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Title: The Doubts Of Infidels - Or, Queries Relative To Scriptural Inconsistencies & Contradictions
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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THE DOUBTS OF INFIDELS, OR, QUERIES RELATIVE TO SCRIPTURAL
INCONSISTENCIES & CONTRADICTIONS.

SUBMITTED FOR ELUCIDATION TO THE BENCH OF BISHOPS BY A WEAK BUT SINCERE
CHRISTIAN.

By Anonymous


  .......Metus omnes et inexoraibile fatum
     Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari!
     Illum non populi fasces, non purpura regum
     Flexit et infidos agitans discordia fratres. Virg.

     Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! ye blind
     guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Matt,
     xxiii. 23, 24.

     The world is divided into two classes of men...the one have
     understanding but no religion; the other have religion but
     no understanding.

LONDON:

PRINTED & PUBLISHED BY R. CARLILE, 55, FLEET STREET.

1819.

THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY.

TO THE RIGHT REVEREND AND REVEREND THE BISHOPS, CLERGY, AND ALL OTHER
SUPPORTERS OF THE CHURCH MILITANT HERE ON EARTH.

REVEREND SIRS,

Your late zealous exertion against the infidels, in procuring the Sunday
Bill to be passed, and prosecutions and pillory against infidel writers
and publishers, must have convinced them that you are in earnest in your
attempts to propagate and establish our holy faith. An act of parliament
is an excellent engine for producing that kind of uniformity of
opinions, which consists in holding the tongue; and, however unfair it
may be in common transactions to suppress the arguments on one side
of any question, yet, in religious matters, even the most cool and
charitable must allow, that it is otherwise. When the salvation of
men is concerned, every means is justifiable. What right has a man
to complain, though by virtue of an act of parliament, by pains and
penalties, fines, imprisonment, and the pillory, he may be sent to
heaven whether he will or no? It is carrying the notion of liberty too
far, to suppose, because we are free-born Englishmen, that we may choose
our own faith and go to heaven _our own way!_ What would become of the
right reverend and reverend guides and turnpike-men, if people were
permitted to avoid the strait gate and go to their journey's end without
paying?

Foreigners are so sensible of this, and the priests of other countries
are so tenacious of their rights of directing the intellects of the
people, that they have invented and deposited in the inner chambers of
the holy inquisition, a number of most ingenious machines, which, by
means of whips, cords, pullies, screws, wheels, iron crows, red hot
pincers, and the like, are found to be extremely serviceable in twisting
and warping opinions to any settled models government may require.

Notwithstanding your Lordships' readiness* "to oppose error of every
kind by argument and persuasion," it happens unfortunately for us, that
these mechanical and persuasive arguments are unknown in _Britain_.
Instead of that most strong and logical argument, called the torture, we
are obliged to adopt plain reason, or, at most, when that fails us, the
_prison, fine, and pillory_. But, it is to be hoped, that the happy time
is not far off, when the priests of _Britain_ may be able to argue with
as much force as the spiritual directors of other countries; when the
Clergy may approach the throne, and avow their readiness to stop
the mouths of men, without being under the shameful necessity of
contradicting themselves, by "disavowing all violence in the cause of
religion.*"

     * Vide Address of the Convocation presented to his Majesty
     the 17th of November, 1780.

In those better days, the Lord Bishop of Chester may overthrow the
arguments of an infidel peer, by declaring them "unworthy of a Reply;"
and the Bishop of St. David may confirm the defeat, by affirming, that
the arguments of unbelievers "deserve no answer;" for every one will
then say, they "would not" answer them, not that they "could not," as
they impiously affirm at present. But as those glorious times are not
yet arrived, we must be contented, in the mean while, to proceed in the
old method of reasoning upon even ground with our adversaries. The
weak, though _zealous Christian_, who has the honour, to address your
Lordships on the present occasion, has presumed to lay before you a few
of the Doubts of the Infidels, and he hopes you will answer them to his
entire satisfaction.* He is happy in reflecting that the late act of
parliament forbids them to speak; but his satisfaction is infinitely
greater when he assures himself, that your Lordships' answer will
convince them and make them ashamed even to _write, speak, or think_.

     * Vide the same address.

Thus fervently prays your Lordships' unworthy co-operator,

The Author.


     * The following are the chapters, with many others, which
     contain the most objectionable parts:--

     Genesis, chap. 16, 18, 19, 30, 34, 35, 38, 30.
     Numbers, 25.
     Judges, 10, 19.
     1 Samuel, 25.
     2 Samuel, 11, 13, 16.
     Ezekiel, 4, 10, 22, 23.
     Hosea, 1, 2, 3.

     The following are those chapters which contain instances of
     cruel and torturous executions, and unrelenting
     vindictiveness.

     Genesis, chap. 34.
     Numbers, 31.
     Joshua, 8,10.
     Judges, 4, 5, 21.
     1 Samuel, 15.
     2 Samuel, 12, 21.
     1 Kings, 2.
     2 Kings, 10.



DOUBTS OF INFIDELS,

1. How can _the attributes_ of God be vindicated, in having performed so
great a number of miracles, for a long succession of very distant ages,
and so few in _latter times?_ If they were performed for the instruction
of those times only, are they not equally necessary at present for
us? or, if those ancient miracles were intended likewise for our
instruction, are they adequate to the purpose? Can God, who gave us
reason, act inconsistently with its dictates; and is it rational or
fair to demand our belief of things, which are in their own nature far
removed from common belief, or common sense, and require something
more than the usual testimony of history for their support? When Livy
affirms,* that the Gauls conspired against Hannibal, we admit and
believe the fact; but when in the same chapter he speaks of shields
sweating blood, of its raining hot stones at Arpi, and the like, we
justly reject and disbelieve these improbable assertions; neither is any
credit given to the account of the wonderful method of curing diseases
by the touch, said to be possessed by Mr. Greatrix,* though we find it
in the Philosophical Transactions. The miracles of the Old Testament
were all performed in those ages of which we have no credible history;
what reply then can be made to those who affirm, that miracles have
always been confined to the early and fabulous times; that all nations
have had them, but that they disappeared in proportion as men became
enlightened, and capable of discovering _imposture_ and _priestcraft_.

     * T. Livii, lib. xxii, cap. 1.


2. Suppose a book to be published, containing assertions of historical
facts long past, which had no collateral testimony of other authors;
suppose those facts in general to be improbable and incredible; suppose
the book to be anonymous, or, which is worse, ushered into the world
under the name of a person who, from the internal evidence of the thing,
could not have written it; can it be imagined, that such a book would
find credit among people, who have the least pretensions to reason or
common sense? Which, then, is the readiest way of confuting the enemies
of our holy and only true religion, who do not scruple to affirm, that
many books of canonical Scripture are in this predicament? They observe
that the books of the Pentateuch bear many strong marks of an author
long posterior to Moses; that the book of Numbers** quotes the book of
the Wars of the Lord, which, as first written, was most probably the
book which Moses wrote; that Moses could not possibly have written
the account of his own _death and burial_ in Deuteronomy,**** which
nevertheless has no mark to distinguish it from the rest of the book.

     * Lowther's Abridgement, Vol. III. p. II. Greatrix published
     a pamphlet, to which the attestations of Boyle, Wilkins,
     Cud-worth, and many other great men were affixed. Vide Life
     of St. Evremont, printed with his works in English, 3 vols.
     8vo.

     ** Numb. xxi. 14.

     *** Deut. xxxiv.

And supposing these and other objections of the like nature to be
removed, what must we say in reply to their remark, that the Scripture,
which we believe to be dictated by the inspiration of the unerring
God, is frequently** contradictory with regard to facts, and very
often represents the all-wise Creator*** as angry, repenting, unjust,
arbitrary, &c. and that consequently we must either give up that
dependence, which we naturally place on his goodness and rectitude,
or reject those writings which represent him as a demon. Do not your
Lordships apprehend, that, for want of better arguments, we shall be
under the necessity of recurring to the _argumentum pillorii_, or of
adopting some of those _gentle methods_ which were lawfully used for
the conversion of heretics in the mild and pious reign of Mary, Queen of
England?

     ** Vide infra.

     *** Genesis vi. 6,7. also Exod. vii. 3. xi. 9,10. and 1 Sam.
     xv. 35.


3. Is the account of the creation and fall of man, in the book of
Genesis, physical or allegorical? Did God create light before the sun?
How could he divide the light from darkness, since darkness is nothing
but the mere privation of light? How could time be divided into days,
before the creation of the sun, since a day is the time between sun-rise
and sun-rise? How could the firmament be created, since there is no
_firmament_, and the false notion of its existence is no more than an
imagination of the ancient Grecians?


4. The Scriptures were certainly written for the purpose of being
understood, or for no purpose at all. A mystery, that is to say, an
assertion or theorem, which the human understanding is incapable of
comprehending, must likewise be inexpressible in human speech; we
cannot, therefore, avail ourselves of the short and elegant method of
clearing and elucidating difficult parts of Scripture, by the use of the
word mystery, but how shall we, without this _happy resource_, explain
the business of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, of a speaking
serpent, and of a tree of life, which God was obliged to guard by
cherubim and a flaming sword, lest man should eat of the fruit and
become immortal?


5. The serpent was afflicted with the curse of going upon his belly.
The scoffers seem to think it no curse at all; for as they take it for
granted that he went upon his back before this unfortunate transaction,
they apprehended it was doing him a singular piece of service to reverse
him, the latter position being evidently the most convenient. They also
take notice, that no animal can subsist upon dust, and that whatever the
individual serpent in question might have done, the serpents of modern
times are so profane, that they universally reject so dry a food, and,
by a second act of impiety, emancipate themselves from the consequences
of the first.

     * Gen. vi.--78.

6. The account of the flood is very embarrassing. It is described as the
effects of natural agents in the hands of God. It rained; no mention is
made of waters created for the purpose. The deluge was universal; all
the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered; and it
ceased, not by the annihilation of the waters, but they were evaporated
by a wind. Now from whence came the water? The weight of the whole
atmosphere, with all its vapours, is equal to no more than a hollow
sphere of three or four and thirty feet thickness, environing the whole
globe, and consequently the whole of its contents, if condensed into
water, could not deluge the earth to the height of an ordinary house.
It is to no purpose to break open the fountains of the abyss, or great
deep, if any such fountains there are; for gravity would prevent the
waters from issuing out; neither can we easily persuade infidels, that
the windows of Heaven were opened, while they know it has no windows;
so that we have but three or four and thirty feet of water to deluge
the highest mountains, some of which are more than fifteen thousand feet
high.*

     * The Indian Alps are 20,862 feet above the level of the
     ocean. Editor.  See Col. Kirkpatrick's History of Nepaul,
     and Asiatic Researches, Vol. VIII.


7. The weak in faith find themselves equally at a loss respecting the
ark. It seems strange to them, that so vast an assemblage of animals
could be inclosed in an ark or chest, which had but one window, (which
window was kept shut for more than five months,) without being stifled
for want of air: it appears equally remarkable that Noah and his three
sons could unstow and serve out the daily allowance of provisions and
water to the passengers; and if their wives were supposed to help them,
the work to be done is still prodigious. The lions and other carnivorous
animals must have lived on salt provisions; which, no doubt, they were
glad of, as seafaring people are not very nice, especially in long
voyages.

8. If God set his bow in the clouds, as a token of his covenant with
mankind after the flood, ought we not to conclude, that he, at
that time, established the law of the various refrangibility and
reflexibility of the rays of light, and consequently, that before the
flood many optical experiments, which are common with us, would not
then have succeeded? For example, a man could not have made a rainbow
by spouting water out of his mouth; Mr. Dollond's achromatic telescopes
would have then been no better than common ones; natural bodies must
have appeared all of one colour, &c. &c.

9. What answer must we give to those who are inclined to deny, that an
all-powerful and just God could make use of the most unjustifiable means
to attain his great purpose of aggrandizing the posterity of Abraham?
Could this benevolent and just Being approve of the ungenerous
advantage which Jacob took over his faint and hungry brother? Could
this omnipotent and upright Spirit adopt no method of distinguishing his
favourite Jacob, but that of fraud and lies, by which he deprived the
same unsuspecting brother of his father's blessing? Or, in short, how
shall we justify God for the continual distinction and favour he is said
to have bestowed on a people, who from their own annals appear to have
been unparalleled for cruelty,* ingratitude, inurbanity, &c.?

     * See the acts of Joshua; also 1 Sam. xv. &c.


10. When the unbelievers affirm that a just God could not punish Pharaoh
for an hardness of heart of which he himself (God) was evidently the
cause, we usually answer, that the potter has power over the day to
fashion it as he lists; but when in reply, they take notice, that if
the clay in the hands of the potter were capable of happiness or misery,
according to the fashion impressed on it, the potter must be malevolent
and cruel who can give the preference to inflicting pain instead
of happiness, then we are obliged to be silent, in hopes that your
Lordships will condescend to supply us with better arguments than any we
are acquainted with at present.


11. Miracles must have been very common in Egypt, since there was a body
of people whose trade it was to work them. When Aaron's rod was turned
into a serpent,* Pharaoh, instead of being surprised at it, as an
unusual phænomenon, sends for his magicians, who immediately perform
the like with their rods. Your Lordships owe us some little explanation
concerning this business: we know it is our duty to believe, that
Aaron's miracle was performed by the power of God, but are at a loss to
discover by what power the magicians performed theirs.


19. When** Aaron turned the waters of Egypt into blood, their streams,
their rivers, their ponds, and all their pools, together with all the
water throughout the land of Egypt, whether in Vessels of wood, or
vessels of stone, the magicians of Egypt did so likewise with their
enchantments. Here again our adversaries, who unfortunately have more
curiosity than faith, take the liberty to enquire, whether the magicians
formed water to practise their art upon, since Aaron had already turned
it into blood?

     * Exod vii. 3, 4. and ix. 9, 10.

     ** Exod. vii. 10.

     *** Exod. vii. 10, &c.


13. Pharaoh still continuing inflexible, though successively exposed to
the plagues of frogs, lice, and flies;* his cattle, namely, the horses,
the asses, the camels, the oxen, and the sheep, were afflicted with a
very grievous murrain, and all the cattle of Egypt died, except those
of the children of Israel.** This producing no good effect with Pharaoh,
the whole nation of Egyptians were plagued with boils and blains;***
notwithstanding which Pharaoh's heart continued as hard as ever.****
Moses was therefore sent early in the morning, to advise Pharaoh to
send for his cattle, and all that he had in the field, and shelter them
against a terrible hail storm, the approach of which he predicted. They
among Pharaoh's servants who feared the word of the Lord, saved their
cattle and servants, by removing them into houses; for the next day
came on a storm of thunder, lightning, and hail, which broke the trees,
destroyed the herbage, and killed every living creature that was in the
field, excepting only that in the land of Goshen, where the children of
Israel were, there was no hail. _Divine truths_ are so different from
those which carnal minds are used to contemplate, that it must be very
difficult by the force of mere human reason to persuade mankind in
general, that Pharaoh's cattle were in any great danger from the hail
storm, since they were all previously dead by the murrain; and some
people are so stupid, that they think killing them a second time was
no punishment at all. There are not wonting some amongst the present
perverse generation; who are at a loss to conceive how those of
Pharaoh's servants, who feared the word of the Lord, could make their
Cattle flee into houses, since they pretend to maintain, that cattle
already dead, whether by the murrain or otherwise, are incapable of
fleeing. Notwithstanding those people are so obviously in the wrong, yet
we depend upon your Lordships, that you will expose their errors in more
glaring colours than any in which they have yet appeared.

     * Exod. viii.

     ** Exod. ix. 3, 6.

     *** Exod. ix.

     **** Exod. ix. 13, &c.


14. Some weak believers are in doubts whether so mean, so ungenerous,
and so dishonest an act, as borrowing the jewels of the Egyptians*
without any intention of returning them, did not rather originate in
that disposition which characterizes the Jews to this day, than in the
command of the just God, who certainly could need no such tricks to
accomplish his intentions.


15. The plague of hail being succeeded by locusts, thick darkness, and
the death of all the first-born of Egypt, cattle included, Pharaoh at
length permitted the Israelites to depart; but afterwards repenting, he
went in pursuit of them** with six hundred chariots and all the horses
and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen and his army, and overtook
them by the sea, near Baal Zephon. The Red Sea was parted in two to
afford a passage for the Israelites, the Egyptians followed them, and
were punished for their rashness by the return of the waters, which
swallowed them up. Here again our petulant and unsatisfied opposers
demand how Pharaoh could pursue with chariots and horsemen, since his
horses were all slain twice over, once by the murrain and once by the
hail; not to mention that the first born of cattle were slain even a
third time. They likewise add, that Egypt, which, to facilitate the
dispersion of the waters of the overflowing Nile, is intersected by
numberless canals, must have always been a very improper country either
for cavalry or chariots.

     * Exod. xi.

     ** Exod. xiv.


16. God came to Balaam at night and said unto him, "If the men come
to call thee, rise up and go with them."* Balaam accordingly rose up,
saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. "But God's anger was
kindled because he went," insomuch that he sent an angel to oppose
him, who would certainly have slain him, if the ass he rode on had not
exhibited a specimen of penetration and prudence, of which the asses of
modern times seem to be divested. The infidels here insist, that it is
better to reject the whole story, than to believe that the Supreme Being
could be angry with Balaam, merely because he obeyed his command; but
the true believers, the sons of the church, who think there would be no
exercise for our faith, if we were required to admit nothing but
what can be supported by argument, are not at all concerned in this
difficulty; the more improbable the doctrine, the greater must be the
merit in believing.

     * Numb. xxii. 20, &c.


17. "The Lord was with Judah,** and he drove out the inhabitants of
the mountains, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley,
because they had chariots of iron." It is difficult to conceive, how
the Lord of heaven and earth, who had so often changed the order, and
suspended the established laws of nature in favour of his people the
Jews, could not succeed against the inhabitants of a valley, because
they had chariots of iron! Or ought we not rather to infer that the book
in which this passage is found, has nothing of divine inspiration in
it, but was written by one of the Jews who considered the God of Israel
their protector as a local divinity; who was in some instances more, and
in others less powerful, than the gods of their enemies. Thus David in
many places compares the Lord with other gods "The Lord is a great God,
and a great king above all gods," &c. and Jephtha says to the king of
the children of Ammon, "Wilt thou not possess that which Chemosh thy God
giveth thee, to possess? So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out
from before us, them will we possess."

     ** Judges i. 19.


18. How unjustly are the Spaniards stigmatised for the zeal they
exhibited in converting the natives of Peru and Mexico to the Christian
religion!*** It is true, they ripped up women with child, dashed infants
to pieces against the rocks, and broiled men to death with slow fires;
but as their pious intention was purely that of delivering these
uninstructed and ignorant people from the more horrible pains of
futurity, the truly compassionate can not but approve their conduct.
How can we enough admire the mild and humane transaction of hanging up
thirteen Indians in honour of Christ and the twelve apostles!

     *** See Marmoutel's Preface to the Incas, and the authors
     there cited.


While the rest of the world admired the Greeks and Romans, they wisely
assumed the heroes of sacred story as models for their imitation! Poor
Las Casas! His weak and effeminate heart bled at the scene of misery!
He wanted zeal to join in the pious work, and even wished to leave the
Indians in possession of certain imaginary blessings which he pretended
to call "the rights of humanity!" But the holy ardour of his associates
frustrated his impious attempts; he could do no more than write, yet his
writings, so far from producing the effect he intended, only served
to increase our admiration of those great characters he meant to
stigmatize. If the comparison might be allowed, we may affirm that the
Spaniards were inferior to the Jews in this only circumstance, that
they had a Las Casas among them. The Jews were obdurate to a man, and
hardened with holy cruelty. We hear of no tergiversation when Jericho
was to be destroyed; "Man and woman, young and old, ox, sheep, and ass,
were put to the edge of the sword."* What a philosophical command over
the tender passions must Joshua have acquired, to have enabled him
to smite with the sword,** and utterly destroy the inhabitants of
Ai, Libnah, Lachish, Hebron, Debir, &c. &c. &c. especially*** as the
hardness of their heart was no fault of theirs, but proceeded from the
Lord! How truly great, how far above the common weakness of humanity,
appears the man after God's own heart, at the taking of the city of
Rabbah!**** "He brought forth the people that were therein, and put them
under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made
them pass through the brick-kiln!" O ye greatly inexorable heroes! ye
Jews! ye Spaniards! ye firm and zealous of antient and modern times, if
any such exist! pity the wretch who admires your virtues, but whose
pen trembles, and whose eye overflows at the recital of your deeds! And
thou, O mighty and benevolent Power, forgive the heart that, shocked
at the tortures inflicted on thy creatures, is unwilling to acknowledge
thee as the author of them!

     * Johua vi. 21.

     ** Joshua x. 10.

     *** Joshua xi. 20.

     **** 2 Sam. xii. 29, 31.


19. The most rational men reject the science of magic or witchcraft, as
a silly imposition on the credulity of mankind; but we believers,
who have nothing to do with reason, but are guided by the indefinable
faculty called _faith_, are perfectly ready to admit it, and deplore the
infidelity of that parliament, which repealed the acts by which so many
of that profession lost their lives.

The witch of Endor,** and the Jewish law, both prove by divine argument,
the existence of such professors, though, like miracles, they have now
ceased to appear. But notwithstanding this, we should be glad of an
argument or two from you, our spiritual directors, which might establish
this important point of doctrine, as well in the minds of reasonable
men, as in the minds of men, who, by means of the additional faculty
_faith_, are above reason.

    ** Sam. xxviii.


20. In the last battle of Saul with the Philistines* near Gilboa, Saul
being sorely wounded, requested his armour-bearer to draw his sword, and
run him through, but his armour-bearer would not; therefore Saul took
a sword and fell upon it; and when his armour-bearer saw that Saul was
dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.** David was
at this time returned from the pursuit of the Amalekites, when, on the
third day after Saul's death, a young man came out of the camp from
Saul, with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head. He brought the
news of Saul's death, the circumstances of which, upon David's enquiry,
he reported to be, that coming by chance upon Mount Gilboa, he beheld
that Saul leaned on his spear, and that the chariots and horsemen
followed hard after him. Saul looking behind him, called the young man,
and requested him to slay him: so I stood upon him, said the young man,
and slew him, because I was sure he could not live after he was fallen;
and I took the crown that was on his head, and the bracelet that was on
his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord. David rewarded the
mistaken compassion of this young man, by commanding him to be put to
death.

     * 1 Sam. xxxi.

     ** 2 Sam. i.


How do our adversaries, the infidels, exclaim against the barbarity of
David, when they read this melancholy history! What! say they, is this
the mild, the merciful David? Is this the man after God's own heart? Is
he not rather the tyrant--the inhuman despot? What effort of holy zeal
could stimulate him to murder the young man, who had performed the last
offices of humanity to Saul; who, in the agonies of death, had himself
besought him to put an end to his lingering miseries? Why should this
idol of the Christians, this man after God's own heart, embrue his hands
in the blood of the youth, who supposed he had done a charitable office
to the deserted and expiring monarch, whom this David pretended to
lament, and who, at the same time, gave such endearing proofs of loyalty
to him himself, by presenting him with the regal ornaments? But we,
the faithful, who can easily explain all scripture mysteries, say, that
though David was really one of the greatest of sinners, yet he truly
repented him before he died. Our enemies, the unbelievers, say no; that
it is false, and they quote the very Book of Books* against us for their
authority.

     * 1 Kings ii. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.


They say if David ever repented, or was ever truly pious, we shall
certainly perceive it, in his behaviour during his last moments, on
his death bed. There, say they, it is to be hoped, we shall find him
forgiving his enemies, and dying in charity with all mankind. This is
what all mankind in general make a point of doing, from the saint to the
malefactor. David, therefore, must certainly give us an extraordinary
instance of his attention to this important evidence of contrition.

But what shall we think, say these enemies of our holy religion, when we
see this Nero of the Hebrews, this man after God's own heart, this idol
of the Christians, die in a manner uniform and consistent with the whole
course of his life? What will be our reflections, when we find him, with
his last accents, delivering two cruel and inhuman murders in charge to
his son Solomon? Murders still farther aggravated by the included crimes
of ingratitude and perjury! One of them to be executed on his old and
faithful general, Joab, who powerfully assisted him on all occasions,
and who adhered to him in all his extremities; till at the last, when
he had justifiable cause of chagrin, but who, notwithstanding, had not
appeared in actual hostility against him, but only drank a glass of wine
with the malcontents. His other charge was against Shimea, who reviled
David at his retreat from Jerusalem, during his son Absalom's rebellion;
but who made his submission to him when he returned victorious, and
whose pardon David had sealed with a solemn oath. All these commands,
say the infidels, were executed in a manner truly worthy the son of such
a father! These, Christians, say our enemies, are the outlines of the
life of a Jew, whom, according to the Book of Books, or, more properly
speaking, priestcraft, you are not ashamed' to continue extolling as a
man after _God's own heart!_ What an impiety, say the infidels, to the
Majesty of Heaven!

Wherefore we, the true believers, pray that your Lordships will
satisfactorily answer and explain all those doubts and objections
brought forward against us by infidel philosophers and writers; and
if unanswerable, that your Lordships will, with true Christian zeal,
procure an act of parliament to be passed, in order to prevent any more
doubts whatever being entertained by the enemies of our holy faith and
religion, as by law established.

None but infidels, it is true, would utter impieties like the above;
but, alas, 'the infidels of our days have become formidable to the true
believers, by an attention to morality, and the mild and gentle offices
of pity, and by warning their fellow-citizens to avoid and detest the
cruelties of religious persecution: how egregiously they mistake! Your
Lordships will rectify their notions, it is to be hoped, in these as
well as in other respects.

They have an argument still more formidable against the truth of the
foregoing accounts, concerning the death of Saul, which is, that they
are so very different, that one of them must be false. To this we can
only answer, as it becomes the faithful in all such cases of seeming
contradiction; namely, that they were both written by the pen of
inspiration, consequently must both be true, however contradictory or
absurd they may seem to mere human reason.

21. David commanded that the children of Judah should be taught the
use of the bow: behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher.* Many
difficulties arise here about the Book of Jasher. It was extant previous
to the writing the Book of Joshua,** the author of that book quoting it,
and by the foregoing text it appears, it was not finished till after
the accession of David to the throne of Israel. Now, if Joshua wrote the
account of his own transactions, as is generally believed, the author of
Jasher must have lived upwards of four hundred years; and if the Book of
Joshua was not written till after the time of David, and by an unknown
author, the infidels will affirm, that it comes under the description
which is at the beginning of the second of these questions. And the
misfortune is, we do not know how to confute them, but we hope
your Lordships will easily remove this, among many Other very great
difficulties, now your long dormant seal is at length awakened. Our
enemies have reproached us with the examples of the primitive church;
they observe, that the priests were poor and indefatigable, but are now
pampered and lazy. Fat benefices and lordly bishoprics, they say, cause
a total eclipse of the light of religion, by obtruding, their opake
substances between the eye of the priest and the kingdom of Heaven. But,
alas, how palpably they mistake!

     * 2 Sara. i. 18.

     ** Josh. x. 13.


The ancient priests were ignorant of their business; they despised
riches, because they knew no better, or, perhaps, because they could not
get them. But how are the understandings of men enlightened! how great
the wisdom of the modern times! how are the sciences improved! Has it
not been for many centuries discovered, that pain and mortification are
fit companions for the devil, and therefore totally improper for
saints? Can a poor wretch, inured to penury and the scourge, be suddenly
reconciled to happiness and Heaven? Instead of enjoying the manna of the
promised land, would he not be prescribing himself a fast; and when it
became him to sleep recumbent on his couch of blessedness, would he
not envy the damned their whips and scorpions? So difficult it is to
eradicate long confirmed habits. But wherefore dwell on so unprofitable
a subject? The wisdom of our divines has taught them to avoid such
absurdities, to detest such errors. They will not lose their relish for
pleasure, for want of practice.


29. David, by the instigation of the Lord, numbered the people-of
Israel and Judah;* but afterwards, being probably ignorant by whose
instigation he had acted, he repented of the deed. This repentance
did not excuse him in the sight of the Lord, who offered him to chuse
either, "seven years" famine, three months defeat before his enemies, or
three days pestilence.

David chose the latter, and seventy thousand men died. This memorable
event has not escaped the inspired penman of the Book of Chronicles,**
who affirms, "that Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked
David to number them;" but God was displeased with this thing, and
therefore smote Israel. David repenting, was offered from God his
choice, either "three years famine, three months destruction before
his enemies, or three days pestilence the latter of which he chose, and
there died of Israel seventy thousand men.

Our too curious and inquisitive opposers, who are unwilling to believe
"cunningly devised fables,"*** enquire how it could be a crime in David
to number the people, especially as it was by the instigation of the
Lord. They beg to be informed, whether the Lord, and Satan, be one and
the same person; and if not, which of the two was the instigator of
this unhappy, business, and likewise which of the two "infallible" and
"inspired" writers tells the lie? Lastly, they cannot conceive how the
seven years famine in the Book of Samuel is dwindled into three in the
Chronicles. To all these questions we answer, that it was sufficient to
make this action of David's criminal, that the Lord disliked it after it
was done; and as to its being done by his instigation, we must observe,
that it is no uncommon thing for the Lord to be angry with his servants
for obeying his commands.

     * 2 Sam. xxiv.

     **1 Chron. xxi.

     ***  2 Pet. i. 10.


23. The instance of Balaam is a case in point.* Hence we infer, that,
in the commands of the Lord, there is always a clause implied or
understood, which leaves it to the discretion of the faithful to act as
they think proper. It is true, that this position leads immediately to
the doctrines of the Jesuits, which have been so universally abhorred:
but why need we regard the abhorrence of the world, while we are
convinced that our tenets are scriptural? With regard to the affairs
of Satan and the Lord, we leave it to your Lordships' management; but
cannot help observing with derision, the futility of the objections
respecting the three and seven years' famine. They have little skill
in divine arithmetic, if this affords them any embarrassment. They know
nothing of the sublime logic by which divines prove three to be one, and
one to be three. For example, if it were affirmed that Eldon is a Lord,
Castlereagh is a Lord, and Sidmouth is a Lord, and yet they are not
three Lords, but one Lord, this would be termed absolute and ridiculous
nonsense, notwithstanding their close Ministerial union. But in holy
matters it is quite otherwise,** as might easily be elucidated
by instances too sacred to be commented upon by any unconsecrated
individual.

     * Qu. 16.

     ** See an excellent specimen of this in the Creed commonly
     ascribed to St. Athanasius.


94. Another instance of the imperfection of the art of arithmetic, as it
is erroneously taught in our schools, appears in its affording no rule
by which the two genealogies of Jesus Christ may be reconciled to each
other. Matthew reckons twenty-seven generations from David to Christ.
Luke reckons forty-two; and the names totally disagree. Matthew traces
the descent from Solomon, and Luke from Nathan, both sons of David.
According to our feeble notions, twenty-seven cannot be equal to
forty-two, neither can Nathan, &c. be imagined to be Solomon, &c. The
infidels suppose, that the two evangelists, rather than the church
should be without the genealogy of its founder, chose to invent them;
but we good Christians, who know that both writers were infallible and
inspired, are ready to reject the clearest axioms of mere human science,
and allow that, in sacred matters, the greater number may be equal to
the less. These cavillers and infidels also demand how these genealogies
of Joseph prove, that Jesus was the son of David, when it is avowed that
Joseph was not his father? But they do not consider, that a married man
is obliged to father all the children his wife may produce; and if this
answer does not satisfy them, they must at all events confess, that
Joseph was father-in-law to Jesus, by being married to his mother;
consequently Jesus was son (in-law) to Joseph, Q. E. D. As there is no
answering for the perverseness of men, there may perhaps be some, whom
even this demonstration will not satisfy. To these we offer an argument
discovered by the truly profound Mr. Pascal.* He justly observes, that
when two witnesses disagree in the circumstances of a fact, we ought to
believe them so much the more readily on that account, as it shews that
they did not contrive the story in concert. This remark, it is to be
hoped, will likewise put an end to the absurd custom which prevails in
our courts of justice, of discrediting evidences, which, contradict each
other, such contradictions being in reality a mark of truth, "_a ceux
qui prennent bien les choses_."

     * Les "faiblesses" les plus apparentes sont des "forces" à
     ceux qui prennent bien les choses, Par example les deux
     geneo logies de St. Matthieu, et de St. Luc, il est visible,
     que cela n'a pasetè fait de concept. Voyes remarques sur les
     Pensees de Pastal Ed. Geneve, 1773.


25. It is mouch to be wished, that some of our spiritual directors, who
have leisure time and large incomes, would be at the pains to rectify
and adjust to the standard of holy writ, the many errors and omissions
of profane historians.

When Christ was baptized by John, the heavens were, opened, and a
voice was heard, declaring his divine origin. Such a prodigy must have
awakened the attention of all Judea; yet we find the historians totally
silent on the matter. It is strange, that the horrid massacre of
the children by the command of Herod should be totally unnoticed by
Josephus, and even by the evangelists, Mark, Luke, and John.* Matthew
alone mentions it; but his authority is fully sufficient to justify
an interpolation (like many others) into the text of the other three
evangelists, who are defective in that particular.

     * If such an act of cruelty had been committed, it could not
     by any contrivance have been concealed, and Josephus, the
     inveterate enemy of Herod, and many of the most impartial
     historians of the Romans, living at that period, would have
     taken care to record such a public act of barbarity on the
     part of Herod.

     Editor.


It is well known with what success the primitive Christians began the
holy work of interpolating, suppressing, forging, and altering profane
histories; but as we believe their piety always prevented their meddling
with the sacred text, notwithstanding the arguments of infidels, who
attempt to prove the contrary, these holy frauds have been found of
infinite service in establishing the cause of Christianity. Why do we
forbear to pursue their great and laudable example? The modesty or the
mistaken candour of these antients* have allowed them to interpolate
no more than one paragraph concerning Jesus into the text of Josephus.
Would it not shew our superior zeal, and be of infinite service to
posterity, if some divine of the present age would incorporate the whole
narrative of Matthew into the same text? But, alas, the sneers of our
adversaries, the unbelievers, have prevailed too much, and good works,
like these, are now no more!

26. About eighteen centuries ago, (according to the prophecy of Christ
and his apostle Paul,** the sun was darkened, the moon ceased to give
light, and the stars fell from heaven; the sign of the Son of Man was
seen, the Lord himself descended from heaven with a shout, the trumpets
of the archangels were heard, the dead in Christ arose, St. Paul and
others of the elect, who were then living, were caught up in the clouds,
went to meet the Lord in the air, and have been with him ever since. It
is truly astonishing, that a phenomenon so awful as the destruction of
the system of nature should have made no interruption in the state of
nations and affairs at that time, that all the historians should omit to
record so dreadful an event, nay, that they should survive it; and that
the primitive fathers should forbear to mention a circumstance which was
so well calculated to establish the Christian religion, and confute
all the arguments of the Jews, heathens, and unbelievers. When your
Lordships set about the great work of rectifying antient histories,
you will doubtless be careful to insert an account of this tremendous
occurrence; for Christians can have no doubt but that it really
happened, since it was so directly foretold both in time and
circumstances, by Christ and his apostle Paul.

     * Josephus, de Antiq. Jud. lib. xviii. cap. 4.

     ** Matt. xvi. 27, 28.--Matt. xxiv. 29, 34.--Mark xiii. 24,
     31.--Lukexxi. 25, 33.--1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.


27. The oracles of Delphos were obscure and capable of various
interpretations, but the prophecies of sacred writ are all so clear and
obvious, they shine so bright by their own native lustre, that no one
has ever pretended to doubt their divine origin, except those infidels
who are unfortunately blinded by the too great suffusion of light, which
the Scriptures so continually emit. If the gift of curing the blind
be not entirely lost among the apostles of the present day, it must be
Christian charity to describe the symptoms of their disorder, that your
Lordships may attempt the cure. These unfortunate people observe, that
God said to Adam concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil,*
"In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;" he
transgressed, and, nevertheless, lived at least eight hundred years
afterwards. They observe, that the great evangelical prophet Isaiah,*
could foresee the downfall of Babylon by Cyrus, but could not tell
the name of the Messiah, though his coming was an event of infinitely
greater consequence; nay, they even charge him with a blunder, if
we admit the opinion, that Christ was intended by the names,
Mahershalal-hash-baz and Immanuel,** since he was never called by them.
But they impiously solve this, difficulty, by affirming, that Isaiah
might take the advantage of writing his prophecy concerning Cyrus after
the events took place, but could not avail himself of the same pious
cunning in the affair of the Messiah. And, in fact, we, the true
believers, are in great want of evidence to overthrow their supposition.
They demand, if the prophecies be so evident and clear, so different
from those of the Heathens, how happened it that the whole Jewish
nation, then living, together with the angel Gabriel, should mistake,
and suppose the kingdom of the Messiah to be temporal; and that it
should not be discovered that his kingdom was not of this world, until
his enemies, the unbelievers, had prevailed and sent him out of it? They
ask, whether those inspired writers who prophesied concerning things of
no consequence, as the thirty pieces of silver, and the casting lots for
his garments, could not, with equal certainty, have predicted the more
important circumstances of his death and resurrection? In short, they
beg to be shewn a single prophecy concerning which divines are agreed,
and desire to know why, in the days of gospel light, the great prophecy
of John the Divine should be more obscure and enigmatical than any which
was written during the typical and shadowy dispensation of Moses? All
which absurd questions your Lordships will, no doubt, answer, overthrow,
and expose in the most palpable manner, to the great joy of us weak
Christians.

     * Isaiah xiv. and xlv.

     **  Iaiah

     *** Luke i. 32.


28. How came it to pass, say our enemies, the cavillers and unbelievers,
that Jesus, the Son of God, should curse a fig-tree* for being without
fruit in March; was he, by whom the world was made,** ignorant that it
was not the season for figs? They likewise demand, whether it was by
design or mistake that he affirmed*** that wheat does not produce
fruit unless it first die? If Scripture was not meant to instruct
philosophers, yet why should it mislead them? But though these infidels
may please to assert, that wheat in our days is governed by laws
directly contrary to these, as all naturalists indeed acknowledge,
yet who can affirm that it was so eighteen hundred years ago? On the
contrary, since these things are recorded in the sacred writings, we
ought to submit and believe that the system of Nature is changed from
what it was in ancient times. This event probably came to pass when
the sun was darkened, and the stars fell from Heaven, as mentioned in a
former question.

     * Matt. xxi. 18. Mark xi. 13, 20.

     ** John i. 3.

     *** John xii. 24. |

     **** Quest. 26.


29. Your Lordships, no doubt, will readily explain and settle the
mysterious disagreement between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.* John
being asked if he was Elias, answered, I am not; but Jesus** affirms,
the contrary. As few even of the Christians have faith enough to believe
that John was and was not Elias at the same time, a word or two of
explanation would afford them infinite satisfaction. Commentators in
divinity can do miracles in the way of explaining; but, unfortunately
for us, all other miracles have long ceased, though at no time so much
wanted as at present.


30. Out of forty Gospels we receive four as canonical; the rest are the
fruitful produce of that spirit of forgery which the Christian world has
always been celebrated for. Their piety was indefatigable in burning
the books of the heretics and unbelievers, and the same piety was not
sparing in furnishing apocryphal books. It is for the salvation of
mankind that Christianity should prevail; and how can its propagation
be advanced, and its dominion confirmed, more than by preventing
the arguments against it from being exposed to view? Some may indeed
pretend, that this mode of proceeding is tyrannical, and destructive of
the rights of mankind; but we, the faithful, insist that it is zealous
and politic. How can a man be said to be injured, even if we allow
that he is cheated, since he is cheated into salvation, though perhaps
against his will? Yet it will be doing a singular service to us
weaker Christians, if your Lordships will point out by what particular
emanation of the Holy Spirit the Church was enabled to select the divine
out of such a number of apocryphal writings.

     * John i. 21.

     ** Matt. xi. 14.


Our enemies, the infidels, say, that time has obliterated the primitive
disputes on this subject, and that the sanction of custom has confirmed
the authority of the four Gospels, which, so far from external and
historical, have not even the internal evidence of truth. They observe,
that the gospel of Mark, though evidently an abridgement of that of
Matthew, yet differs from it in many very material particulars; that the
grand circumstance of the conspiracy by which Christ lost his life,
is told differently and discordantly by all the four. They express the
highest astonishment that the sending of Jesus to Herod by Pilate should
be related by Luke, and that the other three Evangelists should not only
omit that occurrence, but relate the proceedings in this affair so as
entirely to exclude the possibility of its insertion. They think it also
impossible that an earthquake should rend rocks, and that many saints
should arise from the dead, and go into the holy city, as Matthew
relates; and yet that these great events should not only have escaped
contemporary historians, but even the other three Evangelists. And to
this they add, that it is particularly strange and amazing that John,
who was present at the crucifixion,* should not only forbear to
mention any one of the terrible appearances recorded in Matthew on that
occasion, but that even the darkness of three hours' duration, which
must have made the most lasting impression on every individual in Judea,
should also be by him totally unnoticed.

     * Such as we behold even in the present enlightened day by
     that great prophetess, Joanna Southcott, and her followers!
     who are now deceiving the people of this kingdom with her
     prophecies. Edit.


31. The malevolence and incredulity of our adversaries, the unbelievers,
are visible in nothing so much as the criticisms they make on the
resurrection. They complain, and with some degree of reason, that
this most miraculous and important event, instead of possessing that
extraordinary and uncommonly clear evidence, which its incredible nature
requires, bears, on the contrary, every mark of a forgery. Instead of
Christ's re-appearing to all the world, that the world might believe,
he is said to have appeared to his disciples, who were the only men on
earth whose evidence could be exceptionable in the case; men who already
engaged in the attempt of forming a sect or party,* could by no means
be disinterested in their report; the only men on earth who could be
suspected of forgery in the present instance. These are the men, say
our enemies, who were to preach Jesus Christ to the world, and to
find arguments to support the fact, which Christ might have
_uncontrovertibly_ established by appearing again in public. But the
generation was unworthy of that condescension, we reply, which they
wickedly paraphrase thus: "God, who desireth: not the death of a sinner,
left them in their sins, that they might die--God, who spared not his
beloved Son, but gave him to the bitterness of death, that _sinners
might be saved_, chose, nevertheless, to deprive all mankind of the
proper _evidence of the resurrection_, because the Jews of that age were
_sinners!_" Mercy is the character of the first act, but how shall we
characterize the latter? Is the God of the _Christians_ inconsistent
with himself? Did the great and merciful Being act thus? Did he inspire
four men to write accounts of the _resurrection_,* which disagree with
each other in almost every circumstance? Does his divine truth bear the
resemblance of forgery and invention, that we may shew our faith and
reliance on him, by making a sacrifice of our reason; and believing
by an act, not of the understanding but of the will? But why, O thou
Supreme Governor! why hast thou given us reason, if reason be the
accursed thing which we ought to cast from us? Or rather, is not reason
the first and only revelation from thee; and are not those enthusiasts
accursed, who, promulgating vile systems unworthy of thee, find their
base purposes are not to be accomplished, till they have first deprived
us of thy best gift?

     * See the concluding chapters of the four Evangelists.


These, my Lords, are the reflections of infidels and unbelievers;
reflections which our truly Christian zeal and detestation would have
prevented us from repeating, if we had not been supported by a pleasing
anticipation of the glorious and satisfactory manner in which they will
be answered, explained, and overthrown by your Lordships, to the entire
satisfaction and conviction of us weak Christians. Not by persecution,
pains, penalties, fines and imprisonment, otherwise the unbelievers
will then sneeringly say, that your Lordships are incapable of answering
them, or, what is more unfortunate, that they are really unanswerable.


FINIS.





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