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scorpions ; they were a woe, the more dreadful that it was enduring ; but, though issuing from the same region, they were, in striking contrast, unlike to locusts who destroy every green thing on every spot on which they alight, and the first woe bore no resemblance, in that same respect, to the first trumpet. No sooner had Abubeker (A. D. 632) restored the unity of faith and government, than he despatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes.
« « This is to acquaint you that I intend to send the true believers into Syria to take it out of the hand of the infidels' and I would have you know that the fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God.' His messengers returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardour, which they had kindled in every province; the camp of Medina was successively filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action, complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions, and accused, with impatient murmurs the delays of the caliph. As soon as their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking. His instructions to the chiefs of the Syrian army were inspired by the war. like fanaticism, which advances to seize, and affects to despise the objects of earthly ambition. Remember,' said the successor of the prophet,' that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of Paradise : avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women or children. Destroy no palm trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your word. As you go on you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way; let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries; and you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their
sculls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute.”*
It is not said in prophecy or in history that the more humane injunctions were as scrupulously obeyed as the ferocious mandate. But it was so commanded them. And the preceding are the only instructions recorded by Gibbon, and given by Abubeker to the chiefs whose duty it was to issue the commands to all the Saracen hosts. The commands are alike discriminating with the prediction ; as if the caliph himself had been acting in known as well as direct obedience to a higher mandate than that of mortal man-and in the very act of going forth to fight against the religion of Jesus, and to propagate Mahometanism in its stead, he repeated the words which it was foretold in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, that he would say. It was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. The only mark for the lance was the badge of the priest and of the monk. The order which superstition exalted, was made, by an opposite and wild fanaticism, the very butt of the woe..
In these times, as in every age, there were some who had the seal of God in their foreheads : and though they were subjected to trials and persecution because of their faith, yet the avengers of idolatry, the rod stretched forth against the guilty which cleft the sculls of those who were not sealed, did not reach the place where they were, nor touch a hair of their heads. After the conquest of Spain, when the Saracens, having passed the Pyrenees, “ proceeded
without delay to the passage of the Rhone,”* which brought them near to the borders of Piedmont, and the valleys of the Waldenses, and when more than half the kingdom of France was in their hands, the first great check, in western Europe, was given to the hordes of Arabs, and, after a desultory combat of six days they were defeated by Charles Martel on the seventh. And meeting their fated doom when they attempted to extend their commissioned charge,66 and having retired to their camp, after a bloody field-in the disorder and despair of the night, the various tribes of Yemen and Damascus, of Africa and Spain, were provoked to turn their arms against each other; the remains of their host was suddenly dissolved, and each emir consulted his safety by an hasty and speedy retreat.”+
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months ; and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man, ver. 5. Their constant incursions into the Roman territory, and frequent assaults on Constantinople itself, were an unceasing torment throughout the empire, which yet they were not able effectually to subdue, notwithstanding the long period, afterwards more directly alluded to, during which they continued, by unremitting attacks, grievously to afflict an idolatrous church, of which the pope was the head. As described by Daniel, they “ pushed at him.” But they did not overflow and pass over and fix the seat of their empire in Europe, as another and succeeding power was destined to do. The first woe was not to be the last to Christendom. Two others were to follow ; one to subvert the last part of the empire, or to kill the third part of men, and the other to eradicate a súperstitious and corrupted faith, and which was not to be extinguished but with the flames of Rome. Neither of these things was accomplished by the Saracens. Their charge was to torment, and then to hurt, but not to kill, or utterly destroy. The marvel was that they did not. To repeat the words of Gibbon—" the calm historian of the present hour must study to explain by what means the church and state were saved from this impending, and, as it should seem, from this inevitable danger. In this inquiry I shall unfold the events that rescued our ancestors of Britain, and our neighbours of Gaul, from the civil and religious yoke of the Koran ; that protected the majesty of Rome, and delayed the servitude of Constantinople ; that invigorated the defence of the Christians, and scattered among their enemies the seeds of division and decay."* Ninety pages of illustration follow, to which we refer the readers of Gibbon.
* Gibbon's History, vol. x. p. 22. c. 52.
Ibid. p. 26.
And in these days shall men seek death but they shall not find it, and shall DESIRE to die, but death shall flee from them. Men were weary of life, when life was spared only for a renewal of woe, and when all that they accounted sacred was violated, and all that they held dear constantly endangered; and when the savage Saracens domineered over them, or left them only to a momentary repose, ever liable to be suddenly or violently interrupted, as if by the sting of a scorpion. They who tormented men were commanded not to kill them. And death might thus have been sought even where it was not found. Such an interpretation might not be deemed unsuitable to the woes which the Saracens inflicted. But it is the character of Gibbon, as well
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as of Volney, by dealing with facts, to be far more explicit than less scrupulous commentators. It is said in general terms, without an express appropriation of the words to Franks or Saracens, and in those days shall MEN seek death, &c. But that men would seek death, and yet not find it ; that they would desire to die, and that death should flee from them, accords not with the first dictate of instinct, or the first law of nature, and shows the operation of woes or of principles peculiar to those days. The field of battle was not only the glory but the hope of the fierce Arabian fanatics, whose natural fear of death was overcome by the lure of a sensual paradise. 6. Whosoever falls in battle,' says Mahomet, his sins are forgiven at the day of judgment: at the day of judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as vermillion, and odoriferous as musk, and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubims. The intrepid souls of the Arabs were fired with enthusiasm : the picture of the invisible world was strongly painted on their imagination ; and the DEATH which they always despised became an object of hope and DESIRE. The Koran inculcates, in the most absolute sense, the tenets of fate and predestination. Their influence in every age has exalted the courage of the Saracens and Turks. The first companions of Mahomet advanced to battle with a fearless confidence: there is no danger where there is no chance : they were ordained to perish in their beds; or they were safe and invulnerable amidst the darts of the enemy."* Such principles on such spirits, inflaming the wild Arabs, armed the woe with tenfold violence. Men in those days sought dealh, in the faith that death could not thereby find them a moment sooner, and that the battle-field was the place by which par
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