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Title: A Legacy to the Friends of Free Discussion
Author: Offen, Benjamin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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FREE DISCUSSION***



              *A LEGACY TO THE FRIENDS OF FREE DISCUSSION*

                                  _By_

                            *Benjamin Offen*

 _PRINCIPAL HISTORICAL FACTS AND PERSONAGES OF THE BOOKS KNOWN AS THE_
    _OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT; WITH REMARKS ON THE MORALITY OF NATURE_


                                 _1846_



CONTENTS


    PREFACE
    GENERAL INTRODUCTION
    DETAILED CONTENTS
    A LEGACY TO THE FRIENDS OF FREE DISCUSSION
    GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE
    THE OLD TESTAMENT
    CHAPTER I. FROM THE CREATION TO THE DELUGE
    CHAPTER II. A REVIEW OF THE DELUGE AND THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES AT
    THE TOWER OF BABEL
    CHAPTER III. FROM THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES TO THE BIRTH OF MOSES
    CHAPTER IV. FROM THE BIRTH OF MOSES TO THE DEATH OF JOSHUA
    CHAPTER V. FROM THE DEATH OF JOSHUA TO THE REIGN OF SAUL
    CHAPTER VI. THE REIGNS OF SAUL, DAVID, AND SOLOMON
    CHAPTER VII. THE REIGN OF JEROBOAM, AND THE SEPARATION OF ISRAEL
    FROM JUDAH
    CHAPTER VIII. ON DIVINE INSPIRATION
    THE NEW TESTAMENT
    INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER on THE FACTS AND PERSONAGES OF THE NEW
    TESTAMENT
    CHAPTER I.
    CHAPTER. II.
    CHAPTER III.
    CHAPTER IV.
    CHAPTER V.
    CHAPTER VI.
    CHAPTER VII.
    CHAPTER VIII.
    CHAPTER IX.
    REMARKS ON THE MORALITY OF NATURE



PREFACE


IN the following pages the author has freely discussed the claims of the
books called the Old and New Testaments, to be considered Divine
revelations. He had a _right_ so to do; and in presenting the work to
the public he gives the result of his exercise of such right.

The right of free discussion has been questioned. It would be well for
humanity if this were all; but unhappily, the pages of history are
replete with deeds of persecution and cruelty, committed by men, in the
possession of power, on their less fortunate fellow-men, who have
presumed to exercise the right of free investigation. Cupidity has drawn
a line of demarcation; it has established boundaries for thought; and
miserable has been the fate of the unhappy wretch who, rejoicing in the
dignity of his nature, and anxious to discover the abode of Truth, has
dared to pass the Rubicon.

What is Free Discussion? We answer, it is the exercise of the reasoning
faculties. Without Free Discussion man cannot exist. His physical
existence might indeed remain; but he could no longer be deemed a man;
and would have to take a lower rank in the scale of creation.

Without investigation it is impossible to arrive at Truth; hence the
utility of Free Discussion. This is never denied when science is the
subject; and we have yet to learn why it should be restrained in any
case; and also _how_ and _when_ any set of men became possessed of the
right to restrain the exercise of the reasoning faculties of their
fellow-men.

When men have not been impelled by cupidity to shackle the minds of
their fellow beings, a spirit of uncharitableness has induced them to
pursue the same line of conduct. Whoever has maintained an opinion
contrary to theirs, has been considered as being actuated, not by
mistaken, but, by dishonest motives; and has therefore been deemed a fit
subject for punishment. As this work will probably be read by many
professing Christians we will here give an extract from Dr. Blair’s
sermon on _Candor_, which will, probably, make a greater impression than
any thing we could offer on that subject.

“It is one of the misfortunes of our present situation, that some of the
good dispositions of human nature are apt to betray us into frailties
and vices. Thus it often happens, that the laudable attachment which we
contract to the country, or the church, to which we belong, or to some
political denomination under which we class ourselves, both confines our
affections within too narrow a sphere, and gives rise to violent
prejudices against such as come under an opposite description. Not
contented with being in the right ourselves, we must find all others in
the wrong. We claim an exclusive possession of goodness and wisdom: and
from approving warmly of those who join us, we proceed to condemn, with
much acrimony, not only the principles, but the _characters_, of those
from whom we differ. Hence, persons of well disposed minds are too
often, through the strength of partial good affection, involved in the
crime of uncharitable judgment They rashly extend to every individual
the severe opinion which they have unwarrantably conceived of a whole
body. This man is of a party whose principles we reckon slavish; and
therefore his whole sentiments are corrupted. That man belongs to a
religious sect which we are accustomed to deem bigoted; and therefore he
is incapable of any generous or liberal thought Another is connected
with a sect which we have been taught to account relaxed; and therefore
he can have no sanctity.—Are these the judgments of candor and charity?
Is true piety or virtue so very limited in its nature, as to be confined
to such alone as see every thing with our eyes, and follow exactly the
train of our ideas?”

The author disclaims any intention of wounding the feelings of those who
hold opinions different to his own. For the religions hypocrite he has
no bowels of compassion; but the sincere believer in Divine revelation,
whose conduct is regulated by the universally acknowledged roles of
morality, is to him an object of sincere respect and esteem.

Many things connected with what is called Divine revelation, have been
very freely commented on by the author; and sometimes in a style which
the Christian world will probably be disposed to condemn; but it should
be remembered that what appears sacred to one, excites the ridicule of
others. The Pagan venerates his manufactured god; the Christian views it
with contempt and indignation.

The object of the author has been the promotion of Truth and
Benevolence.

Should he fail to produce the effects he has contemplated, he will yet
be able to console himself with the reflection, that he has been
actuated by good intentions. The time has been when the assertion was
frequently made that “hell was paved with good intentions” had the work
appeared at that time, the author would, doubtless, have been destined,
so far as human agency could effect it, to become one of the paving
stones of that remarkable edifice: but a brighter day has dawned upon
the world; Reason is asserting her right to empire; and the cheering
spirit of benevolence is animating the nations of the earth.

The shades of life’s evening admonish the author that his sojourn in the
world will very shortly be brought to a close. He is anxious, therefore,
before his departure, to cast in his mite for the eradication of human
suffering, and the promotion of human felicity; and then, in wrapping
himself in the mantle of universal benevolence, to retire from the
transitory scene, in charity with all men.



GENERAL INTRODUCTION


THE main object of this book is to show that Jehovah, the God of the
Jews, is not the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, but a fictitious
being, having no real existence whatever. If the above position be
correct, it follows, that the Bible, including the Old and New
Testaments, is not a Divine Revelation. But that the reader may see,
more clearly, upon what uncertain ground divine revelation rests, the
plan pursued in the following chapters will be a review of the _facts_
and _personages_ as recorded in the Old and New Testaments. But the
limits of this work will only admit of a mere scantling of what might be
written on the subject.

In most Christian countries (America excepted,) this work would be
answered by either fine or imprisonment, or probably both. But
fortunately for the cause of truth and free discussion, theological
power here is so happily balanced, that persecution for religious
opinions is impracticable. The period therefore has arrived, in this
country in particular, when reason is free from the former obstacles
that every where crossed its path. Now, then, is the time for us to
examine the religion of our forefathers, and explore the regions of
human credulity. A mixture of pain and pleasure will be the
result:—_pain_, in considering what suffering has befallen the human
family, when the laudable indulgence of imagining and reasoning was
considered rebellion against God; and _pleasure_, to us who, having
escaped those dreadful evils which in former ages spread terror
throughout the world, can lessen the evils that surround us, and augment
to an almost unlimited degree our happiness.

To those who may have the moral courage to read the following pages, I
would say, I have neither a desire to shock their feelings, nor any wish
to change their sentiments in order to gratify my vanity; for had
Christianity been productive of “peace on earth and good will towards
men,” I should have been the last to have opposed it. But on the
contrary, the page of religious history is blotted with human gore. The
intolerant spirit that pervades the Old and New Testaments, has so
inoculated its followers of every sect, that while they profess to love
each other for Christ’s sake, one sect (the strongest) has put to death
a weaker sect for God’s sake. Nothing short of convincing men that the
Bible is not a divine revelation, can or will guarantee posterity
against a recurrence of those scenes of horror, at the very thought of
which, the heart sickens.

From the pulpit, and in religious works, nothing is more common than to
exclaim with horror at the unblushing Infidel. Unblushing Infidel! What
cause have Infidels to blush? The blush, if any, ought to be on the face
of the Christians of every sect. They have never failed to persecute
when in power: they have been guilty of cruelties, at which the savage
cannibal would weep, and this will ever be the case so long as the Bible
is considered as coming from God; because, till all consequence is taken
away from faith, and transferred to moral rectitude, persecution is the
effect of believing that _faith_ is the sure passport to glory, while
_unbelief_ is the broad road to perdition. Men cease to be Christians
when they lose this spirit of intolerance, and become Infidels.

Sects are not alike intolerant; but all are in some degree. The
Calvinists will not permit the Unitarians to preach in their churches.
The Unitarians, or Universalists, will not permit an Infidel lecturer to
speak in their churches,—no, not even on moral subjects. Christians,
then, will always be more or less of a persecuting disposition, and
nothing but giving up the Bible, as a Divine revelation, will destroy
that spirit. To show how a profession of Christianity, unfits men to do
justice to those who differ from them in religion, I will refer to the
treatment of Thomas Paine, author of “Common Sense.” His services in the
glorious struggle that “tried men’s souls” have been shamefully
forgotten. Yes! the friend of the immortal Washington, who shared in the
toils and dangers with the father of this great republic,—how have
Americans generally treated his name and efforts to erect one of the
most noble monuments of human wisdom—the _independent republic of North
America?_ For all his faithful devotedness to the independence of
America, how is his name and memory spoken of at the present time? From
the pulpit, every kind of falsehood and detraction is poured forth
concerning him.

If he had been, a member of a church, the same fanatical priesthood
would have lauded him to the skies. Such is the nature of religious
bigotry, that the friendship of the ever to be venerated Washington—even
that, cannot shield his name from pulpit calumny. “Bigotry, she has no
head, and cannot think; she has no heart, and cannot feel.”

But the name and services of Thomas Paine, are not, and never will be,
forgotten. Thanks to the Liberals throughout the Union, his birthday is
yearly celebrated in most of the cities and towns in the different
States. A handsome and durable monument has been erected to his memory
at New Rochelle, New York State. The thanks of-the Liberals are due to
Mr. G. Vale, Editor of the _Beacon_, published in New York, for his
untiring perseverance in urging on the completion of a monument will, in
time, command the respect of posterity. Why are the name and services of
Thomas Paine be cautiously omitted by our orators and statesmen, when
speaking of the patriotism of a Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hancock,
and others? It would offend the church and priesthood, as well as the
whole of the Christian community; because—“_He that believeth not shall
be damned._” This is the brightest gem in the Christian’s crown of
glory. If he nurse this intolerant spirit against Infidels, the
Christian considers his “_calling and election sure._”

Sincere believers in Divine revelation are not aware what monsters the
Bible makes of them; but for which they would be humane, compared to
what they are under its influence. I am surprised that they are (the
majority of them) so just, humane, and charitable, when I take into
consideration the doctrines contained (or believed to be) in what is
called the Word of God. In addition to their own evil habits and
disregard for virtue in the common concerns of life, they have a Devil
to tempt them by a thousand ways in which they are ignorant. Again, they
have a Saviour who shed his blood to save them from the just punishment
of their deserts; so that with their own evil deeds, and being urged on
by the Devil, they become monsters in crime. They then go, as the phrase
is, to Christ, be sorry, or profess to be, for what they have done, and
are pardoned, and in the sight of Heaven are considered _superior_ to
the unconverted whom they have injured. Can you, my readers, wonder at
the crimes of God’s people? According to this doctrine, a man may steal
a horse and cart, by the use of which, another man earned support for
his family; the thief sells it, and spends the amount, in connexion with
wretches like himself. He then goes to Jesus, repents, is forgiven; and,
to follow the plan throughout—if the man who lost his horse and cart is
an unbeliever, he goes to Hell, while the rogue sits singing and
laughing in Glory!

This book is sent into society from the best of motives; hoping it will
induce Christians to practise moderation, and somewhat abate that
raging, fanatical fever, that has been so fatal to human happiness. If
you take from us the Bible, says the Christian, what will you give in
its stead? We answer, man requires nothing but what God, or Nature, has
given him. All men in common, have reason to consult, by which man will
learn the duty he owes to himself, and also to his fellow beings. The
error lies in being taught, that reason, when in full exercise, will
lead him into error. This has been his misfortune; and his punishment
has followed as a consequence. The Bible contains many good moral
precepts; but these are, by Christians, thought little of, compared with
its doctrines. Faith is all important. By faith, barbarous Calvin caused
Servetus to be burnt by a slow fire; and through faith, St. Austin, that
drunken debauchee, obtained a good report.

The Bible is at war with man’s reasoning powers; and, like a land
pirate, has held up false lights, which instead of conducting man to the
haven of happiness and safety, has caused him to make shipwreck on the
rocks and shoals of religious dogmas. Man is lost in no other sense than
that, the loss of his reason. To recover _that_, and bring it into full
exercise, is all the Saviour he needs. His moral path is as clear as
light. God, or Nature, has made it a law of man’s existence that he must
love happiness, ease, and enjoyment; and also, that he must hate pain
and trouble in every stage and form. This law is forced upon him
independent of his choice. It is ever present to his senses, till he
ceases to exist, or to be rational. This is man’s stock of moral
material furnished by God, or Nature. How clear, then, is his duty! He
has but to follow out this law, by the aid of his reasoning, judging,
and comparing powers. It will never lead him wrong. He requires no
Bible, no Saviour; he is never lost; he has no incomprehensible
doctrines to support or defend. Unlike the sectarian, he feels no
disposition to persecute others who differ from him in matters of faith;
he has no angry God to propel him on to fight for his glory; he can
balance up every night his moral account of the day; and if he has
followed out the law of his nature, by augmenting his own, and also the
happiness of his fellow beings, and lightened the load of human ills
around him, he in truth is the good man, be his faith little or much.
That the following work may forward moral improvement, and encourage
moderation and universal good will among the human family, is the
sincere wish of

THE AUTHOR



DETAILED CONTENTS


OLD TESTAMENT

PREFACE.—Free Discussion; the right to use it in examining the
Scriptures; its certainty in destroying error and establishing
truth—Extract from Dr. Blair’s sermon on Candor—Motives of the author in
laying his work before the public.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION.—Object of the book—Intolerance and persecution of
Christian sects—Their abuse of Infidels and calumnious treatment of
Thomas Paine—His name and services appreciated by Liberals—Pernicious
influence of the Bible upon morals—Knowledge of the laws of our
existence the only sure guide to wisdom, happiness, and virtue.

GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE.—Character and situation of the Jews—Their treatment
by Jehovah—Why were they chosen, and did they answer the end of their
choice?—Probable reasoning of the Jewish God—Account of his visit to
Abram and Sarah, and their reception and treatment of him—The
consequences to the Jews of considering themselves the chosen people—The
five books said to have been written by Moses—Treatment of Hagar and her
child—Jehovah and the Jews.

CHAPTER I.—From the Creation to the Deluge.

CHAPTER II.—A Review of the Deluge and the confusion of Tongues at the
Tower of Babel.

CHAPTER III.—From the Confusion of Tongues to the Birth of Moses.

CHAPTER IV.—From the Birth of Moses to the Death of Joshua.

CHAPTER V.—From the Death of Joshua to the Reign of Saul.

CHAPTER VI.—The Reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon.

CHAPTER VII.—The Reign of Jeroboam, and the separation of Israel from
Judah.

CHAPTER VIII.—On Divine Inspiration.

NEW TESTAMENT

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.—Jehovah’s dealings with the Jews—His failure to
make them a pattern to the rest of the human family—The coming of
Christ—The manner of his introduction—his associates; language; and
conduct—Miracles—The Jews had sufficient reason, for rejecting Jesus as
the Messiah.

CHAPTER I.—Jesus the pretended Saviour of the world, not sent from
God—Moses wrote the most minute things Connected with die system
established by himself, but Jesus left no writings whatever-—Vagueness
and want of authenticity of the writings of the Evangelists—General
ignorance among Christians of what is the true Gospel—No proof of the
heavenly origin of Jesus—His baptism by John—His temptation by the
Devil—Its absurdity—Abusive language of Jesus to the Jews—His unfitness
for his mission, and failure to prove himself sent from God.

CHAPTER II.—Casting out Devils—The case of Mary Magdalene—The doctrine
of demoniacal possession, a heathen dogma—Miracles of Jesus no proof of
his Divine origin—Evidence from the New Testament that no miracles ever
took place—Inconsistent conduct and abusive language of Jesus—The
miracle at his baptism—Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus from the
clouds—Folly of miracles and their injurious consequence.

CHAPTER III.—Peter—Disingenuous mode adopted by Jesus to prove his
Messiahship—The introduction of his mission to the Jews—His obscure
doctrines, and disrespectful Language—Survey of his teaching, and mode
of life—Inutility of his object—His betrayal—Judas Iscariot.

CHAPTER IV.—The Almighty Power that governs the universe not the author
of the Christian Religion—Destructive saying of Jesus—The power given to
Peter; its disastrous results—Institution of the Sacrament—Intolerance
and persecution of Sectarianism—Folly of religious teaching.

CHAPTER V.—Orthodox views of Christianity—Remarks on the bad effects of
believing in the existence of the Devil, and in witchcraft, doctrines
taught in the Bible—Trial and execution of two women for witchcraft in
England, in 1664—Account of the witchcraft that prevailed in England and
Scotland, in the days of Elizabeth—Anecdote of Cromwell’s bargain with
the Devil.

CHAPTER VI.—Continuation of remarks upon the supposed influence of
Satanic agency—Dreadful effects of human credulity—Sketch of the life
and tragical fate of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans—Temptation of
Jesus.

CHAPTER VII.—God and the Devil—Probable origin of the belief in their
existence—Mode of reasoning in ancient times by the
ignorant—Theology—Christian Religion—Account of Witchcraft in Sweden, in
1670—Reflections.

CHAPTER VIII.—Comprehensive view of the mission of Christ to the Jewish
nation—Plan of redemption—Willingness of the Jews to welcome the long
expected Messiah—The violence and abuse they received from Jesus—Their
condition not improved by his coming—Obscurity of his teaching—The Jews
put him to death because they believed him an impostor—Judas, in
betraying Jesus, was but the instrument to accomplish the plan of human
redemption—Unfortunate condition of the Jews—Reflections upon their past
and present treatment by Christians.

CHAPTER IX.—Object of Christ’s coming into the world, uncertain and of
doubtful utility—His obvious omission to convince the Jews that he was
the Messiah, and his neglect to order his apostles to write a history of
his life, show the Christian Religion deficient in the proof of its
Divine origin—Jesus, according to the Gospels, was a moral
reformer—Ignorance of his disciples of his Divine mission, as manifested
by Peter, at the betrayal—The Resurrection of Jesus—Sudden departure
afterward—Religious quarrels—Difficulty of defining
Christianity-Reflections on the want of proof of Christ’s Divine
mission, and its insufficiency to reform the world—The Jesus of the New
Testament an imaginary being.

CONCLUSION.—Remarks on the Morality of Nature—Pernicious effect of
religious faith—Its failure to moralize the world—Its intolerance and
persecution—Infidel morality founded in reason and the laws that govern
human beings—Its superiority over faith in promoting good works,
inducing correct conduct, and insuring human happiness and improvement.



A LEGACY TO THE FRIENDS OF FREE DISCUSSION



GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE


BEFORE reviewing the facts and personages, as recorded in the Old and
New Testaments, it will be in order to notice the Jews, as Jehovah’s
_chosen race_. The subject will not admit of demonstration; it must be
approached and examined in the same manner as the Alkoran of Mahomet.

In order to get at the truth, so as to arrive at something like
certainty, and as Infinite Wisdom makes the choice, we must inquire—For
what end were they chosen? and did they answer the end of such choice?
If they were really chosen by the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, they
must, however strange they acted as a nation, have fulfilled the purpose
of their choice; because, whatever they did, was known to Jehovah before
the choice was made. How, then, can we reconcile expressions of regret
and disappointment by Jehovah after he had selected them as his own
peculiar people—such as, “_I have nourished and brought up children, and
they have rebelled against me?”_ And again—“_He hated his own
inheritance,_”—and also his stirring up and supporting heathen kings to
subjugate them as slaves. Is this not the language of disappointment and
regret? In fact, no learned divine can get over this striking truth that
the Bible fully holds out in the plainest manner, that Jehovah was
disappointed in his choice of the Jews as his favorite people. Were
they, then, chosen to raise up and support the religion given to them by
God himself? No, impossible! they continually rebelled against Jehovah
and worshipped strange Gods; and even Solomon himself built temples for
idolatry, contrary to express command. Jehovah says of the Jewish
nation—that he did not choose them because they were better than others,
for they were always a stiff-necked people; but because he loved their
fathers. Poor, miserable reasoning, indeed; to choose one of the most
contemptible races of men, because their ancestors, some hundreds of
years before, had superior qualities to their degenerate race.

Again, another reason given why Jehovah continued to protect them, is,
that the promises before made to Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, bound him in
honor so to do. Did not Infinite Wisdom foresee that the seed of Abram
would not follow in the faithful footsteps of their great progenitor? If
this was not foreseen, then we can discover clearly the reason why
Jehovah complains of their rebellious conduct. It will be a vain attempt
in ministers of the gospel, to reconcile those complaints, if Jehovah
had foresight of what the seed of Abram would do. If “_God is the same
yesterday, to-day, and forever,_” how did it happen that he appeared so
regardless of the fate of mankind, as to allow some hundreds of years to
pass away from the time of the confusion of tongues at the tower of
Babel, till his visit to the tent of Abram, during which time, according
to Bible history, Jehovah had no worshippers on earth? The whole of
mankind were left to make the best of their deserted situation; to
worship the Gods of their imagination; and they founded mighty empires,
and became powerful on the earth.

Before the Lord called on Abram and Sarah in their tent, something like
the following mode of reasoning probably took place in the mind of the
Jewish God:—

“I have made a world and peopled it with inhabitants; Adam and Eve
rebelled against me; their descendants followed in the footsteps of
their progenitors; I have destroyed them all (eight only excepted,) from
whom I expected better things. But, alas! they have also sinned against
me; and to such a height of wickedness did they arrive, that they began
to build a tower to reach my holy habitation. I have sent them off in
confusion: and now I have no church, no worshippers,—not even a song of
praise to my name. I possess universal empire, without even one single
subject to obey me. What is to be done? A thought has struck me:—I will
call on honest old Abram.”

And here let me remind the reader, that the Bible clearly represents the
Jewish God as being as changeable in his disposition and mode of acting
as mortals. Like man, he is sometimes in a state of inaction, towards
the fate of his offspring: at other times, he arouses from this torpor,
and is the most sensitive and active. Sometimes he appears to repent of
some failure in the calculations he has made concerning his creatures;
attempts to rectify the error, and again blunders. He at one time says:
“_fury is not in me,_” then again he is all fury. No truth is more
striking than this,—that the Jehovah of the Bible is not, cannot be, the
universal governor of the universe, but merely a creature of the
imagination, whose power is confined, having no existence without the
covers of the Bible.

But to return to Abram:—Jehovah either goes to him, or sends to him
delegates, to acquaint him of the choice he is about to make of “_Abram
and his seed forever._” This is but the beginning of a new experiment on
the human race. And here does it not plainly appear, that Jehovah’s mode
of acting, in this case, is unworthy of the governor of the world? Does
it not prove his total disregard for the welfare of the rest of mankind?
Good heavens! the believers, one and all, of such absurdities, have ever
been, and are still insane.

These heavenly visiters find Abram and Sarah living comfortably in their
tent, watching flocks and herds. They (the angels) are treated with the
hospitality common in pastoral life. They have their feet washed; they
are invited to dine on the best; the calf is immediately killed; and
Sarah, was not slow on her part, in the cooking department, from which,
one might be induced to think, that over the door of the tent was
written: “Dinners Dressed at the Shortest Notice.”—Soon after being
seated, the messengers make known their errand; Abram was much pleased;
Sarah laughed outright. The promise was now ratified that had before
been made to Abram, that _his seed should be as the sand of the sea in
number,_ for that Sarah should have _a son in her old age_. This, to say
the least of it, was good pay for a good dinner.

Here, then, the reader will please to notice, was the final settlement
as it regards the Jews being the chosen people of God. And here the
following ceremony took place:—Three men, angels, or messengers, came
from Heaven; they had their feet washed, agreeably to eastern custom;
they sat down and did eat, and we may suppose did also drink with Abram
and Sarah; one of the three was called the Lord.

I have here strictly adhered to the Bible history of this surprising
account; and if it be not literally true, the choice of the Jews, and
also the whole of the Jewish and Christian theology, falls prostrate.
The account winds up with the departure of the angels to Sodom; where,
after having dined with Abram, they took supper with Lot. The day
following, Sodom was burnt by fire from Heaven; Lot’s wife (by way of
making the most of her) was turned into a _pillar of salt_, because she
looked back on her old habitation. What became of the angels, Heaven
only knows!

But to return to the Jews, as a nation. For what purpose were they
chosen? It could not be to establish and support the only true religion
on earth, whereby they became the constant and obedient servants of the
Most High, because they continued to rebel against Jehovah; and in spite
of all his commands to the contrary, to worship other gods, which
conduct provoked the Lord to anger, and the most dreadful punishment
followed for their disobedience. They were not chosen to convert other
nations to the faith and worship of the God of Israel, because they were
ordered to take the property and destroy the inhabitants of towns and
cities, with whom they had not the most distant quarrel. Once more,—Were
they chosen for the purpose that Jehovah should be their God, and that
they should be his people? No, because they, time after time, rejected
his authority as their God, and worshipped strange gods, unknown to
their fathers; for which He sent “prophets and holy men” to remonstrate
with them. But they killed the prophets; and, as a nation, never were
for any length of time converted to, nor obeyed, the _God of Israel._

It was promised to Abram, “_In thee and in thy seed shall all the
nations of the earth be blessed.” When and how_ have the nations ever
been blessed? As for the poor Jews, no curse ever fell so heavy on
mortals as fell on them, in consequence of their considering themselves
God’s chosen people, and other nations treating them as such. For
eighteen hundred years, Christians have plundered and murdered them,
because they have faithfully worshipped (since He cast them off) the God
of their fathers, against whom (when under his protection) they
continued to rebel.

The Jews are a strange people. Strange and hard has been their fate; and
it can be easily accounted for, from their being originally cheated into
the fact that they were _God’s chosen people_ to the exclusion of the
rest of the human race. Christians ask how it could have been possible
for Moses or any other person to induce them to believe that they were
so chosen, when miracles and wonders were performed in their behalf, if
no such things did in reality take place? The answer is easy:—Christians
suppose that the books of the Old Testament were written at the time the
generation lived, before whose eyes those wonders were performed. This
is a fatal mistake. Those miracles and wonders, no doubt, were
ante-dated, and brought forward to the Jews in after times, as proofs of
what Jehovah had done for their forefathers; for it clearly appears from
the internal evidence of Jewish history, that the five books said to
have been written by Moses, were not known to the Jews, as a nation,
till after the reigns of David, Solomon, and many others. At what time
the five books were first made known to the descendants of Abram, is not
ascertained; but, whenever it was, they contained the history of the
Abrahamic family, including all the miracles and wonders performed by
Jehovah in their behalf.

It is easy to perceive, how the Jews might be brought to believe all
that was written concerning God’s choice of them, as his peculiar
people. An ambitious leader and legislator could, without much
difficulty, soon establish them firmly in the conviction that they were
Jehovah’s chosen people. It would flatter their vanity; and the
credulity of the human mind is such, even now, that we need not wonder
that the Jews, as a nation, gave credence to the tales of former times
concerning their being the especial favorites of Jehovah. The Jews,
then, no doubt were cheated into the firm conviction (by their early
leaders) that _they_, of all people on earth, were the chosen of Heaven.
This will account for their keeping themselves as a separate people—the
heaviest curse that could befal them, and which remains on them till
this day.

According to the Bible, the dealings of Jehovah towards mankind in
general, and of the Jews in particular, will bear out the following
remarks:—That, after the confusion of tongues at Babel, and the
descendants of Noah were dispersed abroad on the earth, the Bible God
forsook the earth for some hundred years. He had no worshippers on
earth. He then descends and selects one family to be called after his
name. From that moment, Jehovah appears to direct his whole attention to
the family concerns of his new choice. Troubles come on in quick
succession; Abram’s domestic jars claim his attention and
superintendence. Sarah and her maid servant quarrel; the maid is turned
out of doors, about a child who claimed Sarah’s husband as its father.

The Lord interfered and matters were made up. But soon another
misunderstanding arose between Sarah and Hagar about the child who had
ill-behaved himself towards Abram’s wife. Sarah became enraged, and got
the better of the Lord; and Abram and she drove Hagar and her son out of
the house for good and all. The Lord again made the best of the matter
by sending an angel who took charge of Hagar’s son; and Abram and Sarah
lived happy, and directed all their attention to little Isaac.

To return to the Jews, as a nation. Did they answer the end for which
they were chosen? Most undoubtedly they did. For, as “known unto the
Lord are all his works from the beginning” whatever his dealings were
towards them, in punishing them for their rebellion and disobedience,
and whatever suffering they endured in consequence of their departure
from his commands, are included in his choice; and are the ends for
which they were chosen. Here, then, we have arrived at the ends for
which they were selected,—he knowing that they would continue to
transgress, and also that such transgression would call forth his anger;
and that punishment would follow from their disobedience. These are the
only ends that we can discover by their being chosen, and these ends
were fully answered.

And as Jehovah is represented as acting the same as men act under
similar circumstances, the following remarks are in accordance with his
dealings with the people of his choice, namely: that after Jehovah had
driven the inhabitants of Babel abroad on the face of the earth, and not
having any church or worshippers in the world, he became weary of this
state of inaction, and, sighing for something to do, he chose the
descendants of Abram for his future operations on the earth. And from
that moment, the Jews required all his attention; his anger was always
raging: he had no repose whatever.

In the course of his watching over them, he occasionally stirred up the
heathen against them, and suffered them to become bondmen and slaves.
Then, again, they had arms put into their hands, and he marched out in
aid of their victories; and then the “Lord of Hosts was his name.” Then,
as if he had forgotten the promises made to their forefathers, he
repents of the neglect shown to them; again renews the combat and orders
them to war against nations, and _to spare neither old age nor infancy_.
So that, by turns, hating them and showing them no mercy; then again,
repenting of his severe conduct towards them, proclaiming to the world
that the Lord of Hosts or battle is his name,—the Bible account of
Jehovah confirms us, in concluding, that, he chose the family of Abram
for no other purpose than to disturb and brutalize the rest of the
world.

The Jews, and their God, seem to be objects of pity and contempt. Pity
for the poor Jews, for their unfortunate fate; and as for Jehovah, if
the Bible be true, from the moment he adopted them as his favorites, he
became subject to rage, furious anger, grief, repenting of the choice he
had made; and finally casting them off. These, then, are some of the
glorious ends for which they were chosen. To conclude—Of all the
impositions that ever have been palmed on the inhabitants of the earth,
destructive of “peace on earth and good will towards men” that of the
Jews being God’s chosen people, is one of the greatest; the Jehovah of
the Bible, being nothing but an imaginary God, to cheat the World into
the faith of his being the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.



THE OLD TESTAMENT



CHAPTER I. FROM THE CREATION TO THE DELUGE


FROM what has before been written, the reader is no doubt convinced,
that the writer of this work does not believe the Bible to have any
claim to divine authority; but is entirely, from beginning to end, a
collection of absurd tales, of historic facts, and of personages that
have no foundation in truth, which unfortunately, by being considered of
divine origin, has generated a train of calamities destructive to the
peace and welfare of the human race. And to account for its hav-ing
gained credit, and got such strong foothold in the world, we have only
to consider that _fable_ is the elder sister of history; that nations
have run a long career of incidents, mostly fabulous, before any
appearance of authentic history made its way in the world. What took
place in those days may be considered like things taking place in the
dark.

From such fabulous materials, then, national history always commences.
Not that the writers or authors intend to deceive and impose on
posterity; they write what they believe; what they have been told, and
what is generally credited in those days. Here, then, we discover the
Bible to be of use to us, in showing to what lamentable extent poor
mortals have sincerely erred in following the legendary tales of former
times. And now, that the bandage is removed from our eyes, let us all
use our best exertions to spread knowledge among those, who, with us,
are seeking after truth, but who have till now sought it where it is not
to be found.

The authors of the Bible, no doubt, followed in the same track as those
who are called profane writers. They wrote what had been told them by
their forefathers. Hence the miracles and wonders, credited by them, of
the most extravagant nature, that never did and never could take place;
and unfortunately, for the peace and happiness of mortals, by giving
credit to such things, they, for ages, shut up every avenue that would
otherwise have led them to the temple of truth.

To believe the account of Adam’s transgression, in connection with all
the circumstances attending it, to be a matter of fact, appears hardly
possible for any man of sane mind. Yet millions there are, who never
have had a doubt of its being literally true. Whoever first wrote it,
did so from tradition or hearsay, as this is the origin of all national
history. It is not impossible but that every nation of antiquity had a
similar commencement; because, as history did not appear till hundreds
of years after the facts related are said to have taken place, it
follows that hearsay evidence is the _best_ and _only_ evidence that can
be obtained. If this is a correct view of the strange tales related in
the Bible; then, the more strange and impossible the greater glory is
given to God, by swallowing all down, and asking no questions.

The Bible commences, as to persons, with—first, Jehovah, Adam, and Eve,
and, according to the orthodox Christians, the Devil was near at hand.
Here, then, we have before us, according to Bible history, Jehovah, God
of all, about to form or make a world, and put on it both man and beast.
This was done without consulting in any way whatever, with Adam and Eve,
who were to be placed at the head of all creation. Every circumstance
that would take place to Adam and Eve, and their posterity, throughout
all ages, was planned, approved of, and finally settled, in the mind of
Jehovah, before they had life or being.

Here we have a God knowing all that will take place; and arranging
circumstances favorable to its fulfilment. On the other hand, Adam and
Eve were ignorant of the past, the present, and also of the future. Only
notice the infinite difference between the two contracting parties. I
wish the reader to keep this in view, as it respects what is termed the
fall of our first parents. In all ages of the Christian superstition,
the fall of Adam has been urged as a justification of God’s quarrel with
the human race.

Let us examine this subject calmly. It is but justice that this should
be done; since from one hundred thousand pulpits in the different
nations of the earth, the priests never fail to praise and thank the
Lord for his goodness to the descendants of Adam. I, on the other hand,
will honestly, though feebly, advocate the cause of poor, _libelled,
condemned, priest-ridden Man_. If, before our first parents had been
called into life, they had been informed on what conditions _they_ and
their _posterity_ were to receive it, together with the final destiny of
ninety out of every hundred of their unfortunate race, they would no
doubt have exclaimed, “For humanity’s sake, let us forever sleep in the
womb of chaos!” It is the common practice from the pulpit, as also from
the writings of the orthodox Christians, to libel the human race, by
saying, that man has rebelled against God, and turned from him; when the
truth is, that in all ages and nations, man, has been seeking after the
best God he could find, and God; has always remained the great
_Unknown_, while man, in whatever state we find him, “savage, saint, or
sage,” has been endeavoring to find out God.

This has always been his misfortune. By trying to find out the absent
and unknown God, he has, in his imagination, invented and followed a
thousand foolish whims, till, losing all correct ideas of moral
rectitude, he has died of old age without arriving at the knowledge of
_whom or what_ to worship. Whereas, if he had not troubled himself at
all about his maker, and, by the aid of his reasoning powers, had come
to the just conclusion, that as he knew not how, nor where to find God,
it would follow that it was the business of his maker, and not _his_ to
instruct in the right way to worship the true God. This mode of
reasoning will be reprobated by Christians as horrid and wicked; but in
reply, it may be asked, to what amount of knowledge have they arrived by
all their seeking after him?

We now return to the Bible account of Adam and Eve’s creation. The
position that justice, strict justice, is due on the part of God towards
his new creation, must never be lost sight of in our investigations. If
any thing like trickery or injustice on his part is recorded, we,
without hesitation, denounce it as a libel on his character, and totally
unworthy of the least credit. In reviewing the Old and New Testament, as
being considered a Divine Revelation, this criterion will be always
referred to; for, if any writings purporting to be of Divine authority,
represent their author to be any thing otherwise than a God impartial
and just, such writings will, by the author of this work, be considered
entirely unworthy of the broad seal of Heaven, and as fully deserving of
being held up to human beings as false, and a flagrant imposition on the
credulity of mankind.

And here the reader is reminded, that we have now before us, in the
creation of man, a scene of the most surprising nature. A God, infinite
in wisdom, unbounded in power, about to bring into existence a race of
beings; he, on his part, possessing all knowledge of the past, the
present, and also of the future; and they, on their part, entirely
passive, not being consulted as to their organization, their wishes, or
the consequences that would result to their progeny. From such a
position, what ought we to expect, in order that the being about to be
made, might have a fair point from which to start in his untried career?
Would we not suppose that every advantage should have been given to the
party who had no voice concerning his future destiny, nor that of his
race? The smallest omission in providing for or securing his first
movements, would be fatal to his happiness, and also that of his race.

That no such precaution, on the part of the God of the Bible, was
pursued towards his new made creatures, will be fully proved by the
examination of the events recorded as having taken place in the Garden
of Eden! Whatever were the passions or the inclinations included in the
physical organization of our first parents, they had not any control
over them whatever, because of the impossibility of their being
consulted in a state of non-existence. Whatever they were then, and,
also, what was to be their future destiny, was known to Jehovah only; to
Adam and Eve, it was all unknown. This, then, was the state of the
pretended Creator and the creatures.

We will pass over the account of the six days’ creation, together with
the serpent’s deceiving Eve by the aid of what the Christians believe to
be the Devil. It deserves no comment, except, that from the account
given in the Bible, we may infer, that happy would it have been for Adam
if he had remained an old bachelor; for, in that case, Satan perhaps
would neither have scraped acquaintance with the serpent, nor ever
thought of lurking about the garden. But the source of all human
misfortune, according to the Old and New Testaments, is included in
Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit. We may ask, why was one tree forbidden
among so many? Certainly as a trap, set to catch the inexperienced,
virtuous, and harmless Eve. What humbug! to make such a fuss about
Adam’s being alone, without a help-mate; and: at the very time the rib
operation was going on, Jehovah, stood by, and knew whatever he might
say, that the woman, on leaving her ribship, would damn all that he had
declared to be good. Can we, dare we, charge the Governor of the
Universe with such trickery? It must never be lost sight of, that the
very prohibition of one tree, would be certain, in their state of
ignorance, to produce the consequence that followed: viz., to induce
Eve, from curiosity, to partake of it. Is it any thing short of insanity
to suppose that such dreadful consequences would follow so trifling an
offence?

This forbidden tree had something in it, that, to us, seems very
strange. It was to impart knowledge; and as the fruit was inviting to
the eye, and a desire existing to obtain knowledge, Eve fell a victim to
her unfortunate curiosity. Nor was this all. Until Eve ate thereof, it
appears that the happy couple did not perceive their want of clothing.
Instantly they set to work to repair this first mishap, by sewing leaves
together to make aprons. But in this stage of the business, the Lord
seems to have some compassion left, for he, “_the Lord, made coats of
skins and clothed them_”—poor Adam and Eve being ignorant of the
strength and durability of leaf aprons. We may suppose the Lord as
thinking or saying to Adam,—“Why, this will never do; you must have
something more lasting, or else, by every wind that blows, you will be
no more than a bundle of tattered rags.” Soon, therefore, by the Lord’s
assistance, poor Adam and Eve jumped into a new suit of clothes! And, to
make sure of man’s destruction, by taking that which was forbidden, the
serpent was permitted to point out the advantages that would follow; so
that the appearance of the fruit, and the desire to get knowledge, urged
on by the serpent, together with Eve’s ignorance that any thing like
lying existed in the Garden of Eden, the disobedience of our first
parents was, by ninety-nine chances out of a hundred, secured, and the
damnation of their posterity made sure.

Now, to ascribe such conduct to God, such barefaced design to quarrel
with his new creation, is horrid in the extreme, and would disgrace (bad
as it is said he is) the very Devil himself. And if the account is not
true, if the facts, as recorded, did not take place, but are altogether
to be considered as an allegory, then it follows, that human redemption
is an allegory, also; and the whole fabric of the Jewish and Christian
religion falls to the ground.

In dismissing this father of humbugs, (the fall of our first parents,)
which ended in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise, by way of
consolation, we may in justice say, “Farewell, Adam and Eve; you have
had but a rough beginning. God and the Devil have both conspired to make
you unhappy, But never mind, do your best; comfort and console each
other; the whole world is before you. This garden trade has proved a
failure altogether. If you can but procure a spade, a hoe, and shovel,
you will in time get on; and, as your present misfortune originated from
that unforeseen quarrel in the garden, live in peace, and share equally
in your troubles, and also in your prosperity. Things are not so bad,
after all; and if Adam’s wound in the side is not yet entirely healed,
it is your duty, Eve, as a good wife, to pay particular attention to it.
It is for your interest, also; for if Jehovah should, be again offended
with you, as in the garden, and take from Adam the opposite rib from
which you sprang, and of it make a second Eve, the serpent would pay
another visit to mar your happiness, and your troubles would have no
end.”

What kind of religion there was, if any, in those days, we know not; but
Cain and Abel, Adam’s sons, appear to have been worshippers of Jehovah,
notwithstanding the expulsion of their parents from Paradise. We have it
recorded that, in the course of their worship, Cain’s offering was of
the “fruits of the earth,” and Abel’s was “a lamb with the fat thereof.”
Cain’s offering had no respect paid to it; but, on the other hand,
Abel’s offering was respected. The reason why the one was rejected and
the other accepted, we have no means of knowing; at any rate, Jehovah
knew that murder would follow as a consequence. Here, then, we have an
account of the _first religious quarrel_, and the murderous spirit that
was connected with it. And history confirms this truth, that the same
murderous spirit has always, more or less, shown itself in all religious
disputes; but more dreadful and furious in the Jewish and Christian
religions than in any others. From Cain, the first religious murderer,
to the present day, intolerance and blood appear to have stained the
pages of Jewish and Christian history. And now, that those days of
persecution have passed away, let us do all in our power to prevent
their recurrence.

Following the history of the antediluvians, in Genesis, chap. vi., we
are not a little surprised to find a new race of, beings on earth. We
find, that after “_men began to multiply an the face of the earthy and
daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of
men, that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they
chose, and they bare children unto them; the same became mighty men,
which were of old men of renown_.” Here we may ask, is it possible to
believe in the truth of this account? But for its being recorded in the
Bible, no person, having one grain of common sense, would for a moment
give it the least credit. But its truth rests on the same authority as
the fall of our first parents, and no doubt is equally true. We are
told, by Christ, that in heaven, they “_neither marry nor are given in
marriage_”; but here it seems that the sons of God were tired of their
restraint, and broke loose, and came a wooing the pretty young girls of
those days: and, from the account, the courtship was short; for they
took to them, wives of all that they chose. Good heavens! how the young
men of those days must have stared to see the young ladies So pliable!
If, in those days, “bustles” were not worn by the girls, the sons of God
soon put them, one and all, in a bustle. Wonder how those gentlemen were
dressed, that the women became so soon captivated! If, in the course of
their negociations, some girl, more thoughtful than the rest, had asked
her strange lover what employment he intended to follow, he would have
been stuck fast to have given an answer. After all, if this account is
to be considered true, heaven is not in so happy a state as is
represented; for the sons of God became uneasy in their confinement, and
preferred a love frolic to Gabriel’s evening song. As heaven is
considered to have the most enchanting music, perhaps the new visiters
brought with them their instruments, and began their courtship by a
heavenly jig. It does not appear that Jehovah exhibited any displeasure
on account of the sons of God leaving the blessed abodes and marrying
the daughters of men. For aught we know, it was an experiment to improve
the antediluvian race.

But leaving this point for ministers of the gospel to settle, it seems
as if their progeny were a jolly set of fellows, and became “_men of
renown._” Taking, then, a review of the world from its creation until it
was destroyed by the deluge, we discover, that if the facts recorded are
true, and did really take place, it was one continued chapter of
blunders. First, Adam is made and set to work. It is next discovered
that he requires a partner; but, behold! no materials are left with
which to make one. Adam is then laid up in dock; taken to pieces like an
old steamboat; one of his timbers removed, and a woman appears. Things
go on well, but only for a short time. Eve soon longs for fruit; she
takes it; then, lo, and wonder! she and her husband discover, and for
the first time feel, a sense of decency. They set to work to make
aprons; this is but lost labor. The Lord, it appears by the account, was
not in the garden, but on returning, found his servants partly clothed.
He informs them of their error; sets to work and protects them from wind
and weather. To be sure, they were not turned out naked; the very ground
was cursed for their bad conduct, and thorns and thistles would spring
up to annoy them. Whether the Garden of Eden was given up altogether, or
another gardener employed to keep it, we have no account.

This, at any rate, was paying dear for an apple, or peach. We find,
however, that our first parents did not despair; for they soon raised a
family. If this expulsion did actually take place, to talk of family
troubles is nothing, compared to this unfortunate couple. For one single
fault, to be driven as outcasts from their only known home, to wander
they did not know where, without experience or capital to begin with! Of
all the houseless wanderers, their lot seems to be the most piteous to
behold.

Again, whether “the sons of God” Were permitted to descend and marry the
daughters of men by way of improving the race, we know not. If
improvement was Jehovah’s object in this strange union, another failure,
equal to former ones, was the result. The antediluvians, one and all,
were so wicked, that “the Lord repented that he had made man on the
earth; and it grieved him at his heart.” One exception only, in the
family of Noah; to whom Jehovah immediately communicated his
determination to _destroy man and beast by a flood_—Noah’s family only
excepted.

To conclude this chapter, a few remarks will suffice.—If the foregoing
account of the creation is maintained to be truly the work of Infinite
Wisdom and Power, what a picture presents itself to the mind of a
sensible and reasonable man! Can it be possible for such an one to
believe it? His mind must reject it as the most barefaced falsehood that
ever could be proposed to human credence; as impossible to be true, and
equally impossible to be credited by any person having the least claim
on common sense. And yet, in this crazy world, to give credit to it, is
to be respectable; but to deny its truth, is to be infamous, and an
object of Christian horror, unworthy to live in this world, and sure of
damnation in the next. No man living can get over this certain
conclusion, that if the Governor of the Universe did act towards Adam
and Eve, together with the rest of the antediluvians, as is recorded in
the Bible, he made them for no other apparent end than to quarrel with
them, so as to have a pretence to punish and torment creatures who had
no power to resist. And can such a Being be the object of love and
adoration? The Devil himself is not painted in colors half so black.

But enough has been said on this subject. We turn from it in disgust,
and boldly say to all the world, that no such God ever did, nor does now
exist; nor did the facts recorded in the Bible, of Adam’s fall, _ever
take place._



CHAPTER II. A REVIEW OF THE DELUGE AND THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES AT THE
TOWER OF BABEL


TO destroy all mankind by drowning, because of their wickedness, seems
to us a strange reason; for, when we attentively consider it, we are
compelled to conclude that the Jewish God had banished from his moral
government the very appearance of justice. What! no compassion for the
young men and women who had been brought up under circumstances so
unfavorable to virtue, from the bad example of their fathers? What! no
mercy for the thousands of infants? What! no feeling towards the youth,
from manhood through all the gradations down to helpless infancy? None.
We know that it is common for men and women to go crazy. From so strange
a perversion of justice on the part of Jehovah, it would seem that he,
at times, has his crazy fits, also. Destroy the innocent with the
guilty—allowing the innocent no chance of escape! If this were performed
by an earthly monarch, _insanity_ would be the most charitable allowance
to be made for so atrocious an act. But when ascribed to the all-wise
and powerful God, and insisted on as an article of faith, such doctrines
are only fit for madmen to preach and idiots to hear. Christians little
think to what extent they blaspheme the God whom they profess to adore.

Let us bring this horrid scene nearer to our eyes:—thousands and tens of
thousands of children from six years old and up to the age of maturity,
of both sexes, imploring for mercy, cut off in the midst of enjoyment,
for crimes over which they had no control, and which their tender age
precluded them from committing: yet to them the door of mercy was
forever closed. A raging Almighty God commanding Noah to proceed, that
his vengeance might be satisfied! Only look at such a picture, so
faintly drawn; for if the deluge did really take place, this portrait
bears but a small resemblance to a scene too dreadful for the
contemplation of man, and, Oh! heavens! too unjust and cruel to ascribe
to a God. To drown the whole of the human race by a flood, is one of the
most dreadful visitations of vengeance that cruelty could execute. In
it, we discover nothing to defend. The mind shrinks back with horror at
the bare recital. It is one among hundreds of such acts recorded as
being performed by the Lord.

Turn to what part of the history you will, where the Jewish God is about
to do something, or to interfere in any way in human affairs, the
conduct ascribed to him, either in punishment or granting favor, you
will find to be always contrary to justice and reason. If justice be the
theme, it will end in cruelty. If to show favor, it will be sure to be
ill directed and allied to favoritism. Among men, justice is the
foundation of correct moral principles. On the contrary, the Bible God
acts as if influenced by fury and almighty rage; soon, very soon, angry;
very hard to please; punishing and destroying his creatures, as if pain
were a good instead of an evil, and man died without a groan. It is not
possible to calculate the amount of evil that has taken place on the
earth, in consequence of Christians taking for their example the conduct
of their God. Let us mark the difference between any misfortune that may
befall the human race in the course of events, and the same evil
inflicted by the Lord. In the former case, man will sympathize with his
unfortunate fellow man; in the latter, however, it _appears_ cruel and
unjust. “It is just, yes, and also merciful,” says the Christian, “for
God to destroy the innocent descend-, ants of his enemies, because he
has a right to do whatever he pleases with his own.”

This mode of reasoning, the believers in the divinity of the Bible
resort to, in order to shield Jehovah from the attacks of Infidels, for
bringing on the deluge; and the same mode is followed throughout, to
justify the Lord in all his warlike movements against the nations doomed
to die by the hands of his chosen people. Can we, then, wonder that both
Jews and Christians, believing in, and worshipping, a God whose acts are
so revolting to every idea of justice and humanity,—can we, ought we, to
be surprised that they have drank so deeply of that spirit of cruelty,
injustice, and intolerance, that is recorded concerning the dealings of
Jehovah with his creatures, in involving in one common ruin the innocent
with the guilty? For it is from the horrible character given of the
Lord, that both Jews and Christians have in all ages drawn in, as by a
kind of inspiration, the same spirit of cruelty and proscription, in
imitation of their God.

It is in vain that Christians assert, that the persecution that has
attended the progress of Christianity, in all ages, is but the abuse of
it No; it has been the _thing itself_. The moral precepts of the New
Testament (and many of them are excellent) have never been strong enough
to deter men from putting each other to death on account of their
difference of faith. Cruel Calvin, with the New Testament before his
eyes, and that saying staring him in the face, “_He that hateth his
brother is a murderer_,”—with this before his eyes, he caused the
unfortunate Servetus to be burnt by a slow fire, so completely had the
doctrines of the Bible destroyed in him all compassion.

To show what baneful influence the doctrines of the Bible have had upon
men eminent for their wisdom, justice, and humanity, the following
authentic account will fully prove:—In the year 1664, two old women were
hanged upon a charge of witchcraft, having been tried by a Jury before
three learned Judges, at the head of whom was Sir Matthew Hale, who
passed the dreadful sentence of the law, as it then stood, which was put
into execution in about two weeks afterwards. A more upright, honest,
wise, and humane Judge never sat in a court of justice; and yet, behold!
he condemned and caused two poor, ignorant, and defenceless old women to
be hanged for a crime they neither did nor could commit The remarks made
to the Jury, by Sir Matthew, in substance were the following:—“Gentlemen
of the Jury, you have nothing to do in inquiring whether the crime of
witchcraft can be committed; the Bible has settled that subject,—but,
whether the evidence you have heard is proof that the prisoners are
guilty of the charges brought against them,”—which charges were,
killing, their neighbors’ children by the agency and power of the Devil,
and causing them to vomit pins and nails. Here, then, it is clear that
it was the Word of God, and not Judge Hale, that brought about the death
of those unfortunate women. Had Sir Matthew been an _Infidel_, the page
of history had never been stained by the blood of two poor helpless
beings.

Let not Christians, then, say that persecution and intolerance are the
abuses of Christianity. Its very essence is congenial with blood and
torture in all their horrid forms. The moral precepts of the Gospel
never have nor ever will so far neutralize the doctrines of the Bible,
as to guarantee the human race in trusting power in the hands of the
disciples of Jesus. They always will, according to the New Testament,
prefer the man of orthodox faith, to men in common, however virtuous.

Having shown the injustice and cruelty of drowning all the inhabitants
of the earth,—on account of the wickedness of some who ought to have
been made an example to society at large,—let us inquire, what end was
obtained by so universal a destruction? Have the human race been more
moral, and, on the whole, more virtuous, since the flood than before? If
they have not, (and that they have not, the Bible itself fully proves,)
it then follows, that no moral good resulted from their being destroyed;
and instead of the Lord’s anger being softened down, it would rage in
all its former fury. If the Lord really said to Noah, what the Bible
records, “_that it repented him that he had made man on the earthy and
it grieved him at his heart_” it is as much as to say,—“I can bear this
distracted state of mind no longer; I will try you and your family,
Noah, and ease myself of the disappointment I have endured from the
wickedness of my creation; I will have a better race on the earth which
I have made, or man shall cease to exist.”

But did a better race succeed? No; for Noah, in time, became
intemperate, and in a fit of intoxication became an object of contempt
to one of his sons, who, so far forgot his duty to his intoxicated
father, that instead of concealing his folly and shame, he exposed it.
When Noah awoke from his slumber, and discovered what had taken place,
he began most heartily to curse his son and his posterity for ages to
come, and also to prophesy evil concerning them, which prophecy,
according to the Bible, the Lord approved of and brought to pass. Here,
again, Jehovah is disappointed; that is, if he expected a moral world
better than the one he had destroyed.

Turning, then, with detestation from an account which represents the
Governor of the Universe as having drowned a world and repented he had
made it, and also of being grieved at heart, we will notice Noah’s
preparing the ark and making ready for his singular voyage. Nothing
short of repeated miracles could have completed the embarkation of Noah,
his family, and the living cargo, or freight. A miracle must have been
wrought on all those beasts, whose savage nature had made them a terror
to man, in order that they might become tame, and be conveyed to the
vicinity of the ark. Another miracle must have been in continual
operation on all those who were engaged in procuring the beasts, birds,
and reptiles, to induce them to labor without any remuneration for their
toils, but the certainty of being left to perish by the flood. A
continuation of miracles must follow on, to induce the then population
to stand quiet, up to their necks in water, and not to make an effort to
force their way into the ark before it was closed up; and also to enable
Noah and his family to attend to feeding and keeping clean their
respective cages and dens. The water, also, to drown the world, and
cover the highest hills, must be created for this express purpose, and
then reduced again into its native nothingness. For, from an accurate
calculation, it would require one hundred and eight times as much water
as is now on the face of the earth, to cover the highest mountain,
admitting its height to be no more than twenty thousand feet, and there
are mountains still higher. It would follow, therefore, that after the
flood, one hundred and eight oceans must be annihilated, there not being
room for so much water on the earth.

From what has been said concerning the flood, it is clear that no such
thing really took place, but that the whole is fabulous; because, the
deluge is said to be in consequence of the Lord’s being grieved at the
wickedness of the antediluvians. This is no reason why he should destroy
them, even admitting the possibility of the fact. His grief could not be
lessened by so doing, as men since the flood have been equally wicked as
before; and have continued so, down to the present time. If the Lord was
grieved then, and repented at having made man, he is still unhappy and
continues to repent, because the evil that caused him then to grieve and
to repent, is not removed.

The reader is requested not to lose sight of one thing that is equally
glaring both in the Old Testament and the New—that the Jehovah of the
Jews is always blundering and making mistakes; the choice he often makes
does not answer the end purposed, but falls short. Another and another
plan is pursued; still, some striking failures take place. The God of
the Bible is as unlike the Supreme Power that governs the material
universe, as the swarthy African is unlike the fair complexion of the
temperate zone.

As the main object of this work is to prove, as clear as the nature of
argument will admit, that the Jehovah of the Jews is not the Supreme
Ruler of Nature, let us examine their respective characters. The God of
the Jews, in his acts, is governed by no correct principle of justice;
he is changeable, and subject to all the passions that, in turn, agitate
the minds of mortals. How different is the Ruler of the World, of whom
we know nothing, abstracted from the material universe! In the
government of the material world, we discover that “_order is heaven’s
first law_”; that a regular arrangement of causes and effects pervade
every department of nature. In it, there is no doing and undoing; no
derangement in the wonderful, adaptation of cause and effect, of
principles and consequences. In the laws that rule the universe, nothing
happens that has the appearance of falling short of ends intended to be
carried out; these laws depend not on the will or conduct of mortals;
but the more we are acquainted with them, the more we are compelled to
admire the wonderful wisdom and harmony of the mighty whole.

Is the kingdom of grace, or, in other words, does the Old and New
Testaments present to us a God any way similar to the power that rules
the world? The God of Nature, an expression used to convey no other
meaning than the power that mingles itself with the mighty whole,—does
this power show any thing like partiality to nations, or to sects and
parties? Do the general laws, by which the world is governed, indicate
any thing in their author of a vindictive or vengeful character. Any
thing like disappointment or regret? Does the prosperity of nations, or
of individuals, depend (abstractly considered) on whether they worship
one, or many Gods, or none at all? On the contrary, the Jehovah of the
Bible is depicted as being more unstable than mortals. Ye Jews and
Christians! in vain do you vindicate the character and conduct of your
God towards the human race, by saying that “he ought to do what he
pleases with his own.” The conduct of the most cruel and unjust tyrant
that ever lived can with more truth and propriety be exonerated than
your God; because a tyrant, however wicked and cruel, may have to
contend with those who are capable of doing him an injury, and
self-defence on his part may form some excuse for his actions. A tyrant
may have to come in contact with others, his equals in power and
physical force. But the Christian God is above any personal injury; he
has no rivals; possessing all power, all knowledge, nothing can take
place by him unforeseen. If mortals, by their conduct, call forth his
anger, he chooses to be angry. The human race did not ask for existence;
he alone was the projector. If mortals, in the course of their career
through life, (as foreseen by him) deserve punishment, he felt happy in
punishing them. Ye ministers! prate, then, no longer against the
“*unblushing Infidel*”; for, as you maintain that the God of the Bible
is the author of the universe, we leave you to blush at the horrible
character you portray of him whom you hypocritically call a God of love!
Oh! heavens! what dreadful consequences have resulted from the Jehovah
of the Jews being worshipped as the author of nature! The worshippers of
such a God have in all ages partaken, more or less, of his character for
cruelty, injustice, and intolerance; and under this banner “whole armies
have marched forth to glut the earth with blood.”

Viewing, then, the Bible account of the deluge, in which the innocent
were destroyed with the sinner, as but a fabulous tale, had I a voice
loud enough to make all mankind hear, I would boldly and fearlessly
proclaim it a falsehood, disgraceful to God, and too foolish to obtain
credit in the present age.



CHAPTER III. FROM THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES TO THE BIRTH OF MOSES


THE object to be accomplished in this chapter is, to show, from the
Bible history itself, the folly and absurdity of admitting the Jehovah
of the Bible to be the Supreme Ruler of the Universe; for, after
destroying every thing that had life, by the flood, Jehovah, somewhat
like a conquering hero, returns to heaven. The war with the human race
being over, Divine vengeance is satisfied. No religious worship, that we
read of, was then known on the earth. But, behold! a new outbreak
occurs, that requires the immediate interference of the God of Israel.

In Genesis, chapter xi., it is recorded, that the then inhabitants of
the earth began to build a tower, the top of which was to reach the
heavens, that they might make to themselves a great name, and be no more
scattered abroad on the earth. What crime it could be considered by
Jehovah, for men to unite in building a tower so lofty that the top
would reach the heavens, we know not. However ignorant the then
inhabitants of the earth were, the Lord knew that they could not annoy
him by the erection of a tower to any height they might be inclined to
raise it. The writer of the account makes it appear, that Jehovah became
uneasy at the progress the workmen were making, and at last could bear
it no longer; so he came down, as the term is, and confounded their
speech in such a manner that they could not understand each other.

Can it be possible, for men who reflect at all, to believe such glaring
nonsense? The writers of the Bible have not only made a God unjust and
vengeful, but they have put into his head such foolish whims, as, that
after having destroyed a world by a deluge, the innocent with the
guilty, he came down from heaven to scare away carpenters and
bricklayers from their honest labor; and have made him virtually to
say—“Be off! Clear out! I will not permit you to hammer away here!” The
conduct of the Bible God towards the builders of Babel, and, in fact,
the whole of the then human family, seems to be like that of an
unfeeling father, who cares not for his children, and who is also
equally indifferent as to whether the human race worshipped him, or fell
down to worship stocks or stones; for, instead of ordering them to build
an altar to the true and living God, he ordered them off, to wander
abroad on the earth, and do the best they could. And here an opportunity
was lost of insuring their conversion; since, as they were all of one
language and speech, how easy to convert the whole race at once! Now,
here we may discover a _man-made God_. Sometimes he is all jealousy for
his own name—all fury against idolatry; at other times, he seems to care
but little for the happiness of his creatures, or the honor of his name.
After having compelled the builders of Babel to quit their undertaking,
Jehovah returns back to heaven; and from the silence of Bible history,
he does not appear to have superintended human affairs at all, for
hundreds of years after. And now, ye ministers of the Gospel of grace,
what have you to say in vindication of the very existence of such a God?
The origin of your God is of man’s creation; he never had a real
existence.

After an absence of many years, having given up, to all appearance, any
interest in human affairs, Jehovah turns his attention to Abram and his
family, and adopts them as his chosen people. And from this account, we
clearly discover the absurdity of believing the God of Abram to be the
universal sovereign; for, from the moment of the adoption of Abram and
his seed forever, from that very moment the family affairs of Abram,
Isaac and Jacob, seem to engross the attention of Jehovah; and, while I
am writing, I blush for shame at the credulity of mankind in professing
to believe such contemptible trash. What can be more weak and ridiculous
than to suppose that the Lord and two angels came to the tent of Abram,
and went through all the ceremonies of a pastoral visit,—such as washing
of feet and taking water until dinner was prepared, and that while
partaking of Abram’s hospitality, they inquired for his wife, and then
renewed what before had been promised, namely—that Sarah, Abram’s wife,
should have a son in her old age?

One remarkable feature, throughout the whole of the Bible, presents
itself. It is this: that in every movement Jehovah makes among his
favorite people the Jews, and in all the correspondence he holds with
Abram and his seed, every thing is done by way of experiment on that
people; as if Jehovah did not know what would happen until he had gained
information by _actual experiment!_ In the case of the builders of the
Tower of Babel, it is said—“_And the Lord came down to see the city, and
the tower which the children of men builded._” And again—"_Go to, let us
go down, and there confound their language_.” And also, in the case of
Sodom, the Lord told Abram concerning the cry of the wickedness of the
inhabitants of Sodom. The Lord said to Abram—"_I will go down now, and
see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which
is come unto me; if not, I will know._”—[Genesis xviii. 21.] Abram,
having heard of the intended destruction of the Sodomites, remonstrates
with Jehovah on the injustice of destroying the innocent with the
guilty. Then follows the pleading of Abram with the Lord, in favor of
Sodom; and from the willingness of the Lord to comply with the request
of Abram,—if the old patriarch had had the moral courage to have gone on
with one more request,—Sodom might have been saved. The personage who
communed with Abram is, by the inspired writer, called the “_Judge of
all the earth_.” The same who had that day dined with Abram, and to whom
Abram said, “_Behold, now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord,
which am but dust and ashes_”!

And now, patient reader, what have Christians to believe in reference to
this matter? Why, they must believe that the great immortal God came to
the earth from his Unknown abode, in the likeness of _man_, in company
with two angels; that he called on Abram, who was surrounded by his
flocks and herds, dwelling in a tent, perhaps inferior to our Indian
log-houses; that he, the Judge of all the earth, with two of his angels,
were (according to eastern hospitality) presented with water to drink,
and also, water to wash their feet—a practice most refreshing in a warm
climate. An invitation was given them to dine, which they accepted and
so particular is the narrative, that, what they had for dinner is
mentioned: the calf was instantly slain, and the baking commenced.

And here we may inquire, whether or not this circumstance did really
take place, as it is recorded? If it did, then the believers in the
Bible, as a Divine Revelation, have to believe that the Great God of
all, the Universal Ruler of the Universe, came on earth to the tent of
Abram, in the form of a man, with two of the angelic host; and that they
_then and there_ had their feet washed, and sat down to a dinner of veal
and griddle cakes, and did eat thereof, and drink water. Now, if Moses,
or any other pretended inspired writer, wrote this, I ask, is not the
God of Abram a _man-made God?_ He is said to have feet that required
washing, and an appetite that required food. He had a mouth, teeth, and
also a stomach to receive food; and we may infer that he had hands, for
it is not recorded that Abram cut his victuals, or fed him or the angels
with a spoon.

If the believers of the Bible consider that the foregoing account is
allegorical, and not to be considered as having really taken place, it
then follows that human redemption is allegorical, also; for the promise
made to Abram was, that _In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations
of the earth be blessed_. This promise included the mission of Jesus,
who was to save his people from their sins, and also to _heal the
nations, and to bring in everlasting righteousness_. Christians, then,
if they believe the Bible to be a Divine Revelation, must believe that
the Judge of the whole earth, while at dinner, in promising Abram a son,
included also, in that promise, the mission of Jesus, _the Saviour of
the world._

And here we may notice the views that Abram had of the Supreme Judge of
all. As he appeared to Abram in the form of a man, and as such was
treated by him, Abram brought forth water to wash the feet of the Lord,
and invited him to dine, which he did; which is proof positive that
Abram considered that the Lord was in the habit of taking refreshment,
such as eating and drinking, or he would never have thought of giving
the Lord such an invitation. If this account be true, the New Testament
must be false, when it declares that _no man hath seen God at any time,
and that none can see him and live_. But of Abram it is written, that he
saw the Lord, face to face, and also that they dined together; and, as
if to remove all doubt of its truth, it mentions what they dined on,
namely—veal and cakes. It therefore follows, that the account, as
recorded of the Lord’s dining with Abram, must be taken in its plain and
literal sense; because it is connected with the destruction of Sodom and
Gomorrah, and also of Lot’s wife being turned _into a pillar of salt_;
which account is referred to as having taken place, by the writers of
the New Testament. After the Lord and the two angels had retired from
dinner, the Lord informed Abram of his errand to the above cities; which
was, to find out whether their ill-fated inhabitants were as wicked as
they had been reported; as he (the Lord) was determined to know. It was
then that Abram began to plead with the Lord, and to show the injustice
of destroying the innocent with the guilty, as from the nature of the
crime for which the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed,
all the women and children were innocent. Abram, therefore, saw
immediately the horrid cruelty and injustice of such destruction as was
about to overtake the unfortunate inhabitants of Sodom. In the
discussion, Abram had the best of the argument, but his efforts were
unavailing. Fire came down from heaven, and they were burnt alive,
innocent and guilty together.

From the account it appears, that after the Lord parted with Abram, he
also took his leave of the angels; and what became of the Lord, the
Bible is silent; but the angels, after having dined with Abram, took
supper with Lot. This Lot seems to be the only man in Sodom that was
worth saving; and he certainly acted very strange: for when his townsmen
insisted on knowing who the angels were, and on what business they came,
Lot offered to turn into the street his two innocent daughters, to be
dealt with according to the wishes of those vile wretches, if they would
but permit him to lodge and entertain the strangers. Certainly, the
morality of the Bible is most sublime, and the ways of the Jewish God
_past finding out!_

The case of Lot’s wife is, to all appearance, very strange. Her crime of
looking back, would appear to us much less than that of her husband’s in
turning his daughters into the street. The history of Lot winds up with
a strange account, and not very favorable to strict morality, namely—the
project of his daughters in making him drunk, and the disgusting
consequences that followed. Thus, it is clear, that Lot’s wife (bless
the good old woman!) was the best, in a moral point of view, in the
whole family; and only for looking back on her beloved home, she was
treated like a dead sow, by being put into pickle. To conclude this
tirade of nonsense and folly, we will add—“_remember Lot’s wife_.”

It appears from Bible history, that when Abram left his own country, he
was any thing but rich; and as his substance consisted in a few heads of
cattle, a famine soon overtook him as he journeyed, which induced him to
go down into Egypt, the then granary of the earth. To prevent any
unpleasant consequences that might result to Abram, because of the
beauty of Sarah, his wife, she was instructed to call her husband her
brother. It turned out as was expected, for she was recommended to
Pharaoh, and taken into the royal palace. Immediately, presents came
unto Abram in quick succession, consisting of “_sheep and oxen, and he
asses; men-servants and maidservants; and she asses and camels_.” But
the Lord, ever watchful over Abram’s affairs, troubled Pharaoh and his
house; and when Pharaoh discovered the cause of this evil, he
remonstrated with Abram for his duplicity, and returned his wife
undefiled. So kind, however, was the Lord to Abram, that the presents
were made before the cheat was discovered, and he came out of Egypt a
rich man.

This may be said to be the beginning of Abram’s good luck; and we may
suppose that in returning home to their old pasturage, Sarah would laugh
and exclaim—“See what it is to have a handsome wife!” Another famine
will make brother Abram and sister Sarah the richest couple in pastoral
life.

In the course of events, Abram and Sarah had recourse again to the same
trick, on Abimelech, King of Gerar, which had been acted with so much
success in Egypt. Sarah, on account of her beauty, _at ninety years of
age_, was taken by the King; but the Lord, ever the guardian of Sarah’s
virtue, came to Abimelech in a dream, and threatened him and all his
house with death, if Sarah was not given up to her lawful husband. The
King remonstrated with the Lord, and justified his conduct by declaring,
that both Abram and Sarah had deceived him; and said—“_In the integrity
of my hearty and innocency of hands, have I done this._” The Lord
replied—“_I know that you did it innocently, for I withheld thee from,
sinning against me; therefore, suffered I thee not to touch her._”
Again, as before, presents of cattle, men-servants, and maid-servants,
with a thousand pieces of silver into the bargain, were given to Abram,
with his wife, who is as chaste as morning dew.

I have dwelt longer on this account than I at first intended, merely to
show the folly in believing that the Almighty Lord of all had any
concern in such contemptible fooleries as are recorded in the family
concerns of Abram. One thing, however, is omitted; and that is, the
quarrel between Sarah and Hagar. The tent or house became too hot to
hold those rival women; at last, Sarah triumphed by turning out Hagar
and her love-begotten child, which demanded the Lord’s interference, and
gave poor Abram no small share of trouble.

From the moment that Jehovah adopted the family of Abram, the Bible
account warrants us in supposing that the family concerns of that
patriarch particularly engaged the attention of Jehovah; since, for
every trifling concern that took place, the Lord was applied to in order
to settle the matter. Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau, when about
to become a mother, applied to the Lord for information respecting her
singular situation; and the Lord informed her that she would be the
mother of two celebrated nations, and satisfied her mind as to every
other inquiry she made. And here we may ask, how it was that the Lord,
in those days, was so easy of access? How every gossipping old woman
could lay her case before the Lord, and wait his advice and answer? The
reply is at hand. The whole account of the Lord’s saying unto Abram, or
the Lord’s saying unto Moses, and again, “_the word of the Lord came
unto Moses, saying,”_ is all humbug: no such word ever came; no such
conversation ever took place.

Whoever wrote the Book of Genesis, has placed Jehovah in an immoral
point of view; as keeping company with unprincipled knaves, and as
acting without any regard to the strict rules of justice and mercy; as
having a system of favoritism, which does not admit of administering
impartial justice. The case of Jacob and Esau is directly opposed to
truth and impartiality. Esau was, in a moral point of view, evidently
the best of the two; but Jacob was Jehovah’s choice. Esau, according to
Bible history, was a hardy, industrious, and generous man. Jacob, on the
other hand, was his mother’s pet; and the deception which he and his
mother played on old Isaac, who was blind, is in strict accordance with
the conduct of all the Lord’s favorites. Jacob, according to Bible
history, was, through his whole life, full of deception and trickery. He
could lie and take a false oath to deceive his blind father; and by
deceit, deprive his brother Esau of his lawful right of inheritance. And
yet the Lord was with him, and connived at all his baseness!

But Jacob, conscious of his wickedness, and justly deserving his
brother’s resentment, fled to his uncle for protection. On his way, the
Lord appeared to him in visions; and, notwithstanding his lying and
false swearing to his father, promised him divine assistance. Jacob
still acted in the same crafty manner, even with the Lord himself;
always having his own self-interest in view; for, after the Lord had
said, Genesis xxvii., 15, “_And behold, I am with thee, and will keep
thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into
this land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have
spoken to thee of_”—even after this promise from the Lord, in verse 20
it is said—“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, if God will be with me, and
will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and
raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace,
*then shall the Lord be my God*.”

Well done, Jacob! that is making a good Jew bargain. Jehovah and Jacob
both kept their word; for Jacob married his two cousins, the daughters
of his uncle Laban, and staid with him until he, by the help of the
Lord, contrived to jockey old Laban out of the best of his cattle, and
ran away back to his own father’s house, taking with him, by stealth,
the gods of Laban his father. Thus did Jacob not only triumph over the
heathen gods, by carrying them off captive, but continued to adhere to
Jehovah, his own God, who did not desert him in his recreant tricks. It
is not to be wondered that the sons of Jacob should be so base in their
actions, after the example of their father; and considering what a mixed
breed they were, having so many mothers. Their conduct towards their
brother Joseph is a sample of their actions; and although Bible history
records the good fortune of Joseph, he, among the rest of his brethren,
acted the tyrant as soon as power would permit him so to do.

This chapter will conclude with a few remarks on the life of Joseph, and
his career in Egypt. The fame and good fortune of Joseph, depended on
his gift of interpreting _dreams_, which finally made him, under
Pharaoh, _Lord of the land_; and according to his predictions, _seven
years of famine were to succeed seven years of plenty_; by which, Joseph
planned the entire subjugation of Egypt. He, by the authority of
Pharaoh, bought up all the grain left of the seven years’ plenty; and
when the famine came, the grain was sold to the inhabitants at the price
that Joseph was pleased to put upon it. But the famine continued so long
that all the money was spent. The poor, half-starved people told Joseph
their situation, and offered their cattle in exchange for grain; the
cattle were taken by him; at last, all their cattle disappeared, and the
people continued in want; then, offer was made of their lands, which
Joseph also took; and with their lands, themselves; so the government
took all. But after the famine, Joseph proposed to furnish them with
seed wherewith to sow their fields, on condition that, ever after,
Pharaoh was to have one-fifth of the yearly produce. How kind of Joseph!
Now, if the Bible be true concerning this matter, I ask, could anything
be more unjust and cruel?



CHAPTER IV. FROM THE BIRTH OF MOSES TO THE DEATH OF JOSHUA


THIS chapter will put beyond dispute all connection between the Jehovah
of Moses and the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe. Whoever drew the
picture of Jehovah, as it is recorded in the Bible, made him, in every
sense of the word, a mere man; and put him under the same necessity of
re-sorting to means for obtaining information, when the subject of
inquiry is involved in doubt. For instance: Jehovah informs Abram that
the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were reported to be wicked in the
extreme; and that he (the Lord) came down to get information on that
subject. Again, when the builders of Babel were about to commence their
lofty tower, the Lord came down to see what they were doing; and, not
being pleased with their intentions, put a stop to the work, and
performed a miracle, whereby they were driven abroad on the face of the
earth. Besides, the Lord’s coming from a certain place to another place
for information, implies that, without such movement, the information
sought for could not be obtained. These instances, and hundreds of
others of the same kind, imply also that the Jewish God had a local
habitation. Again, to say that the Lord came to a place, staid there,
and then returned back again,—these are movements which are common with
men, but cannot be applied to the omnipresent God. The free access that
Moses and the Old Testament prophets had to their God will warrant the
idea that he resided next door to them, and that the Lord was obedient
to their every call.

The children of Israel, after the death of Joseph, began to multiply so
fast that the Egyptians feared for their own safety in the event of a
war with other nations; and in consequence, ordered the mid wives to
destroy all the male children, but to save the females alive. But Moses
was saved, according to the Bible, in consequence of Pharaoh’s daughter
discovering him in the river; and when he came to maturity, the Lord
selected him to go to Egypt to demand of Pharaoh, the king, to let the
Israelites go out from that state of bondage in which, for four hundred
years, they had been held.

The departure of Moses from Egypt was not very honorable for a future
ambassador; for before his departure he murdered a man, and buried him.
To escape justice, he then fled to Midian, and became acquainted with a
pagan priest, who took him into his house, and ultimately gave him one
of his daughters in marriage, and he became his father-in-law’s
shepherd; and the Lord made himself known to Moses. It was while tending
the flocks that he was chosen go to Egypt to demand the release of his
brethren, then in cruel bondage. After the Lord had given him his
instructions, and, to all appearance, Moses had started on his mission,
a remarkable circumstance took place, that must puzzle Bible
commentators to explain. It is recorded in Exodus iv., 24, “_And it came
to pass, by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him and sought to kill
him._” This meeting appears to have been accidental, for no mention is
made of the business of either of them. Here, again, we observe that the
writer, whoever he was, has spoken of the Lord as a man. It is not
possible for men of sound understandings to conceive of the reality of
the Lord’s meeting Moses at an inn, if by the Lord, We understand the
Almighty Power that governs all Worlds.

On the account as it stands recorded, and as Christians take it as
really having happened, the following remarks may reasonably be made,
namely: that after Moses had been ordered to proceed to Egypt on his
important mission, he loitered his time away in a tavern; and that the
Lord surprised him in that place, and showed anger for his contempt of
orders, given to and accepted by him. But the cause of a meeting so
extraordinary, it is difficult to unravel. It is easily conceived why
Moses might visit a tavern; but that the Lord of heaven and earth should
follow a creature into a pot-house, and show signs of anger, and a
quarrel should be the result, is very hard to believe; for it said, the
“_Lord sought to kill him_.” Again, if the Lord sought to kill him, it
must be in appearance only, for he could have done it. However, Moses
started off.

The account warrants us in supposing, that Moses had staid in the inn
long enough for his wife to overtake him, and to upbraid him with
neglect. Something is said about his son’s being uncircumcised; and
taking a sharp stone, she performed that operation with a very clumsy
instrument; after which, she exclaimed, in an angry tone, “_A bloody
husband thou art, because of the circumcision_;” as if she meant to
say—“Shame on you! to leave it to me to do that which is so revolting to
my feelings!” Moses then departed for Egypt, and obeyed the Lord in his
journey to his brethren.

We can discover neither justice nor humanity in the course that was
taken by the God of Israel, in bringing the Jews out of bondage. On the
contrary, the greatest inhumanity and injustice are discoverable in
every movement that Moses made under the authority of the Lord; which
fully proves, that Infinite Wisdom and Goodness had nothing to do in the
mighty fuss of liberating the seed of Abram from bondage. The plagues
that were inflicted on the inhabitants of Egypt, if true, make the
conduct of Jehovah more vindictive than any thing we have heard of as
proceeding from the Devil himself for the Lord had told Moses
beforehand, that he had hardened Pharaoh’s heart that the people might
know the power of the Hebrew God to afflict the nation. It might have
been sport to the man made God of Moses, but not very pleasant and
comfortable to the Egyptians, to be lousy, to be stunk to death with
putrid carcasses, having frogs for bed-mates, when the Lord had hardened
the King’s heart. But the worst and most infamous of all the judgments,
was the destruction of the first-born. This act would have disgraced the
very devil: to institute the Feast of the Passover.

We may indulge in a little mirth in reference to the destroying angel
going round the streets, finding out the doors marked with the blood of
your paschal lamb, and taking care not to wring the neck of a little
Hebrew. Wonder if the destroying angel had a lantern? But, perhaps, he
had cat’s eyes, and could see as well by night as at noon-day! No
wonder, ye Jews, that the inhabitants of Egypt so willingly gave you
their gold and silver ornaments to get rid of a people so detestable,
and, with them, a more detestable God.

In a short time after the Jews had left the house of bondage, they began
to upbraid Moses that they had changed for the worse; and in the course
of their journeying, they quarrelled with him, and the Lord had
continually to interfere, and to feed them by miracles. At Mount Sinai,
Moses halted; and, according to the command of the Lord, the law was
given to the nation, as recorded in Exodus, chapter xx. And this boasted
law is said to have been given by the Lord, in the hearing of all the
Children of Israel. The first commandment contains a spirit of
intolerance, which, whether he gave it or not, has never failed to
generate in Jews and Christians a spirit of religious persecution which
has deluged the earth with blood.

The ten commandments, given by Moses to the Children of Israel, contain,
in general, good moral precepts, with the exception of the first. The
first begins by the Lord’s speaking in a language which all the people
could understand:—“_I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out
of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no
other Gods before me._” This command, which by both Jews and Christians
is considered so just and reasonable, contains in it the germ of
intolerance. Had this command been given immediately after the recorded
fall of Adam, its influence would have had a very different bearing on
the peace and happiness of society, than it had at the time, and has had
ever since it was given. It would have been both just and right in the
Lord of all to demand of his creatures to worship him, and him alone, in
the way and manner he saw fit; since in that case, no evil consequences
could have followed from a command so just and proper, as for the
creature to obey his Creator.

But at the time the Lord gave the first commandment, the whole world
were in the practice of worshipping the gods of their forefathers: the
origin of which worship was then lost, and the worshippers were no doubt
as sincere in their devotion as the most pious Jew or Christian of the
present day. By the publication, then, of the first commandment, at a
time when every nation had its particular god, and the worshippers lived
in peace, the spirit of intolerance and religious persecution being
unknown, the great I am declared a religious war against all the gods,
and their worshippers on the face of the earth. But according to Bible
history, Jehovah permitted his creatures to wander on earth, and
appeared regardless as to what gods were worshipped; and then, after
some thousand years, he all at once began to rage against all the
religious systems then known.

But it was otherwise with what are called heathen nations. Each had its
peculiar god, and also its different forms of worship; and they lived
happily with each other on the score of theology. And here we may
observe, how unfortunate it has been for the human race, that the Lord
did not either give his law sooner, or not at all; for it is plainly to
be seen, that if the first commandment had been given by the Lord before
men had followed other gods, idolatry would have been prevented, and
Jehovah’s watchfulness over the worship he had established, would have
been productive of universal happiness. But, on the contrary, the
command being given so long after, and that, too, when religious systems
were flourishing, and temples crowded with devout worshippers, the worst
consequences have followed.

The worshippers of Jehovah, whether Jews or Christians, have, by the
Bible itself, become intolerant and persecuting; and never have they
failed, when power would admit, to destroy the enemies of their God
without mercy: so that the first commandment, by coming too late, has
proved the greatest curse that ever afflicted the human family. And
hence the folly in believing that Infinite Wisdom and Goodness would
permit false religion to progress so long before the true one was made
known to the human race. After the moral law, or the ten commandments,
had been given by the Jewish God, on the mount, amid thunder and
lightning, we have it recorded that Moses was ordered to go up to the
top of the mount, and there, with the Lord, he staid forty days and
nights; during which time Aaron, his brother, remained with the whole of
the Children of Israel in camp, at the foot of Mount Sinai.

And now, candid reader, prepare your mind for an account of what took
place on the mount, between Jehovah and Moses; and when you have read
it, and maturely reflected on what is recorded, then I say, ask yourself
whether there is one word of truth in the account of this strange
interview between Moses and his God? Compare it with any of the
absurdities to be found in the _Koran_ of Mahomet, and discover, if you
can, whether the latter is less true than the former.

The Bible record states, that Moses was ordered to ascend the mount, on
private business with the Lord, and to leave Aaron in charge of his
chosen people till his return. The account clearly states, that Moses
was then and there to receive instruction how to fit up and ornament the
Tabernacle that was to accompany the Children of Israel in their journey
to the promised land. And here we may notice, “_That in six days the
Lord made heaven and earth, and all things therein_”; yet it required
forty days to plan and fit up this moveable church; and before it was
finished, the chosen people, with Aaron at their head, became idolators;
so that before the Lord and Moses (both hard at work) had completed the
church, they lost the congregation. This, to make the best of it, was a
dreadful blunder.

After the forty days had run out, during which time Moses and his God
were hard at work, and Moses had often received the precaution, “_See
that you make all things according to the pattern given on the
mount,_”—all at once, the Lord said to Moses, “Do you know what is going
on below?” Poor Moses, full of thought, and over-joyed at the prospect
of so fine a fit-out, was altogether ignorant of the Lord’s meaning.
“Why, Moses, that stubborn race you brought out of Egypt, have set up
strange gods, and have turned their backs on both you and me”! If this
story was strictly true, how Moses must feel on hearing this unfortunate
news! We must suppose he would exclaim and say, “Oh! Lord, our forty
days’ labor is all knocked on the head. Is it possible, Oh! Lord, that
they have forgotten what you did for them in Egypt? What a pity it is,
Oh! Lord, that they ever got rid of the lice when they left the house of
bondage, for if they were now tormented by those nibblers, it would
remind them of the lousy miracle you performed for them in the presence
of Pharaoh. Those lice, if not destroyed, would have been ‘a
forget-me-not.’” And the Lord said unto Moses, “Now let me alone, that
my wrath may wax hot against this people, for I know that they are a
stiff-necked race. I will destroy them, and from you shall a great
nation spring up.” But Moses, not having at this time lost his temper,
said, “Oh! Lord God, now do not destroy them; besides, what will the
Egyptians say? And also remember what you promised to Abram, Isaac, and
Jacob: how you swore that you would give it to Abram and his seed
forever.” “Well, Moses, you reason correctly. I own I was rather too
hasty; upon a second thought, I retract; I will take your advice; but go
down and see what you can make of them.”

Moses, not well pleased, left the Lord, and went down from the mount;
and when he came to the camp, he lost all patience, and, in a passion,
not knowing what he did, threw down the stones on which were written the
commandments—and written, too, with the finger of God—and they were
broken asunder. No wonder that Moses lost his temper: forty days’ labor
lost; having had, during the whole time, nothing to eat; and having lost
his church members before the moveable church was complete! No one can
be surprised that he acted as he did. Moses reasoned so correctly with
the Lord, that he cooled Jehovah down, but was not so fortunate with
himself.

Aaron, finding himself in a dilemma, excused himself by charging the
people with the fault. But Aaron’s story was but a lame tale; for, when
the people demanded a god, to whom they might pay divine honors, Aaron
could have told them to have patience, and Moses would return with
proper instructions from their God. But poor, silly Aaron told Moses,
that when he threw the rings and bracelets into the fire, out came the
calf. At any rate, between the Lord, Moses, and Aaron, a sad blunder was
made; and to finish off, Moses commanded the Levites to go sword in hand
and kill every man his brother and neighbor; and three thousand were
slain, who, if things had been conducted properly, might have been
faithful worshippers of Jehovah. Finally, nothing can exceed in folly
this foolish story of Jehovah, Moses, and Aaron, except it be the folly
of believing it to contain one word of truth.

After Moses had slain the people for their idolatry, not having been
reproved by the Lord, he was commanded to prepare two tables of stone,
in place of those that were broken, and the next morning to go up again
to the Lord, on the mount. It is then said that the Lord descended on
the mount to meet Moses; so it appears that the Lord (after the
departure of Moses to the bottom of the mount) departed also, into
heaven or to some unknown place; for it is recorded that he came down
again to meet Moses with the two new tables prepared by him. The whole
account of the Lord’s interview with Moses, on the mount, implies that
Jehovah labored, talked, and acted in concert with Moses, as one man
acts with another; and that they remained together forty days and as
many nights. Whether they continued their work through the night, we
have no account; nor whether they needed candles. At all events, if it
be considered literally as a matter of fact, it was a long time for
Moses to be without food or sleep; but as Christians are compelled to
believe it to be matter of fact, we will remark on it as such.

We begin, then, by asking if the Children of Israel were indeed the
Lord’s chosen people, how can we account for the neglect in not giving
Aaron proper instruction respecting the business of Moses on the mount,
so as to prevent the people from seeking after other gods? And, also,
how came it to pass that the Lord did not inform Moses sooner of the
people’s revolt, so that the three thousand that Moses caused to be
murdered, might have been saved? And lastly, is it consistent with the
attributes of the Governor of the Universe to resolve, in wrath, to do
any thing, and then repent and not perform it?

If nothing had been recorded in the Old Testament of the sayings and
doings of the Jewish God, but that which is related concerning him in
giving the law on Mount Sinai, and of his giving instruction to Moses
how to fit out the Tabernacle, it is of itself sufficient to show the
absurdity of Jehovah’s being the God of Nature. To unite in one person
the attributes of the great and all-powerful God, with the contemptible
arrangement of giving patterns for curtains, and a thousand trifling
things of no importance whatever, and to take forty days to garnish his
church, and, while so doing, to let, from sheer neglect, his people lose
sight of Moses, and then to destroy three thousand persons in
consequence of such want of foresight, is too much for credulity to
digest.

When we notice the importance attached to rites and ceremonies the most
unimportant, and then again how lavish the Jewish God is of human life,
and totally regardless of human suffering, we dare not for a moment give
credence to the strange stories and foolish whims of the Bible God, and
palm them upon the all-bountiful Author of Nature. Moses, after coming
down the last time from the mount, begins to prepare for the priesthood,
by saying, that the firstlings of cattle, whether of the ox, or the
sheep which are of the male kind, belong to the Lord; but the firstling
of the ass was to be redeemed by substituting a lamb! But if the owner
had no lamb to offer, the neck of the ass was to be broken; as if the
Lord had said—if you have nothing better to give, I will not accept of a
young jack-ass!

Whoever wrote the Book of Exodus, has made the God of Israel appear like
unto an old clothes-man, giving orders for a thousand ornaments for his
worship, which would disgrace a heathen temple; such as giving orders
for all kinds of brass work; likewise, gold and silver ornaments; all
kinds of oils and spices; particular patterns of cabinet work; what kind
of leather skins, and, also, of what particular color, to grace his
house withal: and even down to the cut and color of the garments: not
forgetting to give instruction concerning the making of breeches for
Aaron and his sons! In the present day, it is no uncommon thing for
ladies to wear the breeches; but in those days, when breeches were cut
by inspiration, it would have been no small crime for a woman to have
stepped into Aaron’s inexpressibles, or those of his sons. How is the
dignity of the Governor of the World disgraced, by ascribing to him an
employment fitting only for a pedler in old clothes!

Let’ us compare the majestic grandeur of Jupiter, the supreme god of the
Greeks, to the peddling, gossipping concerns that the writers of the Old
Testament have palmed on Jehovah, the God of the Jews! Hear what the
poet says of Jupiter, when challenging all the gods to oppose his
power:—:

    “Let down our golden, everlasting chain,
    Whose strong embrace holds heaven and earth and main;
    Strive all, of mortal or immortal birth,
    By this to drag the thunderer down to earth;
    Ye strive in vain; if I but lift this hand,
    I heave the heaven, the ocean, and the land;
    ’T is thus I reign, supremely and above;
    Such are men and gods compar’d to Jove!”

The contradictions, as recorded in the Bible, concerning Jehovah, are so
barefaced, that it is impossible to reconcile them. It is said in many
parts of the Old, and also in the New Testament, that no man can see God
and live; but we are told that Moses conversed with Jehovah, face to
face, as one conversing with his friend. It is in many places recorded
that God never repents—“_For he (God) cannot lie nor repent_.” In many
other places it is recorded that Jehovah has repented and taken a
contrary course in his dealings with the sons of men. I again repeat,
that if no other account had been recorded of the conduct of the Jewish
God, but what we have mentioned, it is impossible to believe Jehovah to
be any thing but a _man-made God._

After the death of Moses, Joshua was appointed as his successor. His
business was to complete what Moses had left undone, in subjugating or
destroying the nations on the other side of Jordan. The first exploit of
Joshua was to send spies to Jericho to examine the strength of the city.
These spies entered the house of Rahab, the harlot, where they were
treated with kindness; it being such a house as would in modern times be
termed a house of _bad fame_. That it was a house of ill-fame, the proof
is positive; because the harlot’s father, mother, and all the family,
were saved when Joshua took the city, because Rahab had concealed the
spies: so no doubt remains as to the character of the house, and that it
was entirely under her control and that the whole family were supported
from the wages of prostitution.

Viewing this account as having actually taken place, as Christians must
do, as believers in the Bible, it was a very proper house at which the
spies would resort; for it was a house at which all were welcome; where
all sorts of news could be collected. After the spies had become
somewhat familiar with Mrs. Rahab, they informed her who they were, and
the nature of their errand. All on a sudden, they were about to be
arrested by the city authorities; and when forced to depart, Rahab
extorted a promise from the spies that her whole family should be saved
when Jericho should fall. Such a promise, the spies could not well deny,
after having been so kindly treated. Rahab, consequently, let them out
by a private way; and, on returning to Joshua, they praised the Lord for
having directed them to so hospitable and honorable a mansion as the
house of the virtuous Rahab. This was the Lord’s doings, as also the
exploit of the seven rams’-horn trumpets that threw down the walls of
Jericho; and it is marvellous in our eyes—_praised be his name!_

Here, serious reader, pause and wonder how Infinite Wisdom can bring
good out of apparent evil, by taking into his employment murderers,
thieves, and harlots! and also, how such characters have immortalized
their names, when their actions have been connected with faith in the
Jehovah of Israel! For this noble act of betraying the city of Jericho,
and giving the spies comfortable lodging, and no doubt, also, very
agreeable bedmates, Rahab secured the favor of Jehovah, and her name is
recorded in connection with many others of equal virtue; for Paul says,
in Hebrews xi., 31,—“_By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them
that believed not, when she had received the spies in peace._” Nothing
is acceptable to the Lord, without faith,—that faith “which keeps the
souls of sinners as sweet as salt does meat.”

After the taking of Jericho and destroying every thing that had life,
(the family of Rahab excepted,) Joshua followed in the same destructive
course as had been commanded by Moses, which command Jehovah gave on the
other side of Jordan. If the warfare pursued by Moses and Joshua did
really take place, and Jehovah gave the orders, it is idle prate to talk
of a God of justice. And when the Lord is made to say that _he (the
Lord) hardened the hearts of those Kings on either side of Jordan_, that
a plausible appearance of justice in their destruction might be made
out,—for Christians to sing of a God of mercy, is horrible indeed.
Whether a God ever commanded or encouraged the Jews in their wars of
extermination, under Moses, Joshua, or any other of their generals, or
not, Christian nations, as well as individuals, have drank deep of the
spirit of religious warfare. A Lord of hosts, a fighting God, has given
a sort of license to mortals to torment each other for his glory.

Every Infidel ought to oppose this spirit, and vindicate the Author of
Nature from the imputation of cruelty and carnage—an imputation that, is
opposed to every idea of justice, and contrary to every thing we can
conceive of the Supreme Ruler of all worlds. And hence, nothing can be
more honorable to a man or woman of good sense and kindness of heart,
than to assert that the God of the Bible is unworthy to be worshipped as
the Governor of the Universe; which in fact is to say, that to all
pretended divine revelations, they are no less than avowed Infidels—a
name that will eventually be as honorable as is now the name of
Christian.

According to Bible history, the nations on the other side of Jordan were
so alarmed at the frightful news they received of the Jewish army, and
the ravages they committed, that five Kings, with their armies, came out
to stop their progress; and in this account, we have the climax of
divine interference on the part of Jehovah. After a desperate effort was
made by the five Kings to stop the progress of Joshua, and after
fighting the whole day, until _towards the going down of the sun_, they
retreated. At that moment Jehovah is said to have given support to his
chosen people, by causing a hail-storm to descend, and more were slain
by the hail than fell by the sword. But when the hail was exhausted,
something more was requisite to be done; Divine aid was still wanting.
Then Joshua, in sight of his army, said, “_Sun stand thou still upon
Gibeon, and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon_,” and they obeyed his
command. So that, according to this miracle, the hostile armies were
completely destroyed, and the sun and moon (we suppose) were ordered to
pursue their courses.

And now, reader, to believe this improbable, or rather impossible tale,
and hundreds of others of the same sort, even in our day, will make a
man respectable, and fit to fill any office where intelligence and
honesty are required. But to doubt it, and publicly express the doubt,
will cause him to be considered infamous, and unfit for “public trust or
private care.” And this will be the case until men shall be bold enough
to express their honest convictions that it is a libel to charge the
Sovereign Ruler of the Universe with being the direct, or the indirect,
author of the Bible, or having ever chosen the Jews to be his peculiar
people.

But to return to Joshua, who appears to be more highly favored with
miracles than Moses, as the miracle of the sun and moon standing still,
to give time to Joshua to complete his victory over the Kings that came
against him, exceeds every thing of the kind on record. The writer,
whoever he was, that mentions the sun and moon standing still in the
heavens, evidently knew nothing of astronomy; for admitting the truth of
the story, and that the sun and moon appeared to stand fixed in the
heavens, it was in reality the earth that instantly obeyed the command
of Joshua. And another miracle must have followed immediately, to
prevent the dreadful consequences of the earth’s ceasing from turning
round on its axis: for we have but to consider the effects of the
earth’s instantly ceasing to turn round; the shock would have been so
great that trees and houses and the armies would have been thrown high
in the air, and the battle would have immediately ended, the combatants
being destroyed. But the tale is too foolish to be credited; and it
furnishes another proof that the Jehovah of the Jews is not the Author
of Nature. In this battle, Balaam, the soothsayer, was slain; and before
finishing this chapter, we will give the account as recorded, with some
remarks on that celebrated fortune-teller.

When the Children of Israel had left Egypt, and were marching to the
land of promise, they had to go through different kingdoms and
provinces; and their numbers, connected with the depredations they
committed in the name of Jehovah, caused the inhabitants of those
regions to be greatly alarmed; and understanding that their God fought
for them and that they were about to pass through the land of Moab,
Balak, King of Moab, having learned what had been done by them to the
Amorites, sent to Balaam to consult with him, intending, if possible, to
stop their progress, or at least, to find out what the Jewish God had
destined his people to perform.

In the Book of Numbers, chapter xxii., the account commences. Balaam, it
appears, was then what now would be called a celebrated conjuror, or, as
country people say, a _cunning man_, by which he made a living, and a
good one, too: for, from the Bible story, he appears to be a man well
known by princes, and was attended by two servants as out-riders. Like
our present lawyers, he never gave his services until he had received a
handsome fee; for the King sent off the elders to Balaam, with the
rewards of “_divination in their hand._” Balaam received them, and
invited them to stay with him till the next day, for, (as he told them,)
he would first inquire of the Lord.

It is then recorded, that “_God came unto Balaam, and said, what men are
those with thee?_” This inquiry of the Jewish God appears strange, when
he must have known all about it without asking; but here, as in hundreds
of other passages, the _man-made God_ appears. But, for the information
of the Lord, Balaam gives a suitable answer. The Lord then informs the
fortune-teller that he must not go to Balak, _nor curse them, for they
are blessed_. The elders then returned to the King, to inform him that
Balaam could not come, because the God of Israel had forbid him so to
do. Again, Balak sent others, more honorable than the first, with
promises of riches and honor. The Lord came again to Balaam, and told
him to go with the men to Balak, King of the Moabites, but to mind what
the Lord had said to him. Balaam went off with the princes of Moab; but
the Devil, or something else, got into the jack-ass on which the old
fortune-teller rode, and he became skittish; and although then dumb, he
seemed to say to his master, “I shall go no further.” Balaam became
enraged, and laid some heavy stripes on poor jack; but still the animal
refused to go on, until neither the Lord nor jack could bear it any
longer. The beast then broke silence, and reasoned with the old prophet
on his brutality. All of a sudden, Balaam saw an angel with a drawn
sword in his hand, who told him if it had not been for jack’s superior
eye-sight, he would have been a dead man. The angel then told Balaam to
go on, but to mind what he did against Israel. What contemptible humbug
is all this! two miracles performed to do nothing! The first, to send an
angel down from nobody knows where; and the second, to make a dumb ass
reprove his owner. And what was Balaam’s fault? He was going on as the
Lord commanded; and to complete this solemn farce, an apostle quotes it
as a real fact that actually took place, by saying—“And the dumb ass
spake with man’s voice, and forbade the madness of the prophet.”

After returning to Balak, Balaam ordered seven altars to be built, on
which were to be offered seven bullocks and seven rams: and again, the
Lord came to see the process, and in private conversation with the
fortune-teller, told him that it would not answer; Israel must not be
cursed. This was repeated by Balaam three times; so that twenty-one
bullocks, and as many rams, were offered up to no purpose: and at each
offering, the Lord came down and conversed in private with Balaam. Is it
possible that men possessed of reason can believe that in this account
there is one word of truth, as it respects the Governor of the Universe
having any thing to do with it? If this account, or any one like it, was
recorded in any other book than the Bible, no man of a sound mind would
give the least credit to it. But yet the Christian dares not doubt it;
for even the apostles of Jesus speak of it as a real fact that took
place with the miracles attending it.

To conclude this chapter of absurdities, we beg the reader to bear in
mind—first, that Balaam was not a prophet of Jehovah, but a conjuror;
and if he professed any religion, it was that of heathenism. But he
(Balaam) had heard of the manner of sacrificing to the Jewish God, and
accordingly began by slaying seven bullocks and an equal number of rams;
and while the altars were smoking, (if the Bible be true,) the Lord of
the whole earth left his throne, and came down to see what was going on.
The old fortune-teller was hard at work, and the princes of Moab
standing by to hear the result; when lo, and behold! the Lord descends,
and we may suppose him to say—“Balaam! why, you are cooking for a large
party! Come, Balaam, before you go any further, a word with you, if you
please. Come this way. What does all this mean? We must have some
private talk about this affair.” “Why, my Lord, you know my business. I
must do all I can for my employers; I thought that if sacrifice is made,
agreeably to your order of worship, you might be induced to alter your
mind towards your people: for we have heard that at times, when the fit
comes on, you give them a severe thrashing.” “Yes, Balaam, there is some
truth in the report; but I tell you, once for all, that if you offer all
the bullocks in the world, and all the rams beside, you cannot, must
not, curse Israel.”

No lawyer ever stuck closer to a rich client than did Balaam to the King
of Moab; for again and again did he sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts.
Another trial, on a mountain, was made, and again Jehovah descends and
tells Balaam the same as before. The third and last effort being made,
which would incline us to think that the patience of Heaven must have
been tired out, was enough to make the doorkeeper exclaim, “Here is
Monsieur Tonson come again!” The last descent is made by the Lord, and
the prophet gives in, reluctantly. I challenge any minister of the
gospel to produce a more absurd story, in any system of theology, than
the account of Balaam, his ass, and the Lord of Hosts.

I will not insult the reader by saying, _do not believe it;_ but rather
say, _believe it who can!_



CHAPTER V. FROM THE DEATH OF JOSHUA TO THE REIGN OF SAUL


WE now come to the time when the Israelites were settled in the land of
Canaan, Moses and Joshua being dead. This period of Bible history, from
the death of Joshua to the time of Saul, their first King, is about four
hundred years. And, seeing the miracles and wonders performed in behalf
of God’s chosen people, in the times of Moses and Joshua, we might
reasonably expect that the same care would be continued towards them in
succeeding generations. But, on the contrary, during the time the
different Judges presided over them, nothing but disasters and confusion
prevailed; and if their history is to be credited, it must appear as if
Jehovah had nearly given them up as a prey to his and their enemies.

Notwithstanding all that has been said and written about Moses being the
author of the first five Books, including the Jewish worship, with the
laws, ceremonial and moral, it does not appear that the contents of
those Books were known and obeyed by the generations that followed after
his death; for it is recorded in the Book of Judges, ii., 10, that after
the death of Joshua, “_there arose another generation after them; which
knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel_.” If
the mighty works had been done in behalf of God’s chosen people, which
are recorded, it is impossible to believe that they should have been
forgotten or disregarded. Can we suppose, that, in a few years, the
Declaration of our Independence on the 4th of July, 1776, together with
the name of *Washington*, and the heroism of his brave companions in
arms, can be forgotten? No; it is impossible. It is then clear, that the
Books said to have been written by Moses were not known; or if known,
they were not believed in by the people.

After the land of promise had been divided among the tribes of Israel,
instead of Jehovah’s setting up some permanent form of government, and
causing his name to be adored, so as to make his chosen people happy and
prosperous, they were, to all appearance, left in the most confused and
unsettled state: and hence it is often said, “_In those days there was
no King in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own
eyes._” It is not too much to infer, that for hundreds of years after
the death of Moses and Joshua, the Jewish God, as if he had forgotten
his engagements with Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, concerning their
posterity, became indifferent to their happiness altogether.

We will now refer to their situation. As it respects government, they
had none; it was accidental; and, although it is recorded that their God
fought for them, and caused both sun and moon (as the phrase is) to
stand still, to give them time to destroy their enemies, Jehovah’s
conduct was so altered that he seemed to enjoy the troubles of his once
chosen people. With all these facts, Christian ministers prate of an
unchangeable God! We read of Jehovah’s stirring up heathen Kings against
his people; and to such a deplorable state were they reduced, that an
old woman was their Chief-Justice, and also General of their army. At
that time, to say the least of it, no nation under heaven was in so
degraded a state. At times, upstart Judges arose; the Lord was with
them; and, for a while, all things appeared prosperous. At their death,
however, the troubles were renewed. Such was their situation at one
time, that they had no weapons of war, nor smiths to repair their
ploughs or harrows. Then they _cried unto the Lord_, and he sanctioned
them in every dishonorable way to out-wit or murder their oppressors.

In such a state of subjugation were the tribes to their foes when Saul
was made King, that only two swords could be found in Israel; and the
“_Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen every man his share
and his coulter, and his axe and his mattock._” What folly, then, to
suppose, that after all that had been done for God’s favorite people,
they should have been so neglected, and there should be nothing but
slaughter and blood throughout the land of promise! What madness, to
believe that the Author of the Universe should permit such carnage, and
his whole attention seem to be directed to the foolish quarrels of an
unfortunate race, who, by some imposture, had been taught to consider
their nation as his peculiar choice!

And as to their religion, by what is recorded, it seems that their
proneness to worship the gods of their neighbors, is what brought on the
chastisements of Heaven. This is but a poor excuse, and dishonorable to
the God of the Universe, to urge on nations to make war on his people,
because he was displeased with them for worshipping strange gods. It
appears strange, _passing strange_, that Jehovah could not convert his
own people. But only substitute the term _Priest,_ instead of the
_Lord,_ and reject altogether the idea of God’s having any thing to do
with their theology, and the matter is plain and clear. Admitting,
however, that the Lord of Hosts had so rebellious a race, and was a
spectator of all their departures from his laws, he must be as great a
sufferer as the Jews, because he was forever punishing; for, if anger is
to a God a punishment equal to what human beings feel under its
influence, then it follows that the God of the Jews is the greatest
sufferer. Oh! ye ministers of grace you have preached up an angry God
until you have brutalized the human race; and your intolerant spirit has
ever been, and will ever continue to be, a _burning coal_ taken from the
altar of an angry, vengeful God, to be rekindled when power is united to
your impositions.

That the reader may form correct ideas of the Lord’s fighting for
Israel, and delivering their enemies into their hands, and also of the
Lord’s giving the land or towns to his favorite people that they had
taken in war, it should be observed, that it was the manner of
expressing the results of a victory among the Jews, and also with other
nations. They all claimed for themselves the interference of their
respective gods, and to them they gave sacrifice and thanks. As a key,
to understand how God fought for his favorite people, it is recorded in
Judges i., 19, “_And the Lord was with Judah, and he drove out the
inhabitants of the mountain, but could not drive out the inhabitants of
the valley because they had chariots of iron,_” The same idea is to be
carried out in explaining such passages as the following:—“_And the
angel of the Lord appeared to [such an one] in a dream”-—“Thus saith the
Lord,” &c._

Now, all that can be made of this is, that the person mentioned, dreamed
that he saw an angel, and that he said this or that. Again, it is often
repeated, that _the word of the Lord came unto Moses, saying_. Common
sense will inquire, how came the word? who brought it? Words do not pass
through the air like birds. Suppose it should be reported, that the word
of the President of the United States came to some person in New York,
saying, _do this or that_, or something uncommon and unheard of, and the
inquiry be made, _who_ brought this word, and an answer should be
required? No reasonable one could be given. It must fill the Christian
reader with astonishment to find, that during the time the Judges
presided over Israel, (some hundreds of years,) that neither the name of
Moses nor his laws are ever mentioned. On the contrary, his laws, both
moral and ceremonial, were either suspended or departed from. Neither
the Sabbath nor the Passover was observed, and the moral law said to
have been given by Jehovah, from Mount Sinai, was broken by the worship
of graven images.

If we turn to Judges, chapter xvii., we there find, that after the death
of Samson, who judged Israel twenty years, _a young man (a Jew) stole
from his mother eleven hundred shekels of silver, which she had put by
to make a god for herself and her son’s household_,—a worship contrary
to the express command of Jehovah, as given in the second commandment;
and when her son heard his mother curse most bitterly, he returned it to
her. She then loaded him with blessings, and with a part of the silver,
and gave the rest to the founder, or artist, and a graven image was made
and erected as their god, and a priest hired to perform worship. In the
13th verse of the same chapter, her son exults, and says, “Now know I
that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.”

To conclude this account of worship, the Levite asked counsel of God,
(the image,) and received a gracious answer. This image-worship was the
religion of the Danites until they were carried away captive. This,
then, is proof positive, that the five Books said to have been given by
Moses, were then unknown; and without this admission, it is not possible
to account for the silence regarding Moses and his writings for so many
hundred years. Not only were the five Books of which Moses is the
reputed author, written many hundreds of years after his death, but also
the Book of Judges could not have been written till after Kings bad
reigned in Israel; because, it is often repeated in that Book, “_And
there was no King in Israel, and every man did that which was right in
his own eyes_”; for until the end of the Judges, no King was ever
mentioned, or thought of, among the tribes. It was in consequence of the
injustice of the sons of Samuel, that the seed of Abram demanded a King,
in order to get just judgment; and in his person to secure a leader in
time of war.

The foolish story of Samson, which commences in Judges, chapter xiii.,
deserves no notice, but for its being ascribed to Jehovah, the God of
Israel. The whole silly account, when it is fathered on the God of the
Universe, will not fail to convince every man of a sane mind, how human
beings have been imposed upon, in ascribing to the Sovereign Ruler of
all worlds such contemptible trash. After the Israelites had for forty
years been subjected to the Philistines, Jehovah determined to deliver
his chosen people from bondage, by raising up a man (then unborn) to war
against their enemies. Samson was the person chosen for this business.
The story is as follows:—

The mother of Samson had for years lived with her husband, Manoah, but
remained childless. Her sorrow, on that account, so prevailed with the
Lord, that an angel came down from Jehovah, whom Christians believe to
be the allwise Governor of the Universe, and informed her that she
should have a son that would war against the oppressors of Israel, and
that particular care on her part must be taken during her pregnancy. She
was to drink no wine, nor strong drink, nor eat any thing unclean; and
no hair must on any account be taken from his head. The woman told her
husband the good tidings, and he was over-joyed, and prayed to the Lord
that the angel would again descend. This request was granted, and the
angel repeated to the husband what had been told to his wife. When these
instructions, given by the angel, were ended, out of gratitude to the
heavenly messenger, this joyful pair proposed to dress a kid, and
invited the angel to partake of it This request was not complied with,
but Manoah and his wife were told to sacrifice to the Lord; which they
did, and as the flame ascended, the angel went up with it, after
refusing to make known his name.

In a few months, Sampson was born; and his parents were particular in
observing all things commanded, as it respected the child, until his
arrival to manhood; when, behold! this Samson, the gift of the Lord, who
was to deliver his countrymen out of bondage, from the galling yoke of
the Philistines—this Samson commenced his life by going down to the
Philistines, and taking up with different women. Some he took as wives,
and with others he carried on any thing but a respectable intercourse;
and in all his actions he sought a quarrel with the enemies of Israel.
All unknown to his parents, it is recorded that he possessed strength
superior to human beings, and that this strength resided in the hair of
his head. His enemies discovered this strength, and bribed his wives and
concubines to discover how he could be bound, so that they could destroy
him. After lying, and submitting to be bound, he betrayed the secret to
one of his favorite women. His head was shaved, his eyes put out and he
was cast into prison.

In the course of his revels among his ladies, he was waring continually
with his wives’ countrymen; and such was his dexterity, that he caught
three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail, and turned them into the
standing corn and burnt up their harvest. At another time, when pursued
by his enemies, it is recorded that he slew a thousand men with, the
jaw-bone of an ass; and so mighty was his strength, that the gates of a
city were by him carried away with ease, and placed on the top of a
mountain; and so terrific was his strength, that his favorite woman, by
bribery, at last found out that his almost almighty power was in his
hair, which had been from his birth untouched and unshorn; but as soon
as his hair was taken off, Jehovah withdrew his strength, and his foes
bound him with care, put out his eyes, and cast him into prison. At
length, his hair grew again on his head, and his mighty strength
returned. He then prayed to Jehovah to enable him to lift up the mighty
building in which the Lords of the Philistines were; and having
succeeded, down it came with a dreadful crash, and Samson, with all that
were within, perished in the ruins.

Now, this is the man who is recorded to have been raised up to restore
to the seed of Abram their lost power; whose whole life was a scene of
folly and madness. Can any man, in the full exercise of his reason,
believe that the Ruler of all worlds would employ such a contemptible
creature to bring about his plan of redeeming his favorite people from
bondage? Let us take a bird’s-eye view of Samson’s life; and first, we
will inquire, what end was to be answered by raising up this mighty man?
Secondly, did Samson perform the intention of Jehovah towards his chosen
race?

We proceed to the first inquiry, What end was to be answered by raising
up Samson? His whole life was one continued scene of folly and
licentiousness; shedding of blood was his practice; and the mighty
strength given him by Jehovah, was employed in doing the most wanton
mischief, such as none but a madman would perform. The object of so much
murder and bloodshed, we are informed, was to deliver the Israelites
from Philistine subjugation; in doing which, he fell a victim to his own
folly, in destroying the enemies of the Lord. Can it be possible that
the Ruler of all worlds raised up such a madman to carry out his plans?
If a story of this kind should be recorded in any other book than the
Bible, no credit would be given to it. But when it is recorded as making
a part of God’s dealings with his chosen people, it is shocking to all
our ideas of Infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness.

In the second place, What resulted to Israel by the efforts of Samson?
We answer, nothing at all; for in consequence of the wickedness of the
Benjamites, a war soon after commenced between the tribes, in which
thousands and tens of thousands were slain. The history of Samson, then,
is one of those fables with which the Scriptures abound, and which, if
recorded by heathen authors, no one could be found who would believe
them to be any thing but fables. But being a part of the Bible,
Christians attach consequence to them, and father them on the all-wise,
all-powerful God, the Ruler of the Universe.

Finally, to show the folly in believing that Samson was raised up to
redeem the Israelites from serving the Philistines:—by the battle fought
immediately after the death of Samson, the Philistines gained a complete
victory over Israel, routed the whole army, and took the ark of the Lord
prisoner.

It may be of service to the reader to give some account of the ark of
the Lord; and in this, we must be instructed by the Bible account alone.
The ark, it appears, was a chest: or box, in which the following things
were said to be kept: the book of the law, the pot with manna, and
Aaron’s rod, by which the wonders were performed in Egypt On the lid or
cover were placed two cherabims with their wings somewhat extended, and
their necks turned downwards to the cover of the ark, called the
mercy-seat. This holy ark was kept in the holy of holies; and when the
priests entered in to perform sacrifice on the mercy-seat, the cloud of
smoke between the cherabims became luminous. This light was considered
by the priest as an acceptance of the offering made by him for the sins
of the people. Hence the phrase of adoration applied to the Jewish God,
“_Oh! thou God that dwelleth between the cherubims!_”

When the Jews were in the battle with the Philistines, and about to be
routed, they brought the ark of the Lord into the camp as a protection
against a defeat, and also to encourage the Israelites to fight most
manfully: the Lord of Hosts being then in the midst of them, they
shouted for joy, as being certain of a victory over their enemies. On
the other side, the Philistines, understanding that the God of the
Hebrews had arrived in their camp, were afraid, and cried out, “_Woe
unto us! who shall deliver us ont of the hand of these mighty Gods?_”
The commanders of the Philistines then encouraged their soldiers to
battle, urging them on, so that the Jews might be vanquished; and they
slew the Israelites with a destructive slaughter, and took the ark of
the Jewish God prisoner, and killed the two sons of Eli, the High-Priest
This dreadful news so overcame the old man, who was ninety-eight years
of age, that he fell out of his chair and broke his neck.

We may now ask, what will Christians say to God’s raising up Samson? Did
he deliver the Jews out of their their bondage? But I have wasted too
much time on such a contemptible madman and fool; yet I excuse myself in
this respect by the desire of showing, that, to call Samson a servant of
the Ruler of the Universe, is too contemptible even for ridicule. A few
remarks on the fate of the ark of the Lord, will conclude this chapter.
The foregoing account is recorded in 1 Samuel, chapter iv.

After the dreadful daughter of the Israelites, and the capture of the
ark, the Philistines were afflicted with a complaint that threatened
them with destruction; and after consulting among themselves as to the
cause of their sickness, they concluded that the capture and detention
of the ark was to them more than a counterbalance for the victory gained
over the Jews. They therefore agreed, one and all, to send it back to
its owners. Before sending it back, we may suppose something like the
following conversation took place:—We have defeated the Jews, and slain
thousands of them; and although their God was in the camp of Israel, he
could not save them from the edge of the sword. But, after all, we are
afflicted with a dreadful disorder, which, if it continues, will
exterminate our nation. Our complaint is of that nature, that we shall
drop to pieces in the streets and upon the highways. Our wives, instead
of baking bread, must be continually making poultices, to prevent our
being considered as walking pestilences: the ark must be returned.
Instead of a God for a prisoner, why, we have the Devil in the box. We
must get rid of it; it must be sent back to the Jews. Home it was
carried; and when it had arrived at Beth-shemesh, in the time of
harvest, the reapers, overjoyed to witness the safe return of the ark,
laid down their sickles and ran to look into it. The Jehovah of Israel
destroyed the honest-hearted reapers, to the number of fifty thousand
threescore and ten, for their impudence.

Can a man on earth be found who can believe the foregoing account to be
any thing but fabulous? If this account is matter of fact, what
degrading ideas are connected with the existence of Infinite Wisdom and
Goodness! If there is any thing Divine about this foolish tale, it then
follows, that the Almighty Power that presides over all worlds,—that
astonishing Wisdom which strikes us dumb in contemplating the harmony
and surprising adaptation displayed in the universe,—associated with
such madmen and fools as Samson, and hundreds of others whose freaks are
recorded in the Bible. This is opposed to every idea that we can
possibly have of his greatness. Let those who are but little acquainted
with Astronomy, contemplate the grandeur of the universe, and ask if it
be possible that a Being who arranges all, and who governs all with that
exactness which overwhelms not only the ignorant and untaught man, but
also the most profound and learned of the human race, should thus act?
Mark well the infinite wisdom which is apparent in the vast universe of
which man forms but so small a part! For one moment reflect on boundless
space, filled with millions of millions of suns, around which revolve
innumerable worlds; all of them arranged and upheld by that Power which
Christians believe to be the author of the Bible, either directly or
indirectly. That this being should mix up with the most abandoned
characters on earth, and be forever doing and undoing; forever planning
and failing in his plans; choosing his favorites, and then repenting of
such choice; inheriting all the infirmities of fallible man; sometimes,
tired out with the follies and wickedness of his chosen people, sinking,
as it were, down into a state of inaction; again, rising in vengeance,
destroying even his chosen people without mercy; at times, appearing to
be long-suffering and merciful; at other times, revenging injuries by
destruction and death on a present generation, for the errors of another
generation long since dead and gone, is inconsistent with common sense.

In fact, the Jehovah of the Bible, from the accounts recorded, appears
never to be at ease. Anger, rage, fury, alternately disturb him. The
smallest deviation of his chosen people in the performance of some
trifling ceremony, would at times call down the most horrid
chastisements on both the innocent and the guilty. If the Bible truly
records the movements of Jehovah, he must be the most unhappy Being in
the universe; for it is said that _he is angry every day_. The previous
description of the God of the Bible is but a scantling of what is
written concerning his dealings, even with the seed of Abram.

Ye ministers of the gospel! look at the heavens above, and the earth
beneath! Mark well the unchangeable order which pervades the whole! How
admirably every thing is arranged! how skilfully the means are adapted
to the end intended! No arranging, and then re-arranging: no missing the
mark—no going beyond or wide of the mark. Before you talk of the
“unblushing Infidel,” and deal out the vengeance of your Bible God, look
at the order, the grandeur the undisturbed harmony that governs the
whole; and then pause, and ask yourselves, if it be possible for the
Sovereign Ruler of all worlds, to have dictated the Bible, which you so
positively assert is the Word of the only true and living God?



CHAPTER VI. THE REIGNS OF SAUL, DAVID, AND SOLOMON


SAMUEL, the last of the Judges of Israel, when very old, appointed his
sons to judge the people—“But they took bribes and perverted judgment.”
The Israelites complained to Samuel of their injustice, and demanded a
King, like other nations. Now, considering the unsettled state of the
Jews for hundreds of years, “when there was no King in Israel, and every
man did that which was right in his own eyes” the request was
reasonable; for they were tired of the unsettled state of their national
affairs. Samuel inquired of the Lord what was to be done? The reply from
the Lord was, that Samuel was to let them have a King, agreeably to
their wishes; at the same time, it displeased Jehovah, who chose Saul
without consulting the people. His choice is recorded to have been
pleasing to the Lord, who gave Saul a good character. This kingly
government seemed fair in the beginning, and we ought to expect it would
have proved a change for the better, as it was by Jehovah’s own
appointment At the commencement of Saul’s reign, he was ordered to go
and fight against the Amalekites. The order was thus given:—“_Thus saith
the Lord of Hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel; how he
laid wait for him in the way when he came up from Egypt_” This offence
was given some hundred years before, when the Israelites were passing to
the land of promise; when the Amalekites opposed them, and refused to
let them go through their land. To us, this vengeance appears cruel and
unjust. This was visiting the sins of the fathers on the children with a
vengeance. At the present day, no tyrant could be found that would
imitate such base conduct as is fathered on the all-wise, all-powerful
Ruler of the World.

The following statement will serve to make the situation of Saul clearly
understood by the readers of this work, and will show the nature of
Saul’s offence for which he and his family were so severely
punished:—Some four or five hundred years before Saul was born, the
Israelites were opposed by the Amalekites passing through their land;
and when Saul was chosen King, by Jehovah, his first campaign was to go
and destroy the then inhabitants of Amalek, for an offence committed by
their forefathers long since dead and gone. Saul was ordered by Jehovah
not to save old or young, but to kill (murder) all, from the suckling to
hoary old age. He fulfilled his orders as he thought, excepting that of
taking their King prisoner, and the best of the cattle to sacrifice to
Jehovah’s honor; and for this one act of mercy, Saul was deposed, and
David chosen in his stead. Now, if Jehovah knew that Saul would not obey
the orders given, why was he chosen to be their King at all? And if
Jehovah was disappointed, where was his foreknowledge? Does that Power
and Wisdom that rules the Universe, blunder in this way? What say you,
Christian ministers?

According to what is written, the Jewish God repented that he made this
choice! Did he repent? We are told that when Saul was put down, and
David made King in his stead, that Jehovah could not, like man, repent
in putting down David, though he had done so as it respected Saul. To
father such inconsistency on the Author of Nature, is an outrage on
justice and common sense. Again, to punish with fire and sword a whole
nation, for what their forefathers had done five hundred years before;
and to make the God of the Universe the author of such a command,—if
blasphemy exists against God, this is it to perfection.

From the short reign of Saul, we cannot form a decided opinion as to his
kingly character; but one thing is clear, from the Scriptures, that his
act of mercy towards the King of Amalek, offended Jehovah, and both
himself and family suffered grievously for it; for Samuel told Saul,
that’ in consequence of his sparing Agag, the King, his royal authority
was taken from him, and _given to a man better than he_. Well might a
poet, who wrote on this subject about forty years ago, call Samuel an
impostor, and exclaim—:

    “From haunts of men be that impostor driven,
    Who thinks humanity incenses heaven.”

In concluding this account of Saul, we may venture to affirm, that he
was one of the best Kings on record; his only failing appears to have
been his humanity.

We now come to the reign of David, “_he man after God’s own heart._” It
appears that his slaying Goliah, first brought him into notice; for
which act David was to be rewarded by having Saul’s daughter in
marriage. Before this took place, however, it is recorded, in 1 Samuel
xviii., 10, “_And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit
from God came upon Saul_”; but David could play so well on some kind of
a musical instrument, that his performance drove the Devil out of the
old King. From this account it seems, if the evil spirit means a Devil,
that Jehovah kept Devils ready to start off from heaven to do any dirty
work; a very worthy practice to ascribe to the God of all! It appears
that Saul’s troubles, and the evil spirit sent to him from the Lord, had
nearly made him crazy—and well it might: but I have no pity for him,
because there is not one word of truth in the whole silly tale.

David now demands his wife, according to promise; but Saul puts a heavy
tax on his intended son-in-law, before his daughter could be given up.
The demand made by Saul on David, before he was permitted to marry his
daughter, is written in 1 Samuel xviii., 25, an account showing how well
cultivated Kings and Princes were in those days, but too filthy for me
to detail. Notwithstanding Saul was deposed, and David anointed King,
still Saul kept possession of the kingdom, and David was an object of
jealousy. At this time, the Israelites were in an unsettled state; and
David, although a King, had no resources. A part of the people were with
David, but the bulk of the nation adhered to Saul.

Those two Kings, then, both of whom had been chosen by Jehovah, were
still opposing each other. Now, what folly to suppose that either of
them were appointed by the Governor of all the Earth! Even admitting the
historical part to be true, who can believe that Infinite Wisdom had any
part in so unsettled a form of government? it being like unto what
England was at one time of her history, when two parties were contending
for power. What a changeable, unsettled Being do the Scriptures make the
Jewish God! and what folly to believe him to be the Sovereign Ruler of
all! The regularity and order which is every where and at all times
manifest in nature, proclaim to all nations that the Jehovah of the
Bible is not Nature’s God.

Although David had been anointed King, to the exclusion of Saul and his
house, still the old King retained his authority, and David was
compelled to be cautious how he proceeded, as Saul was jealous of him as
a rival. Now David had recourse to the following expedient:—“_And he
collected every one that was in distress, and every one that was in
debt, and every one that was discontented, and he became a captain over
them, and there were with him about four hundred men._” David, in one of
his flights from Saul, and being in want of bread, applied to Abimelech,
the priest, for five loaves; and the priest answered David, and said,
“_There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread,
if the young men have at least kept themselves from women._” And David
answered the priest, and said unto him, “_Of a truth, women have been
kept from us about three days, since I came out._” The reader will now
see how David began his reign, as the following incident, will also
fully confirm. The above account may be found in 1 Samuel, chapter xxi.

The following account of the progress of David and his small army, is in
1 Samuel, chapter xxv.:—David fled into the wilderness, and while there,
he heard of a rich man by the name of Nabal, who had, on a shearing,
made a feast for his shearers and friends. David embraced this
opportunity, to levy a tax on Nabal, and sent ten young men to ask for a
part of the good things prepared for the sheep shearing: “_And Nabal
answered David’s servants, and said, who is David? and who is the son of
Jesse? there be many servants now-a-days that break away every man from
his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that
I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men whom I know not
whence they be?_” This answer so enraged David, that he exclaimed, “The
time my army lay in the wilderness, near to the flock of Nabal, we took
nothing from them, and also prevented others from stealing of the flock,
and now I cannot get a dinner for me and my six hundred men.” “_And
David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded
on every man his sword: and David also girded on his sword: and there
went up after David about four hundred men, and two hundred abode by the
stuff._” Now, to use David’s own words, he intended to slay every man
living; Nabal, sheep shearers, and all belonging to him. Don’t forget
this was the man _after Jehovah’s own heart!_

But it happened that Abigail, Nabal’s wife, heard of her husband’s
refusal to David’s demands, and she loaded several asses with all kinds
of the best provisions, and met David as he was advancing to take
vengeance on Nabal. And when David saw her, he said, “_Blessed be the
Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me. For in very
deed, as the Lord God of Israel liveth which hath kept me back from
hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted, and come to meet me, surely
there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light, any that
pisseth against the wall_.” It is recorded after this, that in about ten
days, “_the Lord smote Nabal that he died._” Christians, perhaps, will
say, it served him right; because he would not give away his dinner to
the Lord’s anointed. But to complete this account of David, it is
written that he married Nabal’s widow, and then he had sheep, goats, and
all, although he had many wives before; but, being “_a man after Gods
own heart_” we Infidels must be silent.

After the death of Saul, David being in favor with the people, and
strictly adhering to the worship of Jehovah, his reign bid fair to be
happy to himself, and to the nation at large: but he had too many wives,
and consequently his family troubles came on thick and fast. One son
rebelled against him, and flew to arms; and Solomon usurped the throne
after the death of his father, and put to death his elder brother by a
former wife, under a pretence the most frivolous, to secure himself a
safe possession of his usurped power. Another son ravished his
half-sister by another mother; and in return, the ravisher was murdered
by the brother of the violated virgin. In truth, if it is true as
recorded, David’s whole life was one continued scene of blood and
slaughter; and on his death-bed he recommended Solomon to murder
others—as his oath prevented him from doing it in his lifetime.

However strictly David obeyed Jehovah, and “turned not aside to worship
other gods,” in a moral point of view he was a wicked man. His conduct
for licentiousness was notorious. In addition to the number of wives he
had before the death of Saul, his royal master, Nathan the prophet says
that “Jehovah gave him Saul’s wives, besides”; but, not satisfied with
all this, so contemptible was his conduct, he sneaked about to obtain a
sight of an officer’s wife while in the bath. Such low, cowardly
curiosity would disgrace the driver of a dung-cart. A lady’s bath not to
be held sacred by this filthy, dirty animal, and yet to be called “the
man after God’s own heart”! His actions would disgrace the Devil, for
Satan offered no insult to Eve: his worst crime was no more than
saying—“Madam, the fruit is good, do taste, it will do you no harm, and
you will be the wiser; after all.”

Never let us forget the artifice the Lord’s anointed made use of, in
order to conceal his crime. When Uriah, his officer, came from the army
with news of importance to David, after the seduction of Bathsheba, the
cunning debauchee said, come, Uriah, do not hurry back to the camp; go
home to Bathsheba, your wife; she will be happy to see you: go home, my
faithful servant, and stay with your wife.

But Uriah refused, by saying, the officers and the army are in the open
fields, and I will not go home to take comfort in my own house. So Uriah
slept in the gate with the servants. And when David found that he had
not been home, he made him tarry another day, and that night got him
drunk. In the meantime the King wrote a letter to Joab, the Captain of
the host, and sent it by Uriah, to place him in the front of the battle,
where he would be killed. The unsuspecting Uriah then returned; to his
duty, with his death warrant in his hand; and, according to the orders
given to Joab, the commander of the host of Israel, Uriah was placed in
that part of the engagement where he fell, covered with wounds and
glory.

It will be seen by the orders sent to the Captain, concerning Uriah, by
the King, what cowardly artifice was used to murder his noble officer,
whose wife, unknown to him, had been seduced. David’s words are, “_Set
ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him
that he may be smitten and die._” Such an act would disgrace the worst
despot on earth, but it was done by “the man after God’s own heart”!
When Nathan was sent by Jehovah to David, to remind him of his
wickedness, it was done, in the way of a parable. David did not at first
discover its application: and it is recorded, that “_David’s anger was
greatly kindled against the man, and he said unto Nathan as the Lord
liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die.” “Thou art
the man!_” said Nathan; and David exclaimed, “_Oh! Lord, I have
sinned._” In fact, he was found out, but for which he would not have
made this acknowledgment.

After the death of Uriah, David took her (Bathsheba) to wife, and
Jehovah made up the matter with him; first, by destroying the child, the
innocent victim who had no part in the murder; and, secondly, by saving
and pardoning David for crimes of the deepest dye: and, also, the Lord
told him, that because of his wickedness he should have discord in his
family:—“_Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against
thee, out of thine house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes,
and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the
sight of this sun._” To destroy the innocent child, who had no
participation in the crime of the father, is too shocking to be
admitted, when it is recorded as the sentence of the just and impartial
God. I know Christians will reply, that the ways of God are not as our
ways, and that it is wicked in mortals to find fault with what is done
by a Being of infinite power, wisdom, and Goodness. In reply, it is
contended that the conduct pursued on this occasion by Jehovah, is
shocking when ascribed to a God impartial and just, and that it is more
becoming mortals, like ourselves, to reject the whole story as a vile
falsehood, than to father it on that Being, or that Cause, who:

    “Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
    Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees.”

To conclude these remarks on David’s life and conduct, we ask, which is
the more reasonable supposition, that the whole account, so far as it
implicates a God of Justice, is, from beginning to end untrue? or, that
a Being of unbounded power, wisdom and goodness, should in any way
associate with so abandoned a character as King David? For myself, I
prefer the latter. I have omitted another account in the life of David,
that requires to be noticed. It is recorded in 2 Samuel, chapter xxiv.,
that David ordered the people to be numbered. One account says that
Satan, and another account says that the Lord, moved David to number the
people: no doubt it was done to get the number of the fighting men of
Israel; for doing which, the Lord was angry with David; and three modes
of punishment were submitted for the choice of the King:—“_Seven years’
famine, or to flee three months before his enemies, or to have three
days’ pestilence in the land._” The last was chosen, and it is recorded
that seventy thousand men died of the pestilence, as a punishment for
the offence of David. It is a libel on the Supreme Being to charge him
with the authorship of such injustice and cruelty. That thousands of
persons may have been cut off by plague, or pestilence, at times, and in
different nations, is highly probable—but not by a judgment for other
men’s sins.

In Homer’s Iliad, we have a similar account, written, according to
historians, about nine hundred years before the Christian era. In the
account of the Trojan War, the commander of the Grecian army, in the
sacking of different towns, took many female captives, among whom was
one who was the daughter of the Priest of Apollo, one of the Grecian
gods. The venerable Priest came to the General, clothed in his robes,
bearing the sublime and awe-inspiring ensigns of his god, and demanded
the liberation of his captive daughter. The General insulted the Priest
by a positive refusal to give up his daughter, and he (the Priest)
departed, and offered the following prayer:

    “If e’er with wreaths I hung the sacred fane,
    Or fed the flame with fat of oxen slain,
    God of the silver bow, thy shafts employ,
    Avenge my quarrel, and the Greeks destroy.”

The second General in command inquired of the Grecian Priest the cause
of such mortality among the soldiers; and the Priest returned the
following answer:—:

    “The King of men, the reverend Priest defied,
    And, for the King's offence, the people died.”

The similarity between the Jehovah of the Jews, and the Apollo of the
Greeks, is very striking. Jehovah slew the Jewish army because David
numbered the people; and the Grecian god slew the soldiers because the
Priest had been insulted. The number is exactly the same, each being
seventy thousand men. The God of the Jews is said to have been the
author of the destruction of the army of the Israelites, and a heathen
god the destroyer of the Greeks. The first is believed to be a part of
Divine Revelation; the last is acknowledged to be but fiction.

From all the accounts recorded respecting David, to me he appears to
have been a wicked man; much worse than Saul, whose worst action seems
to have been his humanity in sparing Agag, whom he took prisoner. I
cannot, therefore, believe, that the Universal Ruler of all Nature
sanctioned his actions, directly or indirectly, any more than he does
now, or ever has done, those of any other legal murderer.

A few remarks more will conclude the life and conduct of David. In 1
Kings, chapter i., it is recorded, that David being old and infirm,
could get no warmth in bed, and a fair young damsel was sought for
throughout the land of Israel, to wait on him by day, and sleep with him
during the night, to keep the old King warm. With her he was much
pleased, but the account states, that “David the King knew her not.”
This is a strange tale, for if the sole object was, to get a young woman
to sleep with him, then not the fairest, but the fattest, plumpest girl
to be found throughout the land, would have been the most proper person
for such service; for at that time, David must have had half a score of
wives living. It is therefore clear, that warmth was only a pretence for
selecting a handsome young maiden to comfort the Lord’s anointed; and we
may safely infer that David was not cured of his former tricks.

The life and conduct of Solomon must now pass in review. When his father
was on his death-bed, he gave his son Solomon instructions to put to
death several persons who had been the subjects of David, but to whom he
(David) had sworn while living, that he would spare their lives. And
accordingly, Solomon, after the death of his father, put into execution
the orders he had received, and slew the persons mentioned by David; so
that his reign commenced in blood.

And here it is proper to notice, that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and
the mother of Solomon, in order to disinherit the eldest son of David by
his former wife, prevailed on David to have Solomon anointed King, in
the lifetime of his father. So that Adonijah, the real heir, was set
aside; and the better to secure the throne, Solomon had his half-brother
put to death. The cause of this execution, as is recorded, was because
Adonijah asked leave of Solomon, the King, to marry the damsel who kept
David warm in his old age! Jehovah had chosen a strange family, after
turning out Saul from the-kingdom, and Solomon was too pure to let a
brother live, after being so wicked as to ask permission to marry the
young virgin who had kept the back of his old father warm in a cold
night!

After Solomon had slain those men according to the orders before given
by his father, he added another to the list, viz., Adonijah, his
half-brother. The Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, “Ask what I
shall give thee.” Solomon then dreamed that he gave the following reply
to the gracious permission:—_“Give, therefore, thy servant an
understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good
and bad.”_ This request is said to have pleased the Lord, who added to
it _“both riches and honor”; “and-Solomon awoke, and behold it was a
dream.”_ This account is written in 1 Kings, chapter iii.; and all that
can be made of it is, that Solomon dreamed the Lord told him so, and we
have nothing but his word for it.

The Bible record of Solomon’s riches, and, in fact, the whole of his
life, is not entitled to any credit whatever. We may say, however, that
some allowance ought to be made for Solomon on account of the bad
example under which he was brought tip in the family of his father; for
if the Scripture history of the facts concerning Solomon is to be
considered true, then the whole of his reign is the most extraordinary
which ever happened in the world. Beginning with his riches, it exceeds
every thing in ancient or modern times. The feast at the opening of the
Temple was no small matter.

Scripture informs us, that at the dedication of the Temple, Scripture
informs us, that at the dedication of the Temple, the sacrifice offered
up, was twenty-two thousand oxen, and one hundred and twenty-two
thousand sheep. This, when we consider the smallness of David’s domains,
and the general poverty of his family, is incredible; but as every thing
is so wonderful, and the whole of the reign of Solomon is so
extravagant, no dependence whatever is to be placed on any of its
accounts.

As it regards Solomon’s household, the provisions named for each day are
the following:—“_Thirty measures of fine flour, threescore measures of
meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred
sheep, besides harts and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and faited fowls.”
“And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and
twelve thousand horsemen.”_ Now, in so small, and in many parts barren
land, where could they be raised? But Solomon had need of a plentiful
table, for it is recorded that he had seven hundred wives, and three
hundred concubines! If he had wisdom enough to regulate his house so as
to live happy, it must be owned that the Lord had given him more than a
common share; but as none but fools or madmen will believe this account,
we may let it pass without comment.

The most astonishing inconsistency in the reign of Solo-man, is his
continual departure from the worship of Jehovah, who had been his
benefactor, and who had also repeatedly warned him of the consequences
of a departure from the God of his father. If what is recorded of his
riches be true, they were greater than those of any monarch on earth.
The gold he is said to have possessed when he built the Temple, exceeds
all calculation, and is in strict accordance, in point of magnitude,
with his feast at the dedication of the Temple, and with his daily
allowance of food for his household, and also with his seven hundred
wives, and three hundred concubines. But when we consider the poverty of
the Israelites up to the time of his father’s reign, and also David’s
poverty until the death of Saul, when at times, David had neither food
for himself nor army, neither had he gold nor silver wherewith to
purchase it—it may be asked, how Solomon came into the possession of
such an immense quantity of gold? and also from what vast extent of
country did he procure his horses, when but a few years before, David,
his father; could scarcely afford to keep a jackass? Again, where did he
procure such numerous herds of cattle and flocks of sheep?

But as I have before said, the greatest inconsistency of all is, that
Solomon should worship other gods, contrary to the express command of
Jehovah, who had given him wisdom, riches, and honors. Leaving
Christians, then, to settle with Solomon, how he, with all his wisdom,
could so play the fool and madman in the face of his God, some attention
will be directed to the God of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob. It will be
recollected that Saul, the predecessor of David, had offended Jehovah by
sparing the life of Agag, a captive King. In consequence, it is recorded
that the God of Israel repented that he put Saul on the throne. He then
chose David, and his family, to succeed the house of Saul; and having
made this second choice, he declared he should not repent again.

If this last declaration had been made by man, in his choice, after
having before been mistaken, the following mode of reasoning would aptly
apply; and Jehovah would also thus reason:—“I made choice of Saul to be
King over Israel. I sent him to smite Amalek, and not to spare any soul
alive, old age and infancy not excepted; but Saul did not obey my
orders, but spared the King and brought him a captive, which I did not
expect As I took him from driving mules, and made him a King, he ought
therefore to have obeyed my commands. I dethroned him and his family
forever. I then appointed David, a man after my own heart. In this
choice I was happy. He departed not from my worship or my law, but with
a few exceptions. It is true, David committed adultery and murder, in
the case of Bathsheba and Uriah; but he repented, and I caused the brat
to die out of the way, which made room for Solomon. Now, who could ever
have thought that Solomon would have turned out so bad? Why, the fellow,
in addition to wisdom, riches, and honor, has now seven hundred wives,
and three hundred concubines! and not content with this number, he
marries the daughters of heathens, prostrates himself before their
idols, and builds new temples to their gods; but I promised not to
repent again, yet Solomon must be punished. I will not, therefore,
depose him, but in his son’s reign I will divide the kingdom, and give
the greater part of it to one of mean birth. I will not wholly take it
away from the seed of David, because I promised him that he should not
want a man to sit on his throne; but I will, for the wickedness of
Solomon, cause discord among the tribes, that will induce them to fight
against each other. It is not for the thousand women that Solomon had,
which would not fail to create discord and all manner of misery; neither
for putting to death his brother: all that I could have tolerated—but he
changed his religion, and worshipped strange gods; I will rend the
nation asunder, never more to be united. It would have been more to my
honor to have suffered Saul to continue on the throne, for he only
disobeyed my Orders once, but the son of David built temples for
idolatry, and worshipped false gods, setting my authority at defiance.
In his son’s reign, therefore, I will bring on trouble in his house,
that all Israel may know how great is the sin of worshipping false gods,
and thus rebelling against the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel.”

I will now ask the Christian preachers, whether I dishonor the all-wise
Sovereign of the Universe, in not believing him to be capable of such
tomfoolery as this: in choosing, and again rejecting his former choice:
in blundering, to rectify a former blunder, and falling into one much
greater, to remedy the first: to be doing, and undoing: to have an end
to accomplish, and to make use of means that fail in its accomplishment.
Ye priests! if ye are not blind, look at the heavens above, and also on
the earth beneath, and then ask yourselves, whether the God of all is
the same personage as Jehovah, the God of Israel?

To conclude these remarks respecting the house of David and
Solomon:—Even admitting that such personages had a real existence, I
cannot so dishonor the Supreme Governor of Nature as for a moment to
admit, that he dealt with either David or Solomon any otherwise than he
deals with every human being, and I should stand before my fellow men a
self-convicted hypocrite, were I to affect to believe.



CHAPTER VII. THE REIGN OF JEROBOAM, AND THE SEPARATION OF ISRAEL FROM
JUDAH


REVIEWING the character of the three former Kings, two of whom gave
Jehovah much trouble, and David, the best of them, committed adultery
and murder, we must say, it was an unfortunate beginning of royal
government. After the death of Solomon, his son, Rehoboam, began to
reign. The people requested the new made King to ease them somewhat of
the taxes and burdens laid on them by his father, Solomon. Rehoboam
consulted with his father’s old servants on that subject, and they
advised him to attend to the wishes of his people; but he, on consulting
with his own particular party, returned the following answer:—“_My
little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins: my father hath
chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions_.” This
gives us a sample of Solomon’s reign, and also of the course intended to
be pursued by his son.

Rehoboam’s answer produced a revolt, and the kingdom became divided. Ten
tribes broke off from Rehoboam, and proclaimed Jeroboam King of Israel,
while Rehoboam retained two tribes: so that the Israelites were divided.
The ten tribes were called the kingdom of Israel, and the other two, the
kingdom of Judah. This is the punishment that the Lord said he would
bring on the nations in consequence of the sins of Solomon. So it was
then, with the Lord’s people, as it has ever been in Christian countries
where the aristocracy is every thing, and, the people are considered as
nothing. According to Jewish history, Jehovah and the Kings of his own
choosing quarrelled, and then the people had to suffer in consequence of
disputes in which they had but little or no interest; and one of the
strongest proofs that “the God of the Bible” is not that Being whom we
believe to be the only true God, is, that when the Jehovah of Moses and
the Kings quarrel, the Kings are spared alive, but the innocent people
are in some way or other murdered; thus clearly showing, that Kings are
by Jehovah worth more than those who by honest toil cultivate the earth,
and labor for the benefit of society,—a doctrine directly opposite to
all our ideas of impartial justice.

We now proceed to examine the course pursued by Jeroboam, the fourth
King who was chosen to reign over Israel. We ought to find him fitted
for so important a station; but, on the contrary, we have again to
record another chapter of blunders, far worse than those before
mentioned. Saul, their first King, disobeyed the command in sparing
Agag, the King, after having destroyed every soul that drew breath.
David _followed the Lord with his whole heart_; that is, he never
entered into the temple of idols except to destroy them and their
worshippers; but he was guilty of two crimes, for either of which, had
he been any thing but a King, or Priest, he would have been, by the laws
of his own country, put to death. Solomon’s character was marked by
every thing extravagant; but he did not wholly turn from the worship of
Jehovah, only at times, as when he espoused a heathen lady. Then, to
prove his love for his new spouse, he worshipped in the temple of
strange gods, and also built new churches to their honor. This is a
general outline of the three Kings, all of whom were chosen by Jehovah
himself.

Jeroboam was appointed, according to what is recorded, in consequence of
Solomon’s idolatry. I then ask, whether it is not reasonable to expect,
that, in the reign of Jeroboam, the worship of the God of Israel would
alone be the religion of the ten tribes who were taken from Solomon
because of his departure at times from the God of Abram, Isaac, and
Jacob? Jeroboam being then, by Jehovah, made King, in preference to all
others, and being raised in the family, of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and
only as a servant connected with the family, we cannot suspect that ever
a new choice should have been made for the worse. Could this have been
the case if Infinite Wisdom had chosen him? No; it is impossible! No
sooner, however, did Jeroboam obtain the rule over the ten tribes, by
the direct order of Jehovah himself, than he set up a religion directly
opposite to the God who had elevated him to such honor and power.

It is impossible for this account to be true, for two reasons that will
be given. The first is, that Jeroboam must have known the cause why
Solomon’s family were excluded from reigning over the whole of the
Jewish nation, namely, because he (Solomon) did at times worship what
were called false gods. Now, Jeroboam well knew this, and also, that the
only way for him to secure his power was, never to depart at any time,
or under any circumstances, from the worship of Jehovah. But, contrary
to this, he commenced his reign by falling back into Egyptian idolatry.
Under pretence of keeping his subjects faithful to his government, by
not permitting them to go up to the Temple, at Jerusalem, Jeroboam set
up two golden calves, one at Dan, and the other at Bethel, and
proclaimed, “_These are thy Gods, O Israel who brought you up out of the
land of Egypt._” Besides, he knew that Jehovah would pardon an
adulterer, or murder, as he had done in the case of David; but on no
account did he ever forgive the sin of idolatry.

There is nothing improbable in admitting that the tribes should split
into two kingdoms, and have different rulers. This has often been the
case; but the only way to account for the conduct of Jeroboam is, by
concluding that he knew, the whole to be a trick, and that neither
Jehovah, nor any other God, had a hand in the putting up or dethroning
of Kings. This being admitted, we can see clearly through the whole
matter. Jeroboam then would, from policy, set up a new religion, or
revive an old one, so as to keep his subjects from mixing with their old
acquaintances of the kingdom of Judah. It is utterly impossible for
Jeroboam to have acted as is recorded, if he in truth believed that the
only true and living God was his benefactor, and had raised him to regal
authority.

The second reason why Infinite Wisdom had nothing to do in the elevation
of Jeroboam, is, because he must have foreseen that Jeroboam would have
made the matter worse, so far as idolatry was concerned; and this will
appear the more striking by the first act of his reign. As soon as
Jeroboam came to the throne, he (contrary to the law of Moses) set up
images, and made priests of the lower orders of the people, and began
himself to worship in the character and office of a priest; for which, a
prophet from Judah is sent (by the God who, it is said, gave Solomon the
kingdom of Israel) to curse the altar at the time Jeroboam was in the
act of sacrificing. Now the conduct of the prophet so sent, will enable
us to see through the whole farce. This is recorded in 1 Kings, chapter
xiii.

The following is in substance the prophet’s mission:—This man of God was
sent by Jehovah to cry against and curse the altar at the time Jeroboam
was performing sacrifice; and being at the altar, he ordered his
officers to lay hold of the prophet, at the same time pointing to him;
and instantly the King’s arm became useless, and could not be drawn into
its proper place. Jeroboam then cried to the man of God to pray that his
arm might be restored. The man of God besought the Lord, and a recovery
took place. Here, then, was a miracle performed; and Jeroboam, being
grateful, invited the prophet home to reward him by an entertainment of
bread and water; but the man of God refused, by saying, that he was
ordered by the Lord not to eat bread nor to drink water—in fact, to make
no friendship whatever, but to return. Off, therefore, he went, after he
had performed two miracles; one of which was, to cause Jeroboam to lose
the use of his arm; the other, to restore it The prophet, on his way
back, was met by a man who made the same request, namely, to go home
with him, and eat and drink; but the man of God still refused. The man
who thus enticed him, further said, I am also a prophet, and _“an angel
spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, bring him back into thine
house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.”_

The lying prophet was in the service of Jeroboam, King of Israel; but
the man of God, who came to cry against the altar, belonged to the
kingdom of Judah. The man of God, who understood that his first orders
were countermanded, went home with the lying prophet, and did eat and
drink. The reader will now notice the following three verses in 1 Kings
xiii., 20, 21, 22:—“And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that
the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he
cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the
Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and host
not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, but
earnest back, and hast eaten bread and drank water in the place of which
the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcass
shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.” If men would but
exercise their reason, is it possible for them to believe that the
Sovereign Ruler of all had any concern in so paltry a transaction as
this?

The sum of the whole account may be expressed in a few words. The first
prophet came to Jeroboam, by order of the Lord, to curse the altar. He
then and there performed two miracles, as proof that his commission was
Divine. He then departed. All was so far right; but, on meeting another
prophet, he was told, in so many words, that things were changed, and
that he might do now that which he was ordered not to do when he first
set out. But the old prophet of Jeroboam, we are told, was a liar; and
when they sat at meat, the word of the Lord came to the lying prophet
and gave him orders to condemn the first. So that the Lord first
employed an honest servant, who performed his errand faithfully, and
then took into his service a false prophet and a liar! Believe this who
can!

It is possible that Jeroboam may have been King over Israel: this is not
the point in dispute; but that Infinite Wisdom appointed him, cannot
possibly be true, because he was made King in consequence of Solomon’s
idolatry. Solomon did not, by sinning himself, corrupt the whole nation;
but Jeroboam set up false gods, and the people followed his example, so
that the worship of Jehovah, by the ten tribes, was entirely abandoned.
Such blundering cannot be admitted, if the true and living God is to be
considered as the projector. Besides, Jeroboam was not cured of his
error by reformation, although he had been an eye-witness of the
miracles performed on his own person. Enough, then, has been said to
prove, that the whole account of God’s making Jeroboam King over Israel,
is without any solid foundation.

We will now turn to the man of God who came to curse the altar, and we
shall be able to discover what we are to understand by the word of the
Lord coming unto this or that man, saying. And here I call on the reader
to keep in mind, that in many places in the Bible, when any thing
unfortunate occurred to Jehovah’s chosen people, such as the Lord raised
up such and such enemies, and also that such misfortunes were from the
Lord: also, again, _an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul_;—all such
passages, and many others, mean no more than that the Lord permitted
such events to take place. In this sense, we may say that it was from
the Lord that Andrew Jackson destroyed a great part of the English army;
but no man is foolish enough to suppose that the Lord had directly any
thing to do in the defence of New Orleans. Again, it is repeated in
hundreds of places in the Bible, that _the word of the Lord came to this
or that person, saying._ Now, apply this interpretation to “the word of
the Lord came unto Moses,” and all that can be made of it is, that Moses
ascribed every order he gave of his to the people, as coming from the
Lord. It is in several places recorded that the word of the Lord came to
one prophet of Judah, and then this said word was taken away from the
first person, and turned over to another prophet who belonged to Israel;
and in 1 Kings xxii., 24, it is recorded, that one prophet smote another
on the face, and said, “Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to
speak unto thee?” Nothing can be more clear, than that the whole of the
Lord’s interference is out of the question.

After Israel and Judah were divided, they continued as two separate
governments, with each a King for a leader. Sometimes they fought
against each other, calling in other Kings to assist them; at other
times, they were united and fought together to oppose the common enemy,
their heathen neighbors. In a war with the Syrians, when Jehoshaphat,
King of Judah, and Ahab, King of Israel, united their armies against the
Syrians, and being on the eve of battle, an inquiry was made of the
Lord’s prophets, as to what success they would have? Ahab, the King of
Israel, called his prophets, four hundred in number, and, on being
consulted as to the result of a battle, they one and all said, go fight,
for the Lord will deliver your enemies into your hands. Jehoshaphat,
being more cautious, said, is there not another prophet of whom we may
inquire of the Lord? And the King of Israel (Ahab) said, there is; but I
do not like him, because he always foretells something to my
disadvantage. Then Micaiah, a prophet of the kingdom of Judah, was
called, and he foretold that the event of a battle would be favorable to
these kings; but that Ahab would be slain. One of Ahab’s prophets then
became enraged, and smote Micaiah on the face, and sneeringly asked him,
“_Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak to thee?_”

We have here a sample of the prophets on each side They one and all
appear to be ready to lie, and deceive each other, in the name of the
Lord, and also, to fight for their employers. In this account, it is
also recorded that the God of truth accepted of the services of a lying
spirit, to deceive four hundred prophets, in order to get rid of a
wicked king, the whole account of which is to be found in 1 Kings,
chapter xxii.

After the tribes were separated, it was common for the prophets to
oppose each other. The kings, also, of each nation aided in the
destruction of the prophets, and were worshippers of strange gods. And
yet it is recorded, that Jehovah chose Jeroboam to be king over
Israel,—the very man who introduced the worship of idols, to the entire
exclusion of the worship of the God of Abram! This choice of Jehovah
laid the foundation of scenes of bloodshed too horrid to be ascribed to
the all-wise Author of Nature. It could not have been worse, had the
Devil been the chooser.

For years after the Israelites became two distinct nations, we read of
little else than quarrels and bloodshed; and the prophets of Judah
(called the prophets of Jehovah) were much worse than those called false
prophets. This can be easily accounted for, as the Jewish religion was
then the most intolerant of any on earth. The Kings of Judah gave
orders, in the name of the Lord, to destroy all the heathen, as the
enemies of Jehovah. The prophets followed up the same practice; at the
same time, the prophets of the heathen gods were less cruel, and,
morally speaking, much better men. According to what is recorded,
whenever power was in the hands of the Kings of Judah, or their
prophets, no mercy was shown to the opposite party; and as to prophets,
they seemed to spring up like mushrooms, for it was often inquired by
kings, is there not a man of God here?

A few remarks on the prophets of those times may be here made. Elijah
seems to have had delegated to him almost unlimited power; for lo! he,
under pretence of having orders from Jehovah, anointed kings agreeably
to his pretended orders. He then foretold what the Lord intended should
be done to certain kings and their families. Those kings, then, thus
anointed by the authority of Elijah, received orders to destroy such and
such families; so that after Jehovah had separated the Israelites into
two kingdoms by setting up Jeroboam, nothing but cruelty and murder
followed, in consequence of the Lord’s making so bad a choice.

It would, judging from what transpired, have been better not to have
changed the dynasty, but to let Solomon’s heirs continued to have
reigned over the whole of the Israetish nation; for in this state of
Jewish history, idolatry, murder, carnage, and every bad passion was let
loose; and the kings of each nation of the Jews, by the direction of
these upstart prophets, showed no mercy to those of their brethren who
had, by the fortune of war, fallen into their power. All this horrid
state of things originated from Jeroboam being made king, and setting up
idolatry throughout the land. Can we then admit, for a moment, that the
Sovereign Ruler of all brought on such a wretched state of things, or
ascribe to him so foolish a choice as the appointment of Jeroboam to be
King of Israel? No! it is utterly impossible.

But to return to the prophets. Elijah and Elisha were, at this time, the
Lord’s servants. Elijah was foremost, and Elisha acted as his servant.
The following circumstance brought Elijah into direct conflict with the
kingdom of Israel, and the then called false prophets:—Ahaziah, then
King of Israel and Samaria, met with an accident, and was sick; and he
sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub whether he would recover or not
Now, Elijah was sent, or, he said he was sent, to say to the messenger,
“_Is it because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to
inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?_” The King of Israel then
inquired what sort of a man it was who thus remonstrated with the
messenger? And from the account given, he found it to be Elijah, the
prophet of Judah; consequently a prophet of the Lord. Elijah was sitting
on a hill, and the king sent a captain and fifty men to bring him before
him; and this was the order:—“_Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come
down. And Elijah answered, and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a
man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and thy
fifty. And there came down fire from heaven and consumed him and his
fifty._” And again, another captain and fifty went, and shared the same
fate. Then the third captain and fifty were sent; but the captain of the
last fifty fell on his knees before-the prophet, and begged for his
life, and for the lives of his-men. The Lord then ordered Elijah to go
down with the captain to the king.

Now I ask the reader, if his mind is prepared to, believe that these two
slaughters, consisting of one hundred men, with their two captains, were
brought on them by fire from heaven, as a judgment? What was their
crime? They acted as they were ordered by the king. Here we may discover
the falsity of the statement; for if any punishment was to follow in
sending for the prophet, ought not Ahaziah to have been the victim? This
wanton shedding of blood, by the mere calling down from heaven
judgments, by an old fellow wrapped up in a bear’s-skin, and called a
man of God, is too barefaced a lie for the present state of society.
There is not one word of truth in the whole marvellous story. Jehovah’s
murdering the people for the vices of their rulers, is anti-republican;
and if men would consult their reason, and employ common sense, the
Christian priesthood would be ashamed to preach of a God of mercy, and,
at the same time, ascribe to him injustice and cruelty.

Elijah and his man Friday, Elisha, appear to be two of the most cruel of
all the band of pretended men of God. They, according to what is
recorded, seem to have had a sort of general license to kill and destroy
every thing that came in their way. All the prophets and worshippers of
the god Baal-zebub, the then worship of the kingdom of Israel and
Samaria, were put to death by the stratagem and order of Elijah; and
after him, Elisha received an affront by being called “_old bald head_”
and for this great offence, the Lord sent two she bears out of the
woods, and devoured forty and two little children! The nonsense of the
Koran cannot come up to this account. During the lives of Elijah and
Elisha, Jehovah could attend to little else than their concerns, for
they were forever praying for something to incommode or destroy human
beings.

What man is there, at the present day, who can believe that the Author
of Nature gave to a mortal, power to withhold the rain or the dews of
heaven from descending on the earth, as is recorded was given to Elijah,
who told Ahab, King of Israel, (1 Kings xvii., 1,) “_As the Lord God of
Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain
these years, but according to my words_”? This miracle is referred to by
a New Testament writer, but it is not the more true on that account. I
have, however, said enough of Elijah, and, as he is about to go up into
heaven, I have no wish to follow him.

I will only mention his ascension. It appears that all the towns and
villages round about had heard, by what means I know not, that Elijah
was soon to be taken up into heaven; for wherever he and Elisha went,
the people said unto Elisha, _know you wot that Elijah is about to be
taken from you?_ and Elisha nodded an assent, and said, “_hold your
peace._” It appears as if Elijah endeavored to evade Elisha’s presence
when he would be taken up; but Elisha stuck to him until up he went in a
chariot of fire, with horses of the same; and Elisha saw it, and cried
out, “_My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen
thereof!_” In going up, his mantle fell off, Elisha taking it, and with
it, the prophetic spirit of his master. Elisha then followed on in the
footsteps of his predecessor; and his first act was, to call on his God
to destroy some little children, for the enormous crime of calling so
odd a looking fellow, “_old bald head_” In truth, we discover in most of
the prophets such a spirit of intolerance and rage towards those who
were so unfortunate as to differ from or oppose them, that they ought to
be considered prophets of the Devil, and not servants of him whose
wisdom, power and goodness are stamped on all the works of this mighty
universe.

The prophet Jonah seems to have been a man every way unfit for the
prophetic service; for when ordered to go to Nineveh, to cry against the
wickedness of its inhabitants, he ran away; and, according to the
record, his, disobedience produced a violent storm, and when the sailors
found that he was out of his road to Nineveh, they cast lots to find out
the person who had caused the storm, and the lot fell on Jonah, who
confessed himself to be the guilty person. He then told them to cast him
into the sea, as the only way to save themselves and the ship. It is
written what followed. Another blunder again in the choice of Jonah; and
miracles must be performed to cause this run-away prophet to reach his
destination. He then again made an attempt to preach repentance to the
Ninevites; and they, hearing of the destruction against them, repented,
and this made the prophet stark mad; for his consequence as a prophet
being hurt, he exclaimed, that _he was tired of life_. Poor, paltry
trash for the employment of a God, to reason with and coax a hotheaded
creature like Jonah! but, like all the rest of such tales, there is not
one word of truth in the whole concern.

Before taking leave of the prophets of the Old Testament, a few remarks
may suffice to point out their real character. From the time that
Jehovah adopted the seed of Abram for his chosen people, nothing but
trouble and vexation on his part occurred; and on the part of the
descendants of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, one disaster after another
followed in quick succession. Under whatever form of government they
lived, they strayed from his commands, and in spite of his watchfulness,
his chosen people would worship strange gods, for which offence they
were punished. Heathen kings were stirred up against them, and their
subjugation was the consequence. They then cried unto the Lord, and
matters were made up for a while. The same scenes again took place, and
punishments followed. From the beginning of the Jewish dispensation
until it ended, there was continual quarrelling between Jehovah and his
favorites, and some of those quarrels were so contemptible that they
would disgrace a foolish old man and a peevish wife disputing how the
firebrands should be put together, by an evening fire-side. The
prophets, also, partook of the same spirit; they abused each other, and
sometimes came to blows: they would lie and deceive in the name of the
Lord.

But the worst part of the Jewish dispensation commenced with the reign
of their kings. Saul was first chosen by Jehovah himself; and, admitting
the account to be true, the only crime that is laid to his charge is,
the sparing of Agag, the King of the Amalekites, although he had
destroyed every other being, both old and young. For this one act of
humanity, Saul and his family were rejected by Jahovah. David, his
successor, obeyed the Lord in all things respecting religious worship;
but he committed adultery and murder, thereby forfeiting his life by the
law of Moses. But he was forgiven, and the child, the fruit of his
adulterous intercourse, was, by the Lord of Hosts, destroyed. Solomon,
his son, and the son also of his companion in guilt, was made king.
Solomon worshipped idols at times, throughout his reign, and Jehovah was
angry, and resolved to try another line of kings. Jeroboam was then
anointed king over ten tribes, and the family of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob
were split in twain.

Now, mark! This separation was in consequence of Solomon’s idolatry. We
might expect, judging from Jehovah’s former disappointment, that
Jeroboam would entirely devote himself and his people to the worship of
the God of Israel. But behold! Jeroboam began with setting up two golden
calves, in direct opposition, to the law of Moses, and also to the
command of Jehovah, who had raised him from a state of servitude to sit
on a throne, savage and only at times departed from the Lord, but
Jeroboam excluded every vestige of the worship of Jehovah from his
kingdom. This, then, is a just statement of the conduct of those kings
selected by the Lord of Hosts, as recorded in the Old Testament And can
it be possible that Infinite Wisdom should have been thus disappointed
by those whom he had chosen? The just conclusion, then, is, that the
Ruler of all worlds had no concern in putting up or pulling down any of
the Kings of Israel or Judah. The history is, from first to last, a
cheat on the human race, and blasphemy against the only true God.

From the time that Jeroboam was made king until the tribes were carried
away into captivity, idolatry was the sin complained of by all the
prophets; it was the constant burden of all their prophecies; and the
prophets, one and all, intermixed with their complaints the prediction
that the Lord had not entirely cast them off, but that the time would
come when he would _raise up unto them a prophet like unto Moses_. Such
predictions, often repeated by all the prophets together with continued
references to their future renovation and restoration, is what caused a
general expectation of some mighty deliverer that would, _in the
fullness of time_, appear among them.



CHAPTER VIII. ON DIVINE INSPIRATION


I INTENDED to conclude the review of the Old Testament by examining the
passages supposed to be prophetical of Jesus Christ, and, as such,
quoted by the writers of the New Testament; but as that has already been
done, in a masterly manner, by Mr. ---------- (Name crossed out by a
former reader. ED) and as his opinion respecting them coincides entirely
with my own, I beg leave to refer my readers to the work of that able
writer on the subject. Professing Christians believe that what are
called the five Books of Moses were given by divine inspiration. I
shall, therefore, in this chapter, consider what is to be understood by
divine inspiration, abstractly considered, and also with reference to
prophecy and miracles. It is contended that Moses wrote the account of
the Creation, and that it is true. If so, then all the particulars of
that remote age must have been given to the writer by nothing short of
Supreme Intelligence. I ask, how was this information communicated? The
Christian answers—by inspiration. This does not solve the difficulty. I
therefore ask, what is inspiration?

Divine inspiration, according to the Christian’s idea of it, must have
been the source of prophecy and miracles, and implies infinite knowledge
and power. Now, as Adam could not have given an account of his own
origin, whoever wrote the history of the creation of the world, and of
our first parents, must, if divinely inspired, have had all the
particulars of the past clearly made known to him. We are told, by the
New Testament writers, that “_all Scripture is given by inspiration_”;
and again, that “_Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost._” Still, divine inspiration remains an inscrutable mystery as to
what it is abstractly considered; and, also, with respect to the manner
in which it is communicated. It seems strange, to say the least, that
divine revelation should be given to the human race by the means of
inspiration, and yet the mode of communication be enveloped in profound
mystery. As divine inspiration and divine revelation are closely
connected, the first being the avenue of conveyance, and the latter
being the subject communicated, I shall define, as clearly as I can,
what constitutes divine revelation; but in order, if possible, to
prevent mistake, I shall first point out what it is not.

The developments and improvements which man effects by the exercise of
his perceptive and reflective faculties, are results which are not
obtained through the medium of divine revelation. From being a savage,
and wandering in a state of destitution in the forests, he has, by the
use of his varied faculties, made advances in civilization and the arts,
which at first sight appear superhuman, but which were, nevertheless,
unaided by divine revelation. Contrasting the present state of the
wonderful and awe-inspiring science of astronomy with that when the best
informed of the human race were but ignorant star-gazers, we can but
feel proud that we are a part of the human family. Again, when we look
back at the period when the frail little bark could not venture out of
sight of land, and then contemplate the improvements in naval
architecture of our present times, which have presented us with that
splendid floating palace, the _Great Britain steamships_ we can but see
that all this has been effected without any assistance from divine
revelation. If, at some future time, by means of improvements in the
telescope, inhabitants should be discovered in the moon, we should not
be indebted for the discovery to divine revelation. But, the discovery
not having been made, should an angel be sent from heaven to make known
the fact, such information would undoubtedly constitute a divine
revelation. So, then, it is dear that whatever improvement man may make,
by the unaided exercise of his faculties, cannot be considered as the
result of divine revelation. Divine revelation is that which man cannot
know, consequently never has known, and never will know by the aid of
his reasoning powers The Old and New Testaments collectively are called
a divine revelation; and that the information these books contain,
respecting man’s duty to his Maker, came from the Almighty; Ruler of the
universe, is the Christian’s view of the matter.

We will now examine the various inlets, or avenues, by which divine
revelation is said to have been communicated to man. According to the
scriptures, the first in order is that God himself conversed with
men;—secondly, by the medium of angels;—thirdly, by inspired
prophets;—fourthly, by dreams;—fifthly, by visions;—and lastly, by his
son. These are the principal inlets. We will examine these different
modes, and make such remarks as are applicable to each. First, then, as
to the assumption that God himself, conversed with men. It is recorded
that he appeared to and conversed with, our first parents; also with
Noah, Abram, Moses, and even Balaam. The Deity’s conversing with Adam
and Eve may be considered as the commencement of divine revelation. With
respect to the truth of these conversations, and the remarkable
appearances connected with them, no positive testimony can be adduced
either for or against; we must therefore take reason for our guide in
the examination. We begin, then, by observing, that if such events did
actually occur, it is clear that God was accessible to man in those
days, and that in a manner very different to what he is in our own
times; and, also, that the unknown and invisible being could be
approached on the most trifling occasions.

No good having ever resulted to man from such visits from the Great
Author of all things, is proof presumptive that they never took place.
So far from any moral good having resulted to Adam and Eve from their
daily intercourse with Jehovah, we find in the case, of Eve, that, being
seduced, either, by the serpent, or her own vicious inclination, she ate
the forbidden fruit The ejectment of our first parents from the garden
of Eden, would seem to warrant us in believing that the Lord watched
over them for evil, and not for good. A pair of human beings brought
into existence without experience of the past, or knowledge of the
future, must stand much in need of instruction from their Creator; and
yet the result of all the recorded intercourse was, they became
disobedient; and were driven out of the garden provided for them by no
less a being than the Author of the universe. Had the Bible-makers
arranged the story so as to have made the conversations and intercourse
result in the continuance of our first parents in the garden, the
account would have borne some resemblance to truth: but to represent it
as having ended in their expulsion, is by far too large a draft upon
human credulity, unless they can believe that God is what Christians
declare the Devil to be.

If the advocates for the authenticity of the Bible contend that the
recorded intercourse between the Lord and our first parents is literally
true, that view of the subject is attended with so many difficulties
that it is almost impossible to give credit to it But if they contend
that it is an allegory, then the probability is that the account of the
creation is altogether a fabulous tradition, consequently not a divine
inspiration. When the Lord is represented as having appeared to Abram,
or any of the renowned men of old, such appearances are not spoken of as
being of uncommon occurrence, nor is any surprise manifested. The Lord
is always represented as having appeared in a human form. Before the
sceptic can believe in the reality of these visitations, he must know
for what end they took place; and, also, why the Lord should in the
olden times be always ready to appear to, and converse with, his
favorites, and in modern times altogether discontinue his visits, as if
there were now nothing on earth worthy of his particular notice.

The Bible informs us that three angels in the form of men appeared to
Abram, and that one of them was called the Lord, the _Judge of all the
earth_. They must have been in the likeness of men: for, they had their
feet washed; they dined with Abram, and the particular kind of food is
mentioned, which in our day would be denominated veal and griddle-cake.
And at this dinner the promise was confirmed that Abram and Sarah should
be blessed with a son in their old age, and that from his descendants
one should arise who should be for the healing of the nations. After
dinner the Lord informed Abram that he had heard that Abram’s neighbors
were extremely wicked, and that he and his companions had come to
ascertain if the report were correct, and that the vengeance of Heaven
was about to fall on Sodom and Gomorrah for their crimes. The good old
man plead hard for the inhabitants, saying, “_Far be it from the Lord to
slay the righteous with the wicked,_” and thereby in a slight degree
averted the dreadful doom. The reader can peruse the account (Genesis,
chapter xviii.,) and make his own comments. The writer could as soon
believe that the moon is a large cheese, suspended in the firmament, as
give credit to this contemptible story. If it should be asked, how Moses
obtained his information as to what Abram had for dinner, the answer is,
by inspiration.

We will here notice two remarkable appearances of the Lord: one of them
to Balaam, the other to Moses, A few remarks on each will suffice.
Balaam was a conjuror, and a person of no small consequence in his day.
He was applied to by the princes of Moab to prophesy evil against the
Israelites, That whole nation, under the guidance of Moses, being in the
act of marching through the land of Moab on their route to the land of
promise, and having the character of making too free with other people’s
property, the princes of Moab hired Balaam to curse them. We are told
that the heathen prophet judged it best to procure the permission of
Jehovah, the God of the Jews, before he cursed his people. He,
therefore, erected an altar on the top of a hill, and on it sacrificed
seven bullocks and seven sheep. During the sacrifice, the Lord of heaven
and earth came down, and called the prophet aside from the presence of
the princes of Moab, and forbade him to curse his people. The sacrifice
was repeated thrice. On each occasion the Lord appeared to Balaam,
giving him leave to go with the princes, but forbidding him on any
account to curse the Israelites. The remainder of the tale is to be
found in the history of Balaam.

Now, can it be possible, that this account contains a particle of truth?
Can we suppose, that the unknown power, whom man calls God, presented
himself at the altar of a heathen necromancer, and, whispering in his
ear, forbade him to perform his monkey tricks to the detriment of his
chosen people? And that three times he should descend from heaven to
overawe the old trickster, as if he thought him capable of doing harm to
the Israelites? This account is rendered more contemptible by being
referred to by New Testament writers, although the scripture declares in
many places that “no man can see God and live.” Christians little think
how largely their credulity is taxed when they are taught to believe
that such accounts were given by divine inspiration.

It is written in the book of Exodus, (chapter xxiv.,) that After the
giving of the moral law on Mount Sinai, the Lord called Moses to the top
of that remarkable place to give him instructions respecting the
tabernacle and its paraphernalia. Moses remained there forty days,
attending to the commands of Jehovah. The Lord, on a sudden, informed
Moses that the Israelites had forsaken him, had set up a golden calf,
and were in the act of worshipping before it and dancing for joy. Moses
was ordered to go down. Before he left the mount, however, the Lord’s
anger waxed hot, and he told Moses not to plead for the wicked people.
Jehovah, being about to destroy them, Moses besought him not to cut them
off, and reminded him that, by so doing, the Egyptians would triumph and
say that their God led them into the wilderness to destroy them.

Moses also reminded Jehovah of the promises made to Abram, Isaac, and
Jacob, respecting their posterity; and by the arguments he made use of
in favor of showing mercy to the Jewish people, at length prevailed on
the Lord to suppress his anger. Having descended from the mount, Moses
found the people half-naked, and dancing in a state of joyful excitement
before the Golden Calf. The man who had but just before plead the cause
of his brethren, and thereby prevented Jehovah’s destroying the whole of
the seed of Abram, found it less difficult to quiet the fury of an angry
God, than to keep his own temper; for, when he saw their idolatrous
dancing and revelry, he lost all patience, and, throwing down the tables
of stone on which the laws were written, made the inquiry, “_Who is on
the Lord’s side?_” The Levites instantly came forward and declared for
the Lord. Moses ordered every man to take his sword and slay his
neighbor and friends who had rebelled against Jehovah,—a shocking
slaughter ensued, for three thousand were slain on that day!

If this account could be credited, it would be truly harrowing to the
reflecting mind. To believers in Christianity, we would say, can you
expect persons who depend on the exercise of their reason for the
discovery of truth and the detection of error, to believe the account of
the transactions of Jehovah and Moses on the mountain? Surely, you
cannot. We give the following reasons why it is out of our power to
believe it:—The narrative represents the Almighty Ruler of the Universe
as possessing the same frailties as his creature, man. The Creator is
forty days contriving (assisted by Moses) ornaments and decorations for
his own worship. Before these were completed, the people, who were to be
the worshippers, deserted their God, and either commenced a new religion
or revived an old one. For a considerable time, Jehovah allows Moses to
remain in ignorance of what is going on at the foot of the mountain;
then, all of a sudden, informs him of it; in a burst of passion tells
him to stand out of his way, so as to be no hindrance to him in pouring
out his wrath; and seems determined to exterminate the whole race.
Moses, less passionate than the Deity, argued strenuously in favor of
his brethren, and pointed out to Jehovah two reasons why he ought to
spare them:—first, that their extermination would break the promise made
to Abram; and secondly, that the Egyptians would exult in the
destruction of their former slaves, Jehovah losing all the honor of
having brought them out of bondage with _a mighty hand and an
outstretched arm_.

Having thus cooled down Divine vengeance, Moses himself became the Jack
Ketch, or executioner of his brethren.

If this account had been found in any book but the Bible, not one person
in a thousand would have believed it. It destroys the attributes of the
God of all worlds, gives the lie to his foreknowledge and immutability,
and then invests him with all the weakness, folly, and mutability of
poor, frail, erring man.

With respect to the dreams and visions, of which we find so many
accounts in the Old and New Testaments, they are spoken of by the
prophets as being the medium of divine inspiration. One of them thus
expresses himself:—“_It shall come to pass in the last days, saith the
Lord, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, and your sons and
your daughters shall prophesy, your old mm shall dream dreams, your
young men shall see visions._” (Joel, chapter ii.) Now we know that
dreams are not the result of divine inspiration. When we read that an
angel appeared to a man of God, no more can be made of it than this:—the
priest, or pretended prophet, dreamed that an angel appeared to him, and
conversed with him.

I have many times dreamed of seeing my first wife, who died upwards of
forty years ago. If I were to insist that the dream was a reality, it
would be considered by my friends that my mind was disordered; in short,
that I was insane. From dreams, we can obtain no correct ideas of
realities. If persons, who are much subject to dreams, were to imagine
that their dreams pointed to realities, they would be all their lifetime
in pursuit of shadows. Dreams and visions would be very uncertain
channels for the conveyance of divine revelations, for the supposed
angel might be the servant of the Devil instead of a messenger from
heaven.

The writings in the Old Testament which are called prophecies, generally
relate to the Jewish nation. How are we to know that they are
prophecies? In order that there may be no uncertainty with respect to a
prophet’s pretensions, he should foretell something to come to pass in
the lifetime of the persons to whom he declares the prophecy, stating
the precise time and place, so that when fulfilled, it should be a
million to one against its being the result of guess-work. It would then
carry with it a convincing proof of being the result of divine
inspiration.

To show the dependence that can be placed on prophecies, we may refer to
the Millerite delusion. The pretensions and extravagances of that sect
were based on the prophecies of Daniel. I have heard many preachers, of
acknowledged learning and talent, attempt to explain Daniel’s prophecies
with regard to the time of the second advent; but they generally
differed in their views. About the year 1803, a preacher in London,
(England,) of first rate abilities, told his congregation, a very large
one, to keep, in mind the year 1833, for that he had, after the most
laborious calculations, arrived at the conclusion that about that
period, signs and wonders would indicate the near approach of him who is
to come again in _power and great glory_.

There is no doubt but hundreds of learned men have, since the time that
Jesus is said to have left this world, consumed the “midnight oil” in
their researches to discover the time of the second advent, but to no
purpose. To no purpose, did I say? I mistook. In the case of Miller, it
was to a most unfortunate purpose. Thousands of his followers have been
in a state of partial insanity; many have been absolutely deranged; some
have committed suicide; others sold their lands, abandoned their
occupations, neglected their wives and children, and will never regain
their former happy homes. Can we suppose that the all-wise Ruler of the
Universe would promulgate prophecies so uncertain with respect to their
fulfilment, and so disastrous in the effects arising from their
uncertainty? I repeat, that prophecy, to answer any good purpose, should
be fulfilled in the lifetime of the persons to whom it is addressed;
otherwise, the uncertainty attending it renders it worse than useless.

If Daniel had been divinely inspired to foretell any thing relating to
Christ, common sense suggests that it would have reference to his first
appearance on earth. Instead of this being the burden of his prophecy,
he makes no allusion to his first coming, but, according to Christian
expositors, his dreams and visions refer to the _second_ coming of
Christ, and the final judgment. Father Miller’s bubble having burst, his
sincere but deluded followers are in a state of extreme wretchedness;
all of them injured either in mind or circumstances, and most of them in
both. Many of them will doubtless reject religion altogether. So much,
then, for depending on divine inspiration.

The power to perform miracles is included in the idea of divine
inspiration, and implies the possession of a power superior to all human
power. The exhibition of a power by an individual, superior to what the
united exertions of a whole nation could perform, ought to be credited
to the exhibiter as a power _received from on high_,—a conclusion drawn
by Christian commentators, and also by Jesus himself, with respect to
his recorded miracles; for, he says—“_If I had not done among them the
works which no other man did, they would not have had sin; but now_
[they having seen his miracles, and yet rejected him] _their sin
remaineth._”

Miracles are uncertain evidences of divine inspiration. What an ignorant
man might deem to be a miracle, a man of intelligence and education
might know to be the result of combined natural causes. What in one age
has been currently believed to have been the effect of supernatural
agency, a succeeding and more enlightened age has known as the result of
certain operations of nature. Nothing can justly be regarded as a
miracle unless it be, past all dispute, beyond human power to perform.
To suppose that the Deity makes use of means to promote the improvement
of his creatures, which are calculated to mislead them, is to impeach
his wisdom and goodness.

Miracles could not have been evidences of divine interposition to the
Jewish people, at the time of Christ’s appearance among them, owing to
the prevailing belief that supernatural beings, called devils, could
perform wonderful things, far above man’s power or comprehension; and
that some of them, more powerful than the rest, could invest mortals
with the power of performing-miracles of the same nature as those
ascribed to Jesus Christ.

Most of the religious sects at the present day affect to be influenced
by something almost amounting to divine inspiration—their religion
consisting of feelings, not of action. In the Scriptures we read, “_If
any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his._” I have often
noticed the variety of modes in which the spirit operates on different
sects. The Methodists, while seeking the Lord, as they term it, will
sigh, moan, and howl, and immediately after be in ecstasies bordering on
insanity, and bawl so loud that a passer-by might reasonably conclude
that some dreadful accident had befallen them. Passing to the other
extreme, the Friends, or Quakers, are as dumb as mutes, and will not
allow their speakers to open their lips until impelled to do so by the
spirit. But the Jumpers, in Wales, (Great Britain,) go ahead of all, for
they often perform the journey from their homes to their churches, by
the same kind of evolution as frogs make when on their peregrinations in
search of water. All these monkey tricks are of much easier performance
than feeding the hungry, or clothing the destitute. Can, or, presuming
that they can, will the preachers please inform us, which of these three
modes of spiritual manifestation will be practised in heaven?

In concluding this chapter, I shall make some remarks on the Mormons,
that being one of the last sects, of any importance, which have arisen,
professing the Christian faith. They also profess, or their leaders, at
least, to be specially moved by the Holy Spirit; in other words, that
they are the recipients of divine inspiration. Whatever other
denominations of Christians may think of their claims to supernatural
gifts, they are founded on quite as reasonable grounds as were the
pretensions of the prophets of old, not even excepting Moses, the Jewish
legislator; as a brief history of their rise and progress will prove.
The following account, the writer had from some of the principal
preachers of the Mormon faith:—“About the year 1827, or ’28, Joseph
Smith, a young man of obscure parentage, presented to the world a
production which he called the Book of Mormon, or the Golden Bible; and
of which, according to his own account, he became possessed in the
following manner:—When about fifteen years of age, being under religious
impressions, he used to retire to the fields and thickets in the
neighborhood of his home, to exercise himself in prayer. One day, while
thus engaged, an angel appeared to him, and informed him that the Lord
had a great and important work for him to perform, but that the time had
not yet arrived for its consummation. Then, after telling him that he
would be again visited, and urging him to pursue a godly life,
disappeared. A few years after this, the angel re-visited Joseph,
repeating his declaration respecting the contemplated work, and
disappeared as before. At length, on a third appearance, the angel
directed Joseph to go to a certain spot and dig in the earth, telling
him that he would there find something of vast importance. Joseph did as
the angel commanded, and found a number of golden plates, on which were
impressed characters in a language to him altogether unknown. Having
copied a portion of the characters, he sent the copy, by a friend, to a
teacher of the dead languages, in New York, in order to ascertain the
meaning; but his friend returned without having obtained the desired
information. The Holy Spirit then enabled Joseph to translate the
inscriptions, and the translation is, denominated the ‘Book of Mormon,’
being named after the person who, fourteen hundred years before, had, by
Divine command, deposited it in the earth.” This book can be obtained of
the Mormon preachers.

The progress of the Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints, as they designate
themselves, has been astonishingly rapid, their number being computed at
no less than two hundred thousand, of whom about ten thousand are
congregated in the city of Nauvoo, (or Joseph,) in the State of
Illinois. This portion of the Mormons had previously located themselves
in the State of Missouri, but after suffering great persecution, were
driven out of that State by the inhabitants. They then settled in the
western part of Illinois, and built the city of Nauvoo, and have nearly
completed a splendid temple of unique architecture. They, like the Jews,
believe that they are God’s chosen people, and that, as _the earth is
the Lord’s_, they shall have the honor of calling together the Jews, the
former chosen people of God, and that all who have not then embraced the
Mormon faith will be speedily cut off. As the Mormons make the Bible the
ground-work of their religious belief, and are sparing in their
allusions to the Book of Mormon, they are likely to become permanently
established, as a portion of the Christian world, and will probably
become not only a very numerous, but also a powerful sect.

But the demon of religious persecution—let me pause for a moment. I
would not knowingly libel any thing, not even religion. Am I not
mistaken? Not in the personage, most certainly, but I may be in error
with respect to his official character. Perhaps I owe an apology to the
religious world. It may be the demon of fraud. At all events, a demon of
some description is hovering over this remarkable people, and
threatening them with vengeance. Their smoking and desolate homesteads
will furnish matter for the future historian, who, with indignation,
will record, that in the nineteenth century, in the favored land of
Illinois, the ennobling principles of liberty could boast of no better
recognition than an empty name. Give ear, ye advocates of liberty in the
down-trodden nations of Europe! A voice would address you from the land
of promise. Ten thousand men, women, and children in the State of
Illinois, can receive no protection from the Genius of Liberty, but in
the coming spring are to be driven from their peaceful happy homes, to
wend their way through a dreary wilderness, and seek a resting place on
the shores of the Pacific Ocean. “Oh! shame! where is thy blush!” Cannot
even tottering age, and helpless infancy, arrest the fell purpose?

The present position of the Mormons, with respect to the rest of the
world, so nearly resembles that of the Jews when they were leaving
Egypt, that it is not unlikely for them to assimilate their movements in
a measure to those of the Israelites, and, believing, as they do, that
they are influenced by the Holy Ghost, their historians some centuries
hence will probably record miracles as having been performed by the
Mormons, similar to what are said to have taken place among the Jews,
when travelling under the guidance of Moses, to the promised land.
Feebleness of body reminds me that Death is shaking his arrow over me,
but surely my mind remains unclouded. Am I really living in the
enlightened nineteenth century? And if so, am I on the free soil of
America, or in barbarous Russia, and a subject of the Emperor Nicholas?

The Mormons are to be driven out of the United States. Why? “Because
they believe themselves to be God’s chosen people, and that all other
nations must become subject to them.” Indeed! and do not the Jews
entertain the same belief with respect to their nation? Are they to be
driven out along with the Mormons? The Mormons are to be driven out.
Why? “Because they speak in an unknown tongue.” But a few years ago, the
disciples of Irving, a celebrated preacher in London, spoke in an
unknown tongue; but so far from their being driven out of the country in
consequence, the ministrations of Irving were attended by the principal
nobility and statesmen of Great Britain. The Mormons are to be driven
out. Why? “Not on account of their religious faith, but because they are
a community of thieves.” In the English navy the seamen have a very
contemptuous idea of the marines, and when a very improbable story is
told by any one, they say, “Tell that to the marines,” intimating that
_they_ are weak enough to believe any thing.

We are told that a religious community which numbers ten thousand
persons is composed of incorrigible rogues. And yet it is well known
that they are very industrious, have well cultivated farms, have built a
city, and nearly completed a splendid temple. What says the experience
of the world with respect to thieves—that they have been usually found
among the industrious, or the idle? What are we called upon to believe?
That a highly industrious religious sect, numbering ten thousand souls,
manifests such a total disregard of all moral principle that its
existence cannot be allowed in civilized society? Tell it not in Gath!
Oh! no; better tell it to the marines.

I do believe that I am in America, and not in Russia, after all. The
film is departing from my mental vision. An idea strikes me. It is this.
In this country, under certain circumstances, _well_ understood by the
public, bills of _exceptions_ are frequently filed. Aye, now I have it
This is a Republic; and a Republic is a government intended for the
benefit of _all_, with the _exception_ of the Mormons to-day, and of
some other religious sect to-morrow; and so on, as avarice, or bigotry,
or the tyranny of a moneyed aristocracy may dictate, to the end of the
chapter.

The republicans of the State of Illinois have determined that the
Mormons shall not remain among them. “Oh! consistency, thou art indeed a
jewel” For the benefit of persons visiting Illinois, I shall close with
a quotation from the Old Testament, not remarkable, perhaps, for
elegance of diction, but having a claim to attention for its
truthfulness. It is this:—-“It is useless to search for a _jewel_ in a
swine’s snout.”

END OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.



THE NEW TESTAMENT



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER on THE FACTS AND PERSONAGES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT


TO these persons who can take, without fear, a correct view of Jehovah’s
dealings with his chosen people, as recorded in the Old Testament, it
must appear, that the Jews, as a nation, did not, in any way, do honor
to his choice; for, as it regards religion, they neither were at any
length of time faithful to Jehovah, nor did they obey his laws. The
dreadful punishments inflicted on them, together with the teaching of
the Prophets, did not cure them, so as to prevent them from worshipping
other gods.

To men of common sense, it is clear that the Jewish God undertook to
make of the seed of Abram that which never took place. The attempts to
keep them as true worshippers of Jehovah, continually failed; and he, in
the language of regret and complaint, says:—“I have nourished and
brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” And here we may
inquire, how were they brought up? The answer is at hand. They were
taught to consider themselves, as a nation, more valuable than any
people on earth; and this pride caused them to act with hostility in
their intercourse with, the Gentiles, and to rob and murder all nations
less powerful than themselves; for doing which, they had from the Lord a
direct order. To _show mercy_ was forbidden, and they were punished for
so doing. The command was—“_Thou shall do no murder._” This command had
to do with Jews only. To others it was said, “_Spare not a soul alive_.”
Again, “_Thou shall not steal,_”—that is, from Jews: from all heathens,
steal all you can. “_Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife,_” &c.
Remember!—the wife of a Jew; but when the Lord commands, you must murder
other men’s wives, and take their daughters for the most wicked
purposes. This is the manner the seed of Abram were brought up; and, in
these particulars, they seldom disobeyed the Lord.

In this manner the Jews were educated by the Lord of Hosts. Can we then
wonder that they, in a moral point of view, should have been the most
cruel and wicked of any nation on earth? It follows, that they were a
disgrace to that God who selected them as his own; and the Jewish
dispensation ended in a complete failure: so that it is recorded, that
the Lord “_hateth his own inheritance._” Jehovah failed to rear up and
protect a nation who should serve as a pattern to the rest of the human
family. They axe acknowledged, by both God and man, to have been the
worst people on earth.

We are now about to consider another attempt, on the part of the God of
Israel, to recover and convert his disobedient people to the new
covenant, or dispensation, by sending the long-expected Saviour of the
seed of Abram, according to the flesh. Here we ought to expect that a
double degree of caution will be manifest on the part of the Jewish God,
so that no mistake may happen to the Jewish nation in their reception
of, and obedience to, his Son, as an ambassador of peace and
reconciliation; because, if the mission of Jesus was not clearly
understood by the Jews, another scene of trouble, more dreadful than
their former disobedience, would follow as a consequence. We ought to
expect that Christ would be instructed so to present himself to his
brethren, that his person and his plans for their recovery would be
self-evident. No guess-work can be allowed, as it respects the vast
importance of his mission, or the identity of his person. It needs no
argument to show, that, when an end or object is to be fully obtained,
the means must be adapted to answer the end intended, or a failure is
the consequence.

Here we may ask, for what purpose did Christ come to the Jews? Was it to
fulfil the promises made to them by Jehovah, _that he would make a new
covenant with them, and write his laws on their hearts; not according to
the covenant he made with their fathers, when he brought them out of
Egypt, but that he would write his laws on their hearts, and their sins
and iniquities remember no more, and that they should be to him a
people, and that he would be to them a God?_ In fact, we cannot admit of
the possibility of any mistake or failure to happen in Jehovah’s plan of
salvation, when we consider that the seed of Abram longed for and
expected the Great Deliverer of Israel. No trickery or deception ought
to be resorted to in a case involving such dreadful consequences. It is
highly dishonorable to the God of the Universe, to admit of any
double-dealing on his part, when his people were prepared to receive the
Messiah.

The situation of the Jews, as a nation, at the time it is said that
Christ made his appearance among them, ought to be kept in view, in
reading this introduction. They expected a king, or a deliverer, to
arrive, agreeably to what they had learned from the Old Testament.
Hence, their inquiry was, “_Art thou he that should come, or do we, or
are we, to look for another?_” As much as to say, we long for his
appearance, but we have had false Christs; and the repeated impositions
practised on our nation makes us cautious as to giving credence to any
pretender, without full proof of his being the true, the very anointed
of God. No inquiry could be more reasonable; for it is clear that the
Jewish nation were open to conviction, and ready to receive with joy the
sent of Jehovah; but repeated deception and disappointment had made them
slow to believe in the pretensions of any that came to them in the name
of the Lord.

We need not be surprised that the seed of Abram should have been so
scrupulous in believing, until they had incontrovertible proof that the
hope of Israel had arrived. They considered that event as the end of all
their troubles; and relying on the promises made, to God’s chosen people
by the prophets,—that the “_sun of, righteousness should arise with
healing in his wings_” that his identity would be as clearly known, and
all obscurity entirely removed as to his being the true Christ, the hope
and expectation of Israel. The Jews, as a nation, were not prepared for
any thing short of a full manifestation of Jehovah’s promises in the
person of the Messiah, that he would be their “_Prophet, Priest, and
King_” It is not possible to conceive that a single Jew could be found
who would stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed. This,
then, was the feeling and expectation of the Jews, at the time it is
recorded that Christ came as the deliverer of Israel. It follows, then,
that the only thing the Jews required, in order to receive and obey
Christ, was, unerring proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah; for
they were earnestly waiting for that glorious event.

We will now inquire, whether or not his introduction to the Jewish
nation was the most probable way to convince them that the long-desired,
the long-expected Redeemer of Israel was come? It must ever be kept in
mind, that the coming of Christ was to the Israelites of vast
importance, when we consider their former troubles, how they had been
forsaken by their God, sold, as it were, into severe bondage, and
scattered over the face of the earth, in consequence of their departure
from the God of their fathers. To all which, it may be added, that they
had been deceived by false Christs: so that, as a nation, they ought to,
and doubtless did, fully expect that the true Messiah, on his arrival,
would convince every real Jew that he was the sent of God, and that the
evidence would be different, in all respects, from what had before
attended impostors and cheats. Of all the embassies ever sent by one
nation to another, none ever equalled in importance the one where the
Son, the only Son of God, was the ambassador.

In the intercourse between nations, and when a minister is sent out from
one nation to another, one thing is always provided for, and on no
account is it ever omitted, namely:—proper credentials are always
prepared and sent by one nation to another, so that the identity of the
ambassador is indisputable. This indispensable qualification appears to
have been omitted in sending Christ to the Jewish nation, and it proved
most unfortunate to those ill-fated people; for it is evident, from
Scripture, that they mistook Jesus for an impostor, since one of the
apostles admits, that if they (the Jews) had known him, “_they would not
have killed the Lord of life and glory_.”

Here, then, was the fatal mistake, the unfortunate error; and now we may
ask, for what was Jesus sent? Jehovah knew that they would not receive
him, and that a failure would be the consequence. But if Jehovah did not
know of his rejection, what then are we to say of the attributes of the
God of Israel? Taking either side, involves the greatest absurdity, and
is shocking to every idea we can have of infinite wisdom, power, and
goodness.

If Jesus, on his arrival to the Jews as a nation, intended to prove his
divine mission by the performance of miracles, he appears to have taken
the wrong course to carry conviction to the minds of his fellow
countrymen. Instead of performing signs and wonders before the most
learned of his nation, he associated with the most ignorant classes of
society. These were chiefly fishermen, who could be easily imposed on by
any sleight of hand, performed by a dexterous juggler. It was to the
most learned and competent men of that day to whom his appeals ought to
have been made; but on the contrary, he employed such vulgar abuse
as—“_O, generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?_”
It may safely be inferred, that such abusive language as this would be
considered by the priests and rulers sufficient to stamp its author as a
man of low character and violent temper.

Again, instead of opening his mission with the declaration of Jehovah’s
former promises to the Jewish nation, _that the God of their fathers had
sent him to recover the lost sheep of the home of Israel_, he tells them
that the holy temple was then _a den of thieves_; and at another time,
commences with a cord, or rattan, (like a drunken man,) to drive men
from the temple. Is it possible to conceive that such could be the
conduct of him who was proclaimed to be “_Peace on earth and good will
towards men_”?

Again, miracles, as proofs of Christ’s divine mission, ought to have
been performed before the most learned and talented men among the Jews.
On the contrary, it was the ignorant and unlettered part of society who
were the witnesses of his mighty deeds; for it is impossible for men who
are unacquainted with the laws and phenomena of nature, to form any
thing like a correct judgment of those laws, so as to know what were
their natural operations, to the exclusion of divine power. So that a
performance of any thing, however wonderful to ignorant and untaught
men, would, to others, who were better acquainted with the laws of the
universe, be no miracle at all.

In conclusion, then, so far as miracles are concerned, a miracle must be
something performed by another, that is impossible to take place without
superhuman aid; and before persons who are so fully acquainted with the
laws of the universe, that imposition would be impossible. Now the Jews,
at the time of the coming of Christ, if he did come at all, had no such
knowledge. In that age, many strange things were believed, that never
had any real existence. For instance, it was fully believed by the Jews,
and nearly throughout the world, that evil spirits or demons took
possession of the bodies of men, and ceased, not to torment them in a
thousand ways; and the casting out of these was considered a miracle.
Jesus is said to have performed many miracles of this kind. Mary
Magdalene had seven of them ejected by the Saviour. So it is recorded.

But now, no man of science gives the least credit to such tales; so that
the fact is, no devils ever were cast out, because none ever entered the
human body. If Jesus, then, pretended to cast out devils, when he knew
there were none possessed of them, how can we exempt him from the charge
of being a deceiver? If, on the other hand, he believed that Mary
Magdalene had seven, and that they left her by his orders, in that case,
what shall we say as to his knowledge?

At the present day, should a person apply for medical aid to cast out a
devil, such person would be considered a lunatic. This is proof positive
that Jesus partook of the superstition of the age in which he lived; and
that his pretensions to cast out devils by the power of God, were
incompatible with his mission as the Son of God, the Redeemer of Israel.

The history of Jesus, as recorded in the four Gospels, fully represents
him as acting like most reformers in all ages and nations, namely, by
abusing men of wealth and power. But, unlike most others, Jesus
represented himself as the only Son of God, by whose authority he
(Jesus) called the priests and the rulers of Israel by names the most
offensive, thereby exciting their opposition to his mode of teaching and
acting. At the same time, the lower grades of society did then, as they
do at the present day. They considered him as a reformer, the friend of
the people, in proportion as he was lavish in his abuse of the most
violent nature.

In concluding this chapter, we may safely infer, that if Jesus was sent
into the world to be put to death as a sacrifice for sin, his manner of
preaching to his countrymen, and his violent abuse and denunciations
against the then rulers of Israel, were calculated to bring about his
tragical end. But, on the contrary, if Jesus came from God, To _restore
the lost sheep of the home of Israel_, as the Jews, one and all,
expected the Messiah would do, it then follows, that the Jews, as a
nation, were deceived, and in putting him to death, they thought him a
blasphemer, having no claim to be considered as the true deliverer of
his nation. If Jesus came from God to the Jews, as their long-expected
Saviour and Deliverer, and every blessing, as it respected them,
depended on their giving him an obedience agreeable to his mission as an
ambassador of peace, to mistake him for an impostor, was a misfortune
more deplorable than all the misfortunes, as a nation, the Jews had ever
experienced from the call of Abram until the time that Christ is said to
have arrived in the land of Judea. If, in reality and truth, he came
from the Jehovah of that people, as they had for ages expected, then,
instead of his collecting together a few fishermen, common sense would
instruct us to suppose, that the Lord’s anointed would go direct to the
priests and Jewish, rulers, and accost them in the following way:—“The
long-expected, the long-desired, is now in the midst of you. I am the
true, the very Christ, the anointed of Jehovah, of the seed of Abram. My
beloved mother will lift her hand, and swear on the altar of her God and
my God, the Father of us all, that I am the offspring of God, and that
in the absence of all earthly intercourse, she brought me forth, and
that angels announced her miraculous conception, before I saw the light;
and that I am endowed with power from on high, to do before your longing
eyes miracles and wonders, such as all former pretenders could not
perform. But, as you have before been deceived by impostors who have
forged my name, and assumed my character, believe me not for my word,
but for my works’ sake. Mark well my deportment Give credit to my mighty
deeds only when they are openly addressed to your senses, that no doubts
may remain as to the identity of my person, and the high commission of
which I am the bearer; and being fully convinced of my Messiahship, obey
me as the earthly representative of your heavenly Father, while I unfold
the blessings that await you, in the fulfilment of the promises made to
Abram and his seed forever.” Instead, however, of thus openly and
frankly making known the object of his message to his nation, Jesus
begins by making use of expressions the most insulting, charging the
priests and rulers with crimes of the basest description, in the worst
language possible; the direct tendency of which was, to arouse their
worst feelings, leaving them in doubt what to think of one who arrogated
to himself authority over the Mosaic law, and whose teaching was so
obscure as not to be understood even by his own disciples. In speaking
of himself and the kingdom he was about to set up, he said that his
death formed a part of the divine arrangement included in his mission;
as much as to say, I must be put to death before my plane can be
developed. At times, in the course of his preaching, Jesus referred to
his future exaltation, as the “Judge of quick and dead.” At other times
he represented himself as the only true light that enlightens every man
that cometh into the world; and yet, he courted obscurity in most of his
preaching, so much so, that one of his most intimate friends (Judas) was
bribed to inform the rulers who this extraordinary man was, and where he
could be found.

What would be thought of an ambassador, sent from America to England on
business of the first importance, if, instead of proceeding to the Court
of St. James, at London, he should be found lecturing to fishermen and
people in the lower walks of society, and at the same time, in language
of the most violent kind, abusing the British Government? In fine, such
was the preaching and acting of Jesus during his stay in the land of
Israel, that to me it appears impossible to discover the object or the
utility of his coming. No wonder, therefore, that the Jews rejected him
altogether.



CHAPTER I.


WHATEVER may have been the moral character of the Jews, as a nation, at
the time the reputed Messiah came among them, the priests and the people
not only expected his advent, but they also considered that event as an
end to their then subjugation, and more than a renewal of their former
greatness and glory. And here the reader will perceive that they (the
Jews) had no prejudice against the appearance of such a personage; the
only thing they required was, his certain identity, that they might know
the true Messiah was among them. Nothing could have been more favorable
to his reception than such a universal expectation. This general belief
throughout the nation was on their part equivalent to their saying to
the God of Jacob, “We have long waited, and most ardently desired, the
fulfilment of the promise made to Abram and his seed forever.” This
short statement is faithful, and true as to the feelings and
expectations of the whole Jewish nation.

In this stage of our remarks, every thing appears to warrant the
conclusion, that, on the part of the descendants of Abram, no difficulty
stood in the way of their submitting to their expected Lord and Master.
To make him fully known to them, so that no mistake could possibly
happen as to his person and authority, belonged to Jehovah alone; for if
the Messiah promised, seemed in nowise to be represented in the person
of Jesus, then the Jews would have been sure to have rejected him as
another impostor of the same sort as had previously imposed on their
nation. In reviewing, then, the New Testament, the object of the writer
will be to show, that Jesus, the pretended Saviour of the world, was not
sent from God, and consequently, the New Testament is not of Divine
authority.

In the following inquiry, I shall not dispute the existence of Jesus,
_as a man_, living about the time recorded of him, but take for granted
the history of his life, with the exception of his divine mission, as
this method will be better understood by the reader, as excluding
irrelevant matter. In the Gospel history, then, it clearly appears, that
Jesus wrote nothing of his own sayings or doings; it was all done by
others. This omission to give a clear code of morals, adapted to the
Gospel dispensation, and also rules and regulations for this new sect,
will appear strange, when we refer to the formation and regulation of
the Jewish Church. Moses, or whoever was its founder, took great pains
to record the most minute things connected with the Jewish worship;
while, on the contrary, the Christian Church is left in such a state of
uncertainty, that its author wrote not a word himself, nor, for aught we
know, did he give orders to his followers to commit to writing any thing
he did or said, not even of the miracles he so often performed. It must
appear passing strange, that a religion of such vast importance to the
whole human race should be, as it were, left to chance, as to the manner
in which it was to descend to posterity, when compared with the
minuteness of the Mosaic code. Of the four evangelists, no one in
particular had orders to write the life and doings of Christ, so that
the inference is this: that all the history of the life of Jesus,
including his death and resurrection, is but the testimony of others;
consequently, we have no certainty that Christ ever said or did those
things recorded of him. So that it amounts to this—somebody has said
that Jesus performed miracles; and the same may be said of the rest of
his sayings and doings; and we may add, that somebody has written that
he was put to death, and that on the third day he arose from the dead.

It is from such vague and unauthenticated writings, written by nobody
knows who, nor when they made their first appearance, that the
foundation is drawn on which rests the Gospel Dispensation; and as the
different writers have given different accounts of the things said to
have taken place, no reliance can be given to any of the facts recorded
as having actually occurred. The different writers have also given rise
to doctrines so opposite to each other, that every sect can find
Scripture evidence for the support of its respective dogmas. Eighteen
hundred years have then passed away, and we are still ignorant of what
is, and what is not, Gospel.

Is it possible that any thing can be more directly in opposition, than
the Universalists and the different sects that believe in endless
punishment in a future life? Again, can any two things be more opposite
than the doctrines concerning the person of Christ, as held by the
Unitarians and the Trinitarians; and yet, both of these doctrines are
taken from the New Testament, which contains all that is written of him.
And what is still more wonderful, each of these sects are positive with
respect to their own opinions, and are surprised at each other’s
ignorance of God’s Word; and even at the present day, they only want
full power, and they would soon come to blows. Not only these opinions,
but many more, equally opposed to each other, can be supported by
referring to God’s unerring Word. It is a common saying, “the glorious
uncertainty of the law”; I will add, it is the glorious uncertainty of
the _Gospel_ which has made so many priests, and also, it is its
uncertainty which has been in every age of the church the cause of
thousands of honest persons meeting a violent and cruel death, for the
glory of God.

The reader will in the following pages discover, that my main object is
to show that Jesus was no more sent from heaven to save mankind by the
sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world, than others are sent to
build houses or dig canals; and that the plan, as it is called, of human
redemption, has brutalized the human race, and stood in the way of moral
rectitude, and the development of kind and humane feelings. Although
Matthew and Luke have recorded the miraculous conception of Jesus, yet,
as it is omitted by Mark and John, I shall begin my remarks with the
baptism of John. As it respects the heavenly origin of Jesus, he never
mentions it in the course of his ministry, neither does his mother.
Jesus, in speaking of himself, said he was _the son of man_. Now, if
Joseph, or some other man, was not his father, he (Jesus) then went by a
false name; for, in that case, he was but the son of a woman. We will
leave this point of disputation with the Christians, and begin with the
baptism of John.

After Jesus had been baptized by John, it is recorded, that there came a
voice from heaven, saying, “_Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well
pleased._” (Mark i., 11.) “_And immediately the Spirit driveth him into
the wilderness, and he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted
of Satan._” What possible end was to be obtained by this journey into
the wilderness, and what kind of spirit it was that drove him there, we
have no information. At any rate, in a forlorn state, and very hungry,
Satan made his first visit to the Messenger of Peace. Jesus seemed no
way surprised at this Satanic intrusion. They conversed together as old
friends. We may suppose Satan to open the conversation somewhat in the
following manner:—

“Why, Jesus! you seem to be any thing but in comfortable quarters. This
is carrying temperance rather too far; nothing to eat or drink, and
surrounded by wild beasts as hungry as yourself! I have heard that you
represent to your nation that you are sent to them from Jehovah, your
father. Now, if you have any thing to communicate to them of importance,
this secluded spot is very unfavorable to make known your mission. Come,
give over fasting, for _if you are the Son of God, command these stones
that they be made bread?_” This observation, or, as it is called, this
temptation of the Devil, caused Jesus to make this reply:—“_It is
written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceedeth ont of the mouth of God. Then the Devil taketh him up into
the holy city, [or coaxed him to leave the wilderness,] and setteth him
on a pinnacle of the Temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of
God, cast thyself down, for it is written,, he shall give his angels
charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest
at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It
is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the
Devil taketh him up into art exceeding high mountain, and showeth him
all the kingdoms of the worlds and the glory of them; and saith unto
him, all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall dawn and
worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is
written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou
serve. Then the Devil leaveth him, and behold angels came and ministered
unto him._” (Matthew, chapter iv.)

To those Who are not afraid to examine this strange account, it must
appear unworthy of the least credit. In the first place, as it stands
recorded, the Devil and Jesus act as if they had been old and intimate
acquaintances. This is the first announcement we have that any such
personage as the Devil ever visited this earth, except he is the same
identical being who, upwards of four thousand years before, came to the
garden of Eden and tempted Eve, and was the cause of herself and her
husband’s being expelled from that abode of innocence. If it were the
intention of the writers of the life of Jesus, that it should be
understood that the Devil had been resting quietly, and enjoying
himself, and then appeared, ripe for new schemes of mischief, and Satan
reasoning within himself was resolved again to try his hand,—is it
possible, when this account is duly considered, that one person in a
thousand can give credit to such nonsense?

A few remarks on Christ’s temptation by the Devil will suffice to show
its absurdity. In the first place, then, can we believe that a being of
Infinite Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, ever has, or does now, keep in
existence a Devil whose whole aim and happiness consist in tempting
God’s creatures to rebel against their maker and benefactor; and that
God has given him power and capacity to induce men and women to commit
every sort of crime that disgraces humanity? Besides, so artful is this
Devil that man has but a poor chance to escape his cunning attacks and
devices. We are told that the Lord is angry with the wicked every day;
and yet for all that, he has made a being of immense power who possesses
unbounded malice against both God and man. Would any man, who was in his
right mind, keep in his employ a person who would daily destroy his
property, and breed discord among his steady workmen? None but a madman
could so act; and shall we suppose that the all-wise ruler of the
universe would follow in the path of a man out of his senses?

Again, according to the account in Matthew, the Devil seems full of life
and impudence; while the reputed Saviour appears sheepish and stupid,
and seems willing to follow the Devil about at his bidding! We have no
account as to the form in which the Devil appeared, whether as a rich
man or a loafer; whether fat or lean, and how old he appeared to be;
neither are we informed in what kind of dress he walked through the
street of Jerusalem, whether it was in the costume of the age, or in the
livery of hell. At any rate, Jesus seemed rather scared at the old
serpent. Jesus commenced his mission more like a hermit than as a
messenger of peace; to God’s chosen people. In fact, there is, in Jesus,
through his whole life, something so unearthly that his existence as a
man is very doubtful. In the whole account of the temptation of the
Devil, the evidence of its being a mixture of fable and falsehood is,
apparent.

Besides, it is altogether unaccountable how Jesus and the Devil became
so well acquainted with each other; for Jesus was a Jew by nation, and
strictly obeyed the law of Moses; but Moses is completely silent as to
the existence of any such personage as the Devil. At the time when it is
said Jesus came to the Jewish nation, they had, during their captivity,
embraced the theology of their conquerors; and on their return to the
land of their nativity, brought with them the-belief in the existence of
good and bad angels, and also the doctrine of a future state of rewards
and punishments,—dogmas unknown to, and never taught by, Moses. It is
clear, then, that the very existence of a Devil never was a doctrine of
the Old Testament, but on the contrary, it was borrowed from eastern
mythology; and Jesus, finding that the Jews professed to believe it,
fell in with it, as also a heaven and a hell, and a judgment to come,
which doctrines were all of heathen origin. The Old Testament is silent
as to what constitutes orthodox Christianity. Ye Christian ministers!
your heaven and hell, by the teaching of which you gain wealth and live
like princes, is nothing but an echo of by-gone ages, which had its
origin in the imagination of the priesthood of an antiquity anterior to
the existence of Moses or of the Jewish nation!

But to return to the temptation of Jesus by the Devil. And here it may
be asked, how it can now, or ever could, be considered a temptation at
all? If Jesus was what they say he professed to be, _the sent of God_,
he knew well that the Devil had nothing to give him by way of inducement
to distrust his Father’s superintendence and care. Jesus might have said
to Satan, “You lying old Devil, you know that you have no kingdom to
bestow; you likewise well know that you have not land enough whereon to
build a hovel, in which to shelter your favorite associates, the swine!”
But, on the contrary, Jesus seems to act with great respect towards the
Devil. He made no objections to follow Satan wherever he chose to lead
him. We are ignorant of the object Jesus had in view by retiring into
the wilderness; and how the Devil came to be acquainted with his
destitute situation, we are also at a loss to conjecture. Likewise, we
have yet to learn whether Satan resided among the Jews, or dwelt in the
regions of the air, as he is called “the Prince and power of the air,
the spirit which works in the hearts of the children of disobedience.”

The number of forty years, or days, is repeatedly chosen by the writers
of the Old Testament, in which to perform something wonderful, and of
great importance. Thus, the Jews were forty years going from Egypt to
the land of promise, during which time nearly all that came out of
bondage were destroyed for their disobedience against the God of Abram,
Isaac, and Jacob. Jehovah and Moses were forty days on Mount Sinai,
preparing ornaments for the Jewish worship, during which time Aaron and
the rest of the Israelties returned back to worship the gods of their
former oppressors; so that it appears, before the church of Jehovah in
the wilderness was ready to sing his praise, and thank him for bringing
them out of bondage, both Aaron and the people were singing and dancing
before the golden calves of Egypt! The number forty has been most
unfortunate for Jehovah’s plans; for, in addition to repeated failures
connected with the number forty, it is recorded that Jehovah was grieved
forty years for the transgressions of his chosen people; and Jesus,
after forty days’ fasting, surrounded by devouring beasts and hungry
vultures, behold! the Devil came skulking along with brazen-faced
impudence, and Jesus, the better to get rid of him, broke up his
solitary abode. Thus, again, the number forty concluded without any
apparent object being effected.

Whoever wrote this account of Christ’s temptation, as if it was not
foolish enough, has added, that after the Devil had withdrawn from
making Jesus such tempting offers to enlist into his service, angels
came and ministered unto him. What the nature of the service was, which
they performed, we know not; but one would suppose their first inquiry
ought to have been, whether he did not wish to have his dinner as soon
as possible? The whole of this account is so contemptible, that I shall
not give it any further attention.

If we contrast the submissive conduct and humble deportment of Jesus,
when in conversation with the Devil, with his manner and intercourse
with the rulers and priests of his own nation, he appears, in reference
to the latter, whom we should expect he would have treated with that
respectable language due to their standing in society, and consistent
with his dignity as the Messenger of Peace, to great disadvantage as a
divine teacher: for it must be ever borne in mind, that Jesus must be
considered, according to his own account, superior to all that ever came
before him, and to the imperfections found in men in common, and even in
the prophets of old, so that he must so conduct himself that his sayings
and doings must be capable of standing the most rigid moral scrutiny.
But, instead of his appealing to the Jewish rulers in the most courteous
manner—instead of his plainly stating who he was, and the vast
importance of his coming on earth, he begins by upbraiding them in a way
calculated to disgust them, and thereby frustrate the object of his
mission. He calls them “a generation of vipers” and asks them “how they
can think to escape the damnation of hell?”

Although the chief priest and rulers were over-anxious in their
inquiries as to whom he was, and by what authority he so openly
condemned others, he treated them as unworthy of a civil reply; for, let
the moral conduct of the Jewish priests and rulers be what it might,
admitting it was very bad, nothing could justify him in the use of
insult and the most violent vituperations. What kind of reception would
an ambassador meet with in England, should he, before his’ mission was
fully understood by that Court, abuse the rulers of that kingdom, and at
the same time associate with a few obscure individuals as witnesses of
such abuse? Would he be considered a fit person to represent the
authorities who sent him? for, never let us forget, that of all the
missions sent by one nation to another nation for the settlement of any
difficulties that might exist between them, none ever was of such
importance as the one which Jesus was to present to "_the lost sheep of
the house of Israel_.” Let us also bear in mind, that the rulers among
the Jews made every inquiry as to whom he was, and the purport of his
coming. Yes, every effort on the part of the Jews was made to draw out
of him from whence he derived his authority: but his answers were any
thing but to the point, for, he said on one occasion, “_An evil and
adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be
given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas,_” and that was no answer
at all.

I am well aware what Christians will say in this case: that his miracles
were sufficient evidence; but all the proof we have that he did perform
miracles, is, somebody has written that he did so. But here I shall
dispute the performance of some of his miracles, from the New Testament
account of them; and, in my next chapter, I shall show that modern
discoveries have proved, beyond dispute, that some of the miracles said
to have been performed by Jesus could not have taken place, for if any
person in the present age, were to pretend that he could perform similar
miracles, he would not only be considered an impostor, but would also be
deemed an ignoramus.



CHAPTER. II.


OF all the miracles said to have been wrought by Jesus, as recorded in
the Gospels, the casting out of devils are among the foremost. The case
of Mary Magdalene is often referred to by Jesus himself; it is related
that no less than seven had taken possession of her person. It is truly
wonderful, that at the time of Christ’s preaching, the old Devil of all,
and a host of subordinate ones, appeared to be more active than at any
other time of which we have any account The Old Devil came forward after
an absence of more than four thousand years; for, we have no account
that he, either in person or by proxy, had visited God’s chosen people,
admitting that it was he, who, by the agency of a serpent, or by any
other means, deceived Adam and Eve, by which deception, pain, and even
death, followed as a consequence. Satan might well think that he could
afford to rest awhile, till Jehovah should make some new movement to
benefit the human race.

How the Devil came to know that Jesus was about to commence preaching
repentance for the remission of sin, we have no means of finding out;
but, when Jesus had retired into the wilderness, behold the Devil was
close at his heels, and they seemed to be as well acquainted as two old
playmates. The Devil was well fitted for discussion, for he appeared
well versed with the Old Testament. However, if he were the same Devil
who outwitted Jehovah in Paradise, he failed to obtain a victory over
the Son in the wilderness. What became of him after his defeat on the
Temple, and when he came down from the mountain, we have no account No
mention is made of his being concerned in riding the hogs into the sea.
We must, therefore, leave him, and attend to the triumph of Jesus in
ejecting them from their strong holds.

The first in order which we shall review, as being possessed of devils,
will be Mary Magdalene, out of whom, it is recorded, Jesus cast seven
devils. This woman must be considered most grievously afflicted. How
they operated on her—whether it was by inflicting bodily pain, or a
mental disease, we know not; at any rate, she seemed incapable of
getting rid of them. The number being seven, and having dispositions
opposed to each other, they no doubt often quarrelled among themselves,
and disturbed her in her sleeping hours; at all events, her gratitude
and attachment to Jesus is proof positive that she preferred their room
to their company.

Christians, in speaking of Mary Magdalene, convey the idea, that,
previous to the casting out of the devils, she did not bear a good
character. But this is a mistake; for, if the New Testament account of
devils taking possession of persons, be true, and that no human power
can eject them, it then follows, that Mary Magdalene was truly
unfortunate, since no less than seven of these intruders were constantly
about her. We are left to conjecture how the number seven could have
been discovered. If Mary had been compelled to have had seven teeth
extracted, the number could have been fully known to those who stood by;
but how, or in what way, it could have been known that seven devils were
cast out, unless they appeared visible to the by-standers, does not
appear. But we will not dwell too long on such sheer nonsense, as not
one word of truth is in the whole story of casting out devils; for the
best of all possible reasons, because there were none at all to cast
out. It is recorded that the Jews were troubled with devils of different
kinds, such as unclean devils, deaf and dumb devils, and, in one case, a
kind of devil which could not be cast out only by prayer and fasting.
If, at the present day, a person was to apply for medical aid, and hint
to the doctor that his wife was really possessed with (not seven) but
one devil, the doctor would consider such a man a fit subject for a
lunatic asylum.

As it respects demoniacal possession, it is, or rather was of heathen
origin. The Jews, as a nation, believed in its truth, as did also the
surrounding nations; consequently, if a person had a complaint attended
with fits, or any thing rather out of the common way, by which human
beings were afflicted, such a disease was considered a possession of one
or more evil spirits. But now, that the laws of nature are better
understood, and medical science more fully developed, demonology, as
well as witchcraft and sorcery, are given up altogether. No doubt now
remains, but that the whole was the effect of ignorance and fraud; and
consequently the casting out of devils by Jesus and his apostles, had no
reality in it whatever. It is not possible for us to conceive why demons
or devils should have taken possession of human beings, admitting that
they have a real existence. We are ignorant as to the state of mind of
these beings. Whether in those days they took possession of men and
women out of rebellion against God, or, having no real home, were only
wanderers, and felt more comfortable when dwelling in the bodies of
animals or of human beings, we cannot determine. The latter, however,
appears to have been the case; for, an one occasion, when Jesus was
about to expel a legion, the devils _besought him to permit them to
enter into the swine_; but it is recorded, that the hogs started off
down into the sea, and were drowned. What became of the devils, we know
not. If this miracle took place, one thing is clear, namely, that the
devils, with all their cunning, made a bad calculation as to the
security they would have m the swine.

At the time Jesus is said to have lived among the Jews, the casting out
of devils was a common occurrence; for Jesus, in reply to the charge
that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince or chief of devils,
says, “_If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast
them out? therefore they shall be the judges,_” So that, after all, it
follows, that what so many could do without the authority of Jesus, was
no miracle at all. It was nothing short of imposition, and failed of
being any proof of his divine mission. The truth is, that casting out
devils was a heathen practice, among many other things, of heathenish
origin; and Jesus, according to the New Testament, fell in with it, as
he did with many doctrines which the Jews brought into the land of
Israel when they returned from their long captivity. The Jews brought
back with them the belief of a future state of rewards and punishments,
the existence of the soul, a heaven for the virtuous and good, and a
hell for the wicked; also good and bad angels, and a future judgment,
over which Jesus said to the Jews he was appointed to be the judge.
Notwithstanding the silence of the Old Testament as to the tenets above
noticed, yet Jesus fell in with them, and he also threatened the Jews
that they were in danger of that very hell and damnation which they
gathered from their heathen conquerors. Ye Christian priests! your
heaven and hell, and also your devil, belong to and originated in a
heathen mythology, the beginning of which is lost in a remote antiquity.
Yes, Christian doctors! your heaven and hell, which, from the hope of
the first, and the fear of the last, you teach as divine truths, and, by
so doing, live in splendor,—these very doctrines have nothing divine
about them, and you ought to know it.

Leaving, then, the miracles of casting out devils, which were no proof
of the divine mission of Jesus, because others, it is said, could,
without his aid, do the same, we must refer to the other miracles said
to have been performed and intended to establish his claim as being the
true Messiah, _the sent of God_. If the miracles that Jesus performed,
had been intended to remove all doubts that the Jewish nation had as to
his being an impostor, such miracles ought to have been sufficiently
convincing for that purpose; for, on such test, his reception or
rejection entirely depended. Now, from the accounts of his appealing to
his countrymen, and reproaching them for their unbelief, he does not, to
all appearance, wish nor try to convince them; for, it is said of his,
miracles, that “he did not many mighty works because of their unbelief.”
Their incredulity as to his being the true Christ, is a reason why he
should have followed up miracle after miracle, until unbelief would have
been impossible on the part of the Jews; for, the reader must keep in
mind that the dispute with Jesus and the Jews was not of a moral
character: it was as to his authority in assuming to be greater than
Abram, or all the prophets of the Old Testament.

Again, Jesus says, “_Woe unto you_ [of such a town or village,] _for if
the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom and
Gomorrah, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes_.” “Therefore
it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of
judgment, than for you.” Now here we can see, that the miracles were not
of the sort to convince. Then, why not produce others more strong?
Besides, it showed Jesus to be ignorant of the human mind, his
condemning men for not believing when the evidence was not strong enough
to convince them. It is true, according to the accounts of Christ’s
preaching to the Jews, that instead of argument he resorted to abuse of
the coarsest kind, and the same conduct is pursued by Christians towards
unbelievers at the present day. In some instances, Jesus charged the
persons on whom a miracle had been performed, that _they should tell
none of it._

Again, the evidence arising from the working of miracles must always
depend on the information possessed by those before whom such signs and
wonders were wrought. If Jesus intended to rest his Messiahship on the
wonders he intended to perform, in such a case the most learned and best
informed of the Jewish nation were the proper persons to be the judges
for, in our day, in the nineteenth century, we have daily proof that so
universal is ignorance, and so credulous is the mass of society, that
such trash and inconsistent doctrines as those taught by Joseph Smith
and his famous Golden Bible have gained thousands Of believers, and the
greatest part of them are sincere, and would suffer death sooner than
renounce what they believe to be a divine revelation to Smith, and
others of the same stamp. The most learned and intelligent of the Jews
knew this truth, as many of their ignorant people had been led away by
false Christs, and lost their all, and their lives also. No wonder,
then, that they should watch closely every movement made by Jesus, the
then reputed Messiah. There are, in the present age, many things
discovered and known to the most unlearned, that, in former times, much
less remote than the time in which Jesus is said to have lived, Would
have been thought miraculous, and the persons performing them as
possessing power more than human. So that we may safely conclude, that
Infinite Wisdom would not have made use of so uncertain a species of
evidence as miracles, to convince the Jews that the _sent of God was
come_. Other and more certain means would have been resorted to, so that
the Jews could not have mistaken the real Christ, and put him to death
for an impostor.

If we attentively examine the life of Jesus, as written by the four
evangelists, we shall be surprised at many parts of his proceedings. His
uncourteous language to the great men of his nation must strike the
reader very forcibly. He preaches humility and meekness, and soon we
perceive him arrogating divine honors, and calling those, who came
before him, robbers and thieves. He commands his followers to _judge
not_, and the next moment he judges others, and condemns them without
ceremony; and although it is said of him, that “a bruised reed he would
not break, and smoking flax he would not quench,” and that “_his voice
could not be heard in the street,_” yet we find him using something very
little short of outrage and violence. In the affair of the Temple, for
instance, it is recorded that Jesus took a cord, and began to attack
those sitting about that sacred place, “_overthrowing the tables of the
money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,_” calling them
“_a den of thieves._” Such conduct the Jews could not expect from their
long-wished and earnestly-desired Messiah.

Even at twelve years of age, his conduct seems to have had something
strange about it; namely, his absenting himself from his home. When his
parents found him, and told him that “_they had sought him sorrowing,_”
he said, in reply, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s
business?” This answer appears not to have been understood by his
relations; but if Joseph was not his father, his mother could not wonder
at his straying from home; she would have said to Joseph, “As you are
not his father, he has reference to the Holy Ghost.” His conduct also
partook of the same strangeness at the marriage-feast. When the wine was
all out, his mother told her son of it; his reply was not very
dutiful—“_Woman_,” says he, “_what have I to do with thee?_” At such a
place, on the night of a marriage ceremony, there seems something so
unearthly about him, that he never appeared at ease in any company; such
an absence of mirthful enjoyment was calculated to spread a gloom
throughout the whole party.

But that which appears very strange in Jesus, is his using language that
even his disciples did not understand, such as, “The kingdom of heaven
is at hand;” that he “came down from heaven;” for, says Jesus, “_No man
hath ascended up into heaven, but he who came down from heaven, even the
son of man, who is in heaven._” And again, “_Repent ye, for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand;_” and to the rich man, who asked him what he was
to do to secure the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said, that in addition to
loving and fearing God, and doing his duty to his neighbor, he “_must
sell all he had, and give it to the poor._”

The reader must ever keep in mind the true merits of the case between
Jesus and the Jews. It was not, whether they were more immoral than
their heathen neighbors, nor as to their being more or less learned than
surrounding nations; for, we do not find that Jesus ever made any
inquiries as to their mechanic arts, or the state of agriculture
practised among them. Neither do we find that Jesus interested himself
as to their progress in the science of astronomy. The last of these we
can conceive would have been very useful; and it might be supposed that
he could impart some knowledge in regard to it, since, in his passage
from heaven to earth, he must have crossed: some of the planetary
orbits, and no doubt observed their satellites then undiscovered; but to
communicate such important information was not included in his mission.
His only object was, to convince the Jews that he, and he alone, was the
true and undoubted Messiah promised by the prophets to redeem and
restore the Jews, as a nation, to their former greatness and glory.
Every either subject was useless, and only stood as an hindrance in the
way of the great purpose of his coming.

I have before stated, that miracles must ever be considered doubtful
evidence to prove that the performer is any thing; more than what men in
all ages have pretended to be; and to pretend to do what is far beyond
human agency, presupposes that the persons who are to be the judges,
know where human power ends, and divine power begins. But for this
knowledge, no just and certain rule can be laid down; consequently, it
is folly to conceive that Infinite Wisdom would make use of means so
ill-adapted to the end m view. It would be but an attempt to prove a
doubtful truth, by means equally if not more doubtful.

But, before closing this chapter, we will inquire into the probability
of any miracles having been performed, as mentioned by the New Testament
writers. And here our attention must be turned to the internal evidence
afforded by the New Testament itself. We shall there find internal or
indirect proof, that those miracles never took place, and that the whole
of them were ante-dated; that is, after the persons were dead who are
said to have been the performers. If this can be made out, miracles will
then receive a shock from which they never can recover. To do this, will
be the work of what remains to be done in this chapter.

John the Baptist is the first personage we shall select. The miracle
said to have taken place at the baptism of Jesus, is recorded by John,
as follows:—“_And after Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were
opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove,
and lighting upon him; and, lo! a voice from heaven saying, *This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased._” (Matthew iii. 16, 17.) Again,
in John’s Gospel, i., 36, when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said of
him, “_Behold the Lamb of God.” John also said of Jesus, that *he knew
him not till it was told him, that on whomsoever he (John) should see
the Spirit of God descend, the same is he_—meaning the true Christ. Now
here are repeated miracles to convince not only John the Baptist, but
also all that were present at the baptism of Jesus. Such evidence ought
to have stopped any future inquiries as to the real Messiahship of
Jesus; but there are strong doubts as to the truth that any such wonders
were exhibited at the time they are recorded to have taken place.

I shall proceed to present those doubts to the reader, as truth is my
object, and I am not afraid to follow after it:—in Matthew ii., 1, 2, it
reads, “_Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he
sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should
come, or do we look for another?_” This question, sent by John to
Christ, shows clearly that John did not hear of the wonders wrought by
Christ until he (John) was in prison for his reproof of Herod. This
account makes it almost certain that the whole story of John’s baptizing
Jesus, and also of the voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved
Son, in whom 1 am well pleased,” is a fabrication altogether, and that
John had never heard of Jesus until his confinement For this conclusion,
we have twofold proof: since if John had baptized Jesus, and the wonders
were performed as recorded, John could not have required any further
evidence us to his being no pretender, but the true Messiah, the hope
and expectation of Israel. On the part of Jesus, his reply would have
been, “Why, John, what do you mean by sending a question as to whom I
am? You heard the voice from heaven when I was baptized; you also saw
the dove descend on my head; and now you send two of your disciples to
inquire of me, by saying, ‘Art thou he that should come, or do we look
for another?’”

If we consider John’s question to Jesus, and also Jesus’s reply, it will
be plain that John had not even seen nor heard much of Jesus, till after
he was in prison. What, then, aha** we say of those wonders at the
baptism of Jesus? The answer is at hand, which is, that there is no
truth in the story. The probability is, that it was recorded from
hearsay evidence, by some person unknown, and ante-dated so as to
correspond to the time of John the Baptist; but that such evidence was
given to John, of the identity of Jesus, as to prevent any future
inquiry, there can be no doubt, admitting it ever took place; but John’s
sending his disciples to Jesus to ascertain the truth of his being the
true Messiah, fully destroys the truth of any voice being heard by John,
or the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on the head of Jesus.

The ignorance of all the disciples of Jesus, as it regards who he really
was, is remarkable, if it be admitted that he performed what is said of
him. We will notice the Apostle Peter, as he may be fairly considered
the representative of the twelve. It is written, that when Jesus and
Peter were together, behold! old Moses and Elias (Elijah) came so near
to the earth that they held conversation with Jesus, and that Peter,
somehow or other, knew them; but he, so far from being alarmed at seeing
those two old prophets, was unwilling that they should return, and even
proposed to Jesus to prepare for their stay. Surely, that was an age of
miracles and wonders! We have an account of the old Devil’s crawling out
from some hole or cave, and following Jesus into the wilderness; and,
again, we have two old prophets returned, hovering in the air, and
conversing with Jesus; one of whom is said to have died a thousand years
previous to the time of his holding this supposed conversation with
Jesus from the clouds; and the other, at nearly the same time, was taken
up into heaven in a chariot of fire! Those two strange personages must
have had business of great importance with Jesus. Are we to consider
this strange visit to have taken place, when the truth of it rests on
the same authority as all the other miracles and wonders which are
recorded concerning the mission of Jesus? If Moses and Elijah did not in
truth and reality talk to Jesus from the clouds, in the hearing of
Peter, in their real persons, or by their apparitions, it then follows,
that there is no truth in any of the miracles or wonders said to have
been performed, to prove that Jesus was _sent from God_; for all the
miracles and wonders which (it is said) took place, stand or fall
together.

If, for instance, the Devil did not find Jesus in the wilderness, and go
with him into the city, and tempt him to throw himself from the
Temple—if this is not strictly true, why, then, it is false as to Moses
and Elijah’s talking with him from the clouds. This incredible story, if
related in any book but what is called the Word of God, would not be
credited by one in ten thousand; but being found in the life of the
Redeemer, the man who rejects it and proclaims it unworthy of credit, is
considered an enemy of God, and will have the sentence of “_Go, ye
cursed_,” &c. As so much importance is attached to what is called the
Word of God, we will discuss a little further the business which brought
Moses and Elijah so near to this earth. As to where Moses or Elijah
reside, we have no knowledge, and what is the nature of their
employment, we know not; but if they still live, they must have some
location, and also, we suppose, must be employed about something—but
these things we must leave to those who are better acquainted with other
worlds, while our attention will be directed to the business of the
heavenly visitors.

If Moses had any interest in the mission of Jesus to the Jews, he could
have been serviceable to him, as he had been their former leader, and
therefore could give him useful hints concerning them. We may suppose he
would introduce the subject of Jesus’s mission in the following
manner:—“I am Moses, the former leader of the seed of Abram, and hearing
that Jehovah had sent his son Jesus to convert them to the true worship
of God, and the practice of justice and truth, I come to offer my
services, as I am well acquainted with that disobedient race; and, in
truth, I had a terrible time of it with them: only think of forty years
in the wilderness, always murmuring, and worshipping strange gods, for
which, at times, they were cruelly punished; Jehovah destroyed thousands
of them for resisting my authority; but they were incurable. He would
have, at one time, so great was his wrath, destroyed them all; but I
told him what the Egyptians and the heathen in general would say, and he
altered his mind, and killed off the worst of them: for, getting a
little out of temper with them at one time, in consequence of their
murmurings, Jehovah became angry with me, and I was prevented from
enjoying full possession of the promised land. It always surprised me
how it came about that Jehovah should select them from the rest of the
human race, for in my lifetime nothing was ever made of them; they even
disgraced the God who had made them his choice. I left them in thy hands
of Joshua, as the most proper person to rule over them; but how he got
along with them, I have not heard.” “Your offer, Moses, is duly
appreciated; but the Jews, as a nation, are now a different people from
what they were when you had to manage them. My course will be different
altogether from what you pursued. Farewell! Moses and Elijah.” We may
suppose that Jesus would say to Peter, “As for your purposing to erect
three tabernacles in this place, one for myself, one for Moses, and
another for Elijah, it is proof that you are entirely ignorant of my
future dealings with my own nation; for, in a few months, such things
will transpire, that even you, Peter, all zealous as you are, will swear
off and deny any knowledge of me.”

Now, reader, nothing can be more extravagant than to suppose that such
conversation took place between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. But if those
two old prophets did really descend, and converse with Jesus, then what
I have supposed is no more extravagant than that two prophets, who had
not been on earth for a thousand years, should pay a visit to Jesus, and
hold converse with him. These miracles never occurred, and the world has
been imposed upon and plundered by men, who, by telling such tales, have
lived in idleness; and their quarrels about what Jesus said or somebody
said, or did, have in every age been the cause of evils of every kind,
and of rendering human beings ignorant and wretched.

Christians, in speaking of the divine mission of Jesus, urge is miracles
as proofs that he came from God with full authority to give laws to, and
finally _to judge both quick and dead_; but the proof is wanting that he
ever performed one miracle. All the evidence we derive from the miracles
said to have been performed is not, that we know they were wrought by
Jesus, but that it is by somebody recorded that he did the mighty works
attributed to him, and which to us is no evidence at all. To believe,
then, what is written, without knowing by whom, or at what time and
place it was written, is to believe without evidence, which would be a
voluntary degradation of the noble faculties which have been conferred
upon man.



CHAPTER III.


PETER, of all the twelve apostles, seems to have been more in the
confidence of Jesus than the rest; since when he and Peter were alone,
his inquiry of Peter was as to what the people thought of him. For he
said to Peter, “_Whom do the people say that I, the son of man, am-?_”
Peter answered him, that different opinions were abroad concerning him.
Some said one thing, and some another; but the general opinion was, that
one of the old prophets had returned. Jesus then turned to Peter and
asked him as to his own conviction, and received for answer, “_Thou art
the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto
him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven._” In
consequence of this declaration of Peter, Jesus then grants him
superhuman power. To Peter, he says—“_Upon this rock will I build my
church. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and
whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. Then
charged he his disciples, that they should tell no man that he was Jesus
the Christ._” (Matthew xvi., 18, 19.. 20.)

From the subsequent conduct of Peter, it is not possible for him to have
witnessed the astonishing miracles said to have been performed in his
presence. Peter was present when Moses and Elijah conversed with Jesus;
and while Peter was speaking to his Divine Master, “_Behold, a bright
cloud overshadowed them, and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which
said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him._”
Now, if there were such a demonstration as this, (and many such proofs
Peter had been favored with,) how is it possible for us to account for
Peter’s denying that he even knew Jesus at all? This ought to be
sufficient for us to conclude that the accounts of those wonders
performed in the lifetime of Jesus, are false statements, written after
the reputed resurrection of Jesus, and the death of Peter, and that
neither of them saw nor believed any thing of the kind whatever.

In the present chapter, I shall notice the mode adopted by Jesus to
prove his Messiahship. In this investigation, we shall discover a want
of openness and plain-dealing as it relates to the communication of his
objects as the expected _hope and deliverer of Israel._ The reader must
ever keep in mind, that the object of Christ’s coming, so far as the
Jews were interested, was, first, to prove, beyond the shadow of a
doubt, that the true and only Messiah had arrived among them. Until this
was settled, nothing which Jesus said or taught would be of any avail,
because, unless this point was established, none would admit his
authority to enforce any thing that appeared in opposition to Jewish
theology, or to the ceremonies of the laws of Moses, the observance of
which, the Jews could not be prevailed upon to neglect; for it clearly
appears that the Jewish priests and rulers never showed any disposition
to resist, or in any way to treat with disrespect, the _holy one of
Israel_. The Jews, then, were in a favorable state of mind to receive
him whom they had so long and so earnestly expected and desired. But, as
that nation had before been deceived, a double degree of caution became
necessary to detect deception and expose imposture; for, until Jesus had
proved, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that he had the sanction of
Heaven for all which he taught, the Jews could place no reliance on his
pretensions.

It will now be proper to notice the introduction of the mission of Jesus
to the Jews. If he came by the divine command of the Governor of the
Universe, we ought to expect that his mission would be clearly made
known to all those who were interested. Nothing of such vast importance
must be guess-work; and the first and most important of all inquiries
would be, who are you, and by whom are you sent? for, until these
inquiries were ’finally settled, his sayings could not have their full
effect; since, as it has before been remarked, the moral state of the
Jews was not the point at issue, until his mission was made known, and
each party came to a right understanding. When, therefore, the Jews
understood who Jesus was, and the high authority under which he taught,
to correct their moral defects would make a part of his teaching, and
their minds would have been free from the obstacles that stood in the
way of attending to his precepts.

The erratic method resorted to by Jesus, in his converse with his
nation, as recorded in the history of his life, seems very singular. So
high a personage as the _only Son of God_ to be sent on a mission of
peace and reconciliation to his chosen people, it certainly must be
expected that his steps would have been directed to the most learned men
of his nation, and that all offensive language would have been withheld,
even admitting that the Jews were immoral to a very great degree. But
the acquaintances of Jesus were the most ignorant and unlearned of the
Jews, and were, from the nature of their employment, incapable of
judging correctly of those signs and wonders which Jesus produced as
proofs of his divine authority. The learned priests and scribes were the
proper persons to have resorted to, as being alone competent to examine
and explain all those predictions which related to Christ’s coming, as
foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. What would be thought of
a Minister Extraordinary, who, being sent from Washington to London on
business of the first importance, should he, instead of repairing to
London, make known his mission, by hints and indirect sayings, to some
untaught fishermen, and, at the same time, abuse, and also make use of
the most threatening expressions towards the heads of the government to
whom he was sent? Could it be expected that such conduct would be
productive of any thing but failure? This is exactly similar to the
conduct pursued by Jesus in his intercourse with the Jewish rulers. Can
we, for a moment, admit that Infinite Wisdom could have sent such an
ambassador on the all-important subject of the salvation of the human
race? Jesus repeatedly reproaches the Jews in general, and his disciples
in particular, for their want of faith in his divine authority: at the
same time, he makes use of sayings that it was impossible for them to
understand.

Jesus often referred to his treatment and death. How was it possible for
them to understand this prediction? It never could have entered the
minds of the descendants of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, that the true
Messiah must suffer death before he could begin to restore the Jews to
their former greatness. Instead of calling together the most talented
and the most influential of the Jewish nation, and openly making known
to them the object of his delegation, he associated with that portion of
society whose knowledge of Jewish history was very limited; and, as if
he dreaded publicity, often charged them to “tell no man that he was the
Christ”—the very opposite course to what appears to be consistent with
the important object of his coming. Taking the history of Christ’s life,
and also, more particularly, that of his teaching, he seems to have no
settled plan whatever. At times, he seems to be in the strictest sense a
Jew, not only as it regards his nation, but, also, most strictly
following the law of Moses, submitting even to all its ceremonies. At
other times, he opposes his sayings to those of the law of Moses, and
openly forgives sins, without having any recourse to the offering of
sacrifice according to the Mosaic law. Sometimes, he speaks of being not
only “_Lord of all,_” but that they would “_see him coming down in the
clouds, in power and glory, to judge both quick and dead_”; and then,
again, speaking of his poverty, as “not having where to lay his head.”
His living a life of wandering and mendicity, at times making a great
excitement in one place, and suddenly departing to another,—these
strange movements (admitting they occurred) entirely took off the
attention of the heads of the Jewish people, and caused him to be
considered as any thing but the promised _restorer of Israel_. In
addition to his unsettled state, his repeated attacks on the rulers,
holding them up to the scorn and contempt of the people, had generated
such feelings in the minds of the priests and scribes, that they
considered him as a pretender to the Messiahship. Besides the hostility
he showed to rich men, in speaking of the almost impossibility of their
entering that kingdom which was included in all his teachings, namely,
“_The kingdom of heaven is at hand,_” when a rich man asked him “what he
was to do to inherit eternal life?” the answer of Jesus to him was, in
addition to what the rich man had done, “Go and sell all, and give to
the poor, and follow me.” We are told that the rich man refused to do
that, and Jesus then said of the rich, “how difficult it was for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is the wild and levelling
doctrine taught by modern prophets. Nothing can be more unreasonable and
unjust. If such doctrines as these had, in in the time of Jesus, been
practised, he would have drawn a host of idlers after him. Besides, to
teach such an unqualified practice as the one proposed to the rich man,
must, at that time, have convinced every well-informed man how very
unfit Jesus was to regulate society. I well know that Christians will
consider this mode of examination of the sayings and doings of Jesus, as
wicked and horrible; as opposing the weak judgment of man to the
infinite wisdom of God. In reply to this, I would say, it is by
investigating the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament,
that we can perceive its defects, and thereby fully discover that the
wise Ruler and Governor of all never sanctioned doctrines such as those
said to have proceeded from Jesus.

In taking a candid survey of the teaching, manner, and life of Jesus as
it is written in the evangelists, we find that both he and his apostles
lived a wandering life. How they raised funds, we know not, but it seems
that Judas Iscariot was treasurer; and that he loved money better than
he did his master, his betraying him to the rulers for thirty pieces of
silver, fully proved. His having no fixed home, and following no regular
and permanent employment, will throw some light on the system of morals
which Jesus inculcated. Although some of his moral precepts were
undoubtedly good, and calculated to make those happy who reduced them to
practice, still others there were, which, if practised, would create
disorder-—such as that which repudiates the taking any thought for the
morrow. There is a vast difference in taking prudential thought for the
morrow, and always looking at the gloomy side of what may possibly
happen. Jesus makes no distinction; but in his explanation he leaves the
subject more obscure than if he had not left any comment at all. Jesus
says, “_Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they
spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
And again, “Take no thought for the morrow, what ye shall eat or what ye
shall drink, nor wherewithal ye shall be clothed, for your heavenly
father knoweth ye have need of all these. But seek ye first the kingdom
of heaven, and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added
unto you." Again, “If a man sue you at law and take your coat, let him
have your cloak also:_” and many more precepts of the same nature, which
are impracticable, and which must be left to prudence and common sense
to carry into practice.

But this very imperfect code of morals could be practised better by
Jesus and his followers, considering their mode of life, than by others
who had fixed homes. How Jesus and his apostles lived, as to their means
to buy food or clothing, is unknown,—unless they lived the lives of
mendicants, or, to speak more plainly, by what they could pick up, which
is implied in the saying of Christ: “for,” says he, “_foxes have holes,
and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has not where to
lay his head,_” To persons so situated, the taking thought for the
morrow would be but of little use; but by those persons who had homes,
and who, by labor, had to provide for a family, such morality could not
be practised. We will give but one instance.

Suppose a person had business from home for some weeks, and had given
his wife orders to provide his linen, with other things, for his
journey; and when the time arrived for him to leave home, his wife had,
agreeable to the precepts of Jesus, taken no thought for the
morrow,—would such an excuse satisfy the husband? No. Prudent
forethought is connected with every thing moral; and without it, society
would be entirely broken up. But to persons living a wandering life, and
not knowing from one day to another how they should fare; and rising in
the morning ignorant how it might turn out as to where they could lie
down at night—to such, the sayings of Jesus would better apply. But to
those who were settled and had fixed homes, the _taking no thought for
the morrow_ would break up every family who should attempt it. Had we
been of the Jewish nation, and lived in the time of Jesus, in all
probability we should have considered the conduct of Christ very
strange. Sometimes, he upbraided the Jews for their unbelief; and at
others, charged his own apostles to keep as a secret that he was the
Christ.

The only way to understand this strange history of the Messiah is, to
reject the account of his preaching altogether; and to consider the
whole of his ministry as being written by unknown persons from hearsay
only. And it is nearly proof positive that no such person as Jesus
existed, who said and did those things ascribed to him; for it is
utterly impossible by his history, admitting it to be correct, to
gather, from the evangelists’ account of it, for what he came, and also
what end was answered to the Jews. They we’re left in a worse state than
if Jesus had not been among them: for, as the Jews mistook the object of
his mission in consequence of the obscurity of his preaching, so the
different sects, to this day, have not decided what is Christianity.

The history of the life and preaching of Jesus, is such a confusion of
opposite doctrines, that, after eighteen hundred years’ investigation,
by men the most learned; and after thousands and tens of thousands of
volumes have been written, and commentators have endeavored to settle
the different and conflicting accounts of what he taught, it still
remains unsettled whether Christ is part God and part man, or whether he
had a natural father, and is to be considered as nothing but a man, but
of superior holiness of life. It is not settled whether Christ died for
all, or only a part of the human race. Again, it is not yet agreed on by
Christian sects whether baptism should be extended to infants, or be
administered exclusively to adults. These, and many more subjects, are
by different parties viewed differently; at the same time all and each
appeal to the New Testament in support of their respective creeds.

I will now appeal to the reader whether a God of infinite wisdom and
power would be the author of a religion which could give rise to so many
contradictory doctrines? which in the life-time of the propagator was
not understood? and for eighteen hundred years has been a fruitful field
of discord, war, and murder, instead of producing “peace on earth and
good-will towards men?” It has never failed to be a source of war,
hatred, malice, and ill-will towards men; and nothing but the extension
of Infidel Principles can secure the human race against a recurrence of
those dreadful scenes, which, for ages, converted this otherwise happy
world into a slaughter house of human victims. To my brother Infidels,
then, I say, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” If you cease from your
noble exertions, the human race may again exhibit one mass of
theological putrefaction. If Infinite wisdom and power had ever
undertaken to give a revelation to man, we should not have witnessed any
blunders or mistakes. A revelation coming from such a being, would have
been directed to some beneficial end, and, like the eternal laws of the
universe, the means made use of would not have failed to bring about the
glorious end intended. But the Bible, including the Old and New
Testaments, is not only unworthy of its pretended high authority; but it
portrays the all-wise Governor and Director of all worlds as a being
changeable, cruel, and unjust.

In addition to the obscure manner resorted to by Jesus in his speeches,
he seldom conversed with any of his countrymen of any distinction. It
was always the lower ranks of society to whom he directed his sayings;
so that, to the most learned and opulent of the Jews, he was little
known; for when the higher powers were about to take him into custody,
to them he was unknown. It then became expedient to offer a reward to
some one to point him out to the officers appointed to arrest him. Judas
Iscariot was the man who seemed willing as well as competent, to conduct
this ungrateful business. Jesus had often said that _one of his apostles
would betray him_. There is something very strange in the saying of
Jesus, that _he had chosen twelve apostles and one would betray him_. If
Jesus came to the Jews as the promised and expected Messiah, the very
idea of betraying him implies that he did not intend that the Jews
should ever know him as _the sent of God_. At all events, Jesus, at the
time Judas made him personally known to the chief priest and rulers,
complained of the deceitfulness of Judas, which is full proof that he
did not wish at that time to be put on his trial.

But in what did this betraying consist? The Jewish rulers wished to have
the man pointed out to them who had made so much noise and stir among
the lower order of the people. Judas took the reward, and if Jesus were
really sent by the Lord of all to his nation, this betraying was only
giving him an opportunity of openly avowing his Messiahship. Here then
was the time for him to show such signs and wonders as to prevent any
doubts as to who he was, and of the important object of his coming; for
if _he came into the world to die for the sins of mankind_, Judas then
was of vast importance in bringing about that which was before ordained
by the _determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God_. But if he (Jesus)
did not intend to suffer death, then, and only then, had he cause to
complain of Judas as a traitor. Jesus, in speaking of Judas, says, “_it
had been good for that man if he had never been born:_” but if the
salvation of mankind depended on the death of Christ, a more important
person than Judas was never born of woman. Whether such a man as Jesus
ever lived or not, it is impossible to determine; but admitting that
such a man as he is said to have been, did exist, it does appear that
his life was a scene of incongruities bordering on insanity. And the
whole of his public ministry was so erratic, that it seems as if he had
no specific object in view.



CHAPTER IV.


NOTHING can be more unreasonable than to admit, for a moment, that the
Almighty Power which governs the vast unbounded universe, should be the
author, either directly or indirectly, of a system which has produced so
much cruelty, carnage, and bloodshed, as the Christian Religion—a very
large portion of which has been brought about by the discordant
doctrines attributed to the preaching of Christ. If God is its author,
(which is more than doubtful,) if, in addition to the evils with which
human nature is afflicted, he had intended to make man’s misery
complete, the Christian religion seems well adapted to secure that end,
for it is the key-stone of human wretchedness. A great amount of evil
has resulted from the different sects that have arisen from the New
Testament.

A few particulars will suffice to show that the various doctrines, all
gathered from and founded on the sayings of Christ, have created discord
and persecution among the followers of Jesus, the pretended pacificator
of the human race.

One of the most destructive sayings of Jesus—one which has entailed on
the human race a system of continual evil, and which bids fair to last
for ages to come, is the delegated power given to the Apostle Peter, and
which is, to the present day, claimed by his successors. Peter, being
asked by Christ as to what the Jews thought of him, answered that “some
thought that one of the old prophets had returned from the dead, while
others thought differently.” But, says Jesus to Peter, “_Whom do you say
that I am?_” Give me your opinion. Peter replied, “_Thou art the Christ,
the Son of God._” This answer was responded to by Jesus, and to Peter he
said, “_Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven;” and Jesus added,
“Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my church, and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys
of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall
be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be
loosed in heaven._” (Matthew xvi., 19.)

After appearing to give Peter unlimited power, he tells him that “_the
chief priest and scribes will put him to death, and that he should be
raised the third day._” Peter, not understanding this sad reverse, and
out of regard for his master, rebuked him, but very mildly, by saying,
“_Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee._” At this,
Jesus seemed to lose his temper, and said, “_Get thee behind me, Satan,
thou art an offence to me._” Jesus then tells Peter that “_The son of
man should come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, to reward
every man according to his works,_” Jesus then adds, “_Verily, I say
unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death
till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom._”

Now it was not possible for Peter, or any one else, to understand
Christ’s meaning. He tells them things concerning his second coming,
before they understood his object as it related to his Messiahship.
Besides, what he told them would surely come to pass in their time, is
not yet fulfilled. This obscure mode of teaching runs through all his
speeches; and he continually reproaches them for their want of faith in
his doctrines. A method so incoherent appears to approach to insanity.

But to return more immediately to the power given to Peter. A power so
undefined as was given to Peter, at a time when he did not even
comprehend the final destiny of Jesus, cannot be admitted to have been
given. But as this part of Christ’s history was written long after his
leaving this earth, the writer, whoever he was, wrote from hearsay; and
there being no one to question its truth, it became, like many other
sayings, reputed as coming from Jesus. Inconsistent as it was, it became
one of the doctrines of the church; and the successors of Peter retain
it in the Catholic Church at the present day. This original power given
unto Peter is still invested in the person of the Pope of Rome, and
through him down to the rest of the clergy. This power, said to have
been given by Jesus to the church, has been productive of discord. The
Popes have held and acted upon it as a divine prerogative bequeathed by
Christ to his church, which has been denied by other sects, so that
quarrels have been the consequence. And hence both rich and poor,
learned and unlearned, have, and do still, confess to the priest their
sins, and receive pardon.

All the evils that have resulted from such foolery, sprang from the
authority said to have been by Jesus given to Peter. What a rich harvest
have the priests reaped from this delegated power! Can men, possessing
one grain of common sense, believe that such power was ever given to
mortal man? But the different sects will say, that Jesus never intended
that it should be thus understood. This does not mend the matter at all;
for God must have foreseen what use would be made of it. The
consequences, therefore, rest with Him. But are we prepared to admit
that Infinite Wisdom would have left unguarded, doctrines of such vast
importance to the peace and harmony of his church?

Again, the shocking consequences which have followed the institution of
the Sacrament, or Lord’s Supper. Jesus, according as Christians believe,
instituted the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, as an emblem of
his body being broken, and his blood being poured out as a sacrifice for
sin. But this doctrine or ordinance, being undefined, the different
sects of Christians have practised it under the impression of its
sacredness, taking its literal meaning instead of regarding it as a
token of remembrance. The Catholic believes, or professes so to do, that
after the descendants of Peter have prayed over, and consecrated, the
bread and wine, its nature is changed into the real body and blood of
the Saviour. One horrible consequence which has resulted from such
tomfoolery, has been, the burning of hundreds of human beings at the
stake, for not admitting so important a truth. This evil, and many
others, has arisen from the obscure doctrines taught by Jesus, whom the
scriptures describe as being the light of the world. Jesus, before being
taken into heaven, told his disciples that it was for their good that he
should leave them; for, to make up for his absence, _he would send the
Holy Ghost, who would be a comforter, and would lead them into all
truth_. How far this promise has been fulfilled, we have the evidence of
eighteen hundred years; for, immediately after Jesus had left his
church, they became divided, and ever since they have butchered each
other without mercy. This is the comfort, then, that Christians have
received by the coming of the Holy Ghost.

Another fruitful field of slaughter and blood has been thrown open in
consequence of Jesus withholding from the Christian church the real
nature of his being. So confused was he on this subject, that, even now,
Christians do not agree. Some contend for his manhood alone, and that,
like all other men, he had an earthly father,—the Unitarians, for
instance, and other sects. But the real Orthodox contend that Jesus was
born of a pure virgin, who, though a mother was yet a virgin. These
contradictory views are supported by the life and history of Jesus. Does
it require any thing more than common sense to repudiate the divinity of
a Book containing such opposite statements of the same accounts, or
facts? It is the uncertainty of what Christianity really is, which has
caused so much evil in the world; and this has arisen from the dark and
obscure mode of teaching attributed to the Son of God. Those Christians
who have embraced views so opposite to each other, but who have taken
them from the same Word of God, have, in every age, been the most
implacable enemies, and have seldom failed, when power has been in their
hands, to inflict the most cruel torments on those who differed from
them. Indeed, the history of the Christian Church is one continued
record of persecution and cruelty.

I was, for some few months, called on by an Orthodox deacon, who
earnestly requested me to reflect on the dangerous situation I was in as
an unbeliever, being totally unprepared for a future state. I asked, if
I were in a worse state than an Unitarian? You admit, said I, that they,
many of them, are good men, and will not be excluded from heaven. He
replied, that, morally speaking, they might be good; but, he added, that
my claim to heaven stood on equal, if not superior ground to theirs, as
they did not believe in the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus for sin;
consequently, they had neither part nor lot in the matter.

All the intolerance and persecution which have deluged the earth with
blood, have arisen from Christianity not having ever been defined.
Hundreds of different creeds have been founded on the sayings and doings
of Jesus and his apostles, as found in the New Testament; and there are
yet materials for many more. Each sect regards all other sects as being
wickedly obstinate, and resisting the truth. All this misery and
destruction, arising from the different construction of the doctrines
said to have been delivered by Jesus, would never have taken place, if
the all-wise Ruler of the Universe had dictated them; but the evils they
have brought on the world can never be reconciled as coming from a Being
of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness. If such a Being had ever given
a revelation to the human race, there is no doubt but that it would have
been adapted to man’s reasoning powers; that mistakes would not have
opposed its progress; thousands of books would not have been required to
explain what Infinite Wisdom had proclaimed; no fires of martyrdom would
have been lighted, to compel men to believe what none could understand.

If God had been the author of the Christian religion, it would, like all
his works, have been so arranged, and the means so wisely adapted, that
the intention or end would be fully answered. But the religion of the
Bible, both the Old and New Testament, is a continual trial of
experiments on man. And what has religion made of him? Is he generally
fit to be trusted, in word or action? Is he generally humane and
tender-hearted? No! very far from it. Society is, in its best state,
very defective in humanity. The accumulation of riches is the
Christian’s object. Gold is the god he adores.

It is impossible for Christians to deny that the persecutions and
burnings, the cruel torture, and every infliction of cruelty practised
by one sect towards others, who honestly differed from the most
powerful, were all in consequence of the different sects embracing and
maintaining opposite doctrines; all of which were founded on the
teaching of Jesus. Can we, then, believe that the Almighty Ruler of all
worlds would have sent his Son to teach mankind something that should
involve the human race in a never-ending quarrel, by teaching so
obscurely that two persons, equally honest and intelligent, should form
opposite opinions; knowing, as the Almighty must, that such teaching
would engender hatred and malice, and be the cause of producing unheard
of cruelty and torture?

How dreadful it is to reflect on the mad fury of religious zeal, when
the persecutor and the persecuted are equally sincere! The first,
believing he ought to put to death those who differ from him, for the
glory of God; and the latter, considering that his crown of glory can be
obtained only by sufferings death the most horrid to bear! Poor,
unfortunate creatures! Both parties are objects of pity. The evils
resulting from the different doctrines collected from the teaching of
Jesus, have, for eighteen hundred years, converted the otherwise happy
world into a pious mad-house. The doctrine of human depravity, although
it may not have been so productive of evil as some others, is a libel on
human nature. It is taught by Jesus; the preachers repeat it weekly from
the pulpit; and the necessity of a new birth results from it. A thousand
pulpits thunder forth vengeance against man because of the hardness of
his heart. We are told that he has rebelled against his God; that he is
at enmity with him, and that he has turned his back to his Maker.

All this is done to humble man, and to bring about his conversion. The
Scriptures also represent the Almighty as angry with poor, feeble man,
and that he will eventually pour out his wrath in never-ending torments!
These doctrines, so earnestly taught, and so fully credited, constitute
a principal part of what comes from ten thousand preachers; and if we
examine the truth of them, none can we find. As it respects man’s
rebelling, and turning his back on his Creator, man’s error and
misfortune has ever been in trying to find out something about his
Maker.

This curiosity, no doubt, originated in a state of ignorance. And even
in the present day, man has yet to learn the inutility of every attempt
to discover any thing as to the being and nature of a Supreme Power that
is supposed to govern the universe. We are lost in wonder and admiration
when we contemplate the mighty universe! but of the Grand Regulator of
all, we are, and no doubt shall ever remain, in total ignorance. It is a
libel on man, then, to teach that human beings are at enmity against
God. I ask my readers, both male and female, whether they ever had those
feelings of hatred against the unknown Governor of the grand and sublime
universe? But Christian priests proclaim it; and to those who believe
it, it is a source of lamentation; and being under the belief that man
is the natural enemy of God, the minds of such persons become
prostrated, and then this otherwise happy world is despised and
neglected for a future state of supposed bliss.

Let any one attend a Protracted Meeting, where there may be some
hundreds of persons, and among the number, many youths of both sexes;
both young and old are appealed to by the speakers, who describe them as
enemies of God, and as having turned their backs on the God of goodness.
They become alarmed, not having before conceived that they could have
been so wicked. I have seen upwards of fifty, at one time, sobbing and
crying and imploring mercy, who, poor, weak mortals, until this
foolishness of being at enmity with God was preached to them, had no
conception of their dreadful enormities and danger. By exciting the
feelings with falsehood, this process is called conversion and the work
of the Holy Ghost. At the same time that the most virtuous females are
denounced as deserving damnation for their wickedness, and told that,
without repentance, their future state will be wretched to all eternity,
should one word derogatory to the character of these females, thus
represented by the priests, be spoken by any body else, an action for
slander would be instituted.

But as long as people will give up their reason, and be hoodwinked with
the nonsense that God is angry, and that they are every moment in danger
of falling into hell, so long will the Christian priesthood riot in
profusion and plenty, by dealing out damnation to those whose only crime
is enmity against God. So completely hoodwinked is man, that he attends
weekly, and pays well into the bargain, to hear the priest deal out
endless damnation to nine-tenths of the human race; and it is ten
chances to one that he also is included among the subjects of the Devil!
Should an Orthodox preacher, for a few Sundays, preach on moral
subjects, and consider that morality was the one thing needful in the
Christian Church, the congregation would complain that their souls
required more substantial nourishment. The preacher must return to the
old mode of teaching, and again shake them over the lake of fire! And
hence it follows, that, as the people, are not satisfied without having
the wrath of God the constant theme, the preacher gives it as they wish
to have it. An angry God; a cunning, crafty and tempting Devil; and the
enmity of man’s wicked heart: this is the set of tools by which the
Christian teacher carries on his theological trade. The discordancy of
religious opinions, and all of them taken from the doctrines as taught
by Jesus and the apostles, each preacher referring to the favorite
passages which support his views, is and will be, a never-ending theme
of disputation; and at some future period, may renew the practice of
burning each other alive for God’s glory.

Nothing but the spread of Infidelity can completely stop this dreadful
evil. We have only to suppose, that, at some future time, the savages
who have been what is called converted by preachers of opposite sects,
such as the Calvinist and the Universalist, or the Trinitarians and
Unitarians, should, by some cause not now foreseen, be left by the
missionaries to support the Christian church; then the savage converts
of different sects would be very likely to fall on each other, and the
fires of Smithfield, which Infidelity, the companion of humanity, has
extinguished, may again blaze on the Islands of the Pacific Ocean. This
is a very probable case; for, in the present day, the same Bible is the
text book of all denominations, and all of them would persecute if they
had but the power. Christianity is now what it ever has been, and what
it ever will be, a persecuting religion; and, although the fires of
martyrdom cease to torment the human race, the embers are still emitting
smoke, and may again be rekindled. Nothing short of _unbelief in all
divine revelation_, openly and fearlessly avowed, can guarantee the
human family against a renewal of the religious butchery of past ages.



CHAPTER V.


TAKING the Orthodox views of Christianity, there are four personages
connected with divine revelation, and each has a different department to
act out. The first three are the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Leaving,
for the present, the first three, our attention will, in this chapter,
be directed to the fourth and last, namely, the Devil. And so much
consequence do Christian sects attach to the existence of the Devil,
that, to deny it, or even to doubt it, would be enough to separate a
member from the church. Religious people must have a Devil; for, as the
Devil, by his incessant cunning and temptation, is the indirect author
of men’s sins, so, on the other hand, the Saviour stands ready to ransom
the guilty. It then follows, that the sinner, after all, stands on
pretty good ground; for, if the Devil tempts him to commit one-half of
his crimes, and the Saviour pardons the other half, man is not in much
danger of being condemned.

In this chapter, it will be seen, what an amount of evil has arisen to
the peace and happiness of the human race, not from what the Devil
really has done, but from what mortals have believed he has done, by
supposing him to have almost unlimited power. And here we can perceive,
what evil has transpired from what never has, nor ever could have taken
place, but from what has been believed to have really happened. This has
been in consequence of the credulity of the human mind when reason is
departed from, and man becomes the creature of imagination. It is then
that man can give credit to the most glaring absurdities, and honestly
reject the plain dictates of common sense. It is then that he leaves the
solid earth on which he treads, and launches into the region of airy
nothings; and, by the ductility of his mind, creates beings of so
terrific a nature, that, at the thought of them, the stoutest hearts
have been made to quail. This is strictly true as to the existence and
influence of the Devil.

That the New Testament sanctions the existence of the Devil, there
remains not a doubt. The temptation of Christ is proof positive. But
that alone should not suffice. The case of Mary Magdalene, and also the
expulsion of devils by Jesus and his disciples, put all doubt out of the
question. When we consider the terrible consequences of this belief on
the peace and happiness of the human race, we can but pity the deluded
creatures, who, in different ages of Christianity, have been sufferers
for the supposed commission of a crime that never was, nor ever will be
committed. All nations, in all ages, have credited, to a lesser or a
greater extent, the existence of a being, or beings, of a malignant
nature, possessing power beyond man’s conception; who, from some cause
unknown, delighted in doing mischief to the human family. And ever since
the introduction of the Christian religion, it has been credited that
such wicked spirits could delegate power to human beings equally wicked
as themselves; by which power, they, for a time, could vent their
malice, and do wonders by selling themselves, or by some infernal
contract could do harm to, or among those of, their neighbors who were
so unfortunate as to fall under their displeasure.

This sin, which never was, and never can be committed, has ever been
thought the worst of crimes; and less mercy shown to the supposed guilty
person than if guilty of murder itself. And so extensively has it been
credited, and so great has been its influence, that laws have, in most
nations, been passed for its punishment; and thousands, and tens of
thousands have been put to death under circumstances of torture at which
the human heart sickens. Surely, if our minds are not entirely darkened
by the ignorance of past ages, we must be able to see that the Bible has
been the most destructive book that was ever written; and is unworthy to
claim infinite power, wisdom, and goodness for its author. If the belief
in witchcraft and sorcery had been confined to the ignorant and
unlearned of all nations, its evil would have been so limited that not
much misery would have followed, because men of good sense and talent
would have stood in the way of its progress. But, unfortunately, this
has not so happened. Its evil influence has ascended to the highest
classes in society. The king on his throne, and the learned judge seated
in the chair of impartial justice, have partaken of its deadly
contagion. The reader will now be presented with facts of the most
undoubted authority, showing what wretchedness has occurred from
believing in the existence and malignity of the Devil—a doctrine
supported by divine revelation.

The first fact that is brought forward, took place at Bury, St. Edmonds,
in the County of Suffolk, (England,) in the year 1664. Amy Duny and Rose
Callender, two poor women, who were ignorant, and of the coarsest
materials, had, for eight years previous, the reputation of being
witches. So horrid were they considered, that the fishermen would not
sell them fish, and the boys in the streets were taught to fly from them
with horror. The principal charges against them were, that the children
of two families had been many times seized with fits in which they
exclaimed that they saw Amy Duny and Rose Callender coming to torment
them. They vomited, and in their vomit were often found pins, and once
or twice a two-penny nail.

One or two of the children died. To support these allegations, a wagoner
appeared, whose wagon had been twice overturned in one morning in
consequence of the curses of one of these witches. Sir Matthew Hale
presided at the trial, assisted by Sir Thomas Brown, two of the most
able and learned Judges then in England. Those two poor women were by
the jury found guilty, and hanged on the seventeenth day of March, 1664,
one week after their trial.

Sir Matthew Hale refused to sum up the evidence, but left it to the
jury, to whom he said, “That the Scriptures left no doubt that there was
such a thing as witchcraft; and instructed them that all they had to do,
was, first, to consider whether the children were really bewitched; and,
secondly, whether the witchcraft was sufficiently brought home to the
prisoners at the bar.” The Jury found them guilty, and they were hanged
as before stated.

Here we have a shocking account of the credulity of the human mind. The
whole English nation were laboring under a mental delusion. Here it was
not to be said, “_O, ye of little faith!_” but, “_O, ye religious
madmen! your faith has changed your nature from kindness and pity, to
perform acts of cruelty which the savage cannibal would shudder to put
into practice._” I would here remind the reader, that Judge Hale was
considered a just and humane Judge. What a dreadful state a nation must
be in, when such laws as have been referred to, were in full force, and
the jurisprudence of England was, as it were, under the influence of a
Being the supposed enemy of man! And it may in truth be said, that an
unknown and invisible world governed one that was known and visible.

Now, in the case of those two poor women, who were really murdered, the
question arises, who were their murderers? Was it Judge Hale, or the
Jury? It was neither. It was the Bible-—a book which records the
existence of a Devil, the sworn enemy of God and men. Reader! can you
withhold pity from two poor creatures in such circumstances, and can you
still praise to the skies a Book that has made the best and wisest of
men cruel brutes,—who, at the same time, were happy to have a chance to
make war against the Devil, by destroying two helpless beings whose only
crime, in all probability, was poverty and ignorance? Every humane
unbeliever must exclaim, “O God! O Nature! what havoc have ignorance and
superstition made among your works!”

Nothing could be better calculated to give importance to the credibility
of the activity and influence of the Devil’s employing and entering into
a league with wicked and ill-disposed persons, after Christianity became
established, than the Scripture account of the Devil’s tempting Jesus,
and endeavoring to make a contract with him to obey and submit to his
proposals. But as the Devil was non-suited by the Saviour of mankind, it
might be expected that after Jesus had left this world, the Devil would
endeavor to enlist into his service many of those who had embraced the
religion of that Saviour whom he had tried to seduce.

In the course of time, in the middle or dark ages, when’ men’s
imaginations were active, and reason was nearly banished from among
Christians, it became a matter of faith and certainty, that persons in
different towns and villages had really entered into a contract, for a
certain number of years, with the Devil himself; and to carry out and
complete this supposed covenant with the enemy of God and man, a motion
was started of the Devil’s Sabbath, on which, a place being appointed,
wicked men and women could meet and contract with Old Lucifer himself;
and books were printed to show the nature of the contract After this
strange opinion became fully credited, and witchcraft was made a crime
punishable by law, those persons who were accused of witchcraft were
tortured, in order to compel them to own that they had attended the
Sabbath of the Devil.

Another fact will now be stated, to show what ideas of the Devil’s
influence prevailed in England and Scotland, in the days of Elizabeth.
James the First, of England, who, succeeding Elizabeth, was born in
1566, was the only direct heir to the Crown of Scotland, and had a
prospect of succeeding Elizabeth in England, which he did on the death
of the Queen. James had witnessed a great number of prosecutions for
witchcraft, in Scotland, in the reign of Mary; and he, as might be
expected, most firmly believed that the Devil was very active in the
country of his birth; so that, when he came to the Crown of England, his
mind was di-rected to put a stop to the prevailing crime of witchcraft
and to break up the Devil’s Sabbath, he believing that numbers of his
English subjects were visitors to those unholy meetings. A circumstance
will now be mentioned which will fully prove what views the people of
England and Scotland had of the activity of the Devil in drawing persons
into his service and kingdom; for it is impossible to evade the truth,
that the existence and opposition of the Devil against the progress of
the Gospel, was strengthened by what had been recorded of the Devil in
the New Testament.

James the First, of England, is here cited to show what was then the
prevailing opinion of the existence of witchcraft in that kingdom. And
although it is painful to reflect on the sufferings of thousands, it
may, by its recital, assist those who are still somewhat in darkness, to
discover how the human race have been deluded. James the First had fixed
his mind on a daughter of the King of Denmark. A splendid embassy was
sent from England to conclude the treaty of marriage, and to bring home
James’s royal consort; but the ships met with violent storms, and
instead of arriving at the capital of Scotland, the news came that the
ship in which the Princess had taken passage, was driven back on the
coast of Norway; nothing uncommon m these seas at that, season of the
year. The King, being disappointed, sailed to the place where the
shattered ships lay, and the marriage was consummated; and the King and
Queen remained at Copenhagen, and did not arrive at Edinburgh until the
first of May, 1590. The storm was, after their return, considered to be
the result of some supernatural interference.

The King, after his return, suspecting that witchcraft had something to
do in raising the storm which drove his intended wife on the coast of
Norway, set to work to make discoveries; and two of his female servants
were suspected of causing the storm before alluded to. Their names were
Geillis Duncan and Agnes Sampson. Both of them were put to the torture
to extort confession. These poor young women, broken down and exhausted
by so dreadful an operation, became willing to answer such questions as
this royal blockhead had prepared to put to them. Agnes Sampson told the
King, that she, in company with two hundred other witches, had sailed in
sieves from Leith to North Berwick Church; how they had there
encountered the Devil in person; how they had feasted with him, and what
obscenities had been; practised. She related, that in this voyage they
had drowned a cat, having first baptized it; and that immediately a
dreadful storm arose, and in this very storm the King’s ship had been
separated from the rest of the fleet. Inconsequence of this confession,
Agnes Sampson was condemned to the flames. The system of torture
resorted to under cir-circumstances of suspicion, compelled poor
suffering creatures to answer any questions put to them to satisfy their
cruel tormentors and in many cases, after all, they were put to death.
King James the First published his Dialogues on Demonology in three
books. But many years after he renounced his belief in the real
existence of Witchcraft altogether; and in the latter part of his reign,
declared that all he had done was the effect of delusion.

These were dreadful times for humanity. Thousands and tens of thousands
of victims suffered every kind of torture that savage, ingenuity could
devise; and what made it the more to be deplored, the ignorant creatures
who inflicted the torments were honest in their abhorrence of those
unfortunate persons, who suffered for what was, in those dark ages,
considered the worst of crimes. In what horror, then, were persons held
who could be so wicked as to have dealings with the devil? The case of
James is here recorded, to show the reader that the belief in witchcraft
was not confined to the ignorant: and unlettered portion of society; but
that England, and Scotland, and, it may be said, every Christian nation
with its government, and the army also, were all laboring under this
delusion. And the truth of its existence was then, and is now, supported
by the New Testament, and fully confirmed by the Devil’s temptation of
Jesus, the Christian’s _Son of God_; for the desire manifested by the
Devil to entice Jesus to enter into his service, did, in those dark
ages, strengthen persons in the conclusion that the Devil, although he
failed to seduce the Redeemer, would continue to enlist, if possible,
great numbers into his service. The firm belief of his attempts on the
_Son of God_ would dispose persons to credit the fact that people of
abandoned characters would hire themselves to the Devil. In the days of
Oliver Cromwell, a story is recorded by Echard, the historian, as
shockingly illustrative of the credulity of the age in which he lived.
It takes its date from the morning of the third of September, 1651, when
Cromwell gained the battle of Worcester against Charles the Second. It
is on the authority of Colonel Lindsey, who was senior captain in
Cromwell’s own regiment. The story recorded is, “That on the morning of
the battle, Cromwell took with him Colonel Lindsey to the side of a
wood, not far from the army, and bade him alight and follow him into the
wood, and to take particular notice of what he saw and heard. And having
secured their horses, and walked some little way into the wood, Lindsey
began to turn pale, and to be seized with horror from some unknown
cause. Cromwell asked him how he felt himself? He answered, that he was
in such a trembling that he never felt the like in all the conflicts and
battles he had ever been engaged in. ‘How, now,’ said Cromwell, ‘what!
troubled with the vapors? Come forward, man.’ They had not gone far,
before Lindsey stood still, and said it was impossible for him to go one
step further. Upon which, Cromwell called him a faint hearted fool, and
bade him stand there and observe, or witness. And then the General,
advancing to some distance from him, met a grave elderly man with a roll
of parchment in his hand, who delivered it to Cromwell, and he eagerly
perused it Lindsey, a little recovered from his fear, heard several loud
words between them, particularly Cromwell said, ‘this is but for seven
years, I was to have it for one and twenty.’ The grave elderly man told
him positively, it could not be for more than seven. Cromwell cried with
great fierceness, ‘It shall, however, be for fourteen years.’ Cromwell
then took his parchment, and returning to Lindsey, ‘Now, Lindsey,’ said
he, ‘the battle is our own, I long to be engaged.’ It did then commence.
After the first charge, Lindsey deserted his post and rode away with all
speed to a friend’s in the county of Suffolk, and never returned.
Cromwell offered a great reward for him, dead or alive. Cromwell died on
that day seven years, September 3, 1658.”

It is of no consequence whether this story is true or not It fully
proves that at that time it was believed, that men sold themselves to
the Devil.



CHAPTER VI.


TWO more remarkable cases will, in this chapter, be made known to the
reader, to show that for hundreds of years the Devil, or rather the
belief in his existence, was a source of terror to all Christians, and
must have operated on almost every transaction in which society were
engaged. In almost every town and village, to be surrounded with wicked
beings who had entered into a contract with Satan to be empower-ed to
perform deeds of darkness which no prudence could guard against, must
have had an influence on the peace and safety of almost every family.
But now, that the delusion has nearly passed away, and mankind are no
longer subject to such terror, we may be happy to think that our lives
are exempted from the evils which afflicted our forefathers. And nothing
but an open avowal of our unbelief in all systems which in any way
sanction the existence of a Being who has made a large portion of the
human family crazy, can prevent a recurrence of past ignorance with all
its baneful consequences.

Joan of Arc, called the Maid of Orleans, an unfortunate creature,
demands our pity. Her tragical history ought to impel every humane
person to do all in his power to prevent mortals from again witnessing
scenes of so dreadful a nature.

Henry the Fifth, of England, won the decisive battle of Agincourt in the
year 1415, and some time after concluded a treaty with the reigning King
of France, by which he was recognized, in case of that King’s death, as
heir to the throne. Henry the Fifth died in the year 1422, and Charles
the Sixth, of France, in less than two months after. Henry the Sixth was
only nine months old, at the time of his father’s death; but such was
the deplorable state of France, that he was the same year proclaimed
King in Paris, and for some years seemed to have every prospect of a
fortunate reign. John, Duke of Bedford, the King’s uncle, was declared
Regent of France. The son of Charles the Sixth was reduced to the last
extremity. Orleans was the last strong town in the heart of the kingdom
which held out in his favor; and that place seemed on the point of
surrendering to the conqueror.

“In this fearful crisis, appeared Joan of Arc, and, in the most
incredible manner, turned the whole tide of affairs. She was a servant
in a poor inn at Demremi, and was accustomed to perform the coarsest
offices, and, in particular, to ride the horses to a neighboring stream
of water. Of course, the situation of France and her hereditary King
formed the universal subject of conversation, and Joan became deeply
impressed with the lamentable state of her country, and the misfortunes
of her King. By dint of perpetual meditation, and feeling in her breast
the promptings of energy and enter-prize, she conceived the idea that
she was destined by Heaven to be the deliverer of France. Agreeably to
the state of intellectual knowledge at that period, she persuaded
herself that she saw visions and held communications with the saints.
She then had conversations with St. Margaret and St. Catherine of
Fierbois. They told her that she was commissioned by God to raise the
siege of Orleans. She then presented herself to Baudricourt, Governor of
the neighboring town of Vaucouleurs, telling him her commission, and
requiring him to send her to the King at Chinon. Baudricourt, at first,
made light of her application; but her importunity, and the ardor she
expressed, at length excited him. He put on her man’s attire, gave her
arms, and sent her, under an escort of two gentlemen and their
attendants, to Chinon. Here she immediately addressed the King in
person, who had purposely hid himself behind his courtiers, that she
might not know him. She then delivered her message, and offered, in the
name of the Most High, to raise the siege of Orleans, and conduct King
Charles to Rheims to be anointed.

“Desperate as was then the state of affairs, Charles and his ministers
immediately resolved to seize the occasion that offered, and put forward
Joan as an instrument to revive the prostrate courage of his subjects.
He had no sooner determined on this, than he pretended to submit the
truth of her mission to the most rigorous trial. He called together an
assembly of theologians and doctors, who rigorously examined Joan, and
pronounced in her favor. He referred the question to the Parliament of
Poictiers, and they who, previously to meeting, were persuaded that she
was an impostor, became convinced of her inspiration. She was mounted on
a highbred steed, furnished with a consecrated banner, and marched,
escorted by a body of five thousand men, to the relief of Orleans. The
French, strongly convinced by so plain an interposition of Heaven,
resumed the courage to which they had long been strangers.

“Such a phenomenon was exactly suited to the superstition and credulity
of the age. The English were staggered with the rumors that every where
went before her, and struck with a degree of apprehension and terror
that they could not shake off. The garrison, informed of her approach,
made a sally on the other side of the town, and Joan and her convoy
entered without opposition. She displayed her standard in the market
place, and was received as a celestial deliverer. She appears to have
been endowed with a prudence not inferior to her courage and spirit of
enterprise. With great docility, she caught the hints of the commanders
by whom she was surrounded, and, convinced of her own want of experience
and skill, delivered them to the forces as the dictates of Heaven. Thus
the knowledge and discernment of the Generals were brought into play at
the same time that their suggestions acquired new weight when falling
from the lips of the Heaven-instructed heroine. A second convoy arrived,
the wagons and troops passed between the redoubts of the English, while
a dead, silence and astonishment reigned Among the forces so lately
enterprising and irresistible. Joan now called on the garrison no longer
to stand upon the defensive, but boldly to attack the army of the
besiegers. She took one redoubt, and then another. The English,
overwhelmed with amazement, scarcely dared to lift a hand against her.
Their veteran Generals became, spell-bound and powerless, and their
soldiers were driven before the prophetess like a flock of sheep. The
siege was raised. Joan followed the English to a fortified town which
they fixed on as the place of their retreat, and all the English were
made prisoners. The late victorious force now concentrated themselves at
Patay, in Orleanois. Joan advanced to meet them. The battle lasted not a
moment; it was rather a flight than a combat. Fastolfe, one of the
bravest of the English Generals, threw down his arms, and ran for his
life. Talbot and Scales, the other Generals, were made prisoners.

“The siege of Orleans was raised on the eighth of May, 1429; the battle
of Patay was fought on the tenth of the following month. Joan was, at
that time, twenty-two years of age. This extraordinary turn having been
given to the affairs of the kingdom, Joan next insisted that the King
should march to Rheims, in order to be crowned. Rheims lay in a
direction expressly through the enemy’s garrisons. But every thing
yielded to the marvellous fortune that attended upon the heroine. Troyes
opened its gates. Chalons followed the example. Rheims sent a
deputation, with the keys of the city, which met Charles on his march.
The proposed solemnity took place amid the ecstasies and enthusiastic
shouts of his people. It was no sooner over, than Joan stepped forward.
She said, she had now performed the whole of what God had commissioned
her to do. She was satisfied. She entreated the King to dismiss her to
the obscurity from which she had sprung.

“The Ministers and Generals of France, however, found Joan too useful an
instrument to be willing to part with her thus early, and she yielded to
their earnest expostulations.

“Under her guidance, they assailed Laon, Soissons, Chauteau, Thirry,
Provins, and many other places, and took them one after another. She
threw herself into Compiegne, which was besieged by the Duke of Burgundy
in conjunction with certain English commanders. The day after her
arrival, she headed a sally against the enemy; twice she repelled them,
but finding their numbers increase every moment with fresh
reinforcements, she directed a retreat. Twice she returned to her
pursuers, and made them recoil; the third time she was less fortunate.
She found herself alone, surrounded by the enemy, and having performed
prodigies of valor, she was compelled to surrender herself a prisoner.
This happened on the twenty-fifth of May, 1430. It remained to be
determined what should be the fate of this admirable woman. Both friends
and enemies agreed that her career had been attended with a supernatural
power. The French, who were so infinitely indebted to her achievements,
and who owed the sudden and glorious reverse of their affairs to her
alone, were convinced that she was immediately commissioned by God, and
vied with each other in reciting the miraculous phenomena which marked
every step in her progress. The English, who saw all the victorious
acquisitions of Henry the Fifth crumbling from their grasp, were equally
impressed with the manifest miracle, but imputed all her good fortune to
a league with the Prince of Darkness. They said, that her boasted
visions were so many delusions of the Devil. They determined to bring
her to trial for the tremendous crimes of sorcery and witchcraft.

“They believed that if she were once convicted and led out to execution,
the prowess and valor which had hitherto marked their progress, would
return to them, and that they should obtain the same superiority over
their disheartened foes. The Devil, who had hitherto been her constant
ally, terrified at the spectacle of the flames that consumed her, would
instantly return to the infernal regions, and leave the field open to
English enterprise and energy, and to the interposition of God and his
saints. An accusation was prepared against her, and all the solemnities
of a public trial were observed. But the proofs; were so weak and
unsatisfactory, and Joan, though oppressed and treated with the utmost
severity, displayed so much acuteness and presence of mind, that the
court, not venturing to proceed to the last extremity, contented
themselves, with sentencing her to perpetual imprisonment, and to be
allowed no other nourishment than bread and water for life. Before they
yielded to this mitigation of punishment, they caused her to sign with
her mark a recantation of her offences. She acknowledged that the
enthusiasm which had guided her was an illusion, and promised never more
to listen to its suggestions.

“The hatred of her enemies, however, was not yet appeased. They
determined in some, way to entrap her; They had clothed her in a female
garb; they insidiously laid in her way the habiliments of a man. The
fire, smothered in the bosom of the maid, revived at the sight; she was
alone, she caught up the garments, and; one by one adjusted them to her
person. Spies were set to watch for this even; they burst into her
apartment. What she had done was construed into no less offence than
that of a relapsed heretic. There was no more pardon for such confirmed
delinquency. She was brought out to be burned alive; in the market place
of Rouen, and she died embracing a crucifix, and in her last moments
calling upon the name of Jesus. A few days more than twelve months had
elapsed between the period of her first captivity and her execution.”

The preceding history of Joan of Arc, is taken from “Godwin’s Lives of
the Necromancers.” Reader! we see in this tragical account, the dreadful
effects of human credulity. The unfortunate; Maid of Orleans, who so
well deserved a monument for her patriotism, was thus cruelly put to
death. Her hard fate fully shows how superstition fortifies the mind
against compassion and the dictates of common sense. In that the of
religious intolerance, whole nations, had caught this theological fever.
Kings and Parliaments, Judges and Generals, from the highest to the
lowest, were alike the subjects of that awful contagion. Justice was
banished from the earth, and humanity had no existence. From whence
proceeded this state of savage barbarism? The answer is presented to us
in bold relief. It was the effects of human credulity. It was brought on
by believing without examination; and, in the New Testament, faith is
urged as the thing most pleasing to God, and unbelief as the greatest
sin. The existence of the Devil, and his enmity, to God and man, being
supported by the New Testament, to be guilty of forming a contract with
the Prince of Darkness was considered a horrid crime. The origin of
sorcery, (which consisted in holding a communion with beings from the
fabulous world of spirits,) is lost in the night and darkness of
antiquity, but all ancient-nations and people were believers in its
reality.

It was of heathen origin, yet the Jews practised it, and individuals
followed it for a livelihood, as, for instance, the witch of Endor.
Christians have also been believers in it in connection with all the
different branches of magic.

But that which has established its truth among Christians, is the part
performed by Jesus during his ministry. By his own temptation by the
Devil, the Existence of the Devil is put beyond all doubt And when Jesus
was about to cast out a devil, the devil is reported to have cried out
to the Saviour, “_We know who thou art, and art thou come to torment us
before the tinte?_” This mode of expression to Jesus by the Devil who
was about to be cast out, implies that when the Devil was ejected, he
had to return to hell, his native place of torment. It would lead us to
infer that devils were permitted to leave their dread abodes, and take
possession of men or animals, as a cessation of torture; but when cast
out, they had to return home, their vacation being run out Admitting
this to be warranted by the New Testament, we can account for those
devils whose names were “Legion,” petitioning to _be permitted to enter
the herd of swine_. So, then, it appears that the devils had other
motives in taking possession of human beings than to rebel against God,
or to torment men. It was a fine holiday to blow off the soot and ashes,
and to get fresh air. At any rate, Jesus, by pretending to cast out
devils, fully admitted their existence. And by the temptation of Christ,
is proved a desire on the part of the Devil to enlist persons into his
service.



CHAPTER VII.


THE reader will not fail to notice, that the personage known by the name
of the Devil, Satan, &c., is treated of more fully than any other
recorded in the Old or New Testament. The reason is, because his
influence exceeds that of all the prophets, and even of the Saviour
himself. So destructive has been his supposed reign, throughout the
earth, that hundreds of volumes could be written, and still the half
would remain untold. In the conclusion of this chapter, an account will
be given of witchcraft in Sweden, which far exceeds any thing on record.
The bare recital fills the mind with horror, pity, and indignation.

Before giving the dreadful tale, it will not be amiss to indulge in a
few thoughts on the probable origin of the existence of a Being who has
been a terror to all nations, both learned and ignorant. As the writer
is convinced that every thing pertaining to theology is of man’s
creation, it may be useful to express his opinions how it has happened
that all religions have been based on two beings who have ever been
opposed to each other, namely, a God and a Devil. Their opposition to
each other is the ground-work of every system, whether it be of saint or
savage.

To attempt to go back to the origin of theology, as to when or where it
first assumed the form of religious worship, is to begin at the
beginning of the human race. Religion may be compared to a chain, the
first link of which is hidden in the darkness of past ages. The curtain
is continually dropping; and the most that we can do is, to peep behind
one of its comers. We find ourselves connected with that link which we
call Christianity. How many preceding links there may have been, we know
not, nor have we any means of knowing. All, therefore, is but
conjecture. But carrying our ideas back to a time we know not when, to
the beginning of that theology, the basis of which is a God and Devil
opposing each other, the following memories are presented:—Before human
beings were acquainted with the laws of nature, the universe must have
presented to them appearances which surprised and alarmed them.
Receiving no ideas but through the medium of the senses, the first idea
which must strike them would be, the great contrast between a mighty
power and their own weakness. They would discover from what they saw
around them, a mighty power which no prudence could guard against, and
which no strength, which they had, could oppose. They would see, that,
if by accident, they fell into water, it would destroy life; if, by any
means, their dwellings took fire, it would consume them; that thunder
was calculated to alarm them, and that death, often followed the storm;
and also, that the slightest accident often caused severe pain, and
sickness followed, without their being acquainted with the original
cause of all these evils. The first men, then, must have been astonished
with the mighty power which every where surrounded them, when compared
with their own weakness. Sometimes tasting the sweets of life, and at
others, its evils, the first gave them pleasing sensations, the last,
pain and distress. Having, then, nothing to guide them in drawing
conclusions but the objects by which they were surrounded, they inferred
that the mighty power which was every moment visible to their senses,
and from which they received every thing that contributed to their
happiness, resided in a being like themselves, but possessing wisdom and
goodness.

To these children of nature, who saw “God in the clouds, and heard him
in the wind,” by a simple process of the mind, such conclusions were
very natural. The first theologians, then, who, by way of reasoning, we
place at the fountain head of all religious systems which have come down
to us, were convinced of the existence of a Supreme Power who governed
the destinies of the human race. Power, then, was the first idea which
man had, in the infancy of his rea-son, as to the existence of a God;
and it is all that the great-est and wisest of the human race have ever
discovered of the Being called by that name. And in this view of the
subject, there is no man living who is an Atheist. The power that
presented itself to untaught man, required no laborious investigation to
discover. It struck his senses with as equal a force as it does the
profoundest philosopher. On the contrary, the wisdom and goodness
ascribed to God, resulted from a knowledge of the order and wonderful
adaptation which pervades the universe, the investigation of which has
employed master minds in all subsequent ages.

But untutored man must be overwhelmed with thinking of that power to
whose bounds he could set no limits. The wisdom and munificence that run
through all nature, were to him unknown. To those, therefore, from whom
theology took its rise, it was a world of confusion. Ignorant of cause
and effect in the order of nature, and their imaginations being active,
while their reasoning powers were undeveloped, every thing they saw or
felt was to them a mixture of pleasurable or painful sensations. The
pleasure, ease, or comfort which they enjoyed, would be considered as
the gift of a good power which conferred such blessings. On the other
hand, it would appear inconsistent to them to ascribe the evils
attending them to the author of good, they being incapable of judging
that good (pleasure) and evil (pain) could proceed from the same power.

In reasoning from what they saw, they concluded that power was connected
with, and resided in, living beings, who had life and motion like
themselves. Hence they inferred, that the power from whom they received
good, existed somewhere to them unknown. Proceeding in the same track in
which they, in imagination, first set out, they conceived this power to
be a Being whose residence was in the starry heavens. Untaught man,
having imagined a Being from whom he received all the good, in following
on in the same course soon came to the certain conclusion that the God
who was the author of all his happiness, must have a location, a
dwelling above, in some of the stars—at any rate, beyond the ken of
mortals. As men’s thinking powers became move expanded, but still under
the influence of imagination, they would conclude that this Being who
dwelt in the skies, would, of course, have his attendants who fulfilled
his orders, and added splendor to his habitation.

It appears, that by such a train of thinking, under the influence of the
imagination, that the religious system which has come down to us, and
which, from time to time, has had additions and modifications, namely,
the existence of a God and of a place called Heaven, inhabited by
angels, had its origin. Ignorant of the laws of nature, the power of
imagination has produced, owing to the organization of the human mind, a
world of fiction, consisting of a God, angels, and a habitation in the
skies. By the same process of reasoning, (though feeble,) yet propelled
by an active imagination, which had fixed the habitation of a good Being
in the skies, in a splendid city, with attendants singing his praises,
and eager to execute his orders, untaught man now turned hi# attention
to the author of his misfortunes and misery. Being totally ignorant that
a portion of pain was indispensable to the full enjoyment of happiness
in his precarious life, he could not think that pleasure and pain
proceeded from the same being; which must have induced him to conclude
that an evil and malignant being existed, nearly equal in power to the
one that was good; and to such an one, he ascribed all pain and
misfortune.

Here, then, are all the materials for a system of theology which has
been propagated and believed in by every nation under heaven, in which
have been included “saint, savage, and sage.” In all the hundreds of
systems of religious worship, the before-mentioned materials have been
the ground-work, with the exception of the Jewish; for, during their
dispensation, the Devil made no part of it. But when Jesus came to
gather up “_the lost sheep of the house of Israel,_” along came Mr.
Devil to oppose him. As the imagination had created a Devil, the Father
of all evil, something was still wanting to complete the whole; and that
was, an abode of darkness and horror. Hell, then, is his dread mansion,
over which he reigns triumphant.

It has been reserved for the Christian Religion to depict hell in all
its awful terrors. The New Testament represents hell as a place of
torment by fire never-ending, where the unfortunate occupants are
forever burning, but kept alive, and never consumed. The hell of the
Greeks and other nations is less horrible, being represented as the
abode of darkness, humiliation, and sorrow. But Christianity has a God
in heaven, and a Devil in hell, forever contending with each other, like
gladiators of old for the prize; and that prize is the human race. But
the same New Testament represents that the Devil will have by far the
greatest number of prisoners, so that, in the final winding up of this
holy war, _Old Nick_ will win the field.

The same process of reasoning, which led man, in the infancy of his
reason, to personify the power who presided over the human race, induced
him to infer that his pain and misfortune emanated from a malignant
being, who delighted to do him harm. He then, by the simple process of
his imagination, concluded that there must be two opposing powers which
governed the affairs of mortals. The good, proceeded from a being who
showered down blessings on mortals; and all evil and pain, from a being
who took pleasure in the unhappiness of the human race; and his
residence, to correspond with his evil disposition, was by them fixed in
the gloomy regions of darkness and horror. This, then, Christians,
appears to have been the origin of your God and Heaven; and also your
Devil and Hell. That both heaven and hell are of heathen origin, there
can be no doubt; and it is also equally clear, that the Jews, when they
returned from captivity, brought these doctrines back with them into
Judea. They then made part of the Jewish faith, and Jesus embraced them;
for he pretended to cast out devils, and the Devil enticed him in the
wilderness to rebel against God and enlist into the service of his
Satanic Majesty. And this heaven, which originated in heathenism, Jesus
promised as the reward of his faithful followers; and with this very
hell he threatened the disobedient.

What can Christians say (after this) of the divinity or the antiquity of
the New Testament? Its doctrines originated in an age unknown, among a
people more ancient than Moses, or than Adam, who is said to have been
the first man. Yes! ye ministers of grace, your heaven and hell, by the
proclaiming of which you alarm the good man, but make the wicked man
worse, have no more existence in reality than the heaven and hell of
Mahomet. But if there be a heaven, such as you preach up, and the road
to it be as difficult as Jesus declared it to be, many of you will have
to put up at the half-way house; you will never reach the end of your
journey.

The following account of witchcraft in Sweden, is extracted from
“Godwin’s Lives of the Necromancers:”—“The story of witchcraft, as it is
reported to have passed in Sweden, in the year 1670, and has many times
been reprinted in this country, (England,) is, on several accounts, one
of the most interesting and deplorable that has ever been recorded. The
scene lies in Dalecarlia, a country forever memorable as having
witnessed some of the earliest adventures of Gustavus Vasa, his deepest
humiliation, and the first commencement of his prosperous fortune. The
Dalecarlians are represented to us as the simplest, the most faithful,
and the bravest of the sons of men;—men, undebauched and unsuspicious,
but who devoted themselves in the most disinterested manner for a cause
that appeared to them worthy of support, the cause of liberty and
independence against the cruellest of tyrants. At least, such they were
in 1520, one hundred and fifty years before the date of the story we are
going to recount. The site of these events was at Mohra and Elfdale, in
the province that has just been mentioned. The Dalecarlians, simple and
ignorant, but of exemplary integrity and honesty, who dwelt amid
impracticably mountains and spacious mines of copper and iron, were
distinguished for superstition among the countries of the north, where
all were superstitious. They were probably subject, at intervals, to the
periodical visitation of alarms of witches, when whole races of men
became wild with the infection, without any one’s being able to account
for it.

“In the year 1670, and one or two preceding years, there was a great
alarm of witches in the town of Mohra. There were always two or three
witches existing in some of the obscure quarters of this place; but now
they increased in number, and showed their faces with the utmost
audacity. Their mode, on the present occasion, was, to make a journey
through the air to Blockula, an imaginary scene of retirement, which
none but the witches and their dupes had ever seen. Here they met with
feasts and various entertainments, which it seems had particular charms
for the persons who partook of them. The witches used to go into a
field, in the environs of Mohra, and cry aloud to the Devil in a
peculiar sort of recitation, “_Antecessor! come and carry us to
Blockula._” Then appeared a multitude of strange beasts: men, spits,
posts, and goats with spits run through their entrails, and projecting
behind, that all might have room. The witches mounted these beasts of
burden, as vehicles, and were conveyed through the air over high walls
and mountains, and through churches and chimneys, without perceptible
impediment, till they arrived at the place of their destination.

“Here the Devil feasted them with various compounds and confections;
and, having feasted to their heart’s content, they danced and then
fought. The Devil made them ride on spits, from which they were thrown;
and the Devil beat them with the spits and laughed at them. He then
caused them to build a house to protect them against the day of
judgment, and presently overturned the walls of the house, and derided
them again. All sorts of obscenities were reported to follow upon these
scenes. The Devil begot on the witches sons and daughters; this new
generation intermarried again, and the issue of this further conjunction
appears to have been toads and serpents. How all this pedigree
proceeded, in the two or three years in which Blockula had never been
heard of, I know not that the witches were ever called on to explain.
But what was most of all to be deplored, the Devil was not content with
seducing the witches to go and celebrate this infernal Sabbath; he
further insisted that they should bring the children of Mohra along with
them.

“At first, he was satisfied, if each witch brought one: but now, he
demanded that each witch should bring six or seven for her quota. How
the witches managed with the minds of the children, we are at a loss to
guess. These poor, harmless innocents, steeped to the very lips in
ignorance and superstition, were, by some means, kept in continual alarm
by the wicked, or, to speak more truly, the insane old women, and said
as their prompters said. It does not appear that the children ever left
their beds, at the time they reported they had been to Blockula. Their
parents watched them with fearful anxiety. At a certain time of the
night, the children were seized with a strange shuddering; their limbs
were agitated, and their skins covered with a profuse perspiration. When
they came to themselves, they related that they had been to Blockula,
and the strange things they had seen, similar to what had already been
described by the women. Three hundred children, of various ages, are
said to have been seized with this epidemic.

“The whole town of Mohra became subject to the infection, and were
overcome with the deepest affliction. They consulted together, and drew
up a petition to the royal counsel at Stockholm, entreating that they
would discover some remedy, and that the government would interpose its
authority to put an end to a calamity to which otherwise they could find
no limit. The King of Sweden, at that time, was Charles the Eleventh,
father of Charles the Twelfth, and was only fourteen years of age. His
council, in their wisdom, deputed two commissioners to Morah, and
furnished them with powers to examine witnesses, and take whatever
proceedings they might judge necessary to put an end to so unspeakable a
calamity. They entered on the business of their commission, on the
thirteenth of August, the ceremony having been begun with two sermons in
the great church of Mohra, in which we may be sure the damnable sin of
witchcraft was fully dilated on, and concluded with prayers to Almighty
God, that, in his mercy, he would speedily bring to an end the
tremendous misfortune with which, for their sins, he had seen fit to
afflict the poor people of Mohra. The next day they opened their
commission. Seventy witches were brought before them. They were all, at
first, steadfast in their denial, alleging that the charges were
wantonly brought against them, solely from malice and ill-will. But the
judges were earnest in pressing them, till, at length, first one, and
then another, burst into tears, and confessed all. Twenty-three were
prevailed on thus to disburden their consciences; but nearly the whole,
those who owned the justice of their sentence, as well as those who
protested their innocence to the last, were executed. Fifteen children
confessed their guilt, and were also executed. Thirty-six other
children, (who, we may infer, did confess,) between the ages of nine and
sixteen, were condemned to run the gauntlet, and to be whipped on their
hands at the church door every Sunday for a year together. Twenty others
were whipped on their hands for three Sundays.”

This is certainly a very deplorable scene; and is made the more so, by
the previous character which history has imposed on us, of the
simplicity, integrity, and generous love of liberty of the Dalecarlians.
For the children and their parents, we can feel nothing but unmingled
pity. The case of the witches is different. That three hundred children
should have been made the victims of this imaginary witchcraft, is
doubtless a grievous calamity. And that a number of women should be
found, so depraved and so barbarous, as by their incessant suggestions
to have practised on the minds of these children, so as to have robbed
them of their sober sense, to have frightened them into fits and
disease, and made them believe the most odious impossibilities, argued a
most degenerate character, and well merited severe reprobation, but not
death. Add to which, many of those women may be believed innocent;
otherwise, a great majority of those who were executed would not have
died protesting their entire freedom from what was imputed to them. Some
of the parents, no doubt from folly and ill-judgment, aided the
alienation of mind in their children, which they afterward so deeply
deplored, and gratified their senseless aversion to the old women, when
they were themselves in many cases more the real authors of the evil
than those who suffered.

The honest and serious reader is now recommended to pause, and, for a
moment, reflect on the foregoing recital; for if ten thousand real
devils had been let loose and turned out on the earth in a visible and
bodily form, and had been permitted to do their worst against the human
race, if such a thing had actually taken place, the evils inflicted by
them would have been little compared to what has really taken place by
men’s believing in the existence of an invisible Devil, who never had a
being but in the imagination of mortals. The destructive influence which
has spread over the whole earth has brought to a premature grave
thousands and tens of thousands of harmless beings, who have been
charged with holding converse with this supposed enemy of God and man.
Of all the crimes which have been committed on earth, to sin against
Orthodox faith has been considered the worst; when, in fact, it is no
sin at all. There is nothing immoral in it. To differ from any man, or
from all men, about religion, cannot be a crime. It is the inherent
right of every human being; and to rob him of that right is the worst of
felony. But to punish a man with death in addition, is to unite robbery
and murder. And what makes it worse is, that religious offenders are put
to death without pity or mercy. Few, very few tears of compassion ever
have fallen for them, where Christianity has been the prosecutor.

The baneful influence which has spread over the world, by believing in
the existence of the Devil, is shocking to humanity. It has been
computed that as many as one million persons have suffered, in various
ways, since the commencement of the Christian era. Some have been
banished; some have been branded and imprisoned; others put to death,
after having been tortured in the most cruel manner; and thousands have
been out-lawed and driven from their peaceful homes without pity. All
this has taken place because the Scriptures teach and support the
existence of a Devil, the inveterate enemy of God and men. There is no
doctrine more fully carried out in the New Testament than the existence
and hostile activity of the Devil. Jesus, it is said, “_cast them out._”
He also was tempted to rebel against God, and to worship the Devil. In
the Book of Job, the Devil is represented as being permitted to afflict
Job. And Jesus threatens the ungodly with a punishment in connection
with the Devil and his angels. If a devil has no being whatever, why
should Jesus pretend to cast out devils? And if there be, in truth, such
a personage as the Devil, possessing such power, and, also, forever
opposing Almighty power, can it be possible that a God of goodness would
permit him to live and annoy God and men?

We see that it is the height of folly to suppose that such a personage
ever did live, or does now; but the belief of it has been one of the
greatest curses which ever befel mankind. Here, then, let us bring up
the idea, and reflect upon it, that all the evil which has taken place,
and all the sufferings endured by the unfortunate beings in the dark
ages, may possibly again occur. The Bible is the same, and mam is the
same. The difference is in the actions of men in different ages. When
reason and the morality of things are man’s guide, then he is peaceable
and humane; but when acting under the imagination, he is capable of
becoming as bad as is the Devil.

In concluding this chapter, let us look back to those times of ignorance
and superstition. Let us place ourselves by the misortunate victims who
were put to torture and death for a crime they could not commit. Could
they, in their extreme pain, but have had a hope that a day would arrive
when a band of master spirits would arise on the shores of the Atlantic,
who, by reason and the moral fitness of things, would upset and
prostrate the systems under which they so severely suffered-—could the
poor, suffering victim, with his broken heart and fractured limbs, have
had assurance, when his tortured mind was about to quit its lacerated
boundary, that a time would soon surely come when the truth of the Bible
and the existence of a Devil would cease to be made the instruments of
unspeakable misery and torment, it would have been a cheerful ray of
comfort amid the devouring flame. The time _has_ at length arrived, and
we ought to improve it. Let us, then, with untiring perseverance and
moral courage, give the death-blow to the Divinity of the Old and New
Testaments, and thereby forever obliterate, not only the incentives to,
but also the remembrance of all religious persecutions.



CHAPTER VIII.


AS this work is about to be concluded, it will be of importance to the
reader that a comprehensive view be taken of the mission of Christ to
the Jewish nation. In doing which, an opportunity will be given to such
of my readers as may hitherto have been afraid to doubt the truth of the
Divine authority of the Bible, to see, at one glance, its absurdity.

In the four Gospels, which contain the sayings and doings of Jesus
during his ministry among the Jews, and also in the Epistles of the
Apostles, it is uniformly declared and enforced, that the main purpose
of Christ’s (_the anointed of God_) coming into the world was, to die.
And this death was required by the Father as an atonement for the sins
of mankind, that whosoever believed in and obeyed him, their pardon
should be sure, not for any thing which they had done as it related to
justice, chastity, or humanity, but for the ransom paid for their sins
by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. An apostle, in speaking on this
subject, says—“_He (Christ) being delivered by the determined counsel
and foreknowledge of God, ye have, by wicked hands, crucified and
slain._” This decree, then, was absolute, and every movement then made
by Jesus, and also his preaching and conversation with the Jews, was so
arranged, that die he must, to save a lost and ruined world.

This, according to the Scriptures, was the divine arrangement between
the Father and the Son. This doctrine is taught in the New Testament.
And in such a lost condition were the human race, that Jesus _freely
gave himself as a ransom to be completed in due time_. If the New
Testament does not teach this, it is not possible to know what it does
teach. To die, then, as a sacrifice for sin, included the sum and
substance of the Gospel, or good news.

Having laid down the ground-work of human redemption, we proceed to
carry through the plan said to be the work of mercy and goodness flowing
from the mighty God, the author of all things. In the examination of
such an arrangement, it appears impossible to conclude that the Author
of the Universe can be considered as the God of the Jews and Christians.
The Jews had always been taught to believe that they were God’s favorite
people, and they retain the same faith to the present day. For ages
before the Christian era, they not only expected the coming of the
Messiah, but also, that no nation but their own would be interested in
that glorious event. It never entered their minds that he would come in
any disguise, for many impostors had appeared, who, being discovered,
their Messiahship procured them certain destruction. The Jews,
therefore, inferred, that when the proper time should arrive for the
long-expected and ardently-looked for Messiah to appear among them,
their nation would be raised to more than its former greatness, and
God’s chosen people would be held up to the nations of the earth as
confirming the truth of what their ancient prophets had foretold of
their future prosperity.

It could never, therefore, have entered the minds of the Jews, as a
nation, that the Messiah would come in any disguise. And it must have
been far from their thoughts to expect that he, when he should arrive,
would load them with violent abuse, and reproach them as being too low
to be considered as any thing else than a nation of hypocrites. If Jesus
came into this world to die, then every thing which he taught, and also
all the intercourse which he had with his own people, was preparatory to
that event. That the Messiah would come to the Jewish nation to dwell
among them, to be their leader, to exalt them above all other nations,
was what they had been taught to expect. Instead of which, he calls them
“_a generation of vipers!_” and pronounces terrible things against the
heads of the nation, commencing his denunciations with “_Woe unto you,
scribes and pharisees, hypocrites!_” Such violence and abuse surprised
them, coming from one who said “_he came to seek and to save that which
was lost._”

Again, Jesus said that “_he came not to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance._” But Jesus gave them no quarter, but sent them head and
heels to the Devil. The Jewish rulers must have been more than human to
have quietly taken such vulgar abuse. Sometimes, Jesus seemed to soften
down in his conduct, as when he says, “_O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! how
often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth
her chickens under her wings, but ye would not._” So erratic is Jesus
depicted, in the account we have transmitted down to us, that we are at
a loss as to forming an opinion concerning his manner of treating his
own people. But as it was “_by the determined counsel and foreknowledge
of God_” that he was to be a “_sacrifice for the sins of mankind,_” his
mode of addressing the rulers of Israel was calculated to bring about
the “_will of his Father._”

Admitting, for the sake of argument, that Jesus was the true Messiah,
the Jews were in a worse state than if he had not appeared among them.
The statement made by Jesus of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of his
second coming, confounded all their ideas of the Messiah’s kingdom. In
the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of Matthew, after having
pronounced a number of dreadful predictions against them, he winds up in
chapter twenty-third as follows, “*YE SERPENTS! YE GENERATION OF VIPERS!
HOW CAN YE ESCAPE THE DAMNATION OF HELL?*” In the twenty-fourth chapter
of Matthew, Jesus gives a long account of his second coming. How was it
possible for the Jews to understand what he there describes? Their
desire was, to know if he was the Messiah promised by the prophets; and,
if so, what steps he would take for the exaltation of their nation, so
that they might enjoy all they had been induced to expect when the “_sun
of righteousness should arise with healing in his hands_.”

For Jesus to tell his disciples and the Jewish nation what would be the
signs of his second coming, before they under-stood what his object was
in coming the first time, must appear very strange. From the particular
account which Jesus gave of his second coming, the Jews must have
understood him to mean, that although he professed to be the true
Messiah, yet his stay was but short with them. As yet, his time for
operation was not come. The discourses of Jesus to his countrymen, were
all calculated to mislead and confound them. In his sermon on the Mount,
he claims an authority of his own superior to the law of Moses. Matthew,
chapter v., verse 33—“_Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by
them of old time, thou shalt not forswear thyself but shall perform unto
the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, swear not at all_” Verse
38—“_Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a
tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but
whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheeky turn to him the other
also._” What could the Jewish rulers think of a man, who, without any
ceremony, set up laws in direct opposition to the laws of Moses, when,
at other times, he declared himself a follower of Moses, and that he
came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it? Such inconsistent
teaching as this, will not admit of Infinite Wisdom’s being the author.

In Matthew, chapter xiii., 10, it reads—“_And the disciples came and
said unto him, Why speaketh thou unto them in parables? He answered and
said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of
the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Verse 13—“Therefore
speak I to them in parables, because they seeing, see not; and hearing,
they hear not, neither do they understand.” Verse 14—“And in them is
fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear
and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see and shall not
perceive.” Verse 15—“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their
ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any
time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and
should understand with their heart, and should be converted and I should
heal them_”

Now this mode of treating the Jewish nation is perfectly in character
with the plan, in accordance with which, Jesus came to lay down his life
for sinners; for had he convinced the Jews that he was the expected
restorer of Israel, no Jewish arm would have been raised against him;
nor would it have been possible to have prevailed on the national rulers
to have attempted his life; since although the priests and Pharisees
might, in a moral point of view, have been wicked in the extreme, still
their veneration for, and their earnest expectation of the coming of,
the Messiah, would have prevented any hostile feelings against “_the
anointed of the Lord, the Holy one of Israel._”

But if the preaching of Christ, and his arrangements, were of such a
nature that the Jews supposed the whole to be an imposture, then the
case took a different turn altogether. Instead of the Jews refusing to
receive Jesus as the sent of God, they put him to death from the hatred
which they had towards any one who they supposed had fabricated his
authority and office. If the main object of Christ’s coming to the Jews
was to die for the sins of mankind, both Jew and Gentile, and thus
become a willing sacrifice for sin,—if this was the plan of human
redemption, it then follows that the Jews did that part which, in the
divine arrangement, was allotted for them to do. Then the conduct of
Jesus was consistent in keeping them ignorant, so that their part might
by them be carried out. If he had convinced them, that he was, in truth,
the sent of God, but that they must hang him on a tree, the plan of
human redemption would have failed, for they, immoral as they might be,
never would have put him to death.

There could be no other way of bringing about the death of Christ, but
by keeping the Jewish nation ignorant that he was the Messiah. The
course that was pursued by Jesus, would imply that his orders were to so
act among them, that their condemnation would be just for rejecting him;
but on no account to perform miracles sufficient to convince them, for
in that case the Jews would not have condemned and put him to death as a
blasphemer and an impostor. Again, if Jesus came on earth to die, and
without shedding his blood there could be “_no remission of sin_” what
mockery for him to exclaim “_O Jerusalem! Jerusalem I how oft would I
have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not_!” For if the Jews had sheltered
themselves under the wings of Jesus, how was he to die as a sacrifice
for sin? But he was not put to death, they knowing him to be the Christ,
but on the contrary, they condemned him for pretending to be the very
anointed of the Lord. And although the story was propagated that Jesus
arose, after his descent from the cross, the Jews as a nation did not
give credit to it, nor have they till this day. If, therefore, “_there
is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved,_” but by
believing in Christ and in his dying for the sins of mankind, then the
Jews, ever since the death of Christ, and also the present race, are
lost and forever shut out from that pardon which was procured by the
death of Jesus, which was brought about by the instrumentality of the
Jews by the condemnation of the Messiah.

The account of Judas, in what is called betraying his Master, is strange
indeed. In speaking of that circumstance, Jesus says, “_It would have
been better for that man if he had never been born_.” Now if Jesus came
to die, Judas, by informing the authorities where he was to be found,
did no more than bring to pass what was before ordained should take
place. Judas, then, was but the instrument to accomplish the plan of
human redemption, by informing the Jewish authorities when and where
they could secure the object which they sought after. The very idea of
betraying Jesus, proves two things:—first, that Jesus was but little
known to the Jews, except from report; and, secondly, that although he
held often said he came to lay down his life for sinful man, yet he
intended to evade death as long as possible. It was owing to this
obscure method of teaching, that his disciples, although always with
him, could not understand fully what his objects were; and though he had
so often told them of “_the kingdom of heaven being at hand,_” they
understood him not.

To bring the position of the Jews nearer, at the time of Christ’s
appearance in Judea, let us suppose ourselves to have been Jews, then
living, and expecting and desiring his coming. At length, it is said,
“he is arrived.” The first inquiry would very naturally be, is he the
true Messiah, or is he an impostor? If, then, to our inquiries made to
him on that point, we had received in return nothing positive, but the
vilest abuse, and threatenings of damnation in a future world, could we
be expected to view him as the promised deliverer? When the Jews heard
him denouncing them as hypocrites, and, at the same time, assuming an
authority over Moses, and the laws of Jehovah given by Moses, and
calling the Temple (for which they had so high a veneration) a den of
thieves, it must have had a tendency to shut up their minds against his
divine mission. If Jesus wished the Jews to be convinced of his being
the personage whom they had long expected, he should, in the first
place, have attended to their inquiry, “_Art thou he which should come,
or are we to look for another?_”

This question being settled, by indisputable evidence, Jesus would have
had a foundation for correcting what was wrong, and exposing their base
conduct. But he began at the wrong-end, by upbraiding them for their
evil doings before he had ‘convinced them of his being appointed to
abrogate, or, in any way, to alter, the law of Moses. We may then safely
conclude, if Jesus was divinely commissioned to the Jews, that it was
not intended they should believe in him. But who, for a moment, can
think, that, if the Almighty Ruler of the Universe had sent him, his
mission would have been marked with trickery and deception, and have
failed, and the Jews have been left in a state far worse than if he had
never been among them? Can we reasonably conclude, that a Being of
infinite wisdom and goodness would have sent his Son to the Jewish
nation, without giving them any evidence of his being the Messiah, and
then have taken advantage of their unbelief to deal out judgments
against them?

If Jesus was sent into the world to die, and by dying, became “_a
sacrifice for the sins of mankind,_” then the Jews, by putting him to
death, brought to maturity what God had ordained should come to pass. In
that case, then, it is clear, that Jesus was so to act, that the Jews
must not be convinced that he was the true and real Messiah, for had
they believed in him as the restorer of their race, whom they had long
expected, they would not have slain the “_Lord of life and glory_.”
Then, how would he have paid the “_ransom for lost sinners_”? But, on
the other hand, if Jesus was sent by God to the Jewish nation, and
gifted to perform signs and miracles to convert them, how did it happen
that they remained in sin and unbelief;—their whole race, the seed of
Abram, remaining in that state until the present time? The Jews have
surely been an unfortunate people. To the Jews, then, 1 must say, “I
know not which demands the most pity—you, or your God; for, after all
the attempts to subject you to his will, you are a race of outcasts, and
have been plundered by all the Christian nations on earth. After all the
pains taken by the Lord of Hosts to convert you, every one has failed;
but the last failure is the most to be deplored. From the time Jehovah
is said to have called Abram, your progenitor, and selected him from the
rest of the human race, and promised him and his seed forever, blessings
from which the rest of the world were excluded, Jehovah and your
generations have ever been on bad terms. You are spoken of in Scripture
as a stiff-necked, rebellious people. On the part of God, he has always
appeared as if he was angry with your conduct. Forty years together, he
says, he has been _grieved with your disobedience_. To such a height has
been his displeasure, that thousands and tens of thousands of your
nation have been cut off by the terrible judgments of the Lord. You have
been led into captivity and sold as slaves, time after time, and Jehovah
has even threatened to destroy your whole race.

“Jehovah, in his anger, has raised heathen kings against you, and the
slaughter has been dreadful. But when you have turned to the Lord, and
humbled yourselves, he has attended to your cry, and delivered you out
of their hands. Jehovah has, at times, inspired prophets who have
foretold that you should one day have a personage appear among you,
restore you to your former greatness, be to you a God, and you should be
to him a people. This personage is said to have been among you, but _you
knew him not_. You, then, from obedience to Jehovah, rejected Jesus as
an impostor, and considered him as arrogating to himself Divine honor,
and finally put him to death. And, for eighteen hundred years, you have
suffered the most cruel treatment from every nation among whom you have
dwelt. You have been the most unfortunate people on earth; but you still
cling to your prophets, and are looking for the coming of the Messiah.

“And what appears more unfortunate than all your past evils, is, you
have put to death, through mistake, your last refuge, the true Messiah.
There are, at the present time, upwards of one hundred millions of
Christians who maintain and believe that the same Jesus whom _ye slew
and hanged on a tree, is in truth both Lord and Christ,_ the same whom
your nation so long and so earnestly looked for. If, then, faith in that
Christ whom you rejected, has opened the kingdom of heaven to the
Christian world, while your whole race is shut ont, the Christians owe
you a debt of everlasting gratitude, for by this sacrifice they are to
enter into the Supper of the Lamb, and your unfortunate race have the
door closed against them. But do not despair, for the Infidels of the
present day are your friends. They will make all right They will, if you
attend to them, convince you that your forefathers were imposed on, when
in a state of ignorance, by some artful impostor, who persuaded them
that the seed of Abram was chosen by God to the exclusion of all other
people and nations.

“In the infancy of your nation, Moses, or some other artful leader, took
advantage of your inexperience, and by antedating miracles said to have
been performed in behalf of your ancestors by Jehovah, but which never
were performed, and which at the time was incapable of refutation, your
nation imbibed the reality that the seed of Abram was the _chosen of the
Lord_. This conviction for thousands of years has been received, and has
been handed down from father to Son till the present time. Yes, ye seed
of Abram, (by this name I address you,) by considering yourselves the
chosen people of God, this conviction has been your perpetual curse.
Your faith in the ancient accounts of those miracles and wonders,
wrought in your behalf by Moses, has been your fatal delusion. You
consider it not possible for your fore-, fathers to have been deceived;
for, say you, the miracles and wonders were performed before your whole
nation.

“In this consists your error. There is no certainty as to who wrote the
history of the wonders, said to have been wrought in your behalf, nor at
what time they were first recorded. But the internal evidence of the
books ascribed to Moses, fully prove him not to have been the author.
The same evidence also proves that the first five books were not written
till after the reign of the first kings of Israel. So that, by
antedating the wonders recorded to have taken place in the infancy of
your nation, and then by a cunning impostor to have been subsequently
presented for the first time to the Jews, giving them an account of
those wonders of old, an ignorant nation would be likely to believe
them; and in that case a whole people would be converted at once, giving
credit to an absurdity producing an influence in the world which has far
exceeded any imposture that ever has been Saddled on the human race. The
dreadful error into which your forefathers fell, and by handing down to
their posterity the foolish story of your being _a chosen people_, the
greatest curse which could befal you, you have, without doubt, been the
most unfortunate people on earth; for by considering yourselves _God’s
chosen people_, you have despised the rest of the human race, and you
have in return been persecuted and plundered. You have been treated by
all nations as outcasts.

“On the ground-work of your having been chosen by the supposed God of
the universe, the world has assumed an appearance very unlike to what it
would have had, if no such imposition had been practised on your
progenitors. Wars innumerable have taken place, and rivers of blood have
flowed through the earth, occasioned by theological strife. Religious
quarrels, ending in the application of the rack and torture, and
persecutions in quick succession, have been the result, and thousand of
horrid cruelties have taken place in every age, all in consequence of
that curse of all curses, the belief that _God has a chosen people_.
Although it had doubtless been thought by your nation the highest
possible honor to be chosen by the Lord, this has proved your greatest
misfortune; for from this source, Christianity has been produced. You
may exult in the idea, that you have in your sacred books, the doctrine
of but one God, notwithstanding your religion and its Christian
offspring has been more cruel and intolerant than any on earth.
According to your own books, your nation and the God who chose them,
were forever at war; your people continually rebelling and receiving
chastisement, till, at last, you are to appearance forsaken. But as has
been before mentioned, the Infidels are your friends; for, by means of
free discussion, and the diffusion of useful knowledge, they will
ultimately destroy that intolerant spirit which has been the earth’s
greatest curse, and you will eventually, with the rest of the human
family, open your eyes, and discover the folly and absurdity of
believing in a God “partial, vengeful, and unjust.” And then you will be
no longer _Jews_, but will become men.”



CHAPTER IX.


IN the preceding chapter we have endeavored to ascertain the object of
Christ’s coming into the world, but without being able to arrive at any
positive conclusion. As it respected the Jews, they did, and they had a
right to expect, that his, coming would be to them a blessing; and not,
by any means, that it would prove disastrous in its consequences. It is,
by Christians, contended that the primary object of the Messiah’s advent
was, to die for sinners; by which death he would make an atonement for
the sins of the world. In this view of the case, (and the Scriptures
seem to bear it out,) the Jews were altogether deceived, and are
therefore objects of pity. The kingdom of heaven being opened to the
world at large, to both Jew and Gentile, the Jews were unsuspectingly
shut out. That Christ did not intend to convince the Jews that he was
the Messiah, seems to be warranted from the manner of his preaching to
them; his violence, and the abusive language he used, being calculated
to prejudice them against him. And again, if Christ was to become a
sacrifice for sin by expiring On the cross, somebody must put him to
death, and the Jews are said to have been his executioners. The Jews,
therefore, did that which the divine mind intended they should do. But
such double-dealing and deception, in order to entrap the Jews, could
never have originated with the Great Eternal, the unchangeable ruler of
all things.

In reading the history of Jesus, (written nobody knows by whom, or
whether by his authority or not,) we must judge of him by the account as
it stands. It certainly appears strange that we have no intimation that
Jesus gave any orders to his Apostles to write, or in any way to
transmit to posterity an account of his life or doctrines. And it
appears more singular, when we consider in how particular a manner the
laws of Moses were written, which, without doubt, is what kept the Jews
from being divided into a number of sects. But so neglected were the
sayings and doings of Jesus, that, soon after his death, forty or fifty
Gospels were abroad; an equal number of sects sprang up, and the various
religious dogmas were introduced, which, till the present day, have
divided the Christian world, and, at times, have produced wars,
persecutions, and blood. On so important a subject as the salvation of
the human race, it might reasonably be expected that the founder of
Christianity would have left some documents to guard against so
destructive an evil. This entire neglect, if not positive proof against
the divine mission of Jesus, must create doubts leading to the
conclusion that the Christian religion is deficient as to the evidence
of its divine origin. It appears from the Gospels that Jesus was a moral
reformer; that the priests and rulers were proud, haughty, and of wicked
dispositions; that the founder of the Christian religion exposed their
hypocritical pretensions, and that, by thus exciting their malice, he
fell a victim. This has been the fate of hundreds of moral reformers, in
different ages and nations.

Christians, of all sects, could they be brought to reason impartially on
the mission of Jesus, would have their faith shaken, from the following
considerations:—Admitting, as all Christians do, that the Jewish
religion is of divine authority, and had for ages been by the Jews
considered as such, to set that aside and introduce another, required
authority from heaven, but such authority was never given. The bare word
of Jesus, that he was the sum and substance of the law of Moses both
moral and ceremonial, seems to be insufficient. The Jews, however base
or immoral they were, as a nation never showed a want of faithfulness
when their religion was assailed. So that it appears, that to do away
with the form of worship, and introduce a new order of things, required
something more than the obscure sayings of Jesus, who was but little
known at the time of his death. If, by the coming of Christ, a new
dispensation was to supersede the old, then the highest and the most
incontrovertible authority should be produced. But this was not the
case, for Jesus often charged those whom he had cured of some disease,
“to tell no man” how they were made whole: as much as to say, “Keep
secret with respect to the person who restored you to your former
state.” We need not wonder that the Jews rejected Jesus, seeing that he
assumed an authority higher than that of Moses; for, at the giving of
the law on the mountain, it was Jehovah himself who spake to them. The
Jews, then, considered that the same God who gave the law, and he alone,
must change it, or introduce another, and not a person whose object in
coming they could not comprehend, and who taught doctrines, a very great
portion of which, were of a threatening and menacing character.

And, finally, so little did Christ’s disciples understand of his divine
mission, that, when he was betrayed, Peter, the boldest of them all,
became alarmed, and denied any knowledge of him. This was very strange
in Peter, if it was a fact that he heard Moses and Elias, at a former
time, conversing with his Divine Master. But be that as it may, Jesus is
reported to have suffered death on the cross, one of his disciples
informing against him to the rulers, for the paltry sum of thirty pieces
of silver, and another swearing he never knew him. This has often
happened, when a bold reformer has been taken into custody; his
followers would disown and forsake him; but it is not likely that Peter
would thus have acted, had he witnessed the mighty deeds said to have
been done by Jesus. I remember hearing an Unitarian minister remark,
that “If Moses could return from the dead, how he would be surprised to
read what was written of him after his death; and that he would say that
the wonderful things reported of him, he knew nothing about.” This, no
doubt, would be the case with Jesus, as all his mighty works are
recorded _of_ him, but none were recorded _by_ him.

As his resurrection was the key-stone of the Christian arch, some
observations on that all-important event will be made. Whatever Jesus
communicated to his disciples respecting his rising from the dead,
during his life, is not recorded; but it appears that his death entirely
frustrated their expectations. The resurrection of Jesus presented the
most favorable opportunity to dispel all doubts of the Messiahship of
him whom the Jews had put to death as an impostor. It will be in order,
then, to observe what steps were taken by Jesus, after his resurrection,
to convince the Jews, and the world at large, that his mission was from
heaven. This, of all times, was the fittest to convince the Jews of
their unfortunate mistake. The short account given in the Gospels, does
not afford much light on that subject. But if the Jews, as a nation, had
still retained their unbelief, such incredulity must soon have given way
by his continuing among them.

If the Jews, from mistaken convictions, did put Jesus to death, it seems
but just that they should have had a chance to rectify their unfortunate
error. But owing to the short stay of Jesus on earth, after his
resurrection, and he being the most of that time in company with his
disciples, the Jews had not an opportunity of fully investigating the
reality of his death and re-appearance, and his deportment after it was
said he was returned to life. The greatest difficulty experienced by
Christians in defending the divine authority of the New Testament
Dispensation, is, to account for the sudden departure of Jesus, who,
according to the Scripture record, was taken up into heaven in a few
weeks after his resurrection. To an inquiring mind, there are many
objections which deserve notice. The writer does not pretend to say that
the thing is impossible, because to deny the possibility of it would be
to set limits to the power that governs the universe.

We will examine the account of Jesus’s leaving this world so soon, to
discover if possible, what end was to be obtained by his sudden
departure from the scene of his suffering and degradation. It seems
reasonable to suppose that it was of the highest importance for Jesus to
stay on earth to establish Christianity on a sure foundation. It is
written that he told his disciples that it was for their good that
things were so arranged that he should leave them, for if he went away,
he would send the comforter to them, who was to be their guide, and to
bring to their remembrance the things he had told them; and also that
the Holy Ghost, the comforter, would, to make up for his absence, lead
them into the way of truth. This is, in substance, what they were to
expect. But unfortunately it did not take place, but the reverse; for,
from the accounts which have come down to us, a great number of sects
sprang up in a few years after Jesus left the world, and numerous
gospels were extant, which, for a number of years were quoted by the
early Fathers of the Church, and were considered authentic; but were
afterwards rejected, and are now bound up together and called “The
Rejected Gospels.”

In the beginning of the fourth century, the Christian sects were not
only numerous, but began to assume a spirit of intolerance and
persecution, and when that monster, Constantine, became a convert to
Christianity, religious quarrels were of the most violent character. Not
to dwell on the particulars of these religious differences, we may ask,
what did they quarrel about? The answer is at hand. They quarrelled
about something that Jesus was reported to have said or taught. Their
disputes were not of a moral, but of a theological description. In these
disputed subjects no standard of reference could be set up. Jesus was at
the right hand of his Father, and their differences could not be settled
by him. Quarrel after quarrel followed in quick succession; the strong
persecuted the weak; and the earth was deluged with blood. Constantine,
the Roman Emperor, hoisted the banner of the cross; and after having
murdered nearly the whole of his own family, he sought consolation from
that religion which says, that “the blood of Jesus cleanses from all
sin.”

The history of Jesus, including his doctrines, and also what the
apostles taught concerning him, and the belief in his second coming; the
different opinions that have arisen concerning the person of Christ; and
also, the various dogmas collected from the writers of the gospels, all
taken from what is called divine revelation, have never ceased to
generate quarrels among the different churches professing to be
Christian. Ever since the commencement of Christianity, there has been
little else but religious animosity among the different sects—each of
them professing to have the truth, to the exclusion of all the rest; all
of them appealing to the same word of God to support their various
dogmas. We may then ask, has that proclamation ever been fulfilled, that
was made by _multitude of the “heavenly host_” namely,—“_Peace on earth
and good-will towards men”?_ But no doubt its fulfilment is, in point of
truth, equal to its ever having been given; for angels are airy
nothings, and have no existence but in the imagination.

From what has been stated, it will be seen that the religious quarrels
which have taken place from the commencement of the Christian era, arose
from the uncertain standard appealed to by the various sects. They all
referred to some particular passage or passages recorded, either by
Christ or his apostles. Every sect had a portion of truth supported by
Scripture authority; and it has at times happened, that whole
congregations, as well as individuals, have changed their opinions
concerning what the Scriptures taught. For instance: a Church, believing
that the Scriptures taught the doctrine of the Trinity, have given up
that doctrine, and embraced Unitarianism. The Scriptures remained the
same; it was their opinions that underwent the change. In fact, every
sect has Scripture for its support; so that it is plain to be seen, that
the New Testament is not, nor ever can be, a true and certain rule to
which a reference can be made, whereby disputes can be ended. The Old
Testament was superior in this respect to the New. And now, after
eighteen hundred years’ fighting; in which time, tens of thousands have
been victims, and the earth has been drenched by human blood, nothing is
certain as to what Christianity really is. Can it then be possible, that
the God of the Universe would have left that religion (to establish
which, his Son expired on the cross,) in such a wretched state of
uncertainty, by calling him so early to his holy habitation? Impossible.

If Christ was taken from this earth, he has now a local habitation, and,
also, he must be actively employed. Can Christians conceive where he is,
and what he is doing? Is it possible he would have remained so long
absent, knowing, as he must, that the cause for which he suffered would
be so wretchedly carried on? The absence of Christ, if not the entire
cause, is one cause of all the religious wars and bloodshed among
nations, and, also, of the hostile feelings of one sect against another.
Had he remained on earth, there would have been but “_one Lord, and his
name one_.” If Jesus died for the salvation of the world, common sense
would dictate, that, after his resurrection, he would dwell in that
world for whose salvation he came, and not have been taken into heaven
before his plan of redemption was arranged; so that, instead of union
and harmony prevailing in his absence, by disunion, persecution, and
religious warfare, the different churches exhibited a complete confusion
of tongues.

If Jesus had remained on earth, all religious persecution would have
been prevented; for if his laws and regulations had been written, and to
each church a copy had been sent, it would not have been possible for
any difference of opinion to have brought on disorder so as materially
to have disturbed the peace of his church. And if any dispute had taken
place, Jesus, dwelling on any particular spot on earth, his authority
could, in such a case, have been appealed to, and the matter would have
been peaceably settled. But, after his death and resurrection, there was
nothing to which a reference could eb made, but certain Gospels written
by unknown persons.

In summing up this matter, the following remarks may safely and truly be
made:—In a short time after Jesus arose from the dead, it was declared
by his apostles, that he had ascended into heaven, and had left orders
for the Gospel, or good news, to be proclaimed throughout the world; and
that after remaining with his disciples a few weeks, when on a journey
with some of them, a cloud intervened, and they lost sight of him.
Before his death, Jesus had told them to watch for his second coming,
for that it would be sudden and unexpected; and he also added, that
there were those standing among them that would live to see it, and that
he should then appear in glory, attended by angels, judge the world, and
reward every man acccording to his deeds. The apostles taught this,
doctrine, and the early Christians looked for that event with eager
expectation. But a long and dreary night of religious intolerance has
nearly passed away, and Jesus has not yet arrived; during which night,
the world has witnessed scenes of horror unknown to the most savage ages
of antiquity.

All this confusion and wretchedness must have been known by Jesus, and
also by his Father, at whose right hand it is recorded that he is
sitting. Now can Christians conceive where Christ has been, or what he
has been doing? Strange, indeed, does it apppear, that, during the
disorder and violence in which the Christian Church was involved for
ages, when thousands of honest, pious, and sincere Christians were put
to death, their Redeemer could sit quietly in heaven and not interfere
in their behalf! Perhaps it ought to be more strange, that it was the
will of God that Jesus should ever have left that world which was the
scene of his suffering.

Looking at the plan of human redemption, from the time of the birth of
Jesus, and the incomplete finish made of it by his being taken up into
heaven, leaving his followers ignorant of what he meant during his
preaching on earth;—knowing, too, that the various sects have kept the
world in an uproar, destroying each other by thousands, and that all
these evils have taken place in consequence of Jesus being quietly
seated by the right hand of God,—these considerations, and many others
not noticed in this work, convince me, that the mission of Christ was
not of Divine authority.

The following remarks will contain, in substance, the strongest
objection against the divinity of Christ’s mission; and are given by the
author as presenting his final conclusions on that subject And here he
would ask—If the God of the Bible is, as Christians believe, the Author
of the universe, what are we to understand by the assertion, “_That
Jesus is seated at his right hand?_” God is a spirit pervading all
space, of whom one of the Scripture writers says, “_In him we live, and
move, and have our being._” The same idea was expressed by the Greeks in
reference to their supreme God,—“All things are full of Jupiter.” How,
then, can it be believed that the unknown power who is the God of all
creation has a local dwelling place?

Jesus, after his resurrection, declared that he had “_flesh and bone._”
How, then, he can be located with an universal spirit, is beyond human
conception As Jesus is a being possessed of a tangible form, he must
have a place of residence; and it is impossible that he can dwell with
_his God and Father_ in any other than a local habitation. The
supposition, then, that the Almighty Ruler of all worlds has a palace on
some fixed star, or planet, where Jesus has for eighteen hundred years
resided in company with the Infinite Creator, surrounded by angels
conversing and singing; the Devil, during the same time, “_going about
like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour_” while Christians were
cutting each other’s throats in consequence of their disputes about the
meaning of what Christ said, or the object of his performances on earth,
is very unlikely, to say the least of it.

It seems astonishing that men, possessed of the noble faculty of reason,
can believe that Jesus is now alive in some unknown world, and in
company with the Sovereign Ruler of nature. In conclusion, the author of
this work (over whose head seventy-three summers’ suns have passed,)
would say that he does not, _cannot_ believe that the Jesus of the
Christians has any existence but in the imagination of his followers.



REMARKS ON THE MORALITY OF NATURE


HAVING concluded my remarks on the Old and New Testaments, I have
thought it proper to give a chapter on Morality. I do this to prevent
the reader from concluding that, because I am not a believer in the
Divine authority of the Old and New Testaments, I disregard all moral
obligation, and do not hold myself accountable to God, Nature, or my
fellow beings. Nothing can be further from truth than such a conclusion.
If no such being as God exists, who will judge every man at the final
day of accounts; and if no such judgment will ever take place, admitting
all this, even then should I stand in the same relation to my fellow
beings in a moral point of view.

Christian preachers, generally, teach their hearers the entire
worthlessness of good works, without they are connected with faith in
the Gospel. This mode of treating unbelievers has a bad effect on the
minds of church members, who, giving full credit to the pastor of the
flock, are taught to consider that the person, or persons (however just,
humane and virtuous they may be in all their actions,) who do not come
up to the standard of their faith, are wicked, and will, at the day of
judgment, be condemned, and their sentence will be, “_Go, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire._” &c. We need not wonder, therefore, at the
intolerant spirit which is so active among all professing the Christian
name. Notwithstanding the moral precepts taught by Jesus, his followers,
at the present day, pay but little regard to them. To believe in the
Saviour, and consider him as the endorser of their sins, and presenting
their claims at the throne of the Eternal, form an easy way for
expiating a life of wickedness and cant. If we compare the moral
character of professing Christians with the precepts taught by Jesus, we
shall be surprised at the vast discordance between their profession and
their practice. We find that, in practice, Christianity is hostile to
justice and humanity.

This is easy to be accounted for. It is because the Scriptures represent
our most virtuous actions as worthless in the sight of God, and without
faith we are told it is impossible to please him; and this is not all:
much depends on what kind of faith it is. The followers of John Calvin
think the faith of the disciples of John Wesley but little better than
the faith of devils, “_who believe and tremble._” It has been because
men have judged by their faith, and not by moral rectitude, that one
Christian sect has persecuted even to death, others who have borne the
Christian name. It was this spirit of intolerance that propelled John
Calvin to cause Servetus to be burnt by a slow fire, not because he was
a wicked man, nor was it for want of faith in the Christian religion,
but because the faith of Servetus did not agree with the faith of John
Calvin. Had moral excellence been the standard of their friendship, and
virtue the bond of their union, Servetus would have died in peace, and
Calvin would not have been handed down to posterity as a cold-hearted
murderer.

It is the common practice of Christians, when in conversation with
Infidels, to boast of the purity of Christ’s moral precepts; but in all
their sayings and doings with Infidels, the want of faith is the
unpardonable crime which induces them to fix the badge of infamy on the
head of the unbeliever. No doubt cruel Calvin would very good-naturedly
shake hands with a brother of his own church and creed, and love him for
Christ’s sake; but at the same time torment poor Servetus to death, as
the enemy of God, for God’s sake. Oh! ye persecuting Christians! your
prayers ought ever to be opposed to a day of judgment, and your constant
hope should be, that it will never take place, for “_how can you escape
the damnation of hell?_”

It is the high estimation of faith, enforced by Christ, and also
insisted on (as the sure passport to glory) by his followers, that
compels them to consider virtue as worthless, when it is not in
connection with what is called saving faith, which makes it clear to be
seen that Christianity in its practice is not favorable to morality; for
as the Scriptures truly say that “_no man can serve two masters,_” so
faith will be always uppermost, and justice and humanity be placed in
the background. On this principle, hard-hearted Calvin acted towards
Servetus. Christians are commanded to do good for evil. “_If your enemy
hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink._” This is pure morality.
Thus we see that morality has no chance of justice when faith is the
prosecutor. The moral precepts of the New Testament have never been
strong enough to neutralize the violent and intolerant spirit that runs
throughout the Scriptures, and which is the very life of the Christian
faith. Had Servetus been a criminal of the worst kind, condemned to die
by the laws of Geneva, Calvin, no doubt, would have had feelings of pity
for him; but his crime came under the dominion of faith, which will not,
which cannot admit of one grain of mercy.

On the contrary, Infidel morality has no alloy. It is unadulterated.
Like pure gold, it is current at all times, and in all places. Like the
bright orb of day, it shines by its own native brightness. Its principal
attribute is humanity, which, in its exercise, is not confined to
creeds, or professions; but like the bountiful hand of nature, it
dispenses its blessings even to the unthankful and unworthy. If justice
demands its aid, the balance is held even without regard to color or
clime. I have often been reminded, that if we did not take the
Scriptures for our guide, we should then have no rule to regulate our
actions. This remark would be more conclusive, if Christians generally
acted up to what they profess; but this is not the case; nor will it
ever be, so long as faith is the only sure passport to the Christian
heaven, for it is a fact that many preachers of the Gospel are the worst
characters in society. At the same time that they are preaching up
holiness of life, it is discovered that they for years have been living
in the indulgence of the most filthy of vices; and thus while they are
thundering against the Devil as the enemy of souls, they are only
abusing their betters.

This being the truth, it is time that morality should be dissevered from
all religious creeds, and stand on its own intrinsic merits. Religion
has taught man that he is poor and helpless; that he has no power to
act; that he has no desire to perform virtuous actions, and that he
himself and his fellow beings are, by some (to him unaccountable)
destiny, thrown at so vast a distance from his Creator, that he can
approach him only by the means of kneeling and prostration, and that he
is so far indebted to his Maker, who will have full payment to the last
cent. Being ignorant of his real situation in the universe, and also of
the resources of his mind, he overlooks or undervalues the strength he
possesses, and neglects the means which God or nature puts within his
reach to be both virtuous and happy.

In this state of mind, he seeks for happiness in a religion the author
of which is depicted as a being like himself. It is, then, the vast
importance which has been attached to faith in the Redeemer, which has
made the path to heaven so smooth, and easy for the Christian traveller,
that moral rectitude has been thought of but little consideration in his
road to glory. Let me, says the Christian, make sure of my interest in
Christ, and my salvation is sure. Hence, we often find, that even Gospel
ministers are men of the basest description; at the same time their
hearers are consoled, with believing that their immoral pastor is sound
in the faith, resting firmly on the “_rock of ages_.”

The importance of faith is not the abuse of Christianity; it is the
thing itself. Jesus taught it to his disciples, and blames them for
having so little. But when Peter, his trusty servant, in a passion, cut
off a man’s ear, his divine Master only gave him a gentle rebuke,
telling him to be careful how he used the sword, for he might have to go
in mourning for his own ears.

The consistent Infidel, who renounces all religious creeds, and who
views the whole human family as beings possessing the same faculties,
subject to the same wants, and liable to the same misfortunes as
himself, can, by the use of his reason, without the aid of revelation,
discover the duties which he owes to himself, and also the true relation
in which he stands to his fellow mortals. He, by what he observes around
him, and by what he feels within himself, can see clearly the correct
line of duty, and can, at any time, draw a just conclusion as to his
moral standing in society. But it is far otherwise with the Christian,
whose whole dependence is on what his Saviour has done for him. He is
alternately disturbed with doubts and fears as to the ground on which he
stands; and being taught, that his best efforts to attain a moral
elevation by a steady course of virtuous actions, is considered by his
Maker worse than nothing, he loses sight of the high responsibility he
stands in, in relation to his fellow man.

In proportion, then, as faith is considered superior to moral virtue,
the first is sought after, and highly valued, and the latter is
neglected as of little consideration in securing happiness in this life
or in that which is to come. We need not, therefore, be surprised that
Christians, as a class, fall far below Infidels in point of moral
rectitude. Christianity, at best, is a cold-hearted system; its
followers are generally unsocial. They are taught to “_love not the
world nor the things of the world._” Jesus himself says to his
disciples, “_Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world; but
because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth
you._” Pride and intolerance are leading features in the conduct of
Christians generally. These defects among professors of religion, arise
from the belief that faith in Christ, as their Redeemer, secures them
heaven; and as it respects the duties of life, they hold them very
lightly, regarding them as, matters of little or no weight in the
article of salvation.

Professors of the Christian religion, at the same time that they
consider that faith in the divine mission of Jesus secures them an
acceptance with God, and that moral rectitude without faith in the
Redeemer, is worthless in the sight of God, are compelled to admit, that
where good works and virtuous conduct are wanting, the faith of the
individual not being supported by Justice, Humanity, and Chastity, with
all the virtues which adorn human nature, the damnation of such an one
is doubly sure. So that, after all, this thing called faith borrows all
its brightness and real value from moral rectitude. Faith, like a
planet, is in itself a dark body, and has no light but what it receives
from the bright sun of moral excellency.

The very nature and spirit of the Christian religion, is intolerant. It
says, “_Whosoever believes, shall be saved; and he that believeth not,
shall be damned._” This is the firm ground on which the Christian
stands, and where he must continue to stand. If he quits this strong
hold, he ceases to be a Christian, and, of necessity, becomes an
Infidel. It follows, then, that believers in the Divine authority of the
Bible must continue to be, what they always have been, intolerant and
persecuting. How differently do those feel who have given up all ideas
of Divine Revelation! They attach no consequence to faith, whatever.
They have no disposition even to blame, much less to injure persons who
believe in the most absurd inconsistencies. They, on the contrary, feel
the most lively interest in their happiness, knowing that no one can
control the honest convictions of the mind.

The Infidel, then, has the advantage, in a moral point of view, over the
Christian, for the following reasons:—The Infidel has not to defend the
character nor the actions of any God or Gods, particularly of a God
“partial, vengeful, and unjust.” He imbibes no angry feelings, by
believing in a God of cruelty and carnage. The Infidel has divested his
mind of the nonsense and inconsistency of considering unbelief as a
crime; and, also, of the fallacy that men can credit absurdities on
insufficient evidence. He perceives that every man’s religion is, to a
very large extent, a consequence of the circumstances of his situation
in early life, and the influences which surrounded him at his birth. The
Infidel, therefore, has no inducement whatever to injure those who
differ from him in opinion; for, by detaching all importance from faith,
and referring entirely to good and virtuous actions, he escapes all
those angry theological quarrels in which Christians are more or less
involved. So that the mind of an unbeliever is in a sound and calm
state, not harrowed up by the terrors of an avenging God, and the
thoughts of endless damnation.

These evils, and many more, the Infidel is not exposed to; consequently
his mind is at rest; his sense of degradation is not because he is
taught to believe that he is a poor lost sinner; he feels degraded only
in proportion as he neglects the duties which he owes to his fellow men.
The unbeliever, then, being free from the terror of doubting that which
he feels it is impossible for him to credit, commences to walk in the
path of moral rectitude, considering his own nature, and the connection
he occupies in relation to society, composed of beings like himself. He
listens to the voice of reason, and clearly understands that which God
or nature has done for him, and also that which remains for him to do
for himself. Leaving forever all religious dogmas, calculated to
bewilder his mind, his moral path is as clear as light. No longer
standing on the fearful precipice of faith, trembling at every step, or
chain-bound in a state of inaction, the Infidel cheerfully travels on in
the practice of justice and humanity with a calmness of mind to which
the Christian is a stranger. He has no angry God to dread, nor any
tempting Devil, against whom the Christian must forever be on the watch.

All human beings on arriving at maturity, find themselves placed by an
unknown power in a world, in which they will have to enjoy pleasure or
happiness, and also to endure pain. This is the destiny of all, without
exception. The same power which propelled us into existence, has made it
a law of our nature to dread or shrink from pain, and also to desire and
love ease and pleasure. And here we can at once discover what God or
nature has done for us, and likewise what is left for us to perform for
ourselves. This, then, is the stock of moral material with which mortals
commence a life of pleasure and pain. The same unknown power has also
given man and woman reason, by the exercise of which they can augment
their pleasure, and reduce their pain. By the use of man’s rational
powers, he can plainly discover his duty towards beings like himself. He
loves happiness, ease, and every thing which makes life worth having; so
also, do his fellow beings. He hates and retreats from positive pain; so
does every being which has life, animals not excepted. What revelation,
then, but this, does man want to teach him that which he owes to
himself, and likewise those things he ought to practise to every being
that has life and feeling?

And the voice of God, or nature, calls to every rational being in
language which, but for false religion, all would understand. Mortals!
attend to what is done for your permanent happiness. Ignorance and
neglect are the causes of most of the evils which, torment you. You are
made to love happiness; you are also made to shrink from and hate pain.
Every human being is subject to the same laws; only attend to the moral
this contains. You have no excuse for inflicting pain on any living
creature, because you know that every being possessing life is governed
by the same feelings as yourself. God, or nature, has so arranged things
as to induce mortals to practise virtue, and to be kind to every thing
that possesses life and feeling; because, by acting agreeably to the
laws of your own organization, you become happy in yourself, and have
the additional pleasure of making others happy also. What excuse, then,
can men have for neglecting the duties they owe to every thing that has
life and feeling? Do they need a revelation to inform them that they
ought to be just and humane? Do they require information from heaven to
inform them that cruelty to man or animals is wicked? Let them but
consult their own feelings; full information is at hand calling on them
to practise kindness and compassion.

Do men and women need the Bible to learn the duty incumbent on them
toward their offspring? Must we read the pretended word of God in order
to discover that the husband ought to be kind and in every way faithful
to his wife, (making allowance for her weakness, either of body or
mind,) and perform every duty connected with her permanent happiness?
Man requires no Divine aid, beyond the exercise of his reason, to inform
him that, in order to be happy in this life, he must be _just,
peaceable, sober, and temperate in all things; chaste, a lover of truth,
kind, and humane_ to all beings who possess life. Let every human being,
then, turn to the laws of his own organization, namely, to his love of
happiness, and aversion to pain. These laws will give him unerring
instruction as to the duties which he has to perform, and also as to
what evils he is to avoid.

This is indeed a Divine revelation, which will never deceive or lead
astray. Man carries it within himself. It differs from all pretended
Divine revelation. It is suitable at all times, and in all places. It
requires no priest to explain it. It changes not with times and
circumstances. These laws of our nature (the love of happiness and
aversion to pain) are a never-failing revelation, to which we can always
refer with entire confidence, as a true revelation of God or nature.
Away, then, with the childish question, “If you take away the Bible,
what will you give us in its stead”? The short and final answer to which
is, study the laws of your organization, and direct your reason to their
interpretation, and let the priest read his Bible, and exclaim against
unbelief. The reader will now understand the views the Infidels have of
moral rectitude; and if the principles are faithfully carried out in our
journey through life, the end of all will be peace. These moral
principles were enforced (for upwards of eight years) in Tammany Hall.
They are now spreading far and wide, and instead of producing evil in
society, they are calculated to ensure “_peace on earth and good-will
towards men._”

It is because the Christian world have been taught to depend on a
Saviour for the pardon of the worst of crimes, believing that the price
was paid by Christ as a ransom from the captivity of the Devil, that it
is destructive of pure morality. The apostles maintained this doctrine;
and from them, till now, the true and Orthodox faith is, that moral
rectitude has nothing to do, abstractly considered, with the salvation
of the soul, but faith in what Christ has done and suffered. This
doctrine is not only unfavorable to virtue, but it places the basest of
mankind in a superior point of view to those whose whole lives have been
distinguished by the practice of correct moral actions. That divines
view and act on the vicarious sacrifice of Christ as being alone
sufficient in the last hour to save sinners, we need but to refer to the
attention paid by them to criminals up to the last moments of their
lives. It is faith in the Redeemer, which gives a passport to glory to a
wretch, who but a few days before had murdered perhaps a good father and
mother. No matter what his crimes, or how large the number, only let him
believe in the Saviour, and, although the guilty criminal is considered
unworthy to live one hour longer on earth, yet according to the Gospel
plan of salvation, he is promised, and induced to believe that he will
in the evening of the same day join in the song of angels and chant the
praises of the Great Eternal.

If the doctrine of saving faith be true, the thief or murderer, if the
law lays hold of him, and the fear of the gallows induces him to rely on
Jesus, goes directly to heaven; whereas, if he had been honest and
virtuous, but had not faith in Christ, he might have died in his sins
and gone to hell! Oh! how consistent is Orthodox salvation with justice
and truth! In one case, the Orthodox Christian is in truth consistent.
It is this: that in this life, even in New York, a man will not be
admitted as a church member, however virtuous. He must be a sinner, or
he cannot be admitted. So, also, in heaven, a good man must not enter.
It would be no injustice to say that every religious society should have
it written in large capitals over the door-way of its building—“_No
honest men admitted as members here—sinners are always welcome._” The
same should be posted at the gate of heaven. Although this statement may
to some appear wicked and untrue, it is correct in the Christian spirit,
and also true to the letter. Honest men have no business in Christian
churches, as they will also be rejected in heaven. The worst of
characters make the best Christians, if they can bring one grain of
mustard-seed faith to the altar of Jehovah.

The Christian who depends for salvation and acceptance, in a future
life, is never at rest in this. He has no correct standard whereby to
judge whether he has saving faith. His hopes and his fears are regulated
by his feelings, not by his conduct. If, for instance, his animal
spirits are depressed, he desponds, and considers that the Lord has
withdrawn from him the light of his countenance. He trembles, and in the
agony of his mind, cries out, “_I believe, O Lord, help thou mine
unbelief._” Let him become cheerful, and his mind become buoyant, he
then considers himself sure that he has, what is called, an interest in
Christ.

Moral rectitude is out of the question. All the moral virtues combined,
and brought into action, are as nothing, in the sight of the Christian’s
God. The sinner’s debt is paid, by the sufferings of Jesus on the cross.
So that, according to the plan of human redemption, if Jesus had been
acquitted on his trial, the whole human race would die (as the Scripture
phrase is) in their sins. It then follows, that, as man’s acceptance
with God, and the salvation of his soul, is in consequence of the
sacrifice made by Christ on the cross, his moral rectitude is of little
consequence. The all-important state of the believer is, not the
soundness of his morals, but the relying by faith on Jesus for what he
has done by his suffering on the “accursed tree.” This doctrine is the
consolation of the murderer at the gallows; and the same reliance on
what Jesus has suffered for the human race, was what consoled and
supported Andrew Jackson in his last moments, as reported by the
newspapers.

The Christian religion, by teaching believers to trust in a Saviour for
the pardon of crimes of the worst description, has been an obstacle in
the way of attaining to that moral excellence which is calculated to
dignify human nature.. Faith, the “_pearl of great price,_” has, ever
since the introduction of Christian theology, obscured the path of
virtue, and invested its haughty possessor with an intolerant
disposition, accountable only to the tribunal of faith; and, having
broken loose from the restraints of moral obligation, has, as it were,
laughed to scorn the principles of justice, of chastity and humanity.
And yet, one and all, who profess Christianity, charge those who
consider moral worth superior to faith, with demoralizing youth, and
corrupting the manners of the age in which they live.

Before concluding this chapter, it will be useful to inquire, in what
way the world has been benefitted by propagating the heaven-born
doctrine of faith in the Redeemer’s kingdom? The page of history bears
witness, that, for eighteen hundred years, with but short intervals of
rest, a large portion of the earth has been the theatre of _crime and
war, cruelty and murder_; and this state of things has been brought
about by the uncertainty of what Christianity is. When the reputed
Founder of the Christian faith was about to leave this world, to sit at
the right hand of his Father, he told them that his absence would be to
his followers a real blessing; for it is recorded, that he said to them
that “_the Comforter_” would abundantly supply his place—that is, or was
to be, the Holy Ghost, who would “_lead them into alt truth, and bring
to their remembrance all things which he had told them._” But this
promise, if ever made, proved a total failure; for soon after Christ,
their Divine Master, left this earth, upwards of forty different sects
arose, and began to dispute and quarrel about what Jesus, while on
earth, taught, concerning the kingdom of heaven. Sect opposed sect,
party opposed party, and Christianity became involved in mystery.
Conventions were formed, and the worst passions soon gave proof that the
multitude of angels, who, at the birth of Christ proclaimed, that
“_peace on earth, and good-will towards men_” would be realized, were
sadly mistaken. Nothing but one continual scene of war, destruction, and
slaughter, between Christian nations, and in society, and and even in
families, ensued; peace and harmony were unknown. The Holy Ghost, that
was to be the comforter, soon made them any thing but comfortable!

This good news, or Gospel, proved to be most unfortunate news to the
inhabitants of this world. Thousands and tens of thousands of human
beings came to a premature or violent death by rack and torture; the
fires of martyrdom were lighted up, and millions of madmen gave glory to
God. This is but a mere outline of the horrors arising from faith in the
glorious plan of human redemption; and thus mortals when they became
believers in the Redeemer’s kingdom, ceased to act as men, and became
downright devils. If, instead of teaching him the doctrines of the
Christian religion, the laws which God or nature had stamped on every
human being (which are always present, and which, at every moment of his
existence, call on him to attend to the lessons which they teach) had
been pointed out to him, man would have learned how to live in peace and
happiness, in a society of beings organized like himself, and governed
by the same laws, always loving happiness and dreading pain.

To the reader, then, I recommend attention to the hints here given; and
in order to form a correct judgment how he should perform the duties
which he owes to himself, and also to his fellow mortals, to study and
always appeal to the laws of his organization. Let him bring every
action to that never-failing index of his nature, the love of happiness
and the aversion to pain. Let him sum up every day his moral accounts by
this unerring rule, and this mode will never fail to make his moral path
as clear as light; for as he knows that, according to the laws of his
nature, he is compelled to love happiness, and to shrink from pain, so
also, is every one that has life, governed by the laws of pleasure and
pain. The laws of our organization, and the voice of reason united,
proclaim to every human being, that the whole of man’s duty towards his
fellow man consists at all times, and in all places, in increasing his
happiness, and reducing his pain.

To know this, so easy to be known, and strictly to practise it, is all
the revelation which man requires. But pretended revelation has either
obscured moral light, or held out lights that are false and delusive.
The false light presented to man, called revealed religion, instead of
conducting him safely into the haven of happiness, has continually
tossed him, without rudder or compass, on the roaring billows of
theology, on which troubled ocean he has met with little else than
robbers and pirates.

Never, then, let us forget, that the best men or women are they, whose
whole lives are directed to the promotion of the permanent happiness of
every thing having life and feeling, and to the reduction of misery
wherever it may be found; and that whoever shall thus act, will be not
only the best, but also the happiest, of the human race.

THE END.



                                  ————



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