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No. 1. VOL. 4.] LONDON, Friday, July 3, 1829.
Leeds, June 28, 1829.
Printed and Published by R. CARLILE, 62, Fleet Street. -
will contain three hundred persons, we will return to work among them. We exhort the Infidels of other towns to rally toward the accomplishment of a similar project. Infidels must not ask leave of Christians for an enclosure, in which to deliver their sentiments. And if they do, they will continue to ask in vain; for the Christians are much too cunning to grant the permission. Our experience assures us, that discussion with Christian preachers will not be obtained, until Infidelity has its temples, in which it may be begun. The argument with the Christians now is, that places built and consecrated to a preaching of the word of God would be desecrated by a discussion of the merits of that word. They reason well and wisely, as to their private interests, and will never otherwise reason. But this we have done. We have challenged them on new ground. We have done what no Infidels have done before us. We have disputed,. on historical grounds, the personal existence of Jesus Christ. And, before us, the preachers of Jesus Christ are dumb. Not one of them will defend his pretended master, where an opponent can answer him. What does this look like? What does it mean? What is to be the inference? Do these preachers discern the inference that must be drawn from such a circumstance? Are they awake to their real situation? Can Christianity be kept up under such a dilemma? Their last resource is to lie. This they are doing abundantly. In the Leeds Intelligencer of Thursday last, I am reported as a "sorry antagonist" against such Christians as opposed me on the Tuesday evening; when the reality of the thing was, that I carried every thing my own way, and so stated the case, that not a Christian present, not even the reporter himself, who took an active part in the conversation, would defend the Christian doctrine of the atonement, that only essentiality in the religion. This very reporter threw up the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience in his deity, when he saw that I was bringing home, as the necessary adjunct to such attributes, moral responsibility for all the evils in existence. Never stood a man before a company more triumphant in argument, than I stood before that company. I felt truly, then and there, the greatness of Infidelity and the littleness of the Christian religion. On the Wednesday, I took the following advertisement to the Intelligencer Office, and requested the printing of a placard, to which we received the adjoined answer :
"To the Magistrates, Literati, Ministers of the Gospel, and the more critical portion of the Ladies and Gentlemen, inhabitants of Leeds and its vicinity.
"The Rev. Robert Taylor, B. A. and Mr. Richard Carlile, of London, travelling through the country as Infidel Missionaries and challenging all competent persons to discussion, having, by
the disreputable interference of the Mayor of Leeds, been refused the continued use of the Music Hall, will present themselves before the public of Leeds and its vicinity, in the best room of which they have been able to possess themselves, on each succeeding evening of this week, for the purpose of delivering orations and lectures, and of holding discussions and conversations, on the very important subjects which they have to introduce. The room in which they receive company is situate at No. 15, New Bond-street, over the Rainbow Tavern. The door will be opened at six o'clock each evening, and admission be obtained for one shilling.
"On Sunday morning at eleven o'clock and in the evening at seven, there will be a free admission to all respectable persons, to such conversations as may arise.
"On Monday, June 29, Messrs. Taylor and Carlile will present themselves to the inhabitants of Bradford, on Tuesday to the inhabitants of Halifax, and on Wednesday to the inhabitants of Huddersfield, when, at the latter place, a discussion is pledged with a local preacher of the Wesleyan connection.
"Mr. Carlile is prepared to supply or take orders for his publications.
Leeds, June 24, 1829."
"Messrs. Robinson and Co. beg to decline inserting the inclosed advertisement of Messrs. Taylor and Carlile, taken in by their clerk this morning, and herewith return the money (118.6d.) received for the same. They would also beg to decline printing any bills.
"Intelligencer Office, Leeds,
June 24, 1829."
We got the placard, which was a copy of the advertisement, printed by Mr. Baines, at the Mercury Office, by the sacrifice of the adjective disreputable before the interference of the Mayor; but our bill-sticker charges, that he no sooner began to post the bills, than Mr. Baines' man followed him to cover them. This affair we leave to be settled between Mr. Baines and the billsticker, having no other evidence on the subject. If it be true, there is a name for it in our vocabulary, though there might not be a penal law for it in our statute book. Mr. Baines and his family make pretensions to Christian evangelism. Excepting this point, and Mr. Baines might have been perfectly innocent of the purpose, I have no complaint to make toward that party. Mr. Baines has certainly given us more fair play than either of the other papers, both of which have written down their editors as rascals.
On Saturday, we received a printed circular from the scout of
the Mariner's Friend and Bethel Union Society, sent out to gather wool in Yorkshire by the Rev. Boatswain's Mate, G. C. Smith, of Penzance. The man's name, we found to be Mason. In the evening, he came to our lecture-room, and, after being allowed to make what he called a lecture, and to give his reasons for being a Christian, he had not time to stay to be questioned, or to hear any thing in answer, and in spite of the remonstrance of the company, fairly ran away.
The next morning (Sunday) we received a letter from him by post, which induced the writing of our answer, and my attendance at the vestry of the chapel, to know if the party had any taste for discussion. The Rev. Mr. Ackworth, the superintendent of the chapel, disclaimed all act or part in what Mr. Mason had done, and authoritatively stated that no discussion should be allowed in his chapel. The following is the correspondence:
"To Messrs. Carlile and Taylor.
"This is to inform you, that an individual, who has been for several years a Christian Missionary, is now at your doors, waiting for admission; but, in consequence of having delivered all his lectures on Christianity gratuitously, he cannot conscientiously give a shilling to hear yours. If, therefore, you say he is at liberty to enter, you will be favoured with his presence, if not, he most cheerfully makes his exit. Wishing you better feelings,
"N. B.-R. M. will deliver an oration to-morrow afternoon, at three o'clock, at the Baptist Chapel, Leeds; on which occasion, he will give a description of the Christian character, in a manner which defies all the sophistry and boasted rationality of Infidel Missionaries to dispute, or produce the like.
"P. S. He has no objection to your company in the abovementioned place of divine worship."
"The Rev. Robert Taylor and Mr. Carlile will attend to hear Mr. Mason, on the condition only of being allowed, after Mr. M., to address the same audience. They wait for, and expect an immediate answer.
"To the Rev. Mr. Mason, Baptist Chapel,
Leeds, June 28, 1829."
After half an hour's conversation in the vestry, and much entreaty on the part of Mr. Mason, I entered the chapel to hear his discourse. It was a wild rhodomontade about the Christian and his spiritualities, which I could see was insanity addressed to an
insane congregation. Mr. Mason promised to purchase a hundred copies, if I would print a refutation of his discourse. It is done in a few words. His God, his Jesus Christ, his angelic throng, his spiritual man, his heaven and his hell, have no existence beyond the insanity of the human brain. That is a full refutation.
We take our leave of Leeds, under a pledge, that we will return, whenever a priest will meet us in public discussion, or as soon as the Infidels have provided themselves with a chapel. Our visit here has entailed considerable expence on our Missionary Fund, but we feel that we have discharged our duty in the best manner within our means.
P. S. We shall reach Manchester in a few days.
STATE OF THE INFIDEL MISSION.
Head-quarters at Leeds, June 25th, 1829.
THE streets of Leeds are at this time amply placarded with bills which have been printed and set up at the suggestion and charges of the friends to our cause in this town, conveying the challenge which follows:
Why don't your preachers go to oppose the Infidels, Carlile and Taylor?"
All the preachers, dissenterian and canonical, have received our invitation to discussion. A thousand coteries and tete-a-tetes at every corner of the street, betray the agitation of the tide of public opinion, which we have caused. As avowed Infidel Missionaries, our presence affronts the Christian day, by the never-before offered defiance, that implies that Christians themselves are in a state of barbarism and ignorance, and have as great need to be converted from the darkness of their idolatries and superstitions, as the hordes of satyrs, Chimpanzes, ourang-outangs, and demi-men that engage the spiritual sympathies of their own gospel-propagating clubs.
As boldly avowing, and loudly proclaiming the startling proposition that no such person as Jesus Christ ever existed, we break up the crusted film of stagnant intellect, and force upon the mind the necessity of thinking thoughts unthought before. We drive the preachers to their studies and their libraries, to revise and re-examine the premises and data which they had heretofore considered as lying beyond the limits of controversy.