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Matthew, the turnpikeman or taxgatherer, writes; when the son of the great spirit was crucified, the light of the sun was put out for three hours, so that there was a total darkness over the whole earth; that there were terrible earthquakes in many places; that the dead arose from their graves, and walked about among the living; that the veil of the temple was rent in twain; with other phenomena, equally tremendous, awful and singular. One thing I must observe, that no other person, on the earth at that time, mentions a word about this appalling general catastrophe.
Although Rome, at that time, had a great number of fine and curious writers, poets, historians, and natural philosophers, men who recorded all the great and little wonderful phenomena of nature, men of profound research, historians of great candour and judgment, and many of them too, who were strongly tinctured with that vice of all ages, superstition; yet, they are all silent on the subject, and their silence stamps impudent lie on the face of the tale. This must make any one, except an ignorant Christian bigot, not only doubt, but throw up his creed in despair. We have nothing to do with it, I send you a synopsis of this curious story on which the code of Christian faith is founded; and this that I have written, and that I intend to write, for the amusement and instruction of yourself and the tribe on the banks of the Winconsin, is a true transcript of the book called the Bible and Testament. I vouch for it, before 120,000 priests, who are paid unknown millions of pounds sterling per annum, to preach and defend these vile publications and to prove the story a truth. A hard task, you will say, they have! I vouch for the correctness of my statement. Between you and I, it is not the truth or falsehood they care about; but the millions sterling per annum, which they gain, by saying, they believe it, and for endeavouring to make all others say the and
pay for it. If the community were to take away the salary from the priests, the priests would all, in one years time, say, the whole story was the most absurd, and fraudulent fable ever invented by man, or believed by the gaping multitude.
The death of the Great Spirit's son, Jesus, does not end the mysterious, farcical, drama: others take up the sticks, like true cudgel players. When Jesus compelled himself to lay them down; when he caused himself to be crucified, for the redemption of mankind; when he died, was buried, and in three days rose again from the dead, remaining some say forty days on earth, eating and drinking as usual, en famille, with his old acquaintance, who were in general the canaille of the suburbs of Jerusalem, loose women and idle ignorant men, such as the followers of Richard Brothers, Johanna Southcote, and all the new moon-light people, the infatuated of the day, who have no opinion of their own, and only adopt that of other people, for the sake of fashion, or to have something new to think or speak of; to these good people, the good man, Jesus, when he caused himself to leave the earth and ascend
into heaven; bequeathed himself and the great spirit, his father, under another form, or forms, and a new title, called, the Holy Ghost. This new god, or great spirit, made his appearance directly after Jesus went away, and showed himself under rather a questionable shape or shapes, viz. Neats tongues all split in two, up to the root, and, at times too, they had the appearance of being on fire! what good that might do, I know not; for it does not much augment the miracle; but they were split as we split a magpie's to make bim speak. All, on whom these tongues fell, spoke directly, with other tongues, and were filled, as they say with the Holy Ghost. This, to me, I confess, is obscure. I cannot comprehend, how they spake with other tongues. If it is meant, that they spake other languages, with their own tongues, and received the happy gift of languages, I could understand it, and this, it seems, is what they intend to have inferred. But they do not directly say so. Nevertheless, this all-tongued spirit does not seem to have made any better progress, in making converts or proselytes, than the son of the great spirit himself. For the stupid ancients, both Jews and Gentiles, would not listen to the story; or, if they did, only laughed at it, as the most romantic tale they had heard, and looked on the belief of it, as the most absurd superstition which devoutignorance, or cunning and impudence could invent, effrontery preach up as a doctrine, or simple credulity accept as a creed. The infatuated, however, kept on preaching the Holy Ghost, the comforter, and hawked their fulsome nonsense about, until they actually became a nuisance through a great part of Asia Minor, and some parts of Eastern Europe. From most places, they were expelled, and, in some places, where they resolutely uttered their new-fangled nonsense, in defiance of sense and reason, and persisted in disturbing quiet people, they were imprisoned and whipped, and in some instances put to death. These the infatuated called martyrs, and, with the blood of these, they cemented the loose rubbish, of their most unaccountable church., These last brought into play the Great Evil Spirit; a being, that we find very little said about, from the fall, until the supposed coinmencement of the Christian era. Perhaps, it may be the same which they term Belial, in the Chronicles of their kings. And in the dramatic poem of Job, he is introduced as the court buffoon of heaven, and makes, on the whole, but a sorry appearance, though a match for his brother spirit. Through the management of the infatuated Christians, he soon became a personage of vast conseuence, as prince of the air ( Æolus), king of hell (Plato), king of the earth (Titan), and Satan, or Lucifer, prince of the stars; he soon rivalled the great good spirit, his son Jesus Christ, and the curious comforter, the Holy Ghost.
Among the first itinerant preachers of Christianity, was a man 'named Paul. He seems to have been a bold, active fellow, and was in possession of some learning, which was a rare qualification, with the followers of Christ. Hence, he became more con
spicuous than any of the rest, and was made foreign missionary to the society, and especially to the Greeks, whose language he understood. He seems to have learned some kind of a trade in his youth. But he first comes under our notice as runner to the Jewish holy inquisition, the tool of the high-priest, the rabbies, and Sanhedrim. The singularity of his conversion to Christianity, when on his way to persecute the Christians, gave him great credit with the new light men; and his ardour and zeal in their cause opened their confidence, while his learning and intrepidity procured bim consequence and authority. Hence, in the latter part of his life, he was a fanatic field-preacher of nonsense and fable, bold to impudence, arrogant, proud, and conceited. His arguments both in favour of himself and his doctrine evince cunning and ignorance; and he is never more himself than when he leaves off both discussion and preaching, and becomes dictator. But whatever he did, he was always under the impulse of passion. I have said so much about this apostle: because he seems to have been one of the best of them, and on whom all the Christian doctors, field-preachers, and heretics rely. I must further observe of him, that he must have been, by his own confession, a great hypocrite, and that he very frequently gave bad advice. He was converted by a thunder-clap and a stroke of lightning.
Thus they continued gaining and losing, losing and gaining, for three hundred years; when a most consummate hypocrite and tyrant adopted the infatuation, added a most stupendous and lying miracle to the catalogue of Christian wonders, owned himself a convert to the new faith; became a Christian emperor on political principles, for the worst of political purposes. To enslave mankind, he made it the religion of the state, and died either a pagan or an atheist. He, too, presumed, that he saw in the atmosphere, a flash of lightning like a cross, the ensign of the Christians, though not new with them. · He raised the church, however, and confirmed its power by establishing it on the foundation of monarchy, and at the expence of the liberties of the people.
For the last fifteen hundred years Christianity has been the reigning superstition of Europe, and would have been of Asia too, but for a more able man, who taught a better doctrine, and extirpated, with fire and sword, the followers of Christ, and, where he ruled, their absurd incomprehensible superstition.
Let us pause. I shall make some remarks on the foregoing, and, in another letter, continue the progress of Christianity down to the period of England's Reformation, when, from massacre and ruin, the protestants raised their structure and laid down the foundation stone of general Atheism and of the universal freedom of man.
The narrative is ended for the present; but let us ask, in the name of common sense and abused human reason, is not this story
below criticism? No! For here nearly the whole of the people believe the tale to be true, or the major part of them say they believe in the absurd fable. Here, in this rich and civilized country, upwards of one hundred and twenty thousand priests are taught to uphold the glaring lie, and are paid or exact unknown millions sterling per annum to maintain it a truth, to preach its veracity. And here to call in question its truth or authenticity is a crime punishable by the law, they say, and incurs loss of liberty or locomotion and property, subjects one to fine beyond one's means of paying, which is in direct opposition to the very letter and spirit of their boasted Magna Charta and Bill of Rights,* to unlimited imprisonment, hold you up to reproach, scorn and detestation, heaps on the most moral and well meaning man, all the calamities which human nature can bear, and deprives him, by the infernal magic of superstition, of the love, pity or commiseration of his fellow creatures. And these accumulated evils are inflicted by men hardened in legal iniquity, the foes of the human race, the prostituted pandars of open vice and unblushing licentiousness, prowling hypocrites, who preach what they do not believe, and live in the continual practice of the most degrading crimes and vices which stain humanity. They and their pernicious doctrine afford not the smallest cause for eulogy, praise or approbation; but, on the contrary, furnish at every moțion and movement, subject for reproof and execration.
The pride, avarice and cruelty of the priests are proverbial. I shall here conclude with a proof, and relate a naval anecdote of Lord Nelson and a naval chaplain, worthy of being recorded for more reasons than one, as it throws a light on two characters at
when Lord Nelson, then only a captain, commanded the King's ship
his brother, the Rev. Nelson, was chaplain of the said ship. It happened, that two men, marines I believe, deserted, were again taken as deserters and sent on board their ship. Captain Nelson, after a summary trial punished one severely and forgave the other. He then went into his boat to go on shore with his brother, the chaplain. The Reverend chaplain, in private confidence to captain Nelson, told him he had done very wrong that morning. How? said Nelson.
- You ought, sir, to have hanged one of those rascals and to have given the other five hundred lashes through the fleet. Coxswain, put about the boat and row on board, said the captain. On coming along side the ship. Go on board Parson Nelson, and pack up your things; I only give you until to morrow morning to remain on board ; And, remember, you never sail with me again. Now pull away on shore.
Bill of Rights, art. 10. “That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” But of late the laws have been dispensed with altogether. A Judge's humour and a packed jury is now true English law.
In the year
I had the story from a man who was in the boat at the time, and it is so consistent and characteristic on both sides, that it has every claim to belief.
THE UTILITY AND BLESSINGS OF CHRISTIANITY, And the probability of a Nation or Community of Atheists considered. WHATEVER is probable may be; and therefore becomes a subject worthy of speculation. A nation or community of Atheists has been suggested, and the harmony which would exist in such a society has been anticipated, and dwelt on with the sensations of pleasure and delight: not by the ignorant, the foolish, and the vain; but by the learned, the wise and the discreet. The justly celebrated lord Bacon, has said so much to the purpose in favour of such an institution, that the curiosity of man is excited, and his wishes engaged to experiment on its virtue, if for no other reason than to see how it would succeed: or, as it has been lately elegantly expressed in the house of commons “ to see how the thing would work.” I have entertained some serious reflections on the subject; but the Christians have almost put me out of countenance with my own thoughts; and we all know by experience, that they always think justly, argue rightly, and decide honestly, whether of honour, justice, truth, civil liberty, or only spéculative points of revealed or hearsay religion. Against an atheis.. tical code, their arguments are home to the point, strong, and, as usual with them, finally decisive.
They say, Atheism would produce a world full of cut-throats; that it would beget a nation of monsters; that it would engender murders, rapes, robberies, fornication, adultery, lying, slandering, false-swearing, espionage and deceitful politics; that it would cause bloodsheds, carnage, devastation, anarchy and general ruin and confusion, Lord preserve is! and that not having the fear of God and his most holy and sacred commandments before our eyes, we should be guilty of every enormity and vice under the
I have thought of this daily and nightly for a long time, and the world, if it pleases, may benefit by my daily and nocturnal lucubrations. I must, and so must all mankind, agree with the Christians, when they are right. And in this case we must admit their argument and reasoning to be just, as it is borne out by the surrounding evidence of experience. I call upon you Atheists, Materiálists, or unbelievers in the divine mission of Jesus Christ and his father God, or Godfather, and even you, ye holy saints, Christians, to stand forward, examine, and confess the proof which is displayed by time, made manifest by experience and example.
Fifteen hundred years: for I speak not of its infancy, has Christianity, that super-divine religion, astonished the world with its virtues; and, as it was sent by the Almighty God, or rather