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murder, he might, with the as. the experiment. The priest, or sistance of his kindred, within a some other person in his stead, year, pay the fine for his crime. took up one of the pieces of wood, The fines were fixed by law ac. and if it happened to be the one cording to the rank of the person marked with the cross, the acmurdered. Even the king's head cused person was pronounced inhad a fixed price, as well as that nocent; if otherwise, guilty. of a baron, a bishop, or a pri
The ordeal was another of the vate citizen.
barbarous methods adopted at Gangs of robbers greatly dis- that period. Boiling water or turbed the peace of the country. red hot iron was consecrated by The praetice of perjury in courts prayers, masses, fastings and exof justice had become so preva. orcisms. The accused person lent, that witnesses had to ap- must take up a stone, sunk to a pear with compurgators, that is, certain depth in the boiling wamen who knew nothing about the ter, or carry the hot iron to a facts, but who would swear that certain distance; his hand was they believed the witnesses spoke then bound up for three days, and the truth. The practice of ju- the covering sealed. If, at the dicial combat, was also ad. end of the three days, his hand mitted a remedy against appeared to be hurt by the fire, perjury.
A man, who had a he was thought to be guilty; but cause in court, might, if he pleas- if he had recei: ed no injury, he ed, challenge a witness, or even was pronounced innocent. the judge, if he suspected his in- Another method of trial was by tegrity; and the person challeng- cold water.
The accused person ed was obliged to fight. The was bound hand and foot, and successful combatant was sup- cast into a river or a pond; in posed to be in the right, and the this situation, if he floated, he vanquished person in the wrong; was deemed guilty, if he sunk, for the combat was regarded as a he was declared innocent. solemn appeal to God for a de- Several other methods were cision.
adopted, equally absurd; such as In those days of darkness and walking blindfold among hot barbarity, our ancestors adopted plough shares, and the trial by various other modes of determin- bread and cheese, consecrated ing whether an accused or sus- with abundance of ceremonies, pected person was guilty, or not and administered with dreadful guilty. One was the decision by imprecations. the cross.
After an accused per- Let it now be asked, Would son had cleared himself by oath, not well educated children at this he then took two pieces of wood, day, of ten years old, readily perone of which had on it the sign ceive the folly of such methods of the cross; these he wrapped of deciding questions of right and up together in wool, and placed wrong, or guilt and innocence? them on on altar, or on some cel. Yet such were the modes and ebrated relic. Solemn prayer customs of our ancestors, supwas then made for the success of ported by the elergy and the magVol. IV, No. 3.
istrates? Is it a sin to suppose quality was their military cours that the people of the present age, which yet was not supportage are more enlightened, and ed by discipline or conduct. more virtuous, than such ances- Their want of fidelity to the tors:
prince, or to any trust reposed in In November, A. D. 1002, was ihem, appears strongly in the the time of the great massacre of history of their later period; and the Danish inhabitants of Britain, their want of humanity in all by the Saxons. On hearing the their history." news, Swein, king of Denmark, Such were our ancestors gen. vowed revenge. He soon sent an erally, but about 750 years ago; army which spread desolation and having concisely traced their in England, and finally made a history from the days of Julius conquest of the country. Canute, Cesar, to the commencement of a Danish prince, became king of the reign of William the conquerEngland. The Danes however or, we must now pause, and reheld the government but about quest the reader's patience, till 28 years; it then fell into the be can see the next number of hands of Edward the confessar, this inquiry. We may however who was of the Saxon line. In remark, that probably very few 1066, the Saxon government was readers after this survey, will again overturned by William, wish to trace back to an earlier duke of Norman:y, who has since period than the eleventh century, been called William the conquer. to find a race of ancestors more
enlightened, or more virtuous, The almost incessant wars in than the present generation. If Britain, and the frequent revolu- it may be truly said of them in tions in the government, bad a general, at that period, that powerful tendency to render the “their best quality was their milipeople ferocious and blood thirs. tary courage," they must have ty. With regard to the man. been a barbarous race of beings. ners of the Anglo Saxons," says For so far is military courage Mr. Hume,
we can say little, from being a Christian virtue, but that they were in general a
that it is more common to the rude, uncultivated people; iguo. worst of men than to the best; rant of letters, unskilled in the and there is nothing in it more mechanic arts, unfamed to subo amiable, or more Christlike, than mission under law and govern- there is in the intrepid ferocity ment, addicted to intemperance, of the tiger. riot and - disorder. Their best
THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND BENEVOLENCE OF PRIMITIVE
CHRISTIANS. The earliest Christians seem known; and to have exhibited a to have been bound together by model of union, affection, faith ties, stronger than any
before and zeal, which has justly excit
ed the admiration of subsequent as we should say, in the colleeages.
tor's office. We may well supIt has been the unadvised prac- pose, that this was not entirely tice of too many of the advocates unprofitable, as we are told soun for Christianity, to represent in afterwards by Luke, that he too humiliating a manner, the made a great feast, to which Jecircumstances of the first con- sus and his companions were inverts, to enhance, as they have vited, as well as Matthew's ac. imagined, the impediments which quaintance and his brethren in existed to the first reception of office. But whatever may be this divine religion. It appears supposed to have been the worldnot to be true, either that all the ly circumstances of Jesus and disciples of our Lord, or that all his disciples, he did not suffer the first converts of his apos- his little company to forget the tles, were men of illiterate minds poor. They had a common or indigent circumstances. Had stock for these and other purthey been all illiterate, the his- poses; yet to show how little tory of our Savior would not they depended on this for their have been written with such au- support, it was committed to the affected simplicity of language, care of Judas, who seems to have and in some cases, such purity been iu the habit of purloining and elegance. And I think it is from this little treasure of our clear, that some of the earliest Savior's beneficence. followers of our Lord were by If we consider the situation of no means dependent on the char- other followers of Jesus, we find ity of others.
that Mary Magdalene was able James and John left their ship to minister to him of her suband their hired servants, when stance; and if we may judge they began to follow Jesus. Pe- from the quantity of spices, . ter had a house at Capernaum, which were prepared by his fol. where Savior sometimes lowers to eubalın his dead body, dwelt; and he, with his brother they could not have been in very Andrew, said to Jesus, “We have indigent circumstances. left all and followed thee;" which Mary, the sister of Lazarus, implies, that he and the other was so profuse in the use of the apostles, in whose name they precious ointment, which sle spoke, had something to leave. poured on the head of Jesus, just
It is said, that John was a re- before his death, as 10 excite the lation of Caiaphas, the high murmurs of bystanders. Joseph priest, and our Savior, when he of Arimathea, who begged the was on the cross, committed his body of our Lord, was a rich mother to the care of John, and man, and Jesus was buried in he took her to bis own home. It bis sepulchre. And the invitais hence natural to conclude, that tions, which our Savior received he was able to provide for her. to the tables of the rich phari.
Matthew was called to be a sees, prove that neither le nor disciple of Jesus, when sitting at his disciples could have been rethe receipt of custom; that is, garded in a contemptible light,
on aocount of extreme depen.' it is a little extraordinary, that dence and want,
this state of things dtd not lonWe find also that after the ger continue that we have no first effusion of the Spirit, a traces of it in the subsequent prodigious number of converts history, and that it was not imi. were made, consisting of Jews tated in some of the other churchfrom all parts of the world, who és, which the apostles afterhad come to Jerusalem to wor- wards planted. But there are ship. The picture we have of some circumstances in this very them represents them, as united history of the Acts, which may in affection, and profuse in their lead us perhaps to a difierent liberality. So great was their conclusion. number, that they probably found That this community of goods it necessary to divide into small. was merely the result of sponer societies for worship and com- taneous and ardent generosity, munion. The apostles, we are and not of any law of the socie. told, were in the habit of break. ty founded by the apostles, is, ing bread from house to house, I think, to be clearly inferred that is, as I conceive, the differ from the story of Ananias. He ent houses where they met for was one of the new converts, and worship. They are described as agreeably to the prevailing exunited together in the purest af. ample had sold his possessions; fection, and animated by the most but instead of faithfully acunbounded generosity. Though knowledging the amount of the in such a number of converts, money, which he had received, there must have been men from he attempted to deceive the all raoks of life, yet we are told, apostles, and to keep back part that none of them lacked. For of the price; and by offering a as many as were possessors of part for the whole, he hoped to houses or lands, sold them; nei. retain his standing as a member ther said any of them that aught of the society of Christians, and of the things which he possess to be maintained out of the comed was his own; but they had mon stock. The consequence of all things common, and distribu- , this prevarication, which is calltion was made to every man ac- ed lying to the Holy Spirit, is cording as he had need.
well known. The language of It has been supposed that in Peter on this oceasion is worthy this primitive circle of converts of remark-Why hath satan fillat Jerusalem, there was a liter- ed thy heart to lie unto the Holy al community of goods, and that Spirit, to keep back part of the their whole wealth was thrown price of the land? Whilst it reinto a common stock, and placed mained, was it not thy owo? And at the disposal of the apostles; after it was sold, was it not in and that this was not a mere thy power? Why hast thou con: voluntary act, but expected as a ceived this thing in thy heart? thing of course from all the con- thou hast not lied unto men, but verts on their professing Chris- unto God. That is, you have at. tianity. If this were the fact, tempted to deceive the Spirit,
part of it.
with which we are miraculous. pression ought to be explained ly endowed. This extraordinary by other clauses. They had all story, I think, proves there was things in common. Why? not beno law binding the early converts cause they were under any mor. to give up their estates to the al or positive obligation to republic service, and that Ananias, linquish their estates; but because under the pretence of generosity, “the multitude of them who be. bad indulged a fraudulent, vain, lieved were of one heart and one and perhaps covetous design. soul." Neither was there any His crime was not sacrilege, as among them ibat lacked. Why? some have supposed; he had because they did not consider that made no vow to throw his pos- aught of the things which they sessions into a common stock, nr, possessed, was their own. Thes in other words, to devote them were animated with a fervor of to God; but it was gross hypoc. generosity, and a strong faith in risy and prevarication. It was that religion which taught then a pretence, that he had bestowed to look to another world for their upon the church the whole price recompense. They felt what of his land, when he was con- they had never felt before, that scious that he had detained a there were ties stronger than
It appears, I think, those of interest or of copsan. that the severity of this early guinity; in short, they gave an miracle was necessary in the in- early and a most illustrious ex. fant state of Christianity, to pre- ample of the disinterested spirit vent any persons from joining of Christianity. The
poor, the new commuvity from sinis. whom they had before disregardter views and worldly purposes, ed and despised, they now conwith the hope of obtaining, a
sidered as heirs of the same share of the distributions, which hopes with themselves; brethren were made. It is said to have of the same generous Master, struck terror into them all; it and entitled to all the relief and must have satisfied them that all consolation which their rich fel. fraud might be instantly detecl• low Christians could give them. ed; that none but the sincere and This spirit continued in an upright should dare to profess eminent degree in the Christian themselves converts to a cause, church. The history of the Acts which appeared to be under the and Paul's Epistles, furnish maimmediate protection of the ny other instances of the char. Searcher of hearts. And it al- acters of the first Christian comso illustrates in the most singu. munities. The whole world seemlar manner the
unaided ed to them but one family, and propagation and success of Chris. this primitive church of Jesus, tianity, from conviction unfeign- which had set the example of ed and motives uncorrupted. Christian generosity, was after
But it may be replied-is it wards indebted to the distant pot said that the first converts churches for relief, when they had all things in common? Yes- themselves were suffering under but it would scem that this ex- calamity. From distant provin