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originally intended. It obtained circulation amongst the peas. antry of Westphalia, Suabia, and the provinces adjoining the Rhine. These peasants were just in the condition of men whose ears would tingle at the very word liberty, whether Christian or otherwise. In their politically degraded state, it must have sounded to them as enchantingly as Paradise or Utopia would to others. They were at that time ground down under the horrible feudal system. The great bulk of them were slaves, who were bought and sold like any

other market. able article ; a class whom their masters multiplied systematically, by breeding, as jockeys do their horses, and with as little regard to the preference of the parties themselves. Their Masters might wound and maim them at pleasure, and kill them with impunity, if the murder was not complained of within a day; and, even when that happened to be the case, the offence was only punished by the payment of a small pecuniary fine. The farmers and peasants were scarcely in a better condition than the slaves. They were subjected to those horrible imposts which have always been associated with the name of the feudal system. At the best, they could merely earn for themselves, out of the soil, a wretched pittance, just sufficient for their support; all the residue went to their lords. Their state was such, that, if a farmer was taken ill, no one connected with his farm would work a stroke more, knowing very well that, if the master died, whatever was in his house or upon his farm would be forthwith seized upon under pretence of arrears for rent, or fines and payments due to the lord upon passage of the farm from one tenant to another. The little miserable protection which the laboring people, slaves, and peasantry had, was only a kind of game-law regulation, to keep their proprietors from interfering with each other's property, and had no regard whatever to the parties for whose benefit they nominally existed. This complicated oppression was too much for human nature to bear, especially when these victims of tyranny found, in Martin Luther's tract, that there was such a thing in the world as liberty. They began to consult together whether they might not


have a little of this same good thing for themselves, in their social condition as well as in their theological opinions. This intercommunication led to coöperation among them, and, at length, they mustered 300,000 men. Having attained this strength, they issued a manifesto, claiming the right of commonage, and some of the most simple and elementary privileges which are due to humanity, in a tone and temper, a spirit. of reason and moderation, which induced Voltaire to say that their manifesto would not have been unworthy of the signature of Lycurgus. In this state of things Luther was applied to. He first strongly advised the lords to be humane, then recommended the slaves to be obedient; but, as neither the one party nor the other appeared disposed to adopt this advice, - and certainly it could not be expected that the vassals should return to obedience while the lords showed no symptoms of returning humanity, - why, then Luther first rebuked them both, and afterwards advised the princes of Germany to unite in their strength to put down the insubordination. No doubt excesses were perpetrated by this people; history has not spared them; history never spares the faults or excesses of democracy, or of unsuccessful insurrection; the reason for which fact may be found in the connections and partialities of those by whom history has usually been writen. A very great part of the alleged excesses of the Anabaptists of Munster, as they have been called, because a number of them were identified with the plain and homely flocks of the Baptists of Germany, have, beyond all doubt, been grossly exaggerated, piled up in heaps before the world, who have been taught to look back upon them as the most outrageous enthusiasts and fanatics that ever scourged mankind or disgraced the face of the earth. Yet, if we go to the original document from which they started, it is plain that this was only one portion of that great serf movement throughout Europe which took place about that period; the feudal system being found every where so intolerable that the serfs, like trodden worms, writhed and rose against the oppression, having a glimmering and indistinct perception, but yet to them

an animating one, of a better state of things, wherein the equal value of each human being, and the just rights of humanity, should be acknowledged by all.”

Civil and religious freedom were never designed to flow in two separate channels. Those who, in every age, take sides with the best and broadest interests of the people, defend this point as fundamental, while time-serving and sycophantic priests always oppose it. Every man is to be esteemed who honestly endeavors to give a reason for his belief, and claims the freedom of its peaceful enjoyment, however mistaken or absurd he may be. To despise the intellect of another, to hint his want of integrity, or to ridicule his convictions of right, is but poor evidence either of philosophical judgment or Christian charity. The spirit that leagued with an emperor and excited him to murder the Anabaptists of Munster, burned Servetus at Geneva, hunted Roger Williams beyond the boundaries of civilization with no less savage rage, persecuted the elder Carroll in Maryland, and more recently burned the convent at Charlestown, as well as the churches of Philadelphia, is part and parcel of the bigoted priestcraft that dug the prisons of Venice and erected the inquisition in Spain. Milton had good reason for asserting that“ Presbyter is but old priest writ large.” The Hildebrands of Rome may soon become obsolete ; but we fear that it will take much longer to extirpate the “parish popes," who call themselves Protestant, and under whose benignant sway millions of the spiritually oppressed have had occasion to declare, as was said of the ancient Baptists of Germany, when some one doubted whether they really knew what “church authority meant : O, yes,' replied a Catholic divine ; "they know what church authority is, just as a dog knows a stick.'

Pastors who rise from the people, are chosen and sustained by the free suffrages of the people, while they toil magnanimously for the greatest good of the greatest number, are undoubtedly among the best instrumentalities for promoting the general and highest good. On the contrary, a priesthood educated apart from and arbitrarily imposed upon the masses are


the greatest obstacle to their progress, because they are themselves sworn to think only certain things, which are prescribed for them, having begun their subscription to articles and creeds, which subscription has to be renewed with every preferment they truckle for, and every prerogative of oppression they obtain. Such training and such relations are hostile to progress in every department of social improvement and public enterprise. It is in direct conflict with whatever principles belong to the best interests of humanity; for those interests are intimately allied to the largest freedom and most unobstructed advancement. But attempts to effect the permanent thraldom of mankind, however cunning and fortified with power they be, cannot longer succeed. The mind and heart of the nations are arousing. Catholic priests withhold the communion cup from the laity, and Protestant priests arrogate the right of secret legislation over the household of faith, both classes uniting to make the sources of religious emotion and divine grace special monopolies limited to their own cliques. The people, however, are coming to search after truth for themselves, make their own regulations in moral affairs as in civil, bow in base vassalage to no human creed, swear allegiance to no selfish intercessor, but take God's word as their only guide, and Christ as their only Lord.

Liberty is the word inscribed on the banner of modern civilization, and is destined soon to shine still brighter on the banner of the world's Christianization. The soul of man demands free air to breathe, a wide and lofty area whereon to expand its faculties, and will remain no longer cramped. The Bible, fairly opened and fully translated before all ranks and conditions of mankind, with one Spirit to teach and one Mediator to atone and intercede, is the highest boon we can possess ; and this, it is certain, the whole world will soon enjoy. Providence is loudly proclaiming that the shepherd was made for his flock, not the flock for the shepherd. Crumbling thrones, dispersed dynasties, rending chains and exploding revolutions in every zone, proclaim in tones of thunder, “ God hath made of one blood, and for the enjoyment of equal rights, all nations who dwell upon the face of the earth." The reverberations of this celestial proclamation will continue to roll onward with deepening tones, amid the blazings of still brighter splendors, till the human mind shall endure no fetter, and the church of Christ crouch to no priest.




We have traced some of the baleful influences which encumber and degrade Christianity when subjected to the control of kings, popes, bishops, or priests. In this last discussion of the present series, we propose to consider the church without an aristocrat. We hold that aristocracy was the first foe of the church, has ever been but a hypocritical friend, and is a perpetual impediment as well as consummate disgrace.

The first and greatest foe Christianity encountered was aristocratic malignity and contempt. To meet and subdue this at the outset, our Savior proclaimed the universal law of human relationship, and, at a single stroke, reduced all mankind to one level. He recognized no higher personage in morals than our

neighbor,” no other rule of conduct than love, and taught that, when we have discharged this duty to our neighbor," we have fulfilled our obligation to all mankind; for we can owe our equals neither the allegiance of flattery nor any service that is constrained. Christ was the first to declare all men royal compeers and nobles by nature, each one sent on earth to do that for which he is fitted, and, with noble independence, to fill the niche he was ordained to fill. In tones that “

open every cell where memory sleeps," he would have man speak to his brother man with magnanimous esteem as a sovereign like himself, and never pour forth libations to church and state,

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