Слике страница
PDF
ePub

trine, or yours? If from ours, name them. If from yours, and you believe them, you can have no hesitation in producing your vouchers. Are you, indeed, earnest in this cause? Do you, as you have said, believe that myriads will impute their endless ruin to the belief of this fatal doctrine? If so, cry aloud and spare not; lift up your voice as a trumpet; and taking the doctrine as taught by its leaders, cut it in sunder by the sword of the spirit, and scatter it to the four winds by a pungency of investigation, which will demonstrate that your trust is in the word of prophecy.

pure

Thus much has not been said on this subject, because either the manner or matter is entirely new. The apostacy of the church, which commenced in the days of the apostles, has borne the mark of the beast to the present hour. Mystery, deception, persecution, have been its uniform concomitants, wherever the secular arm has been raised for its protection. But

-Manners change with climes,
Tenets with books, and principles with times;
Search then the ruling passion, there alone,
The wild are constant, and the cunning known."

The ruling passion of the apostate church has been to govern the minds, that they might control the bodies and estates of their devotees. Hence the long asses' ears of credulity are open for the reception of such stupid, indigested' matters and things' as their ghostly teachers may be pleased to furnish, adding such condiments as will please none but a vitiated taste.

During the age of miracles in the church, so called, the saints and fathers knew as well how to ride on the necks of a degraded multitude as do their descendants. But the general light of knowledge was then but dimly seen, and the tales told of heretics partook

more largely of the marvellous than do those of the present age.

As it is possible that a second edition of your Letters may be needed, I send you a small specimen of the pious frauds of the ancient fathers, which may furnish a hint for improvement in this particular. If, as Lord Bacon says, "a mixture of a lye doth always add pleasure," the following samples of the most flexible credulity will not be read without a proportionate degree of satisfaction. The following extracts are from a dull book, published in the beginning of the 17th century, entitled "Miracula Mortuorum, et Vivorum." The author of it was a German, named Henry Kornmann, who is represented by Baylie to have been a profound scholar, and a very ravenous devourer of learning. In describing the wonders that are to be found in the South Sea, he tells us, that Diodorus, the geographer, writes, that "there is an island in it, where the inhabitants are each four cubits taller, than the inhabitants of Greece and Italy-their bones are not hard, but flexible, like nerves-their tongue is divided into two from the roots, so that they can keep up a conversation with one man with one half of their tongue, and with another with the other at the same time." Alluding to the Molucca Islands, he assures us, with inimitable simplicity, that "in the Island of Gylon, which is one of them, there is a nation with ears so large, that they hang down to their shoulders, and that in another island close to it, there is a nation with ears still longer. The inhabitants of it are accustomed, when they go to sleep, to lie down on one ear and to cover themselves up with the other!!!" To match this people, who make coverlets of their ears, the worthy German informs us that there are a people in India who make a parasol of their foot.This story rests on the authority of Solinus, who, in his 53d chapter, enlightens the world be telling it, that

"there is a nation of one-eyed people in India, who, though they have only one leg, are still endowed with singular fleetness. When they want to protect themselves from the heat, they fling themselves on their back, and recline under the shade of their foot, which is immensely large." He quotes the following from the 37th sermon of St. Augustine to his brethren in the wilderness; "When I was Bishop of Hippo, I went with some servants of Christ into Ethiopia, with the intention of preaching our holy religion. There we saw many men and women, not having any heads, but large eyes fixed in their breasts." St. Augustine, in his treatise, "De Civitate Dei, lib. 6, chap. 8," pledges his saintly word that there is in Ethiopia a nation which has no mouth or tongue, but which lives entirely upon air. "When Augustine, the Monk, was sent into England by Gregory the Great, to preach the gospel, he was ridiculed and insulted by a family in Dorchester, who pinned frog-tails (ranarum caudas) to his garments. From that day all the descendants of that unfortunate family have been born, like beasts, with a long tail." But in later times, a more pure mark of heresy than either of the former has been discovered. To increase the zeal for persecution, it was related, that the children of heretics were born with black, hairy throats, and four rows of teeth ! !— What a description! Could any man think the church out of danger from such monsters?

But, it may be asked, what have all these tales to do with the description of Universalists in the 19th century? Precisely this. The stories told in those dark ages were no greater outrage on the credulity of the times, than those which you have uttered are on the more enlightened age in which we live. They were generally related for the purpose of self-elevation, and were intended to prop the doctrines of the anti-christian church. In proportion to the distance which any

church has receded from the simplicity of the gospel, does she find it necessary to guard her authority ły threats of damnation in a future world, and by severe penalties for doubting her supremacy in this. Among these penalties, are loss of character, of property, and of life, as power may give ability and caprice dictate. In this blessed land, indeed, the power of destroying life, and in some measure, property, is not possessed; but the ability to "smite with the tongue" still remains, as the caricature given of a Universalist meeting fully evinces.

I know not what people at a distance may think of your allegation in this respect; but, if you gain credit, they must consider, not our meeting only, but the whole city as a complete pandemonium. That a nursery of vice, a school for the encouragement of the most atrocious villainies, should be weekly opened for these purposes, must excite astonishment, or incredulity. No man in his senses can believe that such a state of things exists, compatible with civil order. It must result in the destruction of civil society.

An investigation of this subject led to a glance at your fundamental principle, the fear of a future, interminable place or state of misery. The Catholic church was cited as a specimen of what this doctrine has effected, not indeed for the improvement of our species, but for its degradation, its extermination. It was seen that to this bloody Moloch have been sacrificed at least fifty millions of human victims, by this church alone; being one sixteenth part of the supposed population of the earth at this moment. How this, or any other church could have done much worse, even without her fundamental principles of The Trinity, and Endless Misery, is not discovered. If, then, these principles have humanized the hearts of their votaries, where is the proof? If not, by what mode of reasoning is it obvious that their good effects ever have

been, or ever will be experienced? Reasoning analogically affords no prospect of amelioration, and facts are in high relief against it.

It is vain to object that the Protestant church has uniformly protested against the spirit of persecution, as inherent in the Romish church. The very charge is against herself, for their fundamental principles are the same, and that these have not retarded the progress of persecution, is most obviously certain. That human conduct differs materially under the influence of the same principles, is a position which few will attempt to vindicate, and no one successfully. All the anathemas hurled by the Protestant against the Papal church, are mere sound, while the same essential principles are common to both. It is allowed, indeed, that the language has been ransacked for epithets of opprobrium to be heaped upon that church; and what is the inference? The same language has passed current between contending Protestant sects, all equally detesting the Romish hierarchy. What now is the inference? Does all this amphibolous verbiage prove more in the one than in the other case? Certainly not.

A certain orthodox writer styles the church of Rome "debateable ground, the half-way house between christianity and idolatry;" but he also allows, that it "has so much both of the christian and the heathen," that it can hardly be determined to which she belongs. The much of christianity, which she is allowed to possess, has not stayed the horrors of persecution, for that much is the doctrine of endless misery, of which you are the champion. There is no avenue for escape from the conclusions at which we shall arrive by this process. Her orthodoxy is too notorious to be denied, and a very able writer of her church has quoted the sentiment from the mild, the comparatively amiable Melancthon, that a departure from the Trinitarian doctrine, is sufficient cause of persecution!

1

« ПретходнаНастави »