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Thus I take all the visions of beasts mentioned in the Bible, as seen by Isaiah, by Ezekiel, by Daniel, or any other frenzied brain, to be the semblances of decorations seen by the Jews in Babylon and its vicinity, they not having been accustomed to see any thing of the kind in their barbarous, rude, and uncultivated wilds, in and about Judea. I consider the fabulous splendour of their temple to have arisen from the same cause, and I do not believe that the Jews had the slightest ideas of immaterial beings, as angels, spirits, and gods, until they learnt it from the followers of Zoroaster. They no doubt, like their neighbours, worshipped all kind of figures, and their residence in and about Babylon or Ninevah might be dated as the era of their civilization. Such a species of conquest as practised by the Persians, the Grecians, and the Romans, has been highly useful in cultivating the arts and sciences among mankind. The ravages committed by the Huns, the Scythians, the Tartars, and the Goths, have on the other hand, tended to destroy them, and carried desolation in their march.
In the sixth chapter of Isaiah, the Seraphim is described with six wings, and from the manner in which two of them are said to cover the face, two to cover the feet, and two to fly with, we are left to conjecture, that the animal was a twolegged one, but whether it was of the feathered tribe, or in the form of the human race, with or without arms, we are not told, and consequently find it impossible to guess. 1 beg pardon, I find that the Seraphim had hands, for he took a live (burning) coal with a pair of tongs, from the altar, and put it upon Isaiah's lips to purify them! I have already stated an opinion about angels, but I think nothing can be more ridiculous than painting them with wings, it makes their ærial motions to depend upon the common powers of other animals. The fable of the fairies is far superior to that of the angels, for the former are said to possess the supernatural power of an invisible loco-motion without the aid of wings. It is rather too much of the man-god to affix wings to spiritual beings. I must not quit this subject without cautioning the reader, that he would do well to reject all ideas of any thing spiritual; it is all fiction; there is nothing of the kind in the regions of space; all is matter, dense matter; which nature continues to change in its outward appearance by a gaseous evaporation, which causes the successive decay and renovation of the animal and vegetable world. Nothing can be more coarsely and ridiculously stupid, than the nature of Isaiah's message de
livered to him by the seraphim and his king-like God. had better have said nothing to the people, than have delivered the first part of the message.
I now come to what the Christians call a true prophecy of their Saviour, and an indubitable proof of the validity of their religion. Their practice is to pick a verse out here and a verse there, as applying to their religion, or its supposed founder; but I shall draw the reader's attention to the whole subject, and to begin, I insert the seventh chapter.
"And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsei against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin, and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. Moreover the Lord spake again unto Abaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David, Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his naine Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shail know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost parts of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall coine, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and
in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes. In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep. And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give that he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns. And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of bries and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle."
There is nothing in the Bible even more paltry and ridiculous than this chapter. In the first place, Isaiah makes his Lord send him on an errand to meet the King of Judah and his son, and the place of meeting is described in quite a punctitious manner, as if it had been real. Ahaz is desired to ask a sign as a pledge of the truth of what has been promised him; he declines the favour on the pretence that he will not doubt or tempt the Lord, and this sign is forced upon him, although the speaker (for it does not say Isaiah, but the Lord speaking unto Ahaz, without expressing that Isaiah was the mouth-piece), begins with a complaint of the trouble imposed upon his God! This is the sign: "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," which signifies God with us. The fulfilment of the sign is not made to take place in the same chapter, but it is in the next. There are several points laid down to convince Ahaz that the sign shall wholly and solely relate to him and his kingdom.It particularly says, addressing Ahaz-" For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of her kings," meaning, of course, the two kings about to war with Ahaz, whose failure this sign is made a pledge of. The latter part of the chapter is filled with a great deal of nonsense, such as the Lord shaving with a razor that he borrowed, &c., and not at all connected with the former part. This is like the Bible throughout, there are two or three half-told tales in one chapter quite irrelevant, and unconnected with the surrounding subject. In the next chapter we come to the completion
of this sign, and there ends this wonderful subject or prophecy.
"Moreover the Lord said unto me, take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Maher-shalalhash-baz; and I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zecharial the son of Jeberechiab. And I went unto the prophetess ; and she conceived and bare a son. Then said the Lord to me, call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. For before the child shail have knowledge to cry my father and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria. The Lord spake also unto me again, saying, forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and he shall come up over all his chamels, and go over all his banks; and he shall pass through Judah ; he shall overflow and go over he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land O Immanuel. Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries, gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word and it shall not stand, för God is with us. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, say ye not, a confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, a confederacy; neither fear ye their fear nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for å gin and for a share to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts which dwelleth in Mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, seek unto them that have, familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that inutter; should not a people seek unto their God for the living to the dead. To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it hardly, bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their god, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth, and behold trouble and darkness, dianess of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.”
The first part of this chapter is evidently connected with the
last chapter, and is a pretended verification of the sign shewn to Ahaz. It is clear and distinct, and there is nothing mysterious in the matter. The prophet went to his wife, the prophetess, and she conceived and brought forth a son. It is said a virgin shall bring forth a son in the last chapter, but that is a false translation of the Hebrew Idiom. In the English language, when we use the term virgin, we mean a female that - has not known man, but there are but few other languages that express themselves in a similar manner. I have heard it affirmed by able Hebrew scholars, that the word in Hebrew, which we find translated virgin, signifies a damsel or young woman generally, without the least expression of virginity or nonvirginity. The idea of a virgin bearing a child without sexual intercourse is a Pagan notion, and such as was common in the Pagan Theogony. It is thus we find a virgin in the constellations, which idea has travelled through every part of Asia. It is well known that the Grecian authors, whom we term classical, either borrowed, or fabricated all their notions about the propagation of the sun, moon, earth, sea, and all the planetary world, and that every celebrated character that had lived on earth, was considered to be transplanted and represented by some planet or constellation. Ridiculous! that this notion should be continued in depicting the two hemispheres, as is the case to the present day, whilst we know that the earth we inhabit forms almost the least of those innumerable orbs. The idea of a Son of God, 66 begotten, not made," is borrowed from the Pagan tales of Jupiter begetting children, that is, of sewing up Bacchus in his thigh, and of producing Minerva from his head, armed cap-a pee. Juno is also made to procreate children without sexual intercourse. The Christian mythology is but a scrap of the Pagan, and must share the fate of the latter.
In the seventh chapter of this book we were told that the name of the child was to be Immanuel, which signifies God with us: but in the eighth chapter, we read, that the waters of some river are to come up and cover the land of Immanuel, so that we can take the whole but as the rant of some Jewish fanatical madman. Isaiah is made to say in the latter part of the eighth chapter, "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for first signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of Hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion." This is an ample proof that the forementioned child was meant as the child of Isaiah, and his wife the prophetess, for the epithet prophet and prophetess, seems rather to imply a title or dis