« הקודםהמשך »
and such confiscation of property, he hath successfully maintained the publication of those books, which are now in open and unmolested sale, constituting, on this head, the practice of free discussion.
That, during your Petitioner's imprisonment, above twenty persons, male and female, were arrested and indicted for selling similar publications in your Petitioner's shop and subjected to various terms of imprisonment.
That, on the 18th day of November, 1825, your Petitioner, after having been sentenced to find sureties that he would abstain from such publications during his natural life, was liberated unconditionally, and has for the last twelve months continued in his own person to issue such publications without molestation or complaint.
That, though your Petitioner has grounds whereupon to rejoice, that discussion on the subject of theology is apparently free, he finds a drawback on his satisfaction, at the inconsistent detention in prison, on the part of his Majesty's Government, of three men, who were taken from your Petitioner's shop, and whose only crime has been the sale of those publications which your Petitioner is now allowed openly to sell.
That the names of those three men are John Clarke, Thomas Kiley Perry, and William Campion.
That they were sentenced to three year's imprisonment in Newgate by Newman Knowlys, the Recorder of the City of London, who, on passing sentence, told them, that their defences had increased the severity of their sentences.
That, the prisoners have already passed thirty months in prison.
That, your Petitioner is informed, and has grounds to believe, that, during the past summer, a Committee of the Aldermen of the City of London represented the case of these prisoners to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, shewing that they could not be conveniently kept in Newgate, and recommending liberation; but that the Secretary of State objected to recommend them to his Majesty for liberation, and sanctioned their removal from Newgate to the Giltspur-street Compter.
Your Petitioner, therefore, prayeth that your Honourable House will so far express its disapprobation of this unwarrantably continued case of religious persecution, as may be likely to lead to the immediate liberation of the aforesaid prisoners, and to the complete establishment of free discussion on all impersonal subjects.
RICHARD CARLILE, December 6, 1826.
DEISTÍCUS TO HOMO.
When any individual introduces himself to the notice of strangers, it is generally expected, that he will lay aside prejudices, and neglect in this respect is generally considered a great breach of politeness. A correapondent of "" The Republican" of the 24th nlt., however, seems ignorant of this ; for lie makes his debut by falsely assuming what an examination of, the human character fully contradiéts ; namely, that Atheists are men of superficial reasoning, and that morality and virtue, duty and obligation, are founded on the belief of a God.
I am pleased, however, at the appearance of “ Homo”in a work open to free discussion, though he seem rather rough, as he is the very person I wished to discuss with. I read his propositions, when first submitted to the public in “ The Imperial Magazine,” vol. 5, for 1823, under the signature of “ D;" and, from the introductory observations which accompanied them, and from the nature of the other papers which subsequently appeared with the same signature, I have every reason to believe that they were written by the Editor of that work, who is a strong advocate for Christianity. Presuming that he, or at any rate the author of the articles, if I may judge from seeing them in that work, is a professing Christian, I have here addressed a few observations, which occurred to me at the time, to his serious consideration.
If “infinite knowledge, infinite wisdom, and infinite goodness, are the absolute perfections of Deity," as he has apparently demonstrated by his propositions, how does “ Homo" reconcile the ignorance of Deity as it regards the war in heaven, and subsequently the fall of man? Or, admitting the omniscience of Deity as regards these events, how does “ Homo" reconcile their occurrence with infinite wisdom? Or, how does he reconcile the condemnation adjudged in consequence with infinite goodness ? Again ; if Deity “necessarily be an infinite Being," how can Christ, and the Holy Ghost, also, be infinite beings, without acknowledging that three infinite beings are only equal to one infinite being; and that one is equal to three infinite beings; thus absurdly destroying every principle of sound reasoning, both in mathematics and physics ? Will “ Homo,” if he have the capability, answer how he makes these questions harmonize with his profession of Christianity? He has spoken, also, of the immu. tability of Deity from eternity ; how can he speak thus if he believe in the truth of the Old and New Testament? In them, Deity is frequently represented as changeable in disposition. But the natural tendency of the proposition he has advanced is Antia
ebristian; and calculated to inspire the mind with those elerated priociples as to the patare of the Great First Cause, whieh Deists have ipsisted on for ages. Indeed, I was surprised at their ape pearance in such a work as “The Imperial Magazine:" in a work, which since its commencemeot bas laboured to refute the principles of pure enlightened Deism ; and has been contending for the nature of Deity as laid dowo in the Scriptures, and that all who disbelieved this were damned to all eternity.
But in many of the other papers signed " D." in “ The Impe. rial Magazine," obviously, by the same hand, assertions are made, that Deity cannot be distinguished by any distinetions of time, nor by any variableness as to perfections. And, what is this, but striking at the immediate root of the Scriptures being truth? What is it but foundly acknowledging that the greatest part of the Bible and Testament is absolute fiction and nor sense; as its claims to superhuman authority are founded on the principle of God's being angry with man; his expelling hia from Paradise for an infringement of command; and his after: wards sending another God on the earth to be murdered, that man might be reclaimed from his original apostacy; though the thing appears to be only partially accomplished through the damnable disbelief of man after all? For my part, I never could find any argument for these perfections of Deity, that would bear itself out through the Bible; but, as you have boasted so much of your qualifications in this particular in a work in which free argumentation is not permitted, I request, as a friend to truth and sincerity, that now you are on different ground, you will deliver your opinions with candour and boldness; that they may be examined in the same spirit. At this time of day, men will ngt pusillanimously yield assent to the Christian theology, so distinguished by its canting pretensions; its fanatic dogmas; its mystery of belief without evidence; and its anathemas of damnation op all who happen to differ from it in opinion; even though backed by the unmeaniug declamation of its ministers: unless it be shown to be worthy the allention of reason and common sense. That it has not hitherto been made to appear so, will I think be admitted by every disinterested; enlightened mind, that bas inpartially considered the subject; and, if it be not, and cannot be, there are spirits in the existing age, so enthusiastically determined on the generalization of sacred truth, on the advancement of intellectual energy and independence, and on the destruction of superstition, hypocrisy, and tyranny, that their glorious efforts will undoubtedly be successful; and this religion will in consequence fall from credit. Literature, and science, and philosophy, are now diffusing their celestial influence among all ranks' of mea, and awaking them from the dreary darkness of ignorance: the bational mind of Britain is erecting itself to the investigation of the constitution and nature of things; and, it is bigh time that the
advocates and the opponents of this system, which has been 50 much written against and questioned, should come forward into the annals of free discussion"; and give it a proper explanation, that it may be satisfactorily understood. In conclusion, it strikes me, that « Homo" has no occasion to secede from the pages of the “ Imperial Magazine,” to accuse others of “ overbearing confidence"_" laying trath under an obligation to impudence" " specious reasoning," &c. &c. while the remark is so appropriate to that work; nor must he assert, that virtue is founded on the belief of a God, while so many who believe in him, and in the Christian Devil, are a disgrace to the character of civilized man. Virtue, which is only another name for religion, if experience must speak, is not confined to peculiar sects' and parties; nor does it consist in superstitiously acknowledging the theories of priests, or of any other set of men, but, in the cheerful discharge of those duties which devolve on man as the member of a community, and as a rational beiog in the vast world of Nature, doing good to all men, and discarding every thing which will not bear the test of unprejudiced thought.
DEISTICUS. Stockport, Dec. 2, 1826.
ON ORACLES, DIVINATION, FORTUNE-TELLING, AND THE DEPRAVED CURIOSITY TO KNOW FUTURE EVENTS.
The disposition to discover what is to happen at a future day is a disposition that has prevailed among all races of mankind. It is the principle of ignorance to be so far curious as to hunt after marvellous circumstances, and to receive no excitement from any circumstance but that which is apparently marvellous. This dis praved curiosity, incapable of reasoning upon moral causes and effects, seeks from physical powers that information which moral powers alone can give.
The view which it is here intended to take of this subject, after laying down the proof that no physical power, no power distinct from the moral power of man, can communicate a knowledge of the future, is, that accidental statements of character and conduct may be found written or spoken, and so adopted or applied by an individual, as to be rendered prophetically similar to the con. duct or fate of that, individual. It is the characteristic of the human being to adopt certain rules of action, whether the end be guod or bad, and to aim assiduously at the accomplishment of the end in view “The Morning Herald” of the 7th, instant,
reports a case which is a proof of this conclasion, a case by no means novel. It is as follows:
An inquest was holden at Newark on Wednesday last, on the body of Ann Cullen, aged 21, a servaut in the employ of Mr. Thomas Locking, of that place, who came by her death in consequence of taking arsenic, when a verdict of insanity" was returned. All the witnesses spoke to the de pression of spirits evinced by her since last July, when it appeared she was persuaded" to have her fortune told" by one of that wandering fra.ternity called gipsies, who, amongst other things, told her that she was not to live to see another Christmas, but that she would die about the latter end of November. This prediction preyed so much upon the poor girl's mind, that a few days afterwards she wrote a very affecting letter to her mother, taking leave of her, which letter was found in her pocket after iber death; and this there is no doubt was one cause of her committing the rash act, which brought her to an untimely grave,
· In a moral point of view, the act of the gipsy fortune-teller, toward this young woman, was an act of homicide and should have been so punished. Indeed, all pretensions to tell fortunes for a price, or in any way beyond a moral exhortation, should be punished as high crimes. Had this young woman been so far wellinformed as to know that this gipsey-woman was an impostor, she would have laughed at her impudence and have lived; having had no education but the corrupting one of religion, she became a victim to its vice. The proof that there is no power beyond the moral power of mankind to predict future events to individuals is found in the circumstance that man knows no higher degree of intelligence than that which he possesses. To admit the existence of occalt intelligent powers is at once to plunge into insanity and to act upon insane purposes, as we have seen in the case of Ann Cullen of Newark.
There are men who presumptuously call astrology a science; but they are impostors and nothing superior in intent and ten'dency to the gipsy woman who destroyed Ann Cullen. Their whole object is to pick the pockets of ignorant people. Their books, their diagrams and their sortes of sentences, are but a piece of the imposture, and have neither scientific nor moral foundation for the applications which are made of them.
The quality which we call intelligence is not seen beyond the animal world, and from all that we can see, it is a quality arising from the animal organization, as much as music is the quality of a musical instrument, or as sound arises from the clashing or vibration of substance with substance.
This is a point so far proved, that nothing but conjecture can extend beyond it, and being so proved, a question arises as to whether man, allowed to possess the highest degree of intelligencé, can so far speak of the future, as to describe the future acts and effects of the acts of an individual, and the accidents to which an individual is liable? Whether he can prognosticate the 'minutiæ of the fate of that individual?