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When upon this subject, as well as others, I certainly must say, that you display, in a great degree, your extreme ignorance of the laws of nature. One can scarcely be serious upon such a topic. The plan which you would approve of, sanctions something like adultery. Why did the Holy Ghost fix upon a woman who was to be engaged in the "holy bands of matrimony ?” There surely were in the neighbourhood plenty of other virgins. In any shape that you choose to bave it, you must set this tale down as truly disgusting; and wben you consider that for a long period it engaged the attention of the pious fathers of christiavity, we cannot do otherwise than think, that human intellect, in these ages, was truly in a deplorable and degraded state. It was long a disputed point, whether, in this mysterious copulation, semen was emitted by Mary, a question that gave rise to many of those violent agitations that prevailed in the councils of the church, and which formed the doctrine concerning the hypostatical union of persons in Jesus. Such offensive folly originated from men who received the epithet of learned, and who are, in the bistory of christianity, still dignified with the splendid titles of Saints and Bishops; but these holy men begin to appear, now-a-days, in their real character. We can look with contempt upon such stuff, though we, doubtless, must lament that many young men are yet doomed, during their scholastic education, to wander through these mazes of polemical divinity, losing their precious time and peverting their judgments, wbile they might be devoted to the enquiry of something more rational. To return, however, to maiters that form a more important appearance, as far as what you consider the props of cbristianity, I have to observe, that in my last I demanded of you to give a clear proof of the ascension of Jesus. this, I must say there is every evidence that you have completely failed; but I feel no surprise in such a failure, I kuew you could offer uo proof; yet, as you bad confidently talked upon the truth of these things, I gave you an opportunity, lest you might have possessed some knowledge of them that other men have got. Now, the amount of your knowledge is, that you do not bring forward one witness to
" It is said that Mary was betrothed to Joseph the carpenter. Now, betrothing in India is equal to marriage in England; for sexual intercourse was allowed, and the appearance
pregnancy consummated the marriage. If there was no pregnancy, there was no marriage, and the parties seperated if they chose. Mary could not, therefore, be a virgiu ; for there were no betrothed virgins in India. There is a precisely similar custom practised in Portland, on the coast of Dorsetshire, and is called “ Portland Custom."
attest the alleged fact. In place of this, you refer me to Mattbew's notions upon the subject. What have I or any one else to do with his belief? He never asserts that he saw Jesus ascend, and therefore, his believing it cannot establish satisfactorily the disputed point. You next advert to John, as a proof that Jesus did ascend, and you say, that this disciple records discourses which allude to our Lord's removal from the earth. This, however, is not even the shadow of proof. Nothing is more absurd than this. You really seem to be very ignorant of what should prove a fact, when you refer me to the allusions and belief of men that did not wituess it themselves. You next quote Jobn xx. 17, as a proof of the ascension, where Jesus says to Mary that he is not ascended, “but go to my brethren,” &c. &c. This how. ever, is really weak, and displays a superficial acquaintance with such subjects, at which I feel somewbat astonished. It is, indeed, worse than the allusions just mentioned. Here is Jesus declaring himself that be is to ascend, to a woman whose conduct is very suspicious, and who latterly informs John about the business. This man, therefore, must be considered the third person. If you receive this as proof, you may believe in any thing however absurd or ridiculous. You bring in Paul's evidence as you do that of Matthew and John, and next claim assistance from Peter ; but, unbappily, you go to the wrong book for his proof. When
you give a reference to the Acts of the Apostles, do you imagine that Peter wrote these Acts? If you do, I must say as the Bishop of Llandaff said to Thomas Paine, “ that you are a very unfit hand to comment upon the scriptures.” But, to be more to the point, where is it that Peter says in his epistles that he saw Jesus ascend? And, as for Stephen, he has no declaration whatever. The circumstance of my quoting Mark does not affect the event in question If I am mistaken, I have only substituted one name for another. Matthew says, that Jesus commanded them to meet him in Galilee; and Luke, in the Acts, says, that he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, and continues in his gospel to assert, that Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, wbich, by the bye, is only two miles from the city. Now, here is a story truly irreconcileable ; for the place that Matthew alludes to, where he was commanded to meet Jesus, is no less than eighty miles distant from Jerusalem. This is inconsistency indeed, and I leave you to put together in a better form this disjointed inspiration. If you mend it, I will find more work for you, for the whole is one mass of glaring absurdity and contradiction.
With regard to the resurrection, you still are deficient in what should constitute the principal proof; viz, men who saw Jesus in the sepulchre, and who also saw bim rise. The guards give no account of the story; what is said about them is merely related by Matthew, and would never be received for evidence in any court of justice. Luke and Mark differ in their account of the inside scene of the sepulcbre. The one says that the women two young men in shining garments, while the other affirms, that they only be held one young man clothed in white. Peter and John declare, they saw only the linen clothes lying in two parcels. Exceptiog this trifling difference, upon which it is not my intention to dwell, these three evangelists agree exactly in proving that no person was present when Jesus rose from the sepulcbre.
Your remarks about the three days and three nights are sufficiently trifling. The type of Jonah, being three days and three nights in the whale's belly, is well understood to apply to the passage that the son of man shall be in the grave the same period of time. There can be no evasion regarding this, and I really wonder at you calling it a manner of speech only well known to those to whom it was delivered. If the meaning of it does not imply three times twenty-four hours, then I maintain that language bas no meaning. In short, the whole of your revelation bangs upon these two hypothesis, the resurrection and the ascension, and to prove that either took place, you have to do what you vainly thought you had done.
I can assure you I am not so easily satisfied with stories that are evidently manufactured to serve a particular porpose, and which have all the character of being secondbanded. I would prefer the testimony of eye-witnesses where matters of fact are in question ; but, after all, if you feel contented, I can only conclude in the language of a certain Pope, when performing a holy ceremony wherein he knew he was deceiving the people, “ He who wishes to be deceived, let him be deceived?” I should have given you the expression in the original, but this I suppose is of no moment. With the expectation of hearing from you, believe me
Yours always &c. · The story here alluded to is, perhaps, not generally known. It is related of a certain Pope, that one day, while dispensing an ordinance where holy water was used, the multitude was so great that the vessel became dry. Without ceremony his Holiness retired, and nearly filling it with his own urine, ultimately applied this saline production to the heads of the poor ignorant dupes, exclaiming to his Cardinals that surrounded him, “He who wishes to be deceived, let him be deceived.”
(To be continued.)
No. 10, Vol. 10.] LONDON, Friday, Sept. 10, 1824. [Price 6d.
TO HENRY CHARLES, THE SON OF MRS.
Dorchester Gaol, August 29, 1824. SON OF AN ADULTERESS! The law of primogeniture, as established by the existing laws and custom of this country, is a law of public robbery: This is evident in two cases: first, when debts accumulated among private individuals are not recoverable by a writ of levy upon freehold property, though such debts may bave been obtained upon the existence and show of such property: aud secondly, when by the elder son's inheriting the whole of such property, if there be a large family, the remainder are left as beggars and sought to be thrown upon the maintenance of the public taxes, that is, upon the maintenance of those who labour.
This law is, in this country, as old as the feudal system; though, in Kent, and other places, a privileged exception has existed, under the title of the law of Gavelkind, which exception is a proof, that it must have been conquered in ancient time, and that the law of primogeniture has from the first been viewed as oppressive and abominable to the mass of the people. The feudal system is not yet extinct in this country; this abominable law is the chief of its remains; and, when abolished, will seal the extinction of an odious feudal power.
I will lay it down as a social maxim, that none are useful in society but those who labour, who have acquired property by labour, or who employ their time in studying to increase the powers of production. The first business of arimal life is consumption; the second, to improve the means of producing that which is necessary and wholesome to be consumed. They, who have never done any thing but to
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consume, are the drones that may be advantageously expe led from the hive, or else compelled to be useful.
Labour is of two kinds, physical and moral, bodily and mental: the object, or professed object of both is human happiness, to obtain for consumption a share of that which is produced.
None pay taxes but those who labour, or who live upon the accumulated produce of former labour. All taxation is a tax upon past or present produce. They who are maintained by taxes pay none, though they pass through the formality. The question with regard to them is, what is the net amount of income after all deductions are made ? That net amount is the sum which they draw from the public produce. Hence it may be seen, that every superfluous consumer of the public produce consumes what should be left to comfort ibe labourer who produces. Every priest, every kind of pensioner, and every superfluous public salaried officer is one of those superfluous consumers.
From these propositions it will be seen, that the first evil of the law of primogeniture is aggravated in the custom, that, although the younger branches of the family are deprived of all hereditary property, it is held to be derogatory to the station held in society by the elder one, that they should seek advancement in life by useful labour! Thus, the one is unjustly pampered, by engrossing the whole property of the parents, and the others are detained in a wretched and scandalous inaction, until they can be disposed of as public paupers, lest their honest industry should detract from the fame and splendour of the elder brother! Miserable perversion of social happiness!
It is said, that such an aristocracy, as this law of primogeniture creates, is beneficial, from its great consumption, to the manufacturer and agriculturist, and to all who live by their industry. But this is an error in judgment; because the same untaxed, or so much less taxed, exertion of the labourer, would leave him that additional share of comforts, which be pays in the shape of tax to support the splendour of such an aristocracy. An aristocracy that shall arise from genius and industry will be a really powerful and useful class in society; because it will never suffer a branch of its family to exist in idleness upon the public taxes; but such an aristocracy as does exist in this and many other countries incessantly paralyzes the efforts of a very large class of society. What advantage, what embellishment to society is it, to see one well-dressed family wallowing in unwholesome