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who live by telling you, that Jesus Christ was the son of God, that he came down from heaven commissioned by the Almighty to preach this doctrine to the race of man, that he converted a few ignorant fishermen to his doctrine, to assist him in propagating the faith, such poor ignorant stupid fellows as we see lounging about Margate Pier, know, that this fale, trumpt up by designing men, as the beginning of your Christian faith is false. But, said she, I will ask you, whether, this tale carries any probability of truth with it? If a person were to come into Margate to-day, and tell the people that he was the son of God, that he came down from heaven by a summons from the Almighty, all the probability of any conversions to his assertions would be among the most illiterate people of the town. The well-informed and sensible would turn away with disgust at the tale. Is it any more likely, that a thing of that kind should take place in Judea, than in England ? Have you not heard of something similar to it in the person
of Johannah Southcote, who was to have bred the Shiloh ? And pray how did that turn out, when put to the test by sensible men and physicians? In the same way that the tale of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus would have ended, had it been put to the same scrutiny.
To be explicit upon the subject, I will inform you how your religion originated. The Romans, being jealous of the Jewish people, on account of the superior attachment which they manifested towards the doctrine of Moses, and finding, that, at Rome, they had nothing to offer to the people of their nation so valuable as what is contained in the Pentateuch, set to work, sometime between the second and third century of your era, to form those books called the gospel. I assure you, said she, that those books which go by the names you see attached to them, were never written by those people; but by artful men of Rome, who made it a state trick. Their only object was money, or to make a lucrative job of it. Weigh these things over, that I advance to you, and you will find what I say to be true.. If any such thing had taken place in Judea, as is told the people now-a-days, would not our people, the Jews, have been apprized of it? Instead of that, the story is fabricated by foreigners, and we are persecuted for not believing it!! Our people were upon the spot, and they say positively that nothing of the kind occurred there.
I asked the lady, what was her opinion of a future state, telling her, that the Jewish Bible was very silent upon that head. She replied, that the Pentateuch said very little upon a future life, but the generality of the Jews thought that there were hopes of a future existence, but she had her doubts upon the subject. Solomon expressly declared, that there was no difference between a man and a beast, for they all go to one place, and at the close of the sentence, he says, (admitting that there was an opinion then prevalent regarding a future state of existence) who knoweth that
the spirit of a man goeth upward ? It is, you see, plainly stated by Solomon as an interrogation, and he leaves you to draw your own conclusion. However, said she, the importance of the subject may be anxiously looked for; still we are bewildered and can arrive at no certainty. It is one of those dark, intricate things that must be left to futurity to unravel.
The Jewish lady lamented greatly, that mankind should be split into sects and parties, and that religion in general, instead of answering the end, which each sect pretended to profess, or that of peace and good will, should substitute contention and animosities between its different professors.
I was very much edified by this Jewess's discourse; for I found her candid, liberal, and sensible. And I learnt, by this interview, that our prejudices arise in a great measure from a want of candour on our parts, and a rational attention to what some, whom we suppose to be our opponents, have to advance in support of their sentiments. As it is the duty of every honest individual to expose knavish priestcraft, wherever it discovers itself, it is likewise his duty to make public liberal speeches and rational disquisitions. Some of the best observations that are verbally delivered in society, are allowed to die for want of making them public through the means of some of the publications of the day. Every thing that tends to unfetter the mind, to enlarge the understanding, to give scope to liberty and loosen the chains of priestcraft, should find its way to the understandings of men, and more particularly to those of the rising generation.
I am Sir, yours truly,
A SECOND CALL TO UNBELIEVERS.
FRIENDS OF MANKIND, The humble being, who thus addresses you, is well aware, that the virtuous and just require no exterior incitement to do good, nor any stimulus to perform their duty. It is truly distressing to the benevolent and humane, who wish well to the whole human race, and who are endeavouring to break the yoke of despotic superstition, to observe with what zeal and indefatigable industry, the ignorant, the base and sordid Christians are extending the chain of fraud and binding the human mind in hopeless slavery. Every exertion is made by the rich, the powerful, the ambitious, the interested, the foolish, the vain, the hypocritical, the deceiver and the deceived, to keep up the farce of religion. No matter what the creed, Christians of all denominations, Turks, Jews, fire-worshippers, the devout slaves of all sects, even the Deist is esteemed or nearly tolerated; every thing that bears the name of religion meets with encouragement. Nothing, now, is religiously absurd, but truth! Amidst this war of fraud, injustice and fable against reason, right and verity, shall we stand neuter ? Awed by an idea of prudent cowardice, shall our tongues and pens rest in shameless inactivity, while knavery and folly stride triumphant“ from Indus to the Pole?"
To whom shall we look, for relief from these plagues? Where find shelter from the Biblemania; and how prevent or correct its pernicious influence? We must still suffer; but let us endeavour to shield our offspring from its tremendous yoke. Let us imprint into their early mind, that we can be generous without the love of heaven; that we can be just without the fear of hell; that experience teaches us, that religion has no good effect on the human mind; but, on the contrary, hardens it against love, friendship, kindness, and liberality. The worst of men in all countries, where any kind of religion is established, are apparently the most devout, pious, and scrupulous, in points of faith and religious duties : and, indeed, we find, among other classes, the most sentimental and fastidious, both men and women, are the more licentious and the greater libertines. And what is the reason? The truth is, they are taught nothing which they can respect. Or, properly speaking, they are taught no good. Words that mean nothing, ceremonies founded on fraud and ignorance, exercised in vapid ostentation, pride, arrogance, spirituality, wholly incomprehensible; dogmatic precepts, cowardly belief in creeds without reason, and a supine resignation to the will of the priest, comprise the character of a Christian.
The divinity of Jesus Christ has long been doubted and disputed by contending sectarians. His divinity is now out of the question; we have no doubts about it; honest criticism and fearless investigation, judicious comparison and candid truth, have completely shewn the story of his existence to have been a fable. And we boldly assert, that such a man never was, never had a being; that the whole story is a fabrication, and we call, with triumphant superiority and conscious victory, on his tens of thousands of well paid priests, to produce a single proof of his ever having existed. We reject the New Testament as an uncorroborated narrative. · The pernicious doctrine of salvation by faith without works, or to believe that God will save men's souls, because they say they believe a lie to be the truth, without doing any good, has done more mischief to society, than all the deadly sins combined. To think or to believe, that a man, in the commission of every vice which he can commit, to the degrading of himself and the injury of others, for sixty or seventy years, shall, by a death-bed repentance of two or three weeks, or as many days, or hours, even minutes make his peace with God, as they call it, and, only .by calling on the Lord Jesus, have his sins forgiven him and be instantly made a fit companion for the virtuous and the good, is not only absurd and preposterous; but derogatory of the justice and goodness of a God, if there were one. And thus praying is a vice; for it intimates a forgiveness of sins without any other qualification than apparent repentance.
Let us ask, is there a man possessed of sense and reason, who has diligently read the books called the holy scriptures, an epithet ridiculous enough to say nothing worse, who can for a moment imagine, that an immutable God can change what he has decreed and which must necessarily happen? The truth is, that the reading of those scriptures destroy thought in the embryo, as they forbid investigation, announce terrible punishments against every doubt, threaten the wrath of God on those who differ even in thought from the precept given, or who disbelieve the tale told by them, bowever repugnant to sense and reason the one, or absurd, idle and childish the other. What then, men are taught to believe ; but the privilege of thinking is conferred on very few. Hence the Christian world now consists of two classes – Knaves who deceive, and fools who are deceived. To destroy this connection, to shame the knaves and reduce them to honesty and reason, to enlighten the ignorant and give wisdom to fools, must be the ardent task of the Materialist. Truth, honour and justice inspire the undertaking. And why not the laudable ambition to do good. The interesting duty of deciying vice, the noble courage to promote human happiness, the heroic resolution of assisting the fallen and freeing the enslaved; are these not honourable and powerful motives to stimulate us to action?. We see, daily and hourly before our faces men, whom we know to be base hypocrites, mean and ignorant, leading what are called respectable lives and living in comfort and plenty, if not in affluence, by preaching stale lies and absurd conjectures and nonsense, about heaven, hell, and the world to come, as if they had been there. A deluded populace invariably aids the impostors, by swallowing whatever ribaldry is uttered among thein They make their disciples miserable by the repetition of inconceivable terrors, and the more they frighten and afflict their audience, the better they are paid. They speak not of any thing which can be understood. They are not possessed of logic, science or historical information, and are in general but slightly gifted with the article sense. Yet, by dint of importunate clamour and persevering impudence, they, at once, cheat their auditors of their reason and their pence, fill them with superstitious horrors, and abandon them to misery in this world and despair as to the next.
! am but a weak advocate; yet, I can safely say, that I have relieved many from these vain terrors of the imagination. Many, when I first knew them, were stupid bigots and miserable from a confusion of religious ideas, who were tortured with an incompre
of intrusive nothings, now cured, feel comfortable and thank me for the happy change in
their mental condition. When asked, what religion are you, I answer none. What, do not you believe in any thing ?-That is no question.-Do you believe in God ?-No.-Then you are an Atheist ?--- Yes or no, as you like.-Yes or no ! What does that mean?-Having no proof of what you call God, I cannot avert myself from it. You must prove an existence before you can prove me an Atheist. Why every thing says there is a God. Look at the sun, the moon and the stars, how came they? Who made them ?-I know not; and not knowing, conclude that they exist as independent properties, subject only to partial changes.-Oh! hear ine a moment on this subject and answer me a question or two?-Certainly.-You say, if nothing had been to make the sun, moon, stars and this world, they had remained unmade? Then every thing must have had a beginning? Certainly. How came God? who you say had no beginning ? Who made him? That is impious: I can speak to you no longer.
- Hear me for a minute or two more. I confess, that if nothing else tended to make me an Atheist, the very science of Astronomy would. When I stand on the surface of this earth and view the vast illimitable field of space continued above, beneath and around, system on system scattered in countless' millions, all as they are regulated and upheld by their own energies, or by those of each other. I ask, who or what self-existent, itself nothing, could make all these out of nothing? How can intelligence act upon such bodies ? No idea of such a being can enter the imagination. Then who or what did make every thing ?-1 do not know. -As I said before, I believe they never were made ; but that they are eternal and will endure eternally. Utterly destroyed they cannot be, for, to destroy the smallest particle of matter, is impossible. How came men into existence? By some energy or mixture of matter unknown and inconceivable to us; as is the case with every vegetable and animal production in life.- Do you think the account given by Moses of the creation not true?- I do not think it Moses' account, he, if such a man wrote had it from some person who lived before him and palmed it on the Jews, who were the most brutal and ignorant people in the world. Beside, the geographical and astronomical ideas of the Bible are enough to destroy its veracity. The ends of the earth, the sun standing still, flying from one place to another to shun the Almighty, makes it nonsense to a man of science and annihilates the Mosaic cosmogony at a blow.–So, you do not believe that
you immortal soul to be saved ? No, nor to be damned. - You think you are like the cows and horses? I do not, I think man the noblest production of matter. He is calculated for superior intellectual and social attainments; his powers are little short of making worlds, had he space, footing and materials. Then why do you doubt of his having a soul?-I have no doubt about it, my mind is made up on the subject and my reasons are, that having