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divine, power? Where is the divine providence? Do not these Bishops, &c. in effect, prove, that which I assert, that their God is the phantom of ignorance and wickedness, and that the God of any religious sect has had no other existence. Why ask the protection of the King, if they before possessed omnipotent protec, tion? See you not, British Legislators, how the whole system belies itself? If you cannot see this, you are unfit to be legislators for this country, at this time.
In danger from the avowed enemies of Christianity! Admirable admission. I am an avowed enemy of that Christianity which exists in this country, or in any other other country, My hostility is not without foundation. It is just, generous, and grand. My enquiries have taught me, that the name of Jesus Christ, on which Christianity is founded, is a name allied only to allegory and fic tion, and not the name of a person that once lived, nor of a being that now lives. The words are as utterly void of application to real being as the word God. My proofs are found in the ananswered and unanswerable question can any thing connected with the history of Christianity be sheun to be 1750 years old? The date is set against the date of 1826, and I have no objection to give another quarter of a century to any person who thinks he can then answer the question with Christian satisfaction, Let the Bishops of England exercise their temper, moderation, and firmness, seeking to conciliate those who may be opposed to them, not to exasperate, to convince, not boastfully to triumph, in answers ing the above question. If they do not, what are we to think of their professions ?
I have no objection to the assumption of the Bishops, that their Church is formed upon the model of the earliest and purest ages of Christianity. The Greek, the Roman, or any other Church, may as truly assume the same position. The model of the earliest and purest has been, to ally, with all possible power, all possible profit.
The Bishops, &c. express their fears of increased religious diss turbance, animosity, and contention. Mine is the remedy for that
. : and they, the sects, will be instantly unanimous, a greater miracle will be worked than has been hitherto worked : the bone of contention will be removed from the religious dogs. Such a step will do what their 'god cannot do-unite them in brotherly love, in the bonds of peace, fellowship and righteousness.
What am I to think of the expression of these Bishops, &c, to the King, when they say :-" 'It is our duty, Sir, to vindicate the Establishment in the spirit by which it professes to be governed, with tempér, moderation, and firmness, seeking to conciliate those who may be opposed to us, not to exasperate them; to convince, not boastfully to triumph over them:" what am I to think of this, who have suffered six years of imprisonment and the
confiscation of much property for a mere opposition to this and other Churches, for the mere publication of books that opposed themand which they did not attempt to an wer with temper, moderation, and firmness, or in any other way than by the prison and torture, than by all the vile instruments which they had at their controul: what am I to think of their statement of duty to the king, when in that king's name, three men are still passing a third year of an imprisonment for mere moral opposition to Christianity, or to that Church; for no church cares aught but for itself; what am I to think of this expression of duty ? My answer is, that, if these Bishops, fc. know and feel this to be their duty, they do not practise it. There is hypocrisy in the Church from the head to the tail. Before the king had answered, that he relied on the 'exertions of those Bishops, &c., to reclaim those who are in error by the force of divine truth, he should have exclaimed, as a conscientious man, LET MY PRISON. DOOR BE OPENED TO THOSE WHO HAVÊ BEEN INCARCERATED POR TAER'ANTI-CHRISTIAN OPINTON'S AND PUBLICATIONs. The force of divine truth is, with that king and those bishops, the strong hand of their gaoler. The force of divine' truth which t' received in Dorchester Gaol and before I was taken there, consisted of HANDCÚP F's, and all the vile means of all the vile instruments which they could work with to annoy, injure, or destroy me. The truth which constitutes a love of free enquiry and of free discussion, and the proper humility to confess our proper igporance, is a trath very different from divine truth,
In concluding the notice of this clerical address and royal answer, 1 submit to your notice, British Legislators, that they who Write the King's public speeches generally weave in the words DIVINE Povidence, as an expressed hope for the removal of some existing or prospective evil. The words are as meaningless in relation to things as is the word God. But they always appear to lose sight of the important circumstance that, if there be a general provider, he must provide the evils as well as the removal of them. If they make two providers, the one for evil, the other for good, they destroy the omnipotence and goodness of either, and make divinity consist of warfare and struggle for mastery: * This morning's Papers acquaint me with the presentation of a Petition to the House of Commons by Mr. Hume, on the behalf of the Reverend Robert Taylor, or of a Robert Taylor who claims the style and title of Reverend as a Deist. Mr. Taylor complains, that he is disqualified from taking an oath in a Court of Justice; because, he does not respect any of the books on which oaths are administered and prays that the law may find a means of respecting his oath. How is the question met?
Three Members, Mr, Sergeant Onslow, Mr. Batley, a young Member for Beverley, and a Sir Edward Carrington, a retired
East India Judge, oppose the prayer of the Petition. Though they oppose the Petition most religiously, they also oppose it most angrily, and in a manner and an apparent state of mind, which shew, that they have yet much to learn, before they are qualified to legislate with wisdom upon the subject of religion.
Mr. Sergeant Onslow objected, that a Deist could present no form of administering an oath to him that would be satisfactorily binding, and that, therefore, he must keep beyond the pale of the law, as far as the pursuit of a remedy for a wrong was in question, If such were really the state of the case, it would not prove that a Deist is not worthy of being believed on his word or oath; but it would prove, that “ oath-making is a vice in society”-that honest men need no swearing—and that oaths are necessary only to a society of ignorant rogues, not being applicable to honest and sensible men. Such is the fair inference to be drawn from Mr. Sergeant Onslow's swearing-logic.
Since all oath-making is an evil, since it is not becoming in rational and sensible men to make oaths, I complain of Mr. Tay. lor's Petition to the House of Commons upon the subject, farther than as it was useful for trying the religious temper of the Honse, and to get some of the Christian Members to expose their folly and weakness in contrast with Deism. I have resolved, for my own part, though utterly void of every particle of that viee--religion, whenever my interests, or my equal share of social and civic rights, demand that I should take an oath, I will take that oath. I will not ask what is the book upon which I am sworn. Whether I put my lips to the dirtily-fingered and stinking leather that covers a Bible, a New Testament, or a Koran, is a matter of contempt with me; but still I will demand my right to be sworn upon the one or the other of them, and let me find the magistrate, judge, or other officer, who shall put a prohibitive question to me upon the subject. I will be bound soon to stop his mouth, as, I did that of Manfield, the Dorchester Commissioner. The Judges of the Court of King's Bench, and of the Court of Exchequer, have countenanced and acted upon my oaths in the present year, though they all knew well that I beld the book on which I swore in contempt. This is as it should be, so long as this vice of oathmaking remains. So long as they murmur not, I will not murmur; but if they demur and ask questions, I will demur and ask counter questions. I will let them see that I know and believe as much upon any subject as they do.
The vice of oath-making is embodied in the larger vice of religion. As we get rid of the latter, in our legislation, the other will fall with it. If the practice of oath-making be fairly analysed, it will be found to carry no more weight with it, in producing truth, than by a simple affirmation. If it be a religious man who takes an oath; if he really fears some
future and supernatural :evil, in taking a false oath; he would have the same fear in the case of a lie and, without the form of swearing. If there be no such fear; the form of swearing cannot create it. And with regard to temporal punishments; they are as applicable to convicted liars, as to convicted false swearers. There is no tenable ground, no utility, not the shadow of a reasonable excuse for the practice of oathmaking. On the other hand, there is much vice produced by it, and the priests make a horrible use, in the power and practices of oaths, in absolving the individual from the vow w
where it is profitable to apoul it, and in enforcing bad acts to the injuries of others, in making oaths binding or not binding, just as they please. This is a true picture of oathmaking.
If Mr. Taylor object to swear by Old or New Testament, he ought to bave prayed the Legislature to allow him to swear in the only way in which the Bible describes the particulars of an act of oathmaking, in the way in which Abraham required that his serr vaant should swear to him, by putting his (the servant's) hand on, or under his (Abraham's) thighs. Or he may swear on the Christian cross, that emblem of the Lingam, and one of nature's works,” by which he prays to be allowed to swear, If we are to bave religious and Christian oathmaking, let ys have it pare and according to Bible precept., In making an oath, we are not told in the Bible that we are to kiss the Bible; but that we are to put our hands upon the secret parts of those who administer the oaths, to swear by the almighty emblem of creation. This mode of scripture oathmaking will be quite a treat for the religious ladies and we shall have from them as many reasons to oaths as we have now for the amatory practice of any other part of their religion. The precepts of the Bible were made before the Bible, and they who prefer the primitiveness of religion, should make oaths as oaths were made by the holy men of god, before books and bookbinding came into fasbion.
There, Mr. Serjeant Onslow ; for you are one of the legislators; there is a little more sense upon the subject of oathmaking, than the newspapers have reported as coming from you in the House of Commons.
Mr. Batley, of Beverley, it appears, is a young Member, and his speech proved his youth in a knowledge of the subject on which he rose to speak. He should visit my shop, where he will learn more than he appears to have learnt in Yorkshire, un than he is likely to learn for the present in the House of Commons. His arguments are none, and consequently nope to be answered.
Sir Edward Carrington was detected in the circumstance of having administered oaths to all sorts of Deists and Atheists in India, though he would not countenance the same thing at home. Might not the difference in the matter have been his fees? : 2.1
Sir Edward charged Mr. Taylor with being an Atheist; but it would have been well for him to have defined his tert. l find, in private conversation, that, on the subject of religion, Mr. Taylor is of my opinion; and I rather think, that, if I were to question Sir Edward Carrington, I should find him too of the same opinion, Atheism is but an ill-defined word, while all well-informed, enquiring men agree upon whatever they ktiow, and disagree only about the degrees of their ignorance.
Mr. Peel was not well pleased with his religiously angry Christian 'supporters, but gave them a mild rebuke for that injury which his experience had led him to see that they were doing their Christian cause; he saw, that the Honourable Members were not aeting upon the late professions of the Bishops, &c. toward the avowed enemies of Christianity. Mr. Peel seemed alarmed at debate upon the subject; and why alarmed? Has divinity aught to fear from debate? It has. Free discassion thrown on divinity is like unto lime thrown upon slugs. It extinguishes the life of corruption.
Mr. William Smith, Unitarian-like, was for protecting the Deist but not the Atheist. And why not the Atheist, Mr. William Smith? Will you say that an Atheist is not so fond of, so likely, to speak the truth from moral motives, as you, a Unitarian, are likely to swear it? I could find an answer, if you were to address such an imputation to me. The Atheist is in reality the only man among you all, whose actions express the veracity of his mind, who displays a bold love of truth. Inasmuch as Mr. Tayar lor makes a public profession of Deism and of public worship, hold that he places himself beneath me in honesty and moral reo pute ; and I put every degree of professed superstition; real or hypocritical, Unitarian or Trinitarian, upon the same scale. If a man's word be to be valued by his religion, his only is worthy of credit, who has no religion, aod who avows it. Hypocrisy may lurk under other professions; but here it cannot. -- I have said so much upon the subject of this petition, to shew that infidelity toward Christianity or any other religion can be defended at all paints.91 AN discussion upon the subject works to our advancement, so I rejoiced to see such a report in the Dewga papers. I append the report from the Morning Chronicle, finding but-little variation in the different papers, 1619..
My address draws toward a conclusion, in which I recapitulate the heads on which I have treated.
9d blood First. Prove the existence of your God, before you charge the nation with one shilling more of tax upon the sabject.
That ex istence is not yet proved.
Second. Prove the past or present 'existence of such a person as Jesus Christ; before you hold out any civil disabilities tout other sects for their mode of worshipping him. That existencibe, has not yet been proved.