« PreviousContinue »
4 Jerem. 10. O Lord God, surely thou has greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem.
14 Ezek. 9. If a prophet is deceived, I the Lord deceived that prophet; and I will stretch out my hand, and destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.-Might not one well ask here, why, what evil hath he done? If he is deceived did not you deceive him? Have you any right to punish him for your fault?
2 Thes. ch. 2, v. 11. For this cause God shall send them strong delusions that they might believe a lie; that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth.-This is something like God hardening Pharaoh's heart, and then punishing not only Pharaoh but the Egyptians.
That we should find the time serving prevaricator, Paul, guilty of lying, is no great wonder: he gave contradictory accounts of the circumstances of his conversion: he lied when he said he was called in question for the resurrection of the dead: he professed to become all things to all men, to serve his own purposes; but in the following passage, he defends lying on system; no wonder the ancient fathers were led away by his example.
3 Rom. 70. For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
Jesus himself appears to have used a prevarication so nearly approaching to a falsehood, that I beg of the reader to distinguish it if he can. In 7 John, 8, he says to his brethren who put no faith in him while he lived, but who took care to live upon his reputation after he was dead, "Go ye up unto this feast; I go not up yet unto this feast, for my time is not yet fully come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret!" Aware of the direct falsehood that would otherwise be manifest, the clergy have taken care to foist in the word oupo instead of ouk. The true reading is, I shall not go up unto this feast. The latest, the most learned, the most approved of the editors of the New Testament, Griesbach, has settled this question not to be stirred again. He has ascertained the authenticity of ouk, and adopted it; and rejected oupo; instead of oupo anabaino, it is ouk anabesomai, I shall not go.
If the devil be the father of lies, must we impute all these lies to that much abused personage? But contradictory precepts and examples abound in the Bible. Thus, "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Very good. Now pray reconcile it with the behaviour of Jesus Christ to his mother, Mary, in repeated instances of harsh language and reproof. Compare
it with the following text, 14 Luke, 26. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
Then again: "Thou shalt not kill." Very good. Why then is the Old Testament filled with cruel, revengeful, murderous commands? Why were all the women and children, and all the animals on the face of the earth, put to death at the Deluge, because some of the men did not live as God wished them? Thou shalt kill-thou shalt put to death-thou shalt smite with the edge of the sword-thine eye shall not spare-thou shalt surely put to death men, women, and children, oxen, sheep, and asses! Yet do the clergy, without blushing, and without any scruple of conscience, being hired and paid by their ignorant hearers, declare these abominable commands to have been given by God Almighty; inspired by him, the God of mercy and of peace! Can the human imagination imagine any falsehood too gross and abominable for these men to utter, when they utter such detestable commands as the commands of God! No wonder the Christian religion is a cruel and intolerant religion, and its priesthood a cruel and intolerant priesthood! No wonder, when their religion engages them to defend these horrid precepts and practices!
"Thou shalt not commit adultery." Very good. This is all right. Let us look at the conduct of the holy men of old, in reference to this precept.
Abraham, the friend of God, lends his wife to Abimelech, and commits adultery with Hagar
Lot, in a tipsy frolie, commits incest with his two daughters. Jacob commits adultery with his two servant-maids; whence many of the patriarchs were bastards, according to modern
David, the man after God's own heart, was the legitimate king of murder and adultery.
Solomon had 300 wives, and 700 concubines.
Who committed adultery with the young wife of Joseph? Was not Jesus Christ, according to gospel account, born of a woman who concealed what had passed, and whose husband was first made privy to his wife's conduct not by her, but by a dream? Is this a proper story to be told to females, old or young? Is not this something like the apology in Terence's Eunuch, "Fertur venisse clanculum per impluvium fucum factum mulieri: at quem Deum."
"Thou shalt not steal." Very well. Such is the precept, what is the practice? The Israelites stole jewels and other things from the Egyptians. Rebecca stole her father's household gods. Micah stole some metal and made it into gods. Sampson killed thirty Philistines for the purpose of stealing their shirts. David killed two hundred Philistines and stole their fore
skins. Jesus Christ and his disciples went into a corn-field and made free with the corn. They went into a village and brought away an ass or asses.
Enough of these scriptural contradictions. I will endeavour, in the proposed series of essays, to strike honestly and fairly, by argument such as I believe in point, and by facts such as I believe incontrovertible, at the root of this long prevailing imposture. If the priests can defend their doctrines by open and fair discussion, let them. These are not days and times when men will willingly pay their money, for unproveable assertions, and sectarian squabbles. The strong-hold of the priesthood at this day, consists of the females, whose weak and uninstructed intellects the clergy contrive, through fear and through fraud, to mislead and to govern. Among sensible men, there is now only one opinion, that priests and the priesthood subsist upon imposture, and are the greatest nuisances that society has now to complain of. I ask of any honest and well meaning parent, how he can justify to himself bringing up his children in reverential belief of such a book as the Bible? Is there a book in existence that contains more filth and more falsehood? So much, that I dare not copy the proofs of my assertion on paper, lest the public should cry out against exposing these abominations! To take such an advantage as parents usually do take, of the infant understandings of their offspring, is a gross imposition; which, when the child becomes a man, he will not thank his parent for, if he have common sense. It is a sacrifice for the most part to mere pusillanimity; the parents are afraid of the priests, and therefore they sacrifice to the priesthood the intellect of their children.
If the Christian religion be well founded in its historical evidence, a well-read person can easily shew it. If it be not, is it not a base countenance afforded to imposture, to countenance this religion! The clergy have been challenged often enough to defend themselves; why do they not do it? The press is open to them, public encouragement supports them, public prejudice favors them, they are sure of a fair and patient hearing. Why do they not come out and defend their Sabbath-day money making? They are accused of Sabbath breaking of the worst kind of receiving money for declaring from the pulpit every Sunday, what they do not know to be true, and what they ought to know to be false. Yet they will not let a farmer even make hay when the sun shines on a Sabbath day: this is a privilege they exclusively reserve to themselves. PHILO VERITAS..
A SHORT NARRATIVE OF THE LATER PERIOD OF THE LIFE OF THOMAS PAINE,
Written by Walter Morton, Esq. of New-York; one of his Executors.
(From the New York Correspondent.)
ON Mr. Paine's return to New-York, in 1802, a public dinner was given him at the City Hotel. I being one of the committee arrangements, who prepared toasts for the occasion, it led me to an acquaintance with that justly celebrated man, which continued without intermission to the day of his death. I visited Mr. Paine several times at his farm, at New Rochelle, twenty-one miles from New-York, where he resided in part of 1804 and 1805; after he returned to reside in the city, I was in the constant habit of spending two or three evenings with him every week; these visits were generally from seven to eight o'clock in the evening, and I usually remained with him till about ten, at which hour he went to bed. We generally drank two small tumblers of rum and water, each containing less than half a gill of rum, reduced to what is commonly called glass proof. We rarely exceeded this, and sometimes for weeks, and even months, almost in succession, I saw him in bed before my departure, and put out his candle: while in health he generally rose about seven o'clock in the morning. He always took a nap for about two hours after dinner; and while at the farm I ascertained from those who lived in the house, as well as the store keeper who supplied the liquor, that the weekly allowance was limited to a quart, whatever visitors might be called to partake.
In the 73d year of his age, and but a few months before his death, his mental faculties continued strong, firm, and vigorous, and his memory so retentive as to repeat verbatim whole sentences either in prose or verse, of any thing which had previously struck his mind: this he always did with great ease and grace. About six months before his death, his limbs became so feeble that he could scarcely move through the room; he told me when alone, that he felt the decay of nature fast increasing, that he might possibly live six or even twelve months, but it could not exceed much beyond that time; and feared nothing but being reduced to a bed ridden state, so as to lie incapable of helping himself.
In his religious opinions he continued to the last as stedfast and tenacious as any sectarian to the definition of his own creed. He never indeed broached the subject first; but to intrusive and inquisitive visitors who came to try him on that point, his general
answer was to this effect:-" My opinions are before the world, and all have had an opportunity to refute them if they can; I believe them unanswerable truths, and that I have done great service to mankind by boldly putting them forth; I do not wish to argue upon the subject; I have labored disinterestedly in the cause of truth." I shook his hand after the use of speech was gone, but while the other organs told me sufficiently that he knew me and appreciated my affection, his eyes glistened with genius under the pangs of death.
OF SHAFTSBURY'S "CHARACTERISTICS.”
(EXTRACTED BY H. D. R.)
It will be acknowedged that a creature such as man, who from several degrees of reflection has risen to that capacity which we call reason and understanding, must in the very use of this his reasoning faculty, be forced to receive reflections back into his mind of what passess in itself, as well as in the affections, or will; in short, of whatsoever relates to his character, conduct, or behaviour amidst his fellow-creatures, and in society. Or should he be of himself unapt; there are others ready to remind him, and refresh his memory, in this way of criticism. We have all of us remembrances enough to help us in this work. the greatest favourites of fortune exempted from this task of selfinspection. Even flattery itself, by making the view agreeable, renders us more attentive this way, and ensnares us in the habit. The vainer any person is, the more he has his eye inwardly fixed upon himself; and is, after a certain manner, employed in this home-survey. And when a true regard to ourselves cannot oblige us to this inspection, a false regard to others, and a fondness for reputation, raises a watchful jealousy, and furnishes us sufficiently with acts of reflection on our own character and conduct.
In whatever manner we consider this, we shall find still, that every reasoning or reflecting creature is, by his nature, forced to endure the review of his own mind and actions; and to have representations of himself, and his inward affairs, constantly passing before him, obvious to him, and revolving in his mind. Now, as nothing can be more grievous than this is to one who has thrown off natural affection; so nothing can be more delightful to one who has preserved it with sincerity.
There are two things, which to a rational creature must be