« 上一頁繼續 »
out a man, and the land be utterly desolate. And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. I will now introduce from my “Flowers of Literature,” third edition, an epitome of the downfal of the Roman empire.
6 Constantine, who was emperor of Rome about the beginning of the fourth century, and who had embraced Christianity, changed the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople. This occasioned a prodigious alteration. The western and eastern provinces were separated from each other, and governed by different sovereigns. The withdrawing the Roman legions from the Rbine and the Danube, to the east, threw down the western barriers of the empire, and laid it open to the invaders.
« Towards the close of the sixth century, the Saxons, a German nation, were masters of the southern, and most fertile provinces of Britain ; the Franks, another tribe of Germans, of Gau); the Goths, of Spain; the Goths and Lom
bards, of Italy, and the adjacent pro. vinces. Scarcely any vestige of the Roman policy, jurisprudence, arts or literature remained. New forms of government, new laws, new manners, new dresses, new languages, and new names of men and countries were every where introduced.
“ How far this change is to be la. mented may be matter of much dispute. T'he human species were reduced to such a degree of debasement by the pressure of Roman despotism, that we can hardly be sorry at any means, how ever violent, which removed or lightened the load. Wherever the barbarians marched, their rout was marked with blood : 'They ravaged or destroyed all around them : They made no distinction between what was sacred and what was profane: They respeeted no age, nor sect, nor rank. If a man was called upon to fix the period, in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most calamitous and afflicted, he would without hesita tion name this crisis. Their conquerors
demolished palaces, and erected cottages on their ruins; the finest yorks of art they destroyed, and hunted the boar through gardens, parterres, and pleasure grounds." : We might, in addition to the three antecedent cases of the destruction of the most populous nations, go on to mention collateral instances, of the annihilation of all the nations of antiquity; who experienced similar fates for similar crimes. But the foregoing will, it is hoped, suffice to demonstrate, that the Almighty will not be trifled with by either nations or individuals.
The question before us at present, relates to the downfal of the aforesaid nations. It will be asked, Why bas God.punished them with more severity than he did the other nations of antiquity? I answer, because they were more eminently favoured than their neighbours, and super-eminently ungrateful: for, where much is given, the more is required; but the principal cause was, their unparalleled tyranny, which seems to be the besetting sin of all nations, Christian as well as pagan, The prophet Isaiah gives a brief, but comprehensive description of the guilt and consequent punishment of the Ba. bylonians : I, saith God, was wroth with my people; I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand; thou didst shew them no mercy ; upon the ancients hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke. Therefore, come down, sit in the dust, 0 virgin daughter of Babylon ! sit on the ground, sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldean! for thou shalt no more be called the lady of kingdoms.
The Israelites were still more ungrateful ; times almost without number, they rebelled against their good God, and condemned the counsel of the Most High, though he favoured and blessed them above all the nations of the earth. After spilling the precious blood of many, very many of their fellowworms, they dared to imbrue their impious hands in the richest blood that ever flowed, even their own Messiah's, who came to be the salvation of his
people, and the glory of Israel; and this crime filled up the measure of their iniquities. Therefore, wrath came upon them to the uttermost, as we have already demonstrated. The Romans were also exalted to the pinnacle of national grandeur and power : the city was emphatically called the mistress of the world, and indeed, the Romans were the conquerors, (or the scourge in the hands of the great God,) to punish all the civilized world, without exception: and afterwards, they in their turn, for their pride and tyranny, were pun. ished almost ‘as severely, by a handful of barbarians, as they punished the Jews, some years before.
We come now to make a comparative estimate of the degeneracy of the aforesaid nations, and the depravity of the inhabitants of Christendom. In the first place, I will allow that there is not, nor ever was in the world, a nation blessed with greater privileges, and better political and theological information, than the Americans. But, alas! what shall we, or, indeed, what can we