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(From the Leeds Patriot of June 27, 1829.)
“ THE INFIDEL MISSIONARIES.
"The Infidel Missionaries as they style themselves, have during the week addressed circulars to the clergy and ministers of every denomination in Leeds, challenging them to public discussion on the truth of our Christian religion. The walls of the town have also been placarded with a copy of this challenge. Another placard has also caused some sensation, it runs thus in very large letters:
، Christians! Why don't your preachers go and oppose the Infidels, Taylor and Carlile ?'
"These placards have given rise to a question, on which there is a difference of opinion, viz. that it was the bounden duty of the clergy and Ministers to meet the challenge, and defend the faith which they professed-that they are ready on all occasions, where no opposition is expected, to come forward, and talk per hour; but now, when their talents and erudition were likely to be put to the test, they shrunk from the contest, Others again assert, that by the attendance of the clergy and ministers, a dangerous consequence would have been given to the Missionaries, which, on many accounts, it were wise and prudent to avoid.
"We confess ourselves to incline to this latter opinion, and think the reverend gentlemen have acted wisely in keeping aloof; not that for one moment we suppose they were inadequate to the task, or that their bosoms were not fired with proper zeal in the servide of their Lord and Master; but simply, because the judges who were invited to decide on so important a controversy, included all persons who could afford to pay one shilling. In discussing points of faith, no man would attend to the opinions of any but the learned and the pious; and when the truth of the Christian faith itself was proposed as a fit subject for discussion, it were only an additional insult to Christianity, to suppose for one moment, that the "Shilling" Tribunal was a proper one.
"We would, in charity, dissever Mr. Taylor from Carlile. The former is probably an amiable enthusiast, who in after years may possibly regret the attempt at schism he has made; but "the man without a God"-the avowed Atheist, Carlile-the man who dares deny his Maker, whilst above him his thunders are abroad, and around him on every side the earth is teeming with the bountiful dispensations of his never-ceasing benevolence. No! No! Mr. Carlile, our fingers tremble to record your blasphemy. What Sir, did you fancy the men of Leeds, were below even the savages of North America, or the various pagan nations of the earth? that they were not equal to the followers of
Zoroaster or Mohammed-all, all of whom, acknowledge and own the great Spirit, the everlasting God.
Go home, Sir, to your infamous colleagues at Charing Crossand compose another filthy "Every Woman's Book"-to the everlasting disgrace of the press, and of the age in which we live; but we trust that in your intended peregrination through the West Riding of Yorkshire, you will be shunned as a pestilence by every man who would not tamper with his allegiance and loyalty to Heaven."
The argument against us, involved in the sarcasm of our being "a shilling tribunal" might be subscribed in all its significancy, if it were our fault, that it is a shilling tribunal, or if there were reason to suspect that we should be unwilling to be the possessors of a magnificent edifice, so as to be enabled to throw its doors open to the public, without any anxieties, or necessities on our part of looking to the means, of meeting the responsibilities incurred.
The advocates of a system sustained by annual millions drawn from the pockets of involuntary payers, impugn our claim upon the liberality, nay upon the justice of those who can only pay as they are willing to do so. The takers of millions of pounds, begrudge us the necessities of existence. The believers in Omnipotence, expect from us, a miracle, which they hold to be too much to be expected from Omnipotence himself, even that our cause should stand its ground, as his cause could not. That we live without means of living, and present a respectability of appearance, without expence. I wish too much of this ungenerous and mean sophistry, vastly too much of it, were not found in minds, that affect to be with us in sentiment, and to wish the success of our cause.
On the conclusion of a most animated and evidently interesting oration, with which I closed the business of yesterday evening's discussion, I received all the amends that gratulation and admiration could make, for the absence of every other consideration of labours not to be surpassed, animated by a sincerity and zeal that I see no where equalled; my apostolic brother only excepted. A gentleman who, I understand, was one of the first, if not the first who subscribed to my support in prison, assured me that "I ought to form no judgment from what I then saw, or had seen in Leeds on the state of feeling and sentiment on the great question I had come to agitate: that I could have no idea how many and good friends, and ardent admirers, I, and our good cause, and our good chivalry in that cause, had, in this neighbourhood, that thousands beyond what I could think, were with us in heart and soul, though they dared not show their attachment openly."
O yes! yes! So the poor have in the fable had many friends,
-good friends and true. And so, when the best cause that ever was in the world shall have been overborne-when the fairest opportunity for setting up that cause on the basis of everlasting security, shall have been lost, when its best champions shall have been sacrificed; and all hopes of future and more successful enterprise shall be ever cut off, by the example of the failure of ourshow will they all lament? How many if we had known, and if we had been called upon, will be pleaded to shift the blame from the shoulders on which it alone can justly alight. How will a too late remembrance of actually forfeited promises, be alleged in tax of our false delicacy in not reminding the promisers of their engagement, to make our memory the scape-goat of their defalcation?
Well! even our large upper room, so near to heaven, so truly apostolical, so closely resembling that in which the very first preachers of Christianity, are alleged to have assembled, and which (if we will believe) was honoured by the posthumous presence of Christ himself, that exalted humbleness, that humble exaltation, where
"No weeping orphan saw his father's stores
Our shrines irradiate, or emblaze our floors:
This our poor satire on a temple, whose humble style and furniture had delighted the malignity and elicited the jibes and taunts of such a press as Leeds can boast of, has become of dignity enough to call for the especial interference of the Right Worshipful the Mayor and the Reverend and Worshipful the Magistrates of this great town, to prevent our further occupation. The very humbleness which provoked their scorn, was not too humbled to escape their envy. Their fears have paid us a compliment, that could never have been wrung from their courtesy ; their arrogance affects to despise, what their conduct acknowledges to be formidable.
The silk-invested orators of Christianity, who lean on cushions of velvet, who declaim from pompous pedestals, under gilded canopies and gold-fretted roofs, with all appliances of magnificence and convenience that measureless wealth could lend to measureless vanity, are yet afraid and alarmed at reason in a garret. Reason must not gain footing any where. It must not be heard at all. That the Infidel Missionaries should have engaged the most respectable hall of public audience in the town was terrible. The Mayor interferes, the Magistrates are alarmed, it is not safe, it is not to be endured.
Well-a-day, then, the Infidel Missionaries for want of better accommodation, engaged the best that remained to them; say, as poor as it could be described to be; say, as mean as it could be
wished to be.-Why, out again!—the matter is not mended-the Magistrates are no less alarmed-the Mayor no less determined to interfere the danger no less formidable-the possible consequences no less terrible. Our presence only would give dignity to a hovel, and consecrate a barn. A higher compliment by implication, was never paid to man. If thus we scare them while on the wing, what should we, could we but pounce on them? If in our infinite lack of all even ground and chance of fair play in the glorious struggle, if from that very depth of destitution of all things, for which they designate us "most miserable and wretched beings," their fears confess our power, and they tremble for the effect of our harangues. What should we not become, what should we not achieve, should fortune but once put into our hands, but just a millionth of the millionth part of their advantages? Look on the Methodist chapel here at Leeds, and say but that that one site were ours whereon to unfurl the banner of Infidelity, and one such a man as of such men our summons could convene ten thousand, were settled on that site, above the necessity of dependence on eleemosynary aid, and the Christianity and misery of Leeds, the gospel-shop and the ginshop, the blue devils, and the black ones, would in the course of a single generation yield to the reign of well-washed faces, wellregulated minds, and general happiness, confidence, and affection among men.
I find every where and on all occasions, an infinite preponderance of the disposition to hear, the willingness to be instructed, the capacity to judge; the desire, curiosity, and thirst after better information, prevailing in the great mass of mind, over all the bigotry, selfishness, hypocrisy, and prejudice, which indolence and inattention might take to be the universal characterism, Christianity is rather submitted to, than consented to; endured, than loved; put up with for want of any thing better being offered-than acquiesced in for any merits of its own. It could
no more maintain its hold on the human mind, against an equal chance, or any chance at all, afforded to the power of rational and moral eloquence, than the foul and stagnant waters of these dye-stained ditches,-could command our preference to the pure waters of the limpid stream.
"Not to the skies in useless columns toss'd,
But clear and artless, pouring through the plain,
Again and again, I repeat-living, I maintain, dying, I shall leave to the world, as the most assured verity which all the knowledge I have gained in the world has written on my convictions, that the first man who shall found and endow an Infidel chapel, will entitle himself to be considered as the very greatest and best man the world ever had in it.
THERE are some men, who, not having a reason of their own, I think below the merit of a reason, and when I desire to speak of them, I feel, that my contempt will allow me to speak of them only in rhyme. My readers will do me the justice to say, that as I make no pretension to poetry, I never resort to rhyme on any other occasion. For the cause of the appearance of the present piece, I refer the reader to a paragraph from the Leeds Patriot, of Saturday, June 27, quoted by Mr. Taylor. This paper is now conducted by one Foster, who has lately been a bankrupt, as a timber merchant, in Knaresborough. His attack upon me was entirely uncalled for. 1 have in no way intruded myself upon him as an individual. I am sure, that his passion against me is a bad one that he has not taken the pains, so to inform himself, as to make a proper estimate of my character; that he has not the faculty of being politically or even morally just; that, therefore, he is under a disqualification to be the advocate of public or private reform. I know nothing of ballads and tunes, so I must leave each Yorkshireman to put his own tune to these rhymes; and out of Yorkshire, they will not be worth the time of reading.
ON THE RADICAL FOSTER, OF KNARESBOROUGH, Present Editor of a newspaper called the Leeds Patriot.
Ye Yorkies, of Yorkshire,
Your follies all fostered,
By a knave o' Knave'sborough,
Wise only in timber,
Of old Cobbett's school.