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´╗┐Title: Superstition Unveiled
Author: Southwell, Charles
Language: English
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SUPERSTITION UNVEILED.

BY

CHARLES SOUTHWELL,
AUTHOR OF "SUPERNATURALISM EXPLODED;" "IMPOSSIBILITY OF ATHEISM
DEMONSTRATED," ETC.


Abridged by the Author from his
"APOLOGY FOR ATHEISM."



     "Not one of you reflects that you ought to
     know your Gods before you worship them."



LONDON:
EDWARD TRUELOVE, 240, STRAND,
THREE DOORS FROM TEMPLE BAR,
AND ALL BOOKSELLERS

1854.



SUPERSTITION UNVEILED.


Religion has an important bearing on all the relations and conditions of
life. The connexion between religious faith and political practice is,
in truth, far closer than is generally thought. Public opinion has not
yet ripened into a knowledge that religious error is the intangible but
real substratum of all political injustice. Though the 'Schoolmaster'
has done much, there still remain among us, many honest and energetic
assertors of 'the rights of man,' who have to learn that a people in the
fetters of superstition cannot, secure political freedom. These
reformers admit the vast influence of Mohammedanism on the politics of
Constantinople, and yet persist in acting as if Christianity had little
or nothing to do with the politics of England.

At a recent meeting of the Anti-State Church Association it was remarked
that _throw what we would into the political cauldron, out it came in an
ecclesiastical shape_. If the newspaper report may be relied on, there
was much laughing among the hearers of those words, the deep meaning of
which, it may safely be affirmed, only a select few of them could
fathom.

Hostility to state churches by no means implies a knowledge of the close
and important connection between ecclesiastical and political questions.
Men may appreciate the justice of voluntaryism in religion, and yet have
rather cloudy conceptions with respect to the influence of opinions and
things ecclesiastical on the condition of nations. They may clearly see
that he who needs the priest, should disdain to saddle others with the
cost of him, while blind to the fact that no people having faith in the
supernatural ever failed to mix up such faith with political affairs.
Even leading members of the 'Fourth Estate' are constantly declaring
their disinclination for religious criticism, and express particular
anxiety to keep their journals free of everything 'strictly
theological.' Their notion is, that newspaper writers should endeavour
to keep clear of so 'awful' a topic. And yet seldom does a day pass in
which this self-imposed editorial rule is not violated--a fact
significant, as any fact can be of _connection_ between religion and
politics.

It is quite possible the editors of newspapers have weighty reasons for
their repugnance to agitate the much vexed question of religion; but it
seems they cannot help doing so. In a leading article of this days'
_Post_, [Endnote 4:1] we are told--_The stain and reproach of Romanism
in Ireland is, that it is a political system, and a wicked political
system, for it regards only the exercise of power_, and neglects utterly
the duty of improvement. In journals supported by Romanists, and of
course devoted to the interests of their church, the very same charge is
made against English Protestantism. To denounce each other's 'holy
apostolic religion' may be incompatible with the taste of 'gentlemen of
the press,' but certainly they do it with a brisk and hearty vehemence
that inclines one to think it a 'labour of love.' What men do _con
amore_ they usually do well, and no one can deny the wonderful talent
for denunciation exhibited by journalists when writing down each other's
'true Christianity.' The unsparing invective quoted above from the
_Post_ is a good specimen. If just, Irish Romanism _ought_ to be
destroyed, and newspaper writers cannot be better employed than in
helping on the work of its destruction, or the destruction of any other
religion to which the same 'stain and reproach' may be fairly attached.

I have no spite or ill-will towards Roman Catholics though opposed to
their religion, and a willing subscriber to the opinion of Romanism in
Ireland expressed by the _Post_. The past and present condition of that
country is a deep disgrace to its priests, the bulk of whom, Protestant
as well as Romanist, can justly be charged with 'regarding only the
exercise of power, while neglecting utterly the duty of improvement.'

The intriguing and essentially political character of Romanism it would
be idle to deny. No one at all acquainted with its cunningly contrived
'system' will hesitate to characterise it as 'wickedly political,'
productive of nothing but mischief--a system through whose accursed
instrumentality millions are cheated of their sanity as well as
substance, and trained dog-like to lick the hand that smites them. So
perfect is their degradation that literally they 'take no thought for
to-morrow,' it being their practice to wait 'till starvation stares them
in the face,' [4:2] and _then_ make an effort against it.

The _Globe_ of Thursday, October 30th, 1845, contains an article on the
damage sustained by the potatoe crop here and in Ireland, full of matter
calculated to enlighten our first-rate reformers who seem profoundly
ignorant that superstition is the bane of intellect, and most formidable
of all the obstacles which stand between the people and their rights.
One paragraph is so peculiarly significant of the miserable condition to
which Romanism _and_ Protestantism have reduced a peasantry said to be
'the finest in the world,' that I here subjoin it.

_The best means to arrest the progress of the pestilence in the people's
food have occupied the attention of scientific men. The commission
appointed by government, consisting of three of the must celebrated
practical chemists, has published a preliminary report, in which several
suggestions, rather than ascertained results, are communicated, by which
the sound portions of the root may, it is hoped, be preserved from the
epidemic, and possibly, the tainted be rendered innoxious, and even
partially nutritious. Followed implicitly, their directions might
mitigate the calamity. But the care, the diligence, the persevering
industry which the various forms of process require, in order to
effecting the purpose which might result if they were promptly adopted
and properly carried out, are the very qualities in which the Irish
peasantry are most deficient. In the present crisis, the people are more
disposed to regard the extensive destruction of their crops in the light
of an extraordinary visitation of Heaven, with which it is vain for
human efforts to contend, than to employ counteracting, or remedial
applications. "Sure the Almighty sent the potatoe-plague and we must
bear it as wall us we can," is the remark of many; while, in other
places, the copious sprinklings of holy water on the potatoe gardens,
and on the produce, as it lies upon the surface, are more depended on
for disinfecting the potatoes than those suggestions of science which
require the application of patient industry._

Daniel O'Connell boasted about Irish morale and Irish intellect--the
handsome women, and stalwart men of his 'beloved country,' but no
sensible persons paid the least attention to him. It is, at all events,
too late in the day for we 'Saxons' to be either cajoled or amused by
such nonsense. An overwhelming majority of the Irish people have been
proved indolent beyond all parallel, and not much more provident than
those unhappy savages who sell their beds in the morning, not being able
to foresee they shall again require them at night. A want of forethought
so remarkable and indolence so abominable, are results of superstitious
education. Does any one suppose the religion of the Irish has little, if
anything, to do with their political condition? Or can it be believed
they will be fit for, much less achieve, political emancipation, while
priests and priests alone, are their instructors? We may rely upon it
that intellectual freedom is the natural and necessary precursor of
political freedom. _Education_, said Lord Brougham, _makes men easy to
lead but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave_.
The Irish peasantry clamoured for 'Repeal,' never considering that did
they get it, no essential change would be made in their social, moral,
or, to say all in one word, _political_ condition. They would still be
the tool of unprincipled political mountebanks--themselves the tool of
priests.

Great was the outcry raised against the 'godless colleges' that Sir
Robert Peel had the courageous good sense to _inflict_ on Ireland.
Protestant, as well as Romanist priests, were terribly alarmed lest
these colleges should spoil the craft by which they live. Sagacious
enough to perceive that whatever influence they possess must vanish with
the ignorance on which it rests, they moved heaven and earth to disgust
the Irish people with an educational measure of which superstition
formed no part. Their fury, like 'empty space,' is boundless. They
cannot endure the thought that our minister should so far play the game
of 'infidelity' as to take from them the delightful task of teaching
Ireland's young idea 'how to shoot.' Sir Robert Inglis _christened_ this
odious measure, a 'gigantic scheme of godless education,' and a large
majority of Irish Roman Catholic Prelates have solemnly pronounced it
'dangerous to faith and morals.' Neither ministerial allurements, nor
ministerial threats can subdue the cantankerous spirit of these bigots.
They are all but frantic and certainly not without reason, for the Irish
Colleges' Bill is the fine point of that wedge which, driven home, will
shiver to pieces their 'wicked political system.' Whatever improves
Irish intellect will play the mischief with its 'faith,' though not at
all likely to deteriorate its 'morals.' Let the people of Ireland be
well employed as a preliminary to being well educated, and speedily they
may _deserve_ to be singled out as 'the most moral people on the face of
the earth.'

An educated nation will never tamely submit to be priest-ridden, and
well do Ireland's enslavers know it. The most stupid of her priests,
equally with the shrewdest of her 'patriots,' are quite alive to the
expediency of teaching as fact the fraudulent fables of the 'dark ages.'
To keep the people ignorant, or what is worse, to teach them only what
is false, is the great end of _their_ training; and if a British
ministry propose anything better than the merest mockery of education,
they call it 'dangerous to faith and morals.'

Superstition is the curse of Ireland. To the rival churches of that
country may be traced ALL the oppressions suffered by its people who
never can be materially improved till purged of their faith in priests.
When that salutary work shall be accomplished, Ireland will indeed be 'a
nation' in the secure enjoyment of political liberty. The priest-ridden
may talk of freedom, but can never secure it.

What then can be thought of the first-rate reformers, before alluded to,
who are going to emancipate every body without the least offence to any
body's superstition? It should be borne in memory that other people are
superstitious as well as the Irish, and that the churches of all
countries are as much parts of 'a wicked political system' as are the
churches of Ireland.

The judges of _our_ country frequently remind us that its laws have a
religious sanction; nay, they assure us Christianity is part and parcel
of those laws. Do we not know that orthodox Christianity means
Christianity as by law established? And can any one fail to perceive
that such a religion must needs be political? The cunning few, who
esteem nothing apart from their own aggrandisement, are quite aware that
the civil and criminal law of England is intimately associated with
Christianity--they publicly proclaim their separation impossible, except
at the cost of destruction to both. They are sagacious enough to
perceive that a people totally untrammelled by the fears, the
prejudices, and the wickedness of superstition would never consent to
remain in bondage.

Hence the pains taken by priests to perpetuate the dominion of that
ignorance which proverbially is 'the mother of devotion.' What care they
for universal emancipation? Free themselves, their grand object is to
rivet the chains of others. So that those they defraud of their hard
earned substance be kept down, they are not over scrupulous with respect
to means. Among the most potent of their helps in the 'good work' are
churches, various in name and character but in principle the very same.
All are pronounced true by priests who profit by them, and false by
priests who do not. Every thing connected with them bears the stamp of
despotism. Whether we look at churches foreign or domestic, Popish or
Protestant, 'that mark of the beast' appears in characters as legible
as, it is fabled, the handwriting on the wall did to a tyrant of old. In
connection with each is a hierarchy of intellect stultifiers, who
explain doctrines without understanding them, or intending they should
be understood by others; and true to their 'sacred trust,' throw every
available impediment in the way of improvement. Knowledge is their
accuser. To diffuse the 'truth' that 'will set men free' is no part of
their 'wicked political system.' On the contrary, they labour to excite
a general disgust of truth, and in defence of bad governments preach
fine sermons from some one of the many congenial texts to be gathered in
their 'Holy Scripture.' Non-established priesthoods are but little more
disposed to emancipate 'mind' and oil the wheels of political
progression than those kept in state pay. The air of conventicles is not
of the freest or most bracing description. The Methodist preacher, who
has the foolish effrontery to tell his congregation 'the flush lusteth
always contrary to the spirit, and, _therefore_, every person born into
the world deserveth God's wrath and damnation,' may be a liberal
politician, one well fitted to pilot his flock into the haven of true
republicanism; but I am extremely suspicious of such, and would not on
any account place my liberty in their keeping.

I possess little faith in political fanaticism, especially when in
alliance with the frightful doctrines enunciated from conventicle
pulpits, and have no hesitation in saying that Anti-State Church
Associations do not touch the root of political evils. Their usefulness
is great, because they give currency to a sound principle, but that
principle though important, is not all-important--though powerful, is
not all-powerful. If universally adopted, it is questionable that any
useful change of a lasting character would be worked in the economy of
politics.

Wise men put no trust in doctrine which involves or assumes supernatural
existence. Believing that supernaturalism reduced to 'system' cannot be
other than 'wickedly political,' they see no hope for 'slave classes,'
apart from a general diffusion of anti-superstitious ideas. They cannot
reconcile the wisdom of theologians with undoubted facts, and though
willing to admit that some 'modes of faith' are less absurd than others,
are convinced they are all essentially alike, because all fundamentally
erroneous.

Speculative thinkers of so radical a temper are not numerous. If
esteemed, as happens to certain commodities, in proportion to their
scarcity they would enjoy a large share of public respect. Indeed, they
are so few and far between, or at least so seldom make their presence
visible, that William Gillespie is convinced they are an anomalous
species of animal produced by our common parent 'in a moment of
madness.' Other grave Christian writers, though horrified at
Universal--nicknamed Athe-ism--though persuaded its professors, 'of all
earth's madmen, most deserve a chain;' and, though constantly abusing
them, are still unable to believe in the reality of such persons. These,
among all the opponents of Sense and Wisdom may fairly claim to be
considered most mysterious; for, while lavishing on deniers of their
idols every kind of sharp invective and opprobrious epithet, they cannot
assure themselves the 'monsters' did, or do, actually exist. With
characteristic humour David Hume observed, 'There are not a greater
number of philosophical reasonings displayed upon any subject than those
which prove the existence of Deity, and refute the fallacies of
Atheists, and yet the most religious philosophers still dispute whether
any man can be so blinded as to be a speculative Atheist;' 'how
(continues he) shall we reconcile these contradictions? The
Knight-errants who wandered about to clear the world of dragons and of
giants, never entertained the least doubt with regard to the existence
of these monsters.' [8:1]

The same Hume who thus pleasantly rebuked 'most religious philosophers,'
was himself a true Universalist. That he lacked faith in the
supernatural must be apparent to every student of his writings, which
abound with reflections far from flattering to the self-love of
superstitionists, and little calculated to advance their cause. Hume
astonished religious fanatics by declaring that _while we argue from the
course of nature and infer a particular intelligent cause, which first
bestowed, and still preserves order in the universe, we embrace a
principle which is both uncertain and useless. It is uncertain, because
the subject lies entirely beyond the reach of human experience. It is
useless, because our knowledge of this cause being derived entirely from
the course of nature, we can never, according to the rules of just
reasoning, return back from the cause with any new inference, or making
additions to the common and experienced course of nature, establish any
principles of conduct and behaviour_. [9:1]

Nor did Hume affect to consider popular Christianity less repugnant to
reason than any other theory or system of supernaturalism. Though
confessedly fast in friendship, generous in disposition, and blameless
in all the relations of life, few sincere Divines can forgive his
hostility to their faith. And, without doubt, it was hostility eminently
calculated to exhaust their stock of patience, because eminently
calculated to damage their superstition, which has nothing to fear from
the assaults of ignorant and immoral opponents; but when assailed by men
of unblemished reputation, who know well how to wield the weapons of
wit, sarcasm, and solid argumentation, its priests are not without
reason alarmed lest their house should be set _out_ of order.

It would be difficult to name a philosopher at once so subtle, so
profound, so bold, and so _good_ as Hume. Notwithstanding his heterodox
reputation, many learned and excellent Christians openly enjoyed his
friendship. A contemporary critic recently presented the public with 'a
curious instance of contrast and of parallel,' between Robertson and
Hume. 'Flourishing (says he) in the same walk of literature, living in
the same society at the same time; similar in their habits and generous
dispositions; equally pure in their morals, and blameless in all the
relations of private life: the one was a devout believer, the other a
most absolute Atheist, and both from deep conviction, founded upon
inquiries, carefully and anxiously conducted. The close and warm
friendship which subsisted between these two men, may, after what we
have said, be a matter of surprise to some; but Robertson's Christianity
was enlarged and tolerant, and David Hume's principles were liberal and
philosophical in a remarkable degree.' [9:2]

This testimony needs no comment. It clearly tells its own tale, and
ought to have the effect of throwing discredit upon the vulgar notion
that disgust of superstition is incompatible with talents and virtues of
the highest order; for, in the person of David Hume, the world saw
absolute Universalism co-existent with genius, learning, and moral
excellence, rarely, if ever, surpassed.

The unpopularity of that grand conception it would be vain to deny. A
vast majority of mankind associate with the idea of disbelief in their
Gods, everything stupid, monstrous, absurd and atrocious. Absolute
Universalism is thought by them the inseparable ally of most shocking
wickedness, involving 'blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,' which we are
assured shall not be forgiven unto men 'neither in this world nor in
that which is to come.' Educated to consider it 'an inhuman, bloody,
ferocious system, equally hostile to every restraint and to every
virtuous affection,' the majority of all countries detest and shun its
apostles. Their horror of them may be likened to that it is presumed the
horse feels towards the camel, upon whom (so travellers tell us) he
cannot look without _shuddering_.

To keep alive and make the most of this superstitious feeling has ever
been the object of Christian priests, who rarely hesitate to make
charges of Atheism, not only against opponents, but each other; not only
against disbelievers but believers. The Jesuit Lafiteau, in a Preface to
his 'Histoire des Sauvages Americanes,' [10:1] endeavours to prove that
only Atheists will dare assert that God created the Americans. Not a
metaphysical writer of eminence has escaped the 'imputation' of Atheism.
The great Clarke and his antagonist the greater Leibnitz were called
Atheists. Even Newton was put in the same category. No sooner did
sharp-sighted Divines catch a glimpse of an 'Essay on the Human
Understanding' than they loudly proclaimed the Atheism of its author.
Julian Hibbert, in his learned account 'Of Persons Falsely Entitled
Atheists,' says, 'the existence of some sort of a Deity has usually been
considered undeniable, so the imputation of Atheism and the title of
Atheist have usually been considered as insulting.' This author, after
giving no fewer than thirty and two names of 'individuals among the
Pagans who (with more or less injustice) have been accused of Atheism,'
says, 'the list shews, I think, that almost all the most celebrated
Grecian metaphysicians have been, either in their own or in following
ages, considered, with more or less reason, to be Atheistically
inclined. For though the word Atheist was probably not often used till
about a hundred years before Christ, yet the imputation of _impiety_ was
no doubt as easily and commonly bestowed, before that period, as it has
been since.' [11:1]

Voltaire relates, in the eighteenth chapter of his 'Philosophie de
L'Histoire,' [11:2] that a Frenchman named Maigrot, Bishop of Conon, who
knew not a word of Chinese, was deputed by the then Pope to go and pass
judgment on the opinions of certain Chinese philosophers; _he treated
Confucius as Atheist, because that sage had said, 'the sky has given me
virtue, and man can do me no hurt.'_

On grounds no more solid than this, charges of Atheism are often erected
by 'surpliced sophists.' Rather ridiculous have been the mistakes
committed by some of them in their hurry to affix on objects of their
hate the brand of Impiety. Those persons, no doubt, supposed themselves
privileged to write or talk any amount of nonsense and contradiction.
Men who fancy themselves commissioned by Deity to interpret his
'mysteries,' or announce his 'will,' are apt to make blunders without
being sensible of it; as did those worthy Jesuits who declared, in
opposition to Bayle, that a society of Atheists was impossible, and at
the same time assured the world that the government of China was a
society of Atheists. So difficult it is for men inflamed by prejudices,
interests, and animosities, to keep clear of sophisms, which can impose
on none but themselves.

Many Universalists conceal their sentiments on account of the odium
which would certainly be their reward did they avow them. But the
unpopularity of those sentiments cannot, by persons of sense and
candour, be allowed, in itself, a sufficient reason for their rejection.
The fact of an opinion being unpopular is no proof it is false. The
argument from general consent is at best a suspicious one for the truth
of any opinion or the validity of any practice. History proves that the
generality of men are the slaves of prejudice, the sport of custom, and
foes most bigoted to such opinions concerning religion as have not been
drawn in from their sucking-bottles, or 'hatched within the narrow
fences of their own conceit.'

Every day experience demonstrates the fallibility of majorities. It
palpably exhibits, too, the danger as well as folly of presuming the
unpopularity of certain speculative opinions an evidence of their
untruth. A public intellect, untainted by gross superstition, can
nowhere be appealed to. Even in this favoured country, 'the envy of
surrounding nations and admiration of the world,' the multitude are
anything but patterns of moral purity and intellectual excellence. They
who assure us _vox populi_ 'is the voice of God,' are fairly open to the
charge of ascribing to Him what orthodox pietists inform us exclusively
belongs to the Father of Evil. If by 'voice of God' is meant something
different from noisy ebullitions of anger, intemperance, and fanaticism,
they who would have us regulate our opinions in conformity therewith are
respectfully requested to reconcile mob philosophy with the sober
dictates of experience, and mob law with the law of reason.

A writer in the _Edinburgh Review_ [12:1] assures us _the majority of
every nation consists of rude uneducated masses, ignorant, intolerant,
suspicious, unjust, and uncandid, without the sagacity which discovers
what is right, or the intelligence which comprehends it when pointed
out, or the morality which requires it to be done._ And yet religious
philosophers are fond of quoting the all but universal horror of
Universalism as a formidable argument against that much misunderstood
creed!

The least reflection will suffice to satisfy any reasonable man that the
speculative notions of rude, uneducated masses, so faithfully described
by the Scotch Reviewer, are, for the most part, grossly absurd and
consequently the reverse of true. If the masses of all nations are
ignorant, intolerant, suspicious, unjust, and uncandid, without the
sagacity which discovers what is right, or the intelligence which
comprehends it when pointed out, or the morality which requires it to be
done, who with the least shadow of claim to be accounted _reasonable_
will assert that a speculative heresy is the worse for being unpopular,
or that an opinion is false, and _must_ be demoralising in its
influence, because the majority of mankind declare it so.

I would not have it inferred from the foregoing remarks that horror of
Universalism, and detestation of its apostles, is _confined_ to the low,
the vulgar, the base, or the illiterate. Any such inference would be
wrong, for it is certainly true that learned, benevolent, and very able
Christian writers, have signalised themselves in the work of obstructing
the progress of Universalism by denouncing its principles, and imputing
all manner of wickedness to its defenders. It must, indeed, be admitted
that their conduct in this particular amply justifies pious Matthew
Henry's confession that 'of all the Christian graces, zeal is most apt
to turn sour.'

One John Ryland, A.M., of Northampton, published a 'Preceptor, or
General Repository of useful information, very necessary for the various
ages and departments of life,' in which 'pride and lust, a corrupt pride
of heart, and a furious filthy lust of body,' are announced as the
Atheist's 'springs of action,' 'desire to act the beast without control,
and live like a devil without a check of conscience,' his only 'reasons
for opposing the existence of God,' in which he is told 'a world of
creatures are up in arms against him to kill him as they would a
venomous mad dog,' in which, among other hard names, he is called
'absurd fool,' 'beast,' 'dirty monster,' 'brute,' 'gloomy dark animal,'
'enemy of mankind,' 'wolf to civil society,' 'butcher and murderer of
the human race,' in which, moreover, he is _cursed_ in the following
hearty terms;--'Let the glorious mass of fire burn him, let the moon
light him to the gallows, let the stars in their courses fight against
the Atheist, let the force of the comets dash him to pieces, let the
roar of thunders strike him deaf, let red lightnings blast his guilty
soul, let the sea lift up her mighty waves to bury him, let the lion
tear him to pieces, let dogs devour him, let the air poison him, let the
next crumb of bread choke him, nay, let the dull ass spurn him to
death.'

This is a notable specimen of zeal turned sour.

Bishop Hall was a Divine of solid learning and unquestionable piety,
whose memory is reverenced by a large and most respectable part of the
Christian world. He ranked amongst the best of his class, and, generally
speaking, was so little disposed to persecute his opponents because of
their heterodox opinions, that he wrote and published a "Treatise on
Moderation," in the course of which he eloquently condemns the practice
of regulating, or, rather, attempting to regulate opinion by act of
parliament; yet, incredible as it may appear, in that very Treatise he
applauds Calvin on account of his conduct towards Servetus. Our
authority for this statement is not 'Infidel' but Christian--the
authority of Evans, who, after noticing the Treatise in question, says,
'he (Bishop Hall) has discussed the subject with that ability which is
peculiar to all his writings. But this great and good man, towards the
close of the same Treatise, forgetting the principles which he had been
inculcating, devotes one solitary page to the cause of intolerance: this
page he concludes with these remarkable expressions: "Master Calvin did
well approve himself to God's Church in bringing Servetus to the stake
in Geneva."

Remarkable, indeed! and what is the moral that they point? To me they
are indicative of the startling truth, that neither eloquence nor
learning, nor faith in God and his Scripture, nor all three combined,
are incompatible with the cruelest spirit of persecution. The Treatise
on Moderation will stand an everlasting memorial against its author,
whose fine intellect, spoiled by superstitious education, urged him to
approve a deed, the bare remembrance of which ought to excite in every
breast, feelings of horror and indignation. That such a man should
declare the aim of Universalists is 'to dethrone God and destroy man,'
is not surprising. From genuine bigots they have no right to expect
mercy. He who applauded the bringing of Servetus to the stake must have
deemed their utter extermination a religious duty.

That our street and field preaching Christians, with very few
exceptions, heartily sympathise with the fire and faggot sentiments of
Bishop Hall, is well known, but happily, their absurd ravings are
attended to by none save eminently pious people, whose brains are
_unclogged_ by any conceivable quantity of useful knowledge. In point of
intellect they are utterly contemptible. Their ignorance, however, is
fully matched by their impudence, which never forsake, them. They claim
to be considered God's right-hand men, and of course duly qualified
preachers of his 'word,' though unable to speak five minutes without
taking the same number of liberties with the Queen's English. Swift was
provoked by the prototypes of these pestiferous people, to declare that,
'formerly the apostles received the gift of speaking several languages,
a knowledge so remote from our dealers in the art of enthusiasm, that
they neither understand propriety of speech nor phrases of their own,
much less the gift of tongues.'

The millions of Christian people who have been trained up in the way
they should _not_ go, by this active class of fanatics, are naturally
either opposed to reason or impervious to it. They are convinced not
only that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, but that
wisdom with God is foolishness with the world; nor will any one affirm
their 'moderation' in respect to unbelievers one tittle more moderate
than Bishop Hall's; or that they are one tittle less disposed than 'that
good and great man,' to think those who bring heretics to the stake at
Geneva or elsewhere, 'do well approve themselves to God's Church.'
Educated, that is to say _duped_ as they are, they cannot but think
disbelief highly criminal, and when practicable, or convenient, deal
with it as such.

It is, nevertheless, true, that Universalists have been helped to some
of their best arguments by adversaries. Bishop Watson, to wit, has
suggested objections to belief in the Christian's Deity, which they who
hold no such belief consider unanswerable. In his famous 'Apology' he
desired to know what Paine thought 'of an uncaused cause of everything,
and a Being who has no relation to time, not being older to day than he
was yesterday, nor younger to day than he will be to-morrow--who has no
relation to space, not being a part here and a part there, or a whole
anywhere? of an omniscient Being who cannot know the future actions of
man, or if his omniscience enables him to know them, of the contingency
of human actions? of the distinction between vice and virtue, crime and
innocence, sin and duty? of the infinite goodness of a Being who existed
through eternity without any emanation of his goodness manifested in the
creation of sensitive beings? or, if it be contended that there was an
eternal creation, of an effect coeval with its cause, of matter not
posterior to its maker? of the existence of evil, moral and natural, in
the work of an Infinite Being, powerful, wise, and good? finally, of the
gift of freedom of will, when the abuse of freedom becomes the cause of
general misery?' [15:1]

These questions imply much. That they flowed from the pen of a Bishop,
is one of many extraordinary facts which have grown out of theological
controversy. They are questions strongly suggestive of another. Is it
possible to have experience of, or even to imagine, a Being with
attributes so strange, anomalous, and contradictory? It is plain that
Bishop Watson was convinced 'no man by searching can find out God.' The
case is, that he, in the hope of converting Deists, ventured to
insinuate arguments highly favourable to Atheism, whose professors
consider an admission of utter ignorance of God, tantamount to a denial
of His existence. Many Christians, with more candour, perhaps, than
prudence, have avowed the same opinion. Minutius Felix, for example,
said to the Heathen, 'Not one of you reflects that you ought to know
your Gods before you worship them.' [15:2] As if he felt the absurdity
of pretending to love and honour an unknown 'Perhaps.' That he did
himself what he ridiculed in them proves nothing but his own
inconsistency.

The Christian, equally with the Heathen, is open to the reproach of
worshipping HE KNOWS NOT WHAT. Yes, to idol-hating 'enlightened
Christians,' may be fairly applied the severe sarcasm Minutius Felix so
triumphantly levelled against idol-loving 'benighted Heathens.' Will any
one say the Christian absolutely knows more about Jehovah than the
Heathen did about Jupiter? I believe that few, if any, who have
attentively considered Bishop Watson's queries, will say the 'dim
Unknown,' they so darkly shadow forth, is conceivable by any effort
either of sense or imagination.

Under cover, then, of what reason can Christians escape the imputation
of pretending to adore what they have no conception of? The very 'book
of books,' to which they so boldly appeal, is conclusive _against_ them.
In its pages they stand convicted of idolatry. Without doubt a God is
revealed by Revelation; but not _their_ God, not a supernatural Being,
infinite in power, in wisdom, and in goodness. The Bible Deity is
superhuman in nothing; all that His adorers have ascribed to Him being
mere amplification of human powers, human ideas, and human passions. The
Bible Deity 'has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he
hardeneth;' is 'jealous,' especially of other Gods; changeful,
vindictive, partial, cruel, unjust, 'angry with the wicked every day;'
and altogether a Being far from respectable, or worthy to be considered
infinite in wisdom, power, and goodness. Is it credible that a Being
supernaturally wise and good, proclaimed the murderous adulterer David,
a man after his own heart, and commanded the wholesale butchery of
Canaanites? Or that a God of boundless power, 'whose tender mercies are
over all his works,' decreed the extermination of entire nations for
being what he made them? Jehovah did all three. Confessedly a God of
Armies and Lord of Hosts; confessedly, too, a hardener of men's, hearts
that he might destroy them, he authorised acts at which human nature
shudders, and of which it is ashamed: yet to _reverence_ Him we are
commanded by the self-styled 'stewards of his mysteries,' on peril of
our 'immortal souls.' Verily, these pious anathematisers task our
credulity a little too much. In their zeal for the God of Israel, they
are apt to forget that only Himself can compass impossibilities, and
altogether lose sight of the fact that where, who, or what Jehovah is,
no man knoweth. Revelation (so-called) reveals nothing about 'the
creator of heaven and earth,' on which a cultivated intellect can repose
with satisfaction. Men naturally desire positive information concerning
the superhuman Deity, belief in whom is the _sine qua non_ of all
superstition. But the Bible furnishes no such information concerning
Jehovah. On the contrary, He is there pronounced 'past finding out,'
incomprehensible, and the like. 'Canst thou by searching find out God?
Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?' are questions put by an
'inspired writer,' who felt the cloudy and unsatisfactory nature of all
human conceit concerning Deity.

Now, a Revelation from God might reasonably be expected to make the mode
and nature of His existence manifest. But the Christian Bible falls
infinitely short in this particular. It teaches there is a God; but
throws no light on the dark question _What is God?_ Numerous and various
as are Scripture texts, none can be cited in explanation of a Deity no
older to-day than he was yesterday, nor younger to-day than he will be
to-morrow; of a Deity who has no relation to space, not being a part
here and a part there, or a whole any where: in short, of that Deity
written about by Bishop Watson, who, like every other sincere Christian,
made the mistake of resting his religious faith on 'words without
knowledge.'

It is to this description of faith Universalists object. They think it
the root of superstition, that greatest of all the plagues by which poor
humanity is afflicted. Are they to blame for thus thinking? The
Christian has no mercy on the superstition of the Heathen, and should
scorn to complain when the bitter chalice is returned to his own lips.
Universalists believe the God of Bishop Watson a supernatural chimera,
and to its worshippers have a perfect right to say, _Not one of you
reflects that you ought to know your Gods before you worship them_.
These remarkable words, originally addressed to the Heathen, lose none
of their force when directed against the Christian.

No one can conceive a supernatural Being, and what none can conceive
none ought to worship, or even assert the existence of. Who worships a
something of which he knows nothing is an idolater. To talk of, or bow
down to it, is nonsensical; to pretend affection for it, is worse than
nonsensical. Such conduct, however pious, involves the rankest
hypocrisy; the meanest and most odious species of idolatry; for
labouring to destroy which the Universalist is called 'murderer of the
human soul,' 'blasphemer,' and other foolish names, too numerous to
mention.

It would be well for all parties, if those who raise against us the cry
of 'blasphemy,' were made to perceive that 'godless' unbelievers cannot
be blasphemers; for, as contended by Lord Brougham in his Life of
Voltaire, blasphemy implies belief; and, therefore, Universalists cannot
logically or justly be said to blaspheme him. The blasphemer, properly
so called, is he who imagines Deity, an ascribes to the idol of his own
brain all manner of folly, contradiction, inconsistency, and wickedness.

Superstition is universally abhorred, but no one believes _himself_
superstitious. There never was a religionist who believed his own
religion mere superstition. All shrink indignantly from the charge of
being superstitious; while all raise temples to, and bow down, before
'thingless names.' The 'masses' of every nation erect chimera into
substantial reality, and woe to these who follow not the insane example.
The consequences--the fatal consequences--are everywhere apparent. In
our own country we see social disunion on the grandest possible scale.
Society is split up into an almost infinite variety of sects whose
members imagine themselves patented to think truth and never to be wrong
in the enunciation of it.

_Sanders' News Letter and Daily Advertiser_ of Feb. 18, 1845, among
other curiosities, contains an 'Address of the Dublin Protestant
Operative Association, and Reformation Society,' one sentence of which
is--_We have raised our voices against the spirit of compromise, which
is the opprobrium of the age; we have unfurled the banner of Protestant
truth, and placed ourselves beneath it; we have insisted upon Protestant
ascendancy as just and equitable, because Protestant principles are true
and undeniable_.

Puseyite Protestants tell a tale the very reverse of that so modestly
told by their nominal brethren of the Dublin Operative Association.
They, as may be seen in Palmer's Letter to Golightly, _utterly reject
and anathematise the principle of Protestantism, as a heresy with all
its forms, sects, or denominations_. Nor is that all our 'Romeward
Divines' do, for in addition to rejecting utterly and cursing bitterly,
as well the name as the principle of Protestantism, they eulogise the
Church of Rome, because forsooth _she yields_, says Newman in his letter
to Jelf, _free scope to feelings of awe, mystery, tenderness, reverence,
and devotedness_; while we have it on the authority of Tract 90, that
the Church of England is _in bondage; working in chains, and _(tell it
not in Dublin)_ teaching with the stammering lips of ambiguous
formularies_. Fierce and burning is the hatred of Dublin Operative
Association Christians to Popery, but exactly that style of hatred to
Protestantism is avowed by Puseyites. Both sets of Christians are quite
sure they are right: but (alas! for infallibility) a third set of
Christians insist that they are both wrong. There are Papists, or Roman
Catholics, who consider Protestant principles the very reverse of true
and undeniable, and treat with derisive scorn the 'fictitious
Catholicism' of Puseyite Divines.

Count de Montalambert, in his recently published 'Letter to the Rev. Mr.
Neale on the Architectural, Artistical, and Archaeological Movements of
the Puseyites,' enters his 'protest' against the most unwarranted and
unjustifiable assumption of the name of Catholic by people and things
belonging to the actual Church of England. _'It is easy,'_ he observes,
_'to take up a name, but it is not so easy to get it recognised by the
world and by competent authority. Any man for example, may come out to
Madeira and call himself a Montmorency, or a Howard, and even enjoy the
honour and consideration belonging to such a name till the real
Montmorencys or Howards hear something about it, and denounce him, and
then such a man would be justly scouted from society, and fall down much
lower than the lowness from which he attempted to rise. The attempt to
steal away from us and appropriate to the use of a fraction of the
Church of England that glorious title of Catholic is proved to be an
usurpation by every monument of the past and present--by the coronation
oath of your sovereigns--by all the laws which have established your
Church--even by the recent answer of your University of Oxford to the
lay address against Dr. Pusey, &c., where the Church of England is
justly styled the Reformed Protestant Church. The question then is, have
you, the Church of England, got the picture for your frame? have you got
the truth, the one truth; the same truth as the men of the middle ages.
The Camden Society says yes; but the whole Christian world, both
Protestant and Catholic, says no; and the Catholic world adds that there
is no truth but in unity, and this unity you most certainly have not.
One more; every Catholic will repeat to you the words of Manzoni, as
quoted by M. Faber: 'The greatest deviations are none if the main point
be recognised; the smallest are damnable heresies, if it be denied. That
main point is the infallibility of the Church, or rather of the Pope.'_

No one desires to be eternally punished; and, therefore, if any one
embrace a false faith, it is because he makes the mistake of supposing
it the true one. The three sets of Christians, just adverted to, may all
be equally sincere, but cannot all have the true faith. Protestant
principles, as taught by the Dublin Operative Association, may be true.
Anglo-Catholic principles, as taught by the Oxford Tractmen, may be
true. Roman Catholic principles, as taught by the Count de Montalembert,
may be true; but they cannot ALL be true. It is impossible to reconcile
that orthodox Papists' 'main point,' _i.e._ the infallibility of the
(Romish) Church, or rather of the Pope, with the 'main point' of
orthodox Protestants, who denounce 'the great harlot of Babylon,' that
'scarlet lady who sitteth upon the seven hills,' in the most unmeasured
and virulent terms. Anti-Christ is the name they 'blasphemously' apply
to the actual 'old chimera of a Pope.' Puseyite Divines treat his
Holiness with more tenderness, but even _they_ boggle at his
infallibility, and seem to occupy a position between the rival churches
of Rome and England analogous to that of Captain Macheath when singing
between two favourite doxies--

          How happy could I be with either,
           Were t'other dear charmer away;
          But while you thus teaze me together,
           The devil a word will I say.

Infallibility of Popes is the doctrine insisted upon by Count De
Montalembert as essential--as doctrine the smallest deviation from which
is damnable heresy. Believe and admit Antichrist is _not_ Antichrist,
but God's accredited viceregent upon earth, infinite is the mercy in
store for you; but woe to those who either cannot or will not believe
and admit anything of the kind. On them every sincere Roman Catholic is
sure that God will empty the vials of his wrath.

Priests ascribe to Deity the low, grovelling, vindictive, feelings which
agitate and disgrace themselves. If Roman Catholic principles are true
and undeniable, none but Roman Catholics will be saved from the wrath to
come. If Anglo-Catholic principles are true and undeniable, none but
Anglo-Catholics will be saved from the wrath to come. If orthodox
Protestant principles are true and undeniable, none but orthodox
Protestants will be saved from the wrath to come.

Thus superstitionists

                            Grunt and groan,
          Cursing all systems but their own.

Agreeing in little else save disagreement, the 'main point' of this
class of believers is a matter of little consequence to that class of
believers, and no matter at all to a third class of believers. Look at
the thousand-and-one sects into which the Christian world is divided.
'Some reject Scripture; others admit no other writings but Scripture.
Some say the Devils shall be saved, others that they shall be damned;
others that there are no Devils at all. Some hold that it is lawful to
dissemble in religion, others the contrary. Some say that Antichrist is
come, some say not; others that he is a particular man, others that he
is not a man, but the Devil; and others that by Antichrist is meant a
succession of men. Some will have him to be Nero, some Caligula, some
Mohammed, some the Pope, some Luther, some the Turk, some of the Tribe
of Dan; and so each man according to his fancy will make an Antichrist.
Some only will observe the Lord's day, some only the Sabbath; some both,
and some neither. Some will have all things in common, some not. Some
will have Christ's body only in Heaven, some everywhere; some in the
bread, others with the bread, others about the bread, others under the
bread, and others that Christ's body is the bread, or the bread his
body. And others that his body is transformed into his divinity. Some
will have the Eucharist administered in both kinds, some in one, some
not at all. Some will have Christ descend to hell in respect of his
soul, some only in his power, some in his divinity, some in his body,
some not at all. Some by hell understand the place of the damned, some
_limbus patrum_, others the wrath of God, others the grave. Some will
make Christ two persons, some give him but one nature and one will; some
affirming him to be only God, some only man, some made up of both, some
altogether deny him. Some will have his body come from Heaven, some from
the Virgin, some from the elements. Some will have our souls mortal,
some immortal; some bring them into the body by Infusion, some by
traduction. Some will have souls created before the world, some after;
some will have them created altogether, others severally; some will have
them corporeal, some incorporeal; some of the substance of God, some of
the substance of the body. So infinitely are men's conceits distracted
with a variety of opinions, whereas _there is but one Truth_, which
every man aims at, but few attain it; every man thinks he hath it, and
yet few enjoy it.' [20:1]

Chiefs of these sects are, for the most part, ridiculously intolerant;
so many small Popes, who fancy that whomsoever they bind on earth shall
be bound in Heaven; and whomsoever they loose on earth shall be loosed
in Heaven. They remorselessly cobble the true faith, without which, to
their 'sole exclusive Heaven,' none can be admitted.

          As if religion were intended,
          For nothing else but to be mended.

And never seem so happy as when promising eternal misery to those who
reject their chimeras.

But wisdom, we read, is justified by her children; and to the wise of
every nation the Universalist confidently appeals. He rejects popular
religion, because such religion is based on principles of imaginative
ignorance. Bailly defines it as 'the worship of the unknown, piety,
godliness, humility, before the _unknown_.' Lavater as 'Faith in the
supernatural, invisible, _unknown_'. Vauvenargus as 'the duties of men
towards the _unknown_.' Dr. Johnson as 'Virtue founded upon reverence of
the _unknown_, and expectation of future rewards and punishments.'
Rivarol as 'the science of serving the _unknown_.' La Bruyere as 'the
respectful fear of the _unknown_.' Du Marsais, as 'the worship of the
_unknown_, and the practice of all the virtues.' Walker as 'Virtue
founded upon reverence of the _unknown_, and expectation of rewards or
punishments; a system of divine faith and worship as opposed to other
systems.' De Bonald as 'social intercourse between man and the
_unknown_.' Rees as 'the worship or homage that is due to the _unknown_
as creator, preserver, and, with Christians, as redeemer of the world,'
Lord Brougham as 'the subject of the science called Theology:' a science
he defines as 'the knowledge and attributes of the _unknown_' which
definitions agree in making the essential principle of religion a
principle of ignorance. That they are sufficiently correct definitions
will not be disputed, and upon them the Universalist is satisfied to
rest his case. To him the worship or adoration of what is confessedly
unknown is mere superstition; and to him professors of theology are
'artists in words,' who pretend to teach what nobody has any conception
of. Now, such persons may be well-intentioned; but their wisdom is by no
means apparent. They must be wonderfully deficient of the invaluable
sense so falsely called 'common.' Idolizers of 'thingless names,' they
set at naught the admirable dictum of Locke that it is 'unphilosophic to
suppose names in books signify real entities in nature, unless we can
frame clear and distinct ideas of those entities.'

Theists of every class would do well to calmly and fully consider this
rule of philosophising, for it involves nothing less than the
destruction of belief in the supernatural. The Jupiter of Mythologic
History, the Allah of Alkoran, and the Jehovah of 'Holy Scripture,' if
entities at all, are assuredly entities that baffle human conception. To
'frame clear and distinct ideas of them' is impossible. In respect to
the attribute of _unknown ability_ all Gods are alike.

Books have been written to exhibit the difficulties of (what priests
choose to call) Infidelity, and without doubt unbelief has its
difficulties. But, according to a universally recognised rule of
philosophising, of two difficulties we are in all cases to choose the
least. From a rule so palpably just no one can reasonably depart, and
the Universalist, while freely admitting a great difficulty on his own
side, is satisfied there can be demonstrated an infinitely greater
difficulty on the side of his opponents. The Universalist labours to
convince mankind they are not warranted by the general course of Nature
in assigning to it a Cause; inasmuch as it is more in accordance with
experience to suppose Nature the uncaused cause, than to imagine, as
errorists do, that there is an uncaused cause of Nature.

Theologians ask, who created Nature? without adducing satisfactory
evidence that Nature _was_ created, and without reflecting that if it is
difficult to believe Nature self-existent, it is much more difficult to
believe some self-existent Super-nature, capable of producing it. In
their anxiety to get rid of a natural difficulty, they invent a
supernatural one, and accuse Universalists of 'wilful blindness,' and
'obstinate deafness,' for not choosing so unphilosophic a mode of
explaining universal mystery.

The rule of philosophising just adverted to--that rule which forbids us,
in any case, to chose the greater of two difficulties--is of immense
importance, and should be carefully considered by every one anxious to
arrive at correct conclusions with respect to theology. For if believers
in God do depart from that rule--if their belief necessarily involve its
violation--to persist in such belief is to persist in what is clearly
opposed to pure reason. Now, it has been demonstrated, so far as words
can demonstrate any truth whatever, that the difficulty of him who
believes Nature never had an author, is infinitely less than the
difficulty of him who believes it had a cause itself uncaused.

In the 'Elements of Materialism,' an unequal, but still admirable work
by Dr. Knowlton, a well-known American writer, this question of
comparative difficulty is well handled.

'The sentiment,' says the Doctor, 'that a being exists which never
commenced existence, or what is the same thing, that a being exists
which has existed from all eternity, appears to us to favour Atheism,
for if one Being exist which never commenced existence--why not
another--why not the universe? It weighs nothing, says the Atheist, in
the eye of reason, to say the universe appears to man as though it were
organised by an Almighty Designer, for the maker of a thing must be
superior to the thing made; and if there be a maker of the universe
there can be no doubt, but that if such maker were minutely examined by
man, man would discover such indications of wisdom and design that it
would be more difficult for him to admit that such maker was not caused
or constructed by a pre-existing Designer, than to admit that the
universe was not caused or constructed by a Designer. But no one will
contend for an infinite series of Makers; and if, continues the Atheist,
what would, if viewed, be indications of design, are no proofs of a
designer in the one case, they are not in the other; and as such
indications are the only evidence we have of the existence of a Designer
of the universe, we, as rational beings, contend there is no God. We do
not suppose the existence of any being, of which there is no evidence,
when such supposition, it admitted, so far from diminishing would only
increase a difficulty, which, at best, is sufficiently great. Surely, if
a superior being may have existed from all eternity, an inferior may
have existed from all eternity; if a great God sufficiently mighty to
make a world may have existed from all eternity, of course without
beginning and without cause, such world may have existed from all
eternity, without beginning, and without cause.' [23:1]

These are 'strong reasons' for Universalism. They prove that Theists set
at nought the rule of philosophising which forbids us to choose the
greater of two difficulties. Their system compels them to do so; for
having no other groundwork than the strange hypotheses that time was
when there was no time--something existed when there was nothing, which
something created everything; its advocates would be tongue-tied and
lost if reduced to the hard necessity of appealing to facts, or rigidly
regarding rules of philosophising which have only their reasonableness
to recommend them. They profess ability to account for Nature, and are
of course exceeding eager to justify a profession so presumptuous. This
eagerness betrays them into courses, of which no one bent on rejecting
whatever is either opposed to, or unsanctioned by, experience, can
possibly approve. It is plain that of the God they tell us to believe
'created the worlds,' no man has any experience. This granted, it
follows that worship of such fancied Being is mere superstition. Until
it be shown by reference to the general course of things, that things
had an author, Himself uncreated or unauthorized, religious philosophers
have no right to expect Universalists to abandon their Universalism. The
duty of priests is to reconcile religion with reason, _if they can_, and
admit their inability to do so, _if they cannot_.

Romanists will have nothing to do with reason whenever it appears at
issue with their faith. All sects, as sects, play fast and loose with
reason. Many members of all sects are forward enough to boast about
being able to give a reason for the faith that is in them; but an
overwhelming majority love to exalt faith above reason. Philosophy they
call 'vain,' and some have been found so filled with contempt for it, as
to openly maintain that what is theologically true, is philosophically
false; or, in other terms, that the truths of religion and the truths of
philosophy have nothing in common. According to them, religious truths
are independent of, and superior to, all other truths. Our faith, say
they, if not agreeable to _mere_ reason is infinitely superior to it.
Priests are 'at one' on the point. Dissenting and Protestant, as well as
Romanising priests, find it convenient to abuse reason and extol faith.
As priests, they can scarcely be expected to do otherwise; for reason is
a stern and upright judge whose decrees have hitherto been unfavourable
to superstition. Its professors, who appeal to that judge, play a part
most inconsistent and dangerous, as is evident in the case of Origen
Bachelor, who more zealous and candid than prudent, declared the real
and only question between Atheism and Theism a question of fact;
reducing it to these terms--'Is there reason, all things considered, for
believing that there is a God, an intelligent cause of things, infinite
and perfect in all his attributes and moral qualities?' [24:1]

Now, the reader has seen that the hypothesis of 'an intelligent cause of
things' involves difficulties, greater, infinitely greater than the one
difficulty involved in the hypothesis that things always existed. He has
seen the folly of explaining natural, by the invention of supernatural
mystery, because it manifestly violates a rule of philosophising, the
justness of which it would be ridiculous to dispute. Having clearly
perceived thus much, he will perhaps think it rather 'too bad' as well
as absurd, to call Universalists 'madmen' for lacking faith in the
monstrous dogma that Nature was caused by 'something amounting to
nothing' itself uncaused.

There is something. That truth admits not of being evidenced. It is,
nevertheless, accepted. It is accepted by men of all religious opinions,
equally with men of no religious opinions. If any truth be self-evident
and eternal, here is that truth. To call it in question would be worse
than idle. We may doubt the reality of an external world, we may be
sceptical as to the reality of our own bodies, but we cannot doubt that
there is something. The proposition falls not within the domain of
scepticism. It must be true. To suppose it false is literally
impossible. Its falsehood would involve contradiction, and all
contradiction involves Impossibility. But, if proof of this were needed,
we have it in the fact that no man, sage or simple, ever pretended to
deny there is something. Whatever men could doubt or deny they have
doubted or denied, but in no country of the world, in no age, has the
dogma--there is something--been denied or even treated as doubtful. Here
then Universalists, Theists, and Polytheists agree. They agree of
necessity. There is no escape from the conclusion that something is,
except we adopt the unintelligible dogma--there is nothing--which no
human being can, as nothing amounts to nothing, and of what amounts to
nothing no one can have an idea. To define the word something by any
other word would be labour in vain. There is no other word in any
language whoso meaning is better understood, and they who do not
understand what it means, if such persons there be, are not likely to
understand the meaning of any word or words whatever. Ideas of nothing
none have. That there is something, we repeat, must be true, all dogmas
or propositions being necessarily true whose denial involves an
impossibility. What the nature of that something may be is a secondary
question, and however determined cannot affect the primary dogma--things
are things whatever may be their individual or their aggregate nature.
Nor is it of the least consequence what name or names we may see fit to
give things, so that each word has its fixed and true meaning. Whether,
for example, we use for the sign of that something which is, the word
Universe, or God, or Substance, or Spirit, or Matter, or the letter X,
is of no importance, if we understand the word or letter used to be
merely the sign of that something. Words are seldom useful except when
they are the sign of true ideas; evidently therefore, their legitimate
function is to convey such ideas; and words which convey no ideas at
all, or what is worse, only those which are false, should at once be
expunged from the vocabularies of nations. Something is. The
Universalist calls it matter. Other persons may choose to call it other
names: let them. He chooses to call it this one--and no other.

There ever has been something. Here, again, is a point of unity. All are
equally assured there ever has been something. Something is, something
must always have been, cry the religious, and the cry is echoed by the
irreligious. This last dogma, like the first, admits not of being
evidenced. As nothing is inconceivable, we cannot even imagine a time
when there was nothing. Universalists say, something ever was, which
something is matter. Theists say, something has been from all eternity,
which something is not matter but God. They boldly affirm that matter
began to be. They affirm its creation from nothing, by a something,
which was before the universe. Indeed, the notion of universal creation
involves first, that of universal annihilation, and secondly, that of
something prior to everything. What creates everything must be before
everything, in the same way that he who manufactures a watch must exist
before the watch. As already remarked, Universalists agree with Theists,
that something ever has been, but the point of difference lies here. The
Universalist says, matter is the eternal something, and asks proof of
its beginning to be. The Theist insists that matter is not the eternal
something, but that God is; and when pushed for an account of what he
means by God, he coolly answers, a Being, having nothing in common with
anything, who nevertheless, by his Almighty will, created everything. It
may without injustice be affirmed, that the sincerest and strongest
believers in this mysterious Deity are often tormented by doubts, and,
if candid, must own they believe in the existence of many things with a
feeling much closer allied to certainty than they do in the reality of
their 'Great First Cause, least understood.' No man's faith in the
inconceivable is ever half so strong as his belief in the visible and
tangible.

But few among professional mystifiers will admit this, obviously true as
it is. Some have done so. Baxter, of pious memory, to wit, who said, _I
am not so foolish as to pretend my certainty be greater than it is,
because it is dishonour to be less certain; nor will I by shame be kept
from confessing those infirmities which those have as much as I, who
hypocritically reproach with them._ MY CERTAINTY THAT I AM A MAN IS
BEFORE MY CERTAINTY THAT THERE IS A GOD.

So candid was Richard Baxter, and so candid are _not_ the most part of
our priests, who would fain have us think them altogether _un_sceptical.
Nevertheless, they write abundance of books to convince us 'God is,'
though they never penned a line in order to convince us, we actually
are, and that to disbelieve we are is a 'deadly sin.'

Could God be known, could his existence be made 'palpable to feeling as
to sight,' as unquestionably is the existence of matter, there would be
no need of 'Demonstrations of the existence of God', no need of
arguments _a priori_ or _a posteriori_ to establish that existence.
Saint John was right; 'No man hath seen God at any time', to which 'open
confession' he might truly have added, 'none ever will,' for the unreal
is alway unseeable. Yet have 'mystery men' with shameless and most
insolent pertinacity asserted the existence of God while denying the
existence of matter.

_The incomprehensible is not to be defined._ It is difficult to give
_intelligible_ account of an Immense Being confessedly mysterious and
about whom his worshippers admit they only know, they know nothing,
except that

                             'He is good,
          And that themselves are blind.'

Spinoza said, _of things which have nothing in common, one cannot be the
cause of the other_; and to me it seems eminently unphilosophic to
believe a Being having nothing in common with anything, capable of
creating or causing everything. 'Only matter can be touched or touch;'
and as the Christian's God is not material, his adorers are fairly open
to the charge of superstition. An unknown Deity, without body, parts or
passions, is of all idols the least tangible; and they who pretend to
know and reverence him, are deceived or deceivers.

In this Christian country, where men are expected to believe and called
'Infidel' if they _cannot_ believe in a 'crucified Saviour,' it seems
strange so much fuss should be made about his immateriality. All but
Unitarian Christians hold as an essential article of faith, that in him
dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily; in other words, that our
Redeemer and our Creator, though two persons, are but one God. It is
true that Divines of our 'Reformed Protestant Church,' call everything
but gentlemen those who lay claim to the equivocal privilege of feasting
periodically upon the body and blood of Omnipotence. The pains taken by
Protestants to show from Scripture, Reason and Nature, that Priests
cannot change lumps of dough into the body, and bumpers of wine into the
blood, of their God, are well known and appreciated. But the Roman
Catholics are neither to be argued nor laughed out of their 'awful
doctrine' of the real presence, to which they cling with desperate
earnestness.

Locke wrote rather disparagingly of 'many among us,' who will be found
upon Inquiry, to fancy God in the shape of a man fitting in heaven, and
have other absurd and unfit conceptions of him.' As though it were
possible to think of shapeless Being, or as though it were criminal in
the superstitious to believe 'God made man after his own image.'

That Christians as well as Turks 'really have had whole sects earnestly
contending that the Deity was corporeal and of human shape', is a fact,
so firmly established as to defy contradiction. And though every sincere
subscriber to the Thirty Nine Articles must believe, or at least must
believe he believes in Deity without body, parts, or passions, it is
well known that 'whole sects' of Christians do even now 'fancy God in
the shape of a man sitting in heaven, and entertain other absurd and
unfit conceptions of him.'

Mr. Collibeer, who is considered by Christian writers 'a most ingenious
gentleman', has told the world in his Treatise entitled 'The Knowledge
of God,' that Deity must have some form, and intimates it may probably
be the spherical; an intimation which has grievously offended many
learned Theists who considered going so far an abuse of reason, and warn
us that 'its extension beyond the assigned boundaries, has proved an
ample source of error.' But what the 'assigned boundaries' of reason
are, they don't state, nor by whom 'assigned.' That if there is a God he
must have _some_ form is self-evident and why Mr. Collibeer should be
ostracized by his less daringly imaginative brethren, for preferring a
spherical to a square or otherwise shaped Deity, is to my understanding
what God's grace is to their's.

But admitting the unfitness, and absurdity, and 'blasphemy' of such
conceptions, it is by no means clear that any other conceptions of the
'inconceiveable' would be an improvement upon them. Undoubtedly, the
matter-God-system has its difficulties, but they are trifles in
comparison with those by which the spirit-God system is encompassed;
for, one obvious consequence of faith in bodiless Divinity is an utter
confusion of ideas in those who preach it, as regards possibilities and
impossibilities.

The universe is an uncaused existence, or it was caused by something
before it. By universe we mean matter, the sum total of things, whence
all proceeds, and whither all returns. No truth is more obviously true
than the truth that matter, or something not matter, exists of itself,
and consequently is not an effect, but an uncaused cause of all effects.

From such conviction, repugnant though it be to vulgar ideas, there is
no rational way of escape; for however much we may desire, however much
we may struggle to believe there was a time when there was nothing, we
cannot so believe. Human nature is constituted intuitively or
instinctively to feel the eternity of something. To rid oneself of that
feeling is impossible. Nature or something not Nature must ever have
been, is a conclusion to which what poets call Fate--

          Leads the willing and drags the unwilling.

But does this undeniable truth make against Universalism? Far from
it--so far, indeed, as to make for it. The reason is no mystery. Of
matter we have ideas clear, precise, and indispensable, whereas of
something not matter we cannot have any idea whatever, good, bad, or
indifferent. The Universe is extraordinary, no doubt, but so much of it
as acts upon us is perfectly conceivable, whereas, any thing within,
without, or apart from the Universe, is perfectly inconceivably.

The notion of necessarily existing matter seems fatal to belief in God;
that is, if by the word God be understood something not matter, for 'tis
precisely because priests were unable to reconcile such belief with the
idea of matter's self-existence or eternity, that they took to imagining
a 'First cause.'

In the 'forlorn hope' of vanquishing the difficulty of necessarily
existing _Matter_, they assent to a necessarily existing _Spirit_, and
when the nature of spirit is demanded from these assertors of its
existence, they are constrained to avow that it is material or nothing.

Yes, they are constrained to make directly or indirectly one or other of
these admissions; for, as between truth and falsehood, there is no
middle passage; so between something and nothing, there is no
intermediate existence. Hence the serious dilemma of Spiritualists, who
gravely tell us their God is a spirit, and that a spirit is not any
thing, which not any thing or nothing (for the life of us we cannot
distinguish between them) 'framed the worlds' nay, _created_ as well as
framed them.

If it be granted, for the mere purpose of explanation, that spirit is an
entity, we can frame 'clear distinct ideas of'--a real though not
material existence, surely no man will pretend to say an uncreated
Spirit, is less inexplicable than uncreated Matter. All could not have
been caused or created unless nothing can be a Cause, the very notion of
which involves the grossest of absurdities.

_Whatever is produced, without any cause, is produced by nothing; or, in
other words, has nothing for its cause. But nothing never can be a cause
no more than it can be something or equal to two right angles. By the
same intuition that we perceive nothing not to be equal to two right
angles, or not to be something, we perceive that it can never be a
cause, and consequently must perceive that every object has a real cause
of its existence. When we exclude all causes we really do exclude them,
and neither suppose nothing nor the object itself to be the causes of
the existence, and consequently can draw no argument from the absurdity
of these suppositions except to prove the absurdity of that exclusion.
If everything must have a cause, it follows that upon the exclusion of
other causes, we must accept of the object itself or nothing as causes.
But it is the very point in question whether everything must have a
cause or not, and therefore, according to all just reasoning ought not
to be taken for granted_. [29:1]

This reasoning amounts to logical demonstration (if logical
demonstration there can be) of a most essential truth, which in all ages
has been obstinately set at nought by dabblers in the supernatural. It
demonstrates that something never was, never can be, caused by nothing,
which can no more be a cause, properly so called, than it can be
something, or equal to two right angles; and therefore that everything
could not have had a cause, which, the reader has seen, is the very
point assumed by Theists--the very point on which as a pivot they so
merrily and successfully turn their fine metaphysical theories and
immaterial systems.

The universe, quoth they, must have had a cause, and that cause must
have been First Cause, or cause number one, because nothing can exist of
itself. Oh, most lame and impotent conclusion! How, in consistency, can
they declare nothing can exist without a cause in the teeth of their oft
repeated dogma that God is uncaused. If God never commenced to be, _He_
is an uncaused existence, that is to say, exists without a cause. [29:2]
The difference on this point between Theists and Universalists is very
palpable. The former say, Spirit can exist without a cause, the latter
say Matter can exist without a cause. Whole libraries of theologic dogma
would be dearly purchased by Hume's profound remark--_if everything must
have a cause, it follows that upon the exclusion of other causes we must
accept of the object itself or of nothing as causes._

Saint Augustine, more candid than modern theologians, said 'God is a
being whom we speak of but whom we cannot describe and who is superior
to all definitions.' Universalists, on the other hand, as candidly deny
there is any such being. To them it seems that the name God stands for
nothing, is the archetype of nothing, explains nothing, and contributes
to nothing but the perpetuation of human imbecility, ignorance and
error. To them it represents neither shadow nor substance, neither
phenomenon nor thing, neither what is ideal nor what is real; yet is it
the name without senseless faith in which there could be no
superstition.

If Nature is all, and all is Nature, nothing but itself could ever have
existed, and of course nothing but itself can be supposed ever to have
been capable of causing. To cause is to act, and though body without
notion is conceivable, action without body is not. Neither can two
Infinites be supposed to tenant one Universe. Only 'most religious
philosophers' can pretend to acknowledge the being of an infinite God
co-existent with an infinite Universe.

Universalists are frequently asked--What moves matter? to which question
_nothing_ is the true and sufficient answer. Matter moves matter. If
asked how we know it does, our answer is, because we see it do so, which
is more than mind imaginers can say of their 'prime mover.' They tell us
mind moves matter; but none save the _third sighted_ among them ever saw
mind, and if they never saw mind, they never could have seen matter
pushed about by it. They babble about mind, but nowhere does mind exist
save in their mind; that is to say, nowhere but nowhere. Ask these
broad-day dreamers where mind is _minus_ body? and very cutely they
answer, body is the mind, and mind is the body.

That this is neither joke nor slander, we will show by reference to No.
25 of 'The Shepherd,' a clever and well known periodical, whose editor,
[30:1] in reply to a correspondent of the 'chaotic' tribe, said 'As to
the question--where is magnetism without the magnet? We answer,
magnetism is the magnet, and the magnet is magnetism.' If so, body is
the mind and the mind is body; and our Shepherd, if asked, 'Where is
mind without the body?' to be consistent, should answer, body is the
mind and the mind is the body. Both these answers are true, or both are
false; and it must be allowed--

          Each lends to each a borrowed charm,
          Like pearls upon an Ethiop's arm.

Ask the 'Shepherd' where is mind without the body? and, if not at issue
with himself, he _must_ reply, mind is the man and man is the mind.

If this be so,--if the mind is the man and the man is the mind, which
none can deny who say magnetism is the magnet and the magnet
magnetism--how, in Reason's name, can they be different, or how can the
'Shepherd' consistently pretend to distinguish between them; yet he does
so. He writes about the spiritual part of man as though he really
believed there is such a part. Not satisfied, it would seem, with body,
like Nonentitarians of vulgar mould, he tenants it with Soul or Spirit,
or Mind, which Soul, or Spirit, or Mind, according to his own showing,
is nothing but body in action; in other terms, organised matter
performing vital functions. Idle declamation against 'facts mongers'
well becomes such self-stultifying dealers in fiction. Abuse of
'experimentarians' is quite in keeping with the philosophy of those who
maintain the reality of mind in face of their own strange statement,
that magnetism is the magnet and the magnet magnetism.

But we deny that magnetism is the magnet. These words magnetism and
magnet do not, it is true, stand for two things, but one thing: that one
and only thing called matter. The magnet is an existence, _i.e._, that
which moves. Magnetism is not an existence, but phenomenon, or, if you
please, phenomena. It is the effect of which magnetic body is the
immediate and obvious cause.

To evade the charge of Materialism, said Dr. Engledue, we
(Phrenologists) content ourselves with stating that the immaterial makes
use of the material to show forth its powers. What is the result of
this? We have the man of theory and believer in supernaturalism
quarrelling with the man of fact and supporter of Materialism. We have
two parties; the one asserting that man possesses a _spirit_ superadded
to, but not inherent in, the brain--added to it, yet having no necessary
connection with it--producing material changes, yet
immaterial--destitute of any of the known properties of matter--in fact
an _immaterial something_ which in one word means _nothing_, producing
all the cerebral functions of man, yet not localised-not susceptible of
proof; the other party contending that the belief in spiritualism
fetters and ties down physiological investigation--that man's intellect
is prostrated by the domination of metaphysical speculation--that we
have no evidence of the existence of an _essence_, and that organised
mutter is all that is requisite to produce the multitudinous
manifestations of human and brute cerebration.

We rank ourselves with the second party, and conceive that we must cease
speaking of 'the mind,' and discontinue enlisting in our investigations
a spiritual essence, the existence of which cannot be proved, but which
tends to mystify and perplex a question sufficiently clear if we confine
ourselves to the consideration of organised matter--its forms--its
changes--and its aberrations from normal structure. [31:1]

The eccentric Count de Caylus, when on his death-bed, was visited by
some near relation and a pious Bishop, who hoped that under such trying
circumstance he would manifest some concern respecting those 'spiritual'
blessings which, while in health, he had uniformly treated with
contempt. After a long pause he broke silence by saying, _'Ah, my
friends, I see you are anxious about my soul;'_ whereupon they pricked
up their ears with delight; before, however, any reply could be made the
Count added, _'but the fact is I have not got one, and really my good
friends you must allow me to know best.'_

If people in general had one tenth the good sense of this _impious_
Count, the fooleries of Spiritualism would at once give place to the
philosophy of Materialism, and none would waste time in talking or
writing about non-entities. All would know that what theologians call
sometimes spirit, sometimes soul, and sometimes mind, is an imaginary
existence. All would know that the terms _immaterial something_ do in
very truth mean _nothing_. Count de Caylus died as became a man
convinced that soul is not an entity, and that upon the dissolution of
our 'earthly tabernacle', the particles composing it cease to perform
vital functions, and return to the shoreless ocean of Eternal Being.
Pietists may be shocked by such _nonchalance_ in the face of their 'grim
monster;' but philosophers will admire an indifference to inevitable
consequences resulting from profoundest love of truth and contempt of
superstition. Count de Caylus was a Materialist, and no Materialist can
consistently feel the least alarm at the approach of what
superstitionists have every reason to consider the 'king of terrors.'
Believers in the reality of immaterial existence cannot be 'proper'
Materialists. Obviously, therefore, no believers in the reality of God
can be _bona fide_ Materialists; for 'God' is a name signifying
something or nothing; in other terms matter or that which is not matter.
If the latter, to Materialists the name is meaningless--sound without
sense. If the former, they at once pronounce it a name too many; because
it expresses nothing that their word MATTER does not express better.

Dr. Young held in horror the Materialist's 'universe of dust.' But there
is nothing either bad or contemptible in dust--man is dust--all will be
dust. A _dusty_ universe, however, _shocked_ the poetic Doctor, whose
writings analogise with--

          Rich windows that exclude the light,
          And passages that lead to nothing.

A universe of nothing was more to his taste than a universe of dust, and
he accordingly amused himself with the 'spiritual' work of imagining
one, and called its builder 'God.'

The somewhat ungentle 'Shepherd' cordially sympathises with Dr. Young in
his detestation of the Materialist's universe of dust, and is sorely
puzzled to know how mere dust contrives to move without the assistance
of 'an immaterial power between the particles;' as if he supposed
anything could be between everything--or nothing be able to move
something. Verily this gentleman is as clever a hand at 'darkening
counsel by words without knowledge' as the cleverest of those he rates
so soundly.

The names of Newton and Clarke are held in great esteem by all who are
familiar with the history of mechanical and metaphysical philosophy. As
a man of science, there is no individual, ancient, or modern, who would
not suffer by comparison with Sir Isaac Newton; while common consent has
assigned to Dr. Samuel Clarke the first place among religious
metaphysicians. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to cite any
other Theists of better approved reputation than these two, and
therefore we introduce them to the reader's notice in this place; for as
they ranked among the most philosophic of Theists, it might be expected
that their conceptions of Deity, would be clear, satisfactory, and
definite.--Let us see, then, _in their own writings_, what those
conceptions were.

Newton conceived God to be one and the same for ever, and everywhere,
not only by his own virtue or energy, but also in virtue of his
substance.--Again, 'All things are contained in him and move in him, but
without reciprocal action' (_sed sine muta passione_) God feels nothing
from the movements of bodies; nor do they experience any resistance from
his universal presence. [33:1]

Pause, reader, and demand of yourself whether such a conception of Deity
is either clear, satisfactory, or definite,--God is _one_. Very
good--but one _what?_ From the information, 'He is the same for ever and
everywhere,' we conclude that Newton thought him a Being. Here, however,
matter stops the way; for the idea of Being is in all of us inseparably
associated with the idea of substance. When told that God is an 'Immense
Being,' without parts, and consequently unsubstantial, we try to think
of such a Being; but in vain. Reason puts itself in a _quandary_, the
moment it labours to realise an idea of absolute nothingness; yet
marvellous to relate, Newton did distinctly declare his Deity 'totally
destitute of body,' and urged that _fact_ as a _reason_ why He cannot be
either seen, touched, or understood, and also as a _reason_ why he ought
not to be adored under any corporeal figure!

The proper function of 'Supernaturality or Wonder,' according to
Phrenologists, is to create belief in the reality of supernatural
beings, and begets fondness for news, particularly if extravagant. Most
likely then, such readers of this book as have that organ 'large' will
be delighted with Newton's rhodomontade about a God who resists nothing,
feels nothing, and yet with condescension truly divine, not only
contains all things, but permits them to move in His motionless and
'universal presence;' for 'news' more extravagant, never fell from the
lips of an idiot, or adorned the pages of a prayer-book.

By the same great _savan_ we are taught that God governs all, not as the
soul of the world, but as the Lord and sovereign of all things: that it
is in consequence of His sovereignty He is called the Lord God, the
Universal Emperor--that the word God is relative, and relates itself
with slaves--and that the Deity is the dominion or the sovereignty of
God, not over his own body, as those think who look upon God as the soul
of the world, but over slaves--from all which _slavish_ reasoning, a
plain man who had not been informed it was concocted by Europe's pet
philosopher, would infallibly conclude some unfortunate lunatic had
given birth to it. That there is no creature now tenanting Bedlam who
would or could scribble purer nonsense about God than this of Newton's,
we are well convinced--for how could the most frenzied of brains imagine
anything more repugnant to every principle of good sense than a
self-existent, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent Being, creator of all
the worlds, who acts the part of 'universal emperor,' and plays upon an
infinitely larger scale, the same sort of game as Nicholas of Russia, or
Mohammed of Egypt, plays upon a small scale. There cannot be slavery
where there is no tyranny, and to say, as Newton did, that we stand in
the name relation to a universal God, as a slave does to his earthly
master, is practically to accuse such God, at reason's bar of _tyranny_.
If the word God is relative, and relate itself with slaves, it
incontestably follows that all human beings are slaves, and Deity is by
such reasoners degraded into the character of universal slave-driver.
Really, theologians and others who declaim so bitterly against
'blasphemers,' and take such very stringent measures to punish
'infidels', who speaks or write of their God, should seriously consider
whether the worst, that is, the least superstitious of infidel writers,
ever penned a paragraph so disparaging to the character of that God they
effect to adore, as the last quoted paragraph of Newton's.

If even it could be demonstrated that there is a super-human Being, it
cannot be proper to clothe Him in the noblest human attributes--still
less can it be justifiable in pigmies, such as we are, to invest Him
with odious attributes belonging only to despots ruling over slaves.
Besides, how can we imagine a God, who is 'totally destitute of body and
of corporeal figure,' to have any kind of substance? Earthly emperors we
know to be substantial and common-place sort of beings enough, but is it
not sheer abuse of reason to argue as though the character of God were
at all analogous to theirs; or rather, is it not shocking abuse of our
reasoning facilities to employ them at all about a Being whose
existence, if we really have an existence, is perfectly enigmatical, and
allowed to be so by those very men who pretend to explain its character
and attributes? We find no less a sage than Newton explicitly declaring
as incontestible truth, that God exists necessarily--that the same
necessity obliges him to exist always and everywhere--that he is all
eyes, all ears, all brains, all arms, all feeling, all intelligence, all
action--that he exists in a mode by no means corporeal, an yet this same
sage, in the self-same paragraph, acknowledges God is _totally unknown
to us_.

Now, we should like to be informed by what _reasonable_ right Newton
could pen a long string of 'incontestible truths,' such as are here
selected from his writings, with respect to a Being of whom, by his own
confession, he had not a particle of knowledge. Surely it is not the
part of a wise man to write about that which is 'totally unknown' to
him, and yet that is precisely what Newton did, when he wrote concerning
God.

So much for the Theism of Europe's chief religious philosopher. Turn we
now to the Theism of Dr. Samuel Clarke.

He wrote a book about the being and attributes of God, in which he
endeavoured to establish, first, that 'something has existed from all
eternity;' second, that 'there has existed from eternity some one
unchangeable and independent Being;' third, that 'such unchangeable and
independent Being, which has existed from all eternity, without any
external cause of its existence, must be necessarily existent;' fourth,
that 'what is the substance or essence of that Being, which is
necessarily existing, or self-existent, we have no idea--neither is it
possible for us to comprehend it;' fifth, that 'the self-existent Being
must of necessity be eternal as well as infinite and omnipresent;'
sixth, that 'He must be one, and as he is the self-existent and original
cause of all things, must be intelligent;' seventh, that 'God is not a
necessary agent, but a Being endowed with liberty and choice;' eighth,
that 'God is infinite in power, infinite in wisdom, and, as He is
supreme cause of all things, must of necessity be a Being infinitely
just, truthful, and good--thus comprising within himself all such moral
perfections as becomes the supreme governor and judge of the world.'

These are the leading dogma contained in Clarke's book--and as they are
deemed invincible by a respectable, though not very numerous, section of
Theists, we will briefly examine the more important important of them.

The dogma that _something has existed from all eternity_, as already
shown, is perfectly intelligible, and may defy contradiction--but the
real difficulty is to satisfactorily determine _what that something is_.
Matter exists, and as no one can even imagine its non-existence or
annihilation, the Materialist infers _that_ must be the eternal
something. Newton as well as Clark thought the everlasting Being
destitute of body, and consequently without parts, figure, motion,
divisibility, or any other such properties as we find in matter--_ergo_,
they did not believe matter to be the eternal something; but if not
matter, again we ask, what can it be? Of bodilessness or incorporiety no
one, even among those who say their God is incorporeal, pretend to have
an idea. Abady insisted that _the question is not what incorporiety is,
but whether it be?_ Well, we have no objection to parties taking that
position, because there is nothing more easy than to dislodge those who
think fit to do so--for this reason: the advocates of nothing, or
incorporiety, can no more establish by arguments drawn from unquestioned
facts, that incorporiety _is_ than they can clearly show _what_ it is.
It has always struck the author as remarkable that men should so
obstinately refuse to admit the possibility of matter's necessary
existence, while they readily embrace, not only as possibly, but
certainly, true, the paradoxical proposition that a something, having
nothing in common with anything, is necessarily existent. Matter is
everywhere around and about us. We ourselves are matter--all our ideas
are derived _from_ matter--and yet such is the singularly perverse
character of human intellect that, while resolutely denying the
possibility of matter's eternity, an immense number of our race embrace
the incredible proposition that matter was created in time by a
necessarily existing Being, who is without body, parts, passions, or
positive nature!

The second dogma informs us that this always-existing Being is
unchangeable and independent. One unavoidable inference from which is
that Deity is itself immoveable, as well as unconnected with the
universe--for a moveable Being must be a changeable Being, by the very
fact of its motion; while an independent Being must be motiveless, as it
is evident all motives result from our relationship to things eternal;
but an independent Being can have no relations, and consequently must
act without motives. Now, as no intelligent _human_ action can be
imagined without necessary precursors in the shape of motives, reasoning
from analogy, it seems impossible that the unchangeable and independent
Being, Clarke was so sure must ever have existed, could have created the
universe, seeing he could have had no _motive_ or _inducement_ to create
it.

The third dogma may be rated a truism--it being evidently true that a
thing or Being, which has existed from eternity without any eternal
cause of its existence, must be self-existent: but of course that dogma
leaves the disputed question, namely, whether matter, or something _not_
matter, is self-existent, just where it found it.

The fourth dogma is not questioned by Universalists, as they are quite
convinced that it is not possible for us to comprehend the substance or
essence of an immaterial Being.

The other dogmas we need not enlarge upon, as they are little more than
repetition or expansion of the preceding one. Indeed, much of the
foregoing would be superfluous, were it not that it serves to
illustrate, so completely and clearly theistical absurdities. The only
dogma worth overturning, of the eight here noticed, is the _first_, for
if that fall, the rest must fall with it. If, for example, the reader is
convinced that it is more probable matter is mutable as regards _form_
but eternal as regards _essence_, than that it was willed into existence
by a Being said to be eternal and immutable, he at once becomes a
Universalist--for if matter always was, no Being could have been before
it, nor can any exist after it. It is because men in general are shocked
at the idea of matter without beginning and without end, that they do
readily embrace the idea of a God, forgetting that if the idea of
eternal matter shock our sense of the _probable_, the idea of an eternal
Being who existed _before_ matter, _if well considered_, is sufficient
to shock all sense of the _possible_.

The man who is contented with the universe, who stops at _that_ has at
least the satisfaction of dealing with something tangible--but he who
don't find the universe large enough for him to expatiate in, and whirls
his brains into a belief that there is a necessarily existing something
beyond the limits of a world _unlimited_, is in a mental condition no
reasonable man need envy.

Of the universe, or at least so much of it as our senses have been
operated upon by, we have conceptions clear, vivid, and distinct; but
when Dr. Clarke tell us of an intelligent Being, not _part_ but
_creator_ of that universe, we can form no clear, vivid, distinct, or,
in point of fact, _any_ conception of such Being. When he explains that
it is infinite and omnipresent, like poor Paddy's famed ale, the
explanation 'thickens as it clears;' for being ourselves _finite_, and
necessarily present on one small spot of our very small planet, the
words _infinite_ and _omnipresent_ do not suggest to us either positive
or practical ideas--of course, therefore, we have neither positive nor
practical ideas of an infinite and omnipresent Being.

We can as easily understand that the universe ever did exist, as we now
understand that it does exist--but we cannot conceive its absence for
the millionth part of an instant--and really it puzzles one to conceive
what those people can be dreaming of who talk as familiarly about the
extinction of a universe as the chemist does of extinguishing the flame
of his spirit-lamp. The unsatisfactory character of all speculations
having for their object 'nonentities with formidable names,' should long
ere this have opened men's eyes to the folly of _multiplying causes
without necessity_--another rule of philosophising, for which we are
indebted to Newton, but to which no superstitious philosophiser pays due
attention. Newton himself in his theistical character, wrote and talked
as though most blissfully ignorant of that rule.

The passages given above from his 'Principia' palpably violate it. But
Theists, however learned, pay little regard to any rules of
philosophising, which put in peril their fundamental crotchet.

A distinguished modern Fabulist [38:1] has introduced to us a
philosophical mouse who praised beneficent Deity because of his great
regard for mice: for one half of us, quoth he, received the gift of
wings, so that if they who have none, should by cats happen to be
exterminated, how easily could our 'Heavenly Father,' out of the bats
re-establish our exterminated species.

Voltaire had no objection to fable if it were symbolic of truth; and
here is fable, which, according to its author, is symbolic of the little
regarded truth, that our pride rests mainly on our ignorance, for, as he
sagely says, 'the good mouse knew not that there are also winged cats.'
If she had her speculations concerning the beneficence of Deity would
have been less orthodox, mayhap, but decidedly more rational. The wisdom
of this pious mouse is very similar to that of the Theologian who knew
not how sufficiently to admire God's goodness in causing large rivers
almost always to flow in the neighbourhood of large towns.

To jump at conclusions on no other authority than their own ignorant
assumption, and to Deify errors on no other authority than their own
heated imagination, has in all ages been the practice of Theologians. Of
that practice they are proud, as was the mouse of our Fabulist. Clothed
in no other panoply than their own conceits they deem themselves
invulnerable. While uttering the wildest incoherencies their
self-complacency remains undisturbed. They remind one of that ambitious
crow who, thinking more highly of himself than was quite proper,
strutted so proudly about with the Peacock's feathers in which he had
bedecked himself.--Like him, they plume themselves upon their own
egregious folly, and like him should get well _plucked_ for their pains.

Let any one patiently examine their much talked of argument from design,
and he will be satisfied that these are no idle charges. That argument
has for its ground-work beggarly assumption, and for its main pillar,
reasoning no less beggarly. Nature must have had a cause, because it
evidently is an effect. The cause of Nature must have been one God,
because two Gods, or two million Gods, could not have agreed to cause
it. That cause must be omnipotent, wise, and good, because all things
are double one against another, and He has left nothing imperfect. Men
make watches, build ships or houses, out of pre-existing metals, wood,
hemp, bricks, mortar, and other materials, therefore God made nature out
of no material at all. Unassisted nature cannot produce the phenomena we
behold, therefore such phenomena clearly prove there is something
unnatural. Not to believe in a God who designed Nature, is to close both
ears and eyes against evidence, therefore Universalists are wilfully
deaf and obstinately blind.

These are samples of the flimsy stuff, our teachers of what nobody
knows, would palm upon us as demonstration of the Being and Attributes
of God.

By artfully taking for granted what no Universalist can admit, and
assuming cases altogether dissimilar to be perfectly analogous, our
natural theologians find no difficulty in proving that God is, was, and
ever will be; that after contemplating His own perfections, a period
sufficiently long for 'eternity to begin and end in,' He said, let there
be matter, and there was matter; that with Him all things are possible,
and He, of course, might easily have kept, as well as made, man upright
and happy, but could not consistently with his own wisdom, or with due
regard to his own glorification. Wise in their generation, these 'blind
leaders of the blind' ascribe to this Deity of their own invention
powers impossible, acts inconceivable, and qualities incompatible; thus
erecting doctrinal systems on no sounder basis than their own ignorance;
deifying their own monstrous errors, and filling the earth with misery,
madness, and crime.

The writer who declared theology _ignorance of natural causes reduced to
system_, did not strike wide of the true mark. It is plain that the
argument from design, so vastly favoured by theologians, amounts to
neither more nor less than ignorance of natural causes reduced to
system. An argument to be sound must be soundly premised. But here is an
argument whose primary premise is a false premise--a mere begging of the
very question in dispute. Did Universalists _admit_ the universe was
contrived, designed, or adapted, they could not _deny_ there must have
been at least one Being to contrive, design, or adapt; but they see no
analogy between a watch made with hands out of something, and a universe
made without hands out of nothing. Universalists are unable to perceive
the least resemblance between the circumstance of one intelligent body
re-forming or changing the condition of some other body, intelligent or
non-intelligent, and the circumstance of a bodiless Being creating all
bodies; of a partless Being acting upon all parts; and of a passionless
Being generating and regulating all passions. Universalists consider the
general course of nature, though strangely unheeded, does proclaim with
'most miraculous organ,' that dogmatisers about any such 'figment of
imagination' would, in a rational community, be viewed with the same
feelings of compassion, which, even in these irrational days, are
exhibited towards confirmed lunatics.

The author, while passing an evening with some pleasant people in
Ashton-under-Lyne, heard one of them relate that before the schoolmaster
had made much progress in that _devil-dusted_ neighbourhood, a labouring
man walking out one fine night, saw on the ground a watch, whose ticking
was distinctly audible; but never before having seen anything of the
kind, he thought it a living creature, and full of fear ran back among
his neighbours, exclaiming that he had seen a most marvellous thing, for
which he could conceive of no better name than CLICKMITOAD. After
recovering from their surprise and terror, this 'bold peasant' and his
neighbours, all armed with pokers and other formidable weapons, crept up
to the ill-starred ticker, and smashed it to pieces.

The moral of this anecdote is no mystery. Our clickmitoadist had never
seen watches, knew nothing about watches, and hearing as well as seeing
one for the first time, naturally judged it must be an animal. Readers
who may feel inclined to laugh at his simplicity, should ask themselves
whether, if accustomed to see watches growing upon watch trees, they
would feel more astonished than they usually do when observing crystals
in process of formation, or cocoa-nuts growing upon cocoa-nut trees; and
if as inexperienced with respect to watches, or works of art, more or
less analogous to watches, they would not under his circumstances have
acted very much as he did.

Supposing, however, that theologians were to succeed in establishing an
analogy between 'the contrivances of human art and the various
existences of the universe,' is it not evident that Spinoza's axiom--of
things which having nothing in common one cannot be the cause of the
others--is incompatible with belief in the Deity of our Thirty-Nine
Articles, or, indeed, belief in _any_ unnatural Designer or Causer of
Material Nature. Only existence can have anything in common with
existence.

Now, an existence, properly so called, must have at least two
attributes, and whatever exhibits two or more attributes is matter. The
two attributes necessary to existence are solidity and extension. Take
from matter these attributes and matter itself vanishes. That fact was
specially testified to by Priestley, who acknowledged the primary truths
of Materialism though averse to the legitimate consequences flowing from
their recognition.

According to this argument, nothing exists which has not solidity and
extension, and nothing is extended and solid but matter, which in one
state forms a crystal, in another a blade of grass, in a third a
butterfly, and in other states other forms. The _essence_ of grass, or
the _essence_ of crystal, in other words, those native energies of their
several forms constituting and keeping them what they are, can no more
be explained than can the _essentiality_ of _human_ nature.

But the Universalist, because he finds it impossible to explain the
action of matter, because unable to state why it exhibits such vast and
various energies as it is seen to exhibit, is none the less assured it
_naturally_ and therefore _necessarily_ acts thus energetically. No
Universalist pretends to understand how bread nourishes his frame, but
of the _fact_ that bread does nourish it he is well assured. He
understands not how or why two beings should, by conjunction, give
vitality to a third being more or less analogous to themselves, but the
_fact_ stares him in the face.

Our 'sophists in surplices,' who can no otherwise bolster up their
supernatural system than by outraging all such rules of philosophising
as forbid us to choose the greater of two difficulties, or to multiply
causes without necessity, are precisely the men to explain everything.
But unfortunately their explanations do, for the most part, stand more
in need of explanation than the thing explained. Thus, they explain the
origin of matter by reference to an occult, immense, and immensely
mysterious phantasm without body, parts or passions, who sees though not
to be seen, hears though not to be heard, feels though not to be felt,
moves though not to be moved, knows though not to be known, and, in
short, does everything, though not to be _done_ by anything. Well might
Godwin say _the rage of accounting for what is obviously unaccountable,
so common among philosophers of this stamp, has brought philosophy
itself into discredit_.

There is an argument against the notion of a Supernatural Causer which
the author does not remember to have met with, but which he considers an
argument of great force--it is this. Cause means change, and as there
manifestly could not be change before there was anything to change, to
conceive the universe caused is impossible.

That the sense here attached to the word cause is not a novel one every
reader knows who has seen an elaborate and ably written article by Mr.
G.H. Lewes, on 'Spinoza's Life and Works,' where effect is defined as
cause realised; the _natura naturans_ conceived as _natura naturata_;
and cause or causation is define as simply change. When, says Mr. Lewes,
the change is completed, we name the result effect. It is only a matter
of naming.

These definitions conceded accurate, the conclusion that neither cause
nor effect _exist_, seems inevitable, for change of being is not being
itself any more than attraction is the thing attracted. One might as
philosophically erect attraction into reality and fall down and worship
_it_ as change which is in very truth a mere "matter of naming." Not so
the things changing or changed; _they_ are real, the prolific parent of
all appearance we behold, of all sensation we experience, of all ideas
we receive, in short, of all causes and of all effects, which causes and
effects, as shown by Mr. Lewis, are merely notional, for "we call the
antecedent cause, and the sequent effect; but these are merely relative
conceptions; the sequence itself is antecedent to some subsequent
change, and the former antecedent was once only a sequent to its cause,
and so on."

Ancient Simonides, when asked by Dionysius to explain the nature of
Deity, demanded a day to "see about it," then an additional two days,
and then four days more, thus wisely intimating to his silly pupil, that
the more men think about Gods, the less competent they are to give any
rational account of them.

Cicero was sensible and candid enough to acknowledge that he found it
much easier to say what God was not, than what he was. Like Simonides,
he was _mere_ Pagan, and like him, arguing from the known course of
nature, was unable, with all his mastery of talk, to convey positive
ideas of Deity. But how should he convey to others what he did not,
could not, himself possess? To him no revolution had been vouchsafed,
and though my Lord Brougham is quite sure, without the proof of natural
Theology, revelation has no other basis than mere tradition; we have
even better authority than his Lordship's for the staggering fact that
natural Theology, without the prop of revelation, is a 'rhapsody of
words,' mere jargon, analogous to the tale told by an idiot, so happily
described by our great poet as 'full of sound and fury, signifying
nothing.' We have a Rev. Hugh M'Neil 'convinced that, from external
creation, no right conclusion can be drawn concerning the _moral_
character of God,' and that 'creation is too deeply and disastrously
blotted in consequence of man's sin, to admit of any satisfactory result
from an adequate contemplation of nature.' [42:1] We have a Gillespie
setting aside the Design Argument, on the ground that the reasonings by
which it is supported are 'inapt' to show such attributes as infinity,
omnipresence, free agency, omnipotency, eternality, or unity,' belong in
any way to God. On this latter attribute he specially enlarges, and
after allowing the contrivances we observe in nature, may establish a
unity of _counsel_, desires to be told how they can establish a unity of
_substance_. [42:2] We have Dr. Chalmors and Bishop Watson, whose
capacities were not the meanest, contending that there is no natural
proof of a God, and that we must trust solely to revelation. [42:3] We
have the Rev. Mr. Faber in his 'Difficulties of Infidelity' boldly
affirming that no one ever did, or ever will 'prove without the aid of
revelation, that the universe was designed by a _single_ designer.'
Obviously, then, there is a division in the religious camp with respect
to the sufficiency of natural Theology, unhelped by revelation. By three
of the four Christian authors just quoted, the design argument is
treated with contempt. Faber says, 'evident design must needs imply a
designer,' and that 'evident design shines out in every part of the
universe.' But he also tells us 'we reason exclusively, if with the
Deist we thence infer the existence of one and only one Supreme
Designer.' By Gillespie and M'Neil, the same truth is told in other
words. By Chalmers and Watson we are assured that, natural proof of a
God there is none, and our trust must be placed solely in revelation;
while Brougham, another Immense Being worshipper, declares that
revelation derives its chief support from natural Theology, without
which it has 'no other basis than vague tradition.'

Now, Universalists agree with Lord Brougham as to the traditionary basis
of Scripture; and as they also agree with Chalmers and Watson with
respect to there being no natural proof of a God, they stand acquitted
to their own consciences of 'wilful deafness' and 'obstinate blindness,'
in rejecting as inadequate the evidence that 'God is,' drawn either from
Nature, Revelation, or both.

It was long a Protestant custom to taunt Roman Catholics with being
divided among themselves as regards topics vitally important, and to
draw from the fact of such division an argument for making Scripture the
only 'rule of faith and manners.' Chillingworth said, _there are Popes
against Popes, councils against councils, some fathers against others,
the same fathers against themselves--a consent of fathers of one age
against a consent of fathers of another age, the church of one age
against the church of another age. Traditive interpretations of
Scripture are pretended, but there are few or none to be found. No
tradition but only of Scripture can derive itself from the fountain, but
may be plainly proved, either to have been brought in in such an age
after Christ, or that in such an age it was not in. In a word, there is
no sufficient certainty but of Scripture only for any considering man to
build on_. [43:1] And after reading this should 'any considering man'
be anxious to know something about the Scripture on which alone he is to
build, he cannot do better than dip into Dr. Watt's book on the right
use of Reason, where we are told _every learned (Scripture) critic has
his own hypothesis, and if the common text be not favourable to his
views a various lection shall be made authentic. The text must be
supposed to be defective or redundant, and the sense of it shall be
literal or metaphorical according as it best supports his own scheme.
Whole chapters or books shall be added or left out of the sacred canon,
or be turned into parables by this influence. Luther knew not well how
to reconcile the epistle of St. James to the doctrine of justification
by faith alone, and so he could not allow it to be divine. The Papists
bring all their Apocrypha into their Bible, and stamp divinity upon it,
for they can fancy purgatory is there, and they find prayers for the
dead. But they leave out the second commandment because it forbids the
worship of images. Others suppose the Mosaic history of the creation,
and the full of man, to be oriental ornaments, or a mere allegory,
because the literal sense of those three chapters of Genesis do not
agree with their theories._

These remarks are certainly not calculated to make 'considering men' put
their trust in Scripture. Coming from a Protestant Divine of such high
talent and learning, they may rather be expected to breed in
'considering men' very unorthodox opinions as well of the authenticity
as the genuineness of _both_ Testaments, and a strong suspicion that
Chillingworth was joking when he talked about their "sufficient
certainty." The author has searched Scripture in vain for 'sufficient
certainty,' with respect to the long catalogue of religious beliefs
which agitate and distract society. Laying claim to the character of a
'considering man,' he requires that Scripture to be proved the word of a
God before appealed to, as His Revelation; a feat no man has yet
accomplished. Priests, the cleverest, most industrious, and least
scrupulous, have tried their hands at the pious work, but all have
failed. Notwithstanding the mighty labours of our Lardner's and
Tillemont's and Mosheim's, no case is made out for the divinity of
either the Old or New Testament. 'Infidels' have shown the monstrous
absurdity of supposing that any one book has an atom more divinity about
it than any other book. These 'brutes' have completely succeeded in
proving that Christianity is a superstition no less absurd than
Mohammedanism, and to the full as mischievous.

Christian practice is after all, the best answer to Christian theory.
Men who think wisely, do not, it is true, always act wisely; but
generally speaking, the moral, like the physical tree, is known by its
fruit, and bitter, most bitter, is the fruit of that moral tree, the
followers of Jesus planted. Notwithstanding their talk about the pure
and benign influence of their religion, an opinion is fast gaining
ground, that Bishop Kidder was right, when he said, _were a wise man to
judge of religion by the lives of its professors, perhaps, Christianity
is the last he would choose_.

He who agrees with Milton that

          To know what every day before us lies
          Is the prime wisdom,

will in all likelihood not object to cast his eyes around and about him,
where proofs of modern priestly selfishness are in wonderful abundance.
By way of example may be cited the cases of those right reverend Fathers
in God the Bishops of London and Chester, prelates high in the church;
disposers of enormous wealth with influence almost incalculable; the
former more especially. And how stand they affected towards the poor? By
reference to the _Times_ newspaper of September 27th, 1845, it will be
seen that those very influential and wealthy Bishops are supporters _en
chef_ of a Reformed Poor Law,' the virtual principle of which is 'to
reduce the condition of those whose necessities oblige them to apply for
relief, below that of the labourer of the _lowest class_.' A Reformed
Poor Law, having for its 'object,' yes reader, its object, the
restoration of the pauper to a position below that of the independent
labourer.' This is their 'standard' of reference, by rigid attention to
which they hope to fully carry out their 'vital principle,' and thus
bring to a satisfactory conclusion the great work of placing 'the pauper
in a worse condition than the 'independent labourer.' It appears, from
the same journal, that in reply to complaints against their dietary, the
Commissioners appointed to work the Reformed Poor Law, consider that
twenty-one ounces of food daily 'is more than the hard working labourer
with a family could accomplish for himself by his own exertions.' This,
observes a writer in the _Times_, being the Commissioners' reading of
their own 'standard,' it may be considered superfluous to refer to any
other authority; but, as the Royal Agricultural Society of England have
clubbed their general information on this subject in a compilation from
a selection of essays submitted to them, we are bound to refer to such
witnesses who give the most precise information on the actual condition
of the _independent labourer_, with minute instructions for his general
guidance, and the economical expenditure of his income. 'He should,'
they say, 'toil early and late' to make himself 'perfect' in his
calling. 'He should _pinch and screw_ the family, even in the _commonest
necessaries_,' until he gets 'a week's wages to the fore.' He should
drink in his work 'water mixed with some powdered ginger,' which warms
the stomach, and is 'extremely cheap.' He should remember that 'from
three to four pounds of potatoes are equal in point of nourishment to a
pound of the best wheaten bread, besides having the great advantage of
_filling_ the stomach. He is told that 'a lot of bones may always be got
from the butchers for 2d., and they are never scraped so clean as not to
have some scraps of meat adhering to them.' He is instructed to boil
these two penny worth of bones, for the first day's family dinner, until
the liquor 'tastes something like broth.' For the _second_ day, the
bones are to be again boiled in the same manner, but for a _longer_
time. Nor is this all, they say 'that the bones, if again boiled for a
_still longer_ time, will _once more_ yield a nourishing broth, which
may be made into pea soup.'

This is the system and this is the schoolmastership expressly sanctioned
by the Bishops of London and Chester. In piety nevertheless those
prelates are not found wanting. They may starve the bodies but no one
can charge them with neglecting the souls of our 'independent
labourers.' Nothing can exceed their anxiety to feed and clothe the
spiritually destitute. They raise their mitred fronts, even in palaces,
to proclaim and lament over the spiritual destitution which so
extensively prevails--but they seldom condescend to notice _physical_
destitution. When the cry of famine rings throughout the land they
coolly recommend rapid church extension, thus literally offering stones
to those who ask them for bread. To got the substantial and give the
spiritual is their practical Christianity. To spiritualise the poor into
contentment with the 'nourishing broth' from thrice boiled bones, and to
die of hunger rather than demand relief, are their darling objects.

Did Universalists thus act, did they perpetrate, connive at, or tolerate
such atrocities as were brought to light during the Andover inquiry,
such cold blooded heartlessness would at once be laid to the account of
their principles. Oh yes, Christians are forward to judge of every tree
by its fruit, except the tree called Christianity.

The vices of the universalist they ascribe to his creed. The vices of
the Christian to anything but his creed. Let professors of Christianity
be convicted of gross criminality, and lo its apologists say such
professors are not Christian. Let fanatical Christians commit excesses
which admit not of open justification, and the apologist of Christianity
coolly assures us such conduct is _mere rust on the body of his
religion--moss which grows on the stock of his piety._

From age to age the wisest among men have abhorred and denounced
superstition. It is true that only a small section of them treated
religion as if _necessarily_ superstition, or went quite as far as John
Adams, who said, _this would be the best of all possible worlds if there
were no religion in it_. But an attentive reading of ancient and modern
philosophical books has satisfied the author that through all recorded
time, religion has been _tolerated_ rather than _loved_ by great
thinkers, who had _will_, but not _power_ to wage successful war upon
it. Gibbon speaks of Pagan priests who, 'under sacerdotal robes,
concealed the heart of an Atheist.' Now, these priests were also the
philosophers of Rome, and it is not impossible that some modern
philosophical priests, like their Pagan prototypes, secretly despise the
religion they openly profess. Avarice, and lust of power, are potent
underminers of human virtue. The mighty genius of Bacon was not proof
against then, and he who deserves to occupy a place among 'the wisest
and greatest' has been 'damned to eternal fame' as the 'meanest of
mankind.'

Nor are avarice and lust of power the only base passions under the
influence of which men, great in intellect, have given the lie to their
own convictions, by calling that religion which they knew to be rank
superstition. Fear of punishment for writing truth is the grand cause
why their books contain so little of it. If Bacon had openly treated
Christianity as mere superstition, will any one say that his life would
have been worth twenty-four hours' purchase?

There is an old story about a certain lady who said to her physician,
'Doctor, what is your religion?' My religion, madame, replied the
Doctor, 'is the religion of all sensible men.' 'What kind of religion is
that?' said the lady. 'The religion, madame,' quoth the Doctor, 'that no
sensible man will tell.'

This doctor may be given as a type of the class of shrewd people who
despise superstition, but will say nothing about it, lest by so doing
they give a shock to prejudice, and thus put in peril certain
professional or other emoluments. Too sensible to be pious, and too
cautious to be honest, they must be extremely well paid ere they will
incur the risk attendant upon a confession of anti-superstitious faith.

Animated by a vile spirit of accommodation, their whole sum of practical
wisdom can be told in four words--BE SILENT AND SAFE. They are amazed at
the 'folly' of these who make sacrifices at the shrine of sincerity; and
while sagacious enough to perceive that superstition is a clumsy
political contrivance, are not wanting in the prudence which dictates at
least a _seeming_ conformity to prevailing prejudices.

None have done more to perpetrate error than these time-serving 'men of
the world,' for instead of boldly attacking it, they preserve a prudent
silence which bigots do not fail to interpret as consent. Mosheim says,
[47:1] 'The simplicity and ignorance of the generality in those times
(fifth century) furnished the most favourable occasion for the exercise
of fraud; and the impudence of impostors, in contriving false miracles,
was artfully proportioned to the credulity of the vulgar, while the
sagacious and the wise, who perceived these cheats, were overawed into
silence by the dangers that threatened their lives and fortunes, if they
should expose the artifice. Thus,' continues this author, 'does it
generally happen, when danger attends the discovery and the profession
of truth, the prudent are _silent_, the multitude _believe_, and
impostors _triumph_.'

Beausobre, too, in his learned account of Manicheism reads a severe
lesson to those who, under the influence of such passions as _fear_ and
_avarice_, will do nothing to check the march of superstition, or
relieve their less 'sensible,' but more honest, fellow-creatures from
the weight of its fetters. After alluding to an epistle written by that
'demi-philosopher,' Synesius, when offered by the Patriarch the
Bishopric of Ptolemais, [48:1] Beausobre says, 'We see in the history
that I have related a kind of hypocrisy, which, perhaps, has been far
too common in all times. It is that of ecclesiastics, who not only do
not say what they think, but the reverse of what they think.
Philosophers in their closet, when out of them they are content with
fables, though they know well they are fables. They do more; they
deliver to the executioner the excellent men who have said it. How many
Atheists and profane persons have brought holy men to the stake under
the pretext of heresy? Every day, hypocrites consecrate the host and
cause it to be adored, although firmly convinced as I am that it is
nothing more than a piece of bread.'

Whatever may be urged in defence of such execrable duplicity, there can
be no question as to its anti-progressive tendency. The majority of men
are fools, and if such 'sensible' politicians as our Doctor and the
double doctrinising ecclesiastics, for whose portraits we are indebted
to Mosheim and Beausobre, shall have the teaching of them, fools they
are sure to remain. Men who dare not be 'mentally faithful' to
themselves may obstruct, but cannot advance, the interests of truth. In
legislation, in law, in all the relations of life, we want honesty _not_
piety. There is plenty of piety, and to spare, but of honesty--sterling,
bold, uncompromising honesty--even the best regulated societies can
boast a very small stock. The men best qualified to raise the veil under
which truth lies concealed from vulgar gaze, are precisely the men who
fear to do it. Oh, shame upon ye self-styled philosophers, who in your
closets laugh at 'our holy religion,' and in your churches do it
reverence. Were your bosoms warmed by one spark of generous wisdom,
_silence_ on the question of religion would be broken, the multitude
cease to _believe_, and imposters to _triumph_.



          London: Printed by Edward Truelove, 240, Strand.



[ENDNOTES]


[4:1] 25th November, 1845.

[4:2] Vide 'Times' Commissioner's Letter on the Condition of Ireland,
November 28, 1845.

[8:1] 'Essay on Providence and a Future State.'

[9:1] Essay of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy. [9:2] Critical
remarks on Lord Brougham's 'Lives of Men of Letters and Science, who
flourished in the time of George III.'--The _Times_, Wednesday, October
1, 1845.

[10:1] History of American Savages.

[11:1] Appendix the Second to 'Plutarchus and Theophrastus on
Superstition.'

[11:2] Philosophy of History.

[12:1] See a Notice of Lord Brougham's Political Philosophy, in the
number for April, 1845.

[15:1] 'Apology for the Bible,' page 133.

[15:2] Unusquisque vestrum non cogitat prius se debere Deos nosse quam
colere.

[20:1] See a curious 'Essay on Nature,' Printed for Badcock and Co., 2,
Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster Row. 1807.

[23:1] Elements of Materialism, chapter 1.

[24:1] Discussion on the Existence of God, between Origen Bachelor and
Robert Dale Owen.

[29:1] Hume's Treastise on Human Nature.

[29:2] This sexing is a stock receipt for mystification.--_Colonel
Thompson._

[30:1] The Rev. J.K. Smith.

[31:1] 'An Address on Cerebral Physiology and Materialism,' delivered to
the Phrenological Association In London, June 20, 1842.

[33:1] Principia Mathematica, p. 528, Lond. edit., 1720.

[38:1] Lessing.

[42:1] Lecture by the Rev. Hugh M'Neil, Minister of St. Jude's Church,
Liverpool, delivered about seven years since, in presence of some 400 of
the Irish Protestant Clergy.

[42:2] The necessary existence of Deity, by William Gillespie.

[42:3] Page 106 of a Discussion on the Existence of God, between Origen
Batchelor and R.D. Owen.

[43:1] Quoted by Dr. Samuel Clarke, in his introduction to the Scripture
Doctrine of the Trinity.

[47:1] Ecclesiastical History, vol. ii, page 11.

[48:1] Manicheisme, tome ii, p. 568.





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