« PreviousContinue »
falsify their word, so that they had lost the character which Pliny, an adversary to their religion, had been obliged to give of them, and which they had retained for more than a century afterwards.
That there were Christian soldiers in this more corrupt century of the Church, it is impossible to deny; for such frequent mention is made of them in the histories of this period, that there were in the armies either men who called themselves Christians, or men who had that name given them by others. That they were real Christians, is another question. They were probably such Christians as the casuists of TERTULLIAN, or such as Dion mentioned to have been among the life-guards of Dioclesian and Maximilian, of Constantius and Maximus, of whom Maximilian the martyr observed, " these men may know what it is expedient for them to do; but I am a Christian, and therefore cannot fight.” That real Christians could have been found in the army in this century is impossible; for the military oath full of idolatry, the worshipping of the standards, and the performance of sacrifice, still continued as services not to be dispensed with by the soldiery. No one, therefore, can believe, that men in the full practice of pagan idolatry, as every legionary soldier must then have been, were real Christians, merely because it is recorded in history, that men, calling themselves Christians, were found in the army in those times. On the other hand, if any soldiers professed Christianity at this period, or are related by authors to have professed it, and yet remained soldiers, it may be directly pronounced, that they could have been merely nominal or corrupted Christians.
Christianity was still more degenerate the fourth century. Let us look at the evidence of LACTANtius in his book on the Death of the Persecuted. He tells us the sacrifices did not do well, when any of the Christians attended them." What! Christians present at the heathen sacrifices, and sitting at meat in the idol's temple! But this is not all. He gives us in the same book another piece of information about the Christian conformists of his time. “ The Emperor," says he, “ while in the East, made a sacrifice of oxen, and endeavored to ascertain, by inspection of the entrails, what was about to happen. At this time, some Christians, who filled the inferior offices of the (heathen) priesthood, while giving their assistance to the high priest on this occasion, marked their foreheads with the sign of the cross. The consequence was, that the aruspices were frightened, and could not collect their usual marks." Here then we see not only that Christians were present at some of the heathen sacrifices, but that they filled offices belonging to the lowest order of the pagan hierarchy. We may go still further, and assert upon authority undeniable, that it was no uncommon thing in this age for Christians to accept heathen priesthoods ; for the Council of Elvira, in the beginning of the fourth century, was forced to make several canons to forbid such scandalous usages. But it is not necessary to detail these or other particulars; almost every body knows that more evils sprang up to the Church in this century, than in any other. Indeed, the corruption of Christianity
was then fixed as it were by law. Constantine, on his conversion, - introduced many of the pagan ceremonies and superstitions in which he had been brought up. The Christians, rejoicing to see an Emperor of their own religious persuasion, submitted, in order to please or flatter him, to his idolatrous customs and opinions. Many who had always been heathens, professed themselves Christians at once, merely out of compliment to their Emperor. Thus there came to be a mixture of Christianity and Heathenism in the Church. Constantine, too, did not dispense with the blasphemous titles of Pontifex Maximus, Divinity and Eternity, given to his predecessors. After his death, he was considered also as a god; and, if Philostorgius is to be believed, the Christians, for so he calls them, prayed to and worshipped him as such.
Now, in this century, when the corruption of the Church was fixed, and Christians had submitted to certain innovations upon their religion, they were in a fit state to go greater lengths; and this they did in the relaration of their religious scruples respecting war. This relaxation was also promoted by other means. The existing government, in order to make the military service more palatable to them, dispensed with the old military oath, and allowed them to swear“ by God, by Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, and by the Majesty of the Emperor, which, next to God, was to be loved and honored by mankind.” This political maneuvre did away, in some measure, a part of the objection to a military life, which arose from its idolatries. The grand tenet on war began also to be frittered down by some of the leading clergy themselves. It had been formerly held unlawful for Christians to fight at all; it was now insinuated as if it was allowable if they fought under the banners of Christian Emperors, for bloodshed in war was more excusable in the cause of virtue and religion. This new interpretation of the old tenet afforded a salvo to the consciences of many, and helped to take off that other part of the objection to a military life, which consisted in the unlawfulness of fighting. Hence the unlawfulness of fighting began to be given up. We find, however, that here and there, an ancient Father still retained it as a religious tenet; but, these dropping off one after another, it ceased at length to be a doctrine of the Church, and left her to all the deep wardegeneracy of subsequent ages.
Thus have we proved every point essential to our main positions :
1. That the early Fathers generally use language which obviously condemns all war, and not a few of them explicitly denounce it as utterly unchristian :
2. That they all speak of the ancient prophecies concerning the prevalence of peace under the gospel, as actually fulfilled in the Christians of that age:
3. That Christians then abstained from war as unlawful for them, and suffered martyrdom for their refusal to bear arms :
4. That ancient and modern infidels unite in ascribing to them these peculiar views:
5. That Celsus, near the close of the second century, charged them with refusing to bear arms under any circumstances, and Origen, in his reply fifty years after, did not deny the charge, but justified them on the ground, that Christianity forbids war:
6. That the war-degeneracy of the Church began very early in the third century, and went so far in the fourth, that under and after Constantine the Great, Christians engaged in war, as they generally have ever since, with as little scruple as they did in any occupation of life.
We cannot well conceive what farther proof any fair mind can ask; but we might add, that a strong odium among Christians attached for centuries to the trade of blood, the canons of the Church expressly prohibiting the ordination of any that had ever been soldiers, and refusing it, so late as the Council of Toledo, to all such persons, even though they had never been concerned in the shedding of blood. War was an object of deep, utter abhorrence to the early followers of Christ ; and we deem it high time for his modern disciples to revive the primitive faith and practice on this subject. How would such a revival exalt the Christian name, recommend our religion to the world, and pave the way for its universal spread and triumph!
TESTIMONY OF DR. Cave.—“No sooner did the gospel fly abroad, but the love and charity of Christians became notorious even to a proverb. There is one circumstance respecting it worthy of special notice, and that is, the universal extent of it; they did good to all, though more especially to them of the household of faith. They were kind to all men, yea, to their bitterest enemies. This, indeed, is the proper goodness and excellency of Christianity, as Tertullian observes, it being common to all men to love their friends, but peculiar only to Christians to love their enemies.
Athenagoras principally makes use of this argument to prove the divinity of the Christian religion, and challenges all the great masters of reason and learning among the heathens to produce any of so pure and refined a temper, as could, instead of hating, love their enemies, bear curses and revilings with an undisturbed mind, and, instead of reviling again, bless and speak well of them, and pray for those that lay in wait to take away their lives. And yet this did Christians; they embraced their enemies, and pardoned and prayed for them. Nay, they did not think it enough not to return evil for evil, or barely forgive their enemies, unless they did them all the kindness that lay in their power.”
AMERICAN PEACE SOCIETY, BOSTON, MASS.
We propose to sketch the war-debts, not of the whole world, but of Europe alone. Their exact amount it is impossible to ascertain, first, because its governments often conceal the sum total of their obligations; next, because the debts, even when reported, are frequently made up of items resembling the treasury-notes of Sweden issued without computation or limit; and, finally, because the provincial debts, which form so large a part especially in the south of Europe, are often omitted entirely from governmental reports. We can, therefore, make only an approximation to the
truth; and, while quoting official estimates that are sometimes • studiously false, and generally underrated, we must leave the
reader to make such allowances as the foregoing considerations may seem to require.
I. GREAT BRITAIN.—Charles II., 1660, commenced the British debt by granting life-annuities for money furnished to support his habits of extravagance and profligacy; but it reached, at the abdication of James II., 1688, only $3,300,000. William III., passionately fond of war, and deeply interested in the intrigues and contests of Europe, not only multiplied taxes, but augmented the debt more than $100,000,000. The Spanish War under Anne, 1702–13, added $187,500,000, and that of nine years, 1739_48, under George II., $157,500,000 more. The Seven Years' War, 1756-63, added to the taxes of England $175,000,000, and to her debt $357,500,000. Her first war with us extorted from her in taxes $240,000,000, and in loans $515,000,000; in all, $755,000,000! Nine years of war with France, from 1793 to 1802, added $900,000,000, to her taxes, and $1,460,000,000 to her debt; while her subsequent wars with Napoleon, 1803–15, cost her in loans $1,680,000,000, and $1,130,000,000 in taxes, carrying her entire debt in 1815 up to $4,325,000,000!! *
We subjoin a brief table of the British national debt from its origin to 1838 ; estimating a pound sterling in round numbers at five dollars : 1660–1689. Debt contracted under Charles II. and James II., $3,300,000 1689–1697. Contracted in the Revolution under William III., 105,000,000 1702–1713. In the war of the Spanish Succession under Anne, 187,500,000 Total Debt in 1713,
270,000,000 1739-1748. In the war with Spain, and the Austrian Succession, 157,500,000 1756-1763. In the Seven Years' War,
357,500,000 Total Debt in 1763,
732,500,000 1775–1783. In the American War,
515,000,000 Total Debt in 1783,
1,195,000,000 1793–1802. In the war of the French Revolution,
1,460,000,000 Total Debt in 1802,
2,630,000,000 1803–1815. In the peace of 1802-3, and war with Napoleon, 1,695,000,000 Total Debt in 1815,
4,325,000,000 Total Debt in 1838,
8,960,000,000 P. T. NO, XXIV.
It is surprising that any nation on earth should be able to stand under a debt so enormous. No other one could ; nor could England herself, if nearly the whole sum were not due to her own citizens. Sooner or later, however, a day of reckoning must come; and a terrible day will that be to England, or at least to her monied aristocracy.
What enormous taxes must such a debt impose ! nearly $150,000,000 a year to pay simply the interest and management! “ Taxes,” says the Edinburgh Review, “ upon every article which enters the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed under the feet; taxes upon every thing which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell or taste; taxes upon warmth, light and locomotion; taxes upon every thing on the earth, and in the waters under the earth; taxes on every thing that comes from abroad, or is grown at home; taxes on the raw material, and upon every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man; taxes on the sauce that pampers man's appetite, and the drug that restores him to health ; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope
which hangs the criminal ; on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's spice; on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of the bride. Taxes we never escape ; at bed or board, couchant or levant, we must pay. The school-boy whips his taxed top, the beardless youth manages his taxed horse, with a taxed bridle, upon a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine which has paid seven per cent., into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent., Alings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid twenty-two per cent., makes his will on an eight pound stamp, and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death. His whole property is immediately taxed from two to ten per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying him in the chancel; his virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed marble ; and then he is gathered to his fathers—to be taxed no more."
There is, however, one important benefit resulting from the British debt. It makes England reluctant to engage in war; and well were Canning and Brougham wont to say, she was under bonds of eight hundred millions sterling to keep the peace. Even she, with all her wealth, could not sustain another series of wars like those she waged against Napoleon and the French. There is now no alternative for her but peace, or bankruptcy and ruin.
II. FRANCE.— The history of her debt, written in the blood of her revolutions, it would be very interesting to trace; but it must suffice here to say, that in 1830, it was 4,515,605,834 francs, and in 1840, was slightly reduced to 4,457,736,996.
III. Russia. The resources of this empire are small in comparison with its vast extent, its annual revenue being rated at 380,000,000 rubles, or only about $75,000,000. It is impossible to learn the precise amount of the Russian debt. McCulloch puts it at 956,337,574 rubles; but the Conversation's Lexicon says it amounted in 1840 to 869,411,191 rubles.