« הקודםהמשך »
may be raised against it. Thus it is, that sects, with the most opposite tenets, alike find their authorities in the Bible. A book is no good authority unless it contain one clear and concise doctrine. This is not the case with the Bible; though it is the case with the morals of Confucius and others, to be found in “ The Moralist.” There are, therefore, better ancient books than the Bible, and modern ones that are incomparably superior. I hold the Koran to be a better book than the Bible, and calculated to produce better morals. Though it has some follies, it has none of the contradictions of the Bible; and its better moral effects are clearly visible among the Mahometans, a sect of religionists, in every respect superior to, more sincere, more fervent in devotion, and less hypocritical than the Christians. Under this view, I have published the Holy Koran, without note or comment, as an opposition to the Bible.
Admirers of the Bible, if sincere, are men of very confined views upon the subjects of morals and history. They cannot be critical readers. I cannot conceive it possible, that a well-informed man can critically examine the Bible and return to it as to an authority. The fourteen volumes of “The Republican” contain irresistible proofs of the bad authority of the Bible, and I have no fear but that posterity will give me credit for having possessed the more divine revelation. I have already condensed the character of the Bible and the Bible God in a small pamphlet, and I here further condense it, by saying, that the latter is THE FICTION, and the former, THE BOOK OF THE FICTION.
I now take my leave of you, with the same feeling of respect with which I commented. Though my senior by many years, I look upon you as in a state of religious error, from the influence of education and of that society with which you chiefly act. I trust, it will be acknowledged, that I have discussed this important question with good temper and free from all feeling of vanily or arrogance. I assure you, that, where in error, there is nothing I so much desire as instruction; but I have set my face against taking any man's name, or any God's name, as an authority, without first examining its foundation. I hold this to be a moral duty; and I hold it also to be improper to impose any metaphysical dogmas on the minds of children or ignorant persons. I should have liked the style of your Address the better, if you had said to the students at Guy's Hospital, “ The existence of an intelligentDeity is a matter of dispute, I will, if you please, proceed to give you my reasons for concluding that there is such an existence." În vain will you talk of confounding Atheists with mere dogma. Atheists are not easily confounded. They are men of the most powerful minds, and Atheism is, in some measure, a criterion of moral courage.
I flatter myself, that this letter will not be wholly useless, and respectfully write
The following article which was rejected a few weeks back for its dependence on Bible authority, is now selected as a very applicable answer to the latter part of William Allen's pamphlet.
ON THE LOCALITY OF THE JEWISH GOD.
" The imagination of man is never exalted to so high a pitch as in the contemplation of a great first cause, hence it arises, that the most sublime works of art are those which are consecrated to religious worship, a slender foundation on which, however, great buildings have been erected.”
BURDON'S MATERIALS FOR THINKING. :
TO THE EDITOR OF THE REPUBLICAN. SIR, The Christians are wholly indebted to the Jews, for their belief of, and in fact all they know of a God, and they ascribe all those attributes to the Jewish God Jehovah, which the Deists ascribe to what they term their first cause, or God of nature, which implies 'a cause existing priorily to the system of nature. Now, as the effects of nature, do not develope their cause, the belief of the Deist rests altogether on assumption, founded on the imagination alone, as man has never received any impressions, and conseqnently can have no real ideas of a God, or first cause:--Thiş being the case, the Christian has continually contented himself with a belief in this idol of the Jews, and believes, and allows him to have been the creator of all things, merely because the writer of the Jew Books has commenced his incredible and ridiculous tales, with : “And the lord spake unto Moses saying" “God spake all these words saying," or " The word of the lord came unto me saying.". Hence, the Christian commences his creed, with, “I believe in God, the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, &c." And Paley, Lardner, Beattie, Soame Jennyus, 'Priestly, the Bishop of Llandaff, Hartwell Horne, Thompson, and all who have written on what they call the “Evidences of Revealed Religion," of whatever sect, have all enforced the belief of the Jehovah or God of the Jews, being the creator of the universe. Mr. Thompson, the founder of the sect called Freethinking Christians, in what he calls "Evidences of Revealed Religion,” tells us, that the Jew's have believed in this God for 4000 years; and he immediately after with an air of triumph exclaims : " I ask for an adequate cause to account for such an effect,” that is, I suppose, to account for the Jews believing in their idol Jehovah. This appears to me to be a task by no means difficult, if we take into consideration what authentic history, informs us relative to the Jews. I will here: endeavour to show an adequate cause for the Jews believing in their God; and to
prove that he was nothing more than a local God, and that they
Secondly, After they had separated into two parties.
The first story I shall notice, is in the 17th chapter of Judges, it gives an account of Micah, who having robbed bis mother of a quantity of silver, she having cursed the thief in Micah's hearing, he repented, and in consequence returned the silver, when his mother immediately exclaims, “ Blessed be thou of the lord my son,”.(i. e. the cant word of the Bible) She then was kind enough to give 200 shekels of the silver “ to the founder,” who converted them into an image for Micah to worship: the 5th verse' says, “And the man Micah had an house of Gods," and that he “ consécrated one of his sons and he became his priest:" but at the 6th verse, we learn that in those days there was no king” (i. e., priest, see Justus, Book 36,)“ in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In addition to the proof that this could not kave been written till after there had been a king (or priest,) it is a proof they worshipped any God they chose to set up, and further, that Micah represented Jehovah, by this image, is evident, from the conclusion of the chapter; for after he had engaged a “ Levite" and consecrated him as his priest, he says, “ Now know I that the lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest." Here, "the
terin“ ford" imples Jehovah, and consequently identifies itself at once with the image of Micah.
In the text chapter" we have the account of the Danite spies; going in 'search of an inheritance," in their journey they falt in and lodge with Micah, when they immediately recognize the " Levite," as an old acquaintance, and say to him in the 5th verse,
ask connsel we pray thee of God (that is Micah's silver image) that we may know whetherour way iwhich we go shall be prosperous," the Levite answers : "go in peace before the lord is your way wherein ye go;" 'the five Danite 'spies, then go to a town of the Philistines, called “ Laish,” and having ascertained it to be an easy prey, they return, and having reported well of it to theit kindred, 600 of them are accordingly appointed to go to take it; they also in their way pay Micah a visit, when through the information of the spies, they 'ascertain Micah keeps a God in, -his house, and knowing when they took place (I beg pardon, I mean when they had gained "an inheritance') they would want a God: they first tempt the Levite,' who (like all bis fraternity, for the sake of gain) readily agrees to join them, and then rob poor Micah of his God! and proceed on their journey! Micah, then, with the assistance of some of his neighbours pursues the Danitos, to re: cover his God! And having overtaken and reconnoitered them, and finding them too 'strong for him, poor Micah only, exclaims (in a sorrowful tone' no 'doubt,)" ye have taken away my Gods which I made, and the priest;" but they ate wholly regardless of Micah, for after having given him to understand, that if he made any uproar, he would be very likely to lose his life, (verse 25,) they take his God, and his priest with them to Laish, which having destroyed, they build a town and call its name “ Dan and the 30th verse says, 16 and the children 'of Dani set
the graven image;" aye, certainly that is the very purpose they stole it'for; but the conclusion of the verse inforns us that they worshipped the image, " until the day of the captivity of the land," that is, till they were carried away captiye by the Assyrians, (see 17th chapter of 2 Kings,) and consequently this is proof, that this account could only have been written after they were made captives, which according to Bible Chronology was 730 years after this affair of poor Micah.
Secondly. In the 12th chapter 1 Kings, we have an account, that through the tyranny of Rehoboham, ten tribes of the Jews, separate from the other two, when through the interference of Ahijah 'a 'prophet, Jerobohain is elected king over the ten tribes, the reason the text informs us is," the cause was from the lord,” the cant word; Jeroboham, then immediately, as is very natural in such cases, becomes jealous of Rehobóham, when in order to wean the people from going to worship the God! or image of Jehovah at Jerusalem, and to keep them separate froin the other two' tribes, he is determined to set up a God of his own! For the 28th verse says, "whereupon the king took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, it is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem, behold thy God! 0, Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Now tlie bringing thein
out of Egypt, was the very act, they, before their separation, attributed co the God Jehovah, and if the people were so far satisfied, as to believe and allow, that those golden calf Gods, brought them out of Egypt, it is sufficient proof, that the God Jehovah! whom they had heretofore been in the habit of worshipping at Jerusalem, was nothing more than an image, and that they had been in the habit of consulting in the same manner, as all those nations and tribes, called Hea ens, did consult their Gods and oracles (see Judges 20, and 26.) But the worshipping the golden calves is alterwards made idolatry, and Jerobohann is denounced by Ahijah the very same prophet, who exalted him to the kingship, 1 Kings chap: xiv. ver. 7, 8, 9. Consequently, though he was gifted with the spirit of prophecy (that is deputed to deliver messages from the deity) yet he was not enabled to foresee the result of his predictions; but the denunciations of Abijah were of no consequence, for there is sufficient proof that the people were as well satisfied with those golden Gods, as they had been with that at Jerusalem, for they never left them to worship Jehovah, and further, they were equally as much service to the people, in regard to their affording them protection, for though the ten tribes were carried away captive into Syria, the other two that continued to worship Jehovah, were likewise carried away captive to Babylon !! But one circumstance may always be urged in their favour, which is, that if those laws called the laws of Moses, were not known till after the reign of Josiah, the ten ribes, or Jeroboham's subjects, could know nothing of them whatever, for accord-, ing to the acconnt they were carried away captive by the Assyrians 120 years before the time of Josiah! But Rehoboham's subjects (viz.) the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who continued to worship Jehovab, did no better, for the writer informs us in the same chapter, that," they also built then high places, and images, and groves, on every bigh hill, and under every green tree," and according to the account they always continued so to do, for proof of which we have only to refer to 1 Kings chap. xx. ver 23, 2 Kings chap. xv, ver: 35, 2 Kings chap. xxi. ver. 7, 2. Chron. chap xxvi; ver. 14.
Thirdly, The Book of Ezra, contains decrees from several kings of Persia, relative to the rebuilding the temple of the Jews at Jerusalem, in the 3rd verse, of the 1st chapter, Cyrus is made to say, " Who is there among you of all his people; his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God, of Israel (he is the God) which is in Jerusalem.” Here is nothing indicative that the god here spoken of is the “Creator and Governor of the univere," the very words imply nothing more than a social god, for it is the god “ which is in Jerusalem," evidently meaning the image of Jehovah ! 2 god of their owu! they used to worship in the temple, and which their forefathers set up in imitation of other tribes. This may
be made more evident by referring to the 4th chapter, where after tley had began to rebuild the temple, their
Adversaries" say to them, “ Let us build with you, for we seek your god as ye do,” they immediately answer " ye have nothing to do with us to build an house to our god, but we ourselves together, will build unto the Lord God of Israel." See also 1 Kings xviii. 36, 2 Kings i. 3. This, then, is a positive proof that they had no idea of their God being tho “ Creator and Governor of the universe;" for it is very evident they wanted to monopolize him entirely to themselves, beside, Mr. Thompson bas admitted, that the Jews, were an "unscientific, and illiterate People," consequently, they could have no ideas of nature, or the universe, it is evident they thoug no more of their Jehovah than as a local god, dwelling among them, hence the idea of building a house for his receptioni, in order to worship him.