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to the business of preaching, as either knaves or fools, or a mixture of both characters. But justice requires, that ere we condemn the conduct of others, we should put the question to our own hearts, as to how we ourselves should be likely to reason and to act, were we placed in their circumstances. Do me this justice: and I am assured that pity, and not censure, your admission of the rectitude of my conduct, not your condemnation, will follow on your consideration.
I am a preacher of the Gospel. I live by the Gospel. My sole means of subsistence for myself, wife, and six children, is the income I derive from the letting of the seats in my chapel, and occasional liberalities supplied to make up the deficiencies of that income, by about three or four wealthy individuals, who are Trustees of the Chapel, and upon whose approbation and favour. I am wholly dependent. They are pleased to pronounce me orthodox; and I have two-hundred a year. My wife, myself, and the still dearer objects of my solicitude, have raiment, bed, and food. Should they please not to be pleased, should they hear from me at any time, an expression of my real sentiments, or a sentiment not in accordance with their own, actum est de me, it would be all over. Turn out! turn out! would be the cry. Poverty, the reward of honest fools, would await me and my children. Ruin, starvation, beggary, would be our portion. And all for what Sir? For a remunerating recompence in heaven! No. For any thing to be envied or desired in what you and your friend Mr. Taylor have gained on earth? You will say no, again. But for the beau ideal of a romantic virtue, that will be praised, not honoured, admired, but not respected, applauded, but despised. Is this, Sir, such a bargain as a man who would rather have a bed to sleep on, than shiver in the streets, could have a right to propose to another?
I am getting old Sir, and have no portion of that eloquence and declamation, whereby Mr. Taylor is enabled to make infidelity interesting, and cause reason itself to affect the passions. From me, it would be a very dull story. Whoever will use his own understanding, will become an Infidel; and men will seldom pay others for doing for them, what they can do for themselves.
Already, a hundred greedy, carking aspirants, for the situation I fill, are on the hue and cry to catch me tripping; and the Trustees, my masters, and their masters, their wives, and daughters, are on the look out, and only waiting for a fair excuse to put a finer man into my place.
And I must say, that you and Mr. Taylor have done me no small injury. You have made my place of much more difficult tenure than it would otherwise have been: you have agitated the country, and awakened a jealousy against the encroachments or possible insinuations of infidelity, that makes my path-way over the yawning gulf, like the bridge Strat on the road to paradise,
as narrow as a hair, and as keen as a razor. Those, who were but cats before, are lynxes now. The Trustees, who used to oblige me by nodding over my discourses, now listen wide awake and the utterance of a single sentiment that they had not been familiar with, or whose gist they might not happen to take, would be dangerous. One plain and downright truth would be fatal to me. Have you no sympathy, Mr. Carlile, with the feelings of a man, who, after having only insinuated a liberal sentiment, and committed himself in an honest expression, sees his distracted wife, in agonies of alarm at the threatening consequences, exclaiming, "Good God, what have you said! Look at our Children!" And is it then dishonesty? Is there villainy, and nought but villainy, in the husband, in the father, that should reply as I did?" Then dry up your tears; I'll eat my own words-I'll recall, I'll rescind, I'll recant, I'll explain it all away; I'll never speak the truth again: I'll ward off its impressions from my heart, and drive away. its remembrance from my mind."
I must make conscience to convenience bend:
Deceit alone, can with deceit contend.
But say, Mr. Carlile, or let any of your correspondents, who can do so, say for you-who are the priests in their very loins, the scoundrels to the back-bone, in this enforced compromise; they who are overborne by it, or they who drive? Is it the preacher, who is priestridden by the people, or the people by him? Is it I, or they, who are the authors, the first movers, the causes of this imposture? You cannot demur. It is those from whom the money comes, that the wickedness comes. The God-fearing, pious, conscientious Trustees, who pay to have lies told them, and would consider the putting forth of truth from their pulpit, as a breach of the contract on which they let; set up their minister nominally as their teacher, but really as their slave-a scooped turnip, with a candle in it, which serves their game of frightening women and children, and which they knock down again, when they have; had their game.
What then is a priest, but a praying machine; a Kurada, as innocent of the villainy to which he ministers, as the cogs of a power loom are of the fabric it produces. It is the master villains, the trustees, the people themselves, who are the priests indeed, who work the priestcraft, who ride the priest, who pay to be deceived, and deserve to be so.
ERRATUM. In the last Discourse in Lion No. 14, page 438, for God, read For. The whole sentence being, it should be no matter of Eghtness to impeach, no possibility to vituperate the character, even of his foe.
The following American correspondence between a preacher of the Christian religion, and Miss Frances Wright, offers an example worthy of being followed by the preachers of this country. When shall we see such fair play here?
Philadelphia, August 1st, 1829. MISS FRANCES WRIGHT-I have recently delivered lectures against the system you so conspicuously advocate, in which I have freely commented on, and censured the principles contained in such of your writings as are in my possession. Anxious, however, to enter into a deeper investigation, I have concluded, after fasting and fervent devotion, to invite you to a public discussion at a time mutually convenient hereafter to be fixed upon; for which purpose, I am authorised by the trustees to offer the use of the church in this city, in which God has appointed me to teach his holy word, in order there to conduct a public discussion.
Should the place be exceptionable to you, I will use every endeavour to accommodate you by obtaining another, or by accepting one as suitable, that you may propose.
My friends, the Reverend Doctor Janeway, and the Reverend Doctor Ely, have consented to be moderators on my part, you will of course appoint two others, and the whole four may appoint a fifth, should they think proper so to do. The selection of moderators is only suggested; this, as well as other preliminary arrangements, can be suitably arranged at a subsequent period.
I should not presume to call a lady to such a conflict, if I did not feel my duty urged by a sense of strong preparation in the gospel, and if I did not confidently hope to win a lost sheep to the fold of my Lord and master.
WILLIAM L. M' CALLA.
P. S. You can acquaint me by letter of your acceptance of my invitation; or, if more agreeable, by notice in some public print -in which case you will please publish my letter at the same time. W. L. M' C.
To Mr. William M' Calla.
New York, August 11th, 1829. SIR--Your communication of the 1st instant, addressed to Boston has reached me only by this day's post. Although by no means covetous of disputation, and, believing truth to be rather discoverable by the study of things, of man and of ourselves, than attainable by argument, yet am I most willing to meet you as proposed. The views I have presented to the Amercan people are a fair subject of challenge and of criticism; and, far from objecting to their examination, I shall hold myself indebted to those who may assist in detecting their error or confirming their truth.
The building designated in your letter will be perfectly agree
able to me. With respect to time, the early part of the month of October would best suit with my engagements.
SUNDAY SCHOOL OF FREE DISCUSSION: SEVERAL Schools of this kind having arisen in London since the commencement of mine, and the poor having now on the Sunday, something better than the gospel preached to them, it is my intention or wish, to keep my room for more select company than occasionally got into it in the last winter, and for a more respectable opposition than we had then occasionally to encounter. It must so succeed or not at all. The" Reforming Optimist" has now the possession of a chapel for Sunday evening lectures and discussions, to which admission can be obtained for a mere farthing a week, and affords room to five hundred persons. It is situated in Windmill-street, Finsbury-square, and is open at six every Sunday evening. My school-room will not comfortably seat more than a hundred persons; therefore, selection of company is essential to its being well and usefully attended. But to show, that I do not aim at any thing unwarrantably profitable; I will consent, first, that all ladies be admitted free; and second, that all persons who subscribe one shilling per week to the Infi del rent be admitted free. All other persons, who are not subscribers, must, if they please, submit to the payment of one shil ling. Attendance will be given by myself or the Rev. Mr. Taylor, or both, from seven to ten.
On Sunday evening last, Mr. Taylor commenced à critical reading of the New Testament, the very title of which formed a text for a sermon, and almost every word was shown to be preg nant with proofs, that it was a trick upon mankind. "The New Testament," were words, which, in their import, were opposed to all idea of divine revelation, for the God that never died and never changed, could not make a Testament, much less then a New Testament. The nature of a Testament was something that was to come into operation, when the testator was dead: while in this case, if the testator were to die, the Testament would be good for nothing. And the supposition that God had made two Testaments, was a blasphemous imputation of defect in the first, of uncertainty, of change, and presumed improvement. A God, with the power to cominunicate with, or reveal himself to mankind, would certainly not do it by such a defective means as that of language, which was constantly changing, and through men that could produce no vouchers to save themselves from the charge of imposture. While a God that would only reveal himself to a few individuals, whose account must lose its credit in proportion to the distance of time and place, would be a God
partial, unjust, and still unknown. A standing revelation to all mankind would be necessary, and not one subject to human defects and caprices, such as that now before us, and of which we are told that its being translated from the Greek into the English language, depended upon the King's special command. It was then to the English nation, a revelation from the King, and not from God. It was a revelation from the translator, from the printer, from the King, from the scribe, from any one but God. No where is it recorded, that God should say "I will reveal myself to mankind through a book, which revelation shall extend when printing is invented, and men shall only know me by learning to read, and in proportion as they do read that book." This would be preposterous. Yet, such is the inference to be drawn from the lan guage which is commonly used on this subject.
The words, 66 our Lord and Saviour," or "The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour," authoritatively describe the King's Lord and Saviour, and not a common Lord and Saviour for mankind. While the words Jesus Christ were an improper mixture of Latin and English, and should either be Jes Christ, as English, or Jesus Christus, as Latin, and were the borrowed names of Bacchus, etymologically appropriate, both as to style and character, and clearly phantasmal in all relations to Judea.
The King's appointment to have the book read in churches is a bad recommendation for its pretension of divine revelation; for were the revelation clear, the King's appointment would not be a recommendation, nor would it be needed. It now comes to us like the Athanasian Creed, or the Thirty Nine Articles, infinitely suspicious as to its worth. The God is only revealed by the King's appointment.
The English title of the first book, is a proof, that the king, the translator, and the printer, had no other idea of the book than that it was a romance. The word, gospel, is perfectly romantic in its meaning, signifying God's spell or charm, and our ancestors, who first received it, took it in no other light, than that the reading of the book, or the writing and wearing of sentences of it, would operate as a spell or charm, to drive away evils and to procuré benefits. Hence the meaning may be gathered, of the allusion in one of the gospels, to the wearing of phylacteries; and hencé the present superstition of the Irish, who will fasten written or -printed sentences from the gospels to the horns of their cows, to bring more milk, or to the heels of their horses, to drive away keep away a swelling or a lameness.
Critical illustrations of this kind were carried on, which made the book, in the eyes of a reasonable person, appear as contemptible as the romantic stories of Jack the Giant Killer, Cinderilla, or Tom Thumb and the Cow; and the time will certainly come, when the gospels, even according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, will, by another generation, be looked back upon or received