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endured from all eternity. We must prove design powers: we mercly know their effects; we are in a before we can infer a designer. The only idea which state of ignorance with respect to their essences and we can form of causation is derivable from the causes. These Newton calls the phenomena of things; constant conjunction of objects, and the consequent but the pride of philosophy is unwilling to admit its inference of one from the other. In a case where iwo ignorance of their causes. From the phenomena, propositions are diametrically opposite, the mind which are the objects of our senses, we attempt to believes that which is least incomprehensible ;—it infer a cause, which we call God, and gratuitously is easier to suppose that the universe has existed from endow it with all negative and contradictory qualities. all eternity, than to conceive a being beyond its limits From this hypothesis we invent this general name, to capable of creating it: if the mind sinks beneath the conceal our ignorance of causes and essences. The weight of one, is it an alleviation to increase the in- being called God by no means answers with the contolerability of the burthen ?

ditions prescribed by Newton; it bears every mark The oiher argument, which is founded on a man's of a veil woven by philosophical conceit, to hide the knowledge of his own existence, stands thus. A man ignorance of philosophers even from themselves. knows not only that he now is, but that once he was They borrow the threads of ils texture from the annol; consequently there must have been a cause. But thropomorphism of the vulgar. Words have been our idea of causation is alone derivable from the con- used by sophists for the same purposes, from the stant conjunction of objects and the consequent infer- occult qualities of the peripatetics 10 the efflucium of ence of one from the other; and, reasoning experi- Boyle and the crinities or nebula of Herschel. God is mentally, we can only infer from effects, causes ex- represented as infinite, eternal, incomprehensible ; he actly adequate to those effects. But there certainly is contained under every prædicate in non that the is a generative power which is eflected by certain logic of ignorance could fabricate. Even his wor. instruments: we cannot prove that it is inherent in shippers allow that it is impossible to form any idea these instruments ; nor is the contrary hypothesis ca- of him : they exclaim with the French poet, pable of demonstration: we admit that the generative

Pour dire ce qu'il est, il faut être lui-méme. power is incomprehensible; but to suppose that the sarne effect is produced by an eternal, omniscient, Lord Bacon says, that “atheisrn leaves to man omnipotent, being, leaves ihe cause in the saine ob- reason, philosophy, natural piety, laws, reputation, scurity, but renders it more incomprehensible. and every thing that can serve to conduct him to

3d. Testimony. It is required that testimony should virtue ; but superstition destroys all these, and erects not be contrary to reason. The testimony that the itself into a tyranny over the understandings of men: Deity convinces the senses of men of his existence hence aiheism never disturbs the government, but can only be admitted by us, if our mind considers it renders man more clear-sighted, since he sees nothing less probable that these men should have been de- beyond the boundaries of the present life."-Bacos's ceived, than that the Deity should have appeared to Moral Essays. them. Our reason can never admit the testimony of La première théologie de l'homme lui fit d'abord men, who not only declare that they were eye-wit- craindre et adorer les eléments même, des objets matenesses of miracles, but that the Deity was irrational; riels et grossiers ; il rendit ensuite ses hommages à des for he commanded that he should be believed, he agents présidents aux éléments, à des génies intérieurs, proposed the highest rewards for faith, eternal punish- à des héros, ou à des hommes doués de grandes quaments for disbelief. We can only command vol. lités. A force de réfléchir, il crut simplifier les choses untary actions ; belief is not an aci of volition ; the en soumettant la nature entière à un seul agent, à un mind is even passive, or involuntarily active: from esprit, à une ame universeile, qui mettoit cette nature this it is evident that we have no sufficient testimony, et ses parties en mouvement. En remontant des causes or rather that testimony is insufficient to prove the en causes, les mortels ont fini par ne rien voir; et c'est being of a God. It has been before shown that it dans cette obscurité qu'ils ont placé leur Dieu ; c'est cannot be deduced from reason. They alone, then, dans cet abyme ténébreux que leur imagination in who have been convinced by the evidence of the quiète travaille toujours à se fabriquer des chimères, senses, can believe it.

qui les affligeront jusqu'à ce que la connoissance de Hence it is evident that, having no proofs from either la nature les dérrompe des fantômes qu'ils ont toujours of the three sources of conviction, the mind cannot si vainement adorés. believe the existence of a creative God: it is also Si nous voulons nous rendre compte de nos idées sur evident, that, as belief is a passion of the mind, no la Divinité, nous serons obligés de convenir que, par le degree of criminality is attachable to disbelief; and mot Dirn, les hommes n'ont jamais pu désigner que that they only are reprehensible who neglect to re- la cause la plus cachée, la plus éloignée, la plus inconmove the false medium through which their mind nue des effets qu'ils voyoient : ils ne font usage de ce views any subject of discussion. Every reflecting mot, que lorsque le jeu des causes naturelles et conmind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the nues cesse d'être visible pour eux; dès qu'ils perdent existence of a Deity.

le fil de ces causes, ou dès que leur esprit ne peut God is an hypothesis, and, as such, stands in need plus en suivre la chaîne, ils tranchent leur difficulté, of proof: the onus probandi rests on the theist. Sir et terminent leur recherches en appellant Dieu la Isaac Newton says: “ Hypotheses non fingo, quicquid dernière des causes, c'est-à-dire celle qui est au-delà enim ex phænomenis non deducitur, hypothesis vo- de toutes les causes qu'ils connoissent; ainsi ils ne sont canda est, et hypothesis vel mela physicr, vel physicæ, qu'assigner une dénomination vague à une cause vel qualitatum occultarum, seu inechanica, in philo- ignorée, à laquelle leur paresse ou les bornes de leurs sophiâ locum non habent." To all proofs of the connoissances les forcent de s'arrêter. Toutes les fois existence of a creative God apply this valuable rule. qu'on nous dit que Dieu est l'auteur de quelque phé We see a variety of bodies possessing a variety of nomène, cela signifie qu'on ignore comment un tel

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phénoméne a pu s'opérer par le secours des forces ou de grace ; cette foule de distinctions subtiles dont la des causes que nous connoissons dans la nature. C'est theologie s'est partout remplie dans quelques pays, ainsi que le commun des hommes, dont l'ignorance ces inventions si ingénieuses, imaginées par des penest le partage, attribue à la Divinité non seulement seurs qui se sont succédés depuis tant de siècles, les effets innsités qui les frappent, mais encore les n'ont fait, hélas ! qu'embrouiller les choses, et jamais événemens les plus simples, dont les causes sont les la science la plus nécessaire aux hommes n'a jusplus faciles à connoître pour quiconque a pu les mé- qu'ici pu acquérir la moindre fixité. Depuis des mil diter. En un mot, l'homme a toujours respecté les liers d'années, ces réveurs oisils se sont perpétuellecauses inconnues des effets surprenans, que son igno- ment relayés pour méditer la Divinité, pour deviner ses rance l'empêchoit de démêler. Ce fut sur les débuts voies cachées, pour inventer des hypothèses propres de la nature que les hommes elevèrent le colosse à développer celle énigme importante. Leur peu de imaginaire de la Divinité.

succès n'a point découragé la vanité théologique ; touSi l'ignorance de la nature donna la naissance aux jours on a parlé de Dieu: on s'est égorgé pour lui, dieux, la connoissance de la nature est faite pour les et cet être sublime demeure toujours le plus ignore détruire. A mesure que l'homme s'instruit, ses forces et le plus discuté. et ses ressources augmentent avec ses lumières ; les Les hommes auroient été trop heureux, si, se borsciences, les arts conservateurs, l'industrie, lui four-nant aux objets visibles qui les intéressent, ils eus nissent des secours; l'expérience le rassure ou lui sent employé à persectionner leurs sciences réelles, procure des moyens de résister aux efforts de bien leurs lois, leur morale, leur éducation, la moitié des des causes qui ressent de l'alarmer dès qu'il les a efforts qu'ils ont mis dans leurs recherches sur la Di

En un mot, ses terreurs se dissipent dans vinité. Ils auroient été bien plus sages encore, et la même proportion que son esprit s'éclaire. L'homme plus fortunés, s'ils eussent pu consentir à laisser leurs instruit cesse d'être superstitieur.

guides désouvrés se quereller entre eux, et sonder Ce n'est jamais que sur parole que des peuples des profondeurs capables de les étourdir, sans se mêentiers adorent le Dieu de leurs pères et de leurs ler de leurs disputes insensées. Mais il est de l'esc prêtres; l'autorité, la confiance, la soumission, et sence de l'ignorance d'attacher de l'importance à ce l'habitude, leur tiennent lieu de conviction et de preu- qu'elle ne comprends pas. La vanité humaine fait que ves ; ils se prosternent er prieni, parce que leurs pères l'esprit se roidit contre les difficultés. Plus un obleur ont appris à se prosterner et prier: mais pourquoi jet se dérobe à nos yeux, plus nous faisons d'efforts ceux-ci se sont-ils mis à genoux ? C'est que dans les pour le saisir, parceque des-lors il aiguillonne notre temps eloignés leurs législaleurs et leurs guides leur orgueil, il exciie notre curiosité, nous paroit intéren ont fait un devoir. “ Adorez et croyez,” ont-ils essant. En combaltant pour son Dieu chacun ne dit,“ des dieux que vous ne pouvez comprendre ; rap- combattit en effet que pour les iniérêts de sa propre portez-vous en à notre sagesse profonde ; nous en sa- vanité, qui de toutes les passions produits par la mal vons plus que vous sur la Divinite.” Mais pourquoi organisation de la société, est la plus prompte à s'alarmen rapporterois-je à vous ? C'est que Dieu le veut mer, et la plus propre à produire de très grandes folies. ainsi, c'est que Dieu vous punira si vous osez résister. Si écartant pour un moment les idées fàcheuses Mais ce Dieu n'est-il donc pas la chose en question ? que la théologie nous donne d'un Dieu capricieux, Cependant les hommes se sont toujours payés de ce dont les décrets partiaux et despotiques décident du cercle vicieux; la paresse de leur esprit leur fit sort des humains, nous ne voulons lixer nos yeux que trouver plus court de s'en rapporter au jugement des sur la bonté prétendue, que tous les hommes, inêne

Toutes les notions religieuses sont fondées en tremblant devant ce Dieu, s'accordent à lui donuniquement sur l'autorité; toutes les religions du ner; si nous lui supposons le projet qu'on lui prête, monde défendent l'examen et ne veulent pas que l'on de n'avoir travaillé que pour sa propre gloire ; d'exiraisonne ; c'est l'autorité qui veut qu'on croye en ger les hommages des êtres intelligens ; de ne cherDieu; ce Dieu n'est lui

même fonde que sur l'autorité, cher dans ses oeuvres que le bien-être du genre hude quelques hommes qui prétendent le connoître, et main; comment concilier ses vues et ses dispositions venir de sa part pour l'annoncer à la terre. Un Dieu avec l'ignorance vraiment invincible dans laquelle fait par les hommes, a sans doute besoin des hommes ee Dieu, si glorieux et si bon, laisse la plupart des pour se faire connoître aux hommes.

hommes sur son compte ? Si Dieu veut être connu, Ne seroit-ce donc que pour des prêtres, des inspirés, chéri, remercié, que ne se montre-t-il sous des traits des métaphysiciens que seroit réservée la conviction favorables á tous ces êtres intelligens dont il veut de l'existence d'un Dicu, que l'on dit néanmoins si etre aimé et adoré ? Pourquoi ne point se manisester nécessaire à tout le genre humain ? Mais trouvons- à toute la terre d'une façon non équivoque, bien plus nous de l'harmonic entre les opinions théologiques capable de nous convaincre, que ces révélations purdes différens inspirés, ou des penseurs répandus sur ticulières qui semblent accuser la Divinité d'une parla terre? Ceux mêmes qui font profession d'adorer le tialité fâcheuse pour quelques unes de ses créatures ? même Dieu, sont-ils d'accord sur son compte ? Sont- Le Tout-Puissant n'auroit-il donc pas des moyens ils contents des preuves que leurs collègues apportent plus convainquans de se montrer aux hommes que de son existence? Souscrivent-ils unanimement aux ces métamorphoses ridicules, ces incarnations préidées qui'ils présentent sur sa nature, sur sa conduite, tendues, qui nous sont attestées par des écrivains si sur la façon d'entendre ses prétendus oracles ? Est-il peu d'accord entre eux dans les récits qu'ils en font? une contrée sur la terre, où la science de Dieu se Au lieu de tant de miracles inveniés pour prouver soit réellement perfectionnée? A-t-elle pris quelque la mission divine de tant de législateurs reverés par part la consistance et l'uniformité que nous voyons les différens peuples du monde, le souverain des esprendre aux connoissances humaines, aux arts les plus prits ne pouvoit-il pas convaincre tout d'un coup l'esfutiles, aux métiers les plus méprisés ? Des mots d'esprit humain des choses qu'il a voulu lui faire connoî. pril, d'immatérialité, de création, de prédestination, tre ? Au lieu de suspendre un soleil dans la voûle du

autres.

firmament; au lieu de répandre sans ordre les étoiles preconceptions of the simob. Had this author, instead et les constellations qui remplissent l'espace, n'eut-il of inveighing against the guilt and absurdity of athepas été plus conforme aux vues d'un Dieu jaloux de ism, demonstrated its falsehood, his conduct would sa gloire et si bien intentionné pour l'homme, d'écrire have been more suited to the modesty of the sceptic d'une façon non sujette à dispute, son nom, ses attri- and the roleration of the philosopher. buts, ses voloniés permanentes en caractères ineffaça Omnia enim per Dei potentiam facta sunt: imo, bles et lisible également pour tous les habitans de la quia natura potentia nulla est nisi ipsa Dei potentia, terre? Personne alors n'auroit pu douter de l'exis- artem est nos catemus Dei potentiam non intelligere, tence d'un Dieu, de ses volontés claires, de ses in- qualenus causas naturales ignoramus; adeoque stulte tentions visibles. Sous les yeux de ce Dieu si terri- ad eandern Dei potentiam recurritur, quando rei ali ble personne n'auroit eu l'audace de violer ses or- cujus, causam naturalem, sive est, ipsam Dei potendonnances ; nul mortel n'eût ose se mettre dans le tiam ignoramus.—Spinosa, Tract. Theologico-Pol cas d'attirer sa colère; enfin nul homme n'eût eu le chap. i. page 14. front d'en imposer en son nom, ou d'interpréter ses volontés suivant ses propres fantaisies.

Nole 14, page 117, col. 2. En effet, quand même on admettroit l'existence du

Ahasuerus, rise! Dieu théologique, et la réalité des attributs si discordans qu'on lui donne, l'on ne peut en rien conclure, "Ahasuerus the Jew crept forth from the dark pour autoriser la conduite ou les cultes qu'on prescrit cave of Mount Carmel. Near two thousand years de lui rendre. La théologie est vraiment le tonneau have elapsed since he was first goaded by never-enddes Danoïdes. A force de qualités contradictoires et ing restlessness to rove the globe froni pole to pole. d'assertions hasardées, elle a, pour ainsi dire, telle- When our Lord was wearied with the burthen of ment garoté son Dieu qu'elle l'a mis dans l'impossi- his ponderous cross, and wanted to rest before the bilité d'agir. S'il est intiniment bon, qu'elle raison door of Ahasuerus, the unfeeling wreich drove him aurions nous de le craindre? S'il est infiniment sage, away with brutality. The Savior of mankind stagde quoi nous inquiéter sur notre sort? S'il sait tout, gered, sinking under the heavy load, but utlered no pourquoi l'avertir de nos besoins, et le fatiguer de nos complaint. An angel of death appeared before Ahaprières ? S'il est partout, pourquoi lui élever des tem- suerus, and exclaimed indignantly, · Barbarian! thou ples? S'il est maître de tout, pourquoi lui faire des hast denied rest to the Son of Man: be it denied thee sacrifices et des offrandes ? S'il est juste, comment also, until he comes to judge the world.' croire qu'il punisse des créatures qu'il a remplies de "A black demon, let loose from hell upon Ahasu foiblesses ? Si la grace fait tout en elles, quelle raison erus, goads him now from country to country: he s auroit-il de les récompenser? S'il est tout-puissant, com- denied the consolation which death affords, and pre ment l'offenser, comment lui résister? S'il est raison- cluded from the rest of the peaceful grave. nable, comment se mettroit-ilen colère contre des a veu " Ahasuerus crept forih from the dark cave of gles, à qui il a laissé la liberté de déraisonner! S'il Mount Carmel-he shook the dust from his beardest immuable, de quel droit prétendrions-nous faire and taking up one of the skulls heaped there, hurled changer ses décrets ? S'il est inconcevable, pourquoi it down the eminence : it rebounded from the earth nous en occuper ? S'IL A PARLE, POURQUOI L'UNI. in shivered atoms. This was my father! roared Aba VERS N'EST-IL. PAS CONVAINCU? Si la connoissance suerus. Seven more skulls rolled down from rockia d'un Dieu est la plus nécessaire, pourquoi n'esi-elle rock; while the infuriare Jew, following them with pas la plus évidente, et la plus claire !--Système de glasily looks, exclaimed-And these were my wives! la Nalure. London, 1781.

lle still continued to hurl down skull after skull, roarThe enlightened and benevolent Pliny thus pub-ing in dreadful accents-And these, and these, and licly professes himself an atheist :-Quapropter efli- these were niy children! They could die; but I! gicm Dei, formamque quærere, imbecillitatis humana reprobate wreich, alas ! I cannot die! Dreadful be

Quisquis est Deus (si modo es: alius) et qua- yond conception is the judgment that hangs over me. cunque in parte, totus est sensus, lotus esi visus, totus Jerusalem feli-1 crushed the sucking babe, and pre auditus, totus anima, totus animi, totus sui.

cipitated myself into the destructive flames, I cursed Imperfectæ vero in homine natur præcipua solatia the Romans-bui, alas! alas! the restless curse held ne deum quidem posse omnia. Namque nee sibi po- me by the hair,-and I could not die! test mortem consciscere, si velit, quod honiini dedit “ Rome the gianiess sell--placed myself before optimum in tantis vila ponis : nec moriales alernitate the falling statue-she fell, and did not crush me. donare, aut revocare defuncios; me facere ut qui Nations sprung up and disappeared before me ;-but vixit non vixerii, qui honores gessit non gesserit, nul. I remained and did not die. From cloud-enarrled lumque habere in præteritum jus, præferqnam oblivi- cliffs did I precipitate myself into the ocean; but the onis, aque ut facetis quoque argumentis societas hæc foaming billows cast me upon the shore, ard the cum deo copuletur, ut bis dena viginta non sint, et burning arrow of existence pierced my cold heart multa similiter efficere non posse. -Per quæ, decla- again. I leaped into Ema's tiaming abyss, and roared ralur hand dubie, nature po:entiam id quoque esse, with the giants for ten long months, polluting with quod Deum vocamus.---Puin. Nal. Hisl. cap. de Dto. my groans the Mount's sulphureous mouih-ah! ien

The consistent Newtonian is necessarily an atheisi. long monihs. The volcano fermented, and in a ley See Sir W. DRUMMOND'S Arademical Questions, chap. stream of lava cast me up. I lay torn by the torture iii.-Sir W. seems to consider the atheism to which snakes of hell amid the glowing cinders, and yet is leads, as a sufficient presumption of the falsehood continued to exist.-A forest was on fire : | daried of the system of gravitation : but surely it is more on wings of sury and despair into the crackling wood. consistent with the good faith of philosophy 10 admit Fire dropped upon me from the trees, but the flames a deduction from facts than an hypothesis incapable only singed my limbs ; alas! it could not consunie of proof, although it might militate with the abstinate them.--I now mixed with the butchers of mankind

reor.

and plunged in the tempest of the raging battle. I that Jesus Christ, so far from being a God, was only roared defiance to the infuriate Gaul, defiance to the a man like themselves. But a numerous set of meni, victorious German; but arrows and spears rebounded who derived and still derive immense emoluments in shivers from my body. The Saracen's flaming from this opinion, in the shape of a popular belief, sword broke upon my skull: balls in vain hissed told the vulgar, that, if they did not believe in the upon me: the lightnings of battle glared harmless Bible, they would be damned to all eternity; and around my loins: in vain did the elephant trample burned, imprisoned, and poisoned all the unbiassed on me, in vain the iron hoof of the wrathful steed! and unconnected inquirers who occasionally arose. The mine, big with destructive power, burst upon They still oppress them, so far as the people, now me, and hurled me high in the air-I fell on heaps become more enlightened, will allow. of smoking limbs, but was only singed. The giant's The belief in all that the Bible contains, is called steel club rebounded from my body; the executioner's Christianity. A Roman governor of Judea, at the inhand could not strangle me, the tiger's tooth could stances of a priest-led mob, crucified a man called not pierce me, nor would the hungry lion in the cir- Jesus, eighteen centuries ago. He was a man of pure cus devour me. I cohabitated with poisonous snakes, life, who desired to rescue his countrymen from the and pinched the red crest of the dragon. The ser- tyranny of their barbarous and degrading superstitions. pent stung, but could not destroy me.—The dragon The common fate of all who desire to benefit mantormented, but dared not to devour me.--I now pro. kind awaited him. The rabble, at the instigation of voked the fury of tyrants: I said to Nero, Thou art the priests, demanded his death, although his very a bloodhound! I said to Christiern, Thou art a blood- judge made public acknowledgment of his immocence. hound! I said to Muley Ismail, Thou art a blood- Jesus was sacrificed to the honor of that God with hound !—The tyrants invented cruel torments, but whom he was afterwards confounded. It is of imdid not kill me.

-Ha! not to be able to portance, therefore, to distinguish between the predie-not to be able to die—not to be permitted to tended character of this being as the Son of God rest after the toils of life-to be doomed to be im- and the Savior of the world, and his real character prisoned for ever in the clay-formed dungeon—to be as a man, who, for a vain attempt to reform the world, for ever clogged with this worthless body, its load of paid the forfeit of his life to that overbearing tyranny diseases and infirmities—to be condemned to hold for which has since so long desolated the universe in his millenniums that yawning monster Sameness, and name. Whilst the one is a hypocritical demon, who Time, that hungry hyena, ever bearing children, and announces himself as the God of compassion and ever devouring again her offspring !-Ha! not to be peace, even whilst he stretches forth his blood-red permitted to die! Awful avenger in Heaven, hast hand with the sword of discord to waste the earth, thou in thine armory of wrath a punishment more having confessedly devised this scheme of desolation dreadful ? then let it thunder upon me, command a from eternity; the other stands in the foremost list of hurricane to sweep me down to the foot of Carmel, those true heroes, who have died in the glorious that I there may lie extended; may pant, and writhe, martyrdom of liberty, and have braved torture, con. and die!"

tempt, and poverty, in the cause of suffering hu This fragment is the translation of part of some manity.* German work, whose title I have vainly endeavored The vulgar, ever in extremes, became persuaded to discover. I picked it up, dirty and torn, some that the crucifixion of Jesus was a supernatural event. years ago, in Lincoln's-Inn Fields.

Testimonies of miracles, so frequent in unenlightened

ages, were not wanting to prove that he was someNote 15, page 118, col. 1.

thing divine. This belief, rolling ihrough the lapse I will beget a Son, and he shall bear

of ages, met with the reveries of Plato and the reaThe sins of all the world.

sonings of Aristotle, and acquired force and extent, A book is put into our hands when children, called until the divinity of Jesus became a dogma, which the Bible, the purport of whose history is briefly this: to dispute was death, which to doubt was infamy. That God made the earth in six days, and there planted Christianity is now the established religion: he a delightful garden, in which he placed the first pair who attempts to impugn it, must be contented to beof human beings. In the midst of the garden he hold murderers and traitors take precedence of him planted a tree, whose fruit, although within their in public opinion: though, if his genius be equal 10 reach, they were forbidden to touch. That the Devil, his courage, and assisied by a peculiar coalition of in the shape of a snake, persuaded them to eat of circumstances, future ages may exalt him to a dithis fruit; in consequence of which God condemned vinity, and persecute others in his name, as he was both them and their posterity yet unborn, to satisfy persecuted in the name of his predecessor in the his justice by their eternal misery. That, four thou- homage of the world. sand years after these events (the human race in the The same means that have supported every other meanwhile having gone unredeemed to perdition), popular belief, have supported Christianity. War, God engendered with the betrothed wife of a car- imprisonment, assassination, and falsehood ; deeds of penter in Judea (whose virginity was nevertheless unexampled and incomparable atrocity, have made it uninjured), and begat a Son, whose name was Jesus what it is. The blood shed by the votaries of the Christ; and who was crucified and died, in order God of mercy and peace, since the establishment of that no more men might be devoted to hell-fire, he his religion, would probably suffice to drown all other bearing the burthen of his Father's displeasure by sectaries now on the habitable globe. We derive proxy. The book states, in addition, that the soul of from our ancestors a faith thus fostered and supportwhoever disbelieves this sacrifice will be burned with ed: we quarrel, persecute, and hate for its mainteeverlasting fire During many ages of misery and darkness, this

* Since writing this note, I have seen reason to suspert story gained implicit belief; but at length men arose that Jesus was an ambitious man, who aspired to the who suspected that it was a fable and imposture, and throne of Judea.

nance.

Even under a government which, whilst it only believe that which it thinks true. A human infringes the very right of thought and speech, boasts being can only be supposed accountable for those of permitting the liberty of the press, a man is pil- actions which are influenced by his will. But belief loried and imprisoned because he is a deist, and no is utterly distinct from and unconnected with volition: one raises his voice in the indignation of outraged it is the apprehension of the agreement or disagree. humanity. But it is ever a proof that the falsehood ment of the ideas that compose any proposition. Be. of a proposition is felt by those who use coercion, lief is a passion, or involuntary operation of the niind, not reasoning, to procure its admission ; and a dis- and, like other passions, its intensity is precisely pro passionate observer would feel himself more power- portionate to the degrees of excitement. Volition is fully interested in favor of a man, who, depending essential to merit or demerit. But the Christian relion the truth of his opinions, simply stated his reasons gion attaches the highest possible degrees of merit for entertaining them, than in that of his aggressor, and demerit to that which is worthy of neither, and who daringly avowing his unwillingness or incapacity which is totally unconnected with the peculiar to answer them by argument, proceeded to repress faculty of the mind, whose presence is essential to the energies and break the spirit of their promulgator their being. hy that torture and imprisonment whose infliction he Christianity was intended to reform the world: had could command.

an all-wise Being planned it, nothing is more improba. Analogy seems to favor the opinion, that as, like ble than that it should have failed: omniscience other systems, Christianity has arisen and augmented, would infallibly have foreseen the inutility of a so like them it will decay and perish ; that, as vio- scheme which experience demonstrates, lo this age lence, darkness, and deceit, not reasoning and persua- to have been utterly unsuccessful. sion, have procured its admission among mankind, Christianity inculcates the necessity of supplicating so, when enthusiasm has subsided, and time, that in the Deity. Prayer may be considered under two fallible controverter of false opinions, has involved points of view ;-as an endeavor to change the inits pretended evidences in the darkness of antiquity, tentions of God, or as a formal testimony of our obeit will become obsolete ; that Milton's poem alone dience. But the former case supposes that the cawill give permanency to the remembrance of its ab- prices of a limited intelligence can occasionally insurdiiies; and that men will laugh as heartily at struct the Creator of the world how to regulate the grace, faith, redemption, and original sin, as they universe; and the latter, a certain degree of servility now do at the metamorphoses of Jupiter, the miracles analogous to the loyalty demanded by earthly tyrants

. of Romish saints, the efficacy of witchcraft, and the Obedience indeed is only the pitiful and cowardly appearance of departed spirits.

egotism of him who thinks that he can do something Had the Christian religion commenced and con- better than reason. tinued by the mere force of reasoning and persuasion, Christianity, like all other religions, rests upon ihe preceding analogy would be inadmissible. We miracles, prophecies, and martyrdoms. No religion should never speculate on the future obsoleteness of ever existed, which had not its prophets, its attested a system perfectly conformable to nature and reason: miracles, and, above all, crowds of devotees who it would endure so long as they endured; it would would bear patiently the most horrible tortures to be a truth as indisputable as the light of the sun, the prove its authenticity. It should appear that in no criminality of murder, and other facts, whose evi- case can a discriminating mind subscribe to the genudence, depending on our organization and relative ineness of a miracle. A miracle is an infraction of situations, must remain acknowledged as satisfactory nature's law, by a supernatural cause; by a cause so long as man is man. It is an incontrovertible fact, acting beyond ihat eternal circle within which all the consideration of which oughi to repress the hasty things are included. God breaks through the law of conclusions of credulity, or inoderate its obstinacy in nature, that he may convince mankind of the truth maintaining them, that, had the Jews not been a of that revelation which, in spite of bis precautions, fanatical race of men, had even the resolution of has been, since its introduction, the subject of unPontius Pilate been equal to his candor, the Christian ceasing schism and cavil. religion never could have prevailed, it could not even Miracles resolve themselves into the following have existed : on so feeble a thread hangs the most questions :*_ Whether it is more probable the laws cherished opinion of a sixth of the human race! of nature, hitherto so immutably harmonious, should When will the vulgar learn humility? When will the have undergone violation, or that a man should have pride of ignorance blush at having believed before it told a lie? Whether it is more probable that we are could comprehend ?

| ignorant of the natural cause of an event, or that we Either the Christian religion is true, or it is false : know the supernatural one? Thai, in old times, if true, it comes from God, and its authenticity can when the powers of nature were less known than admit of doubt and dispute no further than iis om- at present, a certain set of men were themselves de nipotent author is willing to allow. Either the power ceived, or had some hidden motive for deceiving or the goodness of God is called in question, if he others; or that God begat a son, who, in his legislaleaves those doctrines most essential to the well-being tion, measuring merit by belief, evidenced himself of man in doubt and dispute; the only ones which, to be totally ignorant of the powers of the human since their promulgation, have been the subject of mind-of what is voluntary, and what is the conunceasing cavil, the cause of irreconcilable hatred. trary? If God has spoken, why is the universe not convinced? We have many instances of men telling lies ;

There is this passage in the Christian Scriptures: none of an infraction of nature's laws, those laws of “ Those who obey not God, and believe not the Gos- whose government alone we have any knowledge pel of his Son, shall be punished with everlasting or experience. The records of all nations afford indestruction.” This is the pivot upon which all re- numerable instances of men deceiving others, either ligions turn : they all assume that it is in our power I believe or not to believe; whereas the mind can

*See Hume's Essays, vol. ii. page 12).

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