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a new state of society has rendered worthless, all these must be disarmed of their terrors before the poet can sing with all the full rounded power that is in him. Humboldt and Miller were free men, Ruskin is a free man, still their words jar somewhat upon the accepted refinement and propriety of their times. Men cry 'out “ infidelity," "dogmatism,” and “ learning run mad,” to frighten a scrupulous world away from them ; still, the fire and force of their genius will live as an inspiration to millions. As Macaulay says, a man should become as a child before he can be a poet. When he has hardened into the consistency of manhood, the mobility and the artlessness of the child must tremble along his lines with whatever volume and force they may
There must be an ignorance and unconsciousness of surrounding and acknowledged powers, which have authority from the historical acceptance which men have given them. He must be able to think freely, speak freely, and acknowledge no exterior trammels which check and effeminate the impulse of his thought and passion. By a strange organization of our natures, our first impressions are apt to have the more of truth in them than the reason can reach in an age of reasoning. This is why the early Edinburgh Reviewers and the statesmen of the last century in England attained such gigantic stature of intellectual power. It was a period of breaking away from old ideas, and established laws and opinions. The imagination and the passions entered largely into their labors, and became the controlling influences, when the genius of those men shot up, comet-like, into strange and unattempted regions. They were free men, with a decent balance of thought-culture to keep them within the bounds of practical common sense. They were the pure poets of civil polity, the motors of state progress; they gave an impulse and a fire to contemporary intellect which made Great Britain exceedingly great.
And shall we not have something of this in this great American Rebellion ? Where is the fire and the genus of the Fathers of the Republic ? Have they become smothered beneath a load of prosperity and wealth which two-thirds of a century has piled upon their shoulders ? It cannot be that our ancient loftiness of purpose has sunken into lower channels, that we are plunging downwards, instead of ascending, in our national courses of thought. The days, and
the trials, and the responsibilities that awoke a Henry, a Hamilton, an Adams, an Otis into being, certainly were not more important than are our days; they did not call upon men for more decisive action, for more decided abilities, for greater self-possession, for a more careful husbanding of the abilities with which the God of nature has endowed us, than do these our times. Petty politics and the pursuit of wealth have too much absorbed our national thought; we have been groping with the muck-rake when we should have been pursuing a higher purpose, and attaining a calmer and a purer culture. The existence of the Great Republic is at stake. We must fight to maintain it. Man must write, and talk too. There is a public sentiment to animate, to keep up to the truly great and patriotic standard, which becomes the starting point and well sustained back ground and base of truly great and patriotic action. Then when Holt of Kentucky utters words worthy of a Henry, and of the crisis, words that burn with the deepest power of poetry and the loftiest indignation against those who would pull down the pillars of the Union, let us not cry “bombast," and “ rodomontade," but accept them as the apt utterances of the times.
A Summary of the Early Conflicts of Christianity with
The opponents of Christianity in the early stages of its history divided themselves into two great classes, -Jewish opponents and Heathen opponents. The former were the more fierce in their opposition, the latter the more selfish. Giving our present attention to the latter, we propose a condensed statement of the early conflicts of our faith with Heathenism.
The conflicts of Christianity with Heathenism may be divided into two general classes, --conflicts with the philosophers, the learned, the educated ; and conflicts with the
people at large, and through the people with national and local governments.
Of the first class,—the answer of Origen to Celsus, (a heathen who wrote against Christianity,) the Dialogue of Minucius Felix, the remans of Porphyry and other similar works, furnish instances. They exhibiť more particularly the objections urged by cultivated men against the new faith ; and in general the controversies resulting from the efforts of the early Christians to establish it. These objections differ widely in some respects, and yet there is a certain similarity running through them all. In fact they are not very dissimilar to the objections brought against new discoveries of truth in all ages.
. According to one class of these objections, Christianity was, substantially, an old affair offering nothing essentially new, which its believers had no occasion to make so much account of ; according to another class of objections, it was an interloper, and would have been given to men before had there been any such need of it as its apostles pretended. One party complained that the new faith inculcated pride, and elevated man unduly, by making him the centre for which the rest of the world was created, and to which all orders of animals must minister. Another party complained that it lowered the dignity of man, by demanding self-abasement, and proclaiming him an unholy and impure being in the sight of God. On the one hand, Christians were accused of elevating a man to godship; and on the other, of following one so weak that he could not save himself from the death of the cross. Christ himself was at once a designing impostor, and the innocent cause of delusion in his followers! A different class of objectors exclaimed, Christians unite against the national government, and at the same time they are split up into a multitude of sects.So various, and in some respects, so contradictory were the objections urged against Christianity by the learned heathen. They all arose from a misapprehension of the true nature and mission of the new religion ; a misapprehension, we must add, shared in by the Christians themselves, and fostered by them; and for much of which the heathen cannot be regarded as very blamable.
But it was not from opposition of this general character that the new faith had most to fear. pposition, indeed, is wholesome and beneficial, written opposition especially sobecause it gives rise to careful inquiry into the grounds of faith, and so developes an intellectual activity which nothing else can do. It was from the other class of conflicts the second class as we have divided them—that Christians had the greatest reason to apprehend danger and loss,“conflicts with civil authorities and popular violence.”
We class these under one head, for so history presents them. In all instances of persecution they seem to be united. One element may predominate, but both occur together. If a mob seize a Christian, they drag him before a magistrate. If a Christian is tortured by the government, the crowd stand by to help on the “ good work.” If laws are enacted against believers in the new faith, informers are ready, either to give information to the government or to be bribed into silence by the Christians. The rulers take up
the cause of the people, that by catering to their prejudices they may retain a hold upon their affections; and the people gladly mob a sect obnoxious to the government. Nor does the fact that the authorities are often more lenient than the people, and strive to soften their fury, alter the general truth of this statement. The letter of Trajan to Pliny, and Hadrian's Decree are sometimes cited as®exceptions, but they are not really such. Trajan instructs Pliny not to seek out Christians in order to punish them, but at the same time provides for their punishment, if brought before the magistrate and convicted. Mosheim says, (Vol. 1. p. 292-3,) “ From the first part of this regulation we may reluctantly infer, that the emperor did not regard the Christians with an unfavorable eye, whilst, from the latter part, it is as adroitly to be collected that he was fearful of discovering too much lenity towards them, lest he should thereby exasperate the priesthood and the populace."
Hadrian's decree goes farther than Trajan's, and signifies that no Christian shall suffer death, unless “ legitimately accused and convicted of some sort of crime." Mosheim (Comm. I. 298, i.) thinks, however, that Hadrian has received credit for more lenity than he ever intended to exercise, for even after the publication of this rescript, “ Christians were continually put to deatlı without having any other crime objected to them that of their religion”— that is, for professing a contempt for the gods, the worship of whom was enjoined by the laws. On the other hand, when Nero accused the Christians of burning Rome, the people thought him unjust in his persecutions.
These facts do not invalidate the general assertion that “popular violence and civil authority” went hand in hand in Christian persecutions, although sometimes the one hung back and the other took the lead, and sometimes the
Two difficulties present themselves to a candid investigation of this subject. There are two prevalent errors regarding it. One error is the attributing all opposition to a rooted hostility to Christ. Orthodox writers are apt to fall into this error. They attribute all the trials of the faith to the depraved hearts of men. In reality, however, much antagonism resulted from indifference; and from that conflict in little things which would be the necessary accompaniment of family and social intercourse, when every-day life was so inwrought with the symbols and rites of paganism. For instance, the rejoicings on all festival occasions were so full of idolatry, that any member of the family, converted to the new faith, must cease participating therein with the other members of his family. The wife must refuse to bake the customary cake for her husband to offer his god, and hence there would arise dissension; yet there would be no direct hostility to Christ. An analagous case in modern times, one at least that approximates to it—is that of the Quakers. The early Quakers found the days of the week, the names of the months, and all the public and private forms of worship prevalent around them, to be parts of what they called impure religion. So it was with the early Christians. "Father might be divided against son, and yet both might be amiable and loving in their family relations.
On the other hand, there is danger of looking too much at these little things, these trifling difficulties, and of forgetting, that notwithstanding the truth just declared, there was that in the religion of Christ which aroused opposition ; that as there was a cross for Jesus, so there was a cross for his followers--a spiritual if not a material one.
There is danger of forgetting the principle which Jesus himself enunciated. The truth is a sword. It ought always to be remembered that there was, and is, an iconoclastic, an imagebreaking spirit in Christianity, which so assails all impurity