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Christianity No Persecutor.

Christianity No Persecutor.

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Published by glennpease
REV. JOHN HARRIS, D.D.

The ecclesiastical bigotry and persecution by which
the history of the Christian church is disgraced, consti-
tutes the source whence the sceptic derives his
strongest objection to Christianity, and forms, accord-
ing to his insinuation, the sum and substance of its
annals.
REV. JOHN HARRIS, D.D.

The ecclesiastical bigotry and persecution by which
the history of the Christian church is disgraced, consti-
tutes the source whence the sceptic derives his
strongest objection to Christianity, and forms, accord-
ing to his insinuation, the sum and substance of its
annals.

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Published by: glennpease on Feb 16, 2014
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CHRISTIANITY NO PERSECUTOR. REV. JOHN HARRIS, D.D.The ecclesiastical bigotry and persecution by which the history of the Christian church is disgraced, consti-tutes the source whence the sceptic derives his strongest objection to Christianity, and forms, accord-ing to his insinuation, the sum and substance of its annals. Having gratuitously asserted, and ostenta-tiously displayed, the mild and tolerant nature of ancient heathenism, he places it in invidious contrast with the contentions and persecutions which from age to age have stained the Christian name ; and then proclaims, as by sound of trumpet, the superior spirit of the for-mer, and denounces the latter as a convicted criminal and a curse. Now, as this is the chief, if not even the only point of superiority to the Gospel which the advocates of ancient polytheism claim for it, as the impression of its truth, by incessant repetition, is so general that even a Bacon is found unguardedly stating that " the quar-rels and division about religion were evils unknown to the heathen," and as the supposed tendency of the Gospel to produce dissensions has created perhaps stronger prejudices against it than all the other cavils
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of infidelity combined, we propose to offer a few warning and corrective remarks. 1. Even allowing that the theory of the tolerant spirit of ancient heathenism had ever been carried into practice, it could not have been accounted a virtue. For if polytheism allowed the unlimited reception of new divinities, the admission of an additional god to the Olympian synod was not the tolerance of a new relig-ion, but only a step towards the completion of that which already existed. Nor was there any more AN ESSAY. 255 ground for praise in such admission than there is in the church of Rome on the canonization of a saint, or in the official act of registering a birth. 2. But the plausible theory of the tolerant spirit of paganism is never known to have been realised in practice. The Athenians allowed no alteration v^hatever in the religion of their ancestors ; and the lives of -^schylus, Anaxagoras, Diagoras, Protagoras, Prodicus, Socrates, and Alcibiades, decided that inno-
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vation in religion was death. The holy or sacred wars among the Grecian states — the sanguinary con-tests between the respective votaries of the different gods of Egypt — and the cruel extermination of the disciples of every other religion except that of Zoroas-ter, in Persia, conspire to prove that bigotry is pecul-iar to no clime, but is indigenous to our fallen na-ture. As to the vaunted toleration of the Roman gov-ernment, we learn from Livy that about 430 years be-fore Christ, orders were given to the iEdiles to see " that none except Roman gods were worshipped, nor in any other than the established forms :" and that about 200 years after this edict another was published, to crush certain rites which were obtaining in the city, and which enacted " that no one shall sacrifice on pub-lic or sacred ground after new or foreign rites." In-deed the same historian informs us, (b. xxxix. c. 16,) that it had been customary, in all the early ages of the republic, to empower the magistrates " to prevent all foreign worship, to expel its ministers from the forum, the circus, and the city, to search for and burn the religious books, and to abolish every form of sacrifice except the national and established form." Valerius Maximus confirms the testimony of Livy, and records the jealousy with which all foreign religions were pro-hibited by the Roman republic. Dio Cassius attests
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