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temains bear proof of this. Indeed, we need not search for proofs of that, to which the common sense of mankind' will ever beär witness. The Jews, Christians, and Mahometans have had no original God revealed to them. They have been the mere copyists, and corrupt ones, of the labours and decisions of men of former enlightened ages.
Section III. When a being under the idea of a God' was located in the human mind, it was necessary to find him some external location as a dwelling-place, and thus arose the idea of a heaven, The American Indians have it on the other side of a high blue mountain. The Greeks had it on the top of Olyınpus, their highest mountain. The writer of the Jew Books does not appear to have confined himself to the top or side of a mountain, he has crystalized the atmosphere of the earth and placed his Lord God above it. The Christian adheres to something of this notion, only, unluckily, for him of the present day, the telescope has extended his ideas, and has sent him a long way off, to a place, the boundary of which is not in sight, for his heaven; while some of them are so humble, as to talk of making the present earth, with a few repairs, a filling up of holes and a removing of projections, a little painting and whitewashing, answer the purpose of their future heaven. Thus man, and not the Lord, created the heaven and all things that are therein,
Section IV. There is ane thing to be said in favour of the Jewish religion, the Jews have made no hell. Though they were cruel to their enemies while living and in putting them to death, their cruelty did not extend beyond death, in finding them a place of perpetual torment. This divine and religious disposition has originated with the Christians, from whom the Mahometans have copied.
fices of animals and vegetables, fruit, wine, and oil, were declared necessary for the God; but intended as food or riotous living for the priest. Human labour, became taxed to support the God, aud religion began as an 'abuse and an evil. The first deification was the origin of moral evil, and the extinction of the last God will remove it.
.CONCLUSION. In this epitome of the history of the common God of mankind, it will not be well to enter into all the wanderings, of human error, to describe religious ceremonies. This must be reserved for the larger work. It is much to shew, that the Jews, Christians, and Mahometans have no original revelation upon the subject. It is much to shew, that there has been a common notion among mankind upon the subject of one God, or one most powerful God. And it is more to shew, that such a notion is erroneous, and that neither antiquity nor numbers can preserve it against the researches of this age displayed by free discussion.
Men are everywhere the same; their Gods are everywhere the same, and if they had not been alike erroneous, there could not have been a succession. The one true God, if there had been , a true God, would have triumphed over all others, or never have permitted their existence. They are all so many errors of the human imagination, that imagineth vain things and runneth after that which is marvellous. There are phenomena in matter ; but there is nothing marvellous, as far as it can be explained; and what cannot be explained should not be deemed marvellous. We should confess our ignorance and patiently wait for it while we industriously seek improvement. The history of God is no farther the history of a reality than the error and frailty of the human mind is a reality. We must feed it with knowledge and the error will vanish.
End of the History of God.
There was a Grecian philosopher, I think it was Simonides, asked the question, What is God? At first, he asked a day to consider it. : At the end of the day, he was pressed for an answer, and asked for two days; and the more he was pressed, the more time he asked. This circumstance proves, that God was then as much talked about and as little known as at present. It is a word to the wise and a stumbling-block to the ignorant. It is most used by those who know least about it. They who know it to be a mere word, never or seldom use it. It corrupts whatever information it is mixed with; for every thing in the shape of knowledge that can be communicated by one man to another can be communicated without the use of this word God. Erase the unmeaning phrases of any book and it is Atheistical. This is peculiarly the case with your book, William Allen; for the argu
ments, facts, and data, which you bring forward to prove such an existence, are, dismembered of their dogmatical assertions, full disproofs You have proved nothing, you have illustrated nothing but that which is Atheistical, and I still repeat the unanswered question
WHAT IS GUD? There is a great eril among mankind in the use of names or offensive appellations.“ That man is an Atheist,” exclaimed to some weak-minded persons, harrows up their hostile passions and makes them ready to exclaim, “ Away with him, crucify him, hang him, burn him ;" while, if no such appellation had been used, the parties might have entered into mild conversation and have formed the highest esteem for each other. Who says that I am an Atheist? I tell him, that he too is an Atheist of the same kind. Who calls me blasphemer? I tell him, that I blaspheme nothing good, and that I will go on to blaspheme that which I consider to be evil. Who reproaches me with a want of faith or belief? I tell him, that my faith and belief are as great as his, that I believe to the extent of my knowledge, and that he can do no more. He may correct me, if he have superior knowledge; but he shall not bully me into hypocrisy or idiotcy. I will have free discussion. I will ask him, What is God? Let him answer if he can; if not, let him be silent and mild, and wait for instruction. Let him not dictate where he cannot explain. Let him not defend a dogma because of its antiquity. Let him not venerate names that stand ia opposition to a just description of things.
Religious catechisms, to be good for any purpose, should begin with the question, “ What is God?" and there end; for no explanatory answer could be given. Now, your education system is carried on to the injury of the child, with the exception, that it may learn to read from any kind of words. The reading is not the only thing to be desired. The child should gather correct ideas from the words on which it practises reading. Your system of teaching the knowledge of letters and words, neglects the communication of much valuable information to the child.
We cannot say what the human mind would become, if it were instructed in the best manner. The neglect to instruct it in the best manner is, in my view, a great crime and affliction to the community.. If, instead of declaiming against Atheists, you would encourage and try a few of them, in seeing what they could do in the education of a few children, you would be more wise and .do more good. You would discover, that religion is not essential to the moral and physical instruction of children, and that it is injurious to them in the same degree as they are annoyed . with it.
Mankind wants moral courage to examine the question of deity fairly. There is many a man, who, for brute courage, shall be
equal to any brute, who would walk to the cannon's mouth or storm or charge ever so desperately; but who would tremble at the thought of investigating the question of deity. “I believe," is the opiate to all enquiry. You do not believe, You deceive yourself. You, William Allen, do not believe in that god on which you lectured; for, if you believed, you could demonstrate, so as to make all others believe. I believe that I am using a pen and
you will believe what I say when you see the impressions of that pen. Each has demonstrated evidence. But, if I were tô say, that a god wrote, or that a god revealed to me what I should write to you, would you believe the assertion ? . First, there would be no evidence of the existence of such a god; and se. cond, no evidence, beyond my assertion, that such a revelation was so made or so written. Men have lied and men can lie ; but they cannot create a real god, a powerful and intelligent god, such as that of which you treat. "Such a god could not create himself; could not with man be the creature of circumstances or chance; does not exist. If it do exist, where or what is it. Why are we ignorant of it? Why do we quarrel and hate each other about it? Why not renounce the notion as an error, since men bold and wise have so concluded, since all may examine, and since no one, of the many who have written in defence of an alleged all powerful and all directing being, has shewn a tittle of evidence for the existence of such a being ?
An excuse for the advocacy of a terrific principle under the name of god is set up in the conclusion that it is necessary to keep mankind in a state of awe and morality. If it were necessary to the establishment of sound morality, I should be found among the last to oppose it. . I find that it is not necessary; but that it is destructive to morality, The most strictly moral men that I know are among those who can openly avow Atheism. I do not associate morality with Atheism, farther than the absence of any vice that religion produces, such as hypocrisy, &c.; but I contend that the mind is more free to attend to the dictates of morality, when free from religion ; that it has no prospect of an absolution of sin, that great encouragement to sin ; and that it weighs the effects of actions with more accuracy than the religious mind can do, which is always looking out for excuses for its sin, in attributing them to Satan, playing off Satan against God, and praying God to interfere with Satan, making self but a medium of conflict between these rival deities. In the religious mind, morality is not a matter of merit; because it is held forth ás a gift, or as something borrowed, and not the creation of a moral sense in the individual.
It may be observed, that the morality arising from fear is not so good as the morality which is followed in the absence of all fear. The first is a distorted morality which you can enforce from the most vicious individual, the second is that voluntary disposition
to do that which is right and good, which constitutes the only true morality. The one is the morality of enforced precept: the other of voluntary example. The former lies on the surface and is thrown off at every opportunity : the latter is rooted. This is the morality of religion ; that of the conviction of its utility.
It is a conclusion with some, that a man cannot be moral without being religious : but it is an erroneonis conclusion. Morality is a principle of action necessary to be observed by man toward man. It is the disposition to do each other all possible good, and to avoid the doing of evil. Religion is a principle that connects man with a phantom of his imagination, and binds to acts that have no relation beyond the individual, that have no relation to his neighbour. A man may be most strictly religious and never let it be seen by a second person. There it would be sincere, and void of pomp and ceremony. Thomas Paine, that religious man, has truly said, that one man cannot act in religion for another; that, in fact, there can be no substitute, no, atonement, -10 borrowed faith. A man, therefore, it is clear, may, be most strictly religious, and still a most immoral character, which accounts for the overflow of religion found in our.gaols, that generally displays itself at the foot of the gallows, and the common connection of religion with persecution and other vices. On the other land, a man may be most strictly moral, without the profession or practice of any act under the name of religion, and he, in my judgment, is the better man, the truly moral man.
In your twenty-fifth paragraph, you make your god to be the source of the Bible, a revelation from him, and the Bible to be the source of moral precepts: and you conclude it by saying :
“When we see that the object of these. divine precepts is to pro• duce peace ou earth and good will among men, and also consider that one of the most glorious attributes of the Deity is love, - the source from which these precepts have originated becomes apparent, and there is no longer room for doubt."--In a little work, which I have called, “ The Moralist," sixteen Numbers of which are published, I have copied every moral precept from the
Bible, and they stand there in a state of comparison with the : moral precepts of those whom you call the heathen. There is the means to judge correctly of the moral precepts of the Bible. But if we are to judge of a book of precepts by the effects which it has produced in human action, ought we. not rather to call the Bible a book of blood than a book of love ?
Moral precepts are good every where, alike every where; but those of the Bible do not stand uncontaminated with precepts that are immoral; and with Bible authority to the Bible worshipper, the neglect of the former, and the practice of the latter - is alike justifiable. If the Bible is to be an authority, among men, it is an authority for the most contrary actions, a conflicting authority from which no standard of moral action can be deduced, but that a standard of immoral action, with the same authority,