Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 6.djvu/194

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Jerusalem had invoked upon themselves, prayed for forgiveness for those who knew not what they did in consummating the sacrifice that was offered up for the transgressions of the world.

It was not by persecution, but despite of it—despite of imprisonment, and exile, and spoliation, and shame, and death, despite the dungeon, the wheel, the bed of steel, and the couch of fire—that the Christian religion made its irresistible and superhuman way. And is it not repugnant to common reason, as well as to the elementary principles of Christianity itself, to hold that it is to be maintained by means diametrically the reverse of those by which it was propagated and diffused? But, alas! for our frail and fragile nature, no sooner had the professors of Christianity become the copartners of secular authority than the severities were resorted to which their persecuted predecessors had endured. The Jew was selected as an object of special and peculiar infliction.

The history of that most unhappy people is, for century after century, a trail of chains and a track of blood. Men of mercy occasionally arose to interpose in their behalf. St. Bernard—the great St. Bernard, the last of the Latin Fathers—with a most pathetic eloquence took their part. But the light that gleamed from the ancient turrets of the Abbey of Clairvaux was transitory and evanescent. New centuries of persecution followed; the Reformation did nothing for the Jew. The infallibility of Geneva was sterner