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I come now to the various epistles which are attributed to Paul, and before I take further notice of them, I would observe that it is quite uncertain who did write them and at what time they were written. In the epistle to the Colossians, and in the book of Revelations there is a mention of the Church of Laodicea, which has formed a stumbling block to those who stickle for Paul called the Apostle, and John called the Evangelist being the authors. The Church of Laodicea was not founded until the middle of the second century and consequently, if we admit Paul and John to have been of the same age as Jesus, which is by no means an unfair supposition, they could not have lived to witness the rise of this church. The complaint against the Church of Laodicea in the book of Revelations is, that it had grown rich, powerful, and corrupt, and that it had slacked in zeal in the cause of Jesus Christ, by becoming neither hot nor cold. This seems an admission that the Book of Revelations was written a considerable time after the establishment of this Church. There is nothing certain in all the tales of the New Testament, there is nothing certain as to the authenticity of any of the Epistles, for in the early ages of Christianity, forgeries and fabrications were considered meritorious where the ability was sufficient, and by no means a crime or disgrace, Delusion appears to have been the standard of merit, consequently, all its supporters must have been sworn enemies to truth. I will produce a few specimens of this practical delusion from those Epistles. In the seventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians we have the writers opinion about the propriety of marriage: by way of taking up the subject better we will admit Paul to be the writer. I insert the greater portion of the chapter omitting a few sentences in the middle of it that were not connected with the subject of marriage.

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me; It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence; and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband; and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God,

one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband; But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord; If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the. husband; else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace. Now coucerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh; but I spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short; it remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world passeth away. But I would have you without carefuluess. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit; but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not; let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but bath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if

she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God."

I would appeal to any man or woman that possesses a spark of virtue or honesty, to say whether the propositions laid down here on the subject of marriage are not disgusting and pernicious to the morals of society at large. Marriage is certainly an essential to the peace, happiness, and welfare of society, or, at least, it is a requisite among the great majority of all societies: a few exceptions may not be felt. There is no happiness that can be termed social, equal to that enjoyed by male and female in the marriage state, when their tempers are duly regulated and well controuled, and when each strives to please the other with an apparent negligence of self-gratification. But even balancing the evils and disagreements of a marriage state that may here and there exist, against those to which a life of celibacy is exposed, the former I am of opinion will be the lighter. Judgment might be necessary on both sides in chusing a partner, but nature seems to command it; more particularly among the human race, in whom there is a feeling and a love of honour and chastity. It is known past dispute, that in all those early sects of Christians by whom marriage was neglected, there was an indiscriminate intercourse, and if the reader of these Epistles pays due attention, he will discover that the persons to whom they were addressed, must have been a set of vile and corrupt beings, as Paul is continually upbraiding them with fornication and other charges not fit to be mentioned. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire gives us a full display of the real characters of the early Christians, and convinces us that Christianity at its origin was a weed so rank, that it could not have flourished on any soil less corrupt than the Roman empire or monarchy. At any period of the Roman Republic, it would have been plucked up before it had produced a bud.

I am further of opinion that Paul himself, although said to be a married man, was a gross sensualist and lecher. I have been told that in some of the Greek editions of the New Testament, Peter is made to accuse Paul of making a carnal use of the young women that accompanied him in his journeyings. There is some little clue to this charge remaining in the English edition. The Apocryphal New Testament mentions the names of those young women who travelled with Paul, and in the canonical New Testament, in the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul is made to say, "I withstood Peter face to face."

In the ninth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians we have some allusion to a similar subject, it is thus:

"Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?"

This would be a sufficient proof of adultery in an English Court of Law, and instead of saying charity covers a multitude of sins, we should say hypocrisy and fanaticism are made to cover a multitude of sins. I would almost as soon see my wife or sister enter a brothel as a sect of religious fanatics. I should consider chastity as far gone in one instance as the other. I don't like that Platonic love: it is only a cheat upon nature. A squeeze in the hand with "my dear brother or my dear sister in the Lord," I can only construe to be a criminal conversation, and but a step from criminal connection. Priests and confessors have ever been the practical patrons of adultery, for nature will assert her sway over every species of fanaticism, and their trade obliges them to be as secret as possible. The Comedy of the Hypocrite is one of the most useful plays ever produced upon the British stage, and Dr. Cantwell is painted to the life.

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The early Christians were instructed to shun philosophy and science as a pest and grievous sin: there are frequent cautions given them in these epistles on this head. To keep the people ignorant has been the object of Christian priests and all other priests from the first to the last. They themselves are quite sensible of being impostors and all their dread is that the mass of the people will discover it. Thus we find the following words in Paul's Epistles:

"Knowledge paffeth up, but charity edifieth. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

Those priests preached up charity because they lived by it : but knowledge doth not puff up the mind: it is more than any thing else calculated to do the contrary; to teach man humiliation and the folly of pride and arrogance. It should be reversed, charity puffeth up, but knowledge edifieth. A real believer in the doctrines of Christianity could never have been a philosopher. Philosophy or the study of science naturally

destroys all fanaticism: would a philosopher ever have written such nonsense as the following, from the second epistle to the Corinthians?

"It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth ;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth ;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."

What can all this be but delusion? Where is the third heaven? Is this trip to heaven less ridiculous than that of Mahomet's on a white horse? not a jot-and of the two books (the Bible and the Koran) the latter has the most truths and a more impressive moral code.

I have before mentioned that the first Christians expected the end of the world daily, and the second coming of their saviour. It was on this ground that they were so easily induced to sell all their possessions and give the produce to those vagabond preachers. The New Testament has frequent allusions to this immediate second coming of their saviour. I select one from the first epistle to the Thessalonians.

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

It is evident that the writer of the foregoing expected it before death. This circumstance gave much force to the progress and spreading of the Christian religion.

I might select a great variety of objectionable matter from the several epistles in this book, but the peculiar circumstances of this country at this moment induces me to draw this subject to a close. There is more important game in view. Like every other part of the Old and New Testament these epistles have a few moral precepts interspersed with much disgusting matter. It is those and not the gospels that have formed the groundwork of what is called Christianity in the present day. There are parts of them to which I would defy definition or any conclusion or inference whatever. I am inclined to think they were written in the latter part of the second century, when some of the Grecian philosophers had imbibed the new religion of Christianity, as they abound in the mysterious re

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