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temple of Jerusalem, which Titus had destroyed. With the energy which characterised all his actions, Julian proceeded in the task which he had assigned to himself; and, as the first step, recalled the dispersed Jews to the city of their fathers. Mount Moriah was taken possession of by the forces of the Emperor; the Jews themselves volunteered in aid of the workmen ; immense powers of mind and body were employed to carry on the building with the utmost rapidity; and large sums of money were voluntarily poured forth to give it magnificence and durability.
But the temple of Jerusalem was not destined to be rebuilt by the hands of the Apostate; and though the mountain of the temple itself was in the hands of the Jews and the Pagans alone,though the Christians were powerless in the presence of the infidel legions, and not the slightest possibility of interference, fraud, or opposition existed to impede the work of the daring idolator, — yet all the efforts of Alypius, the friend to whom Julian entrusted the execution of his design, were insufficient to raise the walls of the temple from the state of prostrate destruction in which the ploughshare of Titus had left them.
The Christians remained as spectators of the undertaking, confident that the prophetical announcement, that the fall of the Temple was final, could not be made of no effect even by all the power of the empire; and they were gratified, but not surprised, when
first the whirlwind, and then the earthquake, and then the explosion of subterraneous fires, destroyed the labours of Alypius and his coadjutors almost as fast as they were performed. The workmen, alarmed, dispirited, and injured by the continual bursting forth of balls of fire from the earth in which they were laying the foundations, could scarcely be brought back to their task; and at length, the friend of Julian himself, despairing of vanquishing an opponent against whom he had no defence, abandoned the attempt, and left the blackened and ruined fragments of the walls which he had endeavoured to raise, as a monument to after times of this unsuccessful impiety.
While this great enterprise was in progress, the Emperor attempted by every means but that of actual bloodshed to drive the Christians to abandon their religion ; but in this, of course, he was unsuccessful, and his efforts to replant the Jewish nation, and to raise up the temple, only gave an additional interest to the Holy City in the eyes of the Christian world. After the death of Julian and the accession of Christian emperors, the pilgrimages to Jerusalem, which had never been altogether abandoned, were resumed with greater zeal than ever; and the city was filled with votaries, who we have too much reason to believe were not always of the most chaste or pious character.
The Roman empire continued Christian ; but weakness succeeded luxury and division: the western
portion of the vast fabric fell under the repeated and violent blows of barbarian enemies, and the eastern portion only lingered for a time to give way by slow degrees to decrepitude, and sink under a gradual decay.
In the middle of the sixth century arose, in the heart of Arabia, a man of extraordinary powers of mind and body, who, assuming the character of a prophet and a lawgiver, speedily established in the east the tenets of a new religion, one of the chief injunctions of which was, to go forth and subdue all nations to the faith of this daring teacher. The sword was appointed by Mahommed as the great instrument of conversion; and the race of hardy warriors who were amongst the first to embrace his doctrines, were not only willing but eager to follow the precept which taught them to encounter danger and death in the pursuit of plunder, conquest, and immortal sensuality. With wonderful penetration, Mahommed not only calculated upon the general character of man and his debased nature, but so skilfully made use of all the corruption, superstition, and barbarous ignorance, which had superseded the purity, spirituality, and light of Christianity in the east, as to render it very easy for multitudes of those persons who called themselves Christians without knowing or feeling the truths of the religion they professed, to embrace the tenets which he promulgated. It appears that, in framing his religion, while he held out every temptation for all classes of men to join his sect, he designedly smoothed the way for all, linking his doctrines, by various contrivances, to the faith, the prejudices, the superstitions, the passions, and the desires of the various nations by which he was surrounded. In favor of the Jews, he admitted Moses as a prophet, circumcision as a divine institution, and the abhorrence of swine as a religious duty. For the Christians, he held forth the name of Jesus as worthy of all veneration, recognised the Virgin as a saint of the holiest character, and even adopted St. George of Cappadocia, under the name of Al Khidr, as something more than mortal, investing him with attributes nearly approaching to ubiquity. Many other inducements of the same kind were extended to heathen tribes, besides the unlimited gratification permitted to sensual enjoyment in this world, and the promise of still greater pleasures of the same kind in another. Unlike other great founders of new creeds, he excited the enthusiasm, the zeal, and the fanaticism of his votaries, by direct appeals to their animal nature; and bloodshed, lust, and plunder, were amongst the first duties incul. cated and the rewards promised by his religion.
I dwell upon what was evil rather than upon what was good, and wise, and prudent in the doctrines of Mahommed, not because I wish to depreciate the character of that most extraordinary man, but because those evil parts were the principal agents in spreading his tenets with such remarkable rapidity ; in which respect the history of Mahommedanism is strikingly contrasted with that of Christianity, the Christian faith having set out to wage eternal war with all the bad passions of man's nature, while the religion of the False Prophet called all those passions to its aid. Thus supported, it is not at all wonderful that the doctrines of Mahommed made speedy converts.
Civil dissensions and barbarous contests amongst this teacher's successors delayed the march of Mahommedanism for a short time; but as soon as these had ceased, the spirit of conquest and conversion went forth together with tremendous power. The first monarchs of the new dynasty led their scanty followers on all occasions, and acted more as the chieftains of a barbarous tribe, than the sovereigns of a great people. Speedily, however, the Khalifs, as their dominions increased and new lands and nations every day acknowledged their sway, assumed the dignity of empire, without losing the activity of their race and character. They ruled, directed, and guided, but did not appear at the head of every army, or meddle with minor operations. Thus Omar, who succeeded to the throne of Medina, even while the memory of man was full of the personal demeanor of Mahommed, entrusted to his lieutenants many important enterprises, and only appeared when some extraordinary display of power was required, to attain a great and difficult object.