Persecutions of Christians
Persecutions Of Christians.
The persecution of Christians dates from the day when Jesus Christ appeared among men to preach the glad tidings of redemption from sin and salvation eternal. The very earliest sufferings of the Church of Christ and its Head are subjects of New-Testament history. It is clear that these earliest sufferings Christians endured from the Jews. But the persecutions were of no great severity so long as the Jews were the persecutors. When, however, the Roman authorities assumed the exercise of the state's sovereignty persecution took a more terrible form, and there were then inaugurated a series of measures intended to compel the rising community of Christians to renounce their new creed, and to conform to the established religion of the empire. In later times persecutions of heretics and dissenters have been not uncommon on the part of certain Christian bodies, especially the Romish and Anglican churches.
I. Pagan Persecutions. — These are called the ten persecutions in ecclesiastical history, and designate certain periods of special severity. The Christian community were at all times regarded with suspicion and dislike in the Roman empire — the constitution of Rome not only being essentially intolerant of those new religions which, like the Christian, were directly aggressive against the established religion of the state, but being particularly hostile to private associations and private assemblages for worship, such: as those which every Christian congregation by its very nature presented; and thus there are very few periods during the first three centuries in which it can be said that the Church enjoyed everywhere a complete immunity from persecution. But the name is given particularly to certain periods when either new enactments were passed against Christianity, or the existing ones were enforced with unusual rigor. The notion of ten such periods is commonly accepted almost as a historical axiom; and it is not generally known that this precise determination of the number is comparatively recent. In the 4th century no settled theory of the number of persecutions seems to have been adopted. Lactantius reckons up but six; Eusebius does not state what the number was, but his narrative supplies data for nine. Sulpicius Severus, in the 5th century, is the first who expressly states the number as ten; but he only enumerates nine in detail, and in completing the number to ten, he adds the general persecution which, at the coming of Antichrist, is to precede the end of the world. The fixing of ten as the number seems to have originated in a mystic allusion to the ten horns of the beast in the Apocalypse (Re 17:12). It need hardly be said, however, that this is only a question of words, the diversity of enumeration arising from the different notions attached by the several historians to the designation general. If taken quite strictly to comprise the entire Roman empire, the number must fall below ten; if used more loosely of local persecutions, the number might be very largely increased. The ten persecutions commonly regarded as general are the following:
(1.) The persecution under Nero, A.D. 64, when that emperor, having set fire to the city of Rome, threw the odium of that execrable action on the Christians. First, those were apprehended who openly avowed themselves to be of that sect; then by them were discovered an immense multitude, all of whom were convicted. Their death and tortures were aggravated by cruel derision and sport; for they were either covered with the skins of wild beasts, and torn in pieces by devouring dogs, or fastened to crosses, and wrapped up in combustible garments, that, when the daylight failed, they might, like torches, serve to dispel the darkness of the night. For this tragical spectacle Nero lent his own gardens, and exhibited at the same time the public diversions of the circus; sometimes driving a chariot in person, and sometimes standing as a spectator, while the shrieks of women, burning to ashes, supplied music for his ears. SEE NERONIAN PERSECUTIONS.
(2.) The second general persecution was under Domitian. From the death of Nero to the reign of Domitian the Christians remained unmolested and daily increasing; but towards the close of the 1st century they were again involved in all the horrors of persecution. In this persecution many eminent Christians suffered; but the death of Domitian soon delivered them from this calamity. In the year 95 40,000 were supposed to have suffered martyrdom.
(3.) The third began in the third year of Trajan, in the year 100. Many things contributed towards it: as the laws of the empire, the emperor's zeal for his religion and aversion to Christianity, and the prejudices of the pagans, supported by falsehoods and calumnies against the Christians. Under the plausible pretense of their holding illegal meetings and societies, they were severely persecuted by the governors and other officers; in which persecution great numbers fell by the rage of popular tumult, as well as by laws and processes. This persecution continued several years, with different degrees of severity, in many parts of the empire, and was so much the more afflicting because the Christians generally suffered under the notion of malefactors and traitors, and under an emperor famed for his singular justice and moderation. The most noted martyr in this persecution was Ignatius of Antioch, although some name also Clement, bishop of Rome. After some time the fury of this persecution was abated, but did not cease during the whole reign of Trajan. In the eighth year of his successor, Adrian, it broke out with new rage. This is by some called the fourth general persecution, but is more commonly considered as a revival or continuance of the third.
(4.) This persecution took place under Antoninus the philosopher; and at different places, with several intermissions and different degrees of severity, it continued the greater part of his reign. Antoninus himself has been much excused as to this persecution. As the character of the virtuous Trajan, however, is sullied by the martyrdom of Ignatius, so the reign of the philosophic Marcus is forever disgraced by the sacrifice of the venerable Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, the friend and companion of St. John. A few days previous to his death, he is said to have dreamed that his pillow was on fire. When urged by the proconsul to renounce Christ, he replied, "Fourscore and six years have I served him, and he has never done me an injury: can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?" Several miracles are reported to have happened at his death. The flames, as if unwilling to injure his sacred person, are said to have arched over his head; and it is added that at length, being dispatched with a sword, a dove flew out of the wound, and that from the pile proceeded a most fragrant smell. It is obvious that the arching of the flames might be an accidental effect, which the enthusiastic veneration of his disciples might convert into a miracle; and as to the story of the dove, etc., Eusebius himself apparently did not credit it, since he has omitted it in his narrative of the transaction. Among many other victims of persecution in this philosophic reign we must also record that of the excellent and learned Justin. But it was at Lyons and Vienne, in Gaul, that the most shocking scenes were acted. Among many nameless sufferers, history has preserved from oblivion Pothinus, the respectable bishop of Lyons, who was then more than ninety years of age; Sanctus, a deacon of Vienne; Attalus, a native of Pergamus; Maturus, and Alexander; some of whom were devoured by wild beasts, and some of them tortured in an iron chair made red hot. Some females also, and particularly Biblias and Blandina, reflected honor both upon their sex and religion by their constancy and courage.
(5.) A considerable part of the reign of Severus proved so far favorable to the Christians that no additions were made to the severe edicts already in force against them. For this lenity they were probably indebted to Proculus, a Christian, who, in a very extraordinary manner, cured the emperor of a dangerous distemper by the application of oil. But this degree of peace, precarious as it was, and frequently interrupted by the partial execution of severe laws, was terminated by an edict, A.D. 197, which prohibited every subject of the empire, under severe penalties, from embracing the Jewish or Christian faith. This law appears, upon a first view, designed merely to impede the further progress of Christianity; but it incited the magistracy to enforce the laws of former emperors, which were still existing, against the Christians; and during seven years they were exposed to a rigorous persecution in Palestine, Egypt, the rest of Africa, Italy, Gaul, and other parts. In this persecution Leonidas, the father of Origen, and Irenseus, bishop of Lyons, suffered martyrdom. On this occasion Tertullian composed his "Apology." The violence of pagan intolerance was most severely felt in Egypt, and particularly at Alexandria.
(6.) The next persecution began with the reign of the emperor Maximinus, A.D. 235, and seems to have arisen from that prince's hatred of his predecessor, Alexander, in whose family many Christians had found shelter and patronage. Though this persecution was very severe in some places, yet we have the names of only a few martyrs. Origen at this time was very industrious in supporting the Christians under these fiery trials.
(7.) The most dreadful persecution that ever had been known in the Church occurred during the short reign of Decius, the Christians being exposed to greater calamities than any they had hitherto suffered. It has been said, and with some probability, that the Christians were involved in this persecution by their attachment to the family of the emperor Philip. Considerable numbers were publicly destroyed; several purchased safety by bribes or secured it by flight; and many deserted from the faith, and consented to burn incense on the altars of the gods. The city of Alexandria, the great theater of persecution, had even anticipated the edicts of the emperor, and had put to death a number of innocent persons, among home were some women. The imperial edict for persecuting the Christians was published A.D. 249; and shortly after Fabianus, bishop of Rome, with a — number of his followers, was put to death. The venerable bishops of Jerusalem and Antioch died in prison the most cruel tortures were employed, and the numbers that perished are by all parties confessed to have been very considerable.
(8.) The emperor Valerian, in the fourth year of his reign, A.D. 257, listening to the suggestions of Macrinus, a magician of Egypt, was prevailed upon to persecute the Christians, on pretense that by their wicked and execrable charms they hindered the prosperity of the emperor. Macrinus advised him to perform many impious rites, sacrifices, and incantations; to cut the throats of infants, etc.; and edicts were published in all places against the Christians, who were exposed without protection to the common rage. We have the names of several martyrs, among whom were the famous St. Laurence, archdeacon of Rome, and the great St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage.
(9.) A persecution took place under the emperor Aurelian, A.D. 274; but it was so small and inconsiderable that it gave little interruption to the peace of the Church.
(10.) The last general persecution of the Christians began in the nineteenth year of the emperor Diocletian, A.D. 303. The most violent promoters of it were Hierocles the philosopher, who wrote against the Christian religion, and Galerius, whom Diocletian had declared Caesar. This latter was excited not only by his own cruelty and superstition, but likewise by his mother, who was a zealous pagan. Diocletian, contrary to his inclination, was prevailed upon to authorize the persecution by his edicts. Accordingly it began in the city of Nicomedia, whence it spread into other cities and provinces, and became at last universal. Great numbers of Christians suffered the severest tortures in this persecution, though the accounts given of it by succeeding historians are probably exaggerated. There are, however, sufficient well-authenticated facts to assure us amply of the cruel and intolerant disposition of the professors of pagan philosophy. The human imagination was, indeed, almost exhausted in inventing a variety of tortures. Some were impaled alive; some had their limbs broken, and in that condition were left to expire. Some were roasted by slow fires; and some suspended by their feet with their heads downward, and, a fire being placed under them, were suffocated by the smoke. Some had melted lead poured down their throats, and the flesh of some was torn off with shells, and others had splinters of reeds thrust under the nails of their fingers and toes. The few who were not capitally punished had their limbs and their features mutilated. It would be endless to enumerate the victims of superstition. The bishops of Nicomedia, of Tyre, of Sidon, of Emesa, several matrons and virgins of the purest character, and an immense number of plebeians, arrived at immortality through the flames of martyrdom. At last it pleased God that the emperor Constantine, who himself afterwards became a Christian, openly declared for the Christians, and published the first law in favor of them. The death of Maximin, emperor of the East, soon after put a period to all their troubles; and this was the great epoch when Christianity triumphantly got possession of the thrones of princes.
In this dreadful persecution, which lasted ten years, houses filled with Christians were set on fire, and numbers of them were tied together with ropes and thrown into the sea. It is related that 17,000 were slain in the space of one month, aid that during the continuance of this persecution, in the province of Egypt alone, no less than 144,000 Christians died by the violence of their persecutors, besides 700,000 that died through the fatigues of banishment or the public works to which they were condemned. The time fixed for the exterminating edicts, as they are called, was the Feast of Terminalia in the year 302, which historians remark was to put an end to Christianity. So complete was supposed to be the extirpation of the sect, that coins were struck and inscriptions set up recording the fact that the Christian superstition was now utterly exterminated, and the worship of the gods restored by Diocletian, who assumed the name of Jupiter; and Maximian, who took that of Hercules. In the annexed coin, from the collection of the Louvre at Paris, the obverse represents the head of the emperor Diocletian crowned with laurel, and his shoulders covered with a robe, with the legend Diocletianus Perpetuis Felix Augustus, "Diocletian, perpetual, happy, august." On the reverse is Jupiter holding in his raised hand a thunderbolt, and trampling a kneeling figure with serpent-like feet, having the legend Jovi Fulgeratori, "To Jupiter the thunderer." The prostrate figure designates Christianity, and the figure of Jupiter brandishing his thunderbolt is taken probably from Ovid's description, "Quo centimanum dejecerat igne Typhcea;" he is dashing down the Christians with the same fire as he hurled upon the Titans, who had equally but vainly tried to dispossess him of heaven. The figure of this coin is very remarkable, and has a resemblance so strong as to identify it with the Abrasax on the Gnostic gems, with serpent-like feet, supposed to be the God of the Christians. We see him here disarmed of his weapons, the very being which the Christians were supposed to adore, and this single sect and its impure idol bringing persecution on the whole of the Christian Church. In the exergue is Pecunia Romae, "The money of Rome." A coin similar to that of Diocletian was struck by his colleague, Maximilian, to commemorate an event in which he also had acted a distinguished part. In the following coin the obverse represents the naked bust of the emperor crowned with laurel, having the legend Maximianus Perpetuus Augustu., 'Maximian, perpetual, august." On the reverse is the figure of Jupiter Tonans, in nearly the same attitude, and with the same legend as the former, but having his head covered. In the prostrate figure the serpentine part of the legs is not distinct, and it has on the whole more of a human form. It may be conjectured that Diocletian wished to represent only the depraved and corrupt sectarians of which his figure is the emblem; and that his more atrocious colleague, careless of distinction, exhibited the genius of Christianity under any form as equally the object of his persecution. This, the most dreadful of all the heathen persecutions, was happily also the last; and the time shortly arrived when Christianity became the public religion of the Roman empire. Constantine was converted A.D. 312, and, according to ecclesiastical writers, his conversion was effected, like that of St. Paul, by a sensible miracle, while he was performing a journey on a public road. He immediately afterwards adopted the cross as his ensign, and formed on the spot the celebrated labarum or Christian standard, which was ever afterwards substituted for the Roman eagle. This, as Eusebius describes it, was a spear crossed by an arrow, on which was suspended a velum having inscribed on it the monogram formed by the Greek letters X and P, the initials of the name of Christ. SEE LABARUM. The coin below represents on the obverse the naked bust of the emperor crowned with a laurel wreath, and surrounded with the leg. end Flavius Valerius Constanitnus Per. petuus Felix Augustus, "Flavius Valerius Constantine, perpetual, happy, august." On the reverse is the whole-length figure of the emperor in armor, covered with a helmet, standing on the prow of a galley (a ship was the common emblem of the state among the Romnans. See the ode of Horace, O Navis); in his right hand he holds a globe, surmounted by a rayed phoenix, the adopted emblem of his family, to intimate the renovation of the empire; in his left is the labarum, inscribed with the monogram; behind is the angel of victory, directing his course; around is the appropriate legend, Feli Temporum Reparatio, "The happy reformation of the times." In the exergue is Pecunia Tereveromrum, "The money of Treves." For monographs on these pagan persecutions, see Volbeding, Index Progammaturn, p. 96 sq.
II. Christian Persecutions. — The guilt of persecution has, however, been attached to professing Christians. Had men been guided solely by the spirit and the precepts of the Gospel, the conduct of its blessed Author, and the writings and example of his immediate disciples, we might have boldly affirmed that among Christians there could be no tendency to encroach upon freedom of discussion, and no approach to persecution. The Gospel, in every page of it, inculcates tenderness and mercy; it exhibits the most unwearied indulgence to the frailties and errors of men; and it represents charity as the badge of those who in sincerity profess it. In Paul's description of this grace (1 Corinthians 13) he has drawn a picture of mutual forbearance and kindness and toleration, upon which it is scarcely possible to dwell without being raised superior to every contracted sentiment, and glowing with the most diffusive benevolence. In the churches which he planted he had often to counteract the efforts of teachers who had labored to subvert the foundation which he had laid, to misrepresent his motives, and to inculcate doctrines which, through the inspiration that was imparted to him, he discerned to proceed from the most perverted views, and to be inconsistent with the great designs of the Gospel. These teachers he strenuously and conscientiously opposed; he endeavored to show the great importance of those to whom he wrote being on their guard against them; and he evinced the most ardent zeal in resisting their insidious purposes; but he never, in the most distant manner, insinuated that they should be persecuted, adhering always to the maxim which he had laid down, that the weapons of a Christian warfare are not carnal but spiritual. He does, indeed, sometimes speak of heretics; and he even exhorts that, after expostulation with him, a heretic should be rejected, and not acknowledged to be a member of the Church to which he had once belonged. But that precept of the apostle has no reference to the persecution which it has sometimes been conceived to sanction, and which has generally been directed against men quite sincere in their belief, however erroneous they may be esteemed.
Upon a subject thus enforced by precept and example, it is not to be supposed that the first converts, deriving their notions of Christianity immediately from our Lord or his apostles, could have any opinion different in theory, at least, from that which has been now established. Accordingly we find that the primitive fathers, although in many respects they erred, unequivocally express themselves in favor of the most ample liberty as to religious sentiment, and highly disapprove of every attempt to control it. Passages from many of these writers might be quoted to establish that this was almost the universal sentiment till the age of Constantine. Lactantius in particular has, with great force and beauty, delivered his opinion against persecution: "There is no need of compulsion and violence, because religion cannot be forced; and men must be made willing, not by stripes, but by arguments. Slaughter and piety are quite opposite to each other; nor can truth consist with violence, or justice with cruelty. They are convinced that nothing is more excellent than religion, and therefore think that it ought to be defended with force; but they are mistaken, both in the nature of religion, and in proper methods to support it; for religion is to be defended, not by murder, but by persuasion; not by cruelty, but by patience; not by wickedness, but by faith. If you attempt to defend religion by blood, and torments, and evil, this is not to defend, but to violate and pollute it; for there is nothing that should be more free than the choice of religion, in which, if consent be wanting, it becomes entirely void and ineffectual." The general conduct of Christians during the first three centuries was in conformity with the admirable maxims now quoted. Eusebius has recorded that Polycarp, after in vain endeavoring to persuade Anicetus, who was bishop of Rome, to embrace his opinion as to some point with respect to which they differed, gave him, notwithstanding, the kiss of peace, while Anicetus communicated with the martyr; and Irenseus mentions that although Polycarp was much offended with the Gnostic heretics, who abounded in his days, he converted numbers of them, not by the application of constraint or violence, but by the facts and arguments which he calmly submitted for their consideration. It must be admitted, however, that even during the second century some traces of persecution are to be found. Victor, one of the early pontiffs, because the Asiatic bishops differed from him about the rule for the observance of Easter, excommunicated them as guilty of heresy; and he acted in the same manner towards a person who held what he considered as erroneous notions respecting the Trinity. This stretch of authority was, indeed, reprobated by the generality of Christians, and remonstrances against it were accordingly presented. There was, however, in this proceeding of Victor too clear a proof that the Church was beginning to deviate from the perfect charity by which it had been adorned, and too sure an indication that the example of one who held so high an office, when it was in harmony with the corruption or with the worst passions of our nature, would be extensively followed. But still there was in the excommunication rashly pronounced by the pope merely an exertion of ecclesiastical power, not interfering with the personal security, with the property, or with the lives of those against whom it was directed; and we may, notwithstanding this slight exception, consider the first three centuries as marked by the candor and the benevolence implied in the charity which judgeth not, and thinketh no evil.
It was after Christianity had been established as the religion of the empire, and after wealth and honor had been conferred on its ministers, that the monstrous evil of persecution acquired gigantic strength, and threw its blasting influence over the religion of the Gospel. The causes of this are apparent. Men exalted in the scale of society were eager to extend the power which had been entrusted to them; and they sought to do so by exacting from the people acquiescence in the peculiar interpretations of tenets and doctrines which they chose to publish as articles of faith. The moment that this was attempted the foundation was laid for the most inflexible intolerance; because reluctance to submit was no longer regarded solely as a matter of conscience, but as interfering with the interest and the dominion of the ruling party. It was therefore proceeded against with all the eagerness which men so unequivocally display when the temporal blessings that gratify their ambition or add to their comfort are attempted to be wrested from them. To other dictates than those of the Word of God the members of the Church now listened; and opinions were viewed, not in reference to that Word, but to the; effect which they might produce upon the worldly advancement or prosperity of those by whom they were avowed. From the era, then, of the conversion of Constantine we may date, if not altogether the introduction, at least the decisive influence of persecution.
III. Roman Catholic Persecution. — Numerous were the persecutions of different sects from Constantine's time to the Reformation; but when the famous Martin Luther arose, and opposed the errors and ambition of the Church of Rome, and the sentiments of this good man began to spread, the pope and his clergy joined all their forces to hinder their progress. A general council of the clergy was called: this was the famous Council of Trent, which was held for near eighteen successive years, for the purpose of establishing popery in greater splendor and preventing the Reformation. The friends of the Reformation were anathematized and excommunicated, and the life of Luther was often in danger, though at last he died on the bed of peace. From time to time innumerable schemes were suggested to overthrow the Reformed Church, and wars were set on foot for the same purpose. The Invincible Armada, as it was vainly called, had the same end in view. The Inquisition, which was established in the 12th century against the Waldenses, SEE INQUISITION, was now more effectually set to work. Terrible persecutions were carried on in various parts of Germany, and even in Bohemia, which continued about thirty years, and the blood of the saints was said to flow like rivers of water. The countries of Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary were in a similar manner deluged with Protestant blood.
1. Holland. — In the Low Countries, for many years, the most amazing cruelties were exercised under the merciless and unrelenting hands of the Spaniards, to whom the inhabitants of that part of the world were then in subjection. Father Paul observes that these Belgic martyrs were 50,000; but Grotius and others observe that there were 100,000 who suffered by the hand of the executioner. Herein, however, Satan and his agents failed of their purpose; for in the issue a great part of the Netherlands shook off the Spanish yoke, and erected themselves into a separate and independent state, which has ever since been considered as one of the principal Protestant countries.
2. France. — No country, perhaps, has ever produced more martyrs than this. After many cruelties had been exercised against the Protestants, there was a most violent persecution of them in the year 1572, in the reign of Charles IX. Many of the principal Protestants were invited to Paris, under a solemn oath of safety, upon occasion of the marriage of the king of Navarre with the French king's sister. The queen-dowager of Navarre, however, a zealous Protestant, was poisoned by a pair of gloves before the marriage was solemnized. Coligni, admiral of France, was basely murdered in his own house, and then thrown out of the window to gratify the malice of the duke of Guise: his head was afterwards cut off; and sent to the king and queen-mother; and his body, after a thousand indignities offered to it, was hung by the feet on a gibbet. After this the murderers ravaged the whole city of Paris, and butchered, in three days, above ten thousand lords, gentlemen, presidents, and people of all ranks. A horrible scene of things, says Thuanus, when the very streets and passages resounded with the noise of those that met together for murder and plunder; the groans of those who were dying, and the shrieks of such as were just going to be butchered, were everywhere heard; the bodies of the slain were thrown out of the windows; the courts and chambers of the houses were filled with them; the dead bodies of others were dragged through the streets; their blood ran through the channels in such plenty that torrents seemed to empty themselves in the neighboring river: in a word, an innumerable multitude of men, women with child, maidens, and children were all involved in one common destruction; and the gates and entrances of the king's palace were all besmeared with their blood. From the city of Paris the massacre spread throughout the whole kingdom. In the city of Meaux they threw above two hundred into jail; and after they had ravished and killed a great number of women, and plundered the houses of the Protestants, they executed their fury on those they had imprisoned; and calling them one by one, they were killed, as Thuanus expresses, like sheep in a market. In Orleans they murdered above five hundred men, women, and children, and enriched themselves with the spoil. The same cruelties were practiced at Angers, Troyes, Bourges, La Charite. and especially at Lyons, where they inhumanly destroyed above eight hundred Protestants-children hanging on their parents' necks, and parents embracing their children; putting ropes about the necks of some, dragging them through the streets, and throwing them, mangled, torn, and half dead, into the river. According to Thuanus, above thirty thousand Protestants were destroyed in this massacre, or, as others affirm, above one hundred thousand. But what aggravates these scenes with still greater wantonness and cruelty was the manner in which the news was received at Rome. When the letters of the pope's legate were read in the assembly of the cardinals, by which he assured the pope that all was transacted by the express will and( command of the king, it was immediately decreed that the pope should march with his cardinals to the church of St. Mark, and in the most solemn manner give thanks to God for so great a blessing conferred on the see of Rome and the Christian world; and that, on the Monday after, solemn mass should be celebrated in the church of Minerva, at which the pope, Gregory XIII, and cardinals were present; and that a jubilee should be published throughout the whole Christian world, and the cause of it declared to be to return thanks to God for the extirpation of the enemies of the truth and Church in France. In the evening the cannon of St. Angelo were fired to testify the public joy; the whole city was illuminated with bonfires; and no one sign of rejoicing was omitted that was usually made for the greatest victories obtained in favor of the Roman Church. SEE BARTHOLOMEWS DAY.
But all these persecutions were far exceeded in cruelty by those which took place in the time of Louis XIV. It cannot be pleasant to any man's feelings, who has the least humanity, to recite these dreadful scenes of horror, cruelty, and devastation; but to show what superstition, bigotry, and fanaticism are capable of producing, and for the purpose of holding up the spirit of persecution to contempt, we shall here give as concise a detail as possible. The troopers, soldiers, and dragoons went into the Protestants' houses, where they marred and defaced their household stuff; broke the looking-glasses and other utensils; threw about them corn and wine; sold what they could not destroy; and thus, in four or five days, the Protestants were stripper of above a million of money. But this was not the worst: they turned the dining-rooms of gentlemen into stables for horses, and treated the owners of the houses where they quartered with the greatest cruelty, lashing them about, not suffering them to eat or drink. When they saw the blood and sweat run down their faces they sluiced them with water, and, putting over their heads kettle-drums turned upside down, they made a continual din upon them, till these unhappy creatures lost their sense. At Negreplisse, a town near Montauban, they hung up Isaac Favin, a Protestant citizen of that place, by his arm-pits, and tormented him a whole night by pinching and tearing off his flesh with pincers. They made a great fire round about a boy twelve years old, who, with hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, cried out, "My God, help me!" and when they found the youth resolved to die rather than renounce his religion, they snatched him from the fire just as he was on the point of being burned. In several places the soldiers applied red-hot irons to the hands and feet of men and the breasts of women. At Nantes they hung up several women and maids by their feet, and others by their arm-pits, and thus exposed them to public view stark- naked. They bound suckling mothers to posts, and let their sucking infants lie languishing in their sight for several days and nights, crying and gasping for life. Some they bound before a great fire, and being half-roasted let them go — a punishment worse than death. Amid a thousand hideous cries, they hung up men and women by the hair, and some by their feet, on hooks in chimneys, and smoked them with wisps of wet hay till they were suffocated. They tied some under the arms with ropes, and plunged them again and again into wells; they bound others, put them to the torture. and with a funnel filled them with wine till the fumes of it took away their reason, when they made them say they consented to be Catholics. They stripped them naked, and, after a thousand indignities, stuck them with pins and needles from head to foot. In some places they tied fathers and husbands to bed-posts, and before their eyes ravished their wives and daughters with impunity They blew up men and women with bellows till they burst them. If any, to escape these barbarities, endeavored to save themselves by flight, they pursued them into the fields and woods, where they shot at them like wild beasts, and prohibited them from departing the kingdom (a cruelty never practiced by Nero or Diocletian) upon pain of confiscation of effects, the galleys, the lash, and perpetual imprisonment. With these scenes of desolation and horror the popish clergy feasted their eyes, and made only matter of laughter and sport of them.
3. England has also been the seat of much persecution. Though Wickliffe, the first Reformer, died peacefully in his bed, yet such was the malice and spirit of persecuting Rome that his bones were ordered to be dug up and cast upon a dunghill. The remains of this excellent man were accordingly dug out of the grave, where they had lain undisturbed forty-four years. His bones were burned, and the ashes cast into an adjoining brook. In the reign of Henry VIII, Bilney, Bayman, and many other Reformers, were burned; but when queen Mary came to the throne the most severe persecutions took place. Hooper and Rogers were burned in a slow fire. Saunders was cruelly tormented a long time at the stake before he expired. Taylor was put into a barrel of pitch, and fire set to it. Eight illustrious persons, among whom was Ferrar, bishop of St. David's, were sought out, and burned by the infamous Bonner, in a few days. Sixty-seven persons were this year, A. D. 1555, burned, among whom were the famous Protestants Bradford, Ridley, Latimer, and Philpot. In the following year, 1556, eighty-five persons were burned. Women suffered; and one, in the flames, which burst her womb, being near her time of delivery, a child fell from her into the fire, which being snatched out by some of the observers more humane than the rest. the magistrate ordered the babe to be again thrown into the fire and burned. Thus; even the unborn child was burned for heresy! O God, what is human nature when left to itself! Alas, dispositions ferocious as infernal then reign and usurp the heart of man I The queen erected a commission court, which was followed by the destruction of near eighty more. Upon the whole, the number of those who suffered death for the reformed religion in this reign were no less than 277 persons; of whom were five bishops, twenty-one clergymen, eight gentlemen, eighty-four tradesmen, one hundred husbandmen, laborers, and servants, fifty-five women, and four children. Besides these, there were fifty-four more under prosecution, seven of whom were whipped, and sixteen perished in prison.
Nor was the reign of Elizabeth free from this persecuting spirit. If any one refused to consent to the least ceremony in worship, he was cast into prison, where many of the most excellent men in the land perished. Two Protestant Anabaptists were burned, and many banished. She also, it is said, put two Brownists to death; and though her whole reign was distinguished for its political prosperity, yet it is evident that she did not understand the rights of conscience; for it is said that more sanguinary laws were made in her reign than in any of her predecessors', and her hands were stained with the blood of both Papists and Puritans. James I succeeded Elizabeth: he published a proclamation commanding h Protestants to conform strictly, and without any exception, to all the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. Above five hundred clergymen were immediately silenced or degraded for not complying. Some were excommunicated, and some banished the country. The Dissenters were distressed, censured, and fined in the Star Chamber. Two persons were burned for heresy, one at Smithfield and the other at Lichfield. Worn out with endless vexations and unceasing persecutions, many retired into Holland, and from thence to America. It is stated by a judicious historian that. in this and some following reigns, 22,000 persons were banished from England by persecution to America. In Charles I's time arose the persecuting Laud, who was the occasion of distress to numbers. Dr. Leighton, for writing a book against the hierarchy, was sentenced to a fine of £10,000, perpetual imprisonment, and whipping. He was whipped, and then he was placed in the pillory; one of his ears was cut off; one side of his nose slit; he was branded on the cheek with a red-hot iron with the letters S. S.; whipped a second time, and placed in the pillory. A fortnight afterwards, his sores being yet uncured, he had the other ear cut off, the other side of his nose slit, and the other cheek branded. He continued in prison till the Long Parliament set him at liberty. About four years afterwards William Prynne, a barrister, for a book he wrote against the sports on the Lord's day, was deprived from practicing at Lincoln's Inn, degraded from his degree at Oxford, set in the pillory, had his ears cut off, imprisoned for life, and fined £5000.
Nor were the Presbyterians, when their government came to be established in England, free from the charge of persecution. In 1645 an ordinance was published subjecting all who preached or wrote against the Presbyterian directory for public worship to a fine not exceeding £50; and imprisonment for a year, for the third offense, for using the Episcopal book of Common Prayer even in a private family. In the following year the Presbyterians applied to Parliament, pressing them to enforce uniformity in religion, and to extirpate popery, prelacy, heresy, schism, etc., but their petition was rejected; yet in 1648 the Parliament, ruled by them, published an ordinance against heresy, and determined that any person who maintained, published, or defended the following errors should suffer death. These errors were: 1. Denying the being of a God. 2. Denying his omnipresence, omniscience, etc. 3. Denying the Trinity in any way. 4. Denying that Christ had two natures. 5. Denying the resurrection, the atonement, the Scriptures. In Charles II's reign the Act of Uniformity passed, by which two thousand clergymen were deprived of their benefices. Then followed the Conventicle Act and the Oxford Act, under which, it is said, eight thousand persons were imprisoned and reduced to want, and many to the grave. In this reign, also, the Quakers were much persecuted, and numbers of them imprisoned. Thus we see how England has bled under the hands of bigotry and persecution; nor was toleration enjoyed until William III came to the throne, who showed himself a warm friend to the rights of conscience. The accession of the present royal family was auspicious to religious liberty; and as their majesties have always befriended toleration, the spirit of persecution has long been curbed.
4. Ireland has likewise been drenched with the blood of the Protestants, forty or fifty thousand of whom were cruelly murdered in a few days in different parts of the kingdom in the reign of Charles I. It began Oct. 23,1641. Having secured the principal gentlemen, and seized their effects, they murdered the common people in cold blood, forcing many thousands to fly from their houses and settlements naked into the bogs and woods, where they perished with hunger and cold. Some they whipped to death, others they stripped naked, and exposed to shame, and then drove them, like herds of swine, to perish in the mountains: many hundreds were drowned in rivers, some had their throats cut, others were dismembered. With some the execrable villains made themselves sport, trying who could hack the deepest into an Englishman's flesh; wives and young virgins were abused in the presence of their nearest relations; nay, they taught their children to strip and kill the children of the English, and dash out their brains against the stones. Thus many thousands were massacred in a few days, without distinction of age, sex, or quality, before they suspected their danger, or had time to provide for their defense.
5. Scotland, Spain, etc. — Besides the above-mentioned persecutions, there have been several others carried on in different parts of the world. Scotland, for many years together, was the scene of cruelty and bloodshed, till it was delivered by the monarch at the Revolution. Spain, Italy, and the valley of Piedmont, and other places, have been the seats of much persecution. Popery, we see, has had the greatest hand in this mischievous work. It has to answer, also, for the lives of millions of Jews, Mohammedans, and barbarians. When the Moors conquered Spain in the eighth century, they allowed the Christians the free exercise of their religion; but in the fifteenth century, when the Moors were overcome, and Ferdinand subdued the Moriscoes, the descendants of the above Moors, many thousands were forced to be baptized, or were burned, massacred, or banished, and their children sold for slaves; besides innumerable Jews who shared the same cruelties, chiefly by means of the infernal courts of the Inquisition. A worse slaughter, if possible, was made among the natives of Spanish America, where fifteen millions are said to have been sacrificed to the genius of popery in about forty years. It has been computed that fifty millions of Protestants have at different times been the victims of the persecutions of the papists, and put to death for, their religious opinions. Well, therefore, might the inspired penman say, that at mystic Babylon's destruction "was found in her the blood of prophets, of saints and of all that was slain upon the earth" (Re 18:24).
See Schaff, Ch. Hist. 1:156 sq.; Elliott,: Romanism; Milman, Hist. of Lat. Christ.; Leckey, Hist. of Rat.; European Mora's; Littell, Living Age, Aug. 11, 1855, .p. 330 sq.; Edinb. Rev. 63:38 sq.; Zeitschrift fur hist. Theol. 1861; North British Rev. 34:271; Limborch, Introduction to his History of the Inquisition; D'Enarolles, Memoirs of the Persecutions of the Protestants in France; Robinson, History of Persecution; Lockman, Hist. of Popish Persecution; Clark, Looking glass for Persecutors; Doddridge, Sermon on Persecution; Jortin, ibid. vol. iv, ser. 9; Fox, Martyrs; Wodrow, Hist. of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland; Neale, History of the Puritans, and of New England; Hist. of the Bohemian Persecutions; Roger Williams, Bloody Tenet; Backus, Hist. of New England; Bancroft, Hist. of the United States, vol. 1.