תמונות בעמוד

“ That your Petitioner considers, under the Act of Toleration, he is entitled ta entertain whatever religion he pleases, and publicly to propagate it, unless such religion is manifestly opposed to morality, and inimical to the welfare of the State,

"That your Petitioner believes in the existence of a future state, and instils such belief into the minds of his hearers,

" That a short time ago a shopman of Mr. Carlile was robbed of a watch, but was unable to prosecute in consequence of his adherence to the doctrines of Deism.

"That your Petitioner considers the law, as it now stands, is injurious to the fair and equal administration of justice, and is at variance with the interests of the State, inasmuch as it allows persons guilty of the most atrocious crimes to escape with impunity, and denies your Petitioner and others the means of obtaining justice, which tbe rest of his Majesty's subjects enjoy. "" That your Petitioner will consider himself in conscience equally bound by swearing on the Works of Nature, as the Christian by being swom on the New, or the Jew on the Old Testament, or the Mahometan on the Alcoran.

" That your Petitioner humbly prays your Honourable House will be pleased to decree that persons professing Deistical principles shall be sworn in all Courts of Justice, in the same way as persons professing Christianity, Judaism, or Mahometanism ; and that the degree of credit dne to such persons shall be left to the consideration of the Judge, or Magistrate, or Jury, or any Tribunal before which cases in which they are concerned may be tried.

" ROBERT TAYLOR, A. B.” Mr. Hume observed, that the Petition itself was a complete answer to the Honourable and Learned Serjeant. With respect to the arguinent of the Honourable Gentleman under the Gallery against allowing a Deist to take an oath, he would ask that Honourable Gentleman what was a Jew, but a Deist. According to the Honoarable Gentleman's principle, a Jew ought not to be allowed to be swom. The argument of the Honourable Gentleman, therefore, was directed against the existing Statutes. As to the other Hunourable Gentlewan, it really appeared to him [Mr. Hume), to be very strange, that an individual who bad for such a length of time, in Ceylon, been administering oaths to men who did not believe in the Christian Revelation, should feel any difficulty on the snbject in this country. It only showed that men might live long, without gaining experience. For his own part

, he could see no reason why, a Jew, a Turk, or the professor of any other religion different from our own, provided that his difference was a conscientious one, should not be considered as credible as any other person; and he should be happy to see that liberal policy pursued, by which such an individual should be placed on the same footing as any other. He moved, that the Petition should lie on the table.

After a few words in explanation from Mr. Serjeant Onslow, and Mr. W. SMITH, the motion was agreed to.

Mr. Hume moved, that the Petition should be printed.

Mt. Robinson objected decidedly to this proposition. The object of the Petitioner was to do an act of injustice, by depriving his Majesty's subjects of the security which they derived from preventing persuns from taking an oath who professed that they had ac religton at all.

The question was then called for; but as strangers were preparing to quit the gallery,

Mr. Hume withdrew his Motion.

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Before commencing the examination of this subject, it is neces sary to divest the mind of all preconceived determinations, and particularly to discard prejudice, so justly termed by Paine, the i spider of the mind," so as to let a sincere and honest love for truth be the only motive for the enquiry. In tracing the history of religion from the most remote ages to the present time, we find each system so intimately connected with its predecessor in numerous fundamental points, as to leave no doubt whatever existing that each has, had its origin in a manner 'nearly similar. Şectarians have ever arisen who being dissatisfied with the prevailing mode of worship, or being men of a bold and energetic character, desirous of making a figure in the world, and immortalizing their names, have made innovations, and sometimes complete alterations, in the established forms and doctrines of religion. Hence have arisen the various modifications of ancient forms and ceremonies which are to be found in every system of theology, and from the same cause máy be ascribed the endless jealousies and spiteful bickerings of the various denominations, eaéh knowirig their own origin and that of the others to be derived from the same source, consequently feeling equally conscious that neither of them have a greater claim to veracity than the rest, and therefore fearful of the influence and permanent success which one might aequire over the whole. Governments have ever, from political motives, sided with one party in preference to the rest, and taken the one so chosen under their especial protection and patronage ; at length, when priestly power and influence have increased so as to become formidable, the State has ünited the Church to its interest, thereby mntually strengthening each other, and forming what has always been understood as the union of Church and State. This union has ever been unfavourable to the mass of mankind, because the power of Government, and the crafty disposition of the priesthood, conjoined, have been too much for ignorance and credulity to contend with. Every step which has been taken to increase the strength of the coalition, has served to weaken the interest of the people, and crush them more and more under the harshest of despotisms, till at last Nature being goaded to the utmost, a desperate re-action has followed, and the existing tyranny has been destroyed. This has been the case in every country with which we are acquainted. Happy would the result · have been had mankind known their true happiness; but a suc

Vol. XIV. No. 21.

cession of ages of the grossest barbarity and senseless superstition had so enervated their minds and paralyzed their energies, that the proper advantages which might have been taken from such a fortunate chain of favourable circumstances, were not embraced, the expanding wings of Liberty were clipped close, and one despotism was removed only to establish another, as harsh and overbearing, upon its ruins. Thus have Tyranny and Religion gone hand in hand sweeping, like a pestilence, over the face of the earth, and with scorching breath and venomed fangs so wounded and enervated the vigour and growth of Liberty, as to sender her existence merely in name. The light which has however dawned upon men's minds, the spirit of enquiry, which is now manifest, and the intellectual liberality which begins to influence the decisions and the conduct of mankind, promises a reformation of the flagrant abuses and grossest insults to which the understanding has been subjected and there is no doubt, that truth and justice, science and reason, will ultimately prevail over falsehood, error, and wickedness.

The first of the systems under comparison which will be subjected to examination is that of the Persian, or the doctrines of the Magi, and which is of the two generally admitted to be the most modern. Zoroaster, the promulgator of this religion, lived at the very least computation, between 5 and 600 years anterior to Christ, and no chronologist or historian whatever pretends to date the time of his existence later than that period. The greatest probability is, that Zoroaster was in being a very considerable number of years before that time, for Pliny and Aristotle ascribe him to have lived at so remote an era as 6,00C years before the death of Plato. Now Plato flourished about 450 years before the Christian chronology, consequently the authors mentioned date his existence at between 6 and 7,000 years anterior to Jesus, which, will be observed, is farther remote than the Mosaic account of the creation discloses to us. But leaving this latter evidence all together out of the question, which may admit of dispute, it will be quite sufficient for the present purpose if we adopt the first-mentioned chronology, which places the origin of the Persian theology long before that of the Christian, consequently the Persian could not have been borrowed from the Christian, but the Christian might have been borrowed from the Persian; and that it was, will be clearly proved by analogical evidence as we proceed. There is every reason to believe that the Jewish account of the creation and of the earliest ages of mankind was adopted from the tenets of the Magi, it being pretty well ascertained that the books ascribed to Moses were not composed till about the time of David, in which time the Zendavesta, or Persee Scripture, had appeared. That being the case, it follows, that the Zendavesta could not have originated in the Bible, and the precise similarity of names and events which are recorded in both books, such as Adam,

Abraham, and others, go far towards deducing a logical inference, that the Bible was partly composed from the Zendavesta. In this adoption, however, the Jewish writers did not embrace the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, at least, so it appears, for not the least trace of such an idea is to be met with throughout the Bible, at least, till after the Babylonish conquest. In the book of Job only is such an event of futurity at all mentioned, and that book is so well known to be a Gentile composition, that it does not at all alter the state of the argument.

The Persians adored one supreme Being, eternal, self-existent, and independent, the creator of light and darkness, the world, and all things contained in it. In the words of the Zendavesta, he is stated to be the first incorruptible, eternal, unbegotten, indivisible being: the charioteer of things good : the wisest of the wise: the father of equity and justice : self-taught, natural, perfect, and wise: and the sole inventor of sacred nature.

One of the doctrines of Zoroaster was immortality of the soul, aud a future judgment, rewarding all whose lives had been good and amiable, and punishing all who had acted wickedly; sending the wicked to a place of eternal punishment, hopeless and unalterable--and placing the good in an everlasting place of happiness, pure and unalloyed. The payment of tythes to priests was enjoined as a duty, and many rules and exhortations were given to worķs of charity and benevolence. The same account of the creation as related in Genesis was told in the Zendavesta with a difference of the time occupied by the creation, in Genesis' it being six days, and in the Persian Scripture being six gahans, or periods, the whole comprehending 365 days. In the first, God formed the heavens ; in the second, the seas and all the water; in the third, the earth. Trees, shrubs, and vegetables, on the fourth; beasts, birds, fishes, &c., on the fifth ; and on the sixth, he created man, his last, fairest, and best work, whose name was called Adam. An envious serpent, the emblem of Ahrimanes, the God of Darknięss, came upon the earth and tempted the first parents to depart from innocence; and afterwards when the human race had become corrupt and ungodly, the beneficent and all-powerful God of Light, Ormuzd, destroyed the world by a déluge, which was afterwards renewed in all its original beauty!

The professors of this religion were called the Magi, who were 1 held in such great estimation and respect, that ihe Kings of Persia, before they undertook the reins of government, were always initiated into their mysteries. They were admitted into all councils of state, and great public affairs were managed by

their direction and advice. A few of the oracles of Zoroaster, ; from amongst a great number, are here inserted to shew the ideas which the Magi had of God and the soul. " For the Father

perfected all things, and delivered them over to the second mind.". By the mind in the oracles is understood the Mediator, Mithras,

second in power to God. “ Light begotten of the Father." "The paternal, self begotten Mind understandeth his own work." • The Maker who operating by himself framed the world.Speaking of the soul, they proceed, “ For the soul being a bright fire, by the power of the Father remains immortal and is mistress of life.".' " He did put the mind in the soul, the soul in the dull body." In mentioning Heaven, they state, It behoves thee to hasten to the beams of light, and to the immortality of the Father.Prom whence was sent to thee a soul clothed with much mind." " Having served the body, to the same place from which thou didst flow, thou mayst rise up again, joining action to sacred speech.” With regard to Hell, “Stoop noť down to the dark world, beneath which constantly lies a faithless depth, br HADEs, dark all over, precipitous, craggy, and deep.

One important point in the theology of the Peršees was the introduction of an intermediate being as mediator between Ormuzd, the God of Light, and Ahrimanes, the God of Darkness, by whose intercession the sins of mankind were to be wiped away, and happiness placed in the reach of all who chose to embrace it, by subscribing to the doctrines promulgated by the Saviour whose name, as before-mentioned, was Mithras. "He was said to have always, from all eternity, to have existed in Heaven; and when he was sent on earth he was a preacher of truth and excellence, following a life of the most spotless character and integrity, performing innumerable miracles by giving health to sick men and to animals, thereby clearly proving the divine nature of his mission. The disciples of Mithras were 'enjoined to be meék, patient of injuries, of 'a mild and forgiving temper, and to give the greatest testimony of sanctity: to be void of all earthly passions, and to have their minds fixed on Heavenly things alone; to keep themselves pure and undefiled, and to dedicate their lives to his service. All solemn oaths and assertions were taken in the name of Mithras, and which were deemed impious and dishonourable to depart from. The priests of this religion were empowered to grant licenses for marriage, and none other were valid and legal but such as had been solemnized by their means. One of the doctrines of this mode of worship was the baptism of new-born infants, thereby making them inheritors of Heaven, through the mediation of Mithras, whose servants they then became. At the age of seven years, confirmation succeeded this Yite, when the child promised to be in reality what had been undertaken for bim in his infancy. Extreme unction and 'auricolar confession were enjoined and practised by the priesthood. The hierarchy, or sacred Government of Heaven, was composed of angels of different grades, divided into archangels, cherubim, and seraphim; and the duration of the world was estimated to be at end at the expitation of 6,000 years, when the Lamb, who sat upon the right hand of God, should come in great glorý upon earth, and conduct his

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