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186 APPLICATION OF [BOOK I.
then to be doled out to the famishing people of the British islands. Now, let the high and noble of the land mark this well, and let the entire bench of bishops confirm the unholy tax, laid on with the vain expectation of its being able to neutralize a law of society. The attempt is futile. The nation remonstrates against this tax—it protests against the ignoble and paltry imposition of a small piece of silver on an article of necessary food.
But in the successful resistance to this tax, the consequences are immeasurably more important to this nation, and to the whole civilized world, than would appear from the mere saving of a minute fraction of money on a pound of bread. Great things are involved in the issue.
In the first place, there will be the triumph of justice over the most cruel fiscal despotism that ever cramped the energies of a great nation; then will follow liberty of commerce, by the downfall of barriers which had been raised in order to throw into the hands of a few what belonged to the million. An impetus will be given by the event, and a forward march taken by the British people, who want only to be freed from trammels, to accomplish whatever they deliberately plan for their own improvement Commercial freedom will increase and strengthen political liberty and political power; and the inhabitants of other countries will give their sympathies, and be glad to accept a fair exchange of trading advantages. Mutual interest is the grand bond of nations, as of individuals.
But there is a blindness and an infatuation in the possessors of power which may operate violently in opposition, and the inflammable matter may be compressed the deeper into the fabric of society by the superincumbent weight In this case, time and events will again add to the history of mankind another convulsion, to sweep the earth. Beginning with Christianity the greatest of all revolutions, Europe and America are indebted for their liberty and civilization to a series of revolutions originating in resistance to harsh or unjust taxation.
The Author of Christianity paid under protest, or with a reserve, the tax of half a shekel to the sanctuary.* A
* " And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tributemoney came to PeteKand said, Doth not your Master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? Of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of Strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first comes up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take, and give unto them for me and thee."
There is in the miracle performed on this occasion, something quite different from all the other miracles done by Christ, as we have here exhibited a supernatural power to obtain a small piece of money. The means employed were out of all proportion to the end accomplished. As the receiver of the tribute first applied to Peter, whom Jesus "prevented" from paying, it would appear from the expression, that Peter really had money sufficient to satisfy the demand. It is therefore to be inferred that there is more in the transaction than meets the eye, and the miracle was performed to attract attention to it. In the marginal notes to Bagster's Comprehensive Bible, the word "tribute'" in the text is explained by "Didracbma," a Greek coin of the value of Is. 3d. sterling, or half a shekel, which appears to have been the poll-tax paid by every male adult among the Jews to the Sanctuary.
And the words " a piece of money " are translated a " stater, or half an ounce of silver, in value 2s. 6d." It thus appears that the money found in the mouth of the fish was the sum required for the tax of two persons. Now this tax was originally imposed by Moses for an offering to the Lord, " to make an atonement for your souls." But the necessity for this tax did not exist in the case of the Author of Christianity, and he merely gave the money, " lest he should offend tbem" by the refusal to pay. He paid the tax on reasons of expediency, or with protest; and the lesson to be derived by nations from the circumstance is this. That a fiscal, or any other law, ought to be abrogated, as soon as the circumstances which gave rise to it
thousand years later, the tax of a bezant roused all Europe to pour forth its population to avenge oppression. The taxes and plunderings of King John of England produced the charter of liberty. An illegal tax of four ounces of silver stirred the English people to arms, to expel their king, and change the succession to the throne. An imposition of a tax of a small piece of copper on an article of food, drove the Americans into a rebellion which terminated in their independence. Oppressive taxation, long continued, excited the French nation to an inhuman energy of revolution. Spain is decaying under a fiscal system which dries up the sources of national wealth, and futurity has yet to unfold what shall result from the efforts of the British nation to free itself from an intolerable load and distribution of taxation; and the tax of a few shillings on a quarter of wheat, will yet rouse society over the habitable globe.
have ceased to operate. The British statute-book contains many laws of such a nature, and, on this principle, the law of septennial parliaments is not binding on the consciences of the citizens of Great Britain and Ireland; as it was passed in order to concentrate the power of the country to suppress a rebellion more than 120 years ago, but has been retained in order to consolidate a fiscal power greater than ever weighed down a nation From the
MS. of The Economics of the Mosaic and Christian Dispensations, by the Author.
THE GREAT REvOLUTION.
THE INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY INTO EUROPE,IN ACORN-LADEN
Theoloigans and historians have recognized in the establishment and extension of great empires for the blessing or curse of mankind, the hand of an overruling Providence; and certain it is that a comprehensive view of sacred and profane history confirms the truth of the opinions entertained on this subject It appears that great results in the affairs of mankind have been brought about only by means of governments resting on the resources of vast masses of population, and, according to the wisdom, justice, and humanity—or barbarism, tyranny, and cruelty—displayed, has been the happiness or the misery of the people subject to those governments. In the prophetic books of the Bible are to be seen frequent denouncements of calamities and destruction on nations for their crimes; and, on the other hand, there are predictions of prosperity, happiness, and power, to nations in carrying forward beneficent designs.
Without fixing attention on the great empires which preceded the establishment of the Roman dominion, it will only be necessary to refer to the widely extended power of the Romans, as a signally marked instance in the history of the world of a great civilizing influence in existence at a period when it pleased the Deity to reveal to mankind a knowledge of his will and it will be perceived that that empire afforded the facility of spreading the knowledge of the Christian religion.
In the itineraries, or narratives of the proceedings of the Apostles, are to be found the accounts of the facilities which the vessels employed in the free commerce carried on, afforded to those holy men in their voyages from port to port, in Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, and perhaps to Spain, and even to the British islands. So frequent, indeed, was the commercial intercourse between the various ports on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, that Saint Paul and his companions, in their missions appeared to have found no difficulty in getting conveyance from place to place whenever wanted. There are some remarkable circumstances connected with his memorable voyage to Rome, to make his appeal to Caesar, and to hold communion with the Christians already established in that city. He sailed in a vessel belonging to Adramyttium, from Cesarea to Myra, a port of Asia Minor, about midway between the islands of Cyprus and Crete, and at Myra he took his passage in an Alexandrian vessel bound for Italy; and, what will appear very striking to those who view the prohibition by the laws of this country, of a foreign trade in corn as antiChristian, is the fact, that the cargo of the ship in which the great Apostle embarked, Consisted Of Wheat. The incidents of that miraculous voyage, are well known ; and what will give an idea of the many opportunities of voyaging by trading-vessels at that period, is to perceive that Saint Paul found in the creek or harbour, where he was wrecked, another vessel of Alexandria lying weather-bound on her passage to a port in Italy; and, in that good ship