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if Christianity had been embraced by the many, who nominally professed it, with the just views and holy cordiality of the few, who have in all ages been its genuine votaries and exemplars, there would have been no wars, no massacres, no persecu.. tions. The authors of wars and persecutions, the ministers of tyranny and fanatical superstition, have rarely been Christians; they have been only the representatives of corrupt human nature, the determination of whose depravity has been fixed by their situation, and its flagrancy by their power. Deluded, themselves, with the name of Christianity, but ignorant of its nature, and averse from its spirit, they have been generally the slaves of self, and the worshippers, as it might happen, of Lucifer or of Belial, of Moloch or of Mammon. At the same time, we do not deny the occasional lapses and imperfections of the sincerest Christians,
We must relinquish this subject, to attend our excellent author through his examination of the effects of Christianity on national happiness; and although its benefits have been incomparably smaller, than they must have been in societies truly Christian, in communities like the apostolical churches, yet the comparison is glorious to its actual worth, and we think demonstrates its divine original. It has been variously useful, in every nation where it is known, to a far wider extent than it has been truly embraced. As a moral code only, it is so superior to every other system, that mankind have adopted much of its spirit from the mere instinct of present expediency; and, in most nations, its genuine influence has been so far manifested in persons of authority and power, that its maxims have speedily destroyed several sources of evil; it has been established as the system to which it was fashionable and politic to conform, and its awful sanctions have been realized, as a partial restraint, on many who were but nominal converts to its principles. The arms of political power, by means of laws and of education, have extended its beneficent efficacy to manners and opinions, where they could not extend its spiritual essence to the heart. Thus the character of multitudes. has become moral, without being pious; and their condition has acquired advantage for the present life, without security for the future.
The advantages derived from the prevalence of Christianity are here considered, as private and public; the former are exemplified in the melioration of the conjugal, filial, and servile relations; the latter, 1, in the improvement of political administration, the extension of personal liberty and security, the superior purity of legal codes, and of judicial decisions ; 2, in the adoption of far juster and more benevolent principles, between belligerent nations; 3, in the entire abolition of human sacrifces : in the third section it is proved, that these benefits did
not result from the progress of human knowledge, that Christianity was adapted to produce them, and, by historical facts, that it has produced them.
“ The two great banes of connubial happiness,” says our author, "among the ancient Pagans, were polygamy and divorce.” To all the cruelties which these occasioned,
Christianity (wherever it is received and professed with any degree of purity) has put an effectual stop. It has entirely cut off that grand source of domestic wretchedness, polygamy; and has confined the dangerous liberty of divorce to one only cause (the only cause that can justify the dissolution of so strict and sacred a bond) viz. an absolute violation of the first and fundamental condition of the marriage contract, fidelity to the marriage-bed*. It has provided no less for the security and comfort of the weaker part, than for the sovereignty of the stronger. It has established just so much command on one side, and just so much subjection on the other, as is necessary to prevent those everlasting contests which perfect equality must unavoidably produce. It lays, at the same time, a foundation for encreasing harmony and tenderness by mutual obligations, and reciprocal concessions; and gives to each more frequent opportunities of displaying their affection, by ruling with mildness, and submitting with chearfulness.'
This we think a very good statement, and would only add, that, in this, as in all other cases, cæteris paribus, the happiness of the condition is best secured, where genuine Christianity is most reverenced in the family and in the state.
The barbarities to children and servants, tolerated under the much flattered institutions of antiquity, are well described, though much less at length than might have been deemed expedient. The abolition of slavery is mentioned under this latter division, and the total recovery of the Christian name from this horrible dishonour, is bumanely anticipated. As one of the sections is devoted to the subject of human sacrifices, we
* «The historian of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, has been pleased to observe, (vol. iv. p. 380 ) that “ the ambiguous word which
contains the precept of Christ respecting divorce is flexible to any inter“ pretation that the wisdom of a legislator can demand, and that the proper meaning of the original word
πορνεια, cannot be strictly applied • 65 to matrimonial sin.” But if that author would have given himself the trouble to look at 1 Cor. v. 1. he would have perceived that the word topvets, not only may be applied to matrimonial sin, but is actually so applied sometimes by the sacred writers ; and in the place just cited can scarcely admit of
In this sense it is also used by our Saviour, Matth. v. 32. xix. 9. And this being incontrovertible, it is, I confess, past my understanding to comprehend, how this precept of Christ can be flexible to any other meaning than that plain and obvious one which it bears upon the very face of it, and in which it has been hitherto constantly understood; namely, that the only legitimate ground of divorce is adultery.'
think that was the proper place for noticing the slave trade; for what less is that traffic ?--that compound of relentless cruelty, and shameless idolatry, 'that greatest crime against social rights, and against divine authority! Most fervently do we hope and trust that the triumph of virtue over this abomination is not premature, and that the soil of Britain does not sustain that traitor to his country, to the human race, and to the Supreme Lord, who would ivfect the royal counsels with one whisper in its favour.
The next division of the subject is of very useful tendency, and is sensibly treated; the true state of the people at large, under the best ancient governments, has rarely been well understood; but miserable as it commonly was, we wish there were no instances yet existing in Europe, which even a candid reader would consider as parallels rather than contrasts.
It would be well if the frequency and injustice of wars, had been as materially altered by a public profession of Christianity, as the ferociousness. The following description of ancient warfare is certainly not exaggerated; and if the Asiatic contentions and conquests were introduced, it must be a still more frightful picture.
• Perpetual slavery, or an ignominous death (sometimes torture) by the hand of the executioner, were their certain destiny; and even among nations the most polished, and the most celebrated for their private and their public virtue, (such were the pagan notions of virtue) we are continually shocked with the desolation of whole countries, with the entire destruction of flourishing and opulent cities, and with the indiscriminate massacre and utter extermination, not only of those able to bear arms, but of the most helpless and unoffending part of the inhabitants, of every age, sex, and condition.
• If we go back to the earliest ages of Greece, Homer very honestly and very concisely tells us, what the general practice in his time was in one of the principal operations of war. “ These,” says he, “ are the evils which follow the capture of a town. The men are killed, the city is burnt to the ground, and the women and children are doomed to slavery*." • The descendants of Homer's heroes, in subsequent ages,
did this respect degenerate from their ferocious ancestors. On the contrary, they kept constantly improving on those models of barbarity. After the taking of a town, and sometimes after the most solemn promises and oaths that they would spare the lives of the besieged, they murdered every human creature in the place, not excepting even the women and children. Instances of this sort occur perpetually in the Peloponnesian war, as well almost
other.' In this part of the subject, the aggravated instances of cruelty and injustice, which have been introduced into recent warfare, are noticed, as a proof that the same calamities must revive at the abolition of the Christian Religion, in any community, as formerly ceased at its establishment.
* Il. ix. v. 590.
Concerning the prevalence of human sacrifices in all parts of the world*, it is well observed, that great advancement in civilization was not sufficient to supersede them. The Greeks and Romans, to a late period, were not wholly free from this general taint ; and in the polished and luxurious empire of Mexico, 20,000 human victims were annually offered to the sun, during the reign of Montezuma.
In a comparison of public manners, in ancient and modern times, we are surprised that the numberless philanthropic institutions, for the relief of the poor and the wretched, should have escaped the attention of our author. To forego a sensual lusury for the sake of benevolence, was a self denial wholly unknown to the people of antiquity, and the history of theirgreatest characters affords scarcely an example of such a sacrifice.
The charges against the boasted philosophers of early times, are thus exhibited.
• Yet not one of those great, and wise, and enlightened men of antiquity seems to have had any apprehension, that there was the least cruelty in a husband repudiating an irreproachable and affectionate wife from mere humour or caprice ; in a father destroying his new-born infant, or putting his adult son to death ; in a master torturing or murdering his servant for a trivial offence, or for none at all ; in wretches being trained up to kill each other for the amusement of the spectators ; in a victorious prince oppressing and enslaving a whole country from mere avarice or ambition ; in putting a great part of his prisoners to the sword, and enslaving all the rest ; nor, lastly, when the magnitude of the occasion seemed to require it, in offering up liuman sacrifices to the gods. So far from expressing (as far as I am able to recollect) a just detestation of these horrid practices, there were several of the most eminent philosophers, that expressly
approved and recommended some of the worst of them. Aristotle particularly, and Plato, both gave a decided opinion in favour of destroying deformed or sickly infants t. We have already seen, that this execrable practice was even enjoined by Lycurgus, yet the humane Plutarch sees nothing urjust in any of his laws, and considers him as a completely perfect character. Thucydides relates the massacre of two thousand Helots by the Lacedæmonians in cold blood, and a multitude of other shocking barbarities, committed during the Peloponnesian war, without one word of censure or disapprobation ; and Livy describes innumerable scenes of a similar nature, with the most perfect indifference and unconcern. Homer goes still further. He expressly approves and applauds the deliberate murder of all captives without distinction, even infants at the breast, and pronounces it to be perfectly right and just. And even Virgil, the tender, the elegant, and pathetic Virgil ; he who, on other occasions, shews such exquisite
* This fact has been questioned, but on very insufficient grounds. See Hist..de l' Acad. des Inscrin. &c. Vol. I. p. 47. Rev.
to · Aristotle Pol. I. vii. c. 16. Plato de Rep. 1. v. Plut. in Lyc. [ Il. l. vi. v. 62. asorpce Tapestwy. The poet scems even
to have thought it an act of duty and of piety; for so the word o.scijos sometinez imports. See Scapula, Hesychius, Stephens, &c.
feeling and sensibility, represents his hero as offering human sacrifices, without the smallest mark of horror or disgust;* and has not only selected the shocking punishment of the Alban dictator, as a proper and graceful ornament of the shield of Æneas, but has dwelt on the dreadful circumstances of it with an appearance of complacency and satisfaction, and seems even to exult in it, as a just retribution for the crime of the wretched sufferer. pp. 400—402.
After reciting a few of the clear and recorded effects of Christianity in the suppression of sanguinary customs, and repeating the testimonies of Gibbon, Bolingbroke, and Rousseau + to the unrivalled excellence of the Christian Religion in its actual tendency, the Bishop observes,
• We have seen that the predominant feature of paganism, or what is now called philosophy, (which is nothing more than paganism without idolatry) is CRUELTY in the extreme. All its steps are marked with blood. We have traced its ferocious temper in the civil policy, the laws, the domestic institutions, the wars, and even in the most solemn religious rites of the ancient heathen world. p. 413.
In another place, philosophy is described to be the “ wild pernicious doctrines" of Voltaire and his coadjutors : and the French Revolution is frequently referred to, as a specimen of its influence. We apprehend some inaccuracy in the manner of mentioning philosophy. The definition given in the sentence just quoted, is evidently exceptionable; paganism without idolatry, (which includes perhaps mythology and a future state) must be simply the pagan system of morals ; now it is well known, and it is here admitted, that the “ natural religion” of the infidel philosophers is far superior to the
heathen, inasmuch as it is indebted to the Christian system ; · this is the code which many of them speculatively maintain,
and by which they claim to be appreciated ; the predominant feature of which, is certainly not cruelty. Voltaire and others unquestionably acted on a very different code theinselves, a code of the most sensual and selfish order; and they insinuated its principles with the utmost art and assiduity ; but it no where appears in a distinct and tangible form. They did not avow any direct hostility to morality ; but professing a zeal for its honour, disrobed it of the sacred sanctions by which it was protected, and ensured its destruction under the pretence of displaying its charms. It was the denial of Christian truth, rather than the invention and assertion of erroneous sentiment, that constituted the crime of these philo
* Æn. X. 518. xi. 81.
+ It is admirably well said by this writer,--La Philosophie ne peut faire aucun bien,
la Religion ne le fasse encore mieux ; et la Religion et fait beaucoup que la philosophie ne sauroit faire. Emile, T. iii, 1. 4.