculable evils to which they certainly gave rise. Not to dwell upon the temporal calamities that flowed from them, in the myriads of lives that were sacrificed, and the immense wealth squandered away; not to mention
the atrocities committed with impunity by these self-styled soldiers of Christ; they were attended with moral evils of a more permanent nature, which entitle them perhaps to some notice in a spiritual history. Among these must be enumerated the increased growth of superstition, which was nourished by the abundance of fictitious relics brought from Palestine, and the consequent multiplication of imaginary saints; to which must be added the aggrandisement of the Papal See, already become inordinate, which in various ways found its interest promoted by these undertakings, and used therefore every means to keep the spirit of them alive besides these, was the ingrafting of the military mania upon religious enthusiasm, and their conjunction in the establishment of new orders, which embraced both professions; also the introduction of this martial spirit into judicial proceedings, as in the trial by combat, at that time revived and substituted for other impious modes of appealing to Heaven, which was expected at the call of man, to afford miraculous interposition; and perhaps also deserves to be noticed, among the consequences of these expeditions, the first introduction into modern Europe of theatrical exhibitions, in the form of sacred dramas, called the Mysteries; a species of scenical representation, still kept up in some Catholic countries, although of a nature every way calculated to degrade in the mind of the spectator the feeling of reverence for the religion he professes.
If the crusades be at all alluded to in the prophecy, it is most probably, in what was uttered by the voices of the seven thunders. But the import of this, the prophet was commanded to seal up, and the mention of the seven thunders serves only to give intimation that some events of magnitude are here omitted in the chronological series. The period of this omission, as well as the number seven, naturally directs the attention to the crusades, which have accordingly been supposed by some commentators, to be here adverted to.
In answer to this, it has on the other hand been denied, that the number of the crusades was really seven. This objection, however, appears to have little foundation; for two, which are probably taken into account by the objector, cannot fairly be included; one of which abandoned the original object of the expedition for the conquest of Constantinople; and the other under Louis the 9th, never reached Palestine, but perished miserably on the coast of Africa; thus, as if by Divine ordination, limiting the number to seven, while it put an end to the rage for crusading.
With this subject, which indeed properly belongs to the history of Christianity in the west, but would not be so conveniently introduced there, we now close the narrative of its progress and extinction in the east; and next proceed, according to the plan of the prophetic writer, with the other branch of the subject.
History of Christianity,
IN THE WEST.
FIRST TO THE SEVENTH CENTURY.
A. D. 32 to 606.-The taking of Constantinople by the Turks, having brought to a close the history of Christianity in the east, its progress in the west comes next into view; and in order to present this in a more connected form, we shall, after the plan of the prophetic history, briefly revert to the events of the earlier ages.
During the three first centuries, it was no where the predominant religion, but enjoyed only a precarious existence, amidst the constant efforts of its enemies to extinguish its divine light. At length, after a struggle of three hundred years, this conflict between Paganism and Christianity terminated, as we have seen, in the triumph of the latter and its establishment as the religion of the empire, by the conversion of Constantine. By this event, typically represented as the end of the labour pains and the figurative birth of the man-child, was a new era opened to the Christians; who were thus relieved from the dread of their oppressors, and allowed to enjoy the exercise of their religion in peace and security.
This happy interval was however but of short du
ration, for Pagan was quickly succeeded by Antichristian persecution; and the same tyranny, which had so lately appeared cruel and unjust, when themselves were the objects of it, the selfstyled Christians began to practice against others from the very instant that they acquired power to do so. Nor were their former enemies and oppressors, the Jews and the Pagans, the only objects of this persecution; for the rivalship and jealousy awakened by the prospect of wealth and worldly honors, soon gave occasion to animosities, in the nominally Christian church, which were more rancorous, and more fatal to true religion, than the utmost severity of Pagan cruelty. Sectarian disagreement was the watchword for this Antichristian warfare; but the historian of the times has not left us to conjecture as to its real causes, which were no other than worldly ambition, and personal jealousy between the rival candidates for ecclesiastical preferment.
Considering the motives by which multitudes were at this period induced nominally to embrace the religion of Jesus, and the means by which Constantine endeavoured to effect the conversion of the Pagans, it may reasonably be questioned whether they really added one sincere convert to the true church of Christ. While, on the other hand, it is certain that the shoals of Pagans who flowed in at this time, from the fear of punishment or the hope of gain, brought with them into the bosom of the church, a multitude of superstitions, which in a