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monwealth. All the neighboring governments were absolute despotisms — all power being concentrated in the hands of a single autocrat. In the Hebrew Commonwealth government was for the first time organized in three departments a legislative, an executive, and a judicial. In all the neighboring governments the power of the autocrat was unlimited. In the Hebrew Commonwealth the king was a constitutional monarch whose powers were somewhat carefully limited. In the Hebrew Commonwealth no hereditary caste or class was permitted; there was the State Church, but the priesthood were forbidden to become landowners, and were made dependent for their supo port on the voluntary offerings of the people; methods of worship were carefully defined, but attendance on worship was not compulsory; private ownership in land was allowed, but only for a limited tenure; labor was honorable and idleness a disgrace; slavery, though not prohibited, was hedged about with such conditions that in the course of a few centuries it disappeared ; woman's position, if not absolutely equal to that of man, was one of unexampled honor in that age; provision was made for the education of all the children by home instruction, aided by itinerant school-teachers, out of which later grew the first popular scủool system in the then known world.
And this whole system was founded on a religion which had in its creed but two articles: that God is a righteous Father who has made man in his own image, between whom and man, therefore, the comradeship of father and son is possible; that he requires of his children righteousness and requires nothing else, and therefore the way to his favor is not by sacrifices and offerings but by doing justly, loving mercy,and walking reverently in fellowship with him.
How far this ideal was ever actually realized in the history of Israel is doubted by scholars. It is certainly incorporated in their sacred books. With Christianity these sacred books, translated into the Latin tongue, bound together, and bearing the title of “The Books” (now generally, by a transliteration of the Greek,“The Bible”), passed over into the nominally converted Roman Empire. Alfred the Great, the first great king and leader of the English people, translated portions of these books into the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and incorporated certain of their fundamental ideals into the English Constitution. Gradually the political and religious principles of these books made their way, against much opposition and more indifference, into the life of the English people. Inspired by them, Simon de Montfort led the movement which brought representatives of the common people into the National Council, and created out of it a House of Commons. Imitating the example of the itinerant Levites, the “preaching friars” carried the simple precepts of these books to the homes and imbedded them in the hearts of the people. These principles made of Wyclif a social reformer before socialism, a democrat before democracy, and a Protestant before Protestantism. Tyndale carried on the work which Wyclif began, and created a public opinion which made possible Henry VIII's separation of the English Church from Italian control. At length, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, the long campaign between the autocratic principles which the English people had inherited from the Rome of the Cæsars, culminating in the despotism of Charles I, and the democratic principles which they had inherited from the Hebrew Commonwealth culminating in the principles of the Puritans, issued in the overthrow of the Stuart oligarchy, and incidentally in the immigration to New England of Puritan and Pilgrim. These brought with them the purpose to found on these shores a new republic patterned after the Hebrew theocracy, embodying its social and religious principles, and inspired by its spirit. The earliest democracy in America was a Puritan child with a Hebrew ancestry.
The other democracy had a very different lineage, and inherited from its ancestry different principles and a different spirit.
Imperial Rome was an absolute despotism, with labor enslaved, popular education unknown, marriage a commercial partnership, religion wholly dissociated from morality — a ceremonialism framed to appease the wrath of angry gods or win the favor of corruptible gods. The Bourbon dynasties of Italy and Spain and France had inherited this imperialism, modified and ameliorated by a Roman Christianity. But Roman Christianity had done nothing to ameliorate the despotism of the government in France, nor much to promote the education of the people; though under its influence slavery had given place to feudalism as an industrial system, and marriage had become, in the estimate of Christian believers, an indissoluble sacrament. But in the latter half of the eighteenth century the influence of the Christian Church with the common people in France was greatly weakened, especially in the great cities. The Renaissance had brought with it a revival of paganism; persecution had destroyed the adherents of the reformed religion ; the mocking laughter of Voltaire had done more to shake the faith of the people in the Church of Rome than all the arguments of Calvin ; the vices of the higher clergy and their identification with the oppressive oligarchy had done more than Voltaire. The Church retained the appearance but not the reality of power when it lost its hold on the conscience of France. It could neither inspire the ruling classes with a spirit of reform nor restrain the passions of the mob when hunger drove them to desperation. The aristocracy was overthrown, but the people had no other conception of government than government by force, and no other conception of liberty than the substitution of an unchecked rule by many for an unchecked rule by the few. “As nature,” says Rousseau, “ 'gives to every man absolute power over the members of his body, the social pact gives the social body absolute power over all its members.” The despotism of an unrestrained mob proved to be as despotic as that of an unrestrained oligarchy, and France soon sought relief from the Reign of Terror in a new imperialism.
Meanwhile the theories of the French political reformers had crossed the Channel into England, where Jacobinism proved 'a temporary and unpopular exotic. They simultaneously crossed the sea to America, where, mingled with and modi
1 Quoted by H. A. Taine in his French Revolution, vol. iii, p. 54. Taine gives a graphic picture of the length to which this despotism of the majority was carried under Jacobin rule.