A POWER and a terror in the world has the word Sacrilege ever been. They who can use it with effect have already won their cause. To be effective, it requires only faith on the part, not of those who use it, but of those against whom it is used. There are indications that the particular direction of the religious instinct which has hitherto given to the term all its force, is undergoing a modification. There are many minds now for which the term no longer possesses a meaning or implies any distinct idea. The charge of ‘Sacrilege,’ once worst of crimes, is falling into disuse and oblivion as an engine of terror.
In the belief that man is competent to make gifts to the Deity, but unable to recall them without incurring the utmost degree of the Divine wrath, consisted the energy of the terrible phrase. In the rise and growth of the idea that all things whatsoever are necessarily and inalienably the Divine property, inasmuch as God is, by His very definition, the universal Creator, Sustainer, and Possessor; and that, as man can neither add to nor detract from the sum of His wealth, what is meant by man’s giving to God is that he gives to what he deems his own best service; – herein consists the canker that is threatening the very idea of Sacrilege with decay.
If it be an onward step for humanity when, ceasing to draw a broad distinction between the Universe of Being and its creating and sustaining Principle, man comes to identify God with his own best, it must also be an advance when he deems
that which is most for the service of God to be also that which is most for his own good.
Unfortunately, much difference of opinion exists in the world as to what is most
for the service of God, and, consequently, of man. In few countries, probably,
has this difference of opinion led to such calamitous results as, of late years,
The rough-and-ready manner in which
It was not to be expected that his view of the matter should be accepted by the
clerical party in
in leaving an atom of its wealth in the hands of the Church, at least so long as it acknowledged a foreign sway.
It was unfortunate for
When it is said that the question which had for years afflicted
But while the Mexicans are bigoted Catholics, they are far from being orthodox ones; that is, putting the capital out of the question. It had been a vast satisfaction to Maynard to find himself, in the course of his antiquarian researches, brought upon traces of the ancient ritual of the Aztecs. Guided by a variety of considerations, by their religious, literary, and architectural remains, as well as by their own distinct traditions, he had been led to believe that the same race which had spread westward and southward from the Hindoo Kúsh, had also sent a detachment by way of North-eastern Asia to the American continent, which had gradually worked its way down into
Whether or not Juarez contemplated retreating so far upon the old tracks as to
endeavour to restore the national faith of his own people together with their
independence, it would be premature to conjecture; but he certainly did not
hesitate to inflict as much damage upon the fabric imported from
Thus the peculiar views of the President combined with the exigencies of the State to make the antagonism between him and the clerigos complete. The charge of ‘robbing God’ fell harmless upon a man who did not care to deprive it of its sting by devoting even a portion of the property reclaimed from the Church, to such ‘giving to the poor’ as might fairly be accounted a lending to the Lord.’ Even if he had so devoted it, there is little reason to suppose that the rancour of those upon whom restitution was thus forced, would have been mitigated.
A traveller who, venturing to penetrate to the city of Mexico in the autumn of
1863, was in possession of the clue to the complicated intrigues which had led
to the entry of the French into the capital in the summer just past, was not
likely to be at a loss to comprehend the difficulties of the position in which
all parties stood towards each other. Probably, of all who were concerned, the
Under the French General, Forey, the clerical party, headed by the Archbishop of Mexico and backed by a few of the ‘notables,’ had formally invited the Austrian Prince to assume the crown; a proceeding that would be nearly paralleled were the bishops of the late Irish Church establishment and a few ultra-Protestant representative peers, representing a few other and non-representative peers, to take upon themselves to invite a foreign sovereign to become king of Ireland. Maximilian himself saw the absurdity of the proceeding,
hesitation led to
This was the juncture in October, when Forey was superseded by General Bazaine. Such was the energy and rapidity of the new commander’s movements that the forces formed for the defence of the republic under the Juarist generals were overthrown in all directions; and in six weeks the desired assent to the Archduke’s election, obtained from the principal towns.
It was during this campaign that Edmund Noel arrived in the city of
It was evident to Noel that the prospect of selling mining property in
and the old
General, Solas, made a point of agreeing with him. But the remaining member was
a no less important and holy personage than the Archbishop of Mexico himself;
and his intractability and intrigues in the interest of his order were so
glaring and mischievous that, rather than abolish the Council altogether, his
colleagues determined to abolish him. It was accordingly signified to Monsenor
Bastida, by the abrupt removal of his guard of honour from the archiepiscopal
palace, that he was no longer recognised as a member of the Council of the
Regency. Matters went on more quietly after this; and the intelligence that soon
followed of the complete success of the campaign, gave Noel reason to believe
that the expected revival of tranquillity and trade, might enable him to dispose
of the mine without accepting a particle of Church property at the hands of