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vestigate the causes of the various effects which are incessantly coming in contact with his senses, than every exertion is made by these fanatics to
him the public vdium; and in this they have, alas! too well succeeded.
Every Priest accuses him of prying into the secrets of the Almighty, and brands him with the appellation of impious, sacrilegious wretch: and the philosopher has generally been subjected to all the persecution and abuse which a persecuting Priesthood, and their ignorant, superstitious followers, could inflict. What, I ask, are these beings who thus arrogate to themselves the exclusive privilege of acting as mediators betwixt man and his Maker? Are they not composed of the same materials, subject to the same wants, the same passions, acted on by the same agents, and finally decomposed like other men? If, as they insinuate, man was intended to remain ignorant of the laws of Nature, why, I ask, has Nature endowed him with so vast a capacity for acquiring kuowledge? If the doctrines which Priests are coutinually holding forth are founded in truth, 'why are they continually varying in their opinions, and persecuting and abusing each other? Even those men who regularly attend to hear them expound their ambiguous doctrines, finding it impossible to comprehend their abstruse dogmas, each individual puts that construction on what he has heard which best suits his own views and interests. How gratifying, then, must it be to the philosopher to contemplate the time (and it will certainly come) when those huge piles from which these dogmas proceed shall be converted into temples of science, into seminaries of reai learning! There the philosopher shall boldly promulgate the results of his inportant researches into Nature; he will shew to his fellow-citizens how the vast chain of Nature recedes by almost imperceptible gradations, from the most complex organized beings to apparently the most inanimate substances. There the astronomer will explain to his fellow-citizens the revolutions, eccentricities, and various phenomena of the planetary system. There the studious, laborious chemist, will explain to his fellowcitizens, by a series of the most simple experiments, the attractive and repulsive properties which are in a greater or less degree inherent in all bodies : he will there illustrate, on a small scale, the various modifications and decompositions of bodies, such as is eternally going on in the vast store-house of Nature. I therefore call upon each individual now present to exert himself to the utmost of his power amongst his more ignorant reighbours, and endeavour not only to break the superstitious chain which fetters the understanding, but to point out to them the vast importance attached to scientific pursuits. It has been but too generally the case with individuals to say,
“ It is of no importance to the cause whether I exert myself or not, for I as an individual can do but little." To such I answer, each individual has it in his power to do much more than he diay at first imagine. Has not a Paine, a Cartwright, a Cobbett, a Huut, a Carlile, umply proved what individuals cau do in promulgating truth and establishing free discussion. Others bave said, as au excuse for their extreme apathy, “ that in their time these things can never be accomplished.” To these I answer, that probably we may not accomp.ish all our hopes, but we can, at least, lay the foundation upon which posterity will erect the miglity fabric. Citizens, the age of reason, of revolution, and of science has commenced, the spirit of enquiry is gone forth, and it is not in the power of mitred nor crowned heads to stop its progress. A thirst for knowledge pervades the inmates of every cottage ; it is this thirst for knowledge (the forerunner of truth) which will point out to man the certain means of his conservation, and finally conduct him to happiness.
4. May the People of England learn to call Thieves and Robbers by their proper Names, wheiher under the guise of Stars or Mitres.
5. May the Vespers and Orisons of every Spaniard, instead of being occupied in the Mummery of useless Prayers and senseless Songs, be employed in reading and meditating on Portions of Thomas Paine's “ Righis of Man.'
Song, by Mrs. Walker.--" No longer lost in Shades of Night.” Chorus-Demanding freedom, all.”
6. To the Memory of Mirabaud, Voltaire, and Helvetius, and may their Works become as universally read as are the Works of Fanaticism and Superstition.
7. Simon Bolivar and the Patriots of South America, Song, by Mr. Eckersley.
8. May those Scourges of Mankind, commonly called Kings, soon be taught that all true Sovereignty emanates from the People.
9. May Priests be made to drink plentifully of the Cordial they so much rea commend to others, namely, Patience and Long-Suffering. Song.–"A Parson who had a remarkable Foible."
10. May every virtuous Woman prefer a Republican for her Husband ; and may she bring up her Children in a hatred of Vice and the practice of Virtue, and may every Woman be virtuous.
11. Health and a steady Emancipation to all the incarcerated Prisoners who are suffering for the Cause of Reform, not forgetting the Captive of Ilchester.
Duetto, by Messrs. Viatley and Waiker.--" In Liberty's Cause I would yield
up my Life,
The business of the evening was then concluded with the anthem of “God sare great Thomas Paine” in verse and chorus; verse by the ladies, chorus by the whole Meeting. A vote of thanks was then passed to Josiah Matley for his impartial conduct in the chair. le expressed his gratitude for the compliment they bad paid him, and assured them he felt a greater pleasure in the honour they had done him than if he had been elected to the most lucrative place any rotten Boroughmonger had to bestow in the Hospital of Incurables. The Chairman then withdrew, and the Meeting was dissolved in the greatest harmony of sentiment.
TO MR. R. CARLILE.
171, Pleasance, Edinburgh, Feb. 1822. I Have sent you herewith a few questions and observations, part of an essay, which I read lately at a Meeting of the Edinburgh Free-Thinkers' Zetetic Society; if you think them worthy of a place in the Republican you may insert them. I am sorry it is not so perfect as I could have wished, but being engaged in a business which requires almost all my time and attention, I have not leisure to write to my own mind. I am uncertain whether it may be well received with your readers; I bave odly sent you my initials to it at present: if it is approved of, I will send you more, and I will allow
full name afterwards. I am, Sir, your sincere friend,
to use my
A Critical Enquiry into the Harmony of the Books of Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John.-Part I.
When we begin to read any book we naturally wish to know something concerning the author of it; if the subject is of great importance, and if much depends upon his correctness and veracity, our anxiety is the greater to know something of his character.
When we begin to read the New Testament, as well as the Old, an enquiry naturally arises in our minds, Who are its authors ? Who are these men, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the reputed authors of these accounts of the life, actions, and sayings of Jesus Christ, that we have there written, that so much confidence is reposed in them? Matthew and John are said to have been disciples of Jesus Christ, but of this I see no proof. Of Mark and Luke it is not even pretended that they were disciples, (nor is it çertain who they were) consequently, their accounts of the life, actions, and sayings of Jesus must have been collected from others at second hand, for these men, weak and credulous as they are, do not pretend to inspiration themselves. Luke, however, pretends to be an apostle, and includes himself (chap. i. and ii.) among those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of Jesus from the beginning, but he certainly was not so, for he never mentions his own name in his narrative among the disciples or ministers of Christ, nor does either of the others, so that his claim ought not to be admitted ; consequently, we have only two witnesses of these strange things, viz. Matthew and John. Now, as we know so little concerning any of these men, they are only entitled to credit when they relate a probable story and corroborate one another: they are not entitled to any credit whatever when they relate improbable stories and contradict one another in the relation, which I am afraid is too often the case. As Matthew and John are the only disciples who wrote accounts of the life and actions of Jesus Christ, they are thus the only witnesses we have to attest these most singular events; and yet we are threatened with eternal damnation if we do not believe their wonderful tale, although they appear to contradict one another in almost every particular : besides, of those writings ascribed to them, we know not what is their own from what is fabricated in their name, we know not what is genuine from what has been inserted by copyists in the dark ages. Certainly, faith is a necessary virtue in the Christian religion. However, I think it is of little matter which is genuine or which is spurious, I hold them of equal use.
As these authors have engaged in writing the biography of an individual, and the history and incidents of his life, if they relate the truth we expect them to agree in the facts of their narrative, it is on their agreement that their credibility depends, if they con
tradict one another we cannot believe them; their agreement does not even prove that they write the truth, but if they contradict one another we may conclude that some of them have written falsehood, if not all.
The first subject that is presented to us in the New Testament is the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew says, from Abraham to David there were fourteen generations, but according to the list of names he gives, there is only thirteen. He says, from David until the carrying away unto Babylon, there were fourteen generations, but according to his list there were fifteen, and according to the book of Chronicles there were eighteen generations, Matthew in this period omits those generations to make his three fanciful periods have all the same number of generations. He says, that Joram begat Ozias, but in the Chronicles we learn that it was not so, that there was three generations between Joram and Ozias, viz. Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah : the line runs thusJoram begat Ahaziah, Ahaziah begat Joash, Joash begat Amaziah, and Amaziah begat Uzziah, or Ozias, consequently, Joram could not beget Ozias. Matthew then says, from the carrying away into Babylon until Christ was fourteen generations, but in his list there is only twelve; his three numbers of fourteen generations each, if added together, would make forty-two, but if we take the names in his list, and add them together, we will find they amount only to forty instead of forty-two. In this last section he has also omitted one generation, according to Chronicles, between Josiah and Jeconiah. He says, that Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brethren about the time they were carried away unto Babylon, but in Chronicles we learn that Josiah was dead twentytwo years before the carrying away unto Babylon, (according to the chronology) so how could he beget them at that time when he was dead. We also learn that Jeconiah was Josiah's grandson, not his son; there is not one of the name of Jeconiah in all the lists of Josiah's sons that are given, and, surely, he could not beget his grandson. If Matthew were an ordinary writer we should be apt to reject this as falsehood, but as it is the Lord's word, we must hold our peace. I have thus far been comparing Matthew with himself and with Chronicles, but Luke's genealogy of the same person sets all comparison at defiance, except in two instances, which are these, he says, that Joseph, the Carpenter, was the son of Heli; Matthew says, he was the son of Jacob: Luke says, that Salathiel was the son of Neri; Matthew and Chronicles say, that Salathiel was the son of Jechonias. Which are we to believe? The names and the number of the other are so totally different, that it does not seem to be a genealogy of the same person at all, to my mind they are completely irreconcileable. Can any person believe them both, or can we believe either of them? The impression on my mind is, that Luke's genealogy from David downwards is altogether supposition or fabrication; and of Mat
thew's I think he has adopted as his genealogy the line of kings of the house of David as far as he could trace it, to shew that the hero of his story was sprung of that race, but as he makes errors and omissions in a line of kings where he had the means of being correct, we may reasonably suppose that his errors are many more when that line fails him, if not fabrication altogether. These two authors wish to prove that Jesus was sprung of the family of David, but although their genealogies from David down to Joseph had been quite correct, (which is certainly not the case) they immediately overturn their own labours, by telling us that Jesus was not Joseph's son, but begotten of the Holy Ghost, consequently, not the son of David.
Matthew tells us, after Mary was espoused to Joseph before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost. By whom was she found with child when her husband had not come near her? Did Matthew find that himself? If Matthew found that she was with child himself, what are we to think of him? If he did not find that himself, but took her word or mere report, what value are we to set upon his evidence? and then she was with child of the Holy Ghost, consequently the Holy Ghost was Christ's father, this is singular, but how did they know that she was with child of the Holy Ghost? they had only her own word, when a woman is with child, how is it possible to distinguish whether it is to the Holy Ghost or to a man, which is more likely, they have not told us how they distinguished
Matthew then says, that Joseph knew not Mary until she brought forth her first-born son Jesus; Now who told Matthew this? If it was so, How did Joseph know that she was with child? Would any of the pious defenders of Christ's divinity be content to receive his wife in that state at his marriage, and be satisfied with such an explanation? Can any father read this account before his family, before his wife, his son, and daughters, without blushing? Can any preacher read this before his congregation, and think it will preserve their minds pure and uncorrupt? What would a delicate young maiden think of this? Would it tend to keep her mind chaste, if she is taught to admire and adore such a story? I only ask questions, the law does not allow me to answer them, nor to deliver my opinions freely on the subject: but I think it is a kin to the holy descriptions of Onan's celebrated action, to the gambols of Tamar's twins in their birth, to Hosea and his wife, or the pious description of Aholah and Aholiab in Ezekiel, Why do we despise the obscenity of the Hindoo and Pagan worship after adoring this? We should pull the beam out of our own eye before we attempt to take the mote out of our neighbours eye; and where is the proof of all these stories? I see none whatever, I know not of a single witness to attest the truth of this apparently very suspicious and incredible story, which is said to be of the greatest importance to mankind,