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that such a hot bed for fanaticism, as was Judea, might produce such a character as John the Baptist or his brother fanatic Jesus but when they profess to perform miracles, then I am compelled to disbelieve. After the Jewish Scriptures became known in Judea, they immediately began to produce a variety of sects and impostors; and as soon as the Romans took the Jews under their protection, and kept them quiet and in subordination, this fanaticism began to assume a strong feature, and to breed impostors in all quarters of Judea, very similar to what the Christian Religion is producing in this country at this moment. Of all the Jewish sects the Sadducees were by far the most rational and the most respectable, yet we find this John the Baptist connecting them with the Pharisees, and calling them a generation of vipers. The Sadducees were the only sect of philosophers that ever sprang up amongst the Jews, and they indulged not in the common fanaticism, but regulated their ideas agreeable to the unerring laws of nature: the Pharisees believed in all the fables and nonsense that had gone abroad about heaven, hell, and spirits, with immortality; yet this John the Baptist, with a new fangled fanaticism, like all modern fanatics, classes them both together, whilst their sentiments were the reverse of each other. John, in this chapter, is represented as the messenger to prepare the way for Jesus or the Messiah, and we are told that he knew him by instinct, and hesitated to baptize him in the Jordan, saying, "I have need to be baptized of thee;" but in the eleventh chapter we shall find John sending messengers to Jesus to know who and what he is, and whether he is the Messiah, or are they to look for another? Jesus gives them no definitive answer, but refers them to the persons who were afflicted with blindness, lameness, leprosy, and deafness, who were healed, and the dead who were restored to life, as a proof of what he is. These two accounts of John and Jesus by no means agree, and display a blunder in the author or compiler of the fable. Jesus is introduced into this third chapter in a very abrupt manner, if we are to take the first and second chapters as an interpolation, which is universally admitted. We have neither age nor parentage with him, and must suppose him a man grown when he comes to John to be baptized. The story of the miraculous conception, and the journey to and from Egypt, might be found more at large in the Apocryphal New Testament lately published, and is well worth the reader's attention if he calls himself a Christian.
There is one thing worthy of notice in the third chapter as
a gross exaggeration, although it be the Jewish mode of telling a story: it is said that all Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about came to John to be baptized; this must mean all the inhabitants, and gives room for reflection. If John had been merely the forerunner of this Jesus mentioned, it is evident that he would have made all those who came to him for baptism, acquainted with this circumstance, and we might fairly suppose that he would not baptize any individual, and promise him forgiveness of sins, unless he put a faith in this story of Jesus being the Messiah. His address to the Sadducees and Pharisees is extremely strong and pointed, and if it were true, would show that this John had a great influence over the Jews. If we admit the truth of this tale, we must then say, that John converted all the Jews to what is now called Christianity, and that Jesus could have nothing left to do in the way of conversion, but only to shew himself and be believed in. But how contradictory is the tale when we are told that but very few of the Jews believed him, and those that did were afraid to open their mouths in his behalf. This forms another blunder in this foolish but wonderful tale! As to the story about the heavens opening, and the spirit of God descending like a dove upon Jesus as he came out of the water, and a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," I have nothing more to say than that as astronomy has abolished this heaven, it must also have abolished the truth of this tale and turned it into falsehood. Heaven is but a word, a nonentity, and such is hell, and many other words that carry terror with them.— The story of John might be said to begin and end in the same chapter, as we shall read but little more of him: even this circumstance is much unlike history. A man who is said to attract the attention of a whole nation, and to imbue them with a new species of fanaticism, can find but half a page in history, and scarcely that, for he is merely introduced as the herald of Jesus.
The fourth chapter begins a most extraordinary tale, it is thus
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil aketh him up into the holy city and sittith
him on a pin
nacle of the temple, And saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, it is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taket him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
In the first place I would ask, what spirit led Jesus into the wilderness? Secondly, did the devil fast forty days and nights as well as Jesus? Thirdly, when the Devil fixed Jesus on the pinnacle of a temple, where did he stand himself, or did he support himself by his wings? For Jesus must have required support on the top of the pinnacle unless he was fixed like a Guy Faux on a pole. We understand the words, "on a pinnacle" to mean the point of the spire. Fourthly, was not Jesus accessary to all these movements and excursions with the Devil, or was this Son of God subservient to the Devil? Lastly, was this connection with the Devil introduced as a necessary part of the Drama, or merely to show that Jesus had as much wit as the other, and was not to be made his dupe? Paine has wittily observed, that in the Devil's shewing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, and promising to give them to him, Jesus, if he would but worship him, the Devil, there is a proof that the Devil was entire master of all kings and kingdoms, but had no controul over countries that were wise enough to adopt the republican form of government. Another circumstance is, that the Devil is as apt as Jesus in quoting Scripture and support the assertions of Shakespeare, that the Devil can cite Scripture for his purpese." We might excuse a lunatic either for inventing or believing such a story as this, but no man that lays claim to rationality. It is disgusting to see such a tale in print, and how much more disgusting must it be to find it in a book called sacred, and protected by the laws from investigation and exposure? This story about Jesus fasting forty days and nights is a mere competition with the story of Moses, of Elijah, of Esdras, and others, and it is worthy of notice, that Elijah, whom the Jews have also called Elias, is supposed to be the person returned from his ærial excursion with the horses and chariot of fire, to fill
the office and character of the Messiah, and to restore the Jews to prosperity and power as a nation. We shall find the tales of the miracles performed by Jesus to be but a copy of the tales of those performed by Elijah, with a few additions and exaggerations: as lies lose nothing in time or by carriage, as the saying is. The above tale is most ridiculously disgusting, and must destroy the validity of whatever else may follow in the life of the same person, however rational or moral.
After passing this devilish story, we are told that Jesus went into Galilee (implying fear), because of the imprisonment of John! Whom should the Son of God fear? This chapter has several scraps from the Old Testament, which are called prophecies, but I would again refer the reader to an examination of the originals, or to Paine's Examination of them, as the best grounds of receiving a conviction of their futility. It will swell my comment too much if I stop and notice every objec tion, and I have long loathed the task I have in hand, as decency continually cries hold-when a full exposition might be given of the different obscene tales. The Bible, containing both Old and New Testaments, is a disgrace to the Printing Press, therefore a full commentary and exposure of it must be the same. The latter could not well be less obscene than the former, and it is the want of a full and fair exposure, and the support it has received, and will continue to receive from interested hypocrites, that has so long kept it alive to brutalize mankind.
The fifth chapter opens a subjeet that forms a relief to the mind from the disgusting tale in the former :-it begins with what is called the sermon in the Mount, and is unquestionably preferable as a string of morals to all other parts of the New Testament put together. It has carried the principle of forbearance too far and such as human nature, as we see it in society at present, could never tolerate. It is the product of a moral but weak mind; and I judge it to have sprung from the Esseans, a moral sect among the Jews, who had all things in common; one part of them married merely for the purpose of procreation, the other part abstained from women altogether, considering them the cause of much mischief in society.
This sermon might fairly be termed a refinement on all the moral part of the Jewish law. It contains an appropriate lesson for our King, Lords, Bishops, Judges, and Priests, at this moment particularly, it would be well if they would both study and practise it. This sermon fills up the fifth, sixth,
and seventh chapters; and as I have borne testimony to the moral part of it, I shall not stay to cavil with the few fanaticisms it contains. It is not to be expected that any document introduced into this book, should be free from such false and idle notions.
The eighth chapter begins with a series of miracles said to be performed by Jesus; to notice all and each of these, would be a task as idle as the tales themselves. It will be sufficient to speak generally, by saying that those miracles related to the sudden cure of sick and diseased persons-turning a tempest at sea into a calm-casting out devils, and playing the devil with a herd of swine! This last act was a most malicious one, and shews that Jesus had some connection or attachment for devils, or why should he destroy a herd of swine, to the serious loss of the owners. It is said that the swine ran down a steep place into the sea, as soon as the devils entered them, and perished. Queritur. Were the devils drowned ? To me there seems to be another objection to this tale, why should a herd of swine be kept in a country where their flesh was abhorred as food?
The tenth chapter has a most singular paragraph, and is the only true prophetic saying in the whole book. Jesus is the person represented as speaking.
Think not that I am come to send peace on carth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
Christianity has verified every expression in this paragraph; and what is still more painful, it continues to do so. Jesus is represented in the three-fold character of a fanatic, a moralist, and a scourge:-his system, or the system founded in his name, has produced fanaticism and misery in abundance; but the moral doctrines have been overwhelmed by the more powerful mixture of fanaticism and hypocrisy, and the misery such principles have occasioned.
The eleventh chapter has also an anamolous expression, and one that can only be supported by putting fanaticism in opposition to common sense: it is thus:
"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
Jesus is supposed to make this expression, because he had