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another, that the laity should express
their respect for the clergy whenever they met them, by bowing if they met them afoot, by alighting if they met them on horseback: or with a third, that no deacon should be so rude as to sit down in the presence of a priest. All this you may, what may you not injoin? but whether these are the things that make for peace, the next letter shall enquire. "Till then farewell.
L E T T E R VII. .
PER SE CU TI O N.
Si magnus vir cecidit, magnus jacuit: non magis illum putes contemni, quam cum ædium sacrarum ruina calcantur : quas religiosi æque ac stantes adorant.
L ETT ER VII.
PIETY and plunder, religion and murder, the service of God and the slaughter of his image, are so diametrically opposite, that had you been an inhabitant of the moon, and only heard of an attempt to unite such opposites, you would have been more than a sceptic, a very infidel: but you are an inhabitant of another orb, and you will believe, without being threatened with a penalty, that such an attempt has been made, applauded, rewarded, and, O shame to humanity! the author of a crusade canonized for a saint! As if the highest seats in paradise were purchasable only with human blood.
Astonishment increases on looking into that religion whence such sanguinary proceedings pretend to flow. Its origin is the love of God; its end is peace and good will amongst men; its laws, its gifts, its motives, its all is love; its author the prince of peace, and all its spirit, like its author, PEACE, PEACE, to him that is nigh, and to him that is far off : and yet this very religion has been so explained as to patronize the bloodiest cruelties that the world ever saw. Well might St. John, when he saw such a tyranny arise under the chris, tian name, cry, I wondered with great admiration!
Whatever idolatry and superstition may have produced, they seem to have been out-sinned here; even idolaters seem to have had less intolerance than some christian states. In Egypt a Joseph; in Persia a Nehemiah, a Mordecai; in Babylon a Daniel hold the chief offices at court, without a test, it is credible ; but false christianity forbids men to buy or sell, unless they have the mark of a slavę in the forehead or in the hand.
Let not these evils be charged too hastily on any one set of christians; all have stained, though some have dyed their hands with blood. Nor least of all let christianity itself be blamed, any more than the religion of nature for the mal-practices of pagans : corruption has mixed with and debased both, and you will admit corruptio optimi pessima.*
When Constantine came to the imperial crown, he found the christian world at war with each other; himself professed christianity, and though it be very doubtful whether he was a christian at all, to his praise it must be said, he was ashamed of their quarrels, and proposed to establish universal peace. At first his majesty granted liberty of conscience, and had he stopped there, the remedy would have operated slowly but surely : but whether it was politically, to answer any state ends;
* The corruption of the best things is the worse kind of Corruption.