Page images
PDF

In the sixteenth century Servetus was arrested and burnt at Geneva on Calvin's accusation for publishing a work against the mystery of the Trinity beyond the Genevan jurisdiction. About the era of the settlement of this country appeared Grotius, who laid the foundation of the law of nations, while the Pilgrim Fathers of our Republic were founding a new state for the regeneration of the social, religious and political condition of mankind. A striking illustration of the ignorance and bigotry of the age is found in the Calvinistic persecution to death of Barnevelt, a distinguished friend of Grotius, for believing and expressing Armenian opinions. And Grotius was cruelly persecuted and driven from Holland for the same reason. In England, Selden, author of the Mare Clausum, was arraigned before the Star Chamber for publishing in 1618 a work denying a divine right to tythes. We note these facts coeval with the birth of our Republic and the law of nations, to prove that the true principles of Christianity, of moral and intellectual liberty, were but partially understood and practiced at that era in Europe, by the most enlightened nations. Guizot, Macaulay, and all writers of authority, present this view of the moral and intellectual condition of Europe at the period in question. The great impediment to the progress of Christianity from the thirteenth century, is found in the union of Church and State, in the Protestant as well as Catholic States of Europe. The basis of this league was the principle of the divine right of kings to rule the State and of a hierarchy to rule the Church. From this source naturally arose, in all the European nations, wars, persecutions, banishments, the conjoint temporal and spiritual censorship of the press, the decrees of the Council of Trent against the free publication of the Bible and certain works of science, the imprisonment of Galileo for revealing openly the motions of the planets around the Sun, according to the system of Copernicus. From this cause came the bloody persecutions of Catholics, Puritans and Dissenters. That systematic plan of restraint which long held back, and now restrains in some degree the mental and moral powers of Europe, arose from this unholy compact. In our day, at the Congress of Verona, a secret treaty of November 22d, 1822, signed by the ministers of Austria, France, Russia and Prussia, avows that the union of Church and State is essential to preserve the submisson of the people to their princes, and in the same spirit the contracting parties engage to use their power to suppress free government, and the freedom of the press. The contracting parties thank the Pope for his exertions in favor of these doctrines, and

they invite him to continue his efforts in this attempt to destroy freedom and improvement. Here we find conclusive evidence that the union of Church and State is the great enemy of liberty, as well as of mental and moral progress. The second reformation of the Christian Church will be found in the separation of the Church from the State throughout Christendom, as a natural result of increased intellectual knowledge, and of moral progress. When this era shall have arrived the power of Christianity over international law and the public opinion of nations will be greatly increased. The Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland and the United States of America, and the Presbyterian clergy of Scotland have recently proclaimed their disapprobation of a union of Church and State. Protestants and Catholics are beginning to move, and we trust that their march may be onward. Owing to the slavery of the press, the arts and sciences made little progress prior to the seventeenth century. At that era the Bible, aided by the press, awoke the mind of Europe. Then arose Grotius, Bacon, Descartes, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton, to lay the foundations of International Law and Natural Philosophy. Shakespeare and Milton at about this era sung their sweet and celestial songs of immortal poesy. Since

the commencement of the eighteenth century, mental philosophy, ethics, and chemistry have become sciences; and earth, air, fire and water, the simple elements of ancient philosophy are now proved to be compound bodies, and their component gases have in some degree been developed. Since that era the steam engine has been invented in England, and by our Fulton it has been successfully applied as a motive power in navigation. A new application of this motive principle to railways and ship navigation in our day, marks the present day as the epoch of rapid improvement. Since Grotius, many great writers on international law have arisen who have asserted the rights of humanity with learning and ability. Important as their labors have been in limiting the atrocities of war, and upholding the authority of right reason to some extent, it must be manifest to every enlightened mind, that a new code of public law is demanded by the law of progress, that shall in all its principles conform to the precepts of the Gospel, which we have shown to be identical with the law of nature. Such a new code, enjoining peace, equity and humanity, is the humble improvement which we now aim to make in public law. From our brief review of the causes that have retarded the progress of international law, the

arts and sciences, and true Christianity, it must be manifest that the ignorance of the mass of the people of Europe is a heritage from their fathers, carefully transmitted to them by spiritual and temporal rulers, who erroneously supposed that ignorance was a safe basis of power. It is alike obvious that general education of the people, intellectual and religious, is the sure and only mode of increasing the permanent power and felicity of a nation. Prussia is now laying the foundations of her strength wisely upon a general education of her people, which will ultimately give her preeminence among the continental nations. She perceives that a multiplication of mental and moral power is the most rapid mode of increasing the wealth, strength and prosperity of a nation. Our own country is a striking example of the effect of free Christianity, of a free press, and of a free government. In a little more than two centuries our country has risen from a few emigrants to more than seventeen millions of people, according to our census of 1840. In 1776, our revolution, our population was about three millions. Religion here is left to voluntary support, and we have no union of Church and State to destroy religion and corrupt the state. Still the churches are well supported. In 1841, the United States contained 17,748 churches and 15,857

« PreviousContinue »