« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
gone, and who am prepared to defend and explain the why and the wherefore before him or any man. : His abusive observations on my introduction to his letters printed in The Republican are below my answer. willing to refer the matter, as it stands, to our readers. But, I would observe, where be taxes me with inconsistency, in talking of doing to Mr. Hume, what I blamed him for doing to Mr. Brougham, that my observations must have been read by every one but Mr. Gourlay as a burlesque or piece of irony on his conduct. I meant it to be such. Mr. Hume must have so taken it; for it has not changed his endeavour to serve me in his way of doing it. If I were to meet Mr. Hume on any business, or by accident; for I never intrude myself into the company of any man ; I should say, what I said to a friend, who, I thought, would communicate it, on first reading bis mixture of approbation and disapprobation of my conduct, that I most sincerely thank him for all the good done or intended to have been done, and, as to the evil, I will strive to repair it. I verily believe, that he has uniformly done what he considered his best for me, and that the wrong arose from a mistaken view of my case, or from a fear of taking it up, as I consider, a bold and honest member of parliament should take it up: perhaps from an imperfect examination of the case.
I must also correct Mr. Gourlay, where he says, that Mr. Brougham followed Mr. Hume in imputing ribaldry to me. Mr. Hume distinctly applied the imputation to The Republican, on having read it. Mr. Brougham disclaimed a knowledge of the character of my publications and mentioned the subject of ribaldry as a matter of hearsay or mere supposition. Let Mr. Hume or Mr. Gourlay extract any paragraph that either considers ribald and I will pledge a full aud triumphant defence of its propriety. Until this is done, I hold the imputation to be a piece of slander.
I come to the chief point of Mr. Gourlay's letter, the question of an intelligent being, superior to man, called God. Here I mean to tower over him: here I shall shew him, that age is not wisdom, and that though I can readily allow him to be a better husbandman than myself, who am, perhaps among the most ignorant of husbandry, I cannot allow him to be a better politician or theologian.
The ground-work of all the dispute is intelligence. I ask my chaplain if he personifies his god. He says, no. Then I reply, that he has no more god than I have. All the difference is a difference of words and not of things. I tell him,
that he is the same sort of atheist as I am. But he retorts, that he admits an intelligent and designing power to pervade and control all matter. Mr. Gourlay assumes the same po. sition. I ask, in vain, for proof. I am referred to those very pbenomena of matter which are to me so many proofs that they are above the influence or controul of intelligence. I see intelligence to be of artificial growth. I perceive it no where beyond the animal world. I mark it as a distinction among animals, such as the difference in the sagacity of the dog and the duck, of the oyster and any more acute fisb, of. the savage and ubeducated, and what is called the civilized and educated, man. There is a natural difference in intelligence, as to organization ; and an artificial difference, as to education on the best organizations, considering those best wbich display most sagacity. Where it is natural it is the sequence of the quality of the organization. Where it increases in the same animal, or society of animals, or succession of a society of animals, it is the sequence of the experience of sensations. Sensation is its foundation, and it has no mechanical influence beyond the action of that body from which it arises.
Now, what is the most that intelligence can perform?
It can imitate some few of the smaller operations of matter and produce effects for its own use and gratification on a very small scale. It can make and move a ship; but it cannot make and move a planet. The smallest known satellite of a planet is as much an object of magnitude beyond its controul, as the sun itself. The united intellect of the eartb cannot bid an apple to fall from a tree by a word or the will, without a mechanical force. All the power that it has is a limited means of self-preservation, a small and short means of gratifying itself, or the sensations from which it arises. A vegetable has a power almost approacbing to it, in drawing its nourishment from surrounding forms and qualities of matter. Without that nourishment, without the necessary sur
rounding forms and qualities of matter, the vegetable and · animal perish alike; with them their existence is alike temporary and limited. The difference of days when looking at a thousand years is not worthy of consideration. What then is this boasted intelligence? A mixture of madness and reason, a miserable mockery of greatness or power, as much the source of pain as of pleasure. Let the theologian take all the intelligence he wishes, and then see what power he can associate with it. Does he see intelligence produce a new animal or a new vegetable ? By arrangements of matter it
can augment the number of vegetable or animal identities; but it caonot originate one. The fact is, that the god of the theologian is a phantom created by an evanescent phantom, and not a reality capable of producing a reality.
Mr. Gourlay has asked what is truth. I will give him the best answer that can be given. Truth is the strict rela. tion of words, as the sigos of things, to those things, by which we can communicate the greatest amount of knowledge of those things to each other. Now, what knowledge can he communicate to you or to me, to himself or to any person, by the use of the word god? I say, none, and, if none, that the word god has no relation to truth, this is the literal sense of truth, in the relation of words to things. Tratb, as à narrative of the acts or experience of animals, is to delineate the best possible description, so as to make the experience of one the experience of many.
I shall finish the subject by making a paraphrase of Mr. Gourlay's theistical reverie, and shew him that the wbole of the differeece between the theist and the atheist is the letter å. There is no other real difference, only that the a is the criterion of sanity, and its absence the criterion of insanity. I am the doctor that can prove Mr. G. to be ipsàpe; though I neither fear his wbip, bis tongue, vor his pen, and, consequently, would, bad I tbe power, give bim a free roam among other ipsane theists~men and women who see nothing in its true state and character, and who, with visions thus perverted, live but to mortify and give pain to each other. So, Mr. Gourlay, in answer to your questions, I say:
That I am neither abashed nor horror struck: that I see no dignity in your religion, nor in any man's religion; and provjog po truth to be associated with the word god, I prove it all to be vice. A religioñ established by law implies a god established by law; and instead of saying the law of god, you should say the god of the law.
In walkiug forth by day, I perceive no mighty difference between man and the creeping things of the earth. Man crusbes the creeping things of the earth: the atmosphere of tbe earth sooner or later crushes man.
In looking upwards, in a clear starry night, I can gather a sense of my own littleness; but I cannot gather a sense of a mighty mover of the huge masses of ill-shapen matter which I behold. I understand, that they are moved, the smaller by the larger, and, in their motions, act reciprocally upon each other; not by intelligence; but by a mechanical influence, upon the same principle as a feather or a balloon
is moved. I know that intelligence, without a mechanical agency, can move nothing, and that all motion is mechanical, in spite of intelligence. Intelligence is nothing more than a state or quality of matter produced by motion, and liable to be annibilated by other motions more powerful or more forcible than those which produce it. I can neither assimi, late myself nor intelligence with the power that moves a planet, and if I could, I should question the wisdom of such employment.
I have no sense of depravity or nothingness. I AM THAT I AM.
What can Mr. Gourlay say more for his god ? If I can perceive myself greater than the worm in point of magnitude or intellect, I have no analogy to suppose animals on other planets greater in intellect than myself. It is a point where I confess ignorance and the very summit of wisdom is to know the proper point at which ignorance should be confessed. Every quality has its superlative degree, and for ought I know the man of this planet might be possessed of the superlative degree of intelligence. The lowest degree on this planet, we kpow to approach to that of the cattle of the field : the bighest is a subject for general admiration : a wonderful artificial growth.
And though I distinguish this wonderful growth of intelligence, or intellect, I cannot separate it from the body of man. I see, with the death of every body, an extinction of the intelligence of that body, excepting what it has recorded on other bodies. I trace successive improvement, but not immortality of original, individual or identical intelligence. No, no, Mr. Gourlay, I neither warm myself with alcohol nor with delusion: with spirits of no kind.
When I trace, on the page of history, the march of mind, and witness civilization growing out of barbarism, I discover, that intelligence, with relation to man, is artificial, that it is the recorded experience of millions: and when, under this view of a fact, I contemplate Mr. Gourlay's intelligent god, I ask, why man was not imbued with all possible intelligence at bis first appearance on earth; why this bantling of the god was left to improve itself; why millions have lived and died as other brutes live and die; and what is one generation of men more than another, that they should be left to improve so slowly? Every consideration of the kind becomes to me a new proof, that the only theological sanity is to put the letter a before the word theist, and to say, that religion is both error and vice: error in conception and vice in practice.
Mr. Gourlay may bestow his pity upon me, I shall not
remain in his debt for that commodity; but I have some doubt as to whether he has honesty and courage enough to put bis real ideas of religion upon paper. I perceive in him something of a truckling to the phantoms, to the god and religion, which are said to be established by law. Men have in no instance, exhibited greater cowardice and more dishonesty, than in matters of religion. They who profit by it reason from their profits and value the system according to the value which it brings them. Others fear to oppose such established; and pecuniarily enforced ntoions, and tacitly or hyprocriticz ally assent to their correctness, to their truth, totheir close relation to things. I am the first Englishmen to make a full and fair assault upon it, and once so assaulted, it shrinks and stinks like leather before a strong fire.
To finish my paraphrase, I must inform Mr. Gourlay, that the minuteness of animal and vegetable life, and the hugeness of astronomical knowledge, alike set at nought, in my mind, his madly adopted theory of a god. Can he shew a single reason why such a god should create a succession of animals and make one to be preyed upon by another ? Why not make one generation to live like himself without food and without decay? The succession of animals associated with the succession of religions which the human race adopt, is enough to convince me that all are wrong on the subject of religion, and that Mr. G. if sane on that subject is not honest, if honest not sane.
Whether Mr. G. receives these my observations as grave and manly, or as abominable rant, ribaldry and abuse, I am indifferent. By all that I can perceive, he is one of those, men by whose judgment I shall never judge myself; and whatever he may think of me, I shall think no less of myself. Perhaps I have only shut out some of your better articles for a month, by noticing him thus far, respectfully,
HURRY NO MAN'S CATTLE. This is an old saying; and far be it from me to hurry you, my good Sir. You have yisited me since the date of my last letter, and conversed so courteously, that I am hopeful we may again be friends. You have not yet invited me back to chapel ; nor said any thing regarding TRUTH; but I shall now before summing up, allow you another month to study that subject; and in the mean time proceed with the review announced in my letter of August 15.
You perused Carlile's Republican of December 24, 1824,