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the progress of fraud preceded the progress of reason, and until this order is reversed, the priests will triumph over justice. The inconsistency of the priests, exposes their own delinquencythey preach the patience they never practise ; deprecate the deceit they exercise; attack duelling and defend war; forward to preach. against wealth, and the first in the rank of sordid avarice; they talk as if they could live but for a day, and act as if they could live for ever; they profess humility, and practise splendour-submission, and exercise tyranny. Do the lives of the clergy and the maxims of the Gospel correspond? While the body of the people were ignorant, without reason, and void of that reflection necessary to compare ideas, such contradictions would be seldom detected: but the increase of knowledge enabling the dupes to detect the tricks of the impostors, the cheats had their masks toro off and expored. The situation of this body, acquired by a long succession of gain and power, made it difficult of attack; intrenched in strong holds, and having enlisted under its banners, of religion a great part of the unsuspecting people, they have bad the address to make them fall upon their benefactors; they have raised an outcry of blasphemy against those more wise, more liberal, and more charitable than themselves, and destroyed them by adroitly managing the passions - sometimes exciting hope, at. other times fear, they commanded the moral world; urged by gain and power, the priests have engaged nations, who never dreamed of the individual interest of ther blind guides, to worry each other; but priests in all religious quarrels have private views to attain; the cause of God is the cause of the priests' pocket, the cause of his country the accession of his power : the priests have been uniformly adroit in persuading their dupes that they were advocating the people's cause and not their own, and while they pursued the most profound designs upon the pockets of the people they professed candour, self denial and disinterestedness : practised in the deepest dissimulation and acting with trained conceit, people ignorant of letters or swayed by bigotry would be readily deceived.
The priests who best understand the principles of their trade pay no regard to what is true, but only attend to what is profitable; if they acted otherwise they would not be priests, if they were conscientious they would not practise the doctrine of imposture, they would retire from a trade they must shudder at, they would loathe a religion founded upon hypocrisy, they would withdraw their individual countenance from a course of fraud; if they or any one among them, who are more enlightened and do not forsake weir trade when they have discovered that it is founded in avarice and imposition, they are more culpable than those who believe in the nonsense they preach. The priests impute all sorts of human vices to God, they impute to him all the crimes and virtues due to men. In the name of God the priests commit cvery:
enornsity: whoever disbelieves the nonsense has the pleasure of exciting their veryom, and they pour out their filib and anathemas in God's name. This spiritual artillery is laughed at by the reasoner, and instead of proving any thing of God ouly better exposes the denion priest: All sorts of inpostures pretend to divine - agency and favour, and if there is any wickedness on earth, it is committed by priests assuming divine attributes to effect some base and malicious purpose. Since the priests have succeeded in establishing religion as a trade, they have trumped up a parcel of lies which they continually vary, and with those lies they have sot np the lucrative trade of religious imposition.
Before the reign of priests, the human mind would not be bound and carried captive by prejudice and superstition, if men were ignotant and hadeomparatively few ideas, those ideas would be confined to objects with which they were acquainted, there would be nothing in nature to mislead siinple and incorrupted man. The first debasement and corruption of the human niind was accom: plished by the nefarious machinations of priests. Having succeeded in exciting a morbid apprehension, they suggested their nostrum religion as a remedy. The priests always pretend to preach for the benefit of the people and never for themselves, they keep their individual benefits behind; if there is any doubt of this let the people cease to pay them and the priests will cease to offsciate. Those who first submitted to the guidance of priests, could not be desirous of being robbed and enslaved, the priests deprared the senses of man by exciting a fallacious apprehension ; while men possessed right reason they would be difficult to dupe ; no religion could have been established if the priests had not held forth a living, revengeful, malicious and arbitrarygod, whose favour they could propitiate, and whose vengeance they could conciliate provided they were paid. By threats and promises the priests settled large revenues upon themselves, by base pretences monopolized the fruits of the earth and the product of man's labour. Nothing but false doctrines and pretences have promoted the progress of priests. No honest schemes ever advanced this body to its present power and wealth. Tell me the degree of their power and I will tell you the extent of their riches. Sometimes the people are so onhappy as to be fleeced by kings as well as priests; under such circunstances, the two races of tyrants participate in the plunder, they are generally too politic to disagree about the loaves and fishes, yet cupidity and the despotism of each party have excited the inost sanguinary wars, for the sole purpose of deciding who should have the privilege of robbing the ho est inoffensive people. Now it seems to be the policy of man; regal states to suffer the priests to participate largely, on condition that the priests will preach up the right of passive obedience and non-resistance, and the divine right of kings. The priests in their progress have made a point of destroying the best and wisest
No. 1. Vol. 14.
men, they have seldom apprehended any but the good, who they have under some pretext imprisoned, exiled or murdered*. They were sure to be destroyed, if they did not hold sacred the oracles, mysteries, auguries, miracles and incantations. The treacherous priests have instigated the unsuspecting people to commit the greatest acts of injustice upon those men who were their friends and benefactors, who aimed at nothing but the emancipation of the human mind from barbarism, prejudice, and slavery. It is not the martyrs in the cause of liberty that have been disgraced, it is the thoughtless people, the priests have used as tools, that have covered themselves with inmortal infamy, it is the fiery bigots who have spilt the blood of the kindest and wisest of mankind, The priests have destroyed the philosophers of all times, because the latter have always devoted their talents to lessen the calamities of human nature.
Without entering into the question of there being any religion, or of the policy of a religion, it is only determined that all existing religions are the contrivance of priests to promote their private interests; a religion founded upon the basis of morality, and kept divested of all the quackery of priestcraft, as has been proposed by the Theophilanthropists, could not be hateful, as nothing but social duties are inculcated, but the existing religions are not only absurd, but inculcate criminal principles. False doctrines never can make men better members of society but worse, for priestcraft is conducted not upon dogmas that ever did or could improve the manners of the people, but upon a plan that augments the finances and spiritual power of the priests. A mere religion has been the most loathsome pest of all countries, because it has originated from the basest passions of the basest part of mankind, who engrossed power under the pretence of public benefit, and converted it into individual profit, to the public injury; before a rational religion can be established, the whole of the present systems, with all their fraud, deceit, perjuries and falsehood must be destroyed; the whole of the rubbish must be swept away, this Augean stable must be cleansed before the foundation of a wise and moral fabric can be laid ; perfidy and guilt must be eradicated, human reason must include every thing but what is founded upon the evidence of the senses, if the senses are fallible they are our best and only guide; faith and sophistry must be expelled. The interest and safety of nations demand the exercise of reason. Society is reduced to the most pitiful, abject and detestable state by predominating priests, there is nothing to be hoped for from the continuanče of the present systems of religion; chains, poverty and death make their disastrous march, mental and bodily slavery maintained by priests suffocate all the projects that are started for the benefit of human nature. Any philosophic design is mildewed by the direct or indirect influence of the priests, it is
l'ide History of Oracles, p. 116.
tirhe that sensible men arouse from their lethargy and shake off this horrible tyranny, and let the son of reason shine to dispel the pestiferous mists of priestcraft.
Political conquests however unjust and sanguinary could only enslave the body: the tyranny of the sword is hardly an evil compared with the spiritual tyranny of the priests that debases man below a reasoning creature; the greatest political tyrants of the earth were innocent, spotless and free from crime when compared with the massacres, assassinations and bloody persecutions committed by priests, in their career to wealth and power. Bigotry and avarice, in spiritual combination, have not only destroyed ten times more people than now exist on the whole earth ; but such baseness has barbarised all succeeding generations of men.
Such people as are only superficial observers of the priests' progress, or who may be led by hypothesis to suppose that this class of men are traduced, and that those who have read the best morał writers are not so culpable as represented; such simple people may be assured that the priests of all sects and all times, so far from being the most pious as they never fail to assert, are the most wicked and dissolute of mankind : abandoned to temporal power and sordid avarice, they never do any good except by mistake and then they seriously reproach themselves for it; the priests by better education and long practised subtlety reform upon all the vices perpetuated by mankind, and actually commit crimes other men would shudder at, or are generally exempted from by reason of enorinity; the crimes of the priests have become so crying that those who judge impartially do not continue to hope to see one exempt from vice, if they are so it is an exception to the general rule, but if laymen commit a crime it is as the rule to the exception—the priests are generally guilty-the people generally innocent, all the vices of priests lineally descend from one to another with successive corruptions and their corruptions and machinations are their stock in trade, because they fill the exchequer; the concatenation of the priests' villainy has been so orderly that some are not surprised at their extent; the seniors initiate the juniors into the chicanery of their trade, and it is at a youthfol age when impressions are durable that the mind is corrupted. In the reigning religion, no houest man can get into holy orders, the only avenue is through the door of perjury, and any one who can deliberately commit an act, the bare mentioning of which the callous perjured priests affect to shudder at, must be so abandoned as to be unworthy the name of man; there is no degree of contempt, scorn and hatred such a wretch does not deserve ; the miscreant swears he is moved by the holy ghost, when he is only moved by “ filthy lucre," nothing can show the beastly charaeter of the priests better than the corruption of its young members; they make the novices by college and ordination acts commit the most flagrant perjuries, to qualify them for profit and
power ; it must be systematically intended to degrade men, lon make them take such oaths that they be qualified to exercise suba a perfidy and impiety. If there is even under such circumstances a 1 belief that the oath is conscientious, we may well pity the gross 1 perversion of reason and common sense that prompts such delusions; yet for exposing such vices and absurdilies, a man is liable 10 the most inveterate persecution, and the thoughtless people for whom he labours are induced by the koavish priests to join in the execrable act. The priests are always the most inveteraten persecutors, they pursue with the most implacable rancour alla who doubt the justice of putting down opposition by the most eruel means, but punish all who differ in opinion, however cons scientious. Every priest persecutes with as much zeal as if his whole brotherhood, of all sects and nations, thought with himself. So far from all priests thinking alike, no two have the same religious opinion, amidst the multitude of sects upon the earth. It is the priests who foment and originate persecution. This borrid spirit would not by its own elementary matter be of any duration: if it was not excited by the priests, who have venal purposes to answer, the people not being at the labour of thinking for them, selves have this passion induced by the priests, who being oppost,
ed to the benefactors of the human race, and having a different · interest, promote such maxims only as suit their interest. The priests do not pay any regard to the truth of their doctrine but ooly to the promotions of their trade. The people on the other hand should study the truth for the sake of the truth, they should examine into matters so vitally important, and should never above all things sec with the eyes of the enemies. The false doctrines of the priests poison the source of human wisdom and hinder the propagation of useful knowledge, as priesteraft declines so will reason ramify through every avenue of society,
Priests are not only individually fond of pageantry, but they well know that splendid ceremonies captivate unthinking people, magnificent temples and gorgeous parade carry many down the stream of superstition that would resist other modes of seduction. When the priests have been successful in intoxicating the people, they have been lavish in the exhibition of shows; by thus conştantly occupying the people's attention, they have been prevented from noticing other things. The priests have had the address to vary religious ceremonies in different climates, to meet atmospherical variation. The Gentoo, the Christian, the Jew, and the Mahonetan rites may be cited in proof. If religion was stripped of its splendid, but useless, appendages, it would be reduced to a very harmless and unpopular state; it is upon this account that religion, founded upon good sense and reason, will never make many converts. To make a good trade the priests must make religion something mysterions; abstruse and equivocal in its worship, but specific in its dogmas. The priests must never lose sight of a