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the object^ why pitch upon methods all of which are capable of a double construction ? Saws, and harrows, and axes, and brick-kilns? This surely could not have been wholly accidental.
. The original is said fully to bear out this interpretation, and thus vanishes this objection as compleatly as the more trifling one of Joshua's pulling off his shoes, which produced so triumphant a sneer from the pen of Mr. Paine: he happened not to know that this is the almost universal mode of salutation in the east. I am, &c.
intjttrtmirHtftftf STRtCTUItES ON TltE F REETHINK1NG CHRISTIANS.
To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians'1 Magazine.
IN your last number an observation is made by your very able and intelligent correspondent Zeta, which, as it i» peculiarly applicable to my subject, and cannot be repeated too ofteii, I beg leave to present to the notice of your readers. "It is remarkable, or rather it is not at all to be wondered at, that every little knot or cluster of men, into which the innumerable tribes of mankind are scantled out, should cherish the fond persuasion, that rectitude of opinion belongs exclusively to itself, and that truth, and reason, and goodness, are unquestionably confined within the narrow precincts of its own contemptible society: indulging at the same time, the no less vain and arrogant expectation, that all the dwellers on earth will, at a period which is fast approaching, joyfully adopt its views and sentiments, whilst they cast indignantly their former opinions to the ' nsoles and to the bats,'"
. It is necessary, when examining a controverted point, to look with a calm and unprejudiced eye on the arguments adduced by both parties; and for the short time I have had the pleasure of attending your society, I must say the subjects have been, generally speaking, treated in an enlightened and philosophic manner; and therefore I was the more surprised on Sunday last, when a gentleman at the Crescent noticed a deistical work lately published by Mr. Eaton: but this surprise was not confined to myself, for it was openly expressed by several persons When the business of the morning was over. The gentleman to whom I allude, is worthy of admiration for his talents and exertions in the cause of truth ; but on this occasion, he manil'esied such an intolerant, such a dogmatizing spirit, that I should not have expected, from one belonging to a body just emerging from the trammels of persecution: and therefore deem it my duty to caution him against falling into that dangerous path a second time, and to remind him that such Conduct but ill accords with the religion of Jesus.
Surely, Sir, you must be aware of the utter contempt in which your society is held by the religious bigots of the day; and that your exertions in the cause of truth, are more dangerous to the supporters of a wicked and corrupt priesthood, than such a work can possibly be to true Christianity. And yet you would think, and I am cotivinced every reasonable man would think so too, that had one of the infamous Calvin's saints acted so towards you, he would deserve the reprobation of every friend to good order!
But what is there in this book which is so highly offensive? Your speaker declared, that the author ridicules the two first chapters of Matthew and Luke, and treats them as though they were genuine; when it has long beeu admitted by ihe true friends of Christianity, that they are forgeries!—Now, Sir, I acknowledge, that they are deemed forgeries, and that your Society, and the Unitarians, have clearly proved them forgeries; but what then, does this admission convict the. author of dishonesty in not treating tkem as such? Certainly not. And as a convincing proof, ask nine-tenths of those professing Christianity, what they think of those chapters, and their answer will be, tkeiy certainty are genuine—mithout them Christianity cannot exist! In fact, the whole body of people (excepting as before excepted), in the United Kingdom, nay, in all parts of the world, where Christianity is known, believe their authenticity ! and, what is more, found their chief doctrines on them, and hold them in the highest veneration !—If then this is true, and' 1 think you will not question it, surely the author is justified in his mode of attack—he is justified by his learned predecessors, many of whom were men of acknowledged virtue and excellence—he is justified by the Unitarianshe isjustified even by yourself!!! for your manner of treating doctrines held in pious respect by the poor deluded fanatics of the day, appears to them in a much worse light than Ecce Homo can possibly appear to you.
Your speaker seemed to think the sentiments of the Freethinking Christians were generally known; but, if helloes think so, I am sorry to say, I can inform him, that (comparatively) they are unknown, even in London; and i am really surprized you do not endeavour to promote so good a cause, by opening one or two other places in different parts of the town. But, to return to the book—I hope the gentleman will look at it again, and reflect a little on what he said respecting it; and, if I am not mistaken, I think lie will not deem it so criminal as he did on his first perusal. For myself, I can say, that I have read it, and it appears to me as fair an examination as the author could, con-' sisleutly with his ideas, present to the world; for although) 1 do not a^ree with him, yet I would much rather see such a work in circulation, than the contemptible trash daily issuing from the press, in support of ths most absurd doctrines. » Your correspondent Christopliilus has examined Paine'e Age of Reason, and refuted many of his positions in a masterly manner; and i think his time would not be mis-spent, nor the patience of your readers exhausted, if he wero to> devote his attention to Ecce Homo, particularly as it seemg to begetting into general circulation.—For my own part lam glad it has appeared, as it will tend to elicit much valuable discussion, which would otherwise have been lost to the world.
Unfortunately, we cannot even in the present day express our sentiments on religion as on any other topic; but there is something extremely unjust in branding those men with base and opprobrious epithets (as Was the case in your last number) who go farther than ourselves, or dare expres* their opinions in an open and undisguised manner. Opinion should not be restrained, and it is impolitic to attempt it, by using scurrilous language to any man, especially on religious subjects—which ought to be left as free *' as the air we breathe," and open to the remarks of all parties, provided they do not offend good mannors!
And now, Sir, although I began with censuring a member of your society, I cannot help expressing my hearty approval of the society itself, and particularly of your truly iiberal and enlightened Magazine, which, of itself, is calculated to do more in the cause of truth than its feeble opposers imagine; and must finally prevail, if you do not attempt to restrain •be ardour of enquiry by saying " thus far you may go, but no further."
With every desire for its universal diffusion, I beg leave to subscribe myself, London, Jan. 8, 1813. A Fa Ibsd To Trvtji.
THE FAMILIAR INSTRUCTOR.
To the Familiar Instructor.
I OFFER you my sincere congratulations upon your good fortune in meeting with Mr. Clairmortt, that distinguished Christian and philosopher, feeling fully satisfied that your pleasure and advantage will receive no small increase from a more extended knowledge of his friends and intimate acquaintances: but as this must necessarily be a work of time, from the distance of their residence and other combined circumstances; and as 1 am ever anxious to hold out the experienced hand of age to the enquiring virtuous youth, I now send you the character of one for whom Mr. C. feels the warmest attatchment, and to whom he performs every duty of the friend.
To a young man of your mind no apology seems requisite for the exercise of this liberty, particularly when I assure you, that were a novel to be written, in which Mr. Clairmont and his friends should sit for the characters, Sir Theophilus Barnard would be the most distinguished in absence of Mr. C. Sir Theophilus was an only son, and came into possession of his title and the family estates, which are very considerable, in the county of York, at an early age, and being placed under the tuition of a worthy man, much given to study, who succeeded in establishing a thirst for the same pursuits in the breast of the young Baronet, and by that means guarded him from the dangers to which he was exposed in a peculiar manner, by his Ege and circumstances. About this time he became acquainted with Mr. Allen, which laid a foundation for a knowledge of Mr. Clairmont, and that strong affection which now exists between these two greatly enlightened characters. When Sir Theophilus first went to visit Allen and Clairmont, he was surprised at the unreserved freedom with which they spoke of each other's circumstances and characters, and was shortly after honored with having his own brought on their gossiping 4able for dissection. His title being rather prominent in this enquiry, they entered upon its examination first, and were occupied upon it the whole of theevening, in whieh much sound philosophical argument was combined with many curious historical relations, that produced an unanimity of opinion between Clairmont andAUen; the latter building his objections against them because of tie numerous rogues, villains, and profligates, that