« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
brought by himself in person, it wanted no support from human aid. But men, to show their gratitude to the most high, for such an inestimable blessing, have expended millions of money and shed rivers of blood for its promulgation, and maintenance. Has it not put down all other creeds by its intrinsic and exclusive merit and incontrovertible proofs? Is it not catholic or universal? Could it be otherwise, when God ordained it for the benefit of the human raee? And, moreover, sent his own son, who was himself to die for it, among a band of barbarous unbelieving Jews, in a paltry town of Judea?
We very properly value every thing in proportion to the benefits conferred on our condition, as to our increase of happiness, On these simple terms, we shall examine the Christian system of religion and ethics, and fairly appreciate, from these, the worth and importance of its doctrine. Wherever this divine religion is predominant, which, notwithstanding its catholicism, is no where universal, and only general in Europe, and here rapidly decaying, there is observable a beauty of conformity, astonishing to the rest of the world! Here there are no schisms, no wild ramifications from the divine tree of Christian knowledge, no deviations from - the word and spirit of immutable perfection; and the last sacred mission sent as the ultimate testament of Omnipotence: all here is peace, harmony, and the most delightful concord, nothing prevails but good will towards men, and the most seraphic happiness among Christians, as must naturally be the case when the Almighty set his hand to the seal, and benignantly consecrated his labour to perfect human felicity, and ensure eternal salvation! You never find any of the vices current in other societies among the disciples of Christ, by whatever of their thousand names they are mentioned! Here is no such thing as false-swearing, or indeed swearing at all; because, their great teacher has expressly forbidden it! Christians can take each others word and use no binding, obligatory oaths, like the heathens and pagans of old! They know each other, consequently, their mutual confidence is unlimited! among them, there is no backbiting, envy, hatred, jealousy, malice, or detraction! No villanous scandal to the detriment of a neighbour and the gratification of the most sordid dispositions; no falshood, no suborning of witness and perverting of law and justice, no swearing against truth to aid vice and crime, to overcome virtue, honesty, and innocence.. No private spite, malice, or injurious slanders to destroy individual reputation, or to sully an upright character. No degrading littleness of mind, no shifting, cringing, fawning, flattering knaves in office, in order to make them unjust and confer unmerited favours on the despicable slaves beneath them. No lying, cheating, stealing; no villains living in defiance of all laws, divine and human, nd, when dying at the gallows, praying and piously hoping forgiveness of God through the merits of another man, whom they call Jesus Christ, and who, they say, was also 'hung on a cross for sedition and blasphemy. No dirty meannesses in trade, no underhand dealings, nu overreaching or monopolizing property for the benefit of one to the detriment of thousands. No substituting hypocrisy for bonesty and counting all fair gain that does not lead direct to the gallows. No, all is fair, candid, and sincere, as God and his son Jesus Christ, who is as old as himself, would have it; who ordained all things, before they came to pass, from the beginning. Here, among devout Christians, there is no pride, ambition, or insatiable passion for money, power, or other gain.“ No exterminating, unjust and cruel wars, to rethrone expelled tyrannic monarchs: no horrid sieges and slaughtering battles, destroying thousands in a day. No singing Te Deums on both sides, for the slaying of myriads in the name of the Lord, the King, and Country! No ruinous and insupportable taxes to maintain an hundred families and beggar and enslave an hundred thousand. No legal modes of enslaving mankind, and telling them that they enjoy perfect freedom, and are the glory of the world and the envy of surrounding nations. No desperate systems of politics, designed by the worst of men to ruin and degrade the best, to uphold evil and to destroy good. No state ministers cut off in the career of their designs against the people, nor any cutting their own throats from the horror of enormities committed. No kings, but what are prudent, wise and good. No princes, who are not just, temperate and benevolent.
I am fond of dwelling on the beauty of this Christian picture, were all the virtues meet to render the portrait interesting and amiable and so like the lovely original. All the priests of this heavenly worsbip are holy, pious, learned, intelligent, bumible, moral and chaste. Not touched nor rendered detestable, by pride, avarice, cruelty, meanness and horrid crimes. None of them have been obliged to fly the country for the perpetration of offences repugnant to buman nature and too abominable even to be named. Here are no thieves, no murderers, no fornicators, no adulterers, no duelling, no trials for crim. con. or breach of faith. No house-breakers, incendiaries, spies, informers or pick-pockets. No canting, babbling hypocrites, preaching what they know nothing about to idle ignorant vain fools. No gamblers, drunkards, highwaymen, no flatterers of the rich porgrinders of the poor.
This must be the blessed effect of Christianity: no other thing could produce such an absence of crime and holiness of life. Is there any thing to look at in the Christian world that is contaminated with evil ? Then is the Christian religion and ethics not perfect ? Now were it true, that the reverse of this was the case, or that the Christians were daily and bourly in the commission of all these crimes and many more; if the character of the Christian combined all these vices and we require no witnesses to prove the fact, I would ask if Atheism, Deism, Dogisin, or any other ism could stain society with blacker crimes or add one to the catalogue ? Indeed, the worst of it is, that the Atheists will have very great trouble and experience much difficulty in cleaning the Augèan stable of Christianity. However, for the sake of suffering humanity, try it they must. But after all, we must praise and admire the generous tolerance of the Christian church or priesthood; for they give us leave to think, and we at least surmise, that, whether they say church, religion or God, it is priest they mean : And these priests will absolutely, I am astonished at the indulgence, give you leave to think; but can by no means extend the indulgence any farther.
Let us pause here and take a retrospective view of this mighty establishment. Let us trace the Christian creed and sturdy dogmas to their root, or as near the stump of the tree as we can. It is worth the time and trouble to run over a fair outline of church history, for the last fifteen or sixteen hundred years, provided, we make a proper use of the labour and experience. . We must carefully note the differ- ' ence between the extremes of this imposing compound religion; from its dubious beginning in the second century, to its gouty, bloated, crippled and corrupt existence, in the year of
Mark the first half mad, forlorn, ragged vagabonds, running about preaching to the ignorant poor, theinconsistent glad tidings of a bàppy equality ; decrying es. tablished laws, human reason and all known modes of worship; promulgating the novelty of an edifying, incomprehensible grace. Kicked out of one place for fools and impostors; permitted in another; considered by the wise as madmen ; pitied by the good-natured; relieved by the charitable; imprisoned by the laws; scourged by the magistrates; and, beheld by the honest and sober-minded, with suspicion or contempt. A devout, a lenient, or a fiery persecution, alike confirmed, or rather formed, their creed or belief; for, it is not easy to discover the original tenets of Mother Church. Their unformed religion was made and established by public notice, and by rash and untimely persecutions by fools, fanatics and tyrants of another order, wbich exalted them into consequence. From whence or at what particular period of time, they first sprung up, is very doubtful. The desultory doctrine, which they preached, was a crude compound of ancient mythology and mystic
morality, jumbled together by cunning, fraud and ignorance, As such, it was calculated for the meridian of unskilfull credulity, and the illiterate mob, who swallowed as a whole and never chewed the mass. Its puerile absurdity and untangible nature rendered it insignificant and contemptible in the eyes of wisdom and learning. Hence it throve without merit and augmented with or without opposition. - For while the herd of mankind were collecting dogmas, putting old traditions and new conceptions into a train, new forming a heaven for themselves and their friends and fabricating a hell for their enemies; while they were getting the lessons of designing hedge-preachers by beart, and laying the foundation of an amusing doctrine of spiritual worlds, the fullness of grace and insinuating, a pleasing, though absurd tale of human redemption; sages and philosophers looked on in silence, with the stupid, stall-fed indifference of a protestant prelate, until the cheat became too general to brook contradiction, too proud and strong to submit to investigation, and the current of belief too powerful to be subdued by reason or argument. It is only the wise and the good who will bear to argue the point; ignorance will never condescend to be instructed, nor stoop to the humility of owning its errors. Hence stupid dogmas, founded by fraud and cunning, grafted on ignorance, shielded by folly and nourished by superstition, are invincible, merely from their inaccessible position in the human mind. The designing preachers clothed themselves with a sanctified, imposing, exterpał garb of bumility and personal debasement; they put on a devout appearance, and, keeping a steady eye on this world, talked of nothing but the kingdom of heaven, spicitual beings and the world to come. Having made themselves masters of heaven, they, under the endearing name of Papa, Pope, or Father, made a bold push towards obtaining full possession of the earth, and in all humility endeavoured to reign paramount over kings and people. Such was the power which they usurped over men, and such their intolerable pride and mode of exercising it, that we look back on their transactions with wonder, contemplate them with terror and indignation, and tremble to think, that such terrible and degrading dramas may be again acted even in our own times.
This was the regular progress of the divine mission, nor has any thing been bettered by it. The good was nearly extirpated, the bad made worse, new evils were introduced, and such was the base equivocation of the church doctrine, or religious code, that the virtuous and innocent only suffered, that the wicked might act with impunity against reason, law, and even their own divinity. This was a difference, with a vengeance, to the mortified fathers of the primitive Christians. And now, behold the bloated, proud son of the church, too fat or too lazy to walk, rolling in his splendid chariot, surrounded with the choicest luxuries of the earth, wallowing in the hot-bed of voluptuousness, despising his fellow creature man, and scarcely deigning to thank his God for the good things which he receives in his name : for priests are become proverbially avaricious, cruel and ungrateful which speaks volumes for their creed and raises a high respect for their divine mission.
What a contrast between the half mad, ragged, run-about staff and wallet apostle of the first ages, the frowsy fat monk of the middle times, and the gorgeous bishop, round vicar, sleek prebend, and reverend priest of the nineteenth century! Every thing that brazen impudence could achieve, cunning invent, cruelty perform, or skilful deception carry into practice, has been done by priestcraft, to keep the human race in bondage and fearful subjection. Every thing, which soaring ambition, daring pride, and importunate avarice could propose, has been tried to accomplish that end; and, among the rest, not the last, is the present mode of investing the priest with magisterial power. This was the case long before the church of Christ was thought of; but it was for a long time neglected in Christendom, and for an obvious reason was rendered unnecessary, because auricular confession was equal or superior to the power of the magistrate; now the sword and scales, added to the clerical gown, is fully equivalent to the confessor's chair; and a jail, penitentiary, and tread-mill, are penances equally restrictive and terrifying to any thing in ancient use. As usual, they are invested by the rich for the benefit of the poor! Now, our priests, or the priests of the present day, for the atheist or materialist has nothing to do with them, except to pay an unjust tax to support their impositions: our desiderate is truth, and he who seeks for truth will never go to a priest to find it; but the priests of the present day are nearly all magistrates: and, I will say, with the boldness of truth and with the spirit of freedom, that they are the mest unjust judges that ever sat on a bench, and wholly unfitted, from the accident of birth and prejudice of education, for deciding on a poor man's cause! Their injustice proceeds from a combination of events which must form the full character of an unjust man, which is, perhaps, the worst epithet that our or any other language can apply to a human being. I shall mention some of the causes which lead to the point.
First, The priests of the established church, and such only, are magistrates--are the sons of a proud and depraved aristocracy. Navy, army and church, in this case, are similar. The power and profit of the state are in their hands. The aristocracy really ina