Imagens das páginas

meritorious enterprise, by the aspirants to religious reputation.

The mosaic institution seems to have set the habit of journeying in the Jewish character, and to have fixed it there so firmly and tranquilly, that in after ages, when the circumstances of a visit to the “ Holy City” were altogether altered, and were such as might readily have kindled an active fanaticism, dangerous to the governments which allowed it, the ancient devout serenity held its place in the feelings and manners of the people of the dispersion. Those who, during the Persian, Macedonian, and Roman eras (the early portion of it) came to appear before the Lord from the remotest settlements of Libya, or Scythia, or India, went “ from strength to strength” with a feeling nearly the same as that of their happier ancestors, whose journey lay only through the olive vales of Palestine. It is not until we approach the dark hour of the catastrophe of the city that we meet with the indications of a different spirit. Then indeed a frenzy had seized the obdurate race, both at home and in the lands of its exile; and the resort of the scattered nation to the ill-fated Jerusalem, was like the rush of acrid humours to the heart and head of a delirious man. This season excepted, the Jewish pilgrimages to the holy city were not, as it appears, marked by fanatical turbulence.--The purpose of the worshippers was rational, and their religious notions were, in the main, of a substantial and healthy sort; — they did not travel a thousand miles—to kiss a stone, or to purchase a relic; but to take part in the services of that Temple where alone, in all the world, the first principles of Theology were understood, and the true God adored. The journey, and its attendant sentiments, were such as befitted its object.

It is a preposterous creed that makes pilgrimage fatal. In this case Delusion leads the way; Crime attends the route; and Despair and Frenzy at the last come up to urge the infatuated troop toward the horrid spot where Misery and Death are to be glutted with victims. Such, in brief, and with circumstantial differences only, have been the pilgrimages that have beaten the roads of India, of Arabia, and of Palestine. To the latter, we should remember, is due the bloodstained glory of giving birth to the Crusades ; for if there had been no resort of the pious to the desolated sepulchre, there would probably have been no heroes of the cross :—if no Peter the Hermit, no Tancred, no Godfrey, no Baldwin, or Richard !

Should we not, in this place, note the fact that, while superstition, as if with a power of fascination, has always been drawing men from extensive surfaces toward some one vortex of delusion, true Religion, on the contrary, has shewn itself to possess an expansive force, which

has rendered it a point of radiation, or an emanative centre, whence light and blessings have flowed to the remotest circumference. Is a criterion wanted which, by exterior facts only, might discriminate between a false and a true belief? little hazard would be run in assuming such a one as this — That the former will be seen to be gathering up, and accumulating, and devouring ;—while the other spreads itself abroad, and scatters, and diffuses, as widely as it may, whatever benefits it has to confer.Christianity is not the religion of a shrine, of a sepulchre, of a chair, or of a den; but of all the broad ways of the world, and of every place where man is found.


In treating of the Fanaticism of the Scourge, a passing notice, at least, of the miserable Flagellants of the 13th and 14th centuries, may be looked for. The pitiable frenzy, though of fatal consequence for a time, and horribly suppressed, does not seem to merit much attention either as a matter of history or of philosophy. What has been handed down concerning these dolorous vagrants is familiar to most readers. Froissart's account (Vol. ii. p. 263.) relates to the last eruption of the Flagellants. “ This year of our Lord 1349, there came from Germany persons who performed public penitencies by whipping themselves with scourges having iron hooks, so that their backs and shoulders were torn : they chaunted also, in a piteous manner, canticles of the nativity and sufferings of our Saviour ; and could not by their rules, remain in any town more than one night: they travelled in companies of more or less in number (it is elsewhere affirmed that they amounted sometimes to ten thousand, and included

persons of the highest rank) and thus journeyed through the country, performing their penitence for thirty-three days, being the number of years Jesus Christ remained on earth; and then returned to their own homes. These penitencies were thus performed to entreat the Lord to restrain his anger, and withhold his vengeance ; for at this period an epidemic malady ravaged the earth, and destroyed a third part of its inhabitants.” This fanaticism was of too turbulent a kind to be suffered by the Church, which, after severely denouncing it, and in vain, at length let loose upon it the armed ministers of her power. Eight thousand persons were massacred in a day by the Teutonic knights at the command of Pope Clement VI. There is reason to believe that some articles of the dominant superstition had been called in question by these penitents.



GALERIUS, Alva, Bonner, cross our path in every street of a populous city; and moreover the agents and ministers of such formidable personages might be found in every crowd. The chief and his company, fit for the labours of religious cruelty, we must not think have passed away with ages long gone by ; but rather believe that they are about us now, and wait only the leave or bidding of circumstances to re-act their parts. Or, to confess in a word the whole humiliating truth, it is Human Nature, such, alas, as it is harboured in each of our bosoms, that offers itself with more or less readiness to the excitement of malign and even murderous passions!

At once therefore justice toward the signalized authors of persecution, whom we are apt to regard as beings of infernal origin, and a due caution, having respect to the possible events of some day which may yet come in the world's

« AnteriorContinuar »