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versally adopted, that it was an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by that means the interests of the church might be promoted.” Of this period, Mosheim remarks, “a whole volume would be requisite to contain an enumeration of the various frauds practised, with success, to delude the ignorant, when true religion was almost entirely superseded by horrid superstition.” Athanasians and Arians, as opportunity allowed, fought with the same weapons, and opposed fraud to fraud, miracle to miracle, and persecution to persecution. While we gladly forget the gross trickeries by which, in dark ages, ignorance was gulled, that it might be enslaved and plundered, we must be allowed to express regret, that Protestants and Dissenters should yet retain some traces of this evil. How often, in the recollection of every one, has reputed heresy been assailed with calumnious and forged tales of blasphemies and sudden judgments, got up for the purpose of terrifying men from the use of their common sense on religious subjects! Truth disdains such arms: they are the weapons of Antichrist, and worthy only of the policy of the Inquisition, which, when its victims are led to the stake, clothes them with robes covered with painted devils. Happily, their use is almost abandoned by the more respectable of every party.
Persecution is also sufficiently visible in the pages of Ecclesiastical History, and alike inca
pable of an exclusive application to the Church of Rome; for though she may have been “ drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs,” her daughters have sipped, and many of them not sparingly, the same horrid beverage. The history of state religions, which is also the history of what is called orthodoxy, is written, for ages, with blood. The stain attaches also to the different sects which have only had temporary power. Socinus was a party to the unjust imprisonment of the aged and venerable Davides, for refusing to worship Christ: Calvinism has its infancy and origin blackened by the murder of Servetus: the Presbyterians in this country would have taken the life of Biddle, but for Cromwell: and the Puritans who fled to America for liberty of conscience, denied that, and even life, to some of the sectaries who followed them.
The following passage, on the propriety of making Babylon the symbol of Anti-christianity, and the impossibility of restricting that apostacy to Rome, while it evidently applies to the opinions, history, and practices, of the whole of what has been called the Orthodox Church, is by Evanson, a clergyman who relinquished his emoluments for conscience sake: “The figurative terms, Babylon the Great, that great city, &c., are manifestly opposed to those of Jerusalem, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, &c.; and therefore, since the latter type cannot denote any one parti
cular city, but must necessarily include in its signification every society of true Christians, who embrace and practise the pure religion of the gospel, and acknowledge no Lord nor Lawgiver in religious concerns but Jesus Christ; so the former cannot be confined to any one church or city, but must needs extend to every society, in every nation, by whatsoever denomination they may call themselves, who adopt the anti-christian superstition which temporal power alone hath established, and alone continues to uphold. In this sense there is, indeed, a very just and striking correspondence between the thing signified and the sign: for as Babylon was the source of ancient, so hath the Orthodox Church been of modern, idolatry: as Babylon first aimed at universal empire, and enslaved the nations around it ; so the Orthodox Church first attempted to establish an universal empire over conscience, and enslaved the minds of men : as the despot of Babylon decreed that all who would not worship the image he had thought fit to erect, should be destroyed in the burning fiery furnace; so the princes of the Orthodox Church condemned those who refused to conform to the idolatry they had esta-, blished, to perish at the fiery stake; while the church herself, not satiated with such diabolical vengeance, hath impiously presumed to anticipate the final judgment of heaven, and doomed them in the next world to suffer everlasting burnings:
as Babylon desolated and laid waste Jerusalem, led captive the people of Israel, and compelled them to violate the principles of the law of Moses, and publicly to offer sacrifice to Pagan idols ; so the Orthodox Church hath ruined and enthralled the Church of Christ, and compelled the professors of Christianity to contradict the very spirit and first principles of the gospel, and openly to embrace her catholic faith, and idolatrous mode of worship. Lastly, as the Assyrian metropolis projected the impracticable scheme of an universal union of mankind, and erected a common centre of unity for that purpose, which ended in the disunion and entire separation of the people from each other, by the confusion of tongues; so the Orthodox Church, wheresoever it hath been established, hath erected a common standard of religious belief, and wildly and vainly endeavoured to accomplish an universal agreement of opinion and uniformity of doctrine, and the attempt hath ended in the division and subdivision of Christendom into a very Babel of contending heresies and differing modes of fanaticisin and superstition.”-Letter to Hurd, p. 109, 2nd ed.
This view of our subject, though at first it may seem harsh, is really conducive to charity. It teaches that no one body of professing Christians is to be singled out, and held up for odium, as peculiarly stained with the characteristics of the predicted apostacy; but that they are scattered, though in different proportions, over the whole of nominal Christendom. We turn from mutual accusation to inquiry after the portion of the evil which we may have shared, and endeavour to correct it. What Presbyterian does not blush at the stern hatred of his forefathers to Rome, as the only Antichrist? What Churchman should not be ashamed of such a paltry excuse for depriving his Catholic fellow-subject of civil rights ? Our attention is drawn from men to systems; to religious tyranny, mystery, idolatry, fraud, persecution; they alone are held up to hatred, opposition, condemnation, and destruction. May they perish, and for ever!
Yet it must be noticed, as forming a strong presumption against the Trinitarian Creed, that while in itself it seems to correspond with part of the account given in Scripture of the great apostacy, it has undeniably been closely entangled, and deeply involved, in the progress of that apostacy. That it is mysterious its advocates readily admit, and frequently they avow and dwell upon the fact, for the purpose of commanding reverence, avoiding explanation, or stopping inquiry. That it is idolatrous they also grant, unless its truth be established. The men whom Paul describes as corrupters of the faith, and believers of a lie, were its authors and pro