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learned, and spiritual Voltaire; to the eloquent Volney, deeply read in ancieni lore; to Dupuis, whose “ History of all Religions" is a master-piece of learning that combines bistory, mythology, and astronomy. He may then apply to Bayle, author of the “ Historical Dictionary ;" to J. Horne Tooke, the prototype of etymologists; and Gibbon, who shewed the causes of the rapid spread of Christianity. Great Greek scholars, as critical judges of the language in which the Septuagint was translated and the Gospels written, ought not to be passed over; and Professor Porson, supereminent in knowledge of Greek manuscript, the critic of the Alexandrian MS. was a decided Infidel. The same may confidently be said of Heyne and of Wolf, the editors of Virgil and Homer, in Germany; and indeed of most great classical scholars every where. Heyne, in his notes to Pollis, calls Christians, quidam homines vana religeone capti. We may then read Tacitus, Pliny, and Josephus, cotemporary historians with the Apostles, and who either wholly omitted to notice the momentous advent of the pretended Messiah, or spoke of Christians, never naming Christ at all, as a set of puny, obstinate fayatics, &c.
3. Has Christianity, with all its bousted pretensions to a divine origin, succeeded in making men better, wiser, and happier, than they were before—or has it totally failed to do all these things? Here our best references would be to such men as Jeremy Bentham, the late Patrick Colquhoun, and other writers on metropolitan police; or to the keepers of gaols, brothels, and gamingbouses; to the followers of campaigns, to the physicians, to hospitals; or to the editor of the Newgate Calendar. . When I hear people talking of the success of Christianity, and witness its total failure whichever way I turn myself, I hardly know whether most to censure the mendacity, to laugh at the stupidity, or to commiserate the wretchedness of my Christian fellow-creatures. Let a Hindoo worship his idol, he worships it in the spirit of benevolence, and protects all animal life against violence, under a belief of the transmigration of souls. But let us see what the Christian, the avowed “ temple of the transmigrated Holy Ghost,” does ; let us view him at a bull-baiting and boxing match, or a Shrove Tuesday cock-throwing, and in all the wickedness, filth, and misery, that London streets exhibit; and then let us seek the solution of the last question proposed in the unquestionable evidence of the failure of Christianity, which daily experience every where presents to our view.
When we consider all these things, and consider also that the greatest vices and the deepest hypocrisy have ever prevailed among the Evangelical teachers of the Gospel—while Atheists, Deists, and Infidels in general, have generally been the best of men-we cannot be long in making up our opinion of Christianity:. but let us never seek to oppose that or any other super
stition by any means but by fair argument and persuasion. I would not even ridicule Religion, but would in many cases transfer that deference and respect, which Religion falsely claims, to the character and offices of those mistaken persons who embrace her tenets. Violence is the argument of Religion, but can never become the weapon of Philosophy. Again, questions of religion should never be mixed with politics. I respect the Government of my country. I participate in the sentiment of all rational men of admiration at the enlightened policy of his Majesty's present Administration. And I say, 'that any one who should make Religion or Infidelity a pretext for creating a disturbance in a country rising, as ours is, in excellence of legislation and a sound commercial policy, would be too bad and worthless a patriot ever to become a good cosmopolitan, and would be by no means entitled to the character of a Reformer.“ No, I do say, let discussion in matters of Religion be free ; let them be conducted with coolness, with caution, and with courage, as to any result. Let us live to learn something of every body, never arguing upon prejudice, nor ever yielding to prejudice-and, above all, vever exhibiting the least degree of timidity. If argument come again in the form of Oppression, meet it manfully, as Richard Carlile did! Prudence has nothing to dread from the tread of Fortune-nor Wisdom from brute force. The time is fast approaching when the illusions of Superstition will' vanish. I have no prejudices either for or against any religion. Prove to me that Christianity be true, and I will fall down at the feet of the Virgin and worship the Cross. Establish the authority of the Prophet of Mecca, and I will enlist myself under the banners of the Crescent, and hope in a Mohammedan 'Elysium. I desire nothing but fair argument, and solicit truth alone. And though there are religious bigots in plenty still leagued to oppose truth all over Europe, their arrows will be like the shafts from the mighty giants of old who warred with Heaven; they will fall powerless from the shield of Pallas as from a tinkling cymbal.
Nam quid Typhæas et validus Mimas,
THE WESTMINSTER REVIEW.
The No. 11, of this work just published contains as usual some excellent articles, the first of which is on the formation and publication of opinions : and if the religionists will but rightly consider the following paragraphs, which I extract, they will see that they have not even a creed that will bear the test of evidence: that in fact, for want of evidence, they believe nothing on the subject of religion ; but merely indulge in reveries. Their belief is phantasmal, and should be treated of under that light, sepa· rating imaginary beliefs from beliefs founded on the evidence of things or what we know to be, realities.
“Generally speaking, belief is the result of evidence. Where there is no evidence, there is no belief. Where there is evidence, there is belief. Evidence admits of degrees : it may be stronger or weaker. In like manner, belief admits of degrees. Belief may be stronger or weaker; and its strength or weakness corresponds to the strength or weakness of the evidence. It is not meant that the same evidence appears always of equal strength to every man: that is very far from being the case; it is far from appearing always of the same strength to the same man. It is meant, however, that whatever the strength which evidence at any time appears to a man to bear, such at that time is the degree of his belief. The proof is indisputable, because the view which the mind takes of evidence, and its belief, are only two names for one and the same thing. The feeling of the force of evidence, and belief, are not two mental states; they are one and the same state. A man regards a piece of evidence as convincing: this is but another phrase for saying he is convinced.
“ In the word evidence, there is an equivocation to which it is necessary to attend, in order to have any chance for clear ideas on the subject.
“Sometimes the word evidence means what is calculated to be évidence, whether it is by any mind taken into view as such or not. At other times, we call a thing evidence, only when it is taken into view as such by some particular mind. Many things there are, which would be evidence to your mind, if they were present to it, in a certain way. Not being present to it, they are not evidence to you, how much soever calculated in their own nature to be so, or however strongly they may be evidence to other minds to which they are present in that appropriate mode. Nothing is evidence to any mind till it is taken into view by
that mind, along with the point, whatever it is, of which it is evidence. A thing may be calculated to be evidence, without being so, either to you, or to any of your fellow creatures, Nothing is evidence to any man but what is brought home to him. Strictly speaking, therefore, nothing is evidence, but what is regarded and taken into account as such. That which is only calculated to be evidence, is not evidence. It becomes evidence, only, when it is surveyed by a mind by which its evidentiary virtue is perceived. That, however, which is only thus calculated to become evidence, is very often called evidence. And, thus two things, which it is of great importance to distinguish, are confounded under one and the same name; that which is evi-dence to a man, actually present to his mind, and producing its appropriate effect; and that which is not present to his mind, nor producing any effect. What is evidence to your mind now, because it is present to it, was not evidence to it yesterday, when it had never been present to it. The same thing exists therefore in two states relative to your mind, the state of evidence, and the state not of evidence, it would be very useful to have names to distinguish these two states. In the first it may be called evidence, in the second, it is only matter fit to become evidence. If a short term could be found, to supply the place of this manyworded name, matter fit to become evidence,' it would be very convenient. Our language, which, unhappily, has no future participles, makes it very difficult to frame a good name. Perhaps, as we have made credential from credence, to answer a very good purpose, namely, to express what is calculated to give credence, so we might use the word evidential, to express a thing calculated to become evidence. Thus we should have two convenient words, evidence, and evidential; the one to express the thing when considered as evidence, the other to express its character when considered as only fit to become evidence.
“ We also want a term to express an object, which has not yet become an object of either belief, or disbelief; but may become an object of the one or the other. When believed, it is called an object of belief, when disbelieved an object of disbelief. But what is it to be called, while it is yet an object of neither; and while it is unknown, of which it is fitted to be an object? In that case, it is an object of scepticism-scepticism meaning literally suspense of judgment, till evidence is obtained. “And, if scepticism had not a bad meaning attached to it, an object of scepticism would have been a very proper name for the object in question. Let us in this sense suppose an object of scepticism, a mathematical proposition, for instance; by what process does it become an object of belief, or of disbelief? Through the medium of evidentials. Evidentials are not evidence, till they do evidence; that is, effect belief. A demonstration, before it is
known, is an evidential ; when it becomes known, it is evidetice, and the feeling of the evidence is belief.
“ There is in evidentials, such a thing as a power of becoming evidence; that is of producing belief in the mind that duly appreciates their evidentiary nature.
“ If there is not this power in evidentials, there is no such thing as truth ; for truth is that which there is reason for believing. The reason for believing any thing, is the evidence of it. The reason for calling any thing truth, is because the evidence for believing it is so strong, that it cannot be doubted; that is, the mind cannot forbear believing it, when the evidentials of it are present to the mind,
“ I believe that the sun exists. That proposition I call a truth. Why? Because when I look at the sun, I have a sensation, which, as an evidential of the sun's existence, renders it impossible for me not to believe his existence.
“ That the three angles of a rectilineal triangle are equal to two right angles, I call a truth. The reason here also is, that, when I evolve the demonstration, it yields me evidence of the proposition, in other words, produces belief; nor is it possible for me to carry my mind along the demonstration, and resist the belief.
“ If there is such a thing then, as truth in the world, there is such a thing as irresistible evidence. But where evidence is irresistible, of course the belief is not voluntary, it is not in the power of the mind to receive, or not to receive it.
“ That there is in the world truth, certain truth, it is a new thing for the advocates of religion to draw into doubt. This was wont to be their accusation against the sceptics. It is the more to be wondered at, that the Rev. Dr. Wardlaw, a clergyman of Glasgow, should have thought it necessary to arraign Mr. Brougham, for declaring, in his · Inaugural Discourse,' that when evidence is present to the human mind, belief is not a voluntary, but a necessary consequence.
“ The Rev. Dr. Wardlaw does, in this case, what is so very apt to be done by a man who does not like a certain proposition, and yet sees danger in disavowing it ; he both attacks and maintains the doctrine.
“ First, let us hear what he says in affirmation of it. I am far,' such are his words, from intend ag to question the soundness of the axiom, that belief must necessarily correspond with the perception of evidence, it being in the nature of the thing impossible, that the mind should believe otherwise than as evidence is, or is not discerned. It is quite entitled to the designation of an axiom, being a self-evident and indisputable truth. No admission can be more full and unequivocal.
“ What, then, is the quarrel he has with Mr. Brougham; this