Page images

man beings, snatched from home and the sweet embrace of freedom, and doomed to the wretched alternative of a life of bitter slavery, or an untimely death? What say you of those names, that blacken the page of history by their glaring and innumerable perversions of justice—who, elevated in the providence of God to seats of sacred trust, to be ministers of God for good, bearing the sword of justice in God's stead, have enriched themselves with bribes, and turned aside the needy from his right, or who, like Jeffries of execrated memory, have converted the sword of justice to that of religious persecution, and sold themselves and the power delegated to them, as instruments of crushing a nation's rights, and the rising hopes of the church of God? Is there no justice in the future world for those, who have spent their lives in driving so successfully their schemes of expelling justice from this world? What say you also of the spiritual tyrants who have perverted a power if possible more sacred, to purposes if possible more wicked, and who have had full success in their enterprises? To save the labor of description, take the name of a Laud. Is there no justice for such a man, whose tyrannies so long prevailed to ends so disastrous—to the ejecting of God's ministers by thousands, to the silencing of the voice of the gospel through a kingdom, and suspending the glorious progress of the work of reformation? If there be any such thing as wrong and responsibility for it, surely the man who has dealt out such wholesale mischiefs, and caused his oppressions to be felt through every village and hamlet of an empire, and even on the other side of the globe, must have a fearful account against him. But where on this side of the grave is the execution of adequate justice?

But even a Laud is innocent compared with the artificers and wholesale distributors of the manifold mischiefs of popery. Here is a human being to be judged of God according to his works, according to the mischiefs which he does in the world, and he usurps the place of God over this world, claiming the obedience of kings, and causing them to kiss his feet, and through them exercising a tyranny over half the world, dark and malignant-taking away the key of knowledge, shutting up

the kingdom of heaven, suppressing the gospel which Christ has published, licensing and fostering sin in all its forms, palsying the heart and searing the conscience, and enslaving and making wretched millions of human minds. In short, the wearer of the triple crown, personates the man of sin, holds the fountain head of that influence which spreads intellectual and moral debasement, a fearful growth of crime, manifold oppression, violence, confusion, and every evil work, over many nations, and yet where on this side of the grave, is he punished for all the injuries he inflicts? What say you also of the leaders in the persecutions of the church? What of Nero, who regaled himself in scenes of cruelty and human suffering, and who capped the climax of all his other cruelties, by firing the city of Rome to enjoy the spectacle of its conflagration? History records no judgments upon him equal to his crimes. Yet is God the patron of right, the mighty redeemer of the oppressed, and has he not appointed a day, when the world who have felt, and the world who have wondered at that man's cruelties, shall see an ample vindication of his justice upon him? What say you of the respective authors of the ten persecutions which came from heathen Rome, upon the church of God, and deluged the empire with christian blood? What of the authors of those persecutions inflicted on the church by Papal authority? What of the cruelties of the inquisition which is fitly burlesqued with the name of holy? For these scenes of slaughter of the saints some individuals stand responsible. Take, for instance, the butchery of the Waldenses which came near to a total extinction of that precious, unoffending race. They were hunted like wild beasts among the rocks and mountains of the Alps to which they fled for refuge; and persons of every age, sex and condition were massacred, dismembered and hung up; females violated, and other atrocities committed which want a name, under authority of one claiming to be the vicar of Christ on earth. Is there no justice in store for the authors of such cruelties.

You have read also the story of the massacre, by the orders of a Roman Catholic king of France, of 100,000 protestants at

[ocr errors]

once of the savage king standing at the windows of his palace and setting on the furious populace, with cries of "kill! kill!" of the streets filled with the shrieks of those about to be butchered, and the groans of the dying mingled with the tumult of their murderers-of blood running in such channels through the streets as to pour torrents into the neighboring river—yes, and you have read of the infernal rejoicings over this scene, which took place at Rome, when the tidings reached that place; yet where has history recorded any equal retributions upon the actors in these several tragedies? Do you say they are yet to come in the expected overthrow of the church of Rome? But are those individuals thus to shift all their personal guilt upon the church which is incapable of personal responsibility? Wherein will that overthrow bring appropriate and sufficient retributions, to the leading fabricators of this carnage, who have now gone beyond the reach of all earthly justice? Posthumous infamy, and disasters coming upon their church centuries after they are dead, are no personal punishment to them. Is this the world where God makes the completest displays of his retributive justice, and are such giants in wrong suffered to pass off the stage undistinguished by his judgments from common sinners?

Again, there is not time for some sinners to suffer all they deserve in the usual term of human life, even according to the most superficial calculation of guilt. To say nothing of the criminality of the rebellion of the heart, estimated by a law which takes cognizance of thoughts and purposes, all the sufferings that can be crowded into this life, cannot expiate the guilt of some men's open transgressions. Here is a man who has been the prime and responsible agent in the butchery of fifty thousand human beings to gratify his lust of power or revenge. So much human life has been wantonly poured out, so much collateral distress created in the train of war, so many families bereft, so much destruction of the means of human existence and happiness, so much moral corruption carried through the heart and remotest limbs of the nation, stand charged against that man in God's book of remembrance,

Now at what rate shall this man expiate his offences by the suffering of punishment? Surely it can be at a rate no more moderate than that of an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth, or a life for a life. God does not render to every man according to his works, and make it true that with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again, if in his retributions he requires less injury to be inflicted on the offender than was done by him. That law throws but a feeble guard around the rights of the community, which only compels the depredator to restore a part of his booty, which allows a man to take human life, and punishes him in that which is not equivalent to the loss of life. The publication of such laws would amount to the offering of a premium for sin. But suppose the offender is held responsible to an amount equal to the injury which he has done. God does not recompense to a man according to his deeds, without making his individual sufferings, equal to all the sufferings which he has inflicted,-to the man who has unjustly taken fifty thousand lives, a suffering equal to the loss of fifty thousand lives. But how could that amount of suffering be accumulated upon one man in the term of human existence?

But we may find a still stronger case, a man whose influence has powerfully touched the destinies of the world, and gone down in many a branching stream of pestilence and death to succeeding centuries. I have my eye on the author of Mahommedan delusion, who in the Apocalypse takes the name of the angel of the bottomless pit; and the spread of whose delusion and power in the world is compared to the opening of the bottomless pit, or the uncapping of a tremendous volcanothat issues smoke darkening the air-a smoke producing locusts having the teeth of lions and breast-plates of iron, and the sound of their wings as the sound of chariots and horses rushing to battle, and their tails like unto scorpions with stings in their tails, and having a king over them whose name is the "Destroyer." How appropriate is all this imagery to the facts, I need not describe. And how great must be the personal guilt of him, who issued such a river of baleful influence, and bid its waters roll over a score of nations and down through

ten centuries! Who is competent to take the arithmetic of that man's accountability? Could one life suffice for him to suffer all, if God were to render to him according to his deeds? And if it could, history gives us no account of such sufferings having come upon him. He lived and died next to deified by millions. Does this look like a judgment rendered to every man according to his works in the present world? If a man may do so much mischief, and live and die so much as an ambitious man would wish to live and die, in spite of what God's justice can do in its last efforts, is that justice worthy of the respect of the world?

Again, that this world is not the scene of God's last and complete retributions, appears from the fact that the greatest portion of the earth, and its productions, is in the hands of ungodly men. In the words of Job, The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, into whose hands God bringeth abundantly. But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee, or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee, and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee,-to whom they belong; that it is not only or chiefly for the righteous few that the earth is productive. But rather into the lap of proud luxurious despisers of God, the earth and sea empty their most abundant treasures. God fills the storehouse out of which all get what supplies they have, and orders by his providence all the circumstances which give to individuals any advantages they have over their neighbors, and yet he makes no discrimination in favor of the godly in his distribution of the good things of this life-sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, employs the great agents in nature which minister sustenance to man, in carrying round his bounty to enemies as well as friends, and surely he either has no preference for righteous conduct, which he will manifest by appropriate rewards, or this is not the season of completing his retributions.

And then God's providential arrangements in this world and the state of this world by his permission, are such, that ster ling integrity is often a check to the course of worldly ad

« PreviousContinue »