« PreviousContinue »
arts of specious sanctity which men and women are capable of practising.
The second question which was asked at the close of the paragraph we have been examining, may now receive a moment's attention. The question is, whether this information, which we say is not important, even if it were true, and which we likewise say, has not the least countenance from the sacred writings, be what we should naturally expect to find in a revelation from God? To this question we return a decided negative.
In order to do justice to this subject, we must suppose ourselves altogether ignorant of any divine revelation from God. In this situation we should enjoy the light which nature sheds on the human intellect, and should know as much as simple philosophy teaches us. Thus circumstanced, suppose the most enlightened of the schools sit down and propose a query concerning a revelation from the great Creator of all things. They would naturally expect, if God should condescend to make a plenary revelation to mankind, respecting what he requires of his creatures, his final purpose concerning them, and the methods by which he would make them partakers of his favor, that he would have some regard at least to the powers of understanding with which he had already favored them. We cannot suppose that they would expect a revelation from God, that would confound their reason and confuse their senses. We cannot believe that they would 'naturally' expect to see the Creator of the Universe an infant child, in a manger, nor expiring in agony on a cross, nor passing sentence on his creatures that would consign them to everlasting despair, after he had himself gone through the agonies of [an ignominious] death to redeem them."-Universalist Erposilor, vol. 1.
The foregoing is only a part of the article in the Expositor. I have quoted thus much to present a fair specimen of the wicked dogmas now spread over the country in these abominable orthodox tracts; some of which are ten fold worse than the one just considered. Some of these Tracts contain the most impious blasphemy-and if they were printed by an individual, instead of the AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY, that individual would be severely punished by the laws of the country. Permit me to ask, Why do our good people countenance blasphemy in societies when they punish single persons for this great wickedness? I now have before me one of these blasphemous, wicked and demoralizing tracts. It bears this horrid and monstrous title, "A Family at the Bar of God, and in Hell." !!! My limits will not allow a review of the absolute impiety contained in this tract and in many others issued by the A. M. T. Society.
"He that hath ears to hear let him hear."
Dr. Channing, in his Election Sermon, before the Legislature of Massachusetts, in 1830, has given the following TRUE statement, respecting the influence of Calvinism. It is not an exaggerated account. These facts are now, every day, seen all around us. We need not go out of New-Hampshire to find stubborn facts in proof of this statement. This is a true representation of Calvinism in the U. States at the present time.
"In order, that religion should yield its full and best fruits, one thing is nocessary; and the times require that I should state it with great distinotness. It is necessary that religion should be held and professed in a liberal spirit.. Just as far as it assumes an intolerant, exclusive, sectarian form, it subverts, instead of strengthening, the soul's freedom, and becomes the heaviest and the most galling yoke which is laid on the intellect and conscience. Keligion must be viewed, not as a monopoly of priests, ministers, or sects, not as conferring on any man á right to dictate to his fellow beings, not as an instrument by which the few may awe the many, not as bestowing on one a prerogative which is not enjoyed by all, but as the property of every human being, and as the great subject for every human mind. It must be regarded as the reviation of a common Father, to whom all have equal access, who invites all to the like immediate communion, who has no favorites, who has appointed no infallible expounders of his will, who opens his works and word to every eye, and calls upon all to read for themselves, and to follow fearlessly the best convictions of their own understandings. Let religion be seized on by individuals or sects, as their special province; let them clothe themselves with God's prerogative of judgment; let them succeed in enforcing their creed by penalties of law, or penalties of opinion; let them succeed in fixing a brand on virtuous men, whose only crime is free investigation; and religion becomes the most blighting tyranny which can establish itself over the mind. You have all heard of the outward evils, which relig ion, when thus turned into tyranny, has inflicted; how it has dug dreary dungeons,kindled fires for the martyr,and invented instruments of exquisito torture. But to me all this is less fearful than its influence over the mind. When I see the superstitions which it has fastened on the conscience, the spiritual terrors with which it has haunted and subdued the ignorant and susceptible, the dark appalling views of God which it has spread far and wide, the dread of inquiry which it has struck into superior understandings, and the servility of spirit which it has made to pass for piety,-when I see all this, the fire, the scaffold, and the outward inquisition, terrible as they are, seem to me inferior evils. I look with a solemn joy on the heroic spir its, who have met freely and fearlessly pain and death in the cause of truth mad human rights. But there are other victims of intolerance, on whom I
look with unmixed sorrow. They are those, who, spell bound by early prejudice or by intimidations from the pulpit and the press, dare not think; who anxiously stifle every doubt or misgiving in regard to their opinions, as if to doubt were a crime; who shrink from the seekers after truth as from infection; who deny all virtue, which does not wear the livery of their own sect; who, surrendering to others their best powers, receive anresistingly a teaching which wars against reason and conscience; and who think it a merit to impose on such as live within their influence, the grievous bondage, which they bear themselves. How much to be deplored is it, that religion, the very principle which is designed to raise men above the judgment and power of man, should become the chief instrument of usurpation over the soul.
Is it said, that, in this country, where the rights of private judgment and of speaking and writing according to our convictions, are guarantied with every solemnity by institutions and laws, religion can never degenerate into tyranny; that here its whole influence must conspire to the liberation and dignity of the mind? I answer, we discover little knowledge of human nature, if we ascribe to constitutions the power of charming to sleep, the spirit of intolerance and exclusion, Almost every other bad passion may sooner be put to rest; and for this plain reason, that intolerance always shelters itself under the name and garb of religious zeal. Because we live in a country, where the gross, outward, visible chain is broken, we must not conclude that we are necessarily free. There are chains not made of iron, which eat more deeply into the soul, An espionage of bigotry may as effectually close our lips and chill our hearts, as an armed and hundred-eyed police. There are countless ways by which men in a free country may encroach on their neighbors' rights. In religion the instrument is ready made and always at hand. I refer to Opinion, combined and organized in sects, and swayed by the clergy. We say we have no Inquisition. But a sect, skilfully organized, trained to utter one cry, combined to cover with reproach whoever may differ from themselves, to drown the free expression of opinion by denunciations of heresy, and to strike terror into the multitude by joint and perpetual menace,-such a sect is as perilous and palsying to the intellect as the Inquisition. It serves the minister as effectually as the sword. The present age is notoriously sectarian, and therefore hostile to liberty."
Extracts from an Address, delivered in Philadelphia, by Rev. Zelotes Fuller.
"Witness the holy Inquisition, which the priesthood invented for the punishment and torture of all those whom they were pleased to consider as heretics. Its edicts were of such a character as to excite the utmost horror and alarm, and to render the most illustrious piety and virtue incapable of saving from the most cruel death, all those who were so unfortunate as to be disagreeable to the Inquisitors.
To this infernal tribunal parents have been compelled to deliver up their children, husbands their wives, and masters their servants, without even daring to murmur in the least-without even daring to solicit their pardon, lest they themselves should be considered as accomplices, and punished accordingly. When there could not be found the least particle of proof against the pretended criminal, he was released, after suffering the most cruel tortures, a tedious and dreadful imprisonment, and the loss of the greater part of his effects.
But, alas! for the unfortunate wretch whom this formidable, this hellish court, found guilty. The bare idea of the tremendous tortures he was doomed to suffer, is enough to shock the mind of man with horror, and to freeze the blood in his veins. He was taken to the place of execution, and there roasted alive! with no voice to cheer him but the voice of demons-no consolation was afforded him except such as fiends would offer! The holy brotherhood inform him that they leave him to the devil, who is standing at his elbow to receive his soul, and to carry it with
him to the quenchless flames of hell! Flaming torches were thrust into his face until it was literally burned to a cinder, which was accompani ed with the loudest acclamations of joy from the surrounding multitude.
A more appalling, a more lamentable and horrid spectacle than this, there could not be the wretched sufferer was continually heard to cry out, while life and strength remained, Pity, for the love of God!" Yet this tragical scene was witnessed by all sexes and ages, with transports of joy and satisfaction, and was hailed with the loud and long Amen, by every tongue. God of nercy! is this the benign, the pacifie, the humane, the benevolent, the rational and the impartial religion thou hast given to men? Surely not. If such were the genius of christianity, then indeed it would be no honor, no blessing to be a christian, but a disgrace and a curse!
Let us, however, rejoice, that the time will eventually come, when religious bigotry shall be no more known; when the demon of persecution shall be driven from the world, and the true spirit of candor, of heaven-born charity and love shall pervade the universe of God-when none shall hurt or destroy, but when all shall be filled with the knowledge of the Divinity, and be assimilated to his holy and perfect characAnd may the God of mercy and love speed the hour.
But while we look forward to the future with pleasing anticipationswhile we rejoice in the final triumphs of wisdom, of reason, and of virtue, over audacious ignorance, canting hypocrisy, and caballing priestcraft, God forbid that we should indulge the vain idea that we have nothing to do; for if our observations concerning the priesthood are true, much may, ought, and must be done-we can do much for ourselves and the rising generation, yea, for succeeding ages;-and that what we have said is true, the history of the world most forcibly declares. Read the history of both ancient and modern times, and ye will bear me record that the clergy, as a body, in the manner in which they have conducted, have been the cause of more suffering, wretchedness, and misery to our species, than any other class of men that ever lived upon the face of the earth.
The greater part, if not all, the bloody persecutions that have ever disgraced human nature, and filled the world with misery, originated with a polluted priesthood. Witness the holy wars which filled the world with fire and slaughter, and flooded it with the tears of widows and orphans. Look ye to the priesthood of ancient Rome, which formed that Hydra, that monster with many heads, as described by the Revelator, which has spread, as it were, a mantle of sackcloth over the sun, and veiled the moon in midnight darkness! We learn from the 13th chapter of John's Revelation, that such was the power of this monster, alias priesthood, that it caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads;--and that no man should buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name: Yea, such was the power of the Roman clergy, that men were prohibited the exercise of all civil rights as citizens, unless they would make a public profession of their attachment to the church of Rome: Yea, such was their authority and influence, that when a man was excommunicated from their church on account of heresy, or from any other cause, all aid from, or intercourse with, the Catholics were denied, and he was left to suffer and perish in the streets.
Look to England, to France, to Spain, yea, to all the kingdoms and nations of the earth, where priests have borne rule; read their histories, and ye will not wonder at the remarks which have been offered-ye will not marvel at the clerical picture we have drawn.
According to the learned Dr. Moore, Pope Julius, in seven years slaughtered two hundred thousand persons because the pope did not consider them orthodox. The Massacre of France cut off one hundred thousand souls, for nonconformity Louis XIV. of pious memory, afterthe eve of Bartholomew, boasted in his letter to the Pope, that he des patched seventy thousand heretics in a few days. Peronius avers that in the persecution of the Albigenses and Waldenses, one million lost their lives. From the beginning of the Jesuists', in the middle of the 16th century, by the testimony of Baldvinus, nine hundred thousand perished within thirty years. The Duke of Alva put 30,000 to death by the hands of the common hangman; and Vegerius affirms that .150,000 were destroyed in thirty years by the inquisition. This diabolical engine burnt alive about 35,000 persons in Spain alone, and banished milHons of her inhabitants, besides filling the galleys and dungeons for years by myriads of victims; yet these demons of torture were all orthodox, vicars of Christ, and defenders of the faith.
But let it not be understood that I blame solely the papal church for all the enormities perpetrated under the mask of orthodox sanctity.-. Henry VII created [made] himself head of the church, and during his iniquitous reign he slew seventy two thousand persons, or six every day on an average, for daring to contradict the orthodox opinion of this defender of the faith. The pious Elizabeth, by the direction of the reformed Bishops, doomed the dissenters to the stake and burnt them alive for their opinions. James I. of sacred memory, on account of his inspired translation of the bible, lighted up the flames of Smithfield and burnt to death Lyatt, Wightman, and a Spanish Unitarian. Charles II. banished from their pulpits and houses, two thousand non-conformist ministers; and the pious assembly of divines at Westminster, who manufactured creeds for posterity, obtained an act of Parliament that all such persons as maintain hy preaching, or writing that the Father is not God, the Son is not God, or the Holy Ghost is not God, and that these three are not one eternal God, shall be guilty of felony, and suffer death without the benefit of the clergy.
We may well ask, Who persecuted the protestants, and crimsoned Europe with the blood of our brethren of the human family? Who drove Dissenters, yea, our forefathers, to distant and inhospitable climes? Who roasted the learned Dr. Michael Servetus, [because he dared to comment on some of Calvin's opinions] with a fire made of green fuel that his sufferings might be rendered the more intolerable? A corrupted cruel priesthood. Let me now give you a brief and correct history of Calvin and Servetus.
Rev. Bernard Whitman, in his " Letters to Professor Stuart, on Religious Liberty," has condensed many important facts relative to Calvin, which ought to be known by every person in America. They will materially assist us to account for the unchristian and wicked conduct of the Calvinists' of the present day, now in the nineteenth century. The old proverb, " Like master like man, "; was never more applicable than in this case.
"John Calvin was born in France, in the year 1509. He was originally designed for a Catholic priest; but for a time he gave his attention to the study of the civil law. He early became a convert to the cause of the Reformation; and published his "Institutes of the Christian Religion" at a very early period of his labors. In 1536, he was chosen preacher and Professor of Divinity at Geneva, With the exception of a short banishment, he continued in these offices during the remainder of his life. He has bun accused of many failings; among others, his excessive ambition, his ty ranatent disposition, his arbitrary exercise of power, and his unchristian