תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the Jury, we find at the very outset, that Mr. Carlile does not wish to impose upon the mere untutored reader by advancing a dogma, or by the mere persuasive powers of his pen to shake the faith of bis readers; he proceeds to offer proof of the truth of his assertions, and of the falsity of “ religion as by law established.” He then proceeds, “I assail them upon every ground that they can take;. if they talk to me about the moral utility of Christianity, I shew them that its practical character, in all countries, throughout its history, is bad.” Now, Gentlemen, allow me to ask, do you want proof, even in your capacity of jurors, of the evil tendency of a mere religious education? Whence arises the terrible increase of crime which prolongs your arduous duties to such an extent, as to render it necessary to have an additional court, in which to sit in justice on the offenders, who are led by want and ignorance to the commission of crimes? Their want of moral firmness to resist temptation arises partly from the absence of all knowledge, excepting of religion as by “ law established;" and their necessities, which stimulate them to the commission of crimes, arise from that system of government which has brought this wretched country well nigh to a level with Spain the servile; and from that load of unjust and unnecessary taxation, which has, been wrung, and still is, from the starving people, to pay the Christian and enlightened advocates of “ religion as by law established." Yes, Gentlemen, the same system and the same persons who cause you so much painful labour by increasing the crimes of the lower orders; have, by creating a fund for the reward of sycophantic toad-eaters, procured you the trouble of deciding whether Christianity is, or is not “ part and parcel of the law of the land.” But, Gentlemen, if you cannot, in this unhappy country, find enough of proof of the practical evils resulting from Christianity, turn your eyes to unhappy Ireland. Behold her devoted and hard-working population sinking beneath the load of oppression. What has caused that fertile country to be reduced to such a miserable plight? Is it Deism? Is it Atheism? Is it even Catholicism? Oh no, it is none of these. It is the operation of the law, of which Protestantism is part and parcel-administered in many cases, by preachers of the doctrines of the lowly Jesus! When we see all these things, shall we shut out conviction froin our hearts? Shall we, from fear of the interested and canting upholders of Christianity, neglect to point out the evils arising from a “ part and parcel of the law of the land ?" Is it not clear then, Gentlemen, that the practical character of religion as by law esIblished is bad? Mr. C. then proceeds: “If they refer me to the moral worth of the New Testament as a book, I shew them, by an analysis, that it exhibits more of immorality than of morality.” Gentlemen, I not only agree with and admire the sentiments contained in the entire article, but I would have given one or both of my ears to have written so bold, so manly an article. To prove that both Testaments are immoral, requires little space; to prove them ridiculous, still less-what is there of morality in (supposing it true, causing the sun to stand still, that work of mur

No. 3, Vol. X.

der and spoilation might be completed with greater facility? The other characters I have already shewn up in the language of the sacred* writer himself'; nor shall I tire either myself or you by a repetition of the pauseous details. But the absurdities contained in the history of the miracles are so ridiculously amusing, that I cannot pass them by so lightly: passing over his raising from the dead, a fellow who was well nigh rotten, for it appears that decomposition had manifested itself in an unpleasant smell, setting aside also the agreeable trifles of stealing an ass, for which one would imagine there was no necessity seeing how many there were enrolled in the list of his disciples, and commanding his disciples to take neither scrip nor change of clothes, a course of conduct which, if pursued by his disciples in the present day, would inevitably qualify them for a place at the tread mill. Disregarding all these, was it like a God to curse a fig-tree for not bearing fruit out of season? Where was the humility, the divinity of conduct? why, an hungry fellow in a chop house could not act worse towards a dilatory waiter. The turning water into wine was a miracle of so convivial a character, that had he but accompanied it by a song, he would have been elecied King of good fellows to the end of time. Indeed, all his miracles in the feeding time were decidedly good natured; though they were as decidedly foolish. For to me, it seemeth to realise the vulgar proverb of breaking a man's head, and giving him a plaster-inasmuch, as but for his having drawn the people from their homes, they needed not his five thousandth part of five loaves and two small fishes. But though some of his miracles bear the appearance of good nature, yet there are some so utterly useless and ridiculous, that they provoke contempt for the man who first conceived the idea of inposing them on the world as the acts of a God! What, for instance, could be more ridiculous than the idea of Christ the son of God taking a bird's eye view of the kingdoms of the world, with the devil for his master of the ceremonies? The devil must surely have been drunk or in his dotage to imagine it possible to tempt Christ, by offering a small, very small part of that which was already bis, as a member of the trinity.

“ If, (says Mr. Carlile in continuation) “ they talk to me about Jesus Christ as a saviour for a future life, I explain to them that there is no future life, that shall be conscious of the present: that there are no such places in being as they call heaven and hell; and that consequently no such beings as they call Jesus Christ or devil can be in existence.” Now, Gentlemen, without the primary proofs of the non-existence of Heaven and Hell, I undertake to justify this part of the alleged libel by asserting (and I am confident that every reasonable man will agree with me.) that the very nature of the circumstances under which the said saviour is ushered into notice, are quite sufficient to warrant us in our scepticism as to his existence; and the clumsily manufactured tales of his life and adventures, so strongly confirm this evidence, that unless some of our divines will step forward and prove, not from books such as the Bible, but shew physically and morally:

* Alluding to the parts read from the Bible.

I st. That the circumstances of his birth are reconcilable with truth and reason: and secondly that the deeds attributed to him were reasonable and conducive to the welfare of mankind--unless some one will do this, our ultra-religionists will find themselves with empty pockets, and the prisons will be filled with persons imprisoned for a manly avowal of their opinions: but so far from religion gaining proselytes, the most zealons and intolerant will read and reflect, and as a natural consequence they will dismiss religion with the most sovereign contempi, wondering how they could so long have been gulled by the interested advocates of so slavish a system. “If they refer me (says Mr. C.) to the long standing history of the tale, I go to its origin, shew it to be fabulous, and that antiquity does not convert a fable to truth.” Allow me to ask, do you believe the story contained in Homer's Iliad? You will say that a man must be a downright fool to believe that Gods and Goddesses, if even they existed, would leave their blissful abode to enter into the quarrels of mortals. But softly, Gentlemen, there is a greater analogy between the two stories than you imagine. I mean as to probability; for Homer's is by a great deal the most comprehensible and rational. In conclusion, as far as relates to the indicted passage, Mr. C., says: “ If they seek a refuge in the Old Testament, the history and present condition of the Jews, or the pretendad prophecies, I shew them the bad foundation of such a refuge, by shewing them, that the Jews were not known in Asia Minor, two thousand four hundred years ago; whilst their sacred books pretend to place their residence as a people in that country a thousand years before we have any authentic history of them. Such a circumstance proclaims their first fourteen books to be fabulous.” This passage is so conclusive, so comprehensive, and so indicative of the great talents and industrious research of its author, that I will not enlarge upon it. It has been read to you, but though the learned counsel made a great parade about the wickedness of such a passage; he prudently said nothing about its truth or falsehood. I assert that it is true in every particular, and I challenge the learned Judge to disprove it. I am not aware whether the Solicitor to the Treasury read the Republican throughout, or whether he pitches upon blasphemous passages by instinct, in either case, it is a little surprising that a passage, a little lower down in the same paragraph, escaped his notice. It is this, “ If they talk to me about a God; I ask them, what they mean to refer to by the word. To this they can give me no answer; for no one man knows any thing further about a God than any other man; and let every man put the question to himself, whether he knows any thing about God, and he will be consirained to say, that no one man is more of an Atheist than any other man. We are all atheists alike, when we examine the matter fairly, and rest upon our knowledge instead of our ignorance and superstition.” Think of this, my Lord, I do not doubt but it appears terrible that one man should write and another repeat that “ all men are Atheists.But so it is, for though weak minds may conjure up a gogmagog, and make it the beau ideal of their God, yet no man possessed of reasoning

powers, using them rightly, and shaking off the superstitioy? pus foly instilled into his mind in youth, can imagine any thing like of God. The very notion of a personified God, said to be an immatch yrial being, is to me perfectly laughable. Mr. Carlile is right: there is seno man more of an Atheist than another: “ there is no God.” Non, ought there to be any religion, but the religion of reason, commonly called Atheism. Having commented on the passage in Mr. C.'s letter, I must return to Mr. Clarke's, one part of which, although so ingeniously left out, I have already commented, I must now call your attention to a part which reads rather ridiculously without the context; but that I cannot help. I then told him that, “ if it had been the Bible I had sold, he would have been more justified in those means, for a more wicked and blasphemous book was ever published.” You will perceive, Gentlemen, by laying the proper emphasis on the word then and those, that the writer alludes to some previous proceeding, but although those proceedings are narrated in the same and the foregoing passages, and although the foregoing passage was read, and that only to me at Guildhall and again on Monday last, my Christian persecutors have thought fit to leave it out, from motives of the most honourable nature no doubt. Allow me to ask you, if you really believe in the existence of a God omnipotent, omniscient, and all benevolent; can you describe a book, containing accounts so numerous, of nations put to the sword; robbery comınitted in the worst of forms viz. under the guise of friendship; can you, I say, view a book asserting these and many other crimes to have been committed by commund of God; in any other light than that of a blasphemous and impious publication. Oh! if there is such a being as your Christian God; would he not consume a land in which sins are so many and so crying? Justice, in the words of Otway, “is lame as well as blind among us.” The self-styled preachers of the Gospel, are now proverbial for their rapacity and unfeeling conduct, for incontinence, gluttony, and I fear will shortly be so for a still worse crime. Your Bible is a compound of obscene and ridiculous stories, and your preachers in most cases are worthy the task of teaching such a creed. If any other proof were wanted of the known evil tendency of the Bible, this day has furnished me with a striking one, I opened the Bible, but observed that I should not read any thing that was likely to be offensive to female ears; but, notwithstanding this assurance, I had no sooner commenced a certain chapter, than a learned gentleman handed out of the court two ladies, apparently relatives. I had in the former chapter omitted those things that were indecent, yet the learned gentleman aware of the filthy tenor of certain parts, and imagining perhaps, that I had not sufficient circumspection to avoid the foul parts, caused his friends to retire. Freed from the restraint of the modest mantling cheek of lovely woman, I read those passages, and inwardly felt disgusted and wearied. But it was called forth by the myrmidons of Mr. Maule. They had called it blasphemy to ridicule this filthy, disgusting, and false book. I have proved it filthy. Mr. C. is calumniated; he is said to publish no works but such as are injurious to the morals of the people: it is false.

Were the people allowed to read such works as Mr. Carlile's, he would make the people moral, happy, and industrious. Does the Bible tend to increase their morality, their happiness, or their industry? Oh, no, it is a millstone round their necks. It fills their minds with doubt; but does it deter them from crimes? Oh, no, Christian; happy and enlightened England, has more crimes committed within her jurisdiction, than any other country in the known world, and her criminal code is perfectly Draconian. Cannot preaching or hanging, then, prevent crimes? Let us try what moral (not religious) writings can effect. But no, say our Christian law-makers, Christianity is good for you; Christians you shall be. We reply, Christianity is a humbug, we will resist, expose, and finally conquer it. The learned judge said, a day or two since, that the legislature would be called on for severe laws; let them legislate, let them make it death to publish our opinions; yet will they not find us shrink from our duty. Gentlemen of the Jury, I shall now take a short view of the question at issue. The learned Gentleman has told you, that the question is whether the “ law or the Defendants is to have the victory.” He said, that the work which I have published is a false blasphemy, and that the scriptures are trus, holy, divine, good, and all that sort of thing, for proof of which, you have the word of a lawyer! I say the Bible is a blasphemy, and the Republican, true, useful, well written; but, not divine. In proof of its truth; I have subpanied the Bible, you will of course believe the Bible, and the Bible asserts all, and more against certain characters, than the Republican does.- Marry, there's proof that it is useful, because the Bible being injurious, any thing tending to counteract it, is injurious; there is more proof for you, that it is well written, every man who knows any thing of composition must admit. Divinity, I believe none of our readers will accuse us of.

Respecting the smuggled paragraph. I shall not say much; it is ja itsell unanswerable; and, excepting in the way of prosecution, unassailable. At any rate, Christians have digested barder morsels, let them * " gulp it down," as a Spaniard would say; and judeed it is necessary they should use some means of preparation, for many a bitter dose will they yet have to swallow. But to the point: if, Gentlemen of the Jury, the authenticity of the scriptore can be proved by tangible reasoning, is it not the duty of its zealous and learned supporters to give us that proof in preference to calling you from your homes and useful avocations, to sanction by your verdict, our unjust and useless imprisonment? You will be toll, Gentlemen of the Jury, that our works are not published in the spirit of fair discussion; but, Gentlemen, whoever makes that assertion, either makes it unad

visedly, or with an intention of deceiving you. If we were - actuated by motives bostile to morality-what need bave we to publish the Moralist? It must be evident to you, Geotlemen of the Jury, that we aim at nothing beyond free

* Alluding to the song “ Tragala Perra.”

« הקודםהמשך »