תמונות בעמוד

“ The Christian mythologists, after having confined Satau in a pit, were obliged to let bim out again to bring on the sequel of the fable. He is then introduced into the garden of Eden in the shape of a snake or a serpent; and in that shape he enters into familiar conversation with Eve, who is no way surprised to hear a snake talk; and the issue of this tête à tête is, that he persuades her to eat an apple; and the eating of that apple damns all mankind.

“ After giving Satan tbis triumph over the whole creation, one would have supposed that the Church mythologists would have been kind enough to send him back again to the pit; or, if they had not done this, that they would have put a mountain upon him (for they say that their faith can remove a mountain) or have put him under a mountain, as the former mythologists had done, to prevent his getting again among the women and doing more mischief. But, instead of this, they leave him at large, without even obliging him to give his parole—the secret of which is, that they could not do without him; and, after being at the trouble of making him, they bribed bim to stay. They promised him ALL the Jews, ALL the Turks, by anticipation, nine-tenths of the world beside, and Mahomet into the bargain. After this, who can doubt the bountifulness of the Christian my. thology!

“ Having thus made an insurrection and a battle in Heaven, in which none of the combatants could be either killed or wounded-put Satan into the pit-let him out againgiven him a triumph over the whole creation-damped all mankind by eating of an apple,-these Christian mythologists bring the two ends of their fable together. They represent this virtuous and amiable man Jesus Christ to be at once both God and man, and also the Son of God, celestially begotten on purpose to be sacrificed, because they say that Eve in her longing bad eaten an apple.

“ Putting aside every thing that might excite laughter by its absurdity, or detestation by its profaneness, and confining ourselves merely to an examination of the parts, it is impossible to conceive a story more derogatory to the Almighty, more inconstent with his wisdom, more contradictory to his power, than this story is.” As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entitled the " Age of Reason,” Part 1st:-“ Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more ccosist

ent that we called it the word of a Demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest every thing that is cruel.

“ We scarcely meet with any thing, a few pbrases excepted, but what deserves either our abhorrence or our contempt, till we come to the miscellaneous parts of the Bible.” As also, the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, en tituled the “ Age of Reason,” Part 1st :“ Did the book called the Bible excel in purity of ideas and expression all the books that are now extant in the world, I would not take it for my rule of faith as being the word of God, because the possibility would nevertheless exist of my being imposed upon. But, wben I see throughout the greatest part of this book scarcely any thing but a history of the grossest vices, and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales, I cannot dishonour my Creator by calling it by his name:" As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, Part 1st:-" As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of atheism-a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as pear to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious or an irreligious eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade. The effect of this obscurity has been that of turning every thing upside down, and representing it in reverse; and, among the revolutions, it has thus magically produced, it has made a revolution in theology.” As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, Part 1st:-“ Putting, then, aside, as a matter of distinct consideration, the outrage offered to the moral justice of God, by supposing him to make the innocent suffer for the guilty, and also the loose morality and low coutrivance of supposing him to change himself into the shape of a man, in order to make an excuse to bimself for not executing his supposed sentence upon Adam; putting, I say, those things aside, as matter of distinct consideration, it is certain that what is called the Christian system of faith, including in it the whimsical account of the creation,—the strange story of

No. 11, Vol. X.

Eve, the snake, and the apple,—the ambiguous idea of a man-god,--the corporeal idea of the death of a Godthe mythological idea of a family of gods, and the Christian system of arithmetic, that three are one and one is three, are all irreconcileable, not only to the divine gift of reason that God hath given to man, but to the knowledge that man gains of the power and wisdom of God by the aid of the sciences, and by studying the structure of the universe that God has made." And also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, Part 2d:-" There are matters in that book, said to be done by the express command of God, · that are as shocking to humanity, and to every idea we bave of moral justice, as any thing done by Robespierre, by Carrier, by Joseph le Bon, in France, by the English Government in the East Indies, or by any other assassin in modern times. When we read in the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, &c. that they (the Israelites) came by stealth upon whole nations of people, who, as the history itself shews, had given them no offence; tbat they put all those nations to the sword; that they spared neither age nor infancy; that they utterly destroyed men, women, and cbildren; that they left not a soul to breathe,-expressions that are repeated over and over again in those books, and that, too, with exulting ferocity,—are we sure these things are facts? Are we sure that the creator of man commissioned these things to be done? Are we sure that the books that tell us so were written by his authority? It is not the antiquity of a tale that is any evidence of its truth; on the contrary, it is a symptom of its being fabulous; for the more ancient any thing pretends to be, the more it has the resemblance of a fable. The origin of every nation is buried in fabulous tradition ; and that of the Jews is as much to be suspected as any other. To charge the commission of acts upon the Almighty, which, in their own nature, and by overy rule of moral justice, are crimes, as all assassination is, and more especially the assassination of infants, is matter of serious concern. The Bible tells us that those assassinations were done by the express command of God. To believe, therefore, the Bible to be true, we must unbelieve all our belief in the moral justice of God; for wherein could crying or smiling infants offend? And to read the Bible without horror, we must undo every thing that is tender, sympatbising, and benevolent in the heart of man. Speaking for myself, if I had no other evidence that the Bible is fabulous than the sacrifice I must make to believe it to be true, that alone

would be sufficient to determine my choice:” As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, eptituled the Age of Reason, Part 2d :-“ People in general know not what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it; and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! it is quite another thing; it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty ?” As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, Part 2d.— “ As it is nothing extraordinary that a woman should be with cbild before she was married, and that the son she might bring forth should be executed even unjustly; I see no reason for not believing that such a woman as Mary, and such a man as Joseph and Jesus existed. Their mere existence is a matter of indifference about w bich there is no ground either to believe or to disbelieve, and which comes under the common head of, it may be so, and what then? The probability however, is, that there were such persons, or at least such as resembled them in part of the circumstances; because almost all romantic stories have been suggested by some actual circumstance, as the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, not a word of which is true, were suggested by the case of Alexander Selkirk. It is not then the existence or pon-existence of the persons that I trouble myself about,-it is the fable of Jesus Christ as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.” As also the following passage in that part of the said, book or printed work entituled, the Age of Reason, Part 2d:—“I have now gone through the examination of the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and when it is considered that the whole space of time, from the crucifix. ion to what is called the ascension, is but a few days, apparently not more than three or four, and that all the circumstances are reported to have happened nearly about the same spot, ---Jerusalem,--it is, I believe, impossible to find in any story upon record so many and such glaring absurdities, contradictions, and falsehoods, as are in these books." As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, Part 2d :

" The most detestable wickedness, the r Anost horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have affiicte id the human race, have bad their origiu in this thing called drevelation, or revealed religion. It bas been the most dishironourable belief against the character of the Divinity, the most destructive to morality and the peace and happiness of man, lihat ever was propagated since man began to exist. It is better, far better, that we admitted, if it were possible, a thousand devils to roam at large, and to preach publicly the doctrine of devils, if there were any such, than that we permitted one such impostor and monster as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the Bibleprophets, to come with the pretended word of God, in his mouth, and have credit among us. Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with wbicb the Bible is filled ; and the bloody persecutions and tortures unto death, and religious wars, that since that time bave laid Europe in blood and ashes? W bence arose they but from this impious thing called revealed religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man. The lies of the Bible bave been the cause of the one, and the lies of the Testament of the other:"-As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, part 2d :-“ It is incumbent on every man who reverences the character of the Creator, and who wishes to lessen the catalogue of artificial miseries, and remore the cause that has sown persecutions thick upon mankind, to expel all ideas of revealed religion as a dangerous heresy and an impious fraud. What is it that we have learned from this pretended thing called revealed religion ? Noibing that is useful to man, and every thing that is disbonourable to his Maker. What is it that the Bible teaches us? Rapine, cruelty, and murder. What is it the Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debaucbery with a woman engaged to be married! And the belief of this debauchery is called faith. As to the fragments of morality that are irregularly and thinly scattered in those books, they make no part of this pretended thing, revealed religion. They are toe natural dictates of conscience, and the bonds by which society is beld together, and without which it cannot exist; and are nearly the same in all religions and in all societies. The Testament teaches nothing new upon the subject; and where it attempts to exceed, it becomes mean and ridiculous:" As also the following passage in that part of the said book or printed work, entituled the Age of Reason, Part 2d;~" Of all the systems of religions that ever were invented there is none more derogatory

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