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made to believe any thing of a wonderful nature that is pointed out to them; but I am sure that an unprejudiced person can see no letters that will form the words said to be engraven on his eyes. '; I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully,
THE ARTICLES OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
For the Benefit of those Clergymen who swear to them, without having eder read them. Dedicated, without permission, to R. R. Taylor and Irving,
Tuat three are one and one is three,
Let ev'ry Jackass bray ÁMEN.
STATE OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND.
RELIGION is now correctly defined to be an attachment and submission to phantoms of the imagination; a passion of the ill-educated mind that creates for itself a tyrant. It prevails most where ignorance most prevails. It falls before sound education, and is chased out of existence where an enlarged enquiry into the qualities of the things about us takes place. The religious mind is also correctly defined to be a diseased mind. Religion operates most powerfully on minds that are admittedly diseased. Our lunatic asylums are not without chaplains, and the lunatics of Lancaster are said to observe a moderation of their lunacy on the seventh or Sabbath day! A close similarity is visible between religion and every species of insanity. In some, religion is a mild, melancholy, mopiug insanity. In others, it becomes furious. It assumes all the characteristics of insanity, from raging madness to mild and harmless melancholy.
The inference to be drawn from this preface is, that as the amount of religion has been lessened, so the amount of insanity bas been lessened, in this country.
The Roman Catholic religion having been solely the performance of the priests, in which they were actors, substitutes, and agents, the laity holding only a passive connection, with the mind ever at ease after a confession, insanity, was not generated; because, in fact, religion did not exist among them. It was reserved for the circulation of the Bible, for the Protestant Reformation, for dissent from the Established Church, for the existence of a multitude of sects, to produce that religious fanaticism which for two centuries has made England a nation of mad men and mad women. Nothing was heard about lunatic asylums in England during the predominance of the Roman Catholic reliligion. I doubt if there be any lunatic asylums in Spain, Portugal, or Italy, or any thing beyond idiots from birth wherewith to fill them. If mind be the soul of the rational man, what is the soul of an idiot. If religion be aught but insanity, why are infidels found to be sensible men, or sensible men found to be infidels ?
The Priests of the Roman Catholic religion were preservatives against insanity; for they were the performers of religious ceremonies; they absolved sias, dispensed faith, and atoned for wrong doing; so that the laity had no cause for trouble and mental anxiety. To be on good terms with the priest was the sure passport to Heaven. And as to insanity among the priests, it was out of the question. They performed, they were actors, and were not bound to be in reality the persons whom they pera sonated.. Belief was not the criterion of religion or sound doc
Vol. XIV. No. 11.
trine; they believed nothing of that which they preached ; they valued no religious doctrine for private and individual use. It was when religion became allied to mental sincerity, that insanity, grew up with it
, as sure as weeds grew out of neglected or polluted soils. See a man insane on the subject of religion, and you may be sure of his religious sincerity. Religion has preyed upon his mind, has entered deep into his system, has agitated every nerve, has poisoned the contents of every vein, has polluted his whole system of Huids, has changed their regular action, has made him mad. In short, there is no proof of sincerity in religious pretensions ; but where it produces decisive marks of insanity. All below insanity is the hollow form of custom that is visible in the external motions of the body; but that reaches not the mind. It is a proof of the hypocrisy that professes that which it does not feel.
Dissent from the Established Religion, the right of private judgment in matters of opinion, may be dated back three centuries in this country. It has been a question with some philosophers, whether this dissent, this right of private judgment in matters of religion, has done any good. The objection has not so much been made to the right of private judgment, as to its effects in matters of religion, where philosophical enquiry was not presented to the mind. The objection, in reality, has been to the insanity to which that judgment led, unaided by the rule of reason, and free, fair; and extensive enquiry. One of them, lately writing to me, says, “ You will see that I have preferred the Catholic to the reformed superstition. It is better, as it is less aristocratical and proud. The Reformation was an evil, as it put off the day of Common Sense, by a beggarly endeavour to blend religion and reason. 1 at convinced of the superiority of Popery to Church of England ism !" I understand this choice of Popery to be the choice of the least of two evils, and not an inference, that something under the name of religion is necessary. Dissent from an established religion is an assertion of the right of private judgment; but, 'in matters of religion, that private judgment produces all sorts of evils, until it comes to the conclusion, that religion is wholly an evil. In the course of writing this paragraph, I take up the “ Morning Herald,” and read the following article, which is one of a hundred daily proofs, that sincere religious feeling and josanity are inseparable :
“ BRIGHTON.--A melancholy instance of religious fanaticism occurred here on Monday. A lady of the name of B, who is residing at a boarding house, left her home in the middle of the day, and was absent until eight o'cluck, when, after a lapse of about six hours, she was discovered on the race-hill, in the midst of the rain, which poured in torrents. It appears that she had prevailed upon a man whom she met to accompany her to the Downs, where she made him kneel at her side, and both continued praying and occupied in other religious exercises, till she was
faimd as above described. Now the man was induced, unless hy the hope (fipecuniary reward, to hamour her fancy, and remain exposed to the drenchan showers for so long a period remains undiscovered. Shewtouk: ir into her tenildered imagination that he was JESUS C'Hrist, aml did wim homage as such, and was also guilty of inany other extravagances. 'Wien at length found by some people who were passing that way,
who were attracted to the spot by' the singularity of her situation, her draggled clothes, ilid drenched person, rendered ber a melancholy object. She was humanely taken to her residence, and every care was bestowed that her tlistressig situation set med to require. Miss B is a maiden lady, has moved in a very respectable sphere
of the principal families at Brighton. Her couduci, though occasionally eccentrii, liever until now betokened any symptom of derank. ment; and it appears in the present case to have proceeded trom religious feeling acting upon a diseased imagination. She has latıly attended a place of worship, where the exhortationis of the preacher baie barà a powe ertul effect on hier mind; and which not being under proper regulation, has led to the freak we have described.”
The late and present progress of infidelity is one of the greatest blessings that could have fallen on the country. Without it, we should have been a nation of mad fanatics. The wethodists were carrying all before them; and even now, they are in a condition to dictate terms of union with the church, which several churches Bien seem eager to embrace. Attacked as the sects have been: by that cominion and general opponent infidelity, much mischief has been prevented; for instead of each running to the extreme of fanaticism on the ground to which its tenets lead, each has looked round to see on what points a union can be made with the rest: and in every case a disposition for union is the necessat ry preliminary point to be settled. But for infidelity, there would have been no disposition among the sects to unite, no Bible Son cieties, no Society for the promotion of Christian Knowledge.' All sects are afraid of tlie infidels. We have societies for the conversion of Jews, and of every other sect that is not Christian; but we hear nothing of a society for the conversion of infidels, who would gladly reason the matter and be converted with and by any persons who will meet them, and who invite conversion where it can be made by argument and demonsfration. It is not fair, on the part of the Christians, that they should seek to enforce a conversion where it is. oot desired, and shrink from it where it is desired, and where there is a probability of its being made reciprocal.
It is the progress of infidelity toward religion that has been the grand stimulus to scientitie improvements in this country, that has extended its conimerce and awakened its inventive faculties. I was the same in France. We see nothing of the kind in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Austria, Religion is there the opiate to improvement. Even the clashing, the madness of dissenting secis bas elicited genius. , And-genias, though it be at revil one,
is preferable to the stupor of the anigal that is not inquisitive. It was genius, though a bad one, that produced “ Paradise Lost;" but Milton, as one of an established church, where there were no dissent, had never written such a work.
That religion has no alliance with talent, we have daily proofs. The present Bishop of Chester passes for a learned man, for a man of some ability; but let us examine his religious doctrines. By a report in the Bolton Chronicle, it appears, he lately preached at Dean Church, about a mile from Bolton, on the occasion of opening a new organ, and nothing can be more atrocious than his insults to the distressed people of that neighbourhood. The Bishop's text was from 1 Gen. Epist. Peter, iii. chapter and 12th verse.--" For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open for their prayers : but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” The following is a sketch of the sermon as reported in the Chronicle:
“ The Bishop, in the course of a powerful discourse, of which we can gire but a mere outline, observed, that as the congregation bad received an additional aid to their devotions, a circumstance that had attracted multitudes from the surrounding neighbourhood, it would not be impertinent to say something concerning the profitableness of religion, and the rewards held out to all faithful believers. The text taught man to be assured that God watches over the elect with careful vigilance. He then alluded to their temporal eternal welfare.—That God is every
present, is admitted by all who admit his existence, and with such only we have to do. His eyes are as much open to the conduct of the ungodly, as they are to that of his chosen servants. And, looking generally at the present world, we find the righteous to be blessed, and thut upon the whole, the moral and religious part of the community meet with prosperity in life. They are at all events happier than the wicked, and experience a smoother passage through the present state of trial It is to the future, however, that we are to look for true happiness. When men see the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosperous, they are apt to think it strange ; but where one wicked man is prosperous in his temporal concerns, one hundred are unsuccessful, and even the apparently prosperous are truly miserable, when you can penetrate the real state of their feelings. Wherever poverty is found, there are the wicked, who have brought on misfortunes by their own imprudence. See how many have been brought to this state by gambling, drunkenness, and the most odious vices. Misfortunes generally arise from the want of settled principles, and nothing so much contributes to give decision of character as Christian principles. The wicked usually fall before the first blast of adversity, and with them their character in the eyes of the world falls; and seldom it is that such men retrieve themselves, and be restored to society. When adversity overtakes the good man, he has many resources with which to console himself, and to recover his lost ground. He has a firm reliance upon bis Saviour, and he koows he shall not be cast away; His well known principles secure him the esteem of all godly men, who hasten to comfort bim in his affliction; and where they see a prospect of being of service to bim, assist him in his temporal necessities.We find marks of God's particular providence in the world. Ask the righteous whether they do not remember many instances of the interposition of Divine providence on their behalf-almost miraculous preservation