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ceived, if we enquire, why as great a proportion of
faith. This might be a good argument with a superior power, uninterested in the contest, for leaving each party to enjoy its own opinion, but when the rulers of a nation are composed of sectarians, they must believe that their own opinions are correct, and will, therefore; persecute those who differ from them. It will be impossible to convince them, that the interest of their country requires moderation. The spiritual interest of the people will, at least, afford them a pretence, and sectarian rage a motive, for inflicting the severest and most ignominious punishments, on those whom they may brand with the name of the enemies of God. Emboldened by despair, the persecuted will arise against their oppressors, the country will be distracted by civil wars, and the victims of the victorious party will be daily led to the stake.
Nor can it be said with truth that these evils arise only from the abuse of Christianity. They arise from the spirit of that religion. They arise from the maxim, that the good of this life must be sacrificed to that of the life to come ; from the hatred which a Christian always feels for those who differ with him in opinion; from the strength, which a sect may gain, by the persecution of its enemies ; and from the belief of the Christians, that the course most agreeable to virtue and to God, is to persecute with fire and sword, those whose faith is disapproved by him. These causes of persecution are inseparable from Christianity, and the evils which they produce, must always exist where
that religion prevails. While any one sect'has strength sufficient to persecute the others, and there are others for it to persecute. When a people are not looking for happiness in this world, we are not to wonder if they do not find it here, and when a government attempts to deceive and oppress the people by religious maxims, their condition is miserable indeed.
But the persecution of their own subjects is not sufficient for Christian governments. They must have crusades against heretical and unbelieving nations. In these wars too, in which thousands will be destroyed, and whole provinces desolated, the welfare of the souls of men will alone be regarded. Slavery or death will be the usual fate of the captives, at least, the necessary horrors of war will be increased. But I hear some one say, that these effects do not naturally arise from the religion of Christ, but only from its abuse. swer, that as the cause of any religion may be benefit-, ted by religious wars, and as the partizans of all religions, think it their duty to promulgate their doctrines, as far as in them lies, whether it be by fire and sword, by. eloquence, by arguments, or by pious frauds, such wars will always arise from the existence of hostile creeds, when any one religion can hope to gain ground by the contest. Admitting a religion to be true, and to be known to be true, (and this the votaries of any
will admit,) the purpose of extending it throughout the earth, will justify the perpetration of many atrocious acts, and the production of many evils. If we admit
that the Christian religion is true, beyond a doubt, and that the Mahometan is as certainly false, the crusades of the Christians, against the partizans of the latter, can be easily justified. The crusaders had a high prospect of conquering a part, if not the whole, of the empire of the Saracens, and of reducing it to the worship of Christ. It will be said, that as the worship of the conquered, would be but a forced acquiescence in the truth of Christianity, it would not be acceptable to God. This would be trua of those persons who ex. isted at the time of the conquest, but it would not be true of their descendants ; or if they would have inculcated their doctrines on their children, their whole race might have been exterminated, and their country re-peopled with Christians. Had this been done, fifty millions of sinners would have been destroyed, but as mny had been added to the number of the saints, for every generation, in succeeding ages, till the end of the world should arrive. The Christians actually possessed themselves of territory sufficient, as is estimated, to support twenty millions of inhabitants.
The re-conquest of this territory, was an event which they could not have anticipated. If it had remained in the hands of the Christians, twenty millions had been gathered, from that region in every age, which, allowing twentyfive ages to the present time, had now amounted to five hundred millions of souls. No one, who believes the truth of our religion, can believe, that the salvation of these, would not have repaid, ten thousand times, the evils of the wars which made them Christians. None can, in fact, reject our conclusion, except those who believe that the Christian and Mahom. etan religions have an equal chance of truth, and to such, the Christian can address no argument. We must conclude, therefore, that the injury which Christianity does to our temporal interest, by placing virtue on a false foundation, and by inducing a man to prefer the spiritual to the temporal interest of his neighbor, and governments to prefer the spiritual to the temporal interest of their people, is greater than the benefits which it confers on mankind, by giving them additional motives for being virtunus. But there are still other evils which it produces. It enables impostors, who will abuse their power, to deceive the people, and to advance themselves to the highest grandeur. It assists tyrants to sit securely on their thrones, and to oppress their people with impunity, by denouncing those
rise up against them, as the enemies of God. The factious make it the instrument of destruction, to the best of governments, by accusing their rulers of impiety, and by asserting that religion is in danger.By confering power on the clergy, it raises in the midst of the state, a class of men whose interest is in direct opposition to that of the people, by the deception of whom their authority is maintained, and at whose expense their luxury is supplied. These evils will not be remedied by providing that the church and state shall never be 'united ; for the clergy will ever