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Constantine, even supposing that he committed a pious fraud as a means to his victories. Evil has lost nothing of its bad nature, because a multitude practise it, but we may imagine that Constantine was sincere and honest in his motives and conduct. If fraud entered into his religious and military proceedings, it was ratified by the two hundred and fifty bishops who formed the council at Nicæa * and afterwards met in the imperial palace at Constantinople, presided over by the emperor, and who accepted from him a grand entertainment and presents on their departure for their respective homes in all the provinces of the empire.f The camp bishops who accompanied Constantine in his military expedition against the Persians, and who prayed in the “ tent of great splendour representing in shape the figure of a church” with the standard of the cross reared aloft, probably confirmed the fraud by preaching the miracle which revealed the cross in the sky. But on this occasion
peace was effected without recourse to arms, for “ the Persians, hearing of the emperor's warlike preparations, and not a little terrified at the prospect of an engagement with his forces, despatched an embassy to pray for conditions of peace. These overtures the emperor himself, a sincere lover of peace, at once accepted, and readily entered on friendly relations with that people.” I
It is very interesting to watch the progress of the cross as a standard of war, and the effect it first produced on the minds of the commanders and soldiers of
• Note by the friend already quoted:
“The Council of Nice was not a fair representation of the Christian world, the bishops there assembled being principally from Africa and Asia Minor."
+ Eusebius's “Life of Constantine,” b. iii. c. vi-xvi. I Ibid., b. iv. c. lvii.
the contending armies. We have already shown, that, out of battle, Constantine regarded the sacred sign with superstitious feelings. In his campaigns he caused a tabernacle of the cross to be pitched outside his camp. Hither he repaired to pray and meditate, attended by a few pious and faithful followers, who joined him in supplicating the divine counsel previous to an engagement with an enemy.
" And then, as if moved by a divine impulse, he would rush from the tabernacle, and suddenly give orders to his army to move at once without delay, and on the instant to draw their swords. On this they would immediately commence the attack with great and general slaughter, so as with incredible celerity to secure the victory, and raise trophies in token of the overthrow of their ene
His historian also adds, that Constantine had a pious abhorrence of the wanton sacrifice of life, and he rewarded every soldier who saved an enemy.
Fifty chosen men, distinguished for strength, valour, and piety, were appointed to guard and defend the sacred standard. Each carried it by turns on the shoulder, while it was considered infamous to desert it. On sany part of the army being hard pressed, thither the emperor ordered the standard to be carried, when confidence was generally restored, and the enemy put to flight. An opinion prevailed that the sacred band entrusted with the cross were invulnerable. Licinius at first addressed his soldiers in favour of the pagan standards with their idols, and condemned Constantine for deserting the religion of his forefathers, and for “ doing honour to some strange and unheard-of Deity, with whose standard he now disgraces his army.”ť But on being defeated he admitted that the God of
* Eusebius' Life, book iv. chap. xii.
Constantine was the God of Victory, and "he charged his soldiers not to attack the standard of the cross.” Notwithstanding, he persevered in his hostility and was finally destroyed.
Constantine was a man every way qualified to effect great changes in the affairs of the world. As a stimulant to his military and political genius, he added religious enthusiasm, and inspired his troops with a valour founded upon their faith, animating them with the sight of its sacred symbol.
We have been thus particular in describing the origin of the Christian cross as a standard in war, as from that may be dated a new form of Christianity, and from it proceeded events which, in a continuous series, yet agitate the world, and which we will proceed briefly to relate.
ENUMERATION AND AN HISTORICAL SKETCH
WARS UNDER THE CROSS AND THE CRESCENT.
Distinction between the general Wars of a nation that uses the
War Cross as its ensign, and a war for a specific object under the Cross.-Definition of a CRUSADE.—Enumeration of Crusades, properly so called.
The general wars of a nation that uses the cross on its banners and ensigns cannot properly be called crusades. A crusade is a special war or military expedition carried on under that standard, as the characteristic symbol of its object, either of conquest or vengeance, or of the conversion of a people to the Christian faith by force of arms. The cross may be displayed in military enterprises by the armies of a nation, either against a heathen or a Mahometan people, or against a people professing to be Christian. For many hundred years such wars have been carried on in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, without being considered or designated crusades. In the case of war between two Christian nations, one professing Roman Catholicism
and the other Protestantism, the respective armies first confront each other and then advance until they are brought within musket range, the men having been previously taught “to aim low and bring down an enemy," and well knowing that, if they do not kill the enemies in front, the enemies will kill them. A Roman Catholic musketeer will take a deliberate aim at a Protestant holding aloft the red cross of Saint George or of Saint Andrew, and will think that he does God service if he stretch the unlucky standard-bearer on the earth, while a bloody struggle, perhaps, is carried on for the fallen banner. In the advance of the Protestant regiment or brigade the soldiers push forward their triangular-pointed bayonets, and will unscrupulously transfix the body of a devout and courageous monk, who may have ventured into the mêlée to hold up the crucifix and to receive the dying confession of the wounded soldiers. Such scenes have been presented in numberless battles and storms of cities since the war cross was first upreared. General Napier, in his history of the Spanish wars, describes “Padre Rico, a friar distinguished by his resolution, bearing a cross in one hand and a sword in the other, and who aroused the sinking spirit of the multitude.”*
The word CRUSADE was first emphatically applied to those bloody invasions and conflicts by the peoples of Europe in the country of Palestine, to recover from the Mahometans the possession of the holy sepulchre and the city of Jerusalem. Those terrible and sanguinary wars by the people of Europe against the Infidels lasted, with some intermissions, for about two hundred years, and are divided into seven expeditions or crusades. But applying the definition, as given above, of the word "crusade" to various military enterprises
* Book i. chap. 6.