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pre-Christian times. Yet it may be admitted that both the evils complained of, the custom of warfare on the score of religion, and of persecution for erroneous belief, flow to some extent from the nature of the case, and are due to the action of historical Christianity.1 Partly, indeed, they were based on a false analogy of Christian duty with the Levitical code. But there is probably a necessary tendency in all dogmatic teaching to condemn error in opinion as a duty, and that too more strongly than immorality itself. Toleration even now is not uncommonly held to involve or imply scepticism. Prior to experience, it is expected that compulsion can procure uniformity ;2 and the golden rule is forgotten, "Religionis non est religionem cogere." The outward confession of faith is not readily distinguished from a saving implicit belief; and in the confusion compulsion is enlisted on the side of a mistaken humanity, whether for the victim or the survivor;3 but,
1 The judicial murder of Priscillian dates A.d. 386. It was condemned by Ambrose and Martin of Tours, though not by Leo. The early Christian apologists naturally express themselves on the side of toleration. Lactantius, but fifty years before the death of Priscillian, and himself a resident at Treves, thus writes: "Religio cogi non potest; verbis potius quam verberibus res agenda est ut sit voluntas. Nihil est tam voluntarium quam religio."—Div. Inst., V. xx.
a And so indeed, in fact, it has succeeded in doing: but only after the manner of those who, in the words of Tacitus, " solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant."
* See Mr. Lccky's remarks, Hist. Rat., II. 11, Hist. Eur. Mor., I. 420, on the inevitable tendency, if not the moral compulsion, to proselytism which underlies an assumed possession of truth. See Dean Hook, Lives o/Archb., N. S., I. 7-9.
however present to the eye of the Founder oftychrii* our religion as a result of the leaven wherewith He leavened the Church and the world, can this fact be properly urged against His teaching as a fault or a crime? Rather it is the consequence of its historical development, of the tardy course of human affairs,1 and, philosophically considered, of the imperfection and limitation of the creature. By the union and identification of the Church and Course °r
Empire, orthodoxy became an Imperial interest, and persecution for opinion was rendered not only possible, but politically incumbent. It is not, then, the words of Christ,2 which are answerable for the teaching of a duty of persecution. God forbid. But rather the supremacy, in the State, of the Church. Heresy and schism, as ecclesiastical offences, were put on the same footing with rebellion as a civil crime.3
§9. But, it may still be said, these evils are The hischargeable on Christianity as a system, as an his-suits of torical fact; they have followed in its train. And, tianity, no no doubt, it is not intended to clear the Religion of mixed °f*
1 " For fifteen hundred years after the establishment of the Christian religion it was intellectually and morally impossible that any religion that was not material and superstitious could have reigned over Euroi>e." —Lecky, H. R., II. 227.
a "Compel them to come in." See Bayle's famous treatise (Contrainsles cFentrer), and Ffoulkes' Div. Christ, pp. 91-2.
3 There is a remarkable defence in Dr. Draper's Hist, of the Intellectual Bevel, in Europe (I. 134) of the medieval policy of repression, grounded on a supposed foresight of the fearful consequences of the intellect of a people outgrowing their religious formula).
Christ of all its attendant effects, as though the brightest light never cast a shadow. The innocent blood shed by the Churches of East and West is the price paid for the enforcement of dogmas otherwise fraught with good. It is enough to weigh in the balance the acknowledged services of Christianity The evils against its confessed ills; and more especially to herent in examine whether such evils are properly inherent esystem, framei If n0^ f hey need not, it is clear, overcloud its future. As a matter of fact we have already outlived them. The opinions to which they are due, are now admitted to be elements .md foreign to the nature of our Religion, antagonistic
transient. .. ,.. . • i •
to its inner hie and spirit, and inconsistent with its central ideas.2 Thus a real distinction has always Due to to be drawn between faulty inferences or erroneous m^smter?1 applications of Scriptural language to the subjects it a 10 . ^ moni]s^ poiigy^ an(j science, and the actual and
eternal teaching of the Bible. The very tendency manifest in the general history of nations to employ religion, outside of its central scheme, as a political engine in matters of social law and civil government, has led to this result. Of this chainstances. racter3 are the notions of usury being immoral, of
1 " Le Christianisme a éte intolerant: mais l'intoléranco n'est pas un fait essentiellement chretien."—Renan, Vie de J&us- Christ, p. 412.
2 See some good remarks on this subject iD the Christian Remembrancer, No. CXXXI., p. 232.
3 For the political economy of Christianity, as not being incompatible with historical progress, see Goldwin Smith (Lect., p. 39).
the production of wealth being condemned, of a community of goods, of one absolute, universal form of political government, of the unlawfulness of military defence. Political and economic errors have on these subjects shielded themselves with the authority of Inspiration, and, by rendering scientific progress impossible, have risked the permanence of Christianity itself. But with the advance of knowledge and free inquiry this confusion has been long on the wane. Salmasius,1 for example, wrote successfully to correct the medieval idea that the Bible condemns usury, and Protestantism found no difficulty in receiving the correction. The true embarrassment lay in the claims of Roman Catholic tradition. Some errors might more properly be And to
regarded as anticipations of truth. Thus primitive move
rtt ' • • i> i • • • merits.
Christianity found in a transient communism a natural expression of new-born love and zeal. It never sought to erect a doctrine, inimical to all eco
1 See Mr. Lecky, //. Bat., II. 290, who has pursued the whole inquiry with his usual vigour and in a fair spirit. Mr. Buckle (I. 283) on the contrary declaims, with heat, against "the ignorant interference of Christian rulers," forgetting that other religions have at least made the same mistakes. Thus the Mahometan law prohibits interest altogether, with the natural result. See Wealth of Nations, Bk. I. c. ix.
1 Resting mainly on Luke xii. 33. The rhetorical statement of Tcrtullian is well known (Apol., xxxix.): "Omnia indiscreta sunt apud nos praitcr uxores." Clement of Alexandria, in his treatise Qitis dives salvetur, rejects the notion of communism. Sec also Strom., III. 449, and Augustine, Zfer., c. xl. In Enarr. in Ps. 124, § 2, he rebukes the opinion that " non debuit Deus facere pauperes: sed soli divitcs esse debucrunt." On the view of Ambrose as to the right of property in land (de Off. Minist., I. xxviii., and Serm. 8 in fs. 118, § 22), sec Schmidt, Essai, p. 259; also Champagny, Charite Chrelienne.
iioraical progress into a normal condition of society. "Whenever a great religious movement," it has been truly said, "has taken place in history, the spirit of humanity has beaten in this way against its earthly bars, and struggled to realize at once that which cannot be realized within any calculable time, if it is destined ever to be realized here."1 charges of % \q. The charge of feebleness and inutility is,
feebleness J ° .
and inu- indeed, of a wholly different kind; and will be
tility. ' 11.
variously estimated by different persons according to the measure of their previous expectation of the working of Christianity. But it must be borne Too in mind that we are no judges of its possible
general. . .
or of its proper operation; of the relations or course of affairs which make up the government of the world. Nor can Christianity be fairly accused of failure in these respects, unless indeed should be the result has not answered to its own predictions.
tested by ....
its own But this it is not attempted to show. Thus the
predictions . .
of itself, continuance 01 wars among mankind has been deemed in some quarters a strong objection to
1 Prof. Goldwin Smith, u. s., p. 41.
2 For Bishop Butler's canon is no less true than stern: "Objections against Christianity, as distinguished from objections against its evidence, are frivolous."—Aiml., II. iii. For if the natural and moral government of God be a scheme but imperfectly comprehensible, bow much more so is the course of revealed religion. "When we argue," says Paley, "concerning Christianity, that it must necessarily be true
- because it is beneficial, we go, perhaps, too far on one side; and we certainly go too far on the other when we conclude that it must be false because it is not so efficacious as we could have supposed."— Evid., II. vi.