Page images
PDF
EPUB

that “warriors' spears” should be used as a material, in constructing a temple for the worship of God, seems indeed to exceed the promise.

Has the Christian religion effected any such changes in Europe ? No. We find, indeed, warriors spears in the temple of the God of Peace ; but, we find them placed there, not as useless instruments of war, converted to a useful purpose, but, as proud trophies of war--as an insult to the feelings of other nations, in time of peace,

and

engendering that martial pride and vain glory on one side, and that mortified pride, rancour and animosity on the other, which are the fruitful sources of war.

But, to return to our question.—What is the reason of the different results of preaching the same Gospel ! I shall attempt a solution of this important question, while I lament that I have not sufficient leisure, to pursue the investigation, in the manner that its importance demands.

In tracing this subject, I must except two or three of the first centuries of the Cristian era, when the gospel was preached in its pu

rity by the apostles and their immediate suc. cessors; when, as I have abundantly shown in former essays, war was the abhorrence of all christians, and many suffered martyrdom, rather than engage in the unholy calling.

After this period, let us first notice the character of the preachers of the Gospel. These were often “booted apostles.”Knights and military chieftains, with the sword in one hand and the crucifix in the other, followed by ignorant monks, with their rosaries, reliques and holy water, and these again by the inquisition, with fire and faggot, rack and wheel. “ The spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience" seemed to have taken possession of the body of religion, and warriors went forth to convert infidels, and from that time to the

present, from the cross of Constantine and its famous motto, to the inscription of " God and Liberty," on Captain Porter's newly erected standard, in South America, religion has been made a tool in the hands of warlike and ambitious men, who have “lorded it over God's heritage,” by the power of the

sword, or imposition on the ignorance of the people. No wonder that war and bloodshed, murder and desolation, should be the fruits. Compare the character of these promulgators of the gospel with that of our present missionaries, and yoy will find it as different as the result of their labours. I do not say, that all the propagators of the gospel, in the middle ages of Christianity, were of this character, but many of them: on the continent of Europe, most of them-and in the northern parts all of them were such.

We next come to consider the character of the people, to whom this Gospel-which indeed was not the gospel of Christ, but “ another gospel,” was preached. These were idolaters, worshipping graven images, representing

"Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,

Whose attributes were rage, revenge and lust." In this respect there is an exact similitude between them and the islanders. The difference could, therefore, not have been in the subjects of conversion, but in the manner of preaching, or rather the Gospel preached. The Christian faith had been changed from that

once delivered to the saints.” Anxious to make converts, the preachers accommodated the precepts of Christ to the customs of their hearers ; and the opinions of the Platonic and Peripatetic philosophers, were grafted on the Christian religion, while its peaceable principles were made to give way to the martial spirit of the age: images of the Virgin and of the saints, were substituted for gods and goddesses—and it is said, though I doubt it, in some instances, the images were only christened by a new name, and an old, longheaded Jupiter, made a very good St. Peter, and that without turning bim out of his temple-which was dedicated anew, to a god of their own fancy, and thus a change took place only in name. A love of military glory, which had been the ruling passion with heathens, continued its rule after these heathens had passed through the ceremony of baptism. An union took place between the god of war, and what was called, the Church of Christ. But this was not the true church, " the Lamb's wife,” but the red harlot of seven hills, that had assumed her name, and from the effect of the intoxication of whose

cup, of which all the kings of the earth drank, the nations have not yet entirely reGovered.

When swarms of Goths and Vandals, from the “ northern hive," overran the Christian world, Christianity was already corrupted, and these barbarians were converted to the Christian faith, more by accommodating that faith to the customs of the worshippers of Odin and Thor, than by preaching the Gospel of Peace in its purity.

A long age of darkness succeeded, when war was the order of the day; and when the light of the reformation dawned on a benighted world, it could not have been expected, that all the shadows would at once flee away. We derived our religion from our ancestors, rather than, like the islanders of the Pacific, from the Gospel, and, of course, we have inherited their prejudices; but, we have been gradually going on in reformation, and we have reason to hope, that that reformation will progress, until the purity of the first professors of Christianity, shall prevail over the whole earth, and the custom of war be abolished along with slavery and popery.

« PreviousContinue »