תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it unto the ground (for he was fast asleep and weary ;) so he died.' The Angel of the Lord said, ' Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, be; blessed shall she be above women in the tent. He asked water, and she gave hinwmilk. She brought forth butter in a lordly dish. She pfl^v hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workma^^pammer; with the jammer she smote Sisera! The mdTher of Sisera looked out at window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the wheels of his chariot?' I do not request you to renounce your belief in the truth of the narrative. It is told in a very natural way, and has all the marks of genuine authenticity. The part which Jael is said to have acted is that which might be done in our own days by any female who was entirely destitute of the milk of human kindness, and whose mind was under the influence of the worst species of higoted fanaticism; and we have too much evidence to prove that such characters have existed in all ages of the world. The idea which I wish you to renounce is that which is coutained in the latter part of the narrative, where the approhation of the Spirit of God is said to be given to such a transaction; when the feelings of a mother for theabseuce of a murdered son are introduced as subjects of merriment, the introduction of which feelings for which purpose is also ascribed to the Spirit of God. Do not misunderstand me; for here we are at serious points. If this is truly the inspiration of God, I acknowledge at once that we ought to believe it; and the ground upon which I reject it, and wish you to reject it, is solely because, to have error and inconsistency marked in the face of it, such a belief is * Neither profitable for doctrine, for correction, nor for instruction in righteousness..' And we are commanded to overcome our enemies by kindness, or to remove their enmity by convincing them they have no just cause to be our enemies; and we are also commanded to return good for evil; and these commandments we have received from a power which is without variableness or shadow of change, which is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever. Upon what authority are we to attribute the approval of such deeds to the Spirit of the God of Nature? Is it simply because we find this account written in a Jewish narrative? We have the same authority for believing that there is no respect of persons with God, and that be has given a law which condemns in the most explicit manner all such deeds as those to which the approhation of his Spirit has here been falsely ascribed. On this point, my faith and your's are completely at variance. Either the Spirit of God has bestowed his approhation upon assassination of the worst species, or a Jewish writer in ihe heat of party spirit, has belied the Creator. Vour faith leads you to believe in the former alternative, wtyle by my faith I am induced to prefer the latter; and lam reviled and persecuted for holding this latter opinion, while you are paid and respected for maintaining and disseminating theformeropinion." (2.) AND FARTHER, on the 14th, or on one or other of the days of February 1824, or of January immediately preceding, or of March immediately following, within the premises in Adam's Square, South Bridge of Edinburgh, then and now or lately occupied by you as a bookseller's shop and - reading room, you the said James Affleck did wickedly and feloniously publish, vend, and circulate, by then and there delivering to John Nugent, now or lately residing in the Pleasance of Edinburgh, in exchange for the sum of fourpence, or some other sum of money then and there paid by the said John Nugent to you as the price thereof, a printed copy of the profane, impious, and blasphemous book or work above libelled, denying the truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures and of the Christian Religion, and tending to asperse, vilify, and ridicule, or bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures and Christian Religion, particularly in the passage above quoted, contained in the said book or work. (3.) L1KEAS, in the month of December I82S or in the course of the months of October or November of that year, or of January or February 1824, you the said James Affleck did wickedly and feloniously print, or cause or procure to be printed, by David Webster, printer, Horse Wynd of Edinburgh, and Thomas Webster, his son, or one or other of them, at the printing office or premises then and now or lately occupied by them, or one or other of them, at Horse Wynd aforesaid, a profane impious, and blasphemous book or work entituled " Letter Second from the President of the Edinburgh Freethinkers Zetetick Society to the Moderator of the Geueral assembly of the Church of Scotland, upon the subject of union," bearing to be printed for James Affleck, 74, Adam's Square, sold at 84, Fleet Street, London," and denying the truth aud authority of the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Religion, and tending to asperse, vilify, and ridicule, or bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Religion, particularly in the following passage: "I expressed an opinion that you erred egregiousli/ in believing too much; because I then thought that you and jour followers sincerely believed in all the doctrines of the Bible. I now think otherwise. The Bible appears to me to contain a considerable portion of sound rational doctrine, completely in unison with those ideas of rectitude and propriety which have been acknowledged in all ages and in all nations. It contains a great many precepts which are also in unison with fbe ideas which all nations have formed of the eternal and immutable laws of justice; and it relates many historical facts which are in unison with the existing laws of nature. On the other hand, it brings forward as right and proper several actions which are directly opposed to our ideas of rectitude and propriety, and which appear to us to be at variance with the eternal and immutable laws of justice; and it relates as historical facts several occurrences which are not in accordance with theexisting laws of nature. Now, it is my present opinion that the human mind cannot embrace and sincerely believe these apparent incongruities. Those who receive the former must reject the latter; while those who receive the latter must reject the former. I speak this from observation; and for the proof ot its truth, 1 appeal to the experience of mankind. All nominal Christians profess to believe in the irrational side of this question." And in the following passage:—"When arguments have failed, you have appealed to the selfish passions, by promises of rewards and threatenings of punishments, as if you had said,' Believe that Moses was commanded to slay a whole nation of ignorant people, and to hathe his hands in the blood of their smiling infants. Believe that this command was given by a God who has declared that we ought to do unto others on all occasionsas we would wish them to do unto us,—who has commanded us to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly,—a God with whom there is no respect of persons, and who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Believe in unnatural and irrational dogmas, and you shall be rewarded with joy everlasting; but you shall be visited with everlasting destruction if you refuse to sacrifice the reason your Creator has given you." (4.) AND FURTHER, on the 14th, or one or other of the days of February 1824, or of January immediately preceding, or of March immediately following, within the premises in Adam's Square, South Bridge, Edinburgh, then and now or lately occupied by you as a bookseller's shop and reading room, you the said James Affleck did wickedly and feloniously publish, vend, and circulate, by then and there delivering to the said John Nugent, in

exchange for the sum of fourpence, or some other sum of money, then and there paid by the said John Nugent to you as the price thereof, a printed copy of the profane, impious, and blasphemous book or work last above libelled, denying the truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures and of the Christian religion, intended to asperse, vilify, and ridicule, or bring into contempt the Holy Scriptures and the Christian religion, and particularly in the two passages last above quoted, contained in the said book or work. (8.) L1KEAS, in the month of December 1823, or in the course of the months of October or November of that year, or of January or February 1824, you the said James Affleck did wickedly and feloniously print, or cause or procure to be printed by David Webster, printer, Horse Wynd of Edinburgh, and Thomas Webster his son, or one or other of them, at the printing office or premises, then and now or lately occupied by them or one or other of them, at Horse Wynd aforesaid, a profane, impious, and blasphemous book or work, entituled "The Zetetick Society's Shorter Catechism, for explaining to the young and the ignorant the principles of Atheism," bearing to be printed "for James Affleck, 74, Adam's Square, Edinburgh," and denying the truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures, and of the Christian Religion, and tending to asperse, vilify, and ridicule, or bring into contempt, the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Religion, and which book or work was of the following tenor:

"Q. Does the word ' God' convey to the Human Mind, an idea of a Reality?

"A. Only when the idea it conveys refers to the Great Incomprehensible Power, whose agency 'directs the atom, and controuls the aggregate of matter.'

"Q. Is the existence of this Power a subject of doubt? "A. It is the most certain of all Demonstrable Truths, and can neither be denied nor disputed.

"Q. Is it not generally supposed, that the existence of this Power, is denied or disputed by Atheists?

"A. This notion is pretty general, but it is entertained, either because they have not made themselves rightly understood, or because the people have been misled and deceived, (through ignorance or intention,) by those whose duty it was to instruct them. ., "Q. Where do Atheists get their knowledge of God? "A. From the Visible Works of Creation, which can neither be suppressed, subverted, nor disputed. These are open to the senses of all; for wherever we turn our eyes, we are met by objects, calculated to inspire our minds with feelings of the deepest admiration. In thinking, for instance, of the animalculffl that dwell upon a leaf, or that swim about in a drop of water, when we consider the smallness of the various members and organs of sense which these may possess, in common with larger animals, a small fly will become, in the contrast, an object of magnitude. On the other hand, when we contemplate the immense magnitude of the Heavenly Bodies, and the room they occupy in space, the Earth, on which we dwell, becomes a small object, even in the Solar System; while this system, in its turn, sinks into insignificance, when contrasted with the Heavenly Bodies that are visible around it. And all these, again, may perhaps be only as a single speck in the universe, when contrasted with the innumerable host, which, in all prohahility, continue to roll, in harmony, throughout the regions of unlimited space.

"Q. Is it from the contemplation of such objects, that we can best acquire a knowledge of God?

"A. This is a point upon which the world is divided in opinion, and upon which no individual has any just title to dictate for another. But we know that, in other cases, those "individuals who receive their ideas from personal observation, are less liable to be deceived, than those are, who rely altogether on Traditionary accounts of others.

"Q. When we contemplate the MAGNITUDE of the Works of Creation, can any description surpass the reality?

"A. The globe which we inhahit is, to us, an object of stupendous magnitude,—grater than our ideas can comprehend; and containing an expanse which our eyes could uot survey, although the whole span of our present existence was devoted to this purpose alone. It therefore appears, from what has been already said, that, in trying, by words, to give an adequate idea of the whole, the Reality, in point of magnitude, must exceed all description.

"Q. When we contemplate the WISDOM which is manifested in these works, can any description surpass the Reality?

"A. When we look at a fish in the water, or a hird in the arr,—when we survey the mechanism of the Human Figure, with all its various organs,—when we consider the wonderful adaptation of these for their various purposes,—when we , contemplate the harmony and order of the spheres,—indeed, wherever we turn our eyes, we are met by objects, which

« הקודםהמשך »