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7. Private assassination is another of the monstrous fiends which the true religion has put to flight. The guardian mixes not pow the deadly cup for the unhappy orphan, whose large property, has been entrusted to his management. The husband no longer poisons the wife for her dowry, nor the wife her husband, that she may marry the adulterer. A Christian magistrate has no longer to punish capi. tally for this one crime, three thousand persons during part of a season, as was the case with a Roman prætor in Italy.
But, I cannot dwell on all the evils banished by the doctrine of Christ. --The unlimited power of parents, extending to the liberty, and even life of their children—the vindication and de fence of suicide-piracy-public indecencies between the sexes—the incests, and unnatural crimes, which polluted the philosopher and statesman of old, and which the poet did not fear to descant upon with the utmost indif- ; ference, and connect forsooth, with moral reflections upon the brevity of life.”
These, and a thousand similar evils have been banished from Christian states, and ban5 Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas .
Regumque turres --
Hor. Car. i. 4.
ished by the Christian doctrine. For that we owe their expulsion to this cause is manifest, because it was Christianity that first raised her voice against them; it was she that first prohibited them to her disciples; whilst all the wisest men of the heathen world, at the period of greatest refinement and highest intellectual cultivation, applauded, connived at, and practised them. It was moreover by Christian emperors that the first public enactments against them were framed. Constantine, upon his conversion to the Christian faith, to stop the crime of infanticide, ordained that the public should maintain the children of those parents who were unable to provide for them. In A.D. 319, he made it a capital offence to expose infants. He promulgated also the first edict against gladiatorial shows"; and discouraged perpetual servitude, which was gradually lessened, till at length it was entirely banished from Christian states. The Christian religion, indeed, preserved the Roman empire from that sudden destruction which her vices threatened ;
6 The favourite notion of infidelity, that improvements in morals and virtue are chiefly owing to the progress of civilization, is contrary to the experience of all ages of the worldEgypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome, India, testify against such an assumption. Civilization, except as accompanied, and animated, and directed by Christianity, has uniformly corrupted and deteriorated public morals.
it infused into her government, and the mass of her people, a new virtue and life; and though the whole mass of the state was too far corrupted to be recovered, it broke the rapidity and violence of its fall.
But this leads us to notice,
III. That Christianity has promoted the wel-' fare of states, by miTIGATING MANY' EVILS which she has not yet entirely removed ;—she protests against them, and raises up the barrier of public opinion against their progress...
The Christian revelation is a 'religion, not a code of human laws. It can therefore only reach public institutions and usages through private character. To get rid of these usages, the reigning part of the community must act, and act in concert. Where, however, Christianity is not sufficiently obeyed 'to eradicate national evils altogether and at once, it begins by mitigating and abating them. *
1. The horrors of war, before the coming of Christ, were inconceivable. Ambition, the love of conquest, revenge, were openly professed as its object. “ To glut our souls with the cruellest vengeance upon our enemies, is perfectly lawful, is an appetite implanted in us by nature, and is the most exquisite pleasure that the human mind can taste," is the language of the
great historian Thucydides.: Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, is the command of our divine Master-and which would have long since extinguished war, and established universal peace and tranquillity, had it been duly obeyed. It has, however, actually been softening the cruelties of national conflicts for eighteen hundred years. We do not now begin our wars openly for interest, aggression, the acquisition of territory. We do not murder every human creature in a besieged place, as of old, after having solemnly promised to spare their lives. The loss of thousands in the field, is not the prelude to the desolation of a whole country, to indiscriminate massacre, and utter extermination.
The first symptoms of the mitigation of the horrors of war appeared in the fifth century, when Rome was stormed and plundered by the Goths under Alaric. Those rude soldiers were Christians, and their conduct in the hour of conquest, exhibited a new and wonderful example of the power of Christianity over the fierce passions of man. Alaric no sooner found himself master of the city, than he gave orders that all the unarmed inhabitants who had fled to the churches, or to the sepulchres of the martyrs, should be spared. This, you will ob: 8 Thucyd. 1, vii. p. 540. ed. Frank. apud Porteus. . serve, was an instance of mercy and moderation in a whole army, in common · soldiers, flushed with victory, and smarting under the wounds they had received in obtaining it. Even Gibbon acknowledges that “ the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect effects, on the barbarian proselytes of the north. On the fall of the Roman empire, it evidently mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.” May we not add, that in a much later period, when the fierceness of a successful, but most unprincipled usurper, had brought back as much of the ancient atrocities of war, as the spirit of the times would allow, the moderation of the allied army, on the taking of Paris, was a somewhat similar illustration of the influence of Christianity. Indeed, from the days of Alaric to the present, the cruelty of war has declined; till now, not only are captives among Christians treated with humanity, and conquered provinces governed with equity, but in the actual prosecution of a war, it is become a maxim to abstain from all unnecessary violence. Wanton depredations are rarely com