« הקודםהמשך »
which it was the cause, as Judea was the theatre. And we may here cast a slight glance upon one of the most eventful periods in the history of manthough nothing more would be needful than to name the crusades, the very mention of which is necessarily associated in the mind of every reader, with the overthrow of many.
When superstition maintained its dominion over the minds of men, a king might plead in vain for a falling empire: but they who revered the relic of a saint more than they honoured an earthly crown, could not suffer the tombs of martyrs to remain in the possession of infidels; and they who venerated to adoration the smallest fragment of the “ true cross,” and whose fiercest passions such relics could not allay, were roused to indignation and vengeance at the tidings, that the holy sepulchre was trodden under the feet of the enemies of Christ. Each patron-saint would have frowned on his adopted country, had his native land, consecrated by the living presence of so many saints, the dust of which was sacred, and the very name of which was holy, been left without avengers, to cleanse it of the heathens. “A new spirit,” says Gibbon, “ had arisen of religious chivalry and papal domination: a nerve was touched of exquisite feeling, and the sensation vibrated to the heart of Europe.”
An emperor became a suppliant in vain. But he who did according to his will, and who magnified himself above all, issued his mandate, and Europe obeyed. Councils of previously unparalleled magnitude, at which pope Urban II. presided, were held at Placentia and Clermont. “ His topics were obvious, his exhortation was vehement, his success inevitable. The orator was interrupted by the shouts of thousands, who with one voice, and in their rustic idiom, exclaivied aloud; “God wills it, God wills it.”_" It is indeed the will of God,” replied
the pope ; "and let this memorable word, the inspiration surely of the Holy Spirit, be for ever adopted as your cry to buttle, to animate the devotion and courage of the champions of Christ. His cross is the symbol of your salvation; wear it, a red, a bloody cross, as an external mark on your breasts or shoulders, as a pledge of your sacred and irrevocable engagement."* — The effect was electric. Europe was in arms. And multitudes from every region were soon on the inarch to Palestine-a red, bloody cross their badge.—But it was not thus with an “external mark,” but bearing the cross in another sense, and with hearts touched with the blood of sprinkling—it was not thus, breathing vengeance and proclaiming war on earth, but preaching salvation, peace with heaven and good will to men-it was not with a blood-red cross, but with the gospel of peace that the true champions of the cross first came forth from Palestine-or that Paul and his fellow-labourers first passed from Asia to Europe, when he saw in a vision a man of Macedonia, saying, come over and help us. In a different spirit from theirs did the crusaders go from Europe unto Asia ; and different was the end and object of their labours from that of the faithful followers of Jesus. The apostles, who had looked literally upon the cross, and upon Christ crucified, and who received the last command of their risen Lord,.“ Go ye into all nations and preach the gospel unto every creaturė," -began the spiritual warfare which shall never cease-till nation shall no more rise up against nation, and men shall learn war no more. A tentmaker of. Tarsus was added to their number. Inspired indeed with the Holy Spirit, they went forth from Judea with other weapons than carnal; paganism fell before them; and men learned at their
* Gibbon's Hist. vol. x. p. 10, c. 52.
word to love one another, and even to love those who hated them. But when millions, headed by kings and princes, flocked to Judea, in crusades, without a semblance to theirs, all the power of Europe could not ultimately retain one spot in Asia. He who magnified himself above every god, to whose nod monarchs were obsequious, and whose foot they kissed, could not finally resist the king of the North who came against him and robbed him of half his spiritual dominion: and the history of five crusades, which no earthly efforts ever surpassed, may be told in fewer words, and is summed up by the prophet, as one of the things noted in the Scripture of truth-many were overthrown. And instead of any true triumph to the cross resulting from the bloody crusades, the knights and kings of Christendom were for ever put to shame by the nobler Saladin—an honest believer, though in a faith that is fal-e.
It is not easy to define—as it is not defined—who or what were the many that were overthrown, aster the entering of the Turks into Judea—whether people, armies, or even nations.—The dead were numbered by myriads. Saracens, Turks, Egyptians, Fatimites, Mamelukes, and Catholics without number from almost every quarter in Europe, were successively, and often alternately, overthrown. And that one word, with many prefixed to it, is, for the space of two centuries, a continued history of the crusades,—the sequel of the first conquest of Jerusalem by the Turks. Judea was again bathed in blood, without being purged from iniquity. And all the combatants, on whatever side, fought in vain for the sepulchre of Jesus, as if they had been fighting for any other tơmb cut out of a rock, while they were not dead unto sin, and never washed their blood-red cross into whiteness with the water of Siloam, which flows beside Gethsemane and Calvary. Their false contention for the cross was such that to be overthrown was still their doom; till Mahometans finally kept the conquest they had won, and Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles; and heathens, without a challenge, possessed it again, and held the field as their own on which many were overthrown.
The Seljukian dynasty was early subdivided into four Sultanies,* and these were bound for a season. The progress of the Turkish conquests was stayed, after they first entered the glorious land, by the consequent concussion between Europe and Asia ; and their own power did not remain unbroken. But the race of Othman arose to replace that of Seljuk; and their former career of conque-t was renewed and extended till their union of many countries into one kingdom was established and consolidated.
But although the king of the north was to stretch forth his hand over the countries, as before he had come like a whirlwind, and had overflowed and passed over, yet even as the kings of Europe could not keep possession of Judea, a small portion, little, compared to his dominions, like Naboth's vineyard in the royal gardens of the king of Israel, was to be free from his dominion, and to escape out of the hand that should be stretched over the countries.
But (and) these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. This thing that is noted has to be tried with the same precision as the rest, although the very statement of it implies the greatest definiteness and precision.
A race of monarchs,—each, as before, throughout all the prophecy, retaining the generic name of his order, and designated the king of the north-arose to grace or tarnish the Turkish annals of destruction and conquest, according to the various judgments that may be formed of kings, as they regard either the glory of God or their own, as scarcely any other nation, but that of the Turks, could either boast of or blush for. Each king was a conqueror.
* See below on Rev. ix. 14.
To stretch their hand farther and farther over the countries was the aim and work of them all. The cast was long unbroken; and they followed successively the occupation of their fathers. Othman, Orchan, Amurath, Bajazet, Mahoinet, or Mahmoud, are names of fearful import and terrible recollections, at which Europe and Asia trembled. And these are the kings who, after the Turks under Togrul Bey and Alp Arsan, the descendants of Seljuk, had first come against the church and Roman Empire in Asia like a whirlwind, and had overflowed and passed over countries,—and after the crusades had spent their fury and the overthrow of many from that cause had ceased, conquering nation after nation from the borders of the Oxus, Jaxartes, and Euphrates to the banks of the Danube, and from Persia to Poland, fixed the seat of their empire in the chosen city of Constantine; held Babylon, Syria, Armenia, all the countries of Asia Minor, Romania, Wallachia, Moldavia, Macedon, Epirus, and Greece, as provinces of Turkey; and stretched their hands over the countries from the Caspiait to the Mediterranean, and from the Persian Gulph to the Adriatic Sea. It is needless to trace or define the order of these conquests which are comprehended in one general expression, including them all; and the task besides would be superfluous, for the extent to which the Turkish empire reached may best be seen in a map of the world, over which the reader
may stretch his hand, as the king of the north stretched his over the countries.
Yet there was a point, scarcely perceptible in such a view, which, though surrounded by subju