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terpretations of Scripture, and different degrees of authority attached to the fathers of the church; and had no reference either to the rights of sovereigns, or to the prerogatives of the hierarchy. Of what personal consequence was it either to emperors or popes whether the Arian or the Athanasian hypothesis, by which the Christian world was at one time almost equally divided, should finally prevail in the contest? Many controversies of this kind are still subsisting even in countries where free discussion of theological topics is permitted: nor, without a new revelation of the divine will, does it appear possible that they can be terminated. In the mean time, the absolute necessity of a right faith to salvation, is a dogma of all established churches, and of the greater part of
Persecution, then, on a religious account, which, in the times of heathenism, had no other object than to avenge insults offered to the deities recognized by the state, and to support the civil institutions blended with their worship; acquired, under the prevalence of Christianity, the new and more imperative motive of maintaining and propagating rites and doctrines essential to the happiness of mankind during an endless series of ages, and conse quently of infinitely greater moment than any temporal interests. The heathen magistrate did not conceive that he had any concern with the truth or error of opinions, or their influence upon that future condition of men, of which he had very uncertain notions; and he was satisfied with external compliance with the forms of religion adopted by the state over which he presided. The Christian sovereign, with a more extended, if erroneous, philanthropy, was actuated by a zeal for securing the eternal welfare of the people committed to his charge, and therefore could not connive at errors, however peaceable, which were adverse to the only true faith. It was not long, however, that this motive operated singly. When particular churches were become powerful and opulent, they naturally contended with each other for superiority, and civil rulers took part with them as it suited their interests. They were in return assisted by the spiritual arms of that church which they espoused; and thus arose the same union between sacred and profane authority which had prevailed under the various forms of heathenism. But the consequences of this alliance were much more injurious to the peace of the world in its renewed state: for, theological systems contending now not for defence, but for conquest, and numbers being warmed with a zeal prompting both to inflict and to endure persecution, an intestine war commenced among the professors of Christianity, which has marked with traces of blood the ecclesiastical history of almost every European nation. It is with relation to this modern period of the world that the proposed enquiry particularly applies; namely,
what are the distinctive characters of the persecution originating from pure religious real, and of that excited by worldly policy } and which is most to be dreaded?
The solution of these questions is rendered more difficult on account of the complication of both kinds in most of the instances of actual persecution, and even in the motives of the principal actors in them. For as, on the one hand, it is not easy to find a public character whose religious zeal is free from all mixture of temporal considerations, so, on the other, the examples are rare of mere men of the world who have so completely discarded "all that the nurse and that the priest have taught," as not to feel a partiality for the system of belief in which they have been educated. If we go through the catalogue of those pontiffs whose steady and unrelent ing policy raised the see of Rome to a height above the thrones of the greatest monarchs, we shall discover, indeed, much scandalous profligacy and inordinate ambition united with the persecuting spirit, but seldom without tokens of bigotry and superstition, indicating real belief in the dogmas of their church. Leo the Tenth, were the saying attributed to him genuine, concerning "the gainful fable of Christ," might, indeed, be reckoned a mere political priest, who opposed the reformation only because it was hostile to his power; but several of the fiercest maintainers of the claims of Rome were strictly attached to its rites and doctrines. Among royal and secular persecutors the same mixture of motives may be discerned. The expulsion of the Moors from Spain was a measure dictated in part by bigotry, and in part by the political purpose of removing across the sea a people who were in close correspondence with the inveterate foes of the Christian name. Henry VIII. burned Papists and Protestants in the same fire; the first as rebellious partisans of the Pope's supremacy; the second as impious oppugners of those tenets of the catholic church which he still supported: and he showed his greater lenity towards the first, who were his political victims, by suffering them to be strangled before the fire was applied. Francis I. who, as a Most Christian king, committed his own Protestant subjects to the flames, as a king of France, leagued with the German Protestants against the House of Austria.
But whilst the history of persecution abounds in cases of this complex kind, there are a sufficient number of instances in which religion and policy acted separately, to afford a comparison between their different modes of action and final results. objects of the two classes of persecutors were essentially different, their measures were not likely to be the same. Nothing less than the extirpation of heresy could satisfy those who were incited by zeal for what they regarded as the only true faith; where. as disabling dissidents from disturbing the public peace, or endan
gering the government, would suffice those who took up the matter as mere statesmen. The first would slight all considerations of utility, and refuse any compromise for the purpose of averting dangerous extremities: the second would weigh the evil against the good, and rather aim at palliation, than run the risk of a violent and uncertain cure. Both might conduct their schemes with perfect disregard of the common feelings of humanity; but the first, borne up by the consciousness that they were consulting the dearest interests of mankind, would be rendered indifferent even to the reputation of lenity; while the second, having no other pretext than the temporal good of society, would feel some restraint from the public odium usually attached to extreme severity.
The Court of Inquisition presents the completest example of systematic persecution on a simply religious account; for although it was probably at its origin encouraged by the Popes as a support to their usurped authority, yet in its national adoption by the Spaniards and Portuguese it had no other object than that of preserving the purity of the faith. Indeed nothing could be more manifestly impolitic than its rigours towards peaceable citizens engaged in commerce or useful arts, whom, as suspected Jews or heretics, it imprisoned, or drove to foreign countries. Actuated by an uniform spirit, and true to its object, it has never felt the compunctions of pity or the emotions of shame, but has even braved the public odium by making splendid spectacles of its horrid executions, and compelling the attendance of the first persons of the state. It cannot be doubted that there have been in those countries wise statesmen, who, though sincerely attached to their religion, lamented the impolicy as well as the cruelty of these severities; but it was not safe for them to raise their voices against predominant bigotry.
The measures employed at different periods against the Hugonots in France well illustrate the spirit of the two species of persecution. After some respite from the ferocity of Francis I., they acquired consequence enough to become a party in the state; and during the subsequent reigns they occasionally served the ambitious views of princes of the blood and great nobles, and endur. ed and inflicted many calamities in a series of civil wars, gene. rally excited by the bigotry and bad faith of their adversaries. They were at one time so powerful that it seemed dubious in which religion the kingdom of France would finally settle; and Catharine de Medicis, whose only religion was the love of power, began, it is said, coolly to balance between praying in Latin and praying in French. That perfidious woman at length, in concert with the bigotted Catholics, at the head of whom was the House of Guise, planned the execrable massacre which to the end of time will remain a foul blot on the age and nation. With res
pect to her, this was not a religious persecution, but a coup-d'etat, the object of which was the ruin of a party too powerful to be suppressed by open force; it could, not, however, have been carried into execution without the aid of that inveterate hatred which the zealous Catholics bore to the Protestants, and which perpetually urged them to contrive their utter extirpation. Notwithstanding all the blood shed by the massacre, we find the IIu. gonots still formidable enough to obtain a treaty confirming their privileges; and the possession of cautionary towns placed them almost in the situation of an independent republic in the heart of the monarchy. When Richelieu formed the project of laying all subordinate power in France at the foot of the throne, the Hugonot party, which had formed defensive leagues with foreign potentates, was naturally an object of his attack. By the capture of Rochelle he reduced it from a party to a sect; and being, though a cardinal, more of a statesman than an ecclesiastic, he was contented to let the Protestants live as quiet religionists, indulged in the exercise of their worship and the common rights of citizens ; and they became thenceforth some of the most industrious and valuable members of the community. In this condition they continued, till Louis XIV., governed by Jesuits, and compounding for his immoralities by excess of religious zeal, undertook the pious office of converting his Protestant subjects. For this purpose he repealed the edict of Nantes, the charter of their privileges, and subjected them to a rigour of persecution which drove numbers of those who were not converted, to foreign countries, whither they carried their ingenious arts and industry. Such was the final triumph of bigotry over policy!
The bloody persecutions in the Low-countries under Philip II. of Spain, and his willing instrument the Duke of Alva, had their source chiefly in the bigotry of that monarch; who probably af firmed with truth, that he had rather be master of a single town of unmixed Catholics, than of a kingdom contaminated with here. sy. He had also, it is true, the design of annulling the civil privileges of those provinces ; but his attempts to introduce the inquisition were the immediate cause of their rebellion; and he was not satisfied with recovering the obedience of the ten Flemish provinces, without establishing in them a system of intolerance, which produced the expulsion of the Protestant inhabitants with their property and manufactures; an event from which the decline of the great commercial cities in that part of the Austrian dominions may be dated.
The most sanguinary persecution which England has witnessed was that of the Protestants in Mary's reign, which was instigated solely by the furious zeal of the Queen; for the loyalty of her Protestant subjects at her succession was unimpeachable, and her
throne was perfectly secure. Such was the fanatical violence of her proceedings, that even her bigotted husband, Philip, interposed to mitigate it; and Cardinal Pole from Rome itself was continually urging her to a degree of moderation. She left behind her that horror of Popery in the minds of Englishmen which no length of time will probably extinguish, and which on many occasions has influenced the national politics. The Catholics have industriously attempted to parallel the cruelties of Mary's persecution, by the severities exercised against themselves in the reign of her successor; but the cases are entirely different. Elizabeth, in her religious system, deviated not very widely from the church of Rome, which, by the majority of Protestant episcopalians, was regarded as a true, though a corrupted, church. She was therefore little actuated by converting zeal; and her Catholic subjects might have lived unmolested under her rule, had they not been perpetually engaged in plots against her person and government. It was therefore as traitors, not as Romish priests, that so many Jesuits and other emissaries of Rome suffered death during the reign of Elizabeth.
Had the gunpowder-plot taken effect, the English history would have presented a more horrid instance of the consequences of religious hatred than the annals of any age or nation perhaps afford; but it would be unjust to impute to the spirit of the Catholics as a body, an atrocity which appears to have been generated in the minds of only a few violent fanatics. James himself so understood it; and his temper disposing him to be more intimidated than exasperated by the attempt, and he having besides measures to keep with the principal Catholic courts, the severities against popery in his reign were only of a defensive kind. Persecution indeed now began to take an opposite turn, and Puritan. ism was the object against which the efforts of power were princi. pally directed. In discountenancing this sect, political consider. ations chiefly operated; for the Puritans formed a party in the state which held maxims in direct opposition to the high monarchical principles inculcated from the throne. The royal adage, "No bishop, no king," ecclesiastically converted into No king, no bishop," united crown and mitre against a sect supposed equally hostile to both and in the reigns of James and his son, all the rigour of a political persecution was let loose upon the ob. noxious party. Its severities were, however, enhanced by the mixture of religious bigotry. Laud, in whom a domineering spirit was joined with weak superstition, proceeded with the rancour of a priestly zealot against the contemners of rites and ceremonies, which he regarded as of the most sacred authority; and to his violence (condemned by all the prudent of his own party) may be attributed much of that disaffection which involved the nation in